Hiking can give any keen walker an exciting and challenging outdoor experience. Hikes are no walk in the park both physically draining and energy depleting. This means calories and nutrition play a key role in completing them. So, it’s important to eat the right food, in the right amounts, and eat at the right times.

To make sure you reach the end of your next hike with pride, we look at how to maintain your calories and nutrition during a hiking trip.

The right calories

Eating the right amount of calories on a hike is key to keeping up your energy levels and avoiding weight loss. The average person will burn around 3500 calories on a hike each day. But the number of calories a person burns depends on their bodyweight. Generally, the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn. For instance, a person weighing 160lbs might burn around 440 calories per hour of hiking, while a 200lb person could burn as much has 550 calories each hour.

So, with all this in mind, you should aim to eat enough food to burn the right amount of calories during your hike. Experts suggest you should consume 2000 calories for easier hikes, and over 4,500 when hiking over difficult terrain and cold weather. This is because different land and environments can affect the number of calories you burn. Hiking on flat, rocky ground, for instance, will burn more calories than hiking on flat, grassy terrain. Using a heavy rucksack will also have an impact, burning even more calories. The more challenging the hike, the more calories you’ll burn, so think about the route you’ll be taking and the expected conditions you’ll encounter.

The right nutrition

While it’s always important to eat healthily, your priority when hiking should be fuelling up on energy. So, as well as protein, carbohydrates should be a big part of your nutrition. You should include a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs can give a quick boost of energy. They can be found in natural foods, such as fruits and milk, as well as processed refined sugars, like in sweets, syrups and soft drinks. Complex carbs, which take longer to digest, provide a slower and more sustained release of energy. They can be found in things like bread, rice and pasta.

It’s good to have a combination of these two carbohydrates to both give you a gradual energy release during your hike, alongside quick bursts of energy through the day. For instance, you could start your day with complex carbs, like from a bowl of porridge, and snack on simple carbs through the day, like raisins, dried fruits and energy bars. As well refuelling at lunch, you could then end the day with a complex carb meal, like chicken with pasta or rice.

In addition to protein and carbs, fats are a good to include during your hike because they are energy rich and have a high calorie density. They contain around nine calories per gram, compared with protein and carbohydrates which both contain four calories per gram. It’s best to choose foods with healthy fats, such as nuts, which are ideal for snacking on during your hike. It’s also worth considering foods with a decent amount of fibre, as they help keep you feeling full for longer.

How often to eat and when

During a hike, it’s not just about what you eat but when. You should eat regularly to keep full of energy through the day. This is especially important if you’re eating simple carbohydrates, which give energy bursts that can drop off rapidly. It’s a good idea to aim to eat every two hours to kind of drip-feed carbs slowly and steadily into your system, avoiding sudden spikes and drops in energy.

You should aim to fuel up with a big breakfast before your hike and refuel within one hour after finishing. It’s also wise to eat around half an hour before you fall asleep to try to restore the energy that’s been used during your hike, especially if you’ll be hiking the next day.

Meals to maintain your calories and nutrition on a hiking trip

Whether you’re planning a day-long hike, or a challenging trip that will span a couple of days or even weeks, it’s important to make sure you eat the right calories and nutrition to help you achieve your goal.

This is where Summit To Eat can help. We provide a variety freeze-dried meals which are:

  • Easy to prepare – simply add water to the pouch and wait for the meal to rehydrate
  • Freeze-dried to create a lightweight, easy to store meal
  • Expertly cooked prior to being freeze-dried, ensuring they taste fantastic
  • Nutritious – bursting with the carbohydrates and protein you need to feel full and energised

The selection is compact and low weight, so are ideal for carrying in a backpack when hiking. They also come with little packaging to ensure you keep your hiker trail litter free.

If you’d like to find out more about our range of freeze-dried camping foods, take a look at our meals page or contact us to speak to a member of our dedicated team.