Whether you are travelling to a competition, meeting family or friends, going to a concert, or simply commuting to work, everyone eats on the road at one point or another. Despite this, not many people plan ahead. What and where are they going to eat? What are their nutritional demands for the day?
What you may not realise is that your nutritional demands can drastically change when on the road. If you spend a significant amount of time in a seated position, your energy expenditure (calories expended) may well be lower than a typical day. Whereas, if you are travelling to a competition, your pre and post competition meals become vital to maximise your performance and recovery. Eating on the road can be difficult at times and unfortunately it is significantly easier and cheaper to grab fast food, unhealthy snacks and comfort foods compared to healthy, well-prepared and balanced meals. Lets take a look at how you can meet your nutrition goals and consume the right foods to meet your needs when on the road.
- Pre-Pack Food
- Consists of preparing and packing food from home, and ranges from cooking a double portion of dinner the night before to chucking some fruit and nuts in your bag on the day.
- Benefits: You can control the quality and quantity of each ingredient, and the composition of the meal, which is vital to achieving your nutritional goals. If you are travelling and will be seated for a long period, decreasing the portion size (calorie intake) will help to match your energy intake (calories in) with expenditure (calories out). In addition, pre-packing food can save you money and time when on the road.
- Potential Issues: Some foods can go off after several hours of not being refrigerated, using ice packs can slow this process. In some cases preparing and cooking food can be time consuming or not possible (for example, if travelling back from a trip), and therefore picking up food on the road may be the only viable option.
- Sensible Choices
- Food outlets can be extremely varied when on the road, from McDonalds and Burger King to Subway, Costa and M&S. Despite the amount of poor food options available, it is possible to eat well on the road by making sensible choices.
- What to Consider: When choosing your food or meal consider the quality of the ingredients, quantity and macronutrient composition. For example, the quality of beef in a McDonald’s Burger is considerably worse than that of the prawns in an M&S prawn salad. Additionally, the nutrients available from snacking on a pack of mixed nuts and a banana far outweigh that of a flapjack, chocolate bar or bag of crisps.
- Potential Issues: You cannot control the cooking method or quality of ingredients in packed foods or meals. Good quality and healthier foods can be marginally more expensive, but in my opinion the price is worth it!
About the Author
Mark Funnell holds a BSc (Honours) degree in Sport and Exercise Science and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Nutrition from Loughborough University. He is currently working as a Performance Nutritionist for the England and Wales Cricket Board with both the England Women’s Academy and Midlands Regional Disability Cricket squads. Additionally, Mark is a graduate member of the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr), an ISAK Level 1 Anthropometrist and a UK Anti-Doping advisor.