A big part of getting in shape for hiking is the food choices you make. It’s not enough to just exercise everyday, without paying attention to the food you’re eating. Training your body by eating healthy, whole foods on and off the trail, will leave you feeling energized, awake, and ready to conquer anything. Imagine trying to hike after eating a burger? Not possible. Stick to these healthy food choices on and off the trail to keep in shape before, after, and during your hike:
Ditch the Bad Fats, Keep the Good Ones
While everyone needs some fat in their life, certain kinds of fat or too much of it can leave you feeling sluggish. That’s not the way to feel when you’re meant to be hiking a lot of miles with a backpack on. In particular, try to stay away from foods that have a lot of trans fat or saturated fats. These can increase your cholesterol, which is bad for your heart. You wouldn’t want to have that problem while hiking.
That being said, there are some fatty foods that are highly nutritious and healthy, which have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These include foods like avocados, fish, nuts, cheese, chia seeds, and plenty of olive oil. Both nuts and cheese are a great option to bring along for a hike as well, as nuts make a quick snack and cheese adds a lot of good flavor to the easy meals you’ll be making.
Go For Nutrient-Rich Foods
In order to feel energized for a hike, you need a lot of nutrients. Nutrition is the basic building blocks of health, and if you’re not getting enough nutrients, your body might suffer during a hike. Likewise, if you give your body a lot of nutrients, you will certainly notice. While you’re preparing for your hike, take advantage of nutrient-rich foods that you won’t be able to bring along, like egg yolks, salmon, and everyone’s favorite; garlic.
Once you’re on the hike, you can take along veggies that are highly nutritious. One option is seaweed. Seaweed can make a good topping on rice, and usually comes in bags that are small, sealed, and easy to pack. Additionally, fermented vegetables are a great choice too, as they are not only nutritious, but serve as a probiotic. Of course, don’t forget potatoes, which are an essential staple that’s perfect for a backcountry cook-up.
Low Calories Before the Hike, High Calories on the Hike
If you want to get in shape before a hike, then it’s important to lower your calorie intake, and eat only what’s recommended for your body each day. On average, a person should have no more than 2,000 calories a day. Many vegetables are not only delicious, but also low in calories. Also, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to lose weight, then this is the way to go. Try celery, carrots, or snap peas.
While you’re on the hike, you’re going to need to do quite the opposite. A hike can lead you to burn 5,000 calories or more a day, which means you’ll need to compensate. If you don’t get enough calories, you’re going to struggle. Luckily, a lot of hiking food is packed with tons of calories, but also lots of preservatives. Just make sure you check before you add it to your supplies.
To Be Lean, Eat Lean Foods High in Protein
Getting in shape with healthy food choices means a lot of added protein to your diet. Many of the foods that are high in nutrients are also high in protein, like egg yolks. Before a hike, it’s easy to add items like meats, cheese, fish, yogurt, and tofu to your diet. Of course, it’s always good to eat locally grown food or organic food, where you can be sure there’s no hormones or additives in the food that might bring you down.
While on your hike, you can bring other foods that are high in protein, but don’t require a refrigerator. One choice is beans, which you can add to almost any meal you cook in the backcountry, such as jambalaya. Freeze-dried eggs are also an option, as well as canned tuna fish.
Feel Whole with Whole Grains
Whole grains are not only tasty and easy to bring along on a hike, but they also have a lot of health benefits and a lot of fiber. Adding some whole grains to your diet before the trail will help strengthen your body, and during a hike, will help you go to the bathroom.
There are so many whole grain foods to choose from, which means more options for packing your food supply. Think; rice, corn, oats, cereal, quinoa, pasta, cous-cous…these are all things that are not only healthy, but they don’t spoil. Add them to one of your meal options while on a hike.
As important as it is to get your body in good physical shape before the hiking season, it’s equally as important to match all that exercise with a healthy diet. Once you figure out the right foods, it’s possible to keep those healthy food choices both on and off the trail.