Tips for beating jet lag: From food to exercise
Make the most of your travel.
Written by
Dan Cable
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Last updated
March 20, 2024
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Travelling is a moment for adventure, an opportunity to break free of routine for something extraordinary. The spontaneity and novelty of travel are refreshing but also disruptive.

How can we soak up the pleasure of travel without surrendering all willpower to maintain the disciplines and healthy habits that sustain momentum in health and performance?

It takes energy and intention to maintain willpower so first things first…avoid jet lag.

Jet lag is driven by a disrupted circadian rhythm and it can result in lower energy levels and disrupted hormones that stimulate cravings. This can make it even harder to maintain the willpower to train or eat healthily.

Without intervention it can take up to 1 day per time zone crossed to adjust — e.g. Sydney to London can result in up to 9 days of jet lag.

We provide Compound members with detailed jet lag protocols personalised to their itineraries.

Core jet lag principles to follow independently

Pre-trip prep

Adjust your eating habits in the 3-7 days before departure to gradually shift towards the eating times of your destination time zone.

In-transit

Fast for a minimum of 12-16 hours before your first meal in your destination time zone on your day of arrival (basically don’t eat over the night of your destination while on the way there). Fasting helps to reset your circadian rhythm and minimise jet lag [1].

Arrival

Take a cold shower on arrival, get plenty of light movement with sunlight exposure throughout the day, eat low-carb during the day to avoid daytime sleepiness and eat high-GI carbs for dinner to maximise melatonin secretion.

Consider taking sleep supplements and Magnesium Bisglycinate before bed for days 1-5 or until you feel adjusted [2]. Evening saunas are useful to stimulate wind-down and melatonin if jet lag persists.

Be pragmatic about movement and exercise

  • Breakthrough morning inertia or fatigue with a micro routine to energise (cold showers can also be a great hack).
  • Walk as a means of transport or jog to see the sights.
  • Squeeze in a rapid 30-minute full-body strength workout with 15 minutes of HIIT cardio at the end.

Preserve discipline and focus on a practical approach to food

  • Start with a high-protein breakfast (skip the simple carbs) to set the tone for the day.
  • Cut out bread as a force factor to find healthier daytime options on the go.
  • Allow yourself a ‘budget’ of dinners per week that are more for pleasure and minimise the harm by working out beforehand or going for a 15+ minute walk afterwards.

Ultimately, it’s about the intention

Do you want to just let loose and binge on impulse pleasures (and then slowly grind away to rebuild routine and structure back at home) or can you be tactical about the bedrock of habits/heuristics you’ll preserve to maintain momentum?

But it’s also about getting smart to overcome blockers and barriers, which is why we offer our members a concierge service to review restaurant menus or search for healthy takeaway options near the hotel, home or office.

Compound is a digital clinic for performance health, for men. Once the exclusive domain of billionaires and Hollywood stars, we're on a mission to make premium concierge care accessible to every man who wants more.

We are integrating diagnostics (bloodwork, scans, etc), treatment (medication, supplementation), performance programming, and support (coaching, accountability, care) — wrapped around a growth mindset.

This post contains general information about health and wellness practices. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health regimen. This information is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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