Tackling the issue of eating well when on the road/run – (Or around a busy schedule)

There’s nothing that satisfies me more than the discussion of health, fitness, well-being and overall self improvement.

As I continue my quest to grow my education on the subject through academic learning, real experience learning and learning via interacting with people. There is one topic that really looms larger than almost all other subjects……

HOW THE HELL DO I EAT HEALTHY WHILE WORKING?!”

Some really do scream like that, honest!

Let’s get down to business. 

First, let’s establish that nobody ever got raped by a cupcake. Nobody ever got stalked and forced upon by a pizza.

YOU – ARE – IN – CONTROL – OF – WHAT – YOU – PUT – IN – YOUR – MOUTH!

Hopefully you’re not fantasizing of being overpowered by a McDonald’s meal and forced to surrender to it! Incase you are, give this a read. You’ll see (if you don’t already know) – why I’m quite anti-McDonald’s.

Before we talk food options, let’s first determine what source of fuel you require (or don’t require). 

What job/profession do you have?

Are you a builder, labourer or landscape gardener? Or are you a secretary, call centre worker or train/bus driver?

The relevance to this is: Just like exercise, different activities require/use different energy systems. I’ll spare the precise details such as the phospho creatine, lactic acid and aerobic energy systems and their relevance to activities. But in the mere case of everyday work activities and their demands, we can state: some jobs will require much more glucose than others.

Professions such as gardening, labouring and construction are very movement heavy. 

These will use and require more glucose/glycogen. These job activities are of considerable intensity (lots of movement and use of muscle).

Professions with limited activity, such as desk jobs and driving jobs really don’t demand fast acting fuel supplies. 

In this category you can get by quite well with minimal glucose. You really aren’t consuming any throughout your day to day endeavours.

Sounds simple, often gets overlooked.

In any case, one thing we all require is protein. Albeit in differing quantities. This doesn’t mean you need to start slamming down the protein shakes like a neurotic bodybuilder. But none the less, we all need protein.

But the combination to compliment our protein will depend on our activity levels, demanded by our professions.

Minimal activity jobs: Protein and fats are wonderfully sufficient. Note: We’re talking good fats here. Omega 3’s, not hydrogenated trans fats.

Sample lunch examples:

  • Tuna and an Avocado
  • Sardines and Cashew nuts
  • Mackarel and Almonds

You’ll notice these are centred around canned fish. This is predominantly because of the convenience factor – they don’t require cooking and are accessible almost anywhere. In addition, they are great protein sources and the oily varieties (Sardines/Mackarel) are solid providers of omega 3 fats. Not to mention numerous the B-vitamins that all these examples contain.

Nuts are nutrient powerhouses. They are also calorie dense, which means they’re very satiating. Their high fat content will slow the rise of blood sugar and thus, keep you full for longer.

Avocados are one of the greatest fruits around, they could warrant an entire post alone. But there’s nothing I could say about them that hasn’t been said before. I really don’t think there’s a health based blog that hasn’t sung the benefits of the mighty avocado in some form or another. Heck, some blog’s are writing about avocados every week!

I’m not complaining, it’s deserved.

Jobs with high physical demands:

You guys are entitled to a little more glucose. That doesn’t mean you’ve been granted a license to eat processed junk at your disposal. No cookies, sweets and fast food! We need glucose, but we don’t need copious amounts of it. Plus, we don’t need it acting lightening fast. Because if that’s the case, your energy will drop equally as fast as it rose.

Example meals/snacks:

  • Tuna and Grapefruit
  • Sardines and a banana(s)
  • Pre-cooked roast turkey slices and pineapple

These are merely guidelines, you can adjust these accordingly and/or combine them accordingly. The takeaway here is they’re all easy to consume (no cooking required) and they provide faster energy, but also in the presence of nutrients and minerals, as fruits contain in an abundance.

Finally one last option, and this may only be viable for those with a large appetite (like myself), is to fuel up for the day taking into account how long you may have to go without access to quality food. I’ve used this approach numerous times. As I outlined in my recent post about counting calories, I’m a big proponent of tracking your foods so that you can always have something to analyse if you don’t get the intended result. You have a point of dissection.

What you would do is realistically calculate the meal frequency you can achieve for the given day, and divide your overall calories/macros accordingly. If you usually eat 4 meals per day, but your schedule won’t permit that on a particular day, scale it down to 2 larger meals (for example).

Some people just don’t like/cannot eat vast amounts in one sitting. Which is totally acceptable, therefore the approach offered earlier will likely yield more value. However if you like wolfing down lots of food, the bigger and more infrequent meals may suit you better.

Whatever happens, it’s a game of experiments. 

Try various approaches and see how you feel and perform. It’s no different to exercise programming. You have to learn as much as possible about your body.

It all takes a degree of discipline, but it’s a matter of priority. Do you value your health? Do you value your performance? 

Diet and nutrition are crucial to overall health.

Start becoming a bit more clinical.

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