Do you know one of the main pillars in your good performance in trekking is your nutrition? But why is having suitable nutrition so hard for so many mountaineers? And what can you do to have the best possible nutrition while you’re on the road? Well, we will show you how. Let’s start with a little planning that we do every time to have the perfect choices. We hope they will help you too. Following these tips pave the way for your having a safe food experience on your next adventure!
Forward Planning: Our First Tactic
“A good traveler has no fixed plans” Lao Tzu
Spontaneity is good, but not in eating. We need to be prepared in advanced for our trip. With a little planning, we can prepare nutritious food and snacks that will keep us filled and energized. Know the length of the trip and the food you need to take with you. Being selective about what you are going to eat seems quite rational. Otherwise, there are chances that we may experience dizziness, body pain or cramps.
Carbohydrates: Our Main Source of Energy
Generally speaking, while we are trekking, we may be tempted to overeat because our body works out so much. So, keeping a balance, matching our exertion level and making smart food choices are of great importance. The more we eat, especially of food with little nutritional benefit, the tougher it can be on our body.
On the other hand, nourishing foods, those which are high on carbohydrates can be quite helpful. Because they prevent proteins from being burned and they need less oxygen for metabolism. Eating the right kinds of carbohydrates is of great significance. Complex carbs are the perfect choices, since they get released slowly into our system. They sustain our energy and keep us going for hours.
The right choices would be whole-grain products, beans, lentils, potato, and fruits such as banana, nectarine or dates. They are absorbed more slowly, thus they give us more energy. That is why we will feel energetic for a longer time. Also, it is worth paying attention to unsaturated fat, because they improve the absorption of carbs. Nuts (like almonds or walnuts) are highly recommended.
Nomads’ Diet: Our Ideal Solution on How to Eat While Trekking
When it comes to going and seeing the Nomad tribes, Like Samuel Johnson some may think; “Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.” But I want to say the exact opposite; Apart from all fantastic and first-hand experiences one can achieve in this trip, there is one great practical experience considering their unique life style and eating habits.
In our last trip with Bakhtiari tribe, when they shared their food with us, we got to know more about their healthy diet. There was something wondrous about their physical agility and untiring efforts in taking care of the herds, which is undoubtedly the direct result of their eating habits. For example, the day they were supposed to start their migration, they had bread and their special butter in the morning, since they believed they would help them bring out the best in them. And then during migration they had mostly bread as their snacks.
Dairy products are so common among them; fresh milk, local butter (they call it oil), natural yoghurt, and cheese (all made by the delicate hands of Nomad women). These were mostly used in the morning and during the day whenever they felt like it. But the point is that with all these dairy products they had their handmade, delicious, and healthy breads. As we know, breads are the best source of carbohydrates.
Another common food among the Nomads is lentils with rice (polo). Lentils again, as it was mentioned above, are highly energizing. There is another common food among the Nomads; Kale Joosh, which is really healthy and delicious. It is made of Kashk, mint, walnut, and vegetable oil, and it is rich in calcium and protein. So, we can see how their special diet is also rich in carbohydrates. Their eating habits should be considered more seriously if we are about to have the same life style, going on adventure and trekking for some long hours in mountains.
Opting for Healthy Food
Due to the fact that what we take has a crucial impact on our performance throughout our trip, mindless eating is out of the question. An energetic start is a result of a full and healthy breakfast. Although our body longs for Caffeine early in the morning, it is the worst idea ever, since it results in dehydration!
Wholesome breakfast, lunch and dinner are our friends, if we want to have stable energy during the day. Since carbs are the best source of energy, it is advisable to have them in all our meals. It is also recommended to avoid chocolates or any sweets and junk food, even a week before starting our trek. It is said that sugar candies tend to cause sore throat on heights. Healthy alternatives to them are nuts.
We can also have fruit, eggs, and nuts in our breakfast. Eggs keep us off from sore muscles and help replace broken-down muscle protein. It is also recommended to have snacks every two hours, in order to prevent us from untimely craving and maintaining our energy during a long hike. Fresh fruits like apples, pears and bananas, and vegetables like carrots and celery are preferable. Bananas are awesome.
The nutritional benefits of bananas are due to the fact that they contain a lot of carbohydrate. So, we can have them even before trekking to boost our performance. Dry fruits, seeds, raisins, walnuts, pistachios, dates and apricots are also advisable. They are rich in vitamins, proteins, fibers and minerals, and they provide the required nutrients to our body. They also take care of our hunger.
Peanut butter with bread can also provide us with the right energy for trekking. It is packed with healthy fats and calories and it boosts our energy. No doubt, our body will thank us for them.
Last but not least, the importance of vitamin B should be considered. If we are after a combination of speed and endurance in our trek, we need to make sure to eat foods rich in vitamin B, such as fortified cereals, whole grains or dark-green veggies.
Along with wholesome meals, it’s extremely important to drink sufficient water, in order not to feel dizziness, fatigue and lethargy. It is best to drink every hour of trekking to stay hydrated. So sipping regularly is much better than drinking up the bottle at once.
Keeping hydrated prevents from getting cramps, and the oxygen in the water compensates for the low oxygen level in high altitudes. But the point is that the amount of water we’ll need for our hike depends on our fitness level, the intensity of our journey, the weather, how long we are trekking, our sweat rate and our body. However, about a half liter of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperature is recommended.
Wrapping it up: Avoids Following Items
Better to avoid any food that includes high sugar level, junk foods, canned products (they have no essential nutrients), meat and chicken (they contain too much fat), cookies and candy products (they have no essential nutrients). There is a certain logic to it: our performance is affected by what we eat.