Are you a passionate hiker who can’t wait to embark on a new hiking trip? Or just a novice at hiking who’s still learning about this amazing activity? Well, it doesn’t matter as there are some things everyone interested in hiking should know! Of course, we’re talking about nutrition, so make sure to stay with us if you want to learn something new today. Here are eight useful tips about nutrition for hiking you should know if you want to raise your energy levels and boost your performance during a hiking trip.
If that’s exactly what you need, keep on reading and you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions! From the importance of nutrition and establishing your dietary needs to a list of foods you should and shouldn’t eat before, during, and after a hike, you’ll find everything you’re curious about (and more) in the article below. Enjoy!
First of all, why is nutrition important when it comes to hiking?
Even though it probably seems a bit redundant, we must say that proper nutrition is essential when it comes to all types of physical activity – including hiking. This is true no matter if you’re an experienced hiker or just a beginner at this activity. Choosing the right foods to bring on a hike is crucial if you want to feel great and tackle any trail.
Needless to say, the foods we eat are the fuel that gets us started. They give us enough strength and boost our energy levels for the upcoming sweat session. Apart from that, these will keep you going during a hiking trip and help you recover faster after a strenuous hike. However, you should be extremely careful when it comes to the foods you’ll eat during a hike. This is exactly why you should figure out your dietary needs and preferences before anything else!
How can I figure out my dietary needs and preferences?
Not knowing your dietary needs can be a huge problem during any physical activity, and hiking is no exception either. Truth be told, no one can know your food preferences and dietary needs better than you do. This is why you need to pay extra attention to every single detail regarding the food you eat during a hike.
Of course, you should always practice your trail diet before you go hiking. This is one of the best ways to get ready for the upcoming physical activity and prepare your body for it. Also, make sure to consider your specific food requirements as well. Did you know that some of the most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame, and soy? That’s right, so stay away from these if you had any type of allergic reaction to them in the past!
What should I eat before a hike?
When it comes to the foods you should and shouldn’t eat before a hike, there are certain rules you must bear in mind. First of all, you should remember that carbs are essential before any physical activity. So, if you’re up for a brisk morning hike, make sure to have energizing breakfast before it. Your breakfast should include anything from eggs and oatmeal to whole-grain cereal without artificially added sugars or flavor enhancers.
Low-fat yogurt, brown rice, whole-grain toast, and pasta are also fantastic options, as well as all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables. As for the foods you should skip before a hike, there’s greasy fast food that’s rich in empty calories in the first place. Even though it tastes good, it often has zero nutritional value. Besides that, deep-fried foods are full of unhealthy fats that’ll slow you down and cause a mid-hike energy crash!
What should I eat during a hike?
Snacking throughout a hike is as equally important as fueling your body before it. This is crucial especially if you’re an experienced hiker who goes on a new hiking adventure every single day. If longer hiking trips and multiple-day hikes are your cups of tea, make sure to plan out every single snack throughout the day.
Of course, don’t skip your regular meals either. You should snack at least once an hour, so bear this timetable in mind so that your body stays nourished. Did you know that Grand Canyon National Park Service recommends eating double your regular intake of carbs and salty foods when going on such an intense hike? That is right, so don’t forget to bring your favorite trail mix, peanut butter, energy bars, and other amazing snacks that’ll raise your energy levels. These are true hiking essentials you must have in your backpack!
What should I eat after a hike?
Speaking of nutrition after a hike, you should go for foods rich in protein and complex sugars. For example, many people enjoy a good old protein shake after a physical activity of any kind. If you’re one of those people, too, be sure to bring your trusty protein shaker bottle. Just prepare all the dry ingredients in advance, so the last step is adding water to the mixture.
Also, you can prepare an entire meal and leave it in a car cooler. Grilled chicken breasts with some fresh vegetables are never a bad choice. Of course, visiting your favorite restaurant on the way home is another great option. Make sure to pick a protein-packed meal instead of junk food and you’ll do a great job. Just refuel within one hour after your hike and you’ll be more than fine!
How important is hydration?
Apart from proper nutrition, sufficient water intake is another factor you must consider when going on a hike. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a quick 1-hour hike around your neighborhood or a long hiking trip in the mountains – you must bring at least one water bottle in your backpack. Hitting the trail when you’re not hydrated enough should be avoided at all costs.
In fact, drinking around 1 liter of water per 3 km of walking distance is what you should go for. Of course, no one says that you should chug an entire bottle of water at once. Instead, try to take frequent, smaller sips – even if you don’t feel thirsty at the moment. Did you know that thirst is often a sign that your body is already dehydrated? Don’t let that happen and drink water regularly!
How much food to bring is enough food?
Another important thing you need to figure out is the quantity of food you should bring on your hiking trip. This can get quite tricky, particularly if you’re just a beginner at hiking and don’t know what it looks like. Well, the first mistake many people make is over packing on hiking food. They often stick to the ‘better too much than too little’ rule, but it isn’t the case when it comes to hiking.
And why is that? It’s because too much food in your backpack can take a toll on your legs and energy levels. Carrying too much weight on your shoulders will make you waste your energy faster than usual. Also, you won’t be able to eat everything you brought, which is what you should avoid. Instead, bear your dietary needs in mind and you’ll know how much food you should bring on your hiking trip!
What types of food to avoid in general?
Speaking of the kinds of food you should avoid when hiking, there are several categories you should bear in mind. The first one is cheese. Even though it can make any dish better, the truth is that cheese is high in fat, making it slowly digest in your stomach. It’s highly likely that eating cheese will make you feel like you have a brick in your stomach, so make sure to avoid it at all costs.
However, conventional candy bars should be skipped as well. It’s because they can cause your blood sugar to spike immediately, which will eventually result in a massive energy crash. If you need something sweet, go for energy bars or fresh fruit instead. You should also avoid carbonated drinks as these can make you feel super bloated afterward. Just stick to cold water and you’ll do a great job for your body while hiking!
Why should I go hiking after all?
● It helps you relax and stay calm
If you need a reason to start hiking, you must know that it has amazing health benefits in the first place. It can keep your mind sharp and help you think clearly, which is what many people need daily. This is because millions of people have full-time jobs that leave them almost no free time just for themselves.
No doubt, when you’re unable to relax and unwind, you’re likely to become very anxious and stressed out. As we all know, stress is the number one cause of many diseases in the world, right? To prevent that, be sure to go for a walk at least half an hour every single day. It’ll get your heart rate up, work out your lungs, and help you feel much stronger and even younger. If that sounds great, give hiking a fair shot and you won’t regret it!
● It’s a great way to stay physically active
Needless to say, hiking is a fantastic way to stay physically active, too. Everyone is raving about the importance of physical activity these days, and you know what? It is truly important if you want to stay as fit, healthy, and youthful as possible. Hiking is a great option for all people who aren’t able to take part in other activities due to some health concerns.
For example, if you have an injured knee, you won’t be able to head to the gym and go for an intense cardio workout. To stay physically active, you should give hiking a try instead. It’s a low-impact activity that won’t put your knees under a lot of pressure. That’s exactly what makes it so outstanding. So, grab your comfy sneakers, healthy snacks, water bottle, and tiny life-saving tools, and hit the trail right away!
● It allows you to connect with nature
Hiking is an activity that takes place outdoors only, which is what makes it beyond perfect for all people who want to connect with nature once again. As mentioned above, our jobs and daily responsibilities often make us part ways with what’s important in life. Many people’s families suffer a lot because they don’t have enough time to enjoy each other’s company.
We no longer know how it is to sit in nature, surrounded by nothing else than grass, trees, and clouds. If this is what you miss, take a day off and go hiking with your loved ones. It doesn’t matter where you’ll go, as long as you’re together. This type of activity is a perfect way to unwind and spend quality time with the people you love most. This is a benefit that mustn’t be overlooked, so bear it in mind and you’ll do a great thing!
As you can tell, there are many essential things you need to know about proper nutrition and why hiking is so beneficial in general. First of all, you must understand why nutrition is so important when it comes to hiking. You should also be able to figure out your dietary needs and preferences, as well as what types of food to eat before, during, and after hiking.
Besides that, you must remember that hydration is vital here, too. Packing the right amount of food is crucial, so don’t go overboard with it. Also, bear in mind the types of food you should avoid on a hiking trip. When you remember all that and understand the overall benefits of hiking, we’re sure that you’ll enjoy your hiking trips more than ever before. It’s a promise, so go for it and you’ll see what we were talking about!
Contributor: Nina Simons
Nina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado, and travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on: https://twitter.com/NinArtSimons“
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1 thought on “Nutrition For Hiking: 8 Tips You Should Know”
The reverse works better for me, i.e. eating fats before hiking, for sustained energy, and carbs during hiking, for an energy boost.
On my Appalachian Trail thru hike, I lost 20 pounds during the first 30 days, and 20 more over the next 60 days, and lacked the energy to maintain a good pace. Then, another hiker told me I needed to add fat to my diet, so I added fat to my breakfast and dinner meals. My weight loss ceased, and I had more energy throughout the day. I use the same strategy for day hiking and it works for me.