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Hiking for beginners - Part 2 - Food and Hydration



Sheltering from the wind for a well earned lunch stop

 

Food


Food is important and it’s always better to have too much then not enough. What you eat is important also – you are burning tons when hiking (and your body will continue to burn after too – post hike hunger is real!!!)

Carb loading the night before is good, and a big breakfast also. Porridge is always a good option, as is eggs. My favourite breakfast is soup, usually lentil based....what is not to love; it’s hydrating, easy on the digestion, full of goodness and if it’s a lentil-based soup then you have the protein too!


Remember – if you are feeling tired, cold, or grumpy EAT!


Protein is a great addition to your hiking food – I love precooked chicken goujons (real chicken not processed), boiled eggs, tofu, cheese and nuts. FYI – nuts are a great hill snack! I could practically live off trail mix.


My favourite trail mix recipe:

  • Salted peanuts

  • Raw cashews/mixed nuts

  • Chopped dates

  • Raisins (sometimes chocolate coated) and/or other dried fruits

  • Chocolate M&Ms or similar

Mix together and pop into a sandwich bag. I love a good trail mix. Sometimes I don't like eating a big heavy lunch, I prefer little and often. A trail mix is perfect for this.


The cold also makes you burn energy as your body tries to heat up. Often we don't feel as hungry or as thirsty when its cold. It's really important to remember to check in with yourself - self care is vital on the hills.

If you feel cold eat something - you burn more calories when its cold.


When it is warm, I love cooling snacks like cucumber, pepper and tomatoes, oranges (anything juicy) – these types of food will help you to stay hydrated when its hot too!


Enjoying soup and a sandwich on a cold and windy summit



If you feel thirsty or hungry it is too late – be mindful and ensure you are constantly refuelling!


Bananas

Did you know that bananas are the most sold food in supermarkets? Bananas are an excellent hill food (or even better post hill food) - they are full of potassium, electrolytes and vitamin C.

Another one of my favourite hiking foods (I actually tend to have this when multipitch climbing) is rice crackers (they don't break as easily as oatcakes and other crackers) nut butter (my favourite is cashew butter, but I also love almond or peanut butter) and banana. Everything you need, some carbs, protein and potassium for those hard working muscles!


Please don’t leave your banana peels on the hills!


Nothing and I mean NOTHING should be left on the hills! Please! This includes organic matter like banana peels and apple cores. The reason for this is that banana peels (and other organic matter) is not from our hill environments – particularly above 800m where it becomes and alpine environment the soil (if there is any) does not have the correct microbiomes to decompose something like banana peels. A banana peel can take minimum of two years to decompose.

 

Photo taken from Real3peak Challenge

Banana peels on Ben Nevis

 

Check out this article on the amount of rubbish collected on Ben Nevis!



 

Water


A healthy adult is made up of 50-75% water and it is vital for your body to function properly.


The amount of water in your body could be anywhere from 50-75%. Illustration by Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo.


Juice is a good thirst quencher but your body doesn’t get the full benefit of what it needs – water is vital so makes sure you take pure water (and a juice as well if you want). Hot drinks are wonderful on a cold day but try to avoid caffeine (defiantly avoid caffeinated soft drinks like red bull) as caffeine is a dehydrator and will make the situation worse).

Help yourself by making sure you are well hydrated prior to your trip. A top tip is taking a rehydration drink before you hike – my go to and what I find is best in Dioralyte. They are also handy to take in your bag!


When hiking in hot weather (it DOES happen sometimes!) its really important you take into consideration how much water to take - and whether you have anywhere on your route where you can fill up.


A few key facts to remember when drinking water on the hills:

  • It is best to only drink from running water

  • Take into consideration where the water source is - are there any sheep and/or deer?

  • The higher the better or water sources coming straight out of the hill


Clients filling their water up on Ben Nevis.



 


What goes in must come out


Now finally – let's talk about something that no one really wants to talk about – going to the toilet on the hills! When you need to go you need to go!


I like to call it ‘a loo with a view’

 

Sadly, what we are seeing more and more is areas of natural beauty spoilt with human faeces and lots and lots of toilet paper and wet wipes. I understand that when we need to go – we need to go - but there are ways in which we can help keep the environment beautiful for us all to enjoy (and helps prevent my dogs snacking on human poo!)


When hiking and you need to poo, move away from paths are trials (yes – I have found human poo RIGHT in the middle of a main path), ideally somewhere were you can dig a hole and bury it. As for the wet wipes and toilet roll, please take poo bags (ideally biodegradable ones) and pop your used tissue in it – I know...I know it sounds gross but in reality, it’s not. Double bag it if you want and pop it somewhere in your rucksack and dispose of it in a bin or at home.

If you can, especially in areas where it isn't possible to burry your poo. Please bag it and take it home with you.


You can get different types of waste bags - have a look at this review here:


You may feel weird taking your toilet paper or picking up your own poo at first – but like picking up dog poo or dealing with dirty nappies it becomes less of a big deal once you’ve done it once or twice. And remember – if we all did this, we would have a lot less issues with waste on the hills!

 

 

In conclusion – you are what you eat (and drink) - make sure you keep hydrated and energised and when you need to go - please go responsibly.



Feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have.



Stay tuned for the next blog on Hiking for Beginners - Navigation and Emergencies

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