It’s summertime, and you know what that means: it’s the perfect time for a road trip. Whether you’re headed to the coast for a beach vacation, a national park to become one with nature, or mimicking the path of route 66 right across the country, few things beat the feeling of cruising on the open road and watching the scenery go by. There’s just one problem—it’s way too easy to derail your diet when you’re passing by all those roadside diners and snack stops.
But hitting the road doesn’t mean your diet has to hit the skids. Follow these guidelines on your next road trip, and you won’t wonder what happened to your waistline by the time you get home.
Don’t skip meals.
We’ve all been there—you’re in a rush to get going for the day, so you skip breakfast and insist you’ll get something healthy on the road… and then next thing you know, you’re pulling up to a fast-food drive-in ordering some cheesy, fried monstrosity that blows your caloric intake for the entire week. We’re not saying you can never have cheesy fried monstrosities for breakfast, just that it’s too easy to fall into that trap on a road trip—and doing that day after day could land you in trouble.
When you skip meals, you not only wreck your routine, you set yourself up to make quick and hasty food decisions down the road—literally—when the hunger monster takes over. Instead, make a meal plan of sorts to help you stay on track with your nutrition goals. Do some research on what dining options are available along the way to your final destination, so you can make sure you get your breakfast, lunch and dinner at your usual dining times. Or, pack a cooler with your favorite eats—that way you know you’re sticking to your food goals.
It may be tempting to load up on sugary drinks, or not drink at all so you can avoid questionable truck stop bathrooms. But doing either of these things will cause you trouble in the end. Staying properly hydrated helps you feel full (and thus, less likely to snack), and sugary drinks are just empty calories that don’t do much to support your body’s needs. And about that bathroom thing? You know trying to make yourself not go—or holding it for too long—is a recipe for disaster, right?
Make sure you drink water or something with electrolytes, like Zhou Nutrition’s Hydro-Fuel, which is great for summer thanks to its ability to replenish nutrients lost in sweat. It features coconut water concentrate, known for its electrolyte profile and hydrating properties, and a 72-trace mineral complex and malic acid to keep your energy up on the longest stretches of your drive. Bring a refillable water bottle that you can continually reload at restaurants and gas stations along the way.
Get your fruits and veggies in.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: fries are not veggies. When we talk about fruits and veggies, we mean the fibrous, nutrient rich, colors-found-in-nature kind of vegetables and fruits. While filling up on nature’s goodness is solid advice whether you’re traveling the nation’s highways or hanging out at home, it’s especially important when you’re road tripping to keep you feeling full and support a healthy nutrient intake. We’re not saying you have to have a salad for every meal, but why not opt for something green as a side instead of something fried, if your main meal comes from the burger family? Your body will appreciate it—trust us.
Bring healthy snacks.
Remember that cooler full of meals we recommended earlier? If you’re confident you have a good grip on what your meal options are on the road, try packing that cooler full of some good snacks that can help you fight the munchies between meals—without blowing your entire diet. For example? Try carrot sticks and hummus, apples with nut butter, or maybe some energy balls made with the added bonus of plant-based protein from Zhou Nutrition’s Plant Complete. It offers a blend of pea and rice protein fermented with shiitake mushroom, and blends seamlessly into your favorite recipes. Here’s our favorite recipe for protein-packed snack bites. You could even make some healthy road trip smoothies with some nut milk, frozen berries, spinach and Plant Complete for a sweet and healthy road trip treat.
Be smart at the store.
Pit stops are inevitable, and chances are you may want to stock up once you get to your destination—especially if you’re camping or staying someplace with a gourmet kitchen. But you can avoid wrecking your diet by shopping smartly, like not grabbing the junkiest of junk foods just because they’re within reach. Rather than reaching for candy bars and licorice twists, reach for something higher in protein and less processed, like a bag of nuts or even a lean version of a meat jerky like beef or turkey. Pass over the slushies in favor of water or flavored seltzer. Maybe even do some exploring throughout the store to see if there’s a new option you’ve never tried before. Speaking of…
Do the best you can with what you’ve got.
No matter how diligent you are, you may not be able to stay 100% on track with your diet—and in those instances, just make the best choice you can. If you’re dying of hunger and your only options are something sweet and packaged, choose something with more protein or fiber in it to help you feel fuller longer. Drinking a sports drink is better than drinking nothing, and if fried is your only option, you don’t have to eat an entire bucket load of beer battered whatever to fill up. Just gauge your options and choose the best one available to you at any given time.
And just because you’re on the road, that doesn’t mean you can’t make exercise a part of your pit stops. Take some time out for jumping jacks or push-ups while you’re gassing up, or run a couple laps around the rest stop just to keep the blood pumping and break your bod out of its sitting rut. And keep fueled up with Zhou Nutrition’s Muscle BCAA, featuring 5,000 mg of vegan BCAAs, a powerful probiotic, vitamin C, and hydrating coconut water concentrate. It’ll help support both your bursts of periodic energy when the mood takes you, and muscle recovery when you settle back into the car for the next leg of your journey.
Indulge—but don’t go bananas.
Look, we don’t want to sound like total buzzkills—it’s your vacation, after all. This is the time to cut loose and have fun, and that means going a little off book on your diet. But you know what they say: moderation is key. So while it might be tempting to have ice cream for breakfast every day, maybe let yourself have it for breakfast one day and explore other options throughout the rest of your trip (plus, ice cream in the car can be messy). That way you can have a little summertime fun, give your body a break, and get back down to business when you get back home. It’s a win win!