Throughout my seven-year professional Ironman athletic career, about one-third of my time was spent traveling to races. And today, about half my time is spent on the road. I love it. Traveling can be exceptionally liberating, but eating clean (avoiding refined foods) at the same time isn't without its challenges.
Here are a few simple lessons I learned along the way that can keep you well fueled, boost your productivity and performance, and get you home feeling fit and fresh.
Don't make dinner your largest meal.
If you do in fact graze throughout the day, as I like to, you won't be terribly hungry come dinner time. This is good. I believe most people eat too little throughout the day, in relation to the amount they eat at dinner. It's ideal to eat more food earlier in the day, naturally making dinner smaller, while not necessary eating less over the course of the day. Eating a larger meal in the evening can in fact be directly responsible for low quality sleep since it requires digestive energy, which prevents your body from total rest and reduces the odds of you slipping into the deep, restorative Delta phase of sleep. This, in turn, leads to greater fatigue the next morning.
So, a large green salad and some basic steamed vegetables will likely be all you'll need, nutritionally speaking. Most restaurants can accommodate this. Many have brown rice and avocado on hand – another great combo – along with a bit of lemon and sea salt.
In general, ethnic restaurants are even better equipped to feed clean eaters (anyone who avoids refined foods). Japanese, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern are among my favorites, and they all of them offer an array of plant-based whole food options. Brown rice, avocado sushi, Buticha (an Ethiopian chickpea dip), and falafel are good examples; they're all made from whole foods and have a good mixture of protein, fiber, and good quality fats.
As an additional resource, I recently launched a web series called 'Thrive Forward,' in which I dedicate a chapter to clean eating on the road. Here you may watch the video and gain full access to the downloadable material, for free.
See also: Six Simple Nutritional Shifts That Will Improve Your Health
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete, a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called VEGA, and the best-selling author of the Thrive book series. He is also the developer of the acclaimed ZoN Thrive Fitness program and the creator of the Thrive Foods Direct national meal delivery service. He also just launched 'Thrive Forward,' an online video series on wellness.
Recognized as the world's foremost authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, Brendan works with NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA, Tour De France, and Olympic athletes and is a guest lecturer at Cornell University, where he presents an eCornell module entitled "The Plant-Based Diet and Elite Athleticism."
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