After a long week of work, the perfect way to rejuvenate your strength ready for another week is by taking a hike. However, you might want to know what to eat before a hike.
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Why is hiking so important
At the same time, hitting the trails has numerous benefits. They include irresistible views, fresh air, the exercise itself as well as wildlife views, especially when hiking in state parks.
Hiking can be the thing that brings your family together. It is fun and it offers many healthy benefits.
Here are a few health benefits you can look forward to:
- Your heart gets a good workout
- Best way to boost your blood pressure health and blood sugar levels
- Strengthen your glute muscles, quadriceps, the hip and lower legs muscles
- Balance improvement while walking
- Reduce risks of obesity as it burns so many calories
- It triggers the release of the feel good hormones thus lifting your mood
Hiking enhances your endurance. Believe it or not, you get toughened up out there like an old grizzlie! You see, when taking an all-day hike, anything can happen. The weather can change without warning.
Thus, you have to expect anything. You cannot hike and stay the same again. You are hardened up in that special way of “I can handle myself.” However, you still need good hiking food for that.
Are you planning for a hike any time soon? Well, getting the right hiking food on your plate before you set out will determine how well you will handle the hike.
It is important to consume hiking foods to give you fuel, power and energy. Bring your water bottle for hiking too so you can get the most out of a hike. Believe me, you will need the energy.
Should you eat cereal, bread, meat or cake? These are some of the things that most people wonder about. Second to knowing what to wear for a hike, knowing what to eat before, during or after is also crucial.
If you are in a hurry to go hiking, here are a few hiking foods you can buy:
Hiking is a lot of fun. But make no mistake about it because it is an energy intensive exercise.
No, scrap that! Hiking is a hungry and thirsty exercise. It takes a lot of energy. It also burns many calories. You can read my article here about how much distance you can walk, to see the amount of energy you will spend hiking.
Best Foods for What to Eat Before a Hike
Here, we are going to consider the best hiking foods to take before a hike. With so many foods in your fridge and pantry, you may be tempted to eat just anything. These are the best ones:
Meats – what to eat before a hike
You should take lean meats on the morning of the hike. These are a great source of protein. Hikers need a lot of strength, which is best provided by proteins. Protein has good muscle repair characteristics. It helps reduce the soreness of the muscles.
If you will be doing some tough trails, you know, difficult or extremely difficult rating, you might injure your muscles. You may wear the best hiking shoes, but still, your tissue could be torn by the strain.
Don’t worry. Everything will be alright.
You see, protein helps in tissue repair. Over a gradual process, your muscles will be healed of any injury.
Protein also helps by boosting the rate of metabolism, which is vital when going up and down steep trails. Because protein takes a long time to digest, you will find that it fuels you for much longer than carbohydrates.
Take some beef jerky too if you will hike for hours on end. You can chomp on it as you eat up the miles. It is a great snack.
So you eat oatmeal almost everyday. You may be wondering why then it is one of the best hiking foods.
But oatmeal has certain benefits that only oatmeal can give. These include things like a long-lasting satiety, it is light in the stomach and it contains many nutrients.
Oatmeal is rich in carbohydrate and it has a high fiber content too. Carbohydrates are the major sources of energy, which is what you need when hiking.
You will also love to take oatmeal as a hiking food because of the different ways in which you can “spice” it up.
For example, you can take it with fruits, protein powder or even butter. Even if you do not love oatmeal, some accompaniments can make you love it.
Not only is egg easy and fast to make, you know, for those days that you can hardly wait to get out, but they also keep you feeling satisfied for much longer.
By doing so, your body is able to boost recovery better and also decrease the rate of muscle damage.
You are advised to take eggs with a carbohydrate so that you can feel sated for longer. In fact, this may even help you save your snacks as you will not feel hungry too often.
You may want to try two or three poached eggs with whole grain toast. Such is going to pack your muscles with all the energy that you will need for trekking.
What to eat before a hike – Vegetables and fruits
Everyone loves fruit. It is sweet, looks awesome and can make you feel refreshed, sated and quenched.
You can eat the fruits alone or as part of your hiking food. You may even add them to oatmeal, makes it taste much better.
IF you are going hiking on a sunny day, taking cool fresh fruit before the hike can help keep you refreshed for longer. Because of their water content, fruits also make you feel more hydrated. Besides, an apple a day does keep the doctor away, even when you are hiking!
However, the temptation to leave vegetables out of the hiking food chart will be high but you should avoid it. After all, they are good for your energy and important nutrients.
If you can explore around you a little, you will find so many vegetables that can fit into what to eat before a hike. Try something like sweet potatoes. These are not only full of energy, but they can be made in different ways, just the way you like them.
Carrot sticks are good for packing in your snack box, which will then go into your back pack for hiking.
Note that vegetables do not only have vitamins and minerals, but they also have carbohydrates. Unlike those found in starchy foods, these are complex carbohydrates, which digest slowly and have more nutrients.
If you are a fan of store-bought food, you will find many nutrition bars that you can munch on before or during the hike. These are perfect for those days when you don’t feel like cooking, or when you wake up late for the hike.
Not every nutrition bar is going to be good for you. Protein-packed ones are the best. They should give you a good amount energy during the hike. As you buy your bars, read the labels so that you can buy the ones packed with proteins.
There is no problem even if you use these nutrition bars for what to eat before a hike and still carry them for snacking along the trail. They are the quick-fix option, but then you should always prepare well in advance so that you can eat a good, fulfilling meal before a hike.
Water and Coffee
It is very important to hydrate before, during and after a hike. Drink water at intervals starting the day before a hike. Even on the day of the hike, you will still need to carry water.
If you like, you can use a travel coffee mug , especially when you are hiking in the cold seasons. A travel coffee mug can also be used to carry cold drinks and it keeps them quite cold for the end of the hike.
Drink water because it regulates your body temperature and keeps you cool especially if you are hiking on a hot day.
Coffee is good for giving you energy, but it is recommended that you take it only after the hike. The same applies to beer and other alcohol. Take it after hiking. Caffeine can dehydrate your body. Hydration is what you need for hiking, not dehydration.
Banana, bagel and peanut butter
Banana is the all-time, all-season super food. You can eat it in the morning, in the evening, anytime and you will still feel great. However, it is particularly important when hiking because it is rich in potassium. As you sweat, you will lose a lot of potassium. The banana that you eat is going to replace that.
Peanut butter is sweet, has protein too. So it too should go onto your bagel (carbohydrate) to boost your energy.
Foods You Should Avoid Before a Hike
It is not all about what to eat before a hike. You also need to know what to avoid eating before a hike. Here are just a few select foods that you should keep away from:
Fatty and deep fried foods
Fats take a long time to be converted into energy by the body. They may also slow down your metabolism. This would mean low energy. That is the main reason why you should avoid fatty foods when you are going hiking.
In this category, we may also include cheese because it contains a lot of fat. Therefore, it will take longer to digest, and you do not want that. Perhaps you can eat your cheese after the hike when you get back to your truck at the trailhead.
Too much sugar
When you need a burst of energy for a power hike, take sugar. However, be careful not to take too much of it because it is going to affect how you hike. It can leave you feeling weak and lazy when the momentary high wears off.
When hiking, you do not need quick bursts of energy. You need food that will be gradually broken down to give you energy all the time. That way, your muscles will not weaken or give up on you when you are tackling that steep trail in Big Bear Lake.
You will realize that most of the food that we have mentioned here is either carbohydrate or protein. The same applies when you are done hiking. You want to take a good meal of carbohydrates to replace the glycogen that your body used up during the hike. You may also take protein so that it can start mending the tissues that you may have injured during the hike.