WHAT TO EAT FOR HIKING AND HOW TO AVOID BEING “HANGRY” – EAT TO WALK
Exploring the unparalleled beauty of the Cairngorms National Park is a treat for all. But there’s another sort of treat you should always consider when planning any wilderness walk or expedition – meals and snacks to set you up well and keep you going all day. What to eat for hiking and when to eat it is crucial to the enjoyment of your day out. There is nothing worse than a member of your party becoming disheartened by not having enough to eat.
We’ve all been there – partway through a walk and feeling tired and irritable, just not enjoying it as much as you should. That’s more than likely because you’re hungry – or “hangry”. Choosing the right food to eat before and during your trip can avoid this issue entirely and set you up for a fabulous day’s walking.
You don’t need to follow a specific diet, but there are some nutritional tips that can definitely make a difference.
- First the science bit – your body needs calories as fuel, and the more active you are the more calories it needs. But not all food types are equal when eating for long term energy so it’s important to choose well – and it’s all about the carbs.
- Carbohydrate is your jet fuel – quick to burn and providing instant energy, but it needs topping up regularly. Your body can only store small amounts of carbohydrate in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and not for very long. So although it’s great for strenuous activities such as hillwalking, you’ll need to bring top-up supplies as your breakfast bagel won’t last for long.
- Firstly make sure you eat large portions of starchy carbohydrates the night before your hike, a great big bowl of pasta, noodles or rice is ideal. Opt for wholegrain options where you can (eg whole wheat pasta or noodles, brown rice) as the fibre in whole grains provides a slower release of energy. Other good sources of carbohydrate include potatoes (with skins), couscous, beans and pulses.
- And then a substantial carbohydrate breakfast will set you up for the early part of the day – toast, bagels and porridge all fit the bill. If you’re a fan of breakfast cereals try to choose whole wheat options with no added sugar.
- Finally, and just as important, pack your bag with a selection of snacks to eat at least every couple of hours during the day – think sandwiches, bananas, dried fruit, malt loaf and the occasional chocolate treat. These energy balls made from dates, almonds and cocoa are popular with our clients these days as they fit conveniently in pockets and do as they say on the tin. They are so delicious that they revive your spirits through flavour as well.
No more hangry outbursts, just a fully-fuelled, bursting-with-energy day out – all it takes is a peanut-butter-and-banana-on-wholemeal sandwich!
NB After your hike, just as with a strenuous workout, you do want plenty of protein in your meal to aid muscle recovery.