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What is the key to maximizing athletic performance? The definite answer to this varies between sports, individuals, ages, etc., but I can tell you that no matter who you are, one of the most important parts is consistent nutrition. And this doesn’t just mean at home. In fact, you must pay extra close attention to this when sports take you on the road.

Whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile, planning for food is often forgotten. Knowing that there is always food at gas stations, rest stops, hotels, etc., the priority goes to packing for yourself and your kids, making sure that no sporting equipment was forgotten, and all hotel, flight, and transportation arrangements have been confirmed.

But, the whole reason you’re traveling is for the sport. And the ultimate goal of any sport is to win. In order to win, athletes must be performing their best. A key component of this? Nutrition. So, how can athletes stay on track with their nutrition while traveling? Here are a few important steps:

  1. Hydration

Especially when traveling by plane, it is important to make sure we stay hydrated. During a one-hour plane flight, it is possible to lose up to 7 ounces of water. That is almost a whole cup! The Mayo Clinic also explains that dehydration can make symptoms of jet lag worse. So, make it a priority to drink water during travel. The easiest way to always have water available is to bring your own water bottle. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment by doing this! If you’re traveling by plane, you can bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up once you’re in the terminal!

       2.     Make it a team goal

When it comes to traveling with your team, no one wants to be the odd one out. Even if a kid is offered a healthier option, he/she is not going to pass up team pizza night (and shouldn’t have to!). But, win as a team, lose as a team, right? And nutrition is going to contribute to winning. Making sure the whole team is on board with healthy, home-style meals during the trip will help to make sure the whole team is performing their best.

        3.    Make it Fun

What’s more fun than winning? Not much. So, explain to the athlete(s) that eating similar to how they eat at home will improve their athletic performance and improve their chances of winning. That way, they will understand, get excited about, and have fun eating their healthy pre-game meal.

       4.   Good Nutrition

I’ve thrown around the words “good nutrition” a few times now. But what does it mean? It means eating enough. It means variety. It means balance. Having a full, balanced plate with a variety (read: rainbow) of foods at each meal encourages good nutrition. The visual below gives an idea of what a healthy “Athletes Plate” might look like. 

https://www.teamusa.org/nutrition