From the Archives, written by our Nutrition Guru-Matt Zummo
Alright Crossfit Forrestites, the Fittest in the Forrest challenge is quickly coming to an end. This post is for all of you that spend a lot of time on the road and are not able to cook and eat in your own kitchen. If you are on a 5 day vacation and want to wander off the reservation and eat whatever you want and maximize your experience with the local culture, then go for it. A few days indulging will not kill you. However, if you are like me and spend up to 2 weeks at a time on the road traveling for work, saying “screw it, I’m on the road, I’ll eat however I want” is not an option if you want to maintain all the gains you have made in recent months. I’m in Guam in the middle of a two week trip as I write this and will share some of my experiences.
While every situation is different and you may not be able to eat ideal foods, if you can avoid gluten you will do significantly less damage to yourself. Trying to eat Paleo amongst friends or colleagues that are not paleo can sometimes be awkward, especially in your first 30 days. In addition, if you are staying with friends who are feeding you, it can also lead to some awkward situations. Here are some things you can do/places to eat on the road and stay within the Paleo prescription:
There is a Paleo App you can download for your phone. It has all sorts of restaurants loaded into it and will tell you what your most Paleo friendly options are at each restaurant. This is a great tool that will help you make the best decisions possible.
Mexican and Thai restaurants tend to have some of the best options if you are going out. Thai will always have curry made from coconut milk and ordering steamed vegetables in place of rice is easy. Likewise, Mexican joints always have guacamole and have some options such as fajitas that make paleo eating super easy. For dinner last night I went to the Hard Rock Café with co-workers and had a fajita dish that tasted great. I was easily able to put the tortillas to the side and the topic of why I wasn’t eating tortillas never even came up. If eating Mexican food without tortillas is simply unfathomable to you, eat the corn ones because they contain no gluten. Steak and Seafood restaurants are usually great choices as well. You’re guaranteed a good hunk of protein and can always get steamed vegetables.
Breakfast is easy. Everywhere serves eggs and fruit. If you screw this up, you’re just not trying. Eat the yolks, order some bacon, many places even have avocado slices as an optional side. While not every greasy diner will substitute fruit for hash browns, I have never had an issue finding a paleo friendly breakfast. Eggs and fruit make a great lunch and dinner as well. I’m not saying eat eggs for all three meals, I’m saying if dinner time rolls around and you can’t find anywhere that seems suitable, a 24 hour breakfast place will always have some good options.
Hamburgers are also great options. You can either remove the bun yourself or just order it with no bun. Most places that serve burgers serve bacon and avocado burgers, great fat and protein. Many places will even put a fried egg on top adding to the protein and fat content.
Salads can be good options, but are not a guarantee. Look closely at the contents and see just how friendly it really is. A ceasar salad is generally a terrible option, a cobb salad is usually a great option, especially if it comes with grilled chicken or salmon. Salad bars can make great meal options. I ate lunch at Ruby Tuesdays yesterday. The salad bar had plenty of vegetables and also had enough protein and fat (olive oil, egg yolks, bacon) to make it a complete meal.
In general, anything grilled is always best. Most restaurants will sub steamed vegetables for rice or potatoes (they always look at me weird in the Pacific islands when I do not want rice, but it no longer phases me). I was able to order an extra side salad the other night in place of rice.
If you are fortunate enough to stay in a hotel room that has a refrigerator, then this gives you tons of options if you are not required to go out to eat. When I have this option, I buy a rotisserie chicken, some bell peppers, fruit, and guacamole at the grocery store. The chicken will provide enough protein for at least 4 meals. Ensure you look at the ingredients of the guac, if it has more than 3-4 ingredients you probably do not want it.
Finally, snacks. I left the house with 3 cans of sardines, a bag of almonds, and 3 Lara bars. Definitely not enough for 2 weeks, but it is a start. I normally take some Paleo kits as well, but I have been on the road a lot this month and Kara is traveling as well so our Paleo kit supply was depleted. I am trying Lara Bars for the first time on this trip. They are a little pricey, but only have 2-3 ingredients, taste great, and are a good fat and carb source. They are a bit harder to replenish than I anticipated though, I have only been able to find them at a health foods store. The sardines are not something you can pop open on the plane, but they are a great source of protein and omega 3’s. They are easy to replenish along the way, almost every grocery store and drug store out there sells them. When buying sardines make sure you get the ones in olive oil or water. Avoid the ones that are in soybean oil. Beef Jerkey is another great option. Again, look at the ingredients and avoid brands that have a lot of sugar.
Staying with a friend who was not previously aware that you now eat like your Paleolithic ancestors and politely explaining that you no longer eat grains, legumes, and dairy is an entirely different beast that I will tackle in another post.
Keep working hard in the gym and remember you will make more body composition gains with good nutrition than you will with working out.