Originally Posted at www.t-nation.com
Remember when Chris Farley used to talk about living in that van? You know, the one down by the river?
That’s me, except it’s not a van and it’s not down by the river. But yeah, I basically live in my car. You see, I’m a trainer who goes to people’s houses all day long to work them out, so instead of having an office as my home base, my car is my home base.
The job is great, but it’s led to its own set of challenges — most notably, trying to keep my nutritional program on track. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy at first. In fact, it was downright hard. I put on a few pounds as I got caught up in that devilish “C” word: convenience.
But, rather than accepting defeat like a large portion of the population would, I came up with a battle plan to get my nutrition back on track. Whether you’re a student who doesn’t get back to his dorm room enough, a business person who spends a ton of time in the office, or someone like myself who spends entirely too much time in their car, this article will give you a ton of great food ideas that are both nutritious and convenient.
How Foods Make the List
There’s nothing inherently special about the foods on this list; however, I do like for them to satisfy a few basic criteria:
Includes complete proteins
A source of good fats
Improves acid/base balance
A source of antioxidants
A good source of fiber
Improves hydration status
(Note that the more criteria a food meets, the better it is.)
But this is a somewhat limited view. After all, there are a ton of foods that would meet these criteria that I haven’t included on my list. Why not? Because they aren’t portable and convenient!
All the foods on my list either need to be portable (e.g. easily packaged or can sit in a car, book bag, etc. for an extended period of time), or need to be readily accessible on the road. In other words, I want good food that’s convenient — and if that’s not a conundrum, I don’t know what is!
So without further ado, here are the foods that made the list.
Low-Carb Metabolic Drive
I’m going to start this off with Low-Carb Metabolic Drive, mainly because we all know the importance of getting adequate protein in our diets. Build muscle, burn fat, increase TEF (Thermic Effect of Food), blah, blah, blah…
My latest Metabolic Drive creation is what I call “Sludge.” All you do is mix two scoops of your favorite flavor of Metabolic Drive, add a scoop of a greens product like Greens +, and then one tablespoon of milled flax seeds. Now, not only do you have a great source of protein, but also some good fats and a ton of antioxidants. Basically, you’ve just made a good food even better.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t just leave a container of Metabolic Drive in my car. I actually fill five bottles with powder at the beginning of the week and then just grab one bottle per day. Works like a charm!
Mixed nuts should be a staple in your diet due to their abundance of good fats, but add in the fact that they’re portable and you have yet another reason to eat them daily!
I’ve tried all kinds, but I tend to stick with either basic almonds or some of Planters new “heart healthy” mixes. My current favorite includes peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and pecans.
Dr. John Berardi recommends that you get 10-15 servings of fruits and veggies per day. While a lot of fruits don’t hold up well in the car (especially if it’s hot outside), dried fruits are typically a very viable option. As well, you only need one-third of a cup of dried fruit to get a serving, making it pretty easy to get more fruits into your diet!
Good options here include dried blueberries, apricots, and especially prunes. Just watch out for added sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. Prunes are quickly becoming one of my favorite dried fruits, and not necessarily because of the taste (which isn’t really all that bad). Prunes are chockfull of antioxidants. When compared to other fruits that have high antioxidant levels, prunes nearly double the antioxidant output of raisins, their closest competitor.
Simply put, if you’re training hard you’re going to be releasing a lot more free radicals into your system than the average desk jockey, so start putting the beat down on free radicals by getting more fruits into your diet.
Metabolic Drive Bars
As Dickie V. would say, “They’re a really PTP’er.” However, I don’t think he meant “Protein, Tasty, and Portable” when he said that. Regardless, Metabolic Drive bars taste awesome and are great when you’re on the go.
Not everyone is forced to eat meals in the car like me, so maybe you have some time to actually sit down and get a quick bite somewhere. But where do you go? And what do you order?
Almost every major fast food chain now offers some sort of salad with a lean protein source, so all you have to do is have the willpower to order them! Along those same lines, be sure to skip the salad dressing, where most good salads go bad.
In case you haven’t tried one before, make sure to get one of Chipotle’s salads next time you’re in a fast-food place. They use Romaine lettuce, black beans, salsa, and free-range meats such as chicken or pork. Not too bad for the six bucks you’ll shell out!
In case you’re wondering what not to order, one thing I’d definitely stay away from are Burger King’s “Stackers.” As if it’s not bad enough that one-third of the country is overweight and these guys are offering four hamburger patties per bun, they also boast about the fact that there’s no veggies to be seen. As if veggies are the real problem here or something?
This is one I’ve just been getting into, but it’s hard to get enough fish in your diet when only one meal per day is eaten at home. Enter packaged fish.
We all know the benefits of salmon, including the protein and great fatty acid profile it offers. However, until some genius decided to put it in a bag that doesn’t need refrigeration (or a can opener), it was a lot harder to get into your diet.
Now I know some people will complain that it doesn’t taste the best, but ask yourself, “Are we really doing this for taste?” Probably not. We’re doing it so we can look jacked, ripped, or move more weight. If you’re having issues stomaching packaged fish, try pairing it with my next food item.
Whole Wheat Crackers
Okay, this one may not meet many of the criteria on my list (with the exception of having some fiber in it), but there are times when we need something to go down with that packaged fish. In this case, a few whole-wheat crackers make the taste a lot more palatable and help us keep our diet in check.
And if we’re looking at the bright side of things, at least you’re not eating Chili Cheese Fritos like the fat-ass in the cubicle next to you!
This is one of those items that can either be really good or really bad, so let me explain further. Most chain smoothie places suck. They use frozen fruits, juices that contain a ton of sugar, and in general just aren’t that nutritious. However, there is an alternative.
If you have a good natural food store around (in Indianapolis, Wild Oats is very popular), check out their coffee/smoothie bar and see what it has to offer. Chances are, they have some great options.
The Wild Oats here in town makes a smoothie that includes organic blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries mixed with grape juice and vanilla whey protein. Granted there’s a little bit of sugar due to the grape juice, but overall you’re getting a ton of antioxidants and some protein to boot. You could make a lot worse choices than this when you’re on the road!
Again, antioxidants are our friend! Green tea is one of Berardi’s “approved” beverages because it’s calorie free and a great source of antioxidants. You can actually purchase value packs of the green stuff at your local wholesale store such as Sam’s. I get 100 teabags for the cheap cost of about seven smacks.
And if you don’t have time to make it yourself, Starbucks can hook you up too — just don’t be scared when you find out how expensive it is to heat up that water!
While this may be the least sexy item on the list, chances are you probably aren’t getting enough water. As well, chances are you don’t have a ton of water just lying around your workplace, making it even less likely that you’re going to get enough in during the day.
While it may be the least sexy item, it’s probably the simplest — buy a case of water, keep it in your car or office, and drink five or six bottles per day.
What foods do you include when you’re on the go but want to keep your jacked physique? Be sure to discuss them below!