Energy for long hikes
During my training walks it became apparent quite soon that I just didn’t have the energy to sustain the mileage that I was doing, I was very naive about the importance of the food I was or wasn’t consuming. I decided to educate myself and establish exactly what I would need to help me. My aim wasn’t to lose weight (although toning up would be advantageous) so I had to ensure that I ate the daily calories I needed for my body to work on a day to day level, plus what I needed to trample over the countryside for my 10- 25 miles training walks, then of course there was the major 62mile walk to prepare for. I’m hoping that what I have learnt will help others, if you find this useful, or think I need some further educating then please drop me a line in my comments section on this page.
Disclaimer - Please note that this blog is based on my own knowledge that I have picked up along the way when talking to others who undertake endurance walks.. and from the internet. I do NOT have nutrition qualifications. However I can put you in touch of two lovely local ladies (Bexhill and Hastings) who do and can help you should you need it!
You need to consider 3 things when going for an endurance walkWhat to eat and drink the day or two before the walk – You wouldn’t leave on a long car journey without making all the necessary checks, including filling the fuel tank! Don’t drink alcohol and ensure you drink 2 litres of water to ensure that you stay hydrated.
What to eat and drink during the walk – just like on a long car journey, you will need to refuel! You should drink every 15 minutes during the walk, to hydrate AND to keep cool.
What to eat and drink after the walk, which will help with your recovery
Don’t be afraid, there are some good ones out there. Fats can supply energy and help insulate against the cold too. But I have found it better to avoid them just before and during the walk as they are hard to digest.
I know these are a reliable source of energy and my pre-training diet was reasonably carbohydrate high anyway, this food type is the most efficient fuel for endurance. Did you know that fruit is a carb? No, I learnt that too!! They aren’t as high in carbs as veg, but lower than your pastas. Carbs are turned into Glycogen that is stored for later use.
- Porridge oats is a wonderful way to start any day, but especially before hiking. It’s a slow burning carb that can fill you up for longer and help keep your blood sugars level. (I’m talking your Scotts porridge, not the instant packs you can get now days) Try adding a banana on top for added energy and potassium. I also add a tablespoon of cinnamon, an anti-inflammatory with many many other benefits.
- Dried fruit is perfect for a boost before digging in for some tough terrain. Their natural sugar work as fast acting carb.
- Pasta, Noodles and Rice – preferably wholegrain. The fiber in the wholegrains can make you feel fuller for longer as they take longer to digest.
- Potatoes. Normal jackets pots v a delicious sweet potato is a close call, they seem to contain the same amount of carbs, however sweet potato is slightly lower on the glycemic index.
What is this GI Glycemic Index I mention. I had heard of it before but not fully understood it. Its an index that shows the speed at which sugars in the food are broken down and made available for the body to use as fuel.
High GI = Quicker.
Low GI = Slower.
This is important food group to help your growth and repair. It helps to increase metabolism too. Having protein before a hike can help prevent muscle soreness.
- Nuts – a great energy food and healthy fat
- Lean meats such as chicken and turkey
You lose electrolytes in your sweat and you must replace them though food and drink to avoid confusion or cramps. This is when a sports drink can be useful. I was against these until coming to the end of one of my training walks, I got very dizzy very quickly. I was luckily near a shop and bought a bottle of Lucozade Sport, a few sips later and I felt tonnes better!
Some foods high in electrolytes
- Bagel with peanut butter
This is one of my favourite smoothies at the moment, it serves 3:
- 500ml almond milk
- Tbsp cocoa powder
- Tbsp protein whey powder
- Tbsp peanut butter (fibre, protein and magnesium)
- 2 bananas
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
If you've found this useful, or think I need some further educating then please drop me a line in my comments section on this page.