Ask an Expert: Healthy Roadtrip Snacks

Summer RoadtripI’m going to be traveling a lot with the family this summer. What are some healthy foods and snacks I can pack during our family road trips? – Jennifer

Whether it’s an afternoon at the beach or the All-American Road Trip, there’s nothing better than hitting the road for some summertime fun. While enjoying the local culinary offerings can be a big part of this experience, sometimes you’re just going to need a quick bite that doesn’t leave you and your family with a nutritional flat tire. Some of my favorite standbys that hold up to travel include cut veggies with hummus (Particularly peapods, carrot sticks and grape tomatoes), shelf stable milk and cereal, and dried fruit with nuts.

If you pack a cooler, pre-cut and washed fruit and yogurt topped with granola (pack the granola in a separate bag and mix when you’re ready to eat) or wraps using lettuce leaves or tortillas also travel really well. You can fill your wraps with your choice of meat, nut butter, or a high protein veggie salad. While they’re a little pricier and more processed, sometimes a grab-and-go protein bar or granola bar is your best option for portable nutrition that travels well.

Whatever you choose, pack plenty of water and top up your tank with a good mix of carbohydrates and protein so you and your family won’t crash and burn in the middle of your summer adventures.

Happy traveling!
Joli

Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. To find out more, visit the Meet Our Writers page.

Related: Easy Workouts While Traveling

Ask an Expert: Workout Nutrition

Workout NutritionIt never fails, halfway through my workout I end up lacking energy. I know I should have protein immediately following my workouts, but do you have any advice on what I should be doing and eating before my workouts to sustain my energy?  –Alec

Your awareness during your workouts is a great first step in making changes to resolve the situation. There are a variety of variables that can have that effect on your workout energy including not getting enough quality sleep, pushing too hard in a workout and not having enough recovery in your workout routine.That said, nutrition plays a vital role in maintain energy during and after your workouts.  A good first step is to keep track of what you eat for a week to gain a sense of the overall quantity and quality of foods you’re eating.

You can eat plenty of calories, but if your menu consists of too much processed, synthetic foods, it can leave you feeling drained and lacking energy. The more ingredients that are hard to pronounce on the food, the harder the body has to work to digest it and the more it lacks the vital nutrients it needs to live an energetic life.

Keeping a fuel log, whether online or on paper will help you get a better understanding of what you’re putting in your body. Focus on making small changes by switching out a few things at a time rather than revamping your diet all at once. For example, if you eat chips with your sandwich at lunch, add cut veggies like carrots or celery instead. Or add a piece of fruit to your breakfast and veggies to your dinner. The more you lean into a clean diet, the better you’ll feel. Simply put, garbage in = garbage out.

Total caloric consumption is also important as many fall prey to eating too few calories, which results in energy drain. A prolonged low caloric diet also puts the body in survival mode and shifts the metabolism thinking it needs to conserve fat.  Rather than focusing on counting calories, it’s better to invest in eating whole, clean foods throughout the day. For instance, eggs, blueberries and toast for breakfast, a salad with chicken for lunch and fish, veggies and brown rice for dinner. It’s a little like putting clean gas in your car. Your body will run better, feel better and move better.

Finally, we are all an experiment of one. Some perform best on a meal two hours before the workout. Some do better on a light meal an hour before the workout. And others still perform best with no meal before, or a glass of fresh juice. It’s best to experiment and log what works best for you.

If you are going to eat a meal, give yourself 1.5-2 hours to digest it before you workout and focus on consuming high quality carbohydrates, and lower in fat and protein. This allows the food to digest more readily and avoid having stomach issues due to having undigested food in your stomach. (Example: oatmeal with berries and nuts.)

If you’re going to eat a light meal, allow an hour before your workout and go for foods that have a higher concentration of water and carbohydrates. (Example: banana and teaspoon of almond butter.)

Also try working out on an empty stomach if your workout is in the morning. You may find that you have the most energy with nothing in your stomach first thing in the morning. Again, everyone is different and the best way to find out what works best for you is to experiment with timing, size of meal and the variety of foods.

Happy Trails.
Coach Jenny Hadfield

Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.