Whether you’re considering a short day hike or a longer trekking expedition, you may want to know what to eat before a hike. In this guide, we cover 3 top energy sources!
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the stunning outdoors. Whether you are planning to hike the trails in Colorado Springs, Upstate New York, or perhaps Sedona, Arizona, you’ll need to be prepared nutritionally speaking.
If you’re heading out into the wilderness, you want to make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality. This includes being able to sustain your energy levels throughout a hike.
If you are planning a more strenuous and long hike, one of the worst things you can do is not bring enough food to sustain you.
If you faint on the side of a mountain, even if you are with someone, this could seriously affect your health in the long run and it can often take a lot of time for emergency services to reach you.
Having said that, you might be wondering what foods you should pack before hitting the trail.
If you aren’t a nutritionist or a dietitian, knowing how foods can impact your body in this endurance situation can be hard, and it can also be hard to know who to trust.
With this in mind, we have listed some food groups and potential food items in them, and how each food group can help or hinder your hunger on a hike. Read on to learn more about what fuel you need and what to eat on a hike!
Please note that these are our personal suggestions and it’s always important to ensure you get proper medical consultation when considering what to eat before a hike, especially if you suffer from underlying health conditions or allergies.
5 Must-Have Hiking Essentials
- A hiking day backpack
- Comfy pair of men’s boots, or woman’s hiking boots
- Hiking water bottle for hydration
- A cozy men’s and woman’s windbreaker for those gusty summits
- A set of hiking poles
3 Top Energy Sources – What To Eat Before Hiking
Carbohydrates – What To Eat Before A Long Hike
The main fuel for muscles comes from carbohydrates.
This means that a carbohydrate-rich meal in the morning before you embark on your expedition can be paramount to sustaining your energy levels throughout the day.
However, this isn’t as simple as eating a big plate of pasta before you go on a hike, this will incapacitate you.
One carb we love to encourage hikers to eat is oats. Something like oatmeal can provide you with boundless energy throughout the day.
Plus, it’s really easy to get into your system quickly and is something you can even have on your hike, which is great for trekking expeditions lasting more than a day.
These sachets only require hot water to make and will give you digestible energy throughout the day.
The good thing about oatmeal is that it’s long-lasting and a great slow-release option, and doesn’t give you a huge energy dump all at once, rather it stacks up over time.
What’s also good is that oatmeal will make you feel full throughout the day, stopping those hunger bouts when they come around.
Beyond oatmeal, there are a whole host of other carbs that are both fast and slow-acting that can help your energy stick around.
Fruit And Veg
Obviously, fruit and veg are super important foods to consider eating to maintain a healthy lifestyle and balance in your life. They should always be eaten, even when not anticipating large bouts of exercise.
However, it is particularly worthwhile to fill up on vitamins before you head out on a hike.
These vitamins will keep you awake, keep blood going where it needs to, potentially boost serotonin levels, provide a small sugary kick, and in amalgamation with some healthy fats and carbohydrates, can keep you going throughout the day.
One obvious way to get these minerals and vitamins in is to eat fruit and veg, you can add some fruit to your oatmeal in the morning and this could be a great meal to eat before hiking. We recommend bananas for an extra boost of slow-burning energy.
One way to maintain these vitamin levels in your body while you hike is to consider fruit bars and other products that are small, lightweight, and made to give you the slow-release energy that you need plus all the vitamins you want.
Products such as this are worth considering taking with you on a hike or eating in the morning when you wake up in your tent.
While sugar is almost definitely not something you want to eat before you go on a hike, it can be a useful tool to have near the end of a hike and is worth considering bringing some candy along with you.
Sugar is hated by the hiking community, mainly as it gives you very fast release energy that will be temporary and almost always results in a sugar comedown.
This is good in small amounts such as from the banana in your oatmeal, or a spoon of honey, but eating sweets the whole way will leave you feeling super groggy if you can’t maintain it.
Yet, sugar is super helpful in certain instances. If someone is slightly injured or perhaps in shock, a hit of sugar can help relax them and make them feel better, and give them that kick to keep going.
In the same way, having some candy as you near the end of the trip can really help give you that last push to make it to the peak.
Moreover, the comedown immediately is beaten by the surge of euphoria you feel once you are done.
Sugar can really save you when you are down and is always worth having, but shouldn’t be your main food while hiking and definitely not before hiking.
Final Thoughts – What To Eat Before A Hike
Hiking long distances are all about endurance and keeping a steady energy level. Most of this comes from preparing properly for eating before and during your hikes.
In terms of eating before a hike, you don’t want to fill up too much, but you also want enough food in you to sustain your energy.
What we would suggest is a bowl of oatmeal packed full of some freshly chopped fruit of your choosing (bananas are a great choice). This can be one of the best meals to keep you going while you hike.
This oatmeal bowl will be full of all the nutrients and vitamins you require as well as the protein and carbohydrates to maintain your muscle and energy levels when hiking.
Something like sugar should always be avoided in large quantities, but knowing how to use sugar to achieve your goals can ultimately help you a lot, especially in emergency situations, you’ll be glad you have that Hershey’s bar at hand.