In the not so distant past, humans were nomadic. We had no problem eating healthy food while on the move. We foraged for tubers, berries, nuts and hunted for game.

Oddly enough, now that we live in a “civilized” world, it’s become incredibly difficult to find healthy food options along typical travel routes.

While we may live many steps removed from our healthier and primal roots, it’s still a jungle out there when it comes to securing decent food to eat – not just when travelling. Look no further than our increasing rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes – humans have not adapted well to our new dining situation.

What we’re marketed and sold while travelling is oftentimes the least healthy option available. While most of you readers are certainly wise to the dangers of fast food, certain food industry practices have been well concealed by deceptive labelling and advertising.

Healthy foods that were once always on hand now require a trained and educated eye to find in between destinations.

We know it might be harder to groove into regular exercise, so in lieu of our usual workout routine, diet is more important than ever. So to help navigate the travellers food choices here’s your guide to eating healthy while traveling. 

✅ Master Your Metabolism

Contrary to popular belief, slow metabolism doesn’t really have much to do with weight gain. Your food and beverage intake will be the biggest contributors to overall weight. However, metabolism does influence how your body regulates and distributes its energy taken from your food.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food and drink into energy.

Calories in food and drink are combined with oxygen to distribute the energy you’ve ingested as food. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body needs to carry out basic functions such as breathing, circulating cells, adjusting hormone levels, plus growing and repairing cells.

Body size and body composition will influence your BMR. Individuals with more muscle and larger body mass will burn more calories, even at rest. For this reason, men typically burn more calories than women because they have a lower body mass index (BMI). As you get older, your muscle mass decreases and metabolism will increase slightly.

As lean muscle burns more fat, most increases in metabolism are caused by an increase in the burning of fat.

Besides BMR functions, two other processes influence your metabolism:

  • Physical activity: Exercise and physical activity account for most of the calories you burn in a day.
  • Processing food (thermogenesis): Absorbing and digesting food takes calories.

Now, when you travel it can be hard to find time to exercise. Why don’t airports have exercise centers? We may never know. And while you’re driving long distances in a car, you’re not doing much exercise. But here are a few easy metabolism hacks to help keep you on point.

✅ Drink Lots of Cold Water

Studies have shown that a hydrated body is an efficient body. Not only do hydrated cells and body parts use energy better (making you less likely to want to eat) but icy H20 has been shown to bring your metabolism up by about 50 a day (5 lbs a year). Plus, it’s good for you!

✅ Drink Caffeine

Coffee is an effective way to improve health and reduce metabolism. A study found that people who drank caffeinated coffee had a metabolism 11 percent higher than those that drank decaf.

The key with caffeine is not to consume more than 400 mg a day – or about two cups of strong coffee. Excess caffeine will  slow the metabolism and stress you out by overloading the adrenal glands.

Or drink green tea. It’s the healthier choice.

Green tea has been shown to increase the metabolism up to 12 percent by promoting fat oxidation while at rest. When tea is consumed regularly, the body will use of fat as an energy source more readily.

Not only that, but green tea detoxifies the body, facilitates digestion, lowers cholesterol, and acts as natural antidepressant.

✅ Eat Efficiently

When it comes to getting energy from calories, it’s not as simple as ‘a calorie in and a calorie out.’ Some foods require more of your bodies energy to process and are therefore inefficient.

For example, say you eat a fatty, highly processed fast food meal. There were a lot of calories there, yet you’re feeling sluggish.

Why don’t you walk away with lots of energy?

Meat, cheese, and processed or refined foods require massive amounts of digestive energy to process. We’re simply not used to eating them. Foods like this require diligent, calorie intensive attention from your body – calories you could be using for outside energy.
Instead, you’re losing energy trying to get the nutrition from these foods. And that’s before you get stuck holding the bill for all that fat, cholesterol, sugar and chemicals. The result? You’re going to be hungry sooner – and less healthy.

The answer? High net nutrition foodLike fiber. Dietary fiber is readily available in fruits and vegetables. Because of it’s simple cell structure, fiber is efficiently broken down and assimilated for use by the body. After millions of year of evolution, humans are attuned to processing leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and other forms of fiber.

As a result, we feel light and energetic after eating fibrous foods. With its dense structure, dietary fiber is slow to empty from the stomach. The nutrients are slowly and steadily ingested. The result: We feel fuller, for longer.

The progressive flow of nutrients through our digestive process turns off chemical hunger signals in our brain. This prevents blood sugar levels from spiking through the day and keeps energy levels steady.

Tip: Load up on Green leafy vegetables. They’re a great form of folic acid, which plays a critical role in metabolism and digestion. Brown rice and oatmeal will also speed up the metabolism by stabilizing insulin levels. Plus, you can eat baby carrots and hummus all day and never gain weight!

✅ Avoid Bad Carbs

What doesn’t keep your energy levels consistent is lots of glucose, which is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, and they’re broken down and circulate through the blood with energy for your system. But carbs such as refined grains, processed foods, and sugary snacks and drinks are detrimental after a point.

That point is about 35 grams, or 6 teaspoons, per day.

That’s less than one soda per day.

Your body can only handle so much sugar. In our biological history, sugar was incredibly scarce. And that’s part of what makes it so appealing – it’s loaded with cheap, quick energy. Nowadays, with sugar surrounding us, humans are hard pressed to regulate their intake. Recent science has shown sugar to be as addictive as cocaine, toxic in large quantities, and the direct cause of many health problems.

This is because glucose eventually becomes blood sugar. And when blood sugar reaches high levels in your system, it translates into fat and is stored around the body. With the amount of sugar we have ready access to, no wonder our modern culture is so unhealthy and so obese.

Nowadays, sugar can be found in the most unexpected placesEspecially in supposedly “healthy” and low-fat items. As one man discovered, reading the dietary labels has never been more important. Look for it in condiments, yogurt, protein bars, salad dressings, oatmeal, crackers, frozen diet meals, pasta sauces, soups, breads, and nut butters.

Ingesting a steady amount of sugar from different sources can really impede a healthy diet while travelling far from your normal healthy choices.

✅ Beware At Restaurants

Eating out can significantly increase the amount of unwanted ingredients in your meal. Studies have shown restaurants to promote overeating as well as increased levels of sodium and cholesterol intake.

Though many eateries would describe their menu items as “healthy,” common practice is to load your plate with excessive servings of butter, salt, sugar, and white carbs. You’re also sure to find lots of sauces and dressings that compromise an otherwise healthy diet.

Tips For A Healthy Restaurant Meal

  • Order dressing and sauces on side
    • A healthy salad becomes unhealthy when it’s covered in sugary, creamy dressing. Keep the dressing alongside for dipping – and other sauces as well – so you know how much you’re using.
  • Watch out for sides
    • Many sides you get in restaurants are fried or covered in a cheese or a sauce. Choose the mixed vegetables or salad option instead, dressing on side.
  • Snack beforehand
    • While it seems counterintuitive, this is a great way to help from overeating. Registered dietician Andy Bellati explains,

“Eating something an hour before you get to the restaurant is one of the best ways to avoid cravings and impulse decisions. Some ideas: half an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter, vegetables and hummus, a small banana and a square of dark chocolate. The idea is not to get to the restaurant already full, but to avoid that famished feeling that leads to “eating with the eyeballs.”

  • Eat Simple Food
    • Focus upon lean proteins and vegetables to keep calories low. Aim for eating simple food (btw, anything “smothered” isn’t simple). Spring rolls? Simple. Nachos with sour cream, cheese, and beef? Not simple.
  • Ask Questions
    • Don’t be embarrassed about being a high-priority patron. It’s your right to know what’s going into your body. Most wait staff are knowledgable and happy to answer questions like:
      • What can I get instead of fries?
      • What vegetables can I get as a side?
      • Are half portions available?
      • Can you make that with less butter?
      • Can you hold the mayo, bacon, cheese please?

✅ Hotel Room Health Hacks

When you’ve successfully reached your destination, the best thing you can do to ensure a healthy diet is use your nearby resources:

  • Repurpose the coffee maker
    • The coffee maker is like the swiss-army knife of the hotel room. Use the water basin to prepare sugar-free packages of oatmeal or quinoa. Pack the top with broccoli florets (or other vegetables) and steam them where you’d normally put your grounds. Remove the pot and turn on machine to activate a mini-burner underneath. Cook yourself an ezekiel bread grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Iron yourself some eggs
    • Flip that iron upside down. Grab some tinfoil and crack an egg in a (secure) little home-made saute pan. Cook to desired temperature.
  • Raid the mini bar
    • Pull out all the booze, candy, and confections. Reload your fridge with yogurt, fruits, vegetables and hummus. Having a plethora of available, healthy snacks is your best insurance against food slip-ups.
  • Pack Your Bags!
    • For the modern traveller, navigating the culinary jungle just takes a little care and awareness. Armed with the latest in nutritional understandings, you’ll be prepared to hit the road and keep in good shape. Just make sure to drink plenty of water, maybe a bit of caffeine, keep sugars low, and eat plenty of veggies. Your metabolism and your waistline will thank you.

And there you have it, your guide to eating healthy while traveling. Do you have other healthy eating tricks or hacks for traveling? Add yours in comments.

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