Proper Nutrition During Hike

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If you are considering taking up hiking for the multiple benefits of great exercise, spectacular vistas, wildlife sightings and the serenity of your moment with Mother Nature, welcome to the club.

Your provincial tourist office will have brochures on the best-known trails and their level of difficulty.

There is much to consider before heading out the door, such as wearing the proper clothes and footwear for the terrain you will be navigating.

In case of injury, emergency supplies like bandages, matches, flashlight, Swiss knife, compass, and windbreaker should be carried in your backpack, along with a whistle, water, and extra food.  

Carefully consider which food types to bring as the potential energy they provide could be beneficial toward the end of a long hike.

Registered holistic nutritionist Karina Beverly Ho shares some valuable nutrition information and tips to help fuel and prepare you on your next adventure.

As an avid hiker and snowboarder herself, she aims to find healthier ways to stay energized on those long days on the mountains.

Her inspiration in nutrition comes from her athletic background in gymnastics and circus acrobatics, using nutrition to achieve optimal training and performance.  

For those who want to hike for one hour as opposed to those spending most of the day hiking, Ho said, “The length of your hike will definitely determine how much food you should bring with you. If you’re out for a full day, you’ll probably want to bring a lunch as well as snacks.  Sandwiches and wraps make great lunches that are easy to carry with you.”

Ho continues “Fill them with a variety of vegetables and include some protein, such as leftover meats or hummus. Pair with some fresh veggies such as carrot and celery sticks, bell peppers or snap peas and fresh fruit for a well balanced meal, and get ready to enjoy that meal in the presence of the beautiful outdoors.”

She continues, “Snacks are great for hikes lasting just a few hours and for your longer days to eat outside of your lunch.  You should avoid sugar filled granola bars and protein bars and stick with whole foods. These bars market themselves as quick, easy, and healthy but often include far too much added sugar. You’re better off opting for whole foods – think fresh veggies and fruit, and mixed nuts and seeds!  The veggies and fruit will give you some much-needed energy, while the nuts and seeds will help you feel satisfied until your next snack break!”

Ho says hikes lasting just an hour should be fine without any snacks if you’re properly fueled before your hike. “Hiking is literally full of unexpected twists and turns and you should always be prepared in case your hike goes longer than you anticipated,” Ho cautioned, adding, “Always bring a snack or two with you in case you’re out longer than originally planned.”

Eating breakfast is always a good idea, especially on the day of the hike.

Ho suggests a well-balanced meal with a mix of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables such as a breakfast wrap with eggs, avocado, vegetables and salsa or oatmeal with fruit and nuts.

Don’t forget to hydrate.  Ho says, “Bring lots of water with you and drink regularly! Especially on those hot summer days, if you are hiking in areas without a lot of tree cover you can lose a lot of water from your body when you sweat.  Drink even more water on these days as it’s very important to replace that lost water and rehydrate.”

Always dress for the weather conditions, bring sunscreen and insect repellant.

Bear spray could be a welcome addition to your backpack, though hopefully one doesn’t ever get close enough to find out.

Christine Blanchette is a TV host and producer of Run With It, a monthly running, fitness and lifestyle program.

Printed with permission from Optimyz magazine.