Thursday, 4 October 2012

Athletes on the Road...

Food for the traveling athlete.

As an athlete, there is a good chance that you will be traveling to competitions at some point in your career.  Wherever you are, a change in your schedule, environment or even time zone can significantly disrupt an athlete's routine, especially diet.

Sometimes when you're tired and hungry it can feel easier to just grab-and-go but it's important to remember that making good food choices on the road can have a profound affect on your performance on and off the field.

While some athletes may not be sensitive to changes in their schedule, others can be exceptionally sensitive and a change in their usual food habits can result in sudden weight gains or losses, constipation, fatigue/energy and dehydration.

What can you do?

  1. Research food availablity - Will there be supermarkets nearby? Is there cooking equipment available?  Once you have an idea of what's in the neighbourhood you'll be able to decide on what to stock up on when you arrive.
  2. Stay hydrated - This is especially important if you are traveling by plane.  Take a water bottle everywhere you go so it's easily accessible; the body needs 2-3 litres of water a day, more if you are training heavily. Also be aware of any water safety issues, and bring bottled water as necessary.
  3. Take food with you - Keep some protein bars, breakfast cereal, and various snacks in your pack so that no matter where you are, you will always have something nutritious to eat.  
  4. Take a multivitamin - These can be used when your nutritional intake may not be adequate and will ensure you get the minimum level of vitamins and minerals.
  5. Know what to do if you get an upset stomach - This is always a risk when traveling internationally, especially when our bodies get introduced to new food, water and time zones.  If you do feel ill, it's important to keep eating simple carbohydrates, like toast, bread, rice or crackers.  Avoid dairy and alcohol as these can make an  upset stomach worse.  Once again, stay hydrated.
Ensuring that you eat right on the road may require some planning but with some forethought and the ready availability of family style restaurants and supermarkets, an athlete should be able to stick to their training diet without too much hassle.