Written by Diane Maier
3 Steps to Meal Prep When Traveling for Competition:
There are so many things that come into play when preparing for a big competition like Worlds or Pans. From registration to flights and hotel. Comp gis ready and patched up. Diet and mental preparation. And the training of course! Technique, strategy, and conditioning. What’s my game plan and am I conditioned enough to make it through all the matches it will take to get me on the podium?
How many think about what they are going to eat when on the road? What are your plans for staying on weight and taking in the right nutrients your body needs to perform at its best?
Personally… I travel with my food! I prepare all my meals, pack them and bring it all with me. I want to eat the foods I prepare and not risk eating foods with the hidden salt, butter, oils, etc that can turn a fish dish into an unexpected pound or two! Ever have trouble sleeping in a hotel? Is it the bed or eating food your body is not used to and it impacts your REM. Ever feel tired when traveling? Is it the time difference or the missing complex carbs your body is used to getting when its home but now suddenly deprived of on the road. Used to taking supplements? Glutamine, BCAAs, etc? Are they in your suitcase or on your kitchen counter?
Step 1: PLAN
- Know your schedule: Number of days and meals needed.
- Know your rhythm: When am I at the venue? Do I need my food to travel with me? Am I eating tacos from a food truck outside the venue or a healthy meal I prepared and brought in my backpack? (I admit my post-comp meal at Worlds was an absurd amount of tacos from the taco truck outside the venue 🙂
- Know your lodging: Make sure it has refrigeration and some method of heating your food. You need to store your food once you arrive and check in. Knowing your lodging can impact what type of food you choose the prepare.
Step 2: PREPARE
Time to cook: Your recipes and your quantity drive your time. If I’m leaving early in the morning I cook everything the night before. I avoid trying new recipes right before I travel.
Time to portion: I put almost everything in individual containers that I can easily transport and devour.
Time to freeze: Your food will have to make the long trip in possibly a hot car or the belly of an airplane and not spoil. Sometimes I do a short freeze so I don’t have an icy block of fish on the other side 🙂 Oh! By the way! You can pack any type of food in a suitcase to go under the plane. You can also bring food with you as a carry on but there are some restrictions. Always check with the airline.
Step 3: PACK
- Pack your meals: I wrap them tightly with saran wrap to ensure nothing leaks.
- Pack your suitcase: I use two smaller soft coolers inside of one suitcase. This is in case I need to use one of the coolers at my destination. I use plenty of ice blocks and ensure everything is tightly packed.
It may take some time before you leave, but the benefits are huge when on the road. Especially when you have to stay at a venue days before competition. At worlds masters I prepared food for myself and for my BJJ sister Juanita. So the portions in the pictures are doubled.
I’m not a nutritionist or chef but I do like to learn about what my body needs to perform at its best. And I seek the advice of my sports performance trainer and nutritionist Jose Trevino. When I make the commitment and spend the money to go to a big competition like Worlds Masters, traveling meal prep is my peace of mind.
Please share any traveling meal prep stories or questions! How do you handle your nutrition while on the road?