Travel may have some great perks, but weight loss is seldom one of them. Whether we are traveling for business or pleasure, flying introduces unique challenges. We may have long delays with limited choices for healthy foods and beverages. And flying dehydrates us: a mere 1.5% dehydration can dampen our mood, energy level and focus. Not to mention all the enticements: Who hasn’t walked through an airport and smelled the magnificent aromas of, say, a cinnamon bun wafting through the terminal?
While it’s tempting to reach for a gooey, sweet treat as a bright spot in a dull travel day, foods high in sugars, salt and fat can backfire, zapping your energy, intensifying your craving for more sweets and having you arrive at your destination ready to take a nap rather than hit the ground energized and with a fresh, clear mind.
So, what’s the secret of great travel? Here are my 5 tips to keep you strong, slim and energized when you arrive at your destination.
1. Sip Smartly
Choose water (still or sparkling) instead of sugar-sweetened beverages or alcohol to stay hydrated without packing on the pounds. Or bring along a green or herbal teabag or two and simply ask for a cup of hot water. Add a wedge of lemon or lime for extra vitamin C and flavor.
2. Nosh on Nuts
These are free on most flights and are considerably more nutrient dense than pretzels. The trifecta of protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats in nuts is the key to sustained satiety and focus. Eating a 1-ounce package for every three hours in flight is a good rule of thumb.
3. Eat Protein and Produce
Stuck in the air for more than three hours? Make the most of your meal by sticking to this easy rule: You’ll likely be snoozing if you eat a meal rich in refined carbohydrates (like pasta or a sandwich). If you can, choose a salad with chicken as your in-flight meal. Pack snack-sized veggies and hummus from home or pick up ready-made sushi in the airport. These are clean choices to stay energized to make the most of your flight time rather than snooze.
4. Pack a Snack
Having something simple on hand is a great backup plan if you are stuck in your seat for longer than expected. Try a mixture of dried fruits, nuts and seeds (I have a mix of tart cherries, pumpkin seeds and almonds), a Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs (packed in a sturdy container), a piece of fresh fruit, hummus or edamame. In a rush to get to the airport? You can now find many of these items in the terminal before you board the plane.
5. Delayed? Do a Quick Walk
Virtually all of the clients I work with spend hours and hours each day sitting. As a nation we are sitting more hours than ever before, and growing evidence suggests all this “sedentarism” may trigger negative changes in our muscle physiology and metabolism. As a general tip, walk by three gates for every minute a flight is delayed. This will energize you and help you from packing on the pounds, and have you landing at your destination refreshed and ready to go.