Backpackers Nutrition For Gains

One of the main issues of staying in shape while traveling is poor nutrition.

Everyone has heard it before: Training is just x-amount of reaching your goals and nutrition is x-higher amount of actually getting there. While I agree that proper nutrition is essential to achieve a physique, strength or performance related goal a big training stimulus is what initiates the process of getting there in the first place. Let me explain to you how it works.

First, you’ve got to provide your body with a big enough stimulus to change, no matter what your goal is. That means that you have to train according to your bodys abilities. You’ve got to push yourself far enough to give your body a reason to change but obviously not to a point where you can’t finish your workout anymore and just feel burnt out and tired all the time.

A mistake I made in the first couple of months of my travels was that I trained far too less. At best I would only hit the gym once very week but on average once every month is probably more realistic. The stimulus that my body received wasn’t even enough to sustain my current level of fitness and made me go from this:


To this:


(Sorry about the quality of the pictures peeps… the first one’s just a random gym selfie shot by a random Vietnamese guy at the gym in Hoi An and the second one is me at the end of my time in Asia 6 months later… and yes, that’s a leaf with teeth drawn on it and cigarette stuck in between them. I’m an artist.)

I thought that it would be better not to train because I was so scared about burning calories and losing muscle mass. But what obviously happened was not only an immense loss in muscle mas but also quite an increase in body fat. So obviously I realized I had to change something.

Ever since I live by the rule that to train is always better than not to train. Because even if you’re not eating enough for your body to gain muscle or you’re even losing weight training will help you hold on to the amount of muscle you already carry by sending a stimulus to your brain and your body and let them know that all this muscle is still needed. So what will happen instead is that you’re body will rather get rid of the excessive body fat you carry instead of the muscle. And there you go. Get shredded while traveling by Marcel Biehringer. I’m a genius.

However there’s a catch.

You’ve got to provide a big enough stimulus by training hard and training frequently. The best nutrition in the world won’t help you achieve your fitness related goals if you’re training properly. So I’d recommend taking at least two days per week and hit the gym or do your bodyweight workout for 60-90 minutes. For most individuals this will provide a big enough stimulus for you to stay in shape.

Now that we’ve got this out of the way we can approach the actual topic of this article: Nutrition. While I believe in fitness and nutrition to achieve your goals I also think that while you’re traveling you shouldn’t be spending too much time worrying about what you eat and how it affects the way you look or the way you perform. So I personally believe that something like counting your macros is just unnecessary and inconvenient apart from the fact that you probably won’t be cooking too much yourself anyways and hence won’t know the macro- and micronutritional value of your food. Approaches like a low carb diet wouldn’t work for me either because one of the most amazing things about traveling is trying different and new foods and restricting yourself from eating a specific meal just because you’re on a special kind of diet is just stupid as well.

So what are you supposed to do then?

Try to eat healthy and according to your needs when you can. What I mean by this is give yourself the freedom to enjoy local foods and make new experiences but at the same time at least try to analyze what it is you’re eating and schedule and plan your training and your other meals accordingly. Are you eating something high in fat? Probably won’t need another fatty meal anymore, go for protein and carbs instead. Are there any fruits or vegetables in the meal you’re eating? Nope, so better get some in later today to make sure you’re getting sufficient micronutrients. Have you consumed way too many calories that day or that week? Well, just add some cardio to your routine and you’ll be fine.

By following these simple rules you’ll be able to enjoy your travels to the fullest while staying in shape:

  1. Train hard

  2. Train frequently (At least two days a week)

  3. Be prepared to adjust your training to your nutrition

  4. Be smart and flexible about your nutrition

  5. Don’t overthink it

I lived by these rules and after the first couple of months I did not only manage to get back in shape but also surpass where I was at before and overall become fitter, stronger, faster and better looking without stressing myself too much about what or when I’m eating.


I hope you guys found this article helpful and that I’ll see you next time!




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