This is a guide for athletes traveling to Mexico, about what to expect and how to be prepared.
For athletes traveling around the world, there are challenges not only finding food that you like, but finding healthy food that can meet your requirements as an athlete. For someone traveling to a new country and culture, this may seem overwhelming. Those from anywhere but Mexico may find it hard to find the foods they are familiar with from home. Sometimes it is just knowing where to look. This article is to help guide someone who is planning to travel to Mexico in their chosen sport.
Do your research before you go.
- Find out about the travel destination. What type of food is eaten in Mexico? Are there specific local foods in the region you are visiting.
- Ask other athletes who have been there before, or the event organizers. Are there good places to eat at the venue or nearby?
- Does your accommodation have cooking facilities? Is there a local supermarket nearby for supplies?
- How 'food-safe' are the eating establishments, and is the water safe to drink?
Food in Mexico
You may think you know what Mexican food is, but the Mexican restaurants found in Western countries have a modified menu. In Mexico the food will be different, and it is a big country and there are regional differences. Most food is spicy or served with some form of chili, and you will find that the meals are served with salsa, salsa, salsa!
Main nutrient sources
- Carbohydrates: tortillas, rice, beans, corn, fruit
- Protein: beans, chicken, eggs, beef and fish
- Fats: mixed meat grills, cheese, pastries and desserts, avocado
What if you don't like Mexican food?
- Hotels may provide more 'western' foods
- Don't be afraid to experiment and try local food but be careful with timing around your competition.
- If there is no food that you wish to eat, at least eat the rice or bread for carbohydrate.
- If you are not eating the meat, chicken, fish or eggs, make sure you have at least 1-2 glasses of Sustagen (or similar meal replacement drink) per day.
- Take some "extras" from home.
When traveling to another country, it is usually cheaper to self-cater. Self-catering is possible in Mexico, though most of the places you will stay will not have facilities to enable you to cook your own meals. There are many mini-marts and supermarkets which stock a large range of foods, but with the language barrier you may find it hard to decipher what they are. For athletes with food allergies or intolerances this is a significant problem.
Food Safety in Mexico
- The water from taps is not always safe to drink. To be safe you should drink bottled, boiled or sterilised water. Always check the seal.
- Avoid ice, and foods washed in local water
- Avoid raw foods, unpeeled fruit, locally washed salads and shellfish
- Be careful with self preparation of foods
- Avoid local markets and street food where the hygiene looks poor
- Avoid undercooked meat or unpasteurized milk products
- Look for well cooked food that is steaming hot
- Avoid food from buffets that is not very hot or very chilled
- Take live cultures (acidophillus/bifidus) or cultured yoghurt prior to leaving
- If you experience diarrhoea make sure you replace lost fluids and try to avoid further dehydration. Use Gastrolyte powder (or similar rehydration powder) to rehydrate mixed with water &/or a sports drink.
Things you may need to bring from home?
Gels, supplements, medications.
- Sports Nutrition for the Traveling Athlete
- Travel Nutrition Guide for Athletes.
- Athlete Travel Guide to Costa Rica
- Mexico has a hot climate, so hydration becomes a very important issue.
- List of tips for travel – mostly for on the plane
- Food Safety — When traveling, foods and water can be a source of contamination and have the potential to make you sick.
- Guide to watching what you eat while traveling.
- Fitness and Traveling
- Tips For Healthy Restaurant Eating — while traveling you may need to eat at restaurants.
- For information about foods available around the world, read Clare Wood's travel food blog.
- About Sport in Mexico