Hey, I get it: Your eating schedule is thrown off when you’re traveling, making it all too easy to go off the rails, eat crappy food, and pack on bad weight (fat) on your trip.
What I found works best for me is intermittent fasting (IF). In fact, while serving as a postdoctoral research scientist at Yale School of Medicine, my lab investigated how intermittent fasting works to burn more fat. We discovered that the cycle of fasting and feeding actually speeds up your metabolism and makes you burn more fat and carbs to fuel daily activities.
What I love best about IF is that it allows you to be looser in your food choices. Because the fasting speeds up your metabolic rate so well, you can enjoy almost any food you like, in moderation of course. I often enjoy burgers, ice cream, and alcohol despite having to stay in photo-shoot shape year-round. And that makes it much easier to find food in restaurants on the road.
I recommend that most people ease into IF. Since we sleep somewhere around 6-8 hours every day, we already do IF. Most people typically follow a 12/12 fasting/feeding day; that means they eat within a 12-hour window most days. For example, if someone wakes up at 7:00 am and goes to sleep around 11:00 pm, they likely eat from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm.
So, start by ensuring that you’re doing a 12/12 fasting/feeding schedule at the very least. Once you see how easy this is, gradually increase the fasting hours while decreasing the feeding hours, starting with fasting for 13 hours and eating for 11 hours.
Ideally, you want to get to a 16/8 fasting/feeding schedule – fasting 16 hours, then eating in an 8-hour window. The time of day doesn’t matter much. Choose your feeding window based off when you crave food the most, when you work out (because it’s ideal to exercise in a fed state), and/or when you typically eat with a group (like your family).
An added benefit to IF for the traveler is that research shows it can help fight jet lag. All you have to do is eat at the same time you normally eat in your new time zone. If you live in New York and eat from 4:00 pm to 12:00 am, you would eat at those same times (between 4:00 pm and midnight West Coast time) in LA despite it being 3 hours later.
Here's a video further explaining how to structure your intermittent fasting schedule to combat jet lag: