If you travel a lot, you know how hard it can be to stick to your diet.
Many restaurants have foods that are low in protein and high in fat and carbs.
This makes eating out a dangerous situation.
Just one meal can put you over your daily needs and cause unnecessary fat gain.
You need to plan ahead if you want to stick to your diet and reach your fitness goals.
That doesn't mean you have to haul around Tupperware full of meals, but you should at least have an idea of what you will eat.
Thinking ahead removes the un-needed stress of trying to find something to eat.
Below is a list of 10 easy tips you can use to stay fit while traveling.
1. Pack your Protein
Taking a source of protein with you is the simplest tip of all and can be the most beneficial. Like I mentioned, many restaurants have low protein and high carb/fat foods. This makes hitting your macros much more challenging. To combat this, you can add some protein to your meal to bring it where you need it.
There are many forms of protein, and any will do. Personally, I enjoy protein bars while traveling because I can put them in my pocket and take them with me. Another plus of protein bars is you don't have to worry about mixing it with water like a powder.
Forgetting to pack protein is a huge mistake if you want to stay fit while traveling. Don't make this rookie mistake and take some with you.
2. Pack Convenience Foods
I'm not talking about candy and cookies but healthy snacks that are easy to pack. Convenience foods are a lifesaver because you won't need to eat out as often. This not only saves you money but also reduces the number of calories you consume.
There are many convenience foods I like to take for traveling. Basically, I take anything that doesn't need refrigeration. Below are a few of my favorites.
- Graham Crackers
- Dried Fruit
- Beef Jerky
These foods give you options for when you are on the go. You can use them for a snack or a whole meal. If you want to make a meal out of them, just pair some of these with the protein you packed. One of my go-to convenient meals is a bagel, banana, and whey protein shake or bar.
3. Find a Hotel with a Microwave and Refrigerator
Finding a hotel with a microwave and refrigerator used to be difficult. Usually, only extended stay hotels had the option, but now, more and more have this amenity. Before you travel, make sure to book a hotel with a microwave and refrigerator.
By having these in your room, you can buy groceries and eat how you would at home. Also, if you choose to prep your meals ahead of time, you can throw them in the fridge and take them out as needed.
I don't food prep for traveling, so I grab a few essential items like milk, eggs, oatmeal, pre-cooked chicken, frozen veggies, and minute rice. This allows me to eat most of my meals in the hotel.
Just don't forget to pack a plate, bowl, and silverware because many hotels have cheap ones that won’t work well.
4. Take a George Forman Grill
Another option is to take a George Forman grill for cooking food in the hotel. This comes in handy because you can easily prepare meats and veggies in a short amount of time. You can make a meal just like you would get at a restaurant. Just be careful not to set off the fire alarm. I recommend using it on the balcony or porch if you have one.
Funny Story: My wife and I were on vacation and tried to do this in our room. It started smoking and set off the fire alarm. We frantically tried fanning and airing out the room. Seconds later we got a call from the front desk asking if everything was alright. We pretended like nothing had happened and proceeded to move the grill outside!
5. Find Restaurants with Low-Calorie Options
Many restaurants are adding low-calorie options to their menus. Before you travel, research the area you are staying to see what's there. You can look up their menus and nutrition information online. Below are a few common restaurants and macro friendly meals I would choose at each.
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad
Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Apple Slices
Double Chicken Chopped Salad with Fat-Free Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
6" Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sub with Apple Slices
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Apple Slices
Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken
Pepper-Crusted Sirloin & Whole Grains
Healthy & Hearty Grilled Chicken
Healthy & Hearty Grilled Salmon
Grilled Chicken on the Barbie with Steamed Broccoli
6 oz. Special Sirloin with Steamed Broccoli
I'm sure you noticed that almost every meal has grilled chicken. This helps keep the fat down, but it still can be high. Because of this, I usually choose to eat a little lower carb when I go out to restaurants.
6. Ask How Food Is Prepared
Before ordering something off the menu, ask your server how it's prepared. This is something I often do. Many restaurants load on butter and oils, which can drastically increase calories. Their primary goal is to make the food taste really good, not make it low calorie.
I was at a restaurant once that had steamed broccoli on the menu. I asked the server how it was prepared and came to find out, they steamed and buttered it. It didn’t say that anywhere on the menu!
Don't assume anything. Always ask your server to grill and steam things instead of frying. By doing this, you save a lot of calories. Sometimes, they can’t alter your order, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
7. Ask for Sauces and Dressing on the Side
This is another important tip when eating out. Many restaurants load on sauces and dressing, which quickly drives up calories. By asking for it on the side, you can control the amount you put on, which is usually much less than if they do it.
When ordering sauces and dressing, always ask if they have low-calorie options. Almost every restaurant has one. If you order a salad, opt for raspberry vinaigrette or a thin dressing over a thick creamy one like ranch because it will have fewer calories.
8. Ask for Substitutions
Many restaurants are flexible when it comes to choices. Always ask to customize your meal to make it more macro friendly. For example, ask to substitute a salad or steamed veggies in place of fries. Smart substitutions will significantly decrease calories in the meal and help you stay on your diet.
Rarely do I find restaurants that won't make substitutions. When eating out, be sure to ask your server to customize the meal to your needs.
9. Stay Busy
Staying active will help keep your mind off food. If you are always thinking about food and where you are going to eat, it can make you hungrier. This can be a dangerous situation when you go to a restaurant. A simple meal can quickly turn into 3-courses and put you over your daily calorie needs.
Stay busy by finding a local gym and doing your normal workouts. Also, be sure to plan activities and avoid sitting for too long. Both of these will not only help keep your mind off food but burn some calories too.
10. Stay Hydrated
While traveling, be sure to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water or calorie-free beverages keeps your stomach full and reduces hunger. If you get sick of plain old water, you can add a zero-calorie flavoring to it.
Studies show that drinking around 2 cups of water before a meal can reduce the amount of food and calories you eat.1,2 This can be an effective strategy if you are more of an intuitive eater. By drinking water before a meal, your stomach becomes full much faster and decreases the chances of you overeating.
What Helps You Stick to Your Diet While Traveling?
These are my strategies for staying fit while traveling. Many people just abandon their diet, but that doesn't need to happen. By incorporating the tips found in this article, it becomes easier for you to stay on track.
What has helped you the most? What strategies do you use to stay on your diet while traveling?