How to stick to your diet if you’re a frequent flyer

Oct 12, 2019

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As a nutritionist, one of the most frequently asked questions from flyers is, “How can I keep my weight in check when I’m always traveling?” There are hundreds of diets and programs out there but nothing seems to fit well with the erratic schedules of those who are road warriors. This incessant lifestyle may mean you have to be at business dinners, get by on airplane and hotel food, or only see a gym once a week.

It is possible to keep your weight in check when traveling, but you need to first let go of the notion of being on a diet. You will have much better results living by a few nutrition and lifestyle guidelines than by following a prescribed diet, which can ultimately be a stress in itself, and 99% of the time won’t last.

How to be a healthier traveler

Below are a set of travel-friendly diet and lifestyle tips which can support weight loss for the frequent traveler.

Cut the sugar

This is a golden rule of weight loss. Not only do you have to eat less but you also have to worry about what you are eating. Sugar represents empty calories and causes weight gain and other health issues. The problem when you travel frequently is that you encounter too many processed foods, buffet breakfasts and dinners where you entertain. This ultimately means you are surrounded by sugar. You have to cut down as much as you can.

Skip the pastries at breakfast, the high-sugar smoothie at lunch, and the dessert after that client dinner. Get out of that “I’m away so allowed it” mode. Simply ask for mint tea when the dessert course is served or have fruit with your breakfast. Your waistline will thank you for it.

Try intermittent fasting

Many travelers do well limiting their eating to a specific window of time when on the road (and even at home). This time-restricted eating is usually within an 8-10 hour window. Intermittent fasting can even help ward off jet lag, which we have discussed here.

Alcohol 

It’s obvious that alcohol, a simple sugar, is not healthy and can lead to weight gain. If you travel often and have to socialize, then limit your drinking to a spirit and soda with fresh lime, skip a round and have water instead, or try an alcohol-free spirit. Seedlip is a great choice. You won’t really notice the difference except when you don’t get a hangover.

Take snacks 

Whether for the airplane journey or when you get to your destination, it’s important to fuel up on healthy snacks when you’re feeling a bit peckish between meals. Choose snack bars with a low sugar content (under 5g per bar). Look at the labels carefully as some snacks appear to be healthy but can be very misleading. Good options include Dark Chocolate Kind Bars, or opt for a savory kick and try almonds.

The best healthy snacks you can pack in your carry-on

Protein powder

A protein powder isn’t just for bodybuilders. It’s a great snack for keeping you full and it’s super convenient to have in your hotel room. There are different types available such as whey, collagen and vegan blends. Look for a good quality protein powder without any preservatives or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Eat less

It may seem obvious but it’s difficult to do. When traveling you are bombarded with food at the airport, in the lounge, during the flight, and at the hotel. You don’t need to eat everything on offer so cut things like the bread basket or the snack bar on board. Another golden rule is not to abuse the breakfast buffet — eggs, vegetable, rye toast, a piece of fruit and a coffee is more than enough.

Protein 

If you are eating enough protein at each meal in the form of meat, nuts, eggs and seeds, then you should remain fuller for longer and not crave foods you shouldn’t be over-consuming. As a rule of thumb, you should eat 1g of protein per pound of body weight (more if you are exercising hard).

Water

Not only is hydration important for frequent flying but it is also important for weight loss. Aim to drink 2-3 liters of water per day if you are traveling a lot.

Clock eating 

If you’re traveling so much that you don’t even know what a regular time zone is, then chances are your eating patterns will also be disorderly. Stick to three meals and one or two optional snacks in any 24-hour period. Don’t eat if you aren’t hungry. This includes eating on the airplane, simply because the meal is free and served to you.

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