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The ketogenic diet has long been heralded as an effective treatment for a variety of conditions, and there’s no shortage of research to support its practice. Even healthy individuals can benefit from following a ketosis diet thanks to its documented ability to improve cognitive function, promote rapid weight loss, increase energy, and potentially improve physical performance.
Of course, maybe you don’t need any convincing. Maybe you’re already living a ketogenic lifestyle and are seeing and enjoying the beneficial effects its made on your life.
But for all the positive impacts ketosis can confer on individuals, it’s not always easy to maintain, especially if you’re new to the diet. Throw in the constraint of traveling — where stress, abundance of novel, non-ideal food choices, and general inconvenience are prevalent — and staying true to your ketogenic diet can seem like a cringe-worthy challenge.
Worried about falling off the keto wagon on your upcoming business trip or vacation? The following four tips may help you stay fat-adapted, well fueled, and satisfied.
4 Ways to Maintain Ketosis While Traveling
1. Pack Convenient and Portable Ketogenic Snacks
The best self defense? Don’t be there.
As in, avoid putting yourself in a situation where you have no food and need some, but the only thing that’s available is junk.
The good news is that lots of foods on the ketogenic diet are easy to prepare and bring with you on planes, trains, buses, and so on. Your choices may vary depending on the availability of refrigeration, but consider bringing along some of these favorites on your next venture:
- Coconut flakes
- Hard boiled eggs
- Smoked salmon
- Cheese sticks
- Fried pork skins
- Nuts and nut butters (often available in individual serving size packages)
2. Navigate Menus and Food Labels Thoughtfully
Going to a restaurant? See if you can grab a look at their menu online before you arrive so you’ll have an idea of whether you can order foods that fit your goals.
When you’re ordering, stick to the basics: meat, good fats (like cheese), and lots of veggies. Steak and asparagus, salmon and Brussels sprouts, bacon-wrapped scallops and spinach, salad, etc.—drool-worthy foods like these aren’t unusual to find on most menus. If possible, go with foods that say "grilled" or "baked" rather than "fried" or "breaded." Ask for dressings and sauces on the side, or better yet skip these and ask for olive oil and vinegar instead.
And don’t be afraid to request special orders and substitutions either (e.g., no potato and extra veggies). Most servers expect it, and if you ask politely they likely won’t mind.
If dire circumstances lead you to a fast food joint, it’s still possible to choose ketogenic foods: think salad bowls, bun-free cheeseburgers, plain wings, or breakfast sandwiches with sausage, egg, and cheese (hold the croissant).
Likewise, read food labels carefully if grabbing a bite to eat at a convenience store, airport, or gas station. Foods that are typically keto-friendly (like roasted nuts and jerky) may be of lower quality in these establishments, meaning they’re loaded with sugars.
3. Consider Supplementing with Exogenous Ketones
Consuming exogenous ketones can be extremely helpful for keeping your body in a state of ketosis while traveling. This type of supplementation is an instant way to raise the level of ketone bodies in your blood. These days, there are plenty of brands available online (typically available in powder or liquid form).
If you don’t want to buy exogenous ketones, a high quality MCT oil, coconut oil, or ghee can also help you stay in ketosis and are easy and delicious to add to coffees. Plus, none of these products require refrigeration and are easy to carry around. Take a look at the exogenous ketone supplements we recommend.
Keep in mind: you can’t out-ketone a non-ketogenic diet. So in order to get the most out of your investment in ketone supplementation, make sure you’re fueling yourself with keto-friendly foods.
4. Practice Intermittent Fasting
Sometimes it’s simply easier not to eat than scrounge around for food that may or may not be keto-conducive. And fasting is known to be an effective way to enter ketosis, since without any caloric intake your body is eventually forced to rely on ketones for fuel. (As a noteworthy digression, intermittent-fasting and time-restricted eating — as discussed by scientists like Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Satchidananda Panda — offer plenty of other health benefits as well).
So, consider simply not eating while traveling: 12 hour, 16 hour, and 24 hour intervals are common and doable for most people. Speak with your first doctor before trying prolonged fasting to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for you to do so.
When you are fasting, you’ll need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Additionally, to avoid headaches and electrolyte imbalances, add a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt into your fluids, which happens to be another easy-to-tote around keto-friendly product.
To learn more about intermittent fasting, read our Guide on Intermittent Fasting.
Following a ketogenic diet wherever life takes you is possible, although it may require a bit of new habit forming and conscious effort on your end. With enough practice, traveling on keto can become effortless and even enjoyable. Ketosis can help you maintain a clear mind, a lean body, and steady amount of energy, making you better prepared to handle all those unavoidable traveling snafus.
About the Author Nate Arnold
I started this website because it was hard to find trustworthy, evidence-based information about the ketogenic diet. Information that was published and peer reviewed by respected scientific journals. After years of research, I'm sure you'll achieve great results in a healthy way following my advice. I do my best to translate scientific research jargon into plain English. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a new diet!