If you love to be out in nature while you get in a proper workout, hiking is a great option. Before you head out into nature, it does require you to properly fuel up! After all, you need that energy boost to get up that mountain and to your final destination.
Though being mindful of what you eat before a workout is always crucial, it is especially so when you are out in nature with (maybe) a daypack or mini pack with your essentials out for the day. Running out of water or being hungry while out on a hike is the last thing that you want, so you want to eat a nourishing meal that will give you fuel and energy for your hike.
Now you may be wondering what to eat before a hike, so let’s go on to learn a few options that will give you an energy boost.
What to eat before a long hike
Starting the night before your hike, focus on incorporating slow-releasing carbohydrates into your meal. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in your body and you need plenty for your hike! Slow-releasing complex carbohydrates are the better option, including starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, pumpkin), grains (beans, lentils), and/or pasta into your dinner. Simple carbohydrates are easy to burn through and won’t properly sustain you throughout a strenuous hike.
The morning of your hike: what to eat for breakfast
The classic phrase of ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ rings true for the days that you are going for a strenuous hike. You want to fuel yourself properly, but also not carb-load to the point where you don’t feel well.
Consider muesli (sugar free) with fresh fruit and toast with eggs and sliced avocado on the side. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, this is also a time where a caffeine boost can give you that energy ‘bonus’ for your hike.
The most important thing to remember for what to eat before a strenuous hike is to consider what generally makes you feel your best during your day to day. You want to have a balanced breakfast with protein, fat and carbohydrates with a specific focus on slow-releasing carbohydrates for the energy boost.
Do you find that you burn through carbs quickly? Incorporate more fat and protein-rich vegetables into your meal. Or maybe too much fat in your breakfast weighs you down? Add in some extra protein and carbs for fuel. You want to fuel your body for your hike according to your individual nutritional needs, and not weigh yourself down.
It is recommended to have your last meal about 45 minutes before your hike. If you are at all concerned about burning through your meal, you can always bring a protein shake, a green smoothie with collagen protein powder or some other ‘bonus’ pre-hike meal to have as you drive to your hiking destination.
Be sure to pack snacks such as nuts, protein bars or energy balls for your hike and plenty of water.