Nutrition Advice From 5 Internationally Recognised Hikers
Hiking is a beautiful and otherworldly experience that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. However, the journey can be very tiring at times, which is why your nutrition is of utmost importance. That said, we've rounded up five nutritional tips from some of the world's most accomplished hikers to help you power through your next journey.
Andrew Skurka: Plan Meticulously
Credit: Andrew Skurka
From going on an 11-month hike on the Sea-to-Sea Route to completing the Great Western Loop in just 208 days, Andrew Skurka knows how to sustain his energy. And it should be no surprise that he meticulously plans the food he packs for every hike.
For a multi-day hike, he'll research on the big logistical elements, such as the supplies or gear required and the route he'll take. Next, he will calculate how much food is necessary by specifying the composition of his daily rations. Then he determines the duration of the hike, before multiplying it by two. If you need more specifications like what kind of food to bring, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends non-perishable food that are lightweight yet calorie-dense.
John Mackey: Consider Plant-Based Food
Credit: Grand American Adventures
The notable hiker and entrepreneur John Mackey has hiked the arduous Appalachian Trail twice. On top of this, the Whole Foods Market CEO has also journeyed the Pacific Crest Trail and the Colorado Trail. Mackey credits his plant-based diet for completing his hikes. Adding plant-based food to your hiking diet is very beneficial, as they comprise some of the most hydrating foods you can bring along.
This is especially crucial as hikers must consider vital factors such as climate and altitude to prevent dehydration. In countries like the Philippines, Daydreaming in Paradise notes how many of the famous mountain hikes feature hot springs and tropical forests, but can also sometimes be too hot and dusty. This can result in hikers becoming significantly dehydrated, which is why investing in hydrating food like fruits and vegetables can do a world of good for hot-weather hikes.
Jennifer Pharr Davis: Pack Extra
Credit: Blue Ridge Outdoors
Not only has Jennifer Pharr Davis hiked approximately 22,530 kilometres across six continents, she also is the current title-holder for the fastest thru-hike at the Appalachian Trail by a woman. In her "Adventurer of the Year" feature with National Geographic, Pharr Davis recommends packing extra food that will keep you fuelled during an unexpected weather change. This can also keep stress at bay.
As previously highlighted on our post on ‘How to Store Your Food on a Camping Trip’, a great way to keep your food essentials and extra rations fresh and dry is to store them in airtight containers and bags. Packing your food this way will prevent excess moisture and stop your food from spoiling.
Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy: Snack Continuously
Credit: The Manual
Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy holds the overall speed record on the Appalachian Trail, as he completed the hike in just 45 days — a rate that is four times faster than the average hiker's. For sustained energy, McConaughy says it’s crucial to consume food continuously, since he likes to eat 200-300 calories per hour during a hike. He also begins his day with a 1,000-calorie breakfast and completes the day with a 2,500-4,000-calorie dinner.
Though this might sound a little extreme, it does have scientific backing. Long-distance hikes are known to burn up 1,000 calories per hour. The body, however, only converts about 300 calories from food into energy. This is why it's important to consume a high amount of calories to remain energised. Snacks like trail mixes and granola bars are great for rough long-distance trails like the South West Coast Path in England, as they provide the energy you need for its rocky and strenuous path.
Heather "Anish" Anderson: Bring Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
Heather "Anish" Anderson made history when she became the first woman and sixth person overall to complete the Calendar-Year Triple Crown. Often considered the pinnacle of hiking, Anderson travelled the 12,000-kilometre long hike comprised of the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail twice.
Anderson has stated that taking anti-inflammatory supplements like turmeric and fish oil played a vital role in accomplishing this. After all, Backpacker notes that the Pacific Crest Trail is notorious for its extreme temperatures, and taking supplements will relieve the discomfort that the harsh heat or cruel cold can cause on your body. And not only will anti-inflammatory supplements ease the pain, they also help kickstart the healing and recovery process as well.
Post exclusively prepared for summittoeat.com
by Booker Jinjer