Know When and How Often You Should Eat
Before you consider what to eat, you should learn the basics on when to eat in order to stay healthy on the road. For example, you should begin every day with breakfast, as the most important meal of the day is associated with the following benefits:
- Better concentration
- Improved memory
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol
- Decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes
- Reduced risk of being overweight
Now that you know the importance of breakfast, you might assume that lunch and dinner are the other two critical times to eat each day. But it turns out it’s better to eat five small meals per day than three large ones. The smaller meals every few hours will keep your metabolism going better than the bigger meals will, giving you more energy throughout the day! If you can’t shake the habit of eating three meals per day, at least add a few snacks between those meals to keep your energy up all day.
Why You Probably Need More Protein
So, what should those healthy meals consist of? The answer is a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Most people get plenty of fats and carbohydrates, but it can be harder to incorporate protein into your diet when you’re on the road. After all, snacks like donuts, candy bars, and fried fast food are easy to grab on the go, but they’re not good for you in the long run.
When you eat more protein, you’re better able to stabilize your blood sugars, as well as maximize the energy you get from the carbs you eat. Plus, protein strengthens your bones and muscles while improving your immune system. Basically, truckers can benefit from getting more protein in meals and snacks! Some of the best sources of protein include lean meats—such as chicken breast, beef, turkey, and fish—as well as eggs, peanut butter, and beans.
So whenever possible, make burgers, sandwiches, or salads that contain these proteins and bring them with you on the road. You can also get a portable stove or skillet and a mini refrigerator or cooler so you can make your own fresh, healthy food any time you take a break. And if you must eat fast food once in a while, be sure to skip the fried foods and instead go for salads and the leanest meats possible. Some of the best options include the following:
- Salad or burrito bowl from Chipotle
- Grilled chicken sandwich with a side of chili from Wendy’s
- Turkey avocado BLT from Panera Bread
- Chicken garden salad from Burger King
Best Healthy Snacks to Pack
When you get hungry between meals, it’s tempting to reach for popular snacks like chips and cookies. However, these will not only lead to weight gain and health issues, but they also won’t keep you full for very long. If you want more filling, healthy snacks, buy or make the following options to eat while you’re on the road:
- Trail mix
- Plain Greek yogurt (and add granola or berries for more flavor!)
- Low-sodium beef jerky
- Low-fat string cheese
- Hardboiled eggsFresh fruits and vegetables (such as baby carrots, celery sticks, apple slices, etc.)
Drink This, Not That
It’s common for truck drivers to depend on drinks that are readily available everywhere and have lots of caffeine—such as soda, tea, and coffee. While coffee itself is fine—and has even been shown to save the lives of many truck drivers!—avoid adding lots of cream and sugar if you’re trying to stick to a low-calorie, healthy diet.
On the other hand, there’s nothing healthy or beneficial about soda! First, it contains a lot of calories, and even just ingesting 100 extra calories per day can lead to a 10-pound weight gain in a year. Plus, soda can increase your odds of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Not to mention that the sugar in soda is not good for your teeth. Before you consider simply switching to diet soda to leave out the sugar and calories, note that artificially sweetened drinks often make you crave sweet foods, which can lead to weight gain.
So what’s the best drink for truck drivers to regularly sip on? Water! Of course, most people are aware of this and just avoid it because drinking water all day can get boring. But you can make it more exciting by adding some flavoring or fresh fruit to water. And these days, it’s easy to find flavored sparkling water at any gas station, so if you miss the carbonation and flavor of soda, this is a great option to try.
Combining these healthy eating tips with some workouts you can do on the road should help you feel better than ever as you advance in your truck driving career!