What (and how) to eat to get the most out of your next long walk

What (and how) to eat to get the most out of your next long walk

It’s not just marathon runners and gym goers that should think about their nutrition to get the most from the exercise they do. Food and water needs are much higher than usual when doing any kind of activity – even a walk.

When going for a long walk, the food you eat can play a key role in how you experience it, right through to your recovery. This article from Summit To Eat looks at what to eat, and how, to help you get the most out of your next big walk.

Summit To Eat

The importance of food for a walk

Food can often be an afterthought when it comes to walking, or just thought of by some people as something that adds to the experience – a trip to the nearby tearooms for coffee and cake, for instance, or a spot of lunch at the local pub.

But what many people don’t know is that food can be essential for a walk. From the high energy it gives you to complete your walk successfully, to helping with your recovery afterwards, food can play an important role in making you get the most from your walks.

Thinking about nutrition

When going for a long walk, your priority should be to keep yourself fueled up with energy. So protein and carbohydrates should be a big part of your nutrition. High protein foods include white meat, fish, nuts, eggs and milk.

When it comes to carbohydrates, you should aim to have a combination of simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are important because they give you a quick boost of energy. They can be found in natural foods, including fruits and milk, as well as processed refined sugars, like in sweets, syrups and soft drinks. Complex carbs take longer to digest and provide a slower and more sustained release of energy. They can be found in things like bread, rice and pasta.

Planning your food

One of the best ways to ensure you take the right foods for your walk is to plan well in advance. Things to think about include the length of your walk, the expected weather on the day, if parts of the walk will be uphill, and what terrain you will walk on. Different environmental factors like this can make a difference to the type of food you should take, so it’s wise to do some research on your planned walk and look at a map of the route.

For instance, if the walk will involve some steep climbs, it’s best to take more high-energy foods. If the weather is expected to be cold, it’s wise to take foods that can help keep you warm, like those that contain fats.

When planning, you should also think about what food you’ll carry, how you’ll eat and drink and what tools and equipment you’ll need to eat. You should also bear in the mind that the more weight you carry, the harder your walk is likely to be, so it’s wise to keep weight down to a minimum. Freeze-dried foods can help with this, as you don’t need cooking equipment and they can be eaten from the pouch packaging once water is added.

Eating well before your walk

Before your long walk, it’s a good idea to eat some big meals to build up your energy. This includes one meal the night before, and a big breakfast on the day of your trek to set you up for the morning. Doing this means you don’t need to take breakfast foods with you, which can help you cut down on the weight you carry and walk more comfortably.

A good breakfast could include porridge, with raisins and a banana, followed by wholemeal toast with honey. Alternatively, if you think you can stomach it in the early morning, or if you’re planning on starting your walk around or after midday, you could have a large portion of rice or pasta.

Snacks and meals to consider

Snacking on your walk is a good option to help give yourself a continuous supply of energy. Good snacks include foods that are high energy and easy to eat on the move. This includes nuts, seeds, or nut-based bars and trail mix, as well as energy bars, granola or granola bars, dried fruit and vegetables, and meat jerky. Fruitcake, malt loaf, dried apricots, fig and dates are also good options.

When it comes to your meals, it’s a good idea to have one halfway through your walk or at lunch time, depending on what time you start walking. This could contain high-carb foods that provide a mixture of fast and slow energy release. Your meal could include banana and honey sandwiches, pasta, a homemade potato salad, or a freeze-dried meal.

Keeping hydrated

Making sure you’re fully hydrated on your walk is essential, so it’s important to drink plenty of water before you start your trek. You should also take a bottle or two of water to drink along the way.

It’s also a good idea to take a flask of a hot fruit-based drink, especially if the weather is cold or if you’re walking during the winter. This can help maintain your body temperature, while providing you with fluid to keep you hydrated and sugars to give you energy.

Eating after your walk

Any kind of strenuous exercise can result in damage to your muscle fibres, so it’s important to have a big meal after your walk to help with your recovery. Protein is key to helping with the growth and repair of body tissue. So it’s wise to have a meal that contains a good amount of it. You should also include food with good sources of carbohydrates to replenish your energy.

Following these food tips should help ensure that you get the most out of your next long walk. This includes that you’re prepped and ready for the trek, that you have the energy to get you to the end without exhausting yourself, that you make a full recovery, and, of course, that you enjoy the experience.

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