HikingGears tipsTips for beginners Practice TipsFamily, babies & childrenSnow & cold weather Where to go ?Hiking responsiblyNature Explore
Hiking is an outdoor activity which fuses discovery and physical exercise. The duration, extreme heat and cold and altitude demand lots of energy from the body. The longer the hike, the more preparation is required. Do not forget meals, snacks and primarily, drinks to make your hike a success.
Hiking requires prolonged effort across hilly and steep terrain. The choice of food must take into consideration energy expenditure, the fight against fatigue, against the cold and sometimes, the symptoms of high altitude.
Daytime meals must be balanced and provide adequate calories to satisfy requirements which could be as much as 2000 – 3000 kcal for a day of hiking. The variety of meals also plays an important role in stimulating the appetite which could be disrupted with the altitude.
The first meal of the day is essential to start off on the right foot and avoid fatigue and snacking throughout the hike.
This meals must primarily provide carbohydrates for energy for the long-term. Preference is given to foods low on the glycemic index (known as complex carbohydrates) such as bread, cereal... Within shops, it is also possible to find ready-packed breakfasts such as the ultra breakfast which is a powder to be diluted in water to obtain a cream. Practical breakfast to bring with you.
This energy intake must be accompanied by a hot drink which is perfect to warm you up on fresh mornings. Breakfast should also include a fruit, fruit juice or compote for vitamin intake.
Lunch is often eaten quickly and generally takes the form of a picnic. It must mainly consist of starchy foods such as wheat bread if you opt for a sandwich or pasta or rice if you opt for mixed salads.
Example of lunch:
- Bread, ham, cheese, salad and butter or a little mayonnaise as an accompaniment, or if you prefer salads: Pasta, diced cold pork, tomato slices, corn, gherkins, vinaigrette as an accompaniment
It is sometimes difficult to take perishable foods with you when hiking continues over a few days, however taking good meals is important.
Example of lunch for hiking which continues over multiple days:
- Bread with tuna or a light poultry or ham pâté
In any case, this meal should be rich in carbohydrates and low in fat to not slow down digestion and to allow you to rapidly return and enjoy continue hiking. Do not forget that keeping hydrated is the priority when hiking and avoid alcoholic beverages where possible.
Have you decided to go bivouacking? This meal is therefore important as it not only helps you recover from your day but also helps you to start off in top form the next day.
This meal is often more elaborate than lunch as you have more time available. It must satisfy the requirements of a day of exercise whilst being pleasurable. Do not forget that it should also be light and easy to transport.
Dinner can start with a dry soup. Opt with those that include vermicelli which increases energy intake and/or those which contain pieces of chicken or fish to increase protein intake. This soup can be completed with pasta, which is easy to carry and rich in energy, it must be accompanied by protein which can be found in tinned tuna for example. To facilitate transportation and primarily to provide variety to meals, you can also opt for dehydrated meals designed for this type of exercise. These meals are light, easy to carry and above all else, varied: Chicken curry pasta, Pasta Bolognese, shepherd's pie...
To end the meal, dessert can be a fruit compote or a rice cake to increase the intake of carbohydrates.
A hike can range from a few hours to a few days and just like all forms of long-term exercise, the body has requirements which need to be satisfied.
Hydration We recommend drinking regularly throughout the hike. However it is difficult to carry around the water required. How do I restock on water? Here are some tips:
- When you reach shelter at altitude, take the opportunity to stock up on drinking water,
- When passing a village which has a cemetery, think about stocking up on drinking water; cemeteries always have water sources.
- If you drink river water, use tablets which eliminate all dangerous micro-organisms found in this water
To keep up energy throughout the day, take short breaks to eat small snacks. Cereal bars, dried fruits and/or energy bars satisfy such requirements and can be easily carried.
Dietician | Nutritionist