Whether it’s a weekend trip to the beach or a weeklong trip to Anywheresville, getting away is always a much-needed break. If you are counting your macro’s and don’t really want stray too far off your numbers, here are some tips to help you stay on track while you go off the beaten path.
1. Be prepared: Whether you’re at the airport or hotel, chances are high protein options are going to be pretty limited. Keep a few items such as these in your suitcase:
- Protein Bars: Bars like Quest have 20g of whey protein and are low in sugar unlike many other options on the market. Small and portable make the perfect travel companion.
- Protein Shakes: If you normally use the big containers, take your scoop and transfer some powder to a smaller container or Ziploc bag. Don’t forget a shaker – find the ice machine on your hotel floor and you’ve got perfect set up for some high quality protein.
- Another high protein PB packet is this:
- At 20g protein, Starkist’s lunch kit is not a bad option especially if you know you might be stuck at the airport for a while.
2. For longer trips, get a room with a kitchenette: Hotels such as Residence Inn come with all the tools, a flexible dieter needs – a fridge, a stove and a microwave. This is the perfect set up to make a few quick meals that won’t throw your numbers off completely. Of course, you’ll be eating out too but a good breakfast and a few snacks don’t hurt – Milk, boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, cottage cheese and even some chicken/turkey slices from a deli are perfect proteins.
3. Find restaurants with nutrition information. If you are really trying to stick to your numbers, many chains will have their nutrition information on their websites – know before you go and you can plug it into MFP to see how it will work for you. If you know where you’re going beforehand, you can enter that information early and you’ll know how much of your macros are remaining for you to use for the rest of the day.
4. Don’t go to a restaurant hungry: If your time zones and eating habits are out of sync, you’ll likely end up with out of the norm eating too –stick to a plan of having something every 3-4 hours and you wont find yourself super hungry at any one time. Have a small high protein snack before you go out to eat and that will prevent you from binging on the bread or buckets of chips!
5. Alcohol: Yes its delicious and refreshing and usually has way too many calories – watch how many drinks you have in a day and go for diet or low sugar mixers – For example, a rum and diet coke would have less calories and you can add a little extra of the mixer to help your drink go further. Alternate your drinks with a glass of water and you’ll find you drink a lot less in one evening than you would have done. Alcohol also boosts your appetite, so it’s one ‘macro’ that’s worth watching.
6. Choose Wisely: By this, I mean some times common sense prevails– If you know your carbs and fat need to be controlled, going to a pizza place is probably not going to work for you – go for the grilled lean meats, add steamed vegetables and a small side of potatoes. Choose where you want to use your calories – if you’d like a little dessert, skip the wine or cocktails. If you really want the booze, skip the sweets.
7. Buffets aren’t all bad: Sometimes traveling with large groups means you don’t always get your choice on where to eat – if the vote is for that all you can eat smorgasbord, don’t fret – it can actually work in your favor. If you’ve been counting macro’s for a while, chances are you’ll know what a plate of food should like for you – while you wont be able to weigh or measure anything, you’ll be able to pick and choose your proteins and carbs. Watch the dressings, cream sauces, breads and butters and once you’ve made your plate, don’t go back for more (I know, not a good use of your buffet dollars but your waistline will thank you).
8. Have Gym, Will Travel: Vacation is a great time to relax but if you can, still make time for a few short workouts during your travels – hotel gyms are a good option as are local gyms – those with memberships to Crossfit for example, will usually be able to work out at a local branch (call ahead first).
9. Don’t stress: If you are in a situation where you just can't keep control of your macros don’t think it’s the end of the world – You are on vacation after all and this is not your new normal diet so relax and enjoy the local foods and drinks – unless you’re in training for a competition. Moderation is your best friend in this scenario.
10. Log! : If you’re going to track while traveling, you’ll need an app like My Fitness Pal downloaded onto your mobile device – don’t wait until you get home at night to log everything because chances are you wont remember it all and you also won’t know how much of each macro you have left after each meal. That’s important because by dinnertime, you’ll want to know how much macro ‘cash’ you have left to spend!
Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN Registered Dietitian for Lean Machine Nutrition