Mastering Food on the Highway – Stay Fit while Traveling

Hersonissos, Crete

In the past couple of months I’ve been traveling in different parts of the country and off the country. First of all, the most important aspect about shifting from one location to another is that it is a mind-opening experience.

Second of all, if you are like me and you know how important your state of health, physical shape as well as six-pack visibility are, you may be interested in knowing what type of foods you can eat so that you don’t go off balance in terms of kilos (or pounds).

In one of these travels that I had this past summer, I went to Crete, a Greek Island. Long-story short, we’ve taken a bus to get there. If you travel more than 2100 km (or 1200+ miles), the bus is not the best way to go as it can be very exhausting.

There are some good points while taking this alternative because you cross different countries and interfere with their cultures and most importantly, you see different places like the ones in beautiful Romania and Greece.

Valea Draganului, Romania

Valea Draganului, Romania.

Starbeach, Hersonissos, Crete

Starbeach Village, Hersonissos, Crete.

Of course, it’s always easier to jump into a plane and fly-over to the remote location. It takes only a couple of hours. In this case it would’ve been 4-5 hours. The bus took 50 hours to get us there. So, it’s kind of a pain in the ass from various perspectives: personal care, food, comfort, etc. However, I’ve only taken the good parts out of this experience.

Now, in terms of eating while on the road most of the people adopt a binging perspective as they eat whatever they come across and there are situations in which discomfort levels are very high due to the big load from within the stomach.

And if your bus driver only stops each and every 4-5 hours and sometimes each and very 9 hours, it can be challenging for you to make it until the next stop as your bladder becomes a ticking bomb.

As per our itinerary, we took the train from Oradea to Cluj-Napoca, then a minibus to Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, then the bus to Athens, Greece where we crossed the sea into this big ferry-boat to make our way to Crete.

Here’s the map of the journey:

Romania to Crete

And here’s the big bad-ass ferry:

Big Badass Ferry

Piraeus Port, Athens, Greece.

Here’s the view as we entered the sea-port of Heraklion, Greece.

Heraklion Port, Crete

Now, to get to the point. I don’t want traveling to interfere with my body composition. All the parking-lots and bus-stations we stopped in were predominantly serving burgers, different chocolate bars and all sorts of foods to take for the road. Most these foods were carbohydrate rich and very high in calorie count. They were also very high in terms of $$$ cost.

When you travel and your main activity for 50+ hours is to sit down and sleep every once in a while, as you jump on the scale, you’d easily see an increase of 1.5 to 2kg (4-5 pounds).

The thing is that your body uses part of these calories (mostly carbohydrates) to ensure that the rest metabolic rate is achieved (RMR is the amount of energy your body requires to sustain your vital body functions – approximately 2000-2300 kcal per day for an adult male, 25 years old, 158 pounds (72 kg) and 5ft 8in (173 cm), like me.

You can measure your RMR here:

The extra calories that are not needed will be stored as fat in your adipose tissue. And you can get these 2000-2300 kcals by consuming 2-3 chocolate bars and some chips. I bet that most of people when on the road consume 2-3 chocolate bar at once. I guess you imagine what happens with the rest of the food intake you have that particular day.

My approach (it tends to become geeky, but stick with me please) to this matter consisted of 5 important items:

1. peanuts (alternatively you can eat almonds, cashew, Brazilian nuts, and others from this category).
2. whole wheat biscuits (you can reduce them as much as 3-4 biscuits per day).I stopped consuming them when I went ketogenic
3. protein-bars I also stopped consuming them post Sept. 2013
4. green apples I also stopped consuming them post Sept. 2013
5. water

L.E.: After getting into ketosis, most of my travels have been done in a fasted state. It’s much more convenient.

If you are on a bus and traveling dozens of hours, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a perfect schedule when it comes to eating. It is recommended that you keep an eating pattern of 2 to 3 meals per day at the same hours so that your comfort levels remain high enough.

My first meal was at 7-8 A.M. and it consisted of:

100g (3.5oz) of peanuts
3-4 whole wheat biscuits (50g or 1.75oz), and
a green apple.

This is a very satiated meal and it kept my hunger off for 4 to 5 hours. Total calories:

~950kcal, 29g protein, 45g net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates – fibers), 61g fat.

My second meal consisted of:

2 protein-bar (50g each) along with
a large amount of water.

This was lunch and I usually had it at 12-13 P.M.

Total calories:

~380kcal, 25g protein, 24g net carbs, 17g fat.

My third lunch was approximately the same as breakfast and it consisted of:

50-100g of peanuts +
a green apple.

However, there were some gas-stations which had different salads, such as: chicken salad or Greek salad. I usually had them with extra cheese as it added to the protein and fat intake which kept me satiated for a quite large number of hours.

Total calories:

~400kcal, 20-25g protein, ~15-20g carbohydrates, ~30-40 grams of fat.

Total caloric intake for the day: 1730kcal. Since my RMR is somewhere between 2000-2300kcal, at this point I was losing weight.

As I kept the amount of carbs low (and these were good carbs mostly from the apple, the whole wheat biscuits and the protein-bars), my cravings were kept at minimum.

Note that the carbohydrate intake following this meal plan is low and this reduces the chances for you to gain weight while being on the road. If your water intake is good enough you won’t experience cramps and stomach issues and you’ll have a generally good state of body and mind until reaching your destination.

Your cravings are reduced to minimum because you don’t consume larger quantities of refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, burgers, sweets and all the foods deriving from these ones), which is associated with a high level of cravings – due to higher insulin secretion.

As I learn more and more about nutrients, body functioning and metabolism, I’m going to optimize the way I eat while traveling. However, as of now, this approach to eating on the go fits very well with my good physical and mental condition.

Getting back from Crete, after two weeks of vacation my scale pointed out that I lost 4 pounds while I was away. In a later post I will explain my food approach as well as exercise plan for the two weeks on the island.

Now, what would be the point of a journey if you feel like crap when reaching your dreamy destination?

Finally, if you have some ideas, tweaks to this plan of mine, as well as questions or clarifications, please be my guest and leave a comment in either of the sections below. I’m really interested in all opinions so I’d be more than glad to see what you have to say.

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