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Eating healthy and traveling may not always seem like they go together. And just looking around at the airport food options, it’s no surprise why. It can often feel like the odds are stacked against you and your desire to be healthy.
Your greatest defense against the abundance of unhealthy temptations on the road are healthy snacks. Whether you pack them ahead of time or grab them on-the-go, strategic snacking can help keep you on track to meet your health and fitness goals anywhere in the world.
When choosing snacks, focus on the nutritional value and the macronutrients to simplify the decision-making process. The foods you consume should provide you with vitamins, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Aim to limit things like carbohydrates and sugars, except in fruits and vegetables.
There are, of course, a few other things to consider when selecting snacks for air travel. TSA guidelines require that liquids carried on board aircraft be less than 3.4 fluid ounces, and this includes some foods (think: peanut butter and yogurt). You might also want to consider the smell of certain foods. While sardines, smoked salmon and tuna are great high-protein snacks, they are not the best thing to open on an airplane.
We’ve narrowed down the choices to three categories: protein, nuts and fruits and vegetables. All three will keep you energized and fill you up while you’re on the road.
Protein is a macronutrient that does powerful things for our bodies, and numerous studies have shown that a high-protein diet will improve metabolic health and weight loss. Snacks that are high in protein will help you build muscle and strength, while keeping you full and reducing the likelihood of cravings and unhealthy snacking.
You know exactly what you’re getting with RXBAR: the tasty, albeit very chewy bars have their ingredients printed in bold on the packaging. Typically egg whites, nuts and dates for sweetness. With all natural flavors and 12 grams of protein, it’s a snack you can feel good about. (Try the chocolate sea salt one!)
Quest Bars also have a short list of ingredients, and there’s no added sugar, though they do have a bit of an aftertaste. There’s also a wide range of flavors — more than 20 that we know of — including Maple Waffle, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, Strawberry Cheesecake and Chocolate Peanut Butter. In addition to the variety, Quest also pack about 20 grams of protein in each bar.
With both an egg-white option (Epic Performance Bars) and the original grass-fed meat version — beef, pork, bison, even lamb and wild boar — Epic Bars are a great Paleo-friendly travel snack. Both contain approximately 12 grams of protein per bar and are gluten and soy-free.
EXO Protein Bars include an ingredient that might initially turn you off, but hear me out. Cricket powder is a great source of protein and there’s no buggy taste! Plus, crickets are much better for the planet than more mainstream protein sources. They emit fewer greenhouse gases, use less water and require less space and food. EXO protein bars are now even available on some JetBlue flights.
Nuts are a great snack for traveling due to their small size and high concentration of healthy fats, protein and fiber. You’ll feel energized and full, making it less likely that you’ll indulge in unhealthier food options at the airport.
While many airlines offer a variety of nuts as an in-flight snack option, you can also plan ahead and pack your own. Sahale Snacks make all-natural nut blends that include almonds, cashews pecans, pistachios and peanuts, while also adding in dried fruits to sweeten things up.
There are also nut butters, which are incredibly tasty, but the TSA considers them a liquid, so opt for travel-friendly packets. A personal favorite of mine is Justin’s Almond Butter. Combine almond butter with apple slices or celery sticks, and you’ll have a complete, healthy snack for your next flight.
When it comes to healthy snacking, you must consider the nutritional value of food. Long days in airports and hotels can make it difficult to get the proper vitamins and nutrients your body needs, so concentrate on eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
Bare Snacks makes fruit and veggie chips that taste great and contain few ingredients: basically just sliced and baked fruits and vegetables, with no additives or preservatives. Banana, apple, sweet potato, beet and carrot chips are just a handful of the options available.
Kale Chips are also a great option, and Rhythm Superfoods seasons theirs with tasty flavors. The chips are crispy and the ingredients are recognizable (seeds, spices, cane sugar, apple cider vinegar and, of course, kale).
You can also pack your own fruits and vegetables before you fly. Baby carrots, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries and blueberries all make for convenient snacks and are loaded with vitamins, nutrients and fiber. Try putting them in a small container and packing them in your carry-on for your next trip. Just remember, some restrictions apply if you’re flying internationally or between certain US territories (or states like Hawaii) and the mainland.
The Bottom Line
Don’t allow yourself to make bad food choices while traveling just because it may be more convenient. Plan for healthy snacking before you travel by packing food options that will satisfy your hunger while also fueling your body. Feeling great when you arrive at your destination is based largely on what you eat en route.
Chris Castellano is a travel fitness specialist and the founder of Fittest Travel. He recently self-published his first book, “Fit For Travel: Your Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great While Traveling.”
Featured image by Chuttersnap via Unsplash.
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