Hiking is a great way to keep you active and close to nature. But, hiking is low intensity and long duration activity where you need good stamina and muscle strength to keep going hours together. A very essential aspect of physical fitness is diet and nutrition which is often ignored. Our body needs a continuous supply of energy and nutrients for survival and sustenance. But, during exercise and other strenuous physical activity, our body needs higher and different foods than our regular diets.
Follow the Diet guidelines given below next time you plan for hiking
Eat Breakfast/ Pre-hiking Meal
Breakfast holds a very important place in a hiker’s diet. So, starting your day with this meal enhances your performance by many folds. And, the goal is to provide your body with a lasting source of energy which will increase your stamina and strength. Nutritionist Farheen Khan, the founder of Precise Potion, recommends that the meal should comprise of complex carbohydrates (and fiber) and enough protein along with a moderate amount of fat to fuel your body. So, the deal-meal will have whole grains with some dairy products, peanut butter, and nuts. Some examples are Oats with milk topped with nuts or peanut butter with multigrain bread and boiled egg.
Small and frequent snacks
Avoid having large meals that day . Instead, go for small meals at regular intervals of every 1 to 2 hours is found to be a more effective healthy hiking approach. According to Farheen, consuming a high amount of calories in one meal diverts the blood away from the working muscle. Effectively, which will affect hiking performance. Small meals go a long way with more fiber for slow glucose release. The best options here would be fresh fruits, nuts, protein bars, sports drinks, and gels too.
Avoid thirst, Stay Hydrated
Thirst is a sign of dehydration. As the temperature increases, not consuming enough fluids can have dire consequences as dehydration. Hence, for a great healthy hiking performance, you need an ample supply of electrolytes like sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Only water without these salts can lead to a life-threatening condition known as hyponatremia, low sodium. Thus, carry enough water along with a supply of electrolytes, and keep sipping it at frequent intervals to avoid dehydration.
Post Hiking Meal/ Recovery Meal
The sooner you replenish the lost nutrients after hiking the better your recovery will be. The body is very receptive to protein and carbohydrate to begin muscle recovery and repair process. The better your nutrition now the shorter will be your recovery process. Good quality protein will help repair your muscle tissues and carbohydrates will replenish the depleted glycogen which is a stored form of energy. Farheen recommends that the ideal meal will have whole wheat grains, eggs, paneer, dairy products, honey, butter, pulses and legumes, flesh foods (fish, chicken) and fruits & vegetables to supply with vitamins and minerals.
The key to an incredible trip and healthy hiking experience is good nutrition. When your nutrient stores are full your endurance is high and your performance is great. Eating Right before, during and after hiking will give your health a boost and prepare you to look forward to many more such adventures.
-Nutritionist Farheen Khan
Founder of Precise Potion
Research Scholar & Assistant Professor
MSc. in Foods, Nutrition, and Dietetics, Certified Diabetes Educator, Post Graduate Diploma in Management (Marketing)