Keeping your nutrition on track while away from home can be a challenge. But with a little bit of planning, stepping out doesn’t have to mean stepping away from your gains.
Over the course of my tenure as a top national level amateur bodybuilder and on into the pros, I’ve had many people ask me, “What’s the secret to building a prize-winning physique?” The truth is, there are no secrets to achieving a high level of success in fitness. It’s really as simple as this:
Consistency is the key: We’ve said it before, the body is the most wonderfully adaptive machine there is. Over time, the body will adjust and adapt to stressors or stimuli placed on it, and this is how we elicit change, build muscle, lose fat, and increase our level of fitness. The more consistently and regularly you can introduce a stimulus to the body (such as cardio, weight training, or a particular meal plan), the greater and the more rapid the body’s adaptive response to said stimulus.
Food is the secret: You’ve heard it before, now here it is again: “You are what you eat.” This statement could not be simpler, nor more accurate. If we consistently supply our body with proper nutrition, solid building blocks to fuel muscle growth, and physical and physiological activity, our bodies will be better able to adapt and grow stronger, leaner, and more fit. Our food choices, the types of fuel you put into your machine, will determine how you look and feel, plain and simple.
As a bodybuilder, I’ve learned to appreciate Tupperware. There are several companies now that specialize in specialized cooler-type bags with custom food trays available, specifically for active people that need to bring their food along with them (two good examples include FitMark and 6-Pack Bags). These bags are stylish and make it easier to pack it up and take it along, and they keep everything chilled while traveling! I strongly recommend investing in either one of these traveling, meal-organizers or invest in a collection of Tupperware, to help keep your meals organized and cold!
Here are a few other food tips I’ve learned along the way, to help keep me on track and compliant. Follow your macros, and you’ll find it’s easier to prep for a trip.
Protein: Dry protein powders are easy to pack, and great for “back up” or as a part of your daily meal plan. Most powders available today also taste amazing. Whey protein and casein are staples in my own personal everyday diet. Dry powders will also stay fresh and unspoiled. Pack in zip lock bags.
Carbs: Rice cakes are light, easy to pack and store, and won’t spoil at room temperature.
Fats: Nuts are easy to pack, and make great on-the-go snacks.
Just be sure to keep your eye on the prize by keeping your mind on your macro-nutrient prescription. It’s often easy to over-snack on nuts or other portable “finger foods” when on the road.
Keep in mind that most hotels offer oats, fruits, or dry cereals for breakfast. Many hotels will provide a refrigerator if you request one – call ahead to be sure. Remember that grocery stores are typically not that far from most major hotels. If you don’t have to haul your entire trip’s worth of food, don’t. Simply buy it locally!
So remember, with a little bit of careful planning, you will be able to maintain your meal plan and exercise program, and continue to progress along your fitness path to your own version of “perfect!” It just takes a little effort!
By Pete Ciccone, IFBB Pro