Traveling can be a fantastic escape from the stressors of regular life (even with children, am I right?). But it often presents challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet.
When trying to stay healthy and strong while traveling, protein-rich meals are the key. However, finding protein-rich meals can be particularly challenging on the road.
I admit it. I’m the weirdo on the plane who travels with carrots, rice cakes, and meat sticks or jerky. But you can join me in my healthy weirdness by packing healthy and nourishing options in your purse, carry-on, or (if traveling by car) your ice chest!
And with a little planning and clever choices, it is possible to enjoy nourishing animal-based protein meals even from fast food restaurants, gas stations, and fine dining establishments.
In this newsletter, we will explore why protein is vital during travel and discuss specific ways to find paleo-focused, protein-packed options to stay energized and satisfied throughout your journey.
Why protein is vital while on the road:
Protein is a crucial macronutrient that plays numerous essential roles in our bodies. When traveling, it becomes even more important to get enough protein. Here’s why:
1. Sustained Energy: Protein provides a slow and steady release of energy. This can be crucial during long journeys or when dealing with jet lag. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing energy crashes and keeping you focused.
2. Muscle Maintenance: Whether exploring new cities or trekking through nature, travel often involves physical activity. Consuming adequate protein supports muscle maintenance and repair, minimizing the risk of injury and helping you recover quickly.
3. Satiety and Appetite Control: High-protein meals keep you feeling full for longer periods, curbing unhealthy cravings and preventing overeating. This is especially important when faced with tempting but unhealthy fast food options. Most people throw their healthy diet out the window while traveling because they have not planned well.
I am not saying to never have fun foods while traveling. On our recent trip to Florida, I ate this incredible cheesecake dessert not once but twice. I simply edit my other meals throughout the day to allow for some amazing desserts every once in a while.
How to find healthy & delicious protein options on the road
Now let’s dive into some practical tips and strategies for finding animal-based protein meals while traveling.
The most popular fast food restaurants across the United States offer great options for those on the go...if you know what to look for.
Getting 30 grams of animal protein at Starbucks, Panera, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle may require some strategic choices. Here are some options to help you meet your protein needs at these popular establishments:
Sous Vide Egg Bites: Opt for the Bacon & Gruyere or the Egg White & Red Pepper varieties. Each serving provides around 13 grams of protein.
Protein Boxes: Choose the Egg & Cheese or the Chicken & Quinoa Protein Boxes, which typically contain around 20 grams of protein.
Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak: This dish includes two eggs, seared top sirloin, and avocado. It provides approximately 30 grams of protein.
Greek Salad with Chicken: Go for the full-size portion of this salad, which includes romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. Add grilled chicken to boost the protein content, providing around 30 grams.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Choose the Grilled Chicken Sandwich without the bun. The chicken breast alone contains about 29 grams of protein.
Grilled Market Salad: This salad includes grilled chicken, mixed greens, baby spinach, strawberries, blueberries, and nuts. It provides approximately 32 grams of protein.
Chicken, Steak, or Barbacoa Burrito Bowl: Opt for any of these meats and ask for double the portion to increase your protein intake. Each serving typically contains around 30 grams of protein.
Salad with Carnitas: Choose a salad base and top it with carnitas (slow-cooked pork). This combination generally offers about 30 grams of protein.
Double Meat Sandwich: Opt for a footlong sandwich and ask for double the portion of animal protein, such as turkey, roast beef, or chicken breast. Pair it with paleo-friendly vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes. Avoid bread and opt for a lettuce wrap or a salad instead.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts:
Egg and Sausage Wake-Up Wrap: Choose the wake-up wrap with eggs and sausage. While it may not provide the full 30 grams of protein, it is a decent option considering the limited choices available. Pair it with black coffee or unsweetened tea.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Select the grilled chicken sandwich without the bun. This provides around 30 grams of protein. Add lettuce, tomato, and other paleo-friendly toppings. You can also ask for extra chicken to increase the protein content further.
8. Burger King:
Flame-Grilled Burger: Choose a bunless burger patty, such as the Whopper patty. Add paleo-friendly toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado. You can also ask for additional patties to meet your protein needs.
Let’s say you are not in the mood for fast food - you still have options at gas stations (yes, even gas stations!) and nicer restaurants.
1. Gas Stations:
Jerky: Beef, turkey, or salmon jerky are convenient, high-protein snacks available at many gas stations. Look for brands that have minimal additives or preservatives.
Hard-Boiled Eggs: Pre-packaged hard-boiled eggs can be found in some gas stations. They are a portable and protein-rich option.
Nuts and Seeds: Grab a handful of almonds, cashews, or pumpkin seeds for a quick and protein-packed snack. Check labels to ensure they are free of additives and unhealthy oils.
2. Fine Dining:
Grilled or Roasted Meats: Most upscale restaurants will have options like grilled steak, roasted chicken, or seared fish on their menu. Pair it with roasted vegetables or a salad for a complete meal.
Seafood Selection: Fine dining establishments often have an impressive selection of seafood dishes. Opt for grilled or broiled fish, shrimp, or scallops to get your protein fix.
Customization: Don’t hesitate to request modifications to meet your dietary needs. For example, you can request a substitution of potatoes with extra vegetables or swap out the sauce for a simple olive oil and lemon dressing.
Traveling should not mean compromising your dietary choices - especially regarding your protein intake.
By making informed choices and being resourceful, you can find animal-based protein meals that align with your goals at fast food restaurants, gas stations, and even fine dining establishments.
Remember to prioritize grilled or roasted options, embrace customization, and choose healthy sides and snacks like salads, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy protein-packed meals while on the go, ensuring you have the energy and sustenance needed to make the most of your travel adventures without compromising your healthy lifestyle.
Now go enjoy your trip!
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