Can I beat jet lag with food?

Men's Fitness - - Experts -

Your body clock can be dis­rupted by short-haul flights and ru­ined by long-haul ones. Even if you’re not af­fected by jet lag, sim­ple travel fa­tigue can lead to de­hy­dra­tion, ill­ness and in­fe­rior per­for­mance. But it doesn’t have to be like that – there are easy ways to avoid th­ese prob­lems.

Plane cab­ins are hot­beds for bac­te­ria. Anti-bac­te­rial hand gels will help, but germs spread in the dirty re­cy­cled air too. There’s some ev­i­dence that pro­bi­otics pro­tect you from ill­ness so take them for at least a week be­fore you travel.

Mag­ne­sium and zinc help to boost the im­mune sys­tem. They also help re­lax your mus­cles so you can sleep on the flight. Tea con­tains a com­pound called thea­nine, which also helps with re­lax­ation.

Get to the air­port early enough to have a meal. Broth with noodles for non-starchy carbs, chicken for pro­tein and veg­eta­bles for fi­bre ticks all the boxes. Be­ing full when you get on the plane means you can go to sleep right away and skip the du­bi­ous plane food.

Be­cause of the dry air in the cabin, hy­dra­tion is im­por­tant. Pick up a large bot­tle of wa­ter when you’re through se­cu­rity and add sa­chets of elec­trolytes and salts to it to aid wa­ter ab­sorp­tion. Drink the wa­ter to a sched­ule. On an eight-hour flight you’ll need to drink three litres, so sched­ule your sleep so you don’t have to wake up to go to the toi­let. And plane food is of­ten low in fi­bre so pack some ap­ples for the flight.

Do some ex­er­cises. Stand up, draw your belly­but­ton in and slowly ro­tate your trunk left and right for 30-sec­ond bursts ev­ery two hours.

Back on terra firma

On land­ing, don’t devour the first ex­otic-look­ing food you see – stick with your nu­tri­tious snacks. If you want to ex­er­cise, take it easy at first. Your back may be com­pro­mised af­ter a long flight so your first ses­sion should be about loos­en­ing up and stretch­ing. Build it up so you’re back work­ing at 100% no sooner than the third day.

If you need to per­form, avoid ex­ces­sively spicy food that can af­fect your gut health – there will be dif­fer­ent bac­te­ria in the lo­cal food than you’re used to. Pack some familiar foods such as por­ridge or dried fruit, but don’t be afraid to in­tro­duce lo­cal flavours into your diet to keep it in­ter­est­ing and fresh – that’s what vis­it­ing new places is all about.

Glenn Kear­ney is head sports nutri­tion­ist for Etixx UK, the gold stan­dard for sports nu­tri­tion. For more info, visit etixxs­ports.com/gb

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