Snacking...Keeping on track when you're on the road
By Colleen Gulick
Boarding pass… check, passport… check, neck pillow… check, whether you are traveling for sport, business, or pleasure the list of things to pack can be endless. One aspect of travel that is often neglected is the nutritional component. Many people count on picking up a snack at the airport to get them to their destination. Unfortunately, airport snacks tend to be loaded with salt and/or sugar (not to mention the exorbitant expense). If you have a food allergy or are an athlete it can make finding nutritious food an even greater challenge. Here are a few quick tips to help you prepare for your next adventure.
Things to look for in a travel snack
- High protein snacks are a great choice for travel. Whether you prefer bars, meats, yogurt, beans, or shakes, they all suppress a hormone called Ghrelin. Ghrelin is commonly referred to as the “hunger hormone” and will all help you feel full longer (which is great for individuals who want to lose weight).
- A significant number of Americans do not meet the daily recommended protein intake. With protein playing such a large role in multiple aspects of physiology, why not choose a healthy high protein snack that can help increase your daily intake.
- Last but certainly not least, you work hard to build muscle, let’s make simple food choices to help maintain the benefits from your efforts. Not eating enough protein can lead to catabolism (a loss of muscle mass). For athletes, losing muscle can undo a lot of hard work. For the aging population, a decrease in muscle mass significantly increases the risk of fractures. Both populations could benefit from a few more high protein snacks.
Easy on the simple sugars-
- Have you ever deboarded a plane tired, hungry, and frustrated? Most of us have. Consuming the typical airport foods (chips, candy, cookies, juices, sodas) are full of fast digesting carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar then cause a rebound effect (reactive hypoglycemia) that has you feeling hungry, tired, and irritable (aka hangry). Choosing foods with lower simple sugars will help to minimize glucose fluctuations. Travel can be surprisingly tiresome and there’s no need to compound this effect with excess simple sugars.
Add a bit of fiber-
- Fiber is not only great for your digestive system but it also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Fiber aids in the stabilization of blood glucose levels and allows you to feel full longer. This can come in handy with unexpect flight delays or extended layovers.
My go-to travel snacks
Go condition bars are my go-to. The focus bars have caffeine and L-theanine for a bit of energy to get you through a long flight or layover. The flavonoids in the focus bars help to reduce some of the oxidative stress that can occur from travel. The snack bars have 10 grams of protein, are low in sugar and high in fiber with only 220-230 calories/bar. Plus, they come in some tasty flavors (peanut banana, toasted coconut, and chocolate nut).
If I have an extra long flight or a long layover, I like to throw some of Go Condition’s whey protein plus powder in a little Tupperware container. Mixing a quick protein shake between flights helps to not only boost my protein intake and help me stay feeling full, but it also helps to keep me hydrated.
I like the convenience and snackability of trail mix. It’s easy, doesn’t go bad, isn’t messy and can allow you to munch throughout the flight. However, many trail mixes are loaded with salt and simple sugars. I like to pack my own for the flight. Feel free to choose your own mix-ins but here are my favorites: popcorn (great for fiber), coconut (healthy fats), dried pineapple (go easy on this since it usually has a fair amount of sugar), unsalted almonds (protein), and maybe some healthy cereal.
Vegetables are always a great source of fiber and low in sugars. If you aren’t a loud chewer then carrot sticks and celery are easily portable.
Beef jerky is always a fan favorite. It has one of the highest protein:calorie ratios of any food. Plus, it stores well, doesn’t take up much space and isn’t messy. However, it has a lot of salt so a few pieces are great but multiple bags are not a good option.
There are plenty of other nutritious foods to choose from but hopefully these tips get you started. Selecting a snack that is high in protein, low in simple sugars and with a bit of fiber can help to make your next travel experience healthier.