A major concern most hikers, especially the new ones, often overlook is how to eat on the trail and do so healthily. While it is fun, every hiker knows that hiking is a serious business that requires immense preparation. It is why we put in serious preparation and planning about everything. Everything except the food to eat!
For some reason, most hikers are culprits of poor pre-hike food planning. We generally almost get everything right except our food. Yeah, when it comes to food, most of us just shrug and are of the opinion that we can eat anything” Big mistake! You can’t eat anything on the trail, and you will learn the hard way if you fail to take your food plan seriously.
Eating healthily on the trail is of paramount importance. It ensures you complete your hike safely and in high spirits, making it an experience. I have seen hikers who didn’t plan their food properly cut short their hike after falling sick. You clearly do not want that.
So what is the secret? How can you eat healthy on the trail and keep in touch with your experience? Here are 4 top tips to ensure you eat right and well.
Get Expert Advice
The first step to eating healthy and well is getting your meal advice from a nutritionist, doctor, or any other relevant expert. It is easy just to write out a list of so many foods you would love to eat on the trail based on your at-home meal habits. However, the trail is not your home, and your typical meal choice will not serve you the best way.
Hiking takes a lot of toll on your weight, and it is generally recommended to top up your calories and proteins. Forget about what you know about yourself regarding appetite. It won’t help you on the wide trail. You are likely to burn over 5000 calories daily, especially if you have a heavy backpack and other tag-along items.
A nutritionist will consider all you plan to do hiking and fix a decent list that provides you with all the required nutrients for daily sustenance. Most experts consider:
- Your planned hiking route
- Daily Hours you plan to spend on the actual walking
- Your backpack weight
- The weather and season at the time
- Your typical food pattern
From experience, you will need a lot of protein and carbs to stay fit and healthy enough for your journey. Protein bars are an excellent choice, and so are almonds to keep the energy level up.
On the trail, it is less about thinking of how to eat vitamin-rich foods and more about protein and calories. Do you want to lose weight on the journey? Don’t worry. Walking on the trail will take its natural course. Just let your Nutritionist guide you and determine the food categories best for you. You can make easy substitutions with the recommended list to meet your taste.
Balance Up your Meals
Balancing your food type is one of the best ways to ensure you always enjoy your meal and do not just eat passively to survive. I generally recommend that you have your foods in all three major forms:
- Low-Temp Dehydrated Foods
- Fresh Ingredients and Foods
Low-Temp Dehydrated Foods
Dried Foods that you will need to dehydrate may be a good option if your chosen trail may cut you off from organic food sources once in a while. Fortunately, most processed packaged dried foods are relatively cheap and do not require lots of work to get them ready for eating.
Dehydrated foods are not bad and are the closest thing you will have to a well homemade fresh food. They are Much healthier than always consuming Soda. You only need a dehydrator, which thankfully will not break your bank.
Using a dehydrator is quite easy. As a rule of thumb, it is best not to go over 120 degrees to preserve the nutrient. You will spend more time maintaining the temperature, but it is best not to compromise your nutrients on the trail.
If you purchased different dried foods that you will naturally need to combine to make a whole meal, ensure you dehydrate them separately before mixing them up.
Fresh Ingredients and Foods
Most hikers only eat fresh foods at the beginning of their hike when the ingredients are still edible. Nothing beats raw, organic foods, and they should be your primary option if you can always get them during your hike.
Pasta macaroni and Rice are durable fresh food you could carry along for a nice local homemade meal. In comparison, less durable fresh foods should be eaten as quickly as possible and should be on top of your priority meal list.
Most fruits are generally not durable, and having them on your hiking journey is not a must, especially when you only plan to hike for a few days. However, they are good choices to vary your meal choice and excite your taste bud.
Extras: Sweet and Treats
While Sweets and treats are not necessarily major food choices on the trail, it is not bad to get them in large quantities. They last longer and can help you meet your nutritionist’s recommended daily calories.
Opt for Frequent Resupplying
Don’t pack up all the food you need for your hiking experience. Yeah, you probably feel that resupplying will be too stressful and time-wasting, but this is actually a fallacy.
You are more likely to save time packing relatively small foods that will be enough to cover for a few days before going for resupply than to pack big and get restrained on your walk coverage because of the load. Also, resupplying allows you to enjoy varying meals different from what you stacked. You just need to plan your route properly to get supplies from local stores quickly.
Getting to restock will give you a chance to eat fresh foods alongside your dried foods, increasing your chances of enjoying your meal. You could also grab a good homemade burger without spending more than two hours off and on the trail.
Another important benefit of having to resupply or even trying a nice meal is the psychological energy pump you enjoy with the occasional change of scenery. Except you have a mission to avoid society throughout your hike, getting a quick break in a local store can re-energize your commitment on the trail.
Eat What You Love While Adhering to your Nutritionist Rule Book
Of course, sticking to your nutritionist’s guidance when fixing your food is essential. However, you do have the option of picking the foods you love under every recommended category. Yeah, it is possible you may have seen so many strange processed foods on the internet being projected as the best for all your nutrition needs when on the tails. Trust me, most are hogwash and often taste bad and bland.
You do not have to cut off all the meals you love just because you are trying to eat like a pro hiker. There is no such thing as a pro hiker when it comes to eating right and well. The best food to eat is the ones you do not have to force down your throat and are in line with your nutritionist’s recommendation.
Your nutritionist will likely recommend some foods to meet your calorie needs. You can decide to replace some of those foods with others you love while ensuring as long as you do not go below the nutrition requirement. All packaged foods have nutrition labels so you can know the nutrient you are getting from each one based on a particular serving. Learn how to read nutrition labels and improve your nutritionist list to suit your taste while staying healthy on the trail.
Eating right and well on the track is not a mountainous task. It is just that we get to ignore the advice of a nutritionist and often estimate our knowledge of what we know about ourselves.
Eating at home is not the same as eating on the trail, or you may not meet your nutrition needs and maintain a healthy weight. This guide has comprehensively considered all you need to know about how to eat healthily on the trail to better prepare for your experience and ensure you complex it without landing on a sick bed due to malnutrition.