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Good Nutrition Is Possible for Busy Pilots



Your life as a pilot is often unpredictable and always demanding, and if you don’t properly fuel up, your punishing schedule can quickly leave you running on fumes. By incorporating four fundamental building blocks, you can maintain ample nutrition to keep you ready for takeoff.


Off to a Good Start


Eating right is just like everything else in life: you have to begin at the beginning. When it comes to food, beginning means breakfast! It’s especially important to start the day with wholesome and satisfying food right before you’re scheduled to fly. If you have gotten onboard with the low-carb revolution, you have probably discovered that a breakfast with lots of protein and complex carbohydrates can keep you going much longer than cereals, toaster pastry or anything you can grab from a drive-thru window. A quick omelet, Greek yogurt and some fruit take minimal time to make and eat but offer much better nutrition than a greasy hash brown or sugary donut. If you expect to have to eat in flight, go ahead and pack your own meal at home, where you can make healthier choices that will serve you well later.


Fill in the Gaps with Supplements


If an unpredictable schedule sometimes undermines your commitment to eat well, quality supplements can make up the shortfalls in your diet. The old tried-and-true multivitamin supplement pill is still popular, but it’s no longer the only supplement option by any means. These days, getting optimal nutrition can be as easy as chewing a gummy or slapping on a Thrive patch, meaning if you’re not a fan of swallowing pills, you’re in luck! You can carry protein powders with extra nutrients for healthy shakes that can be mixed up onboard and popped in the galley fridge. Consistency is key to maintaining a supplement regimen, so add a reminder to your phone if you’re afraid you’ll forget.


Quick and Clean


Whether it’s a layover lunch at an airport, an in-flight crew meal or midday snack, what you eat during the day can either lift you up or weigh you down. The key to staying on track nutritionally when you’re on the go is to keep it simple. Think of how you might refuel after your workout, with a light snack of fruit, nuts or a healthy smoothie to replace lost nutrients. Healthy sandwiches and wraps, especially when they’re thick with veggies and light on condiments, are an outstanding lunch option. Sugary snacks will wreck your energy levels, and too much salt is dehydrating, so pack nuts, dried fruit and protein bars to snack on. Saying not to candy, cookies and other unhealthy snacks will be easier if you have smarter choices easily available.


Resisting Nighttime Temptation


Once your day is done and you’re trying to wind down after a hectic or frustrating run, the temptation can be high to indulge and abandon all your good habits. You’ve certainly earned a reward, and if you’re in a new city it may seem like a wasted opportunity not to try out local restaurants. However, there’s a difference between sampling the local cuisine and gorging yourself on indulgent food. Build your meal around familiar healthy staples like beans, lentils or greens; add in a little more decadent food as a complement to the meal, not the main attraction. Everything in moderation is the key here—and yes, that definitely applies to drinks as well!


Although your job doesn’t always lend itself to balance, eating right and keeping fit are critical to managing the demands of flying. With some planning, self-control and a little flexibility, you can stay on the right nutritional path to perform your best.


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