Travelling Athletes – The smart traveller’s guide to sports nutrition

Travelling Athletes – The smart traveller’s guide to sports nutrition

Louise Cato, Accredited Practising Dietitian & Accredited Sports Dietitian

Whether travelling domestically or internationally, travelling creates some unique challenges for active people. Whatever the situation, think about what your nutrition goals may be so you can plan a nutrition strategy.

Common nutrition goals may be:  

* To stay hydrated during travel
* Maintain energy levels during transit and arrive at your destination feeling good
* To eat adequate nutritious carbohydrate for performance
* To keep body composition the same and not gain or lose any weight whilst travelling.  

Below are some tips to help you stay on top of your nutrition goals.  

Plan ahead
A well thought out nutrition plan can solve many potential problems before they even occur. Before you leave, have a think about what potential challenges you may face, such as:  

* Specific nutrition needs for training or competition
* The general food supply at your destination
* Access to specific foods and fluids you may need.  

Talk to people who have travelled to your destination to get a feel for what nutrition may be like there.  

Pack supplies
It may be necessary to take your own supplies of foods or fluids that are essential to your nutrition plan, especially if you think you may have limited access to certain foods. Things to consider packing include:  

* Favourite foods or snacks that may not be available at your destination
* Snacks for when in transit or when nutritious snack options are limited
* Any sports foods that are essential to your nutrition plan.  

Some foods and sports foods can travel with you, but remember to always check the customs/quarantine regulations of your destination. If you have high energy needs, consider packing snacks such as biscuits, muesli bars and UHT milk drinks to meet energy needs during transit.  

Be cautious of food and water hygiene
Even when travelling to ‘safe’ countries, you are exposing your system to new and unfamiliar routines, foods and possible ‘bugs’. Combined with travel stress, this can be tough on the system and may cause gastro-intestinal upsets. Choose foods and fluids that minimise your risk of illness.  

Make good choices when eating out
Eating out at restaurants or cafes can make meeting nutrition goals challenging, even when at home. Have a good understanding of your nutrition requirements and foods that will meet these. It is a good idea to become familiar with the main food sources in different countries. Is their main carbohydrate source rice or pasta? What foods are major protein sources? Being able to communicate your needs is essential as well – don’t be afraid to ask for extra bread or water if required.  

Meal and snack ideas
When you’re on the go, there often isn’t time to sit down and have a proper breakfast, but it’s still essential to get the right nutrients in. Drinking yogurts and flavoured milks make great on the go snacks or light breakfasts and are available at many travel destinations. Where refrigeration is an issue, try UHT milks – they’re portable and convenient.  

Don’t be afraid to try new things
Travelling is a lot of fun, and a large part of that comes from trying all the new foods and flavours of a different place. Of course your priorities are to meet your nutrition needs and ensure food safety but within these guidelines don’t be afraid to try new foods and drinks.  

Reflect on strategies for next time
At the end of the trip reflect back on what worked well and what didn’t. Think about what challenges you faced and if you would do things differently next time around. This will help form the basis of your nutrition plan for your next trip.    


This article was made possible by the Dairy Australia/Australian Institute of Sport partnership.


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