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Being a writer/photographer for several publications and websites, I find myself checking into so many hotels that I mix up my room numbers from one place to the next. As a competitive bodybuilder this not only puts stress onto the training regime but also onto the dietary needs of an athlete. Training all the body parts through a three days a split weight training cycle is attainable on most occasions, but eating six times a day can be a hard push. From years of trial, error, starvation and unforeseen fat gain from spending a lot of time on the road, I have come up with some handy ways to keep on my dietary track even if I am away from my home turf.
What not to take
A couple of days before you leave for the airport; you should have a list of foods that you regularly eat. Raw foods such as fruits are out of the question and will more than likely lead to confiscation at the airport security check-in. Fluids are also on the banned substance list for air flight, so, those ever so convenient RTDs will have to stay at home if want to save yourself the bloat of having to chug down 120gms of protein in order to grant yourself security approval.
Spending several hours in the kitchen the day before you fly is an option that will guarantee a successful trip whilst staying on your bodybuilder's nutrition regime. A cool bag with plenty of icepacks will suffice and keep your food fresh until you get to your hotel room where you should already have a fridge booked and waiting for you. A little trick I have learned when booking a hotel's fridge is to mention that you are a diabetic and require the fridge for your insulin medication. The hotel is more than happy to agree on most occasions but try to book it prior to your departure in case they have a shortage of refrigerators (which is very likely if you happen to be in the host hotel for a bodybuilding or sporting event). Cook an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates and then freeze it for the duration of your stay. The food needed for your journey will be OK if kept in a refrigerator. I recommend that you keep this food in a small cool bag that is of adequate size for a standard-sized lunch box containing enough food for your journey from your home to hotel. Please note that plastic spoons and forks would be much lighter to carry and will cause much less hassle at the security check.
This option proves to be a little easier in preparation and is more convenient for those who do not want to prepare cooked foods and are only away for a short time. Tuna sachets make a great food source and handy emergency meal. This is much like tinned tuna but comes in handy hard-foil sachets that are easy and light to pack and are extremely convenient for that emergency protein fix. Protein powders and a good shaker bottle are also a good idea. A couple of scoops of powder mixed with some water is a meal that can drive as much muscle building protein into your body as required and has more nutritional benefits than most food stores along the way will offer. Protein bars are another great commodity but please pack them in a cool bag as they do often melt on flights. The Supreme Protein bar has 30gm of real, usable protein (mostly whey isolate!), AND it the best tasting bar on the market. In terms of carbohydrate, I normally pack a small tub of Uncle Bens Quick Oats. Most of the time, a microwave oven or a cooking stove is nowhere to be seen, so in a hotel room a normal procedure on my journey is to add some quick oats to my protein powder in my shaker bottle and drink it uncooked. Its harmless, painless, surprisingly filling and gives you the nutritional value that you would get on your strict diet that you follow at home. If you find that you aren't hardcore enough for this, you can boil up some water with your hotel room kettle (presuming there is one) and add it to the quick oats. Let it sit for a while to expand and cook before adding the protein powder. Also, if the thought of raw oats mixed with your protein shake sounds as appetizing as eating a scabby cat, packing some rice cakes might be a little more palatable. To get a slower release of carbohydrate, a brown rice option is now available and tastes great when dipping them into my protein pudding. Protein pudding is an awesome treat that is made by a couple of companies including Instone. It has the thick creamy texture of a regular pudding but is made with plenty of muscle-maintaining protein. Due to it being premixed, I would recommend that you have it packed into your checked-in luggage so it doesn't get confiscated due to its fluid content.
Beef Jerky is a food that is also commonplace in my suitcase. Again, it is very convenient and provides an adequate amount of protein that is low in carbohydrates (though it can be high in sodium if you happen to be watching your salt intake). These packets come in large and snack-size portions and have been consumed by yours truly in plenty of taxi rides from airports and hotels.
With the options I have outlined above, there are no reasons why being on the road should complicate your dietary needs. If you find that your time away from home is for a further extended period, most of the above commodities can be found at the local supermarket or health food store.