Hiking, along with being cathartic and soothing for many people, can also be very intense. The average person burns around 430-550 calories per hour (depending on various factors like body and bag weight). Furthermore, depending on intensity, such as truly rugged terrains and steep climbs, experts have determined that calories continue to burn off long after the hike and even during sleep. This is likely welcome news for those looking to stay in shape, but it’s important that if you’re heading out on the trail, you take measures to bring along proper nutrition to energize your brain and your muscles, and to refill your body with calories for all that you’re expending. Otherwise, you’ll be exhausted, leading to your body responding with dizziness or cramps, and there’s nothing “soothing” about that.
Thus, lovers of the outdoors (and those aspiring to become such), should carry along food fit for hiking. A few things to consider are obviously space, weight, and shelf life, depending on where you’re going and how long you plan to be out. Speaking of time, it is recommended that you eat at least one snack every hour, so plan to take more than a bag of chips along. Things to consider are: salty foods, which along with water help replenish lost electrolytes from sweating; protein-packed foods, such as nuts, jerky, and tuna, because they speed up the process of recovery for your muscles and increase energy; and fruit, which also provides energy as well as fiber for helping absorb those nutrients.
You may have noticed that trail mix, now popular around the world and eaten as an everyday snack, typically includes a mix of these things. It became more widely known in the early 20th century because of its combination of protein, good fats and carbohydrates, and was thusly promoted a light but adequate source of energy. Subsequently, there are a number of varieties which can be found in stores today, but making your own can be just as good and possibly healthier, while including the things you love most.
It’s quite simple to do, really, just cover the basics: nuts, seeds, fruit, grains and sweets, and mix and match. The Greatist–a health food blog and total lifestyle publication–created an amazing list of 21 DIY options for a variety of tastes. For something else a little different than storebought, check out this recipe from The Big Man’s World, that’s full of protein and “excitement,” according to the writer.
Regardless of your choice, traditional, unique, storebought or homemade, be sure to plan your diet as well as you plan your path. Both are important for all hikers, especially if you’ll be traveling some long distances. If you have some recipes or ideas of your own, feel free to share with me. I may include them in another blog. Be safe and enjoy!