A day spent walking in the hills is quite a strenuous activity that requires a lot of energy. So hiking nutrition is very important. The type of exercise your body will be doing is predominantly aerobic. Carrying a backpack or walking uphill or even climbing over rocks will demand your body to use a lot more energy, however walking on smoother surface will demand a lot less energy to be exerted. So be mindful of the type of terrain you may encounter.
Being able to move efficiently over mountain terrain will decrease energy expenditure and this will also decrease the amount of heat and sweat produced.
It’s also important to consider the amount of food consumed before a walk in the mountains. The kind of nutrition you feed your body at the beginning of any physical challenge can affect your success whether it is a marathon, gym session or a hike in the hills. It has been recommended that breakfast should be around quarter of your daily food intake and evening meals should be around a third. The rest should be consumed in small amounts throughout the day. Short breaks for this type of consumption is far better than a single long lunch break. This is what has been recommended in various mountain training guides. However, the reality is different people’s bodies react differently to food. We would recommend do what works for you and use this as a guide to get you started.
For breakfast eat a good mix of simple carbs such as cereal and bread with jam, this will provide your body with instant energy and will also continue to be broken down giving the body a steady release of energy.
For the snacks, consider bringing sandwiches, chocolate bars or flapjacks. Mixed nuts, dried fruit and raisins are also a good source of energy.
After the days walk, energy replenishment is most effective within a two hour window of completing the exercise. I appreciate if you are out hiking you’re not necessarily planning on entering Mr Universe but keeping on top of your nutrition after hiking will help with muscle repair and regeneration. This will improve your overall fitness levels which will hopefully make hiking even more enjoyable than it already is. For trips lasting longer than a day the balance of nutritional requirements becomes far more important. Your body will need things such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. These can be obtained by dairy produce, meat and vegetables.
If the food is to be carried whilst walking then weight becomes a significant issue. It is possible to replenish the body’s food requirements on just one kilogramme per day. But, this will require a lot of planning. Packaging is dead weight and tinned foods can always be transferred into a much lighter containers. Dehydrated food is very light but will take a considerable amount of fuel to cook, with this in mind boil in the bag foods are the best option, as well as pasta. However, boil in the bag food tends to be quite expensive, so something to bear in mind.
Rehydration is absolutely vital to the body’s wellbeing during an expedition. The body will use water to help maintain optimum working temperature. Due to sweating, without regular hydration the body becomes dehydrated leading to exhaustion or more serious, heatstroke.
Water should be consumed in regular intervals. Alcohol consumption is a terrible idea as alcohol naturally dehydrates the body. The use of sweetened fruit squash is also useful as this will also help to hydrate and provide energy.