Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Nutrition on the Road

Nutrition is a key part of any athlete's training strategy, but it can be difficult to keep it up when travelling for competition. Usain Bolt recently revealed that his hesitation towards the food in Beijing during the Olympics lead to an interesting diet choice. The sprinter claims that during the competition he ate almost 1,000 chicken nuggets. While he would go on to have great success at the games this diet is not recommended for most athletes.

For many athletes, the food available in other countries may not be what their body is used to, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues. If the proper steps are taken an athlete can avoid any major complications and maintain proper nutrition.

Plan Ahead - The simplest way to stick to a nutrition plan is to continue to make your own food. Before leaving for a competition try and book a hotel room that has a kitchen, this way you can prepare the majority of your meals. If it is not possible to find accommodations with a kitchen, then you may need to eat out. Before choosing a restaurant, perform some research to make sure they have the type of meals you are looking for. It is also important to call and make a reservation, this is a good way to ensure you will have your meals as close to your normal routine as possible.

Water Supply - When travelling it is important to remember that not all places have tap water that is safe to drink; if the water quality is at all questionable, follow these rules:
  • Only drink bottled water 
  • Do not eat vegetable or fruits that have been rinsed under tap water. It is best to stick to fruits/veggies that can be peeled. 
  • Use bottled water when brushing your teeth 
  • Make sure you do not put ice in your drinks

Snacks - Despite all good planning, an athlete may still find that they get stuck without the time or the appropriate place to get the fuel they need before a competition. This is why it is important to always carry high energy snacks. These snacks could include sport/fruit bars, powdered meal replacements, canned tuna, or peanut butter.

Enjoy the local cuisine (after you compete) - Some people have no problem trying new food, in fact they love it. However, when an athlete is travelling to compete, it may be better to save those interesting local dishes for after the competition. When it comes to performance, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Travelling is one of the major benefits of elite competition but athletes need to be careful when it comes to their nutrition. Even travelling short distances can have a major effect on what is available. Having a nutrition plan for traveling will to ensure an athlete gets the nutrients they need to perform at their best.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Kelly, S. (2010). Athlete Travel Overseas: CONSIDERATION FOR PERFORMANCE. Modern Athlete & Coach, 48(1), 15-16 
2. Currell, K., Lundy, B., Pearce, J., & Lewis, N. (2010). Commonwealth Games Nutrition. Sport & Exercise Scientist, (25), 10-11. 
3. Wagner, D. R. (2009). Eating on the Road: Practical Nutrition Strategies for the Traveling Athlete. Athletic Therapy Today, 14(5), 1-4. 
4. Reilly, T., Waterhouse, J., Burke, L. M., & Alonso, J. (2007). Nutrition for travel. Journal Of Sports Sciences, 25125-134. 
5. Yrjovuori, M. (2009). Taking it on the Road. Volleyball, 20(10), 21-22. 
6. Cort, M. (2007). Travel Nutrition Strategies. Modern Athlete & Coach, 45(2), 15-16. 
7. Korzun, A. (2008). Travel nutrition…more than just a “Plan B”. Olympic Coach, 20(3), 19.

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