Our family has been taking more road trips these past few years.
In the last six months, we’ve driven to New Mexico twice and Colorado once. We’ll be driving to Wyoming later this summer.
When you’re on a road trip, food is a primary concern for everyone in the car, especially kids. Kids love stopping at Love’s to buy some road trip Combos.
As a grown man, you may want to eat a little healthier than cheese-stuffed pretzel tubes.
If you’re following some diet or eating plan — perhaps you track your macros like I do — and you want to stick with it while on a road trip, you’re in luck.
While convenience stores were once devoid of good-for-you food and stocked only with nachos and roller-heated hot dogs, the selection of healthier fare has significantly improved over the years.
In fact, we’re living in a golden age for eating healthy on the road.
Below I share my go-to grub for driving the open highways without building a trucker-sized gut.
My General Guidelines for Eating on the Road
Before we get into the specifics of what I like to consume on the road, let me share my guiding principles for eating while traveling:
Hit my protein goal. One of my primary goals when eating on the road is to at least hit my daily protein goal.
Protein builds muscle, natch. But it’s also satiating. I’m less likely to gorge on unhealthy junk when I’m feeling full. (Here’s how much protein you should be getting in your diet.)
Slightly reduce caloric intake by reducing carbs and fat. When I’m on a road trip, I’m sitting on my butt all day. Consequently, I don’t need to consume as many calories as I usually do. So I reduce my caloric intake when driving by lowering the carbs and fats I consume.
For example, I usually consume about 3200 calories a day. When I’m on a road trip, I’ll reduce that to about 2800 calories. I do that by consuming fewer carbs and fat (while still hitting my protein goal).
Don’t forget to treat yo’ self. While I do focus on eating healthy on the road, I don’t let that get in the way of treating myself to some occasional road trip junk food. If we’re still driving at dinnertime, I’ll get myself a hot dog or one of those grab-and-go BBQ sandwiches that many truck stops carry these days. Because they taste good and I’m on vacation.
Focus on eating “right” 80% of the day and enjoy some road trip eats the other 20% of the time.
Overall, you’re never going to eat as healthy on the road as you would in your normal day-to-day life; while convenience stores and travel stops have added healthier offerings, the stuff that’s available still isn’t as fresh and non-pre-packaged as what you’d eat at home. When the option is available, you can of course pack fresher stuff in a cooler, but when that isn’t an option and/or you just want grab-and-go convenience, below you’ll find some decent items to pick up.
Finally, keep in mind that what I highlight here is based on the fact that I follow a “If It Fits Your Macros” plan, wherein you can conceivably eat whatever you want as long as it, well, fits your macros. Even though that’s the case, I still — whether at home or away — try to eat foods that have some nutrients and some fiber, both because such foods are satiating and because they make me feel less like crap. How you define “healthy,” or at least “healthier,” and thus the eating choices you personally make while traveling, is going to depend on your own diet/food philosophy.
Healthier Road Trip Snacks
Bring Your Own Whey Protein
We’ll talk below about protein sources you can buy on the road, but I highly recommend bringing your own whey protein in the car. (Here’s how and why to use whey protein in your diet.) It’s a brand you already know you like. But more importantly, it’s cheap. Look to spend $4 to $5 for a protein shake at a truck stop. Two scoops of whey protein are less than a dollar.
Just bring your bag of whey protein and a shaker. If your