Whether you’re heading out for a quick afternoon hike or a weekend-long camping trip, your body will need the right fuel to power through. Hiking requires a considerable amount of energy, so the foods you eat before, during, and afterward will play a pivotal role in how successful your time outdoors will be. Not only will the right nutrition help you power through, but it will also help you recover after a long or strenuous day on the trails.
Let’s talk about why nutrition is so important for a successful adventure.
Food Provides Energy
Food is what gives your body the energy it needs to function every day. However, when you’re out on the trails, you’ll be expending much more energy than you would sitting at home on the couch. Good nutrition will give you the fuel you need to keep going. The intensity level of your activities is what will determine how often you should eat. During a hike, try to eat every hour to maintain your energy levels without overburdening your stomach by eating too much in one sitting.
- Eat before your hike - fuel up before hitting the trails by eating a healthy, nutrient-rich meal such as scrambled eggs with avocado toast, peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread, grilled salmon and rice, or a bowl of chili with saltine crackers.
- Pack smart - bring lightweight snacks along such as granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, or protein bars.
- Choose the right fuel - before your hike, focus on getting plenty of protein and carbohydrates for consistent energy and endurance.
Don’t forget to hydrate! Be sure to stock up on fresh water or electrolyte beverages to keep you healthy and hydrated during your hike or camping trip. Rather than purchasing sugary sports drinks, you may want to consider bringing some coconut water, or adding a pinch of sea salt and a splash of fresh citrus juice to your water to replenish the minerals that will be depleted by sweating. Sip on these drinks throughout your hike to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps.
After a long day on the trails, it’s important to give your body the tools it needs to recover. Consuming more protein and carbohydrates after a strenuous exercise will help reduce inflammation, replenish glycogen, and facilitate muscle recovery. Some great post-hike meals and snacks include:
- Grilled chicken with roasted sweet potatoes
- Greek yogurt with granola and fruit
- Lentil soup with hearty bread
- Whole wheat pasta with grilled chicken and roasted vegetables
Hiking burns a significant amount of calories and quickly depletes your nutrient stores. Not eating enough before or during your hike can lead to fatigue, feeling “hangry”, and low energy. In extreme cases, it can even lead to potentially dangerous situations. Not eating enough after a hike can leave you feeling tired, disoriented, and can delay your recovery.
Luckily, a successful adventure only requires a few basics. By focusing on protein, healthy fats, fiber, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, you’ll set yourself up for a successful adventure!