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Flight Nutrition Guidelines

Gary Slater/ Michelle Cort Sports Dietitians Australian Institute of Sport

Website: Australian Rowing website

Nutrition and Hydration Strategies for Long Haul Flights

To reduce the interference that long haul flights can have on performance the first few days after arrival, it is important to ensure you have appropriate nutrition and hydration strategies in place before, during and immediately after the flight.

Meals and Snacks:

• In addition to adjusting your sleep patterns to coincide with those of your destination in the days prior to departure, try to adopt the meal pattern you will have at your destination. This will help reduce jet lag and adjust your body clock.
• Rowers with reduced energy needs (e.g. those attempting to make weight or on ‘low energy budgets’) may not need all the meals and snacks provided during flights. Drinking low energy fluids (water, tea, diet soft drinks) and chewing sugar free gum can decrease the temptation to snack excessively during flights. Alternatively pack your own lower energy snacks like fresh fruit and decline some of the high energy/ high fat in-flight snacks.
• Rowers with high fuel needs should pack extra snacks to supplement the food provided in-flight to ensure weight loss and a decrease in fuel stores does not occur. Good snack choices include cereal bars, sports bars, powdered liquid meal supplements (plus a shaker), plus dried fruit and nut mixes.

Hydration Strategies:

• The risk of becoming dehydrated on long flights is increased as the pressurised cabin and air-conditioned environment increases fluid losses from the skin and lungs. The small fluid serve sizes available on flights are usually insufficient to maintain hydration.
• Purchase extra fluids after clearing security to add to your carry on luggage.
• Aim for approximately 1 cup per hour to maintain hydration.
• Suitable choices include: water, sports drink, juice, soft drink, tea and coffee.
• Sodium assists in decreasing urine losses (and thus promoting improved hydration). Sports drinks contain a small amount of sodium that can be useful. Other electrolyte rich solutions (e.g. Gastrolyte in water or Gatorlytes added a sports drink) can also be valuable, especially for those who struggle to remain well hydrated.
• Once at your destination rapid re-hydration should be a priority. Continue to drink regularly. Adding Gastrolyte to water (10 tablets or 5 sachets in 1L of water) on arrival can help promote faster re-hydration.

New Rules for International Flights:

To enhance flight safety the federal government has enforced new rules about taking liquids, aerosols and gels on flights into and out of Australia. In brief, each container of liquid, aerosols or gels in carry-on luggage AT THE SECURITY SCREENING POINT (but not when you board the plane) must be less than 100 ml.

By following the guidelines below, this should have no impact on your in-flight hydration strategies.

• Carry an empty drink bottle through the security screening point, filling your drink bottle up at a bubbler on the other side of the screening point.
• Purchase drinks (including water, sports drinks, juices, etc) at shops on transit to your departure gate.
• Include powdered sports drinks, powdered liquid meal supplements (e.g. Power Bar Protein Plus, Sustagen Sport) and perhaps sachets/tablets of oral rehydration salts (Gastrolyte, Gatorlytes) in your carry on luggage that can be made up (on water) in your drink bottle or shaker for the flight.

For more information on these new travel regulations, check out the Australian Government Department of

Transport and Regional Services information sheet at: 

Australia - page 2.

Great Britain and Europe


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