airport

Jet Lag-Fighting Guide: Pre-Trip

Put in effort before you travel to make sure you’ll feel your best after you land.

Even the fittest bodies encounter jet lag, and the best way to combat it is with exercise. Introducing Sweatlag: a post-flight workout brought to you by Furthermore and Delta in celebration of Delta’s jet lag-fighting flagship A350 aircraft taking off from LA to Shanghai on July 2. Use this companion guide to optimize your wellness before, during, and after your next journey.


Jet lag, the fatigue-inducing disruption of the body’s internal clock, has some unavoidable triggers. Interestingly, even direction makes a difference: It seems it’s easier for bodies to delay their internal clocks than to speed them up, so traveling west is less taxing than traveling east. Use these pre-trip tactics to thwart some of jet lag’s effects on your body and mind.
 
FITNESS
Post-flight, science shows you should keep your workouts of the SIIT variety. So in the days or weeks before your trip, especially if you won’t be able to work out while away, make the majority of your sessions higher intensity, says Matt Berenc, director of education for the Equinox Fitness Training Institute (EFTI).
 
On the day before your flight or the morning of if you’re taking off at night do no more than a moderate-intensity routine, he says, because sitting on a plane can disrupt your recovery process, leaving you more stiff and sore than normal. (Once you land, do the Sweatlag routine to restore your energy.)
 
DIET
Shift your eating schedule closer to that of your destination before a far-flung trip, says Bethany Snodgrass, operations manager at the EFTI. For example, if you’re traveling from Los Angeles to Shanghai, take the 15-hour time difference into account and eat all your meals a little later as the trip approaches. For example, eat breakfast at 10 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. and push lunch and dinner back accordingly.
 
If there was ever a time to eat clean, it’s now. Eating whole, unprocessed foods before the trip will help your body cope with the new climate, time zone, and cultural cuisine, Snodgrass says. “Focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, and a colorful variety of fruits and veggies,” she adds, and limit your alcohol intake to two drinks in the week leading up to takeoff.
 
Traveling can cause inflammation, so fill up on foods high in antioxidants, like dark berries, and those rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fats, like walnuts and wild-caught fish, to counteract it.
 
Katzie Guy-Hamilton, food and beverage director at Equinox, swears by a pre-airport turmeric ginger shot to act “not only as an antimicrobial boost, but also as an inflammation fighter.” Her recipe: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon organic turmeric, 2 ounces ginger, a pinch of black pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and some water. Add some oil of oregano, which fights germs, she says.

It is also essential to stay hydrated before the flight in order to arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and well adjusted. Start sipping more H2O a week before your trip and avoid guzzling. “Adequate water spaced throughout the day hydrates you more properly than large quantities at once,” says Guy-Hamilton. You can also hydrate by adding water-rich foods like celery, cucumber, and watermelon to your pre-trip grocery list.

SLEEP

Just like you did with your diet, start shifting your sleep schedule three days before your trip to align with your destination’s hours so your circadian rhythm can begin to adjust to the new time zone, says Jennifer L. Martin, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles and a member of the Equinox Health Advisory Board. To try it, wake up and go to bed one hour earlier or later (depending on which way you’re traveling) each day for three days. That way, by the time you board the plane, you’ll have shifted your schedule three hours closer to your destination’s time zone. 

A common mistake is staying up all night before a flight to help with jet lag, says Martin. It might make you sleepy, she says, but it won’t shift your circadian rhythm much. “Some of what feels like jet lag is actually because of insufficient sleep,” she says, so try to get more shuteye than usual in the days leading up to your trip.