Road-tripping may only come a few times a year, but you can't miss those opportunities, especially if you're a ski or snowboarder heading into the close of the season. You've got to get it in.
And for the diet-conscious, traveling is always bitter-sweet. On one side, you're stoked to get away. On the other, you know how much of a damn production it's going to be to keep up with clean eating. Highways, hotels, and airports aren't exactly the hubs for high protein and low carb options. What makes matters worse, you're probably feeling like, "Oh, I'm on a vacation, I can cheat a little." But hold up and slow your roll. It's possible to save your six-pack, it just comes down to damage control. These six tips should keep you in the clear.
Healthy eating starts where you stop
If you're on the road and stop at a fast-food place, your food choices will be limited to fast food. But if you stop at a grocery store that offers whole or healthy foods—fruits, bagged carrots, nuts, hummus—or a supermarket that features a salad bar, you quickly expand your choices (and reduce junk-food temptations).
Eat frequently, and in smaller amounts
Eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day sends a signal to your brain that the food supply is plentiful, so it's okay to burn through those calories quickly. Limiting your calorie load at a single sitting also gives you lots of energy. Eating too many calories in one meal—even if they're healthy calories—sends your brain the message that leaner times must be around the corner, so those calories will get stored as fat. Eating too much at one sitting can also make you sluggish and sleepy.
Eat plenty of protein
Eating the right amount of complete protein for your weight and activity level stabilizes blood sugar (preventing energy lags), enhances concentration, and keeps you lean and strong. A complete protein is any animal and dairy product or a grain plus a legume (such as whole grain bread with nut butter, or corn tortilla with beans). When you need energy for a long hike, a long drive, or multiple runs down the mountain; stoke your body with high-quality, lean protein.
Pack snacks so you're not skipping meals
Often when we're traveling, we don't have access to food at regular intervals. Or worse, we skip meals so we can have some junk later. The problem is, your body responds as if it's facing a food shortage and your metabolism slows way down to prevent you from starving. To keep your mind and body humming, pack healthy snacks in your car or backpack. Examples are almonds, raw vegetables and hummus, yogurt and berries, fresh and dried fruit, and hard-boiled eggs. An easy grab to stash under the dash would be our favorite flavored turkey or beef jerky from Perky Jerky, it's all natural and contains no preservatives, MSG, or nitrates.
Avoid "feel bad" foods
You know what these are: They're foods you crave, but after you eat them you feel sick or depleted. When you're on the road, it's particularly essential to avoid foods that drain your energy and deflate your mood. Foods to avoid: (1) simple carbohydrates or high glycemic foods, such as fruit juices, sodas, refined grain products, or sugary snacks; (2) anything deep fried; (3) nonfat desserts and sweeteners, which are loaded with chemicals that your body can't easily metabolize; (4) anything partially hydrogenated (this includes nondairy creamer, Jiffy-style peanut butter, margarine, and most packaged baked goods); and (5) excess alcohol.
Drink lots of water
Yes, water is a food. The body needs water for virtually all of its functions. Drinking plenty of water will flush your body of toxins, keep your skin fresh, and help you eat less. It will also help you avoid travel lag, symptoms of overexposure to the heat or sun, and junk-food cravings. Believe it or not, many of the unhealthy cravings we experience on the road can be satisfied with a refreshing drink of pure water.