A trip to Brazil! I can’t imagine anything more appealing right now, especially in the middle of a cold February for many of you. However, if you’re there to do more than strut the beach in a slingshot, then you have to put some thought into what you will eat and drink to stay fueled and hydrated.
With recent events in Rio including the Pan Am games, many sport nutrition authorities published very handy tips for travelling, specifically to Brazil.
Long distance travel tips:
Your goal is to minimize your jet lag, and stay on your training diet.
At least 3 days in advance, figure out how you will get your food. Will you have to shop for it? Is a family hosting you? Are you in a hotel?
If you have any special dietary needs, speak up from now! Don’t wait until you’re there.
The flight: you can’t carry water on board, but you can carry 2 liters worth in your luggage. You will be arriving somewhere very hot, and it’s a good idea to have water with you. Also, taking high carbohydrate snacks will help. I like Ryvita Muesli (Purple box) Crackers. They’re a little dry, but they’re high in fibre, and actually taste pretty darn good.
(below) Ryvita Muesli Crackers
This is at least a ten-hour flight, so make an effort to stay hydrated. At least one small water bottle (500ml) every 2 hours. Skip the coffee at the airport if you want to sleep on the plane, and don’t drink any alcohol! Both can add to succumbing to dehydration and jet lag.
When in Brazil:
If you are preparing your own food, it can be confusing to walk into a foreign grocery store. Besides the language barrier, you might not see the staples that you can depend on in North America. Here are some tips on what you will need to eat, and where to look for it.
When training 2-4 hours per day in a hot country, high fiber carbohydrates are extremely important. They will keep the ‘gas in the tank’ that will last through practice. In a country like Brazil, beans are your best friends. The “gassy-ness” associated with beans comes from your stomach’s struggle to digest them, and gets better over time; however Digestive Enzymes ($10 at Shoppers Drug Mart) are a natural and safe way to help your stomach.
Beans are bombs delivering explosive power; they are ½ protein and ½ high fibre carbohydrate. In Brazil, they are often served in rice. Tutu de Feijão is a bean dish thickened with manioc meal, which is packed with carbohydrates. Feijoãda is another popular dish that you can find.
Root vegetables will also provide you with quality carbohydrates. Manioc (aka cassava), mentioned above, is a Brazilian staple. Seasoned manioc meal is sprinkled on everything, kind of like Parmesan cheese.
While you’re there, don’t forget about your green vegetables. You may have to look hard to find broccoli at a local market, as green vegetables are not as popular as starchier root vegetables.
Hydration is of the utmost importance, and during the day will most likely be the issue if you feel tired or sluggish. Alcohol, the scorching sun, and exercise will sap water from you. Make sure that during the day you are taking in about 2 liters of water outside of training, and during training, take in about 5-10 gulps every 30 min.
You might feel bloated the first few days with all the water and complex carbohydrates, but being hydrated and fueled is the payoff.
Lastly, there is also an amazing array of fruits in Brazil. These are great as a pre-workout snack, or part of your post workout meal. Protein is important after a workout. A lot of the meat in Brazil is quite salty. This can also help you retain water and increase your thirst. They taste great, but eat them in moderation. Post workout, various Brazilian stews (usually eaten at lunch) are a great meal because of their high protein and carbohydrate content.
Like quizzes? Here’s one to check whether you’re traveling right.
THE TRAVEL CHALLENGE
1. Did you drink some fluid at the airport in the hours prior to departure? Score 2 points if you had at least 500 mL (2 cups) of fluid. Score 1 point if you had only 250 mL (one cup).
2. How much water, juice, milk or soft drink did you drink en route? Score 2 points for every hour that you had at least 250 mL (1 cup) of fluid. Bonus: score 3 extra points if you brought your own bottle of water on board!
3. How many alcoholic beverages did you drink in the airport and en route? Deduct 2 points per drink.
4. Did you consume balanced, high carbohydrate meals and snacks? Score 2 points if you did. Score 2 bonus points if you brought your own personal “SNAC-Pac” (fluids, meals, and snacks) on board!
5. Did you eat a snack or meal every 2 to 3 hours during your flight? Score 1 point if you did. Deduct 1 point if you did not eat for more than 4 hours.
6. How many times did you get out of your seat to walk around the aircraft? Score 1 point if you took a walk every 3–4 hours.
7. Did you set your watch to the destination time before your flight departed? Score 1 point if you did.
8. Did you sleep sometime during the flight? Score 1 point if you did.
Calculate your total point score for the flight. Evaluate your score using the following rating scale:
15 points -Excellent (Gold Medal)
10–14 points Not far off!
<10 points There’s room for improvement!
Words by Natalie Sutherland
Quiz courtesy of © Coaching Association of Canada 2012. All Rights Reserved
Natalie Sutherland has a BSc in Nutrition from Ryerson University and a BPHE from Phys.Ed at the University of Toronto. She has taught sports nutrition to Varsity Athletes at Ryerson, University of Toronto, and also teaches Nutrition and Activity to those who need it most- kids.
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