What is the best way to prevent weight gain when on the road?

Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

The best idea is to map out where you are going and try to plan where to buy your meals first. There are some good websites such as that can assist you with this... Second... put on a pedometer and make sure that you are getting at least 10.000 steps per day... This will help as well.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

Planning ahead is key to being successful when on the road- a few tips:

  • Try to focus on what your body needs when ordering not what just what sounds good.
  • Stick with low or no calorie drinks
  • Choose fruits or veggies to snack on vs. chips and candy
  • Prepack a cooler or bag of healthy snacks as it will save you money and calories
  • Most fast food places have their menu online so check it out before you depart and pick your choices wisely.
  • Find places to stop and exercise for example take a minute to walk around a park, trail or even around the hotel before you head out for the day.  

Know that one day will not ruin your success so if you get off track just refocus your thoughts on what you can do to be successful at the next meal.

Be aware of your nutrition and do your best to move as much as you can. What works for me is to eat every 3 hours to avoid getting hungry. I try to eat 5 to 6 small meals through the day, consisting of a healthy complex carb and a healthy lean protein. I keep it as simple as possible. Hard Boiled eggs work well (can usually get them at hotel or Starbucks), put with a bag of raw vegetables for example. Nuts are great too along with a fruit or bag of vegetables. If I allow myself to get hungry, especially while on the road, cravings take over and it becomes more difficult for me to make healthy nutrition choices like ordering a beautiful salad without dressing for lunch. I also tend to over eat when I allow myself to get hungry.  

Restaurant meals contain many hidden calories, so staying in accommodations with a kitchenette or common area where you can cook your own meals gives you a lot more control over what you eat.  

If you don’t have access to a cooking space, look up restaurants and stores in the area and create a meal plan ahead of time. Many restaurants list the calories of the foods they serve online, and by doing your homework before hand, you can avoid accidently ordering dishes that exceed your calorie limits. By knowing where stores are located, you can easily purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy snacks that you wouldn’t necessarily pack from home.

At the very least pack snacks. Having healthy and low calorie snacks - trail mix, nutritional bars, whole grain cereals with shelf stable milks, apples, carrot sticks, low calorie popcorn, etc - prepared ahead of time and easily accessible will keep you from turning to high calorie fast food options out of hunger and desperation. 

Last but not least, research your exercise options. Find out if your hotel has a fitness center. Look up local parks and trails where you can walk or run. If you’re working, many office complexes have lovely landscaped outdoor spaces where you can do stretches and steps / stairs during breaks. If you’re on vacation, walk. By walking the cities you’re visiting rather than bussing or taking cabs, you’ll make unexpected discoveries and learn more about the place you're visiting while still fitting in those extra steps necessary to maintain or lose weight.

There are two things to remember when traveling: watch what you eat and commit to staying active. Remember that a calorie burned negates a calorie eaten and vice versa. Take extra steps to eat lower fat and low calorie foods and watch the alcohol. Smaller portions also help. If you do get a bit loose on the eating, promise yourself you will not only complete a workout, but you will do a bit extra to offset the extra calories eaten. If your schedule looks like you will not have time to fit in exercise, really tighten up on the eating. When you cannot exercise this is the ideal time to eat as close to perfect as you can. It can easily balance out the lack of activity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.