So this post won’t be the usual stuff about metabolism, gaining muscle and losing fat. It was actually inspired by one of the guys who’s using the Lean Mass Gains Made Easy fat loss protocols right now, as he has some upcoming travel scheduled in and is wondering how to marry that with the ongoing use of the Fat Loss Protocol.
Luckily, this is an area of expertise I have a lot of knowledge in. My day job requires a lot of travel, flying long distances (typically 4-8 hours) and roving around various meetings, often without access to what you might term “ideal food choices”. Typically the food taken isn’t at convenient, well timed intervals and the selection on offer is not exactly suitable for a body building enthusiast. In fact, I doubt you can remember the last time you saw airplane food that had enough protein in for a small child, let alone an adult male involved in lifting weights.
So this post is dedicated to all of you travelers out there who are trying to stay lean and make the right choices, often in non-ideal circumstances. It is also a useful reminder for us all to be flexible in our approach to diet. Too much flexibility often leads to obesity, but too rigid a dietary regimen for too long and you’ll fall off the wagon and end up doing something stupid. This will only set you back in your long term goals.
Let’s have a look at some of his questions and see how to make them useful for you:
What Should I Eat On The Flight?
With a 4 hour flight you’re going to be spending quite some time on the road. The chances are you’ll have to get to the airport about 2 hours in advance of your flight (sometimes you can get away with only one hour), and could be leaving the house an hour or so before that. After the four hours on the plane it’s likely you’ll have another hour at the other end clearing customs and collecting your baggage (less if it’s not an international flight), before you make your way to the hotel/final destination. That’s about 7 hours of travel time, when the options will be very limited.
Depending on when your flight is, you can select the appropriate strategy from below.
Morning flights are probably the most common for business people – you get on the first flight out for the day and often come home on the redeye. They are also the easiest time to deal with for anyone seeking to lose weight – the simple answer is to use your intermittent fasting time to avoid food altogether on the plane. You can either choose to have something meaningful to eat when you arrive at the hotel, or if really hungry grab a bite in the arrival lounge. See below for the advice on eating out in a healthy manner.
For anyone not used to this – just ask the steward(ess) for a black coffee and a glass of water on the plane. There has literally been ZERO times (even flying first class) when the food option is too tempting to refuse. Normally plane food is the butt of many a joke – because most of the time it’s total crap. Avoid it like the plague, maybe even extending your fast over a longer duration to be sure you only eat something worthwhile.
Harder to deal with, as most people on this protocol will be breaking their fast around midday. If you’re flying at lunchtime your best option is either to break the fast early that day (and eat something substantial, high in protein and fibrous vegetables) before you leave the house. The next best option is to pick something healthy from the food vendors in the airport. This usually isn’t that hard – most places will have somewhere that you can get a grilled meat and vegetable option, just avoid too many rich sauces and skip the fries/carbs.
If you have time before you fly, why not get a workout in? That way you’ll create a calorie sink for some of the useless crap you eat in the airport and airplane to fall into. Pre-flight workouts are an even better option for:
For an evening flight you are often best trying to get a workout in first. Whether this is possible or not depends on where your gym is, and what your schedule is like before you board your plane.
You should also seriously consider the time in which you’re going to fast. Can you eat an early dinner before heading to the airport, then just fast through until the following day? Whilst you have a good ghrelin entrainment pattern from fasting at the same time every day, most people who fast also find it is easier to go without food at any time of day. Be flexible, move your fasting time around and avoid the crap the airline is peddling.
Long Haul Flights
If your flight is longer than 5 or 6 hours you’re probably going to have to eat something (unless it’s the redeye). You are usually better off sourcing something from the departure lounge that’s healthier, and still skipping food on board. If this isn’t an option (sometimes you’re in a rush to board), just relax – we can’t be perfect 100% of the time. Choose the healthiest option on the menu and set your resolve to have a better day tomorrow.
What About Food Choices On Business Trips?
This is less easy – often you’re either working on a client site or travelling around for meetings. It isn’t always possible to plan your food ahead of time, and some times it’s a better option to eat breakfast on the days you’re working, especially if you know food at lunch time is going to be poor quality.
Aim for protein above and beyond any other nutrient – especially lean, grilled protein with fibrous vegetables. Even fast food joints can provide an option – like a chicken breast burger – toss out the bun and skip the fries and you have salad and a piece of chicken. If you are near a supermarket then load up on cold cuts – most have a deli counter where you can get cooked chicken breast, and then make your own salad to go with it.
In the evening times you may have to go out for a drink with clients, or take people out for dinner (stay tuned for an upcoming article on alcohol and fat loss). Again, most restaurants will have a high protein, grilled, baked (or shallow fried) meat option. Forsake the fries/potato/rice, and aim to keep the protein content high with fat and carbs low (especially if you’re drinking). Skip the heavy sauces. If you have to do this frequently, aim for drinks that are low in tag along carbohydrates (gin and slimline tonic, for example), and try to eat a protein rich meal before heading out (as it keeps you full and prevents over eating whilst you drink).
Try and Find A Gym!
If you stay in most hotels you’ll be sorely disappointed with their gym options. Full of machines without a barbell in sight. The chances of building muscle or even having a workout that doesn’t suck are slim to none. So what are you to do? You can always do a google search for a decent local training facility that permits guest entry (sometimes you can even pretend to be interested in joining and get a free pass). Or maybe your own chain gym has options local to your meetings. If you can find a gym then it can really help avoid weight gain whilst on a business trip, which is often the best that can be achieved anyway.
At the end of the day, travelling for work is going to make your life harder. But then again there are so many things that complicate fat loss, from genetics to personal willpower and beyond. Don’t try and control everything. Don’t obsess over your diet and think that one bad day will cause you to fail for good. Make plans and try to put them into action. And be prepared to be flexible on your diet, your fasting and your training whilst you are away. The most successful dieters long term are those who can take a break from a diet when they need to, yet get right back on it again the moment their circumstances improve.
Have you got any tips on how you stay fit and healthy whilst travelling for work? Share them with us in the comment section below!