Food. The right kind of fuel, especially when you’re on-the-go or away from home.

It has become common sense that the day-to-day intake of fresh fruits and
vegetables is a key to maintaining good health. When we make a trip away
from home, or away from civilization at large, however, the game changes a
bit. Not only will we have limited access to fresh, clean produce – our
needs change as well. We usually leave home with the intention of doing
something outside our normal routine, and for that we need more energy.

The key to safely and efficiently staying active is to utilize the right
kind of fuel.

Two nutrient groups that are essential to pay attention to during times of
activity are carbohydrates and fat. Though everyone’s body is unique in how
it utilizes food and creates energy, we can be sure that the building
blocks we require are coming predominantly from one or both of these
sources. Do not let marketing fool you- times of increased energy demands
on the body are not the times to experiment with restrictive weight-loss

Carbohydrates, which get converted to sugar inside the body, are the basic
building blocks of our energy system. Simple carbs (simple sugars) are
burned quickly by the body, giving short bursts of immediate energy, while
complex carbs (complex sugars) are digested slowly and release energy over
the long-term. Both are useful in different ways, though as a general
guideline, complex carbohydrates are going to be more efficient and more
likely to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Not only is fat an essential nutrient, the fat we store in our tissues is
the largest reserve of energy we have. Pound for pound, fat is the most
concentrated source of caloric energy we can consume. Furthermore, fat is
required by the body to absorb and utilize vitamins A, D, E, and K. The key
to consuming fats in a healthy manner is to maximize consumption of
unsaturated fat, which also carries proven benefit to cholesterol levels
and overall heart health.

Protein is often considered a power nutrient – and it is – however its
primary function is repair and maintenance of the tissues. While protein is
something we definitely want to have in our diet, the body only utilizes
protein as a fuel source in the absence of a better option, and it is slow
to metabolize in the body. The key is to consume only as much protein as we
need, which is especially simple to do when we are including enough fat in
our diet.

The one category in which there is no room for flexibility is cleanliness
of the food. It doesn’t matter how healthy the meal is on paper- if its
cleanliness is in question, its not worth it to take the risk. Perishable
food that isn’t cared for properly, or food taken from a contaminated
source, will inevitably lead to far worse consequences than fatigue.

Finally, our food should taste good. Not only should it taste good, it has
to taste good if we want to engage our metabolic processes at their
maximum. Its been proven that when we enjoy our food, our bodies can digest
food and assimilate nutrients more efficiently. It has also been proven
that the same food digests differently in different bodies. This means that
the precise nutritional value of any given meal is relative to a wide range
of factors. The beauty of dietary guidelines is that it is neither
difficult to meet them, nor to find enough freedom inside of them to enjoy
our meals.

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