I absolutely love to hike in the great outdoors, especially now the warmer weather is here. In fact, there’s so many activities to be enjoyed outside during the summer months. Interestingly, walking or hiking are becoming increasingly popular. But what food to take on your hike, especially if you’re going to be out all day?
Whilst you should generally be following a low glycaemicdiet including plenty of wholegrains, beans, lots of vegetables, protein and essential fats, when you exercise hard, the body needs instant energy top-ups. Here are a few suggestions to take on your walks.
When you’re walking for long stretches at a time, energy levels can become depleted, particularly if you’re tackling some challenging inclines! Therefore, what’s needed is quick energy-boosting or high glycaemic foods; these are foods that help the body to break down our preferred fuel, glucose, for readily available energy.
A white bagel provides a dense source of energy which can be quickly accessed by the body without delivering a high fat content. Remember, that whilst the body can use fat as a fuel source, it takes much longer to be converted and delivered to the muscles where it’s mostly needed. Additionally, jam has a high sugar content, again, a very usable short-term energy fix. Even better, bagels and jam require no refrigeration and are light and easy to carry in a back-pack - perfect for hiking food.
If you’re out trekking all day and maybe walking at height for some of the time, the body actually burns up carbohydrates a lot quicker than in normal circumstances. Hence you’ll find yourself feeling super-hungry! Whilst eating lots of dried fruits is not to be recommended too often, it’s actually a great snack when you’re in need of some quick fuel. You can choose whichever fruit you most enjoy. Raisins, for example, are also a great source of iron which many people, especially women, are lacking, and which can cause generally low energy levels. Dried apples, as an alternative, will provide a small amount of vitamin C and dried apricots are high in heart-friendly potassium. The choice is yours!
Keeping the body fuelled whilst walking or hiking for long periods is essential for maximum enjoyment of the day and to ensure you’re not having to get the bus home! However, large quantities of food are not needed and in fact can cause digestive upsets (not recommended when on a long hike!) Therefore, bananas fit the bill perfectly; they’re very portable, they relieve hunger pangs quickly and they provide some additional vitamins and minerals to top up the body’s normal daily requirements.
However, it’s probably best not to consume more than one in the day as they’re high in fibre and may cause bloating.
For many people, muesli is their favourite cereal. Therefore, being able to take a muesli snack bar out for the day represents a real treat! Ordinarily, these bars contain quite high amounts of sugar, therefore are not recommended on a daily basis. However, they’re perfect for this type of exercise.
Even better, why not make up your own bars using honey,caster sugar, butter, some rolled oats, sultanas, dried apricots and some mixed seeds, including pumpkin seeds? They’re totally delicious but also contain some excellent nutrients. For example, oats are great for reducing cholesterol levels, and pumpkin seeds are a good source of healthy omega-3fats; great for the heart, joints and brain. Share your bars and everyone will love you on the mountain!
There are, of course, an array of sports bars in the supermarkets and specialist sports shops. But which one to choose? They all have their own merits. However, one of the biggest problems with sports bars is that they often contain chemical sweeteners, such as aspartame. Chemical sweeteners are bad news all ways round because they are, as the name suggests, chemicals. Plus many people get digestive upsets and bloating when eating foods containing high levels of sweeteners.
Therefore, look for a sports bar that states it’s high in carbohydrates but be sure to check what’s in it before purchasing. There are plenty around that use natural sweeteners, particularly if you look in health food stores, but they’ll still keep you energised throughout the day.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take plenty of fluid with you; the body re-hydrates quicker if you add a little fruit juice to your water rather than just drinking it plain.
You’ll be able to enjoy those summer walks and hikes even more!