When I have a day at home that is shortly after we have purchased groceries I eat perfectly according to my plan and my daily caloric requirements. The longer I can get all of my meals from my house, the longer I can stay on my plan and see recovery be optimal, muscle grow and fat go away.
But that isn’t reality is it?
Where the wheels always fall off is on the go. One of my biggest failings is to go to work in the morning and get so busy that I don’t stop to eat. In the past I have been known to go six or eight hours without eating and then I am so hungry that I will anything and usually make bad choices because of it. As human beings on impulse when hungry it is very easy to want something fatty or sugary that is off our plan but fills that desperate need to eat. It is also really easy to justify feelings of ‘I deserve a treat because I’ve had such a hard day.’
It’s actually not too hard to prepare in advance and avoid this situation and really that is all it takes – being prepared.
Bring it with you. In the ‘prepackaged and zero effort’ department I always have several meal replacement bars with me. (And don’t tune out and scrunch up your face, these things have come a long way in the last few years!) My three favourite bars right now are the bars from Hammer Nutrition. They have several great flavour choices and the ingredients are so excellent that I feed them to my three-year-old and have been since he was one. The only minor strike against them is that they are fairly low in protein as they are designed as an endurance energy bar.
My next favourite are the ‘Kind’ bars. Again, these are very healthy ingredients, real food and lots of great flavour choices. My current favourite is dark chocolate and sea salt. Next favourite is the ‘Quest’ bar series. Again, great ingredients, lots of flavour choices and these ones have a much higher protein count.
In the ‘thought and preparation’ department, it is really easy to have a shaker cup with some protein powder in it on hand at all times. All you need to do is add some water or coconut milk or something and grab a piece of fruit and you are good to go. It doesn’t take much effort to throw a piece of fruit in your backpack for the day.
If you do need to go out to a fast food restaurant there are lots of choices that are pretty good. My favourites are Tim Hortons chili with a whole wheat bun and a water, or oftentimes I will grab one of their Greek yogurts. Pretty much anything at Wok Box or Chopped Leaf is good, but you do have to watch the calories. Some of their salads and dishes are very heavy. A protein shake has amazing ingredients and is right on plan. Booster Juice has some really good wraps that I like on the go.
As with everything, read the ingredients, check the nutrition guides and do your homework. All of these restaurants have their nutrition information on site and online.
If you can swing into a grocery store you are all set. Head to the deli and grab some healthy protein like chicken or beef etc. Usually they have pre-cooked chicken or something like that. And not the processed sandwich mystery meat, the good stuff! Then a quick stroll through the vegetable aisle and you can find either some whole, or pre-cut up varieties of peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Easy! Next you can grab a single whole grain bun, or a dish of pre-cooked rice back at the deli, or even some more veggies and skip the starch.
If you are stuck at a convenience store or a gas station – beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, almonds or cashews, fresh fruit, and a water are probably your best options. Make sure you get some protein, which is where the jerky and the eggs and the nuts come in.
That’s a pretty good start.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.