The Healthy Traveler Part II – The “Carbohydrate Timing” Method

Affiliate Disclosure

Articles, Nutrition

In Part II of this series, written while I trot back from Europe to America, I’m going to share a powerful method for choosing your meals that will keep you from gaining weight when you travel by air. I call it “Carbohydrate Timing”. This method is especially useful in situations when you’re out of your daily routine, you must choose foods with which you aren’t familiar, and physical activity is limited.

Carbohydrates are synonymous with sugar. Let’s face it – almost every food that you could consume while traveling is going to contain a sugar based carbohydrate, and this method works on the following principle: when you consume a meal, sugars from that meal are released into your bloodstream. It doesn’t matter what you eat: tortellini, salad dressing, a glass of wine, nuts, raisins or an apple. Nearly everything contains at least a small amount of carbohydrate and therefore sugar.

When the sugar is released into your bloodstream from the digestive tract, there is a powerful hormonal response that allows your body to process the sugar. Many of you are already familiar with this response: the release of the hormone insulin from the pancreas. Insulin stimulates your body’s tissues to take up sugar for use as energy.

But the reality is that due to lack of physical activity while airplane traveling, the body’s tissues are already full of energy and very little energy is actually being used, and so the sugar must go elsewhere. The liver can very conveniently convert the sugar into fat, and high levels of circulating insulin from high sugar meals will encourage this process. And that is how people gain weight when they travel.

So how does Carbohydrate Timing actually work? Simply follow these three simple rules:

1) Consume any carbohydrate-based meal immediately before AND after stretching or light physical activity. For example, if you anticipate the meal on the plane being served at 1pm, get up and perform a full body stretch routine at 12:50, then perform a light calisthenic routine of 3×25 body weight squats and 3×25 arm circles immediately after the meal. The flow of blood and slight rise in body temperature from the light physical activity will regulate blood sugars effectively and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

2) When exercise is not possible, the rule is simple: only consume primarily fat or protein based meals in the absence of physical activity or stretching. Therefore, the apple in your carry-on bag is for after those body weight squats you do on the back of plane, while the bag of walnuts is to be consumed directly before getting your one hour nap.

3) Do not consume any simple sugar based carbohydrates, period. This means no soda, no juice, no rolls, no pasta, no pretzels, no snack mix. The only exception is A) fruit, which although a simple sugar, is nutrient and fiber rich, and will cause less metabolic damage than the other processed sugars or B) you’re actually working out (for example, performing the Metabolic Body Weight Workout from at an empty gate). The last meal served on my plane was pasta with vegetables, a cake dessert with strawberries, a roll, and a wedge of cheese. I opted for the vegetables, strawberries from the dessert, and cheese, then satiated the appetite with a handful of almonds from my carry-on bag.

Staying fit and healthy is hard work. But when your immune system is top-notch, your body performs at its peak capacity, and your mind is clear and sharp, you’ll be glad that you made that extra effort!

Bonus Blog Content from

I read many e-books when I travel, and on this last 14 day trip, I happened to review one of my own books (which I wrote 2 years ago) entitled “100 Ways To Boost The Metabolism”. Check out this interesting tidbit from page 42 of the book:

“Caffeine ingestion can increase your metabolic rate and energy expenditure by over 10%, and coffee is one of the most inexpensive and convenient ways to achieve this effect. In addition to stimulating the central nervous system and increasing both mental and physical energy, coffee can improve memory, enhance athletic performance, and help you burn more fat as a fuel, especially during aerobic activity. Caffeine can also inhibit the growth of new adipose cells (your body’s fat storage tissue) and when taken with a meal can improve fat-burning. In order to maximize the beneficial effect of caffeine on your metabolism, you must consume coffee or caffeine supplements only in moderation. If these supplements are consumed in excess, your central nervous system and hormones can adapt and grow non-responsive to the metabolic effect. In addition, constantly increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased release of your body’s adrenaline hormones can eventually lead to physical stress and breakdown. Excessive caffeine consumption has also been linked to headaches, restlessness, irritatibility, insomnia, anxiety, dehydration, stomach irritation, and heart palpitations. A metabolic increasing dose of caffeine is about 100-200 milligrams daily, which is the equivalent of one or two small cups, or 10-15 ounces. For the best effect on exercise, consume about 45-60 minutes prior to the workout, which will result in an optimal carbohydrate sparing and fat burning effect. Coffee in the morning, prior to about 20-30 minutes of light to moderate exercise, followed by a complex breakfast is a great fat burning strategy. Because it contains all the benefits of coffee with less caffeine, delta-E is a healthy and more energy stabilizing alternative to regular coffee.”

On the book website, you can read more… Just go to

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

4 thoughts on “The Healthy Traveler Part II – The “Carbohydrate Timing” Method

  1. Merissa says:

    Hi, there Ben. I heard about you website from Nathan Duncan. Ever since he told me about it, I have love all the important information you give. I look forward to more. But I do have a question: What is okay to eat before bed? Sometimes I get hungry and it right before bed and I dont feel like a protein shake because I want some food. What are good foods to eat before bed that won’t leave fat?

  2. Steve says:

    I heard that eating a meal too close to the start of a long distance race or training can deplete your glycogen stores faster than not eating prior to or at least 3-4 hours prior. Is this true? If so, what causes this?

  3. nate says:

    Hey Ben,
    First off i would like to say that your information and podcasts are great! I was wondering if you could help me out with 2 questions i just cant seem to find a solid answer for. Is doing a light workout, for example a 15-20 min abs workout, good to do right before bed? My second question is: Is it good to take a low carb/sugar slow release protein shake before bed?

  4. Spokane Al says:

    Ben, is the travel diet you discuss applicable over the long term for those people who spend much of the day at sedentary office type jobs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *