Business travelers face an obstacle course of dietary dangers and disruptions. The steak dinners with clients, those delicious cookies when you fly Delta, late night room service, plus free snacks and booze in the airport lounge – all on the company dime. You almost feel obligated to take advantage of the perks as payback for all of the times your company’s taken advantage of you. Being thrown off your gym schedule and relying on quick meals is challenging, but not an excuse to let things slide and derail your fitness goals, so we asked leading fitness and nutrition experts for advice on how to make smarter decisions when in road warrior mode.
Who Needs a Gym When You Have Your Body
While most hotels have gyms, I think we can all agree they kind of suck. “Go back to the basics,” says Bodybuilding.com TEAM Athlete Courtney Gardner. “Push ups, jumping jacks, squat jumps, burpees and bicycle kicks don’t require any equipment.” Courtney recommends creating a 20-minute circuit out of four exercises for 30 seconds each, with a minute rest, five times.
Ask The Hotel To Remove The Mini Bar
Usually the price tag is enough to deter you from indulging in the mini bar, but if your company is picking up the tab, that might not work. “I ask the hotels to remove the mini bar snacks from my room so I don’t succumb to late night temptations,” says Truvia’s Chef Devin Alexander. “I often carry blueberries or tangerines for when I am hungry, as they tend to travel pretty well.”
Pack Your Own Equipment
“Don’t be afraid to bring your own equipment,” says Men’s Health Fitness Editor Ebenezer Samuel. “Buy a medium-strength resistance band and keep it in your travel bag. It instantly increases the number of exercises you can do from the comfort of your hotel room, or even outside.”
Reset Your Body To Unlock Energy
Even if you’re only flying a short distance, from the time you leave your home to the time you get to your hotel, you may have spent half the day on-the-go and are probably in no mood to workout. Besides, there’s free cable in your room and someone will bring food to you! According to Equinox Trainer Seamus Dooley, it’s important to get your energy back up. “Find a spot in your hotel room to lay on your back and place your feet against the wall as high as you can. This will reset your circulation, help with blood flow, and increase energy levels and oxygen to your muscles.”
86 the Starch and Pile On The Veggies To Get Full
Men’s Health Nutrition Advisor and Author of The MetaShred Diet Dr. Michael Roussell says you have to control the carbs to control the calorie content of the meals and your diet. “By ordering meals and skipping the starch (e.g. potatoes, rice, and pasta), you are removing a carb/calorie dense area from your plate,” he says. “By asking for double vegetables, you are getting a larger portion of high-volume/low-calorie foods that will make you feel fuller on fewer calories.”
Pack Your Own Snacks
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but do you do it? We didn’t think so. “Staying healthy while traveling often comes back to being prepared,” says Truvia Dietician Amy Shapiro. “There are two ways to approach this. Pack your own snacks so you never have to rely on airport or convenience store meals. Travel with nuts, chia seeds and natural sweetener packets for coffee, for instance, to avoid artificial sweeteners."
Make Protein The Star of Your Plate
“Protein is the most satiating nutrient you can eat that also creates an optimal hormonal environment in your body for fat loss,” says Dr. Rousell. “By picking a meal that has a significant portion of protein in it, you are displacing less filling calories that aren't as optimal for fat loss. Salmon, lean beef or chicken breast, pick your favorite protein and only order meals that highlight it as the star of your plate (unlike pasta dishes).”
Book A Hotel With A Kitchen
If you’re going to be staying in town for a while, look for places with a fully equipped kitchen like an Extended Stay America or a Homewood Suites. With a full kitchen, you can prepare your own meals and eat in instead of eating out for every meal.
Load Up On Fitness Apps
Menud is a restaurant app recommended by Erin Opera, Carrie Underwood’s trainer, and is specifically designed to help you make smart choices when eating out. In the app, Erin and other fitness experts offer healthy choice recommendations for dining in restaurants all across the country. Zeamo is a fitness app that allows users to purchase day passes and access gyms seamlessly and without commitment. Or maybe you just want to meditate to reduce anxiety and get a better sleep. My personal favorite app for meditating is Calm. The app focuses on meditation and breathing and is great for beginners with guided meditations based on your needs.
Make a Commitment To Yourself
Throughout his entire career, Dr. Rousell has worked with professional athletes, celebrities, and executives who travel almost non-stop. He says the difference between those who are successful at losing fat or staying lean, and those who are not is one thing. “Commitment,” he says. “You can travel for work and lose weight. It may be hard, but it's definitely doable. It is important to realize that the hardest thing about being on the road is that you are going to be making food and exercise decisions when you are tired which means that you will need to override your default desire to eat more and move less.”
Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.