Hiking uses a surprising amount of energy.

A 86kg man may use 517 Kcal per hour and for a 74kg woman, it may be 444 Kcal.  So over the course of the day, you may easily use 3000 calories.

The longer you hike for, the more you must consider nutrition.  Eating a rainbow of vegetables can be a challenge to say the least when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and you may not be a natural forager.

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However, it is possible to take a varied diet.  The easiest way to do this is by pre-preparing non bulky, light weight food bags that may be filled with healthy foods, then either re-hydrated and cooked, or eaten in its dry form.

The useful thing about this is you can pack exact amounts for the hike (always remembering an extra day’s supply in case of emergency).

To prepare a bag, start by adding the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) these will provide the energy for the hike. Due to the amount of calories used during a long hike aim to pack 1000 kcal per bag for a main meal.

This can be adjusted up or down, depending on how many hours you will be out for and how energetic the hike will be.

Fat

Great for a long hike as it releases energy slowly using aerobic metabolism.  Choose good fats and check labels.  Palm oil and hydrogenated fats are common in bars, peanut butter and flapjacks and are to be avoided at all costs.

Fats found in nuts and seeds are much better choices, or coconut oil which is rapidly converted to energy by the body (similarly to carbohydrates).

Carbohydrates

Metabolised anaerobically, the body needs a constant supply of

Carbohydrate to provide glycogen for energy and for mental alertness.  Hikes are no excuse for white fluffy rubbish, however you may want to stear away from choices like brown rice, green peas and some larger varieties of lentils as they need long cooking.

Good choices include: buckwheat pasta, quinoa, millet, red lentils, oats, buckwheat groats.

Protein

Good choices include quinoa (which also doubles as your carbohydrate option), beef jerky, unsalted nuts and seeds, whole nut butters (for example almond), dried whole milk powder (cow, almond, goat and soy versions are available), whey protein powder and dried fish (though this can be quite pungent).

Next, consider adding a rainbow of colour from fruit or vegetables.  They need to be choices that can either be eaten raw, or don’t require much cooking. For example:

Green

– Curly kale: (can be dried easily in the oven prior to hike by spreading evenly on a baking tray and putting in the oven on a low temp until dry and makes a rustling noise.
– Seaweed: already dried, Nori is very palatable, though there are lots of varieties to choose from.
– You may also like to try dried cabbage flakes

Red

– Sun dried tomatoes
– Beetroot powder
– Dried red peppers
– Dried cherries
– Dried cranberries

Orange

– Dried apricots
– Dried papaya
– Dried pineapple
– Dried carrots

Blue

– Dried blueberries
– Raisins
– Black olives

White

– Dried mushrooms
– Dried onion
– Dried garlic

Example 1: Hiking Bag: Muesli Breakfast (cal 950)

– 3 oz rolled oats
– 1 oz millet flakes
– 1 oz banana chips
– 1 oz dried blueberries
– 1 oz pumpkin seeds
– 1 oz dried, whole milk

Example 2: Hiking Bag: Dinner (cal 1055)

– 6 oz Quinoa
– 1 tablespoon coconut oil
– 1 oz raisins (or other dried fruit)
– 4 dried mushrooms sliced
– 4 sun dried tomatoes sliced (or a squeeze of tomato puree)
– 1 tsp Marigold swiss vegetable bouillon
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 heaped tsp Nori seaweed flakes
– 1 oz Goji berries
– ½ oz peanuts
– 1 tsp curry powder (or smoked paprika or herbs etc)

A Note on Hydration

Water is essential to stay hydrated and external temperature needs to be taken into account when assessing need.  A good equation to use is:

Your weight in kg x 0.033 = litres of water needed

Check urine colour: Pale  = hydrated

Dark =  dehydrated and more water required.

If you find sweat on your dark clothing accumulates white salt marks, then this is a good guide for realising the need for added electrolytes.

If you can spare the room in the rucksack, include citrus fruit, lemons and oranges. They carry and keep well and are naturally rich in the electrolytes potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium.  Eat raw or add to your water bottle.

Snacks

In addition to main meals, you may need a snack or two along the way for extra energy.

When flapjacks take under 10 minutes to make, start to finish, there really is no excuse to have poor nutrition…

Quick and easy microwave flapjacks

– 3oz coconut oil
– 4 heaped dessertspoons set honey
– 5oz porridge oats
– 2oz chopped walnuts
– 4oz dried fruit of your choice (preferably unsulphured)
– Zest of one unwaxed orange

Put the oil and honey in a microwave bowl and cook on high for 1 min until melted.  Stir.

Add the remaining ingredients and transfer to a shallow greaseproof microwave dish.  Cook on high for 5 minutes, or until it bubbles.

Allow to cool and cut into slices.

Energy balls

– 1 cup dates
– 1/2 cup cashews
– 1/2 cup almonds
– 1/2 cup raw cacao
– 1/4 cup chia or flax seeds (preferably ground)
– heaped teaspoon coconut oil

Put all ingredients in the food processor and blend. Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and press into balls. Keep in the fridge

Hiking-food-to-keep-you-strong-and-nourished-through-any-adventure_3.jpgHappy Hiking! xxx

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