When you’re fueled by fat, traveling is a relative breeze

Airplane Wing in Flight from window, sunset sky

Setting off on a journey, for most carb-eating people, usually means planning snacks for the trip, being sure to have something to munch on hand. When fueled by carbohydrates, every few hours you need to re-fuel. But when will you eat again? Where? When traveling you are never quite sure. Better stock up.

Not so when you are fully keto-adapted. If food is not easily available, you can just tap into your own fat stores! A trip now becomes an externally-imposed way to incorporate intermittent fasting into your life.

I am constantly discovering new things to love about the keto life style. The ease of travel is my latest find. Traveling while keto is a relative breeze – and cheaper, too.

When I first went keto 3.5 years ago, the weight loss and much improved blood sugar, of course, were reasons enough to fall in love with this way of life and to stick with it. Other happy discoveries have come along the way – more energy; clearer brain; a calmer gut; better skin; reduced allergies; faster recovery after a workout; less joint and muscle pain; better sun tolerance (oddly, I no longer burn in the sun, I tan!).

Now I can add ‘easier travel’ to that list.

Traveling on a keto diet

Isn’t it hard to find keto choices on the road? Nope. I find I can just add steak, chicken, prawns or fish to the typical salad fare and I am good. Or I just ask the server to hold the bread or potatoes and add more veggies to many of the entrées.

Better yet, I find, is the freedom from the bind of having to eat to a schedule and the confidence that I may not need to eat at all.

I recently did my first big international trip since going keto, coming to Stockholm to spend a week with the Diet Doctor Team. The outbound trip was a 19-hour marathon of three connecting planes over nine time zones. In the past, that would have thrown my body’s rhythms and cues to eat out of whack. In the past, in the departure zone before boarding the plane, like everyone else, I would be loading up on high-carb snacks to get me through.

This time, however, I boarded the first plane with just two supplies: sparkling water and roasted almonds. First leg was a two-hour flight, with no meal service, from a regional airport to one of Canada’s larger international airports. All around me others carried provisions as if setting off for an expedition: soft drinks, bags of potato chips, packages of candies or chocolate bars, to-go meals packaged for flight from the departure-zone vendors. They munched, I read.

A perfect time to fast

I had a two hour lay-over before the international flight. Again, in the past, that would have meant grabbing a meal and drink at one of the over-priced, run-of-the-mill restaurants behind the security lines while waiting. But I’d had a good breakfast of bacon and eggs at home; I was fully confident I could last 24 hours before needing to eat again.

The nine-hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean, which left in early evening and flew through the night, boasted two meal services: a dinner soon after taking off and a breakfast about 90 minutes before landing.

In the past, the food, even if mediocre (and isn’t it always mediocre?), would be a respite from the tedium of long-distance travel and a hedge against hunger pangs while captive in an airline seat. The meal service, however, always cuts into sleep time, amplifying the feelings of jet lag when arriving on European soil. On past trips I had never had the fortitude and confidence to refuse food and sleep instead.

This time I declined the meals, requesting that the flight attendants not disturb me. I put on my eyeshade and inserted my earplugs and slept as best I could for almost the entire flight while seat mates consumed either a non-descript vegetarian lasagna or a weird meatball/mashed potato combo. (When I peeked from under the eyeshade, I was doubly happy with my choice.) Refraining from airline food was a first for me. It won’t be the last.

When I arrived in Zurich it was 10 am local time, but 2 am back home. It had been 18 hours since my last meal and 16 hours since leaving home. I had another two-hour layover. Should I pass the time by eating? Nah, I was still good. A cup of coffee with cream was all I needed to give a little wakeup kick. And, extra bonus: I saved the cost and currency exchange of needing to buy food in Swiss Francs.

Eating keto wherever you are

Onwards to Copenhagen, another two-hour flight. I arrived in the center of the city at 3:30 pm local time, 6:30 am back home. It was now more than 22 hours since my last meal. Granted, now I was getting peckish. This was not an ‘I-need –food-this-instant panic’ but just a strong healthy appetite for a good dinner. After check in and freshen up at my bnb, I set out to look for options.

I strolled the pedestrian streets of the city center, reading posted menus, and settled on a lovely outdoor patio with a great people-watching view. A grilled tuna & arugula salad with avocado (hold the cranberries) and a glass of Rosé hit the spot. Food tastes so good when you have waited for it.

That night I slept well. The next day I had virtually no jet lag. I already felt on European time; my stomach most definitely had adapted. For my wallet, it was even better. Prior to dinner I had spent the equivalent of about $10 Cdn en route, another economical first.

Over a weekend in expensive Copenhagen, I easily existed on a cup of coffee for breakfast and one good low carb meal a day, about 5 to 6 pm, with a glass of wine.

This was travel-imposed intermittent fasting and my body — and my budget — thrived on it.


Anne Mullens

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A keto diet for beginners

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11 comments

  1. KEVIN FORD
    I've started today, 60 + years old, I weigh 256 pounds, 5'7" tall, diabetic, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, 3 joint replacements, feet numb for 3 years, sleep for 3-4 hours a night(15 years), anxiety problem, chronic pain 24 hours a day (no more opiates being taken) right ankle bone spurs, I take 11 different medications, can you save me with your diet? Thank You adjo!
    Reply: #4
  2. BobM
    I started at about the same weight and height, and now weigh 50 pounds less. That took a few years, though, and weight loss has slowed somewhat. I've been low carb for 4.5 years.

    Start with low carb, and at some point, add in intermittent fasting. That means skip breakfast or breakfast and lunch or all meals on one day. I started with breakfast, then went to coffee with butter and skipped lunch, then skipped bfast and lunch, then started longer fasts.

    Since you're diabetic, however, you really need to watch your medications. You should consider signing up for Dr. Fung's long-distance help. https://idmprogram.com/

    I think traveling is better with fasting. However, once you get to a spot for say vacation, it's very difficult to eat keto. No one serves enough meat, and I find I have to get luncheon meat or other meat from a grocery store to supplement meals.

  3. Carol
    Thanks for your very relatable articles Anne. Like Anne I find travelling long haul flights much better now on LCHF. Hardly any jetlag either way. But not as brave as her with refusing airline food. As bad as it is ....it smells so Good and breaks the monotony. I know what she means about the "they eat and I read" at the airports tho. At my local airport ppl are always loading up with boxes of Donuts. I just think poison and sickness. Now that my brain works so much better I have a hunger for devouring a higher class of magazine too....going past the trash to find "new scientists"and scientific publications....and hundreds of books on my ereader.
  4. Andy King
    Good luck Kevin

    I started 7 weeks ago weighing in at 207lbs I am down to 193 already

    Recipes are great and filling and so I ha my been hungry at all

    Just follow the 2 week challenge and all the great videos and articles

  5. Joh
    What I like about my keto life, no hunger, one good healthy meal a day, lots of energy, and....I haven’t had a cold or the sniffs or a cough or sore throat for the last five years!
    And I’m 81 years.......
  6. Wendy
    Good for you! You are on an amazing journey back to good health. I started 4 weeks ago and all my joint pain is gone. I would never have believed this was possible but every day i weigh a little less and move more freely. Best of luck, push through the times when it might get tough, your life will be so much better for doing this.
  7. Maura S
    Thank you so much for this article. I am planning to travel to Italy this october and I was afraid of having to pass the wonderful pizza they make, that I love!!!! I have been on keto for the last two years, and loving it. I am sure I will be able to find good meats and cold cuts. I hope I will find enough fat to go with them to keep me from craving the beloved pizza...
  8. M
    I was so looking forward to reading the food you take on long haul flights. But you slept and fasted. If only I could do that while flying from London to Sydney with 5 children 🤣
    Reply: #11
  9. Margaret
    Thanks so much for the travel eating tips! I periodically fly from East Africa to the Pacific NW, which means two 9-hour flights, layover, and two lengthy drives at each end. I was just starting to get to know LCHF last time I traveled, so your little travel diary really rang true to me. I especially like the part about reducing jet lag!
  10. Gentiann
    Mild cheese (nothing smelly !) and some cured meat like salami cut in bite sized are my favorite travel snacks.
    I avoid nuts because I cannot stop eating them, almost addictive for me.
  11. Anne
    M - On the flight back to Canada I did take some food -- some individually wrapped packages of cheese, some pepperoni, and some almonds. I again ate a big bacon and egg breakfast before flying. But I had a five hour layover in Heathrow, and I found a keto meal (boiled eggs, smoked salmon, spinach.) It did come with some crackers but I just threw those out. I wasn't that hungry, just really bored waiting around. I think boredom is a huge issue re food on flights. In Vancouver, because of a plane delay, I had almost a 4 hour layover for my 15 minute flight to Victoria. That was brutal. I was tired, grumpy and by that time on 24 hours of travel, just wanting to be home. I almost gave in to the smell of Tim Horton's donuts, not so much from hunger but from feeling sorry for myself at the delay when I was so close to home. I resisted, and drank water. (And was telling myself forced IF is good!) I had scrambled eggs when I got home and fell into bed.
    I don't know how you do it with kids on such a long journey to Australia. I think you do the best you can. The change this time for me was instead of focusing on how bored or starving I was (and mostly I was not starving) I was able to think of it as a positive way to fast. Good luck on your trips!

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