For families with young athletes, spending time on the road is a fact of life. While this is a fun, exciting time for the whole family, frequent travels between practices, games, and tournaments can limit dining options, which may make it more difficult to fulfill your athlete’s nutritional needs. Our Registered Dietitians put together some tips based on our Performance Spotlight™ athletic nutrition program to help you fuel up for best performance when you’re on the go.
Carbohydrates – provide a great source of energy
- Before Activity: When eating close to game time, choose simple carbohydrates, like white bread, pretzels, and crackers. This will allow for quicker absorption of energy and reduce digestive discomfort.
- After Activity: When you need to refuel, choose whole-wheat or whole-grain carbohydrate options, which will top off energy stores and provide helpful nutrients like fiber.
Protein – build and repair muscle
- To help speed up absorption and recovery, look for grilled, roasted, and baked protein entrées.
Fruits and Veggies – deliver antioxidants for overall health and development
- Eat the rainbow! Each color has a unique antioxidant profile, so eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables will provide a wide range of antioxidants.
Fluids – replenish and maintain hydration
- Choose water as your main drink of choice.
- Sports drinks may be necessary to replenish lost electrolytes when exercising in hot, sweaty conditions, or participating in high-intensity activity lasting over an hour.
Where can you find all of these when you’re on the road? Here are some tips:
Restaurants (fast food, fast casual, sit-down)
While most restaurant entrées will typically cover at least two components, you can round out your meal by ordering side dishes.
- Carbohydrates: choose foods like pasta, rice, bread, or tortillas
- Protein: go for leaner options like chicken, fish, eggs, or tofu
- Fruits and Veggies: include a side salad or vegetable to complete your meal
Grab and Go (gas station, rest stop, convenience store, grocery store)
Depending on what’s offered, you can build a meal containing all essential recovery components from assorted snack items. Here’s how:
- Carbohydrates: pair your protein with popcorn, granola bars, or cereal cups
- Protein: start off with hardboiled eggs, milk, yogurt, beef jerky, string cheese, rotisserie chicken, or hummus cups
- Fruits and Veggies: pick up some fresh-cut veggies, whole fruits, or fruit smoothies
Keep in mind, combination foods containing all essential recovery components are also a great way to refuel and recover. Examples include pre-made wraps, sandwiches, soup and chili, or salads.
Use this chart below as a guide for building your plate based on the timing of your activity.
Fueling on the go might present some challenges, but luckily, nutrient-dense options are becoming more common at restaurants and roadside stops. For additional resources about incorporating the fuel you need for optimal training and competition, check out the Performance Spotlight™ guidance on our Touch of SAGE™ Mobile App.