Hey backpackers! We all know that conquering trails and unnamed peaks requires endurance and stamina, so it’s important to sustain your energy levels on your hikes. With well-timed nutrition and the power of plant foods, you’ll be able to blaze the trails. In this piece, you’ll learn how to stay fueled on the trails, and I’ll provide an awesome backpacking dessert recipe that’s nutritious and delicious.
Step One: Mindful Planning
Since energy is vital, you want to have control over how you spend it. Digestibility is one of the most important factors when choosing fuel because many foods take large amounts of energy to digest. Net gain refers to the useable nutrition the body is left with once the food is digested and assimilated. Proper plant-based nutrition will provide you with a solid eating plan loaded with foods that are high in net gain.
Some examples: For carbohydrates, the best fuel comes from non-starchy, real, whole foods (sprouted seeds, raw nuts, fresh fruit, nutrient dense smoothies). Common carbs (refined sugars/high fructose corn syrup, wheat flour) can lead to inflammation or fatigue and other food sensitivities.
Your goal is to have a balance of low and high glycemic sugars so that you don’t experience a spike or crash in your energy level.
Step Two: Steady Nourishment
Your main objective throughout your day of hiking is to never become hungry or thirsty. Always fuel the fire, as it’s very important to your body. When you start to get hungry, restore your energy by fueling up on a nutrient dense snack. These are foods in their whole, natural forms and, again, are easy to digest.
Key Point: You’ll be minimizing the energy wasted in the digestion process. (Fuel on unrefined, unprocessed foods)
If you fuel efficiently, you’ll be easing digestive strain, and you will have a consistent level of energy across the entire day of hiking peaks and valleys.
Great vegan choices include:
- Raw nuts & seeds
- Healthy fats (flaxseed/hemp/coconut/pumpkin seed/olive oils)
- Fruits (dried and fresh)
- Energy Bars – look for healthy vegan options such as:
- Simple ingredients: Pure Bar, Larabar
- Macronutrient profile: Zing Bars, Vega Energy Bars
- Superfood ingredients: Keen-Wah Decadence, Rise Bars
Step Three: A little bit about hydration
Hydration, coupled with electrolyte balance, is important during all components of hiking activity, not just during the hike itself. Your strategy for starting the hike should include water and electrolytes with a proactive and ongoing routine to support a full day of hiking performance. Staying hydrated keeps blood flowing while delivering nutrients to vital organs and muscles.
- Replenishes internal fluid balance and maintains blood pressure
- Correctly and quickly recovers the body’s muscles and tendons
- Important for maintaining a healthy blood pH
- Helps prevent dehydration
Easy-to-pack electrolytes include:
- Bananas, sea salt and coconut water
- Individually packed replenishers to try:
- Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator: 4.2 gram packs and different flavors
- Ultima Replenisher: 4.3 gram packs and different flavors
Step Four: Recovery
When you are finishing your long day of hiking, it’s important to take the right steps towards recovery. The body can have trouble digesting when it’s fatigued, so eating something first that has some liquid consistency always gets a thumbs up. Try to fuel with foods including the following profile, as they will be easy for a fatigued body to digest and utilize:
- Simple + complex carbs
- Some protein (enough to help the carb in the muscle glycogen-regeneration process)
- Small amount of healthy fat (helps repair soft-tissue damage)
So, in this case eat your dessert first! I’d like to introduce to you the tasty, nutrient-dense Vegan Party Cake Pudding from my BeVegan Recipe Collection!
Vegan Party Cake Pudding
- ¼ cup buckwheat flour
- ¼ cup cashew flour
- 2 tbsp hemp protein
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ cup toasted carob powder
- 8oz vanilla almond milk (or sub coconut milk)
- Stevia (liquid or powder)
- ½ tsp organic vanilla extract (or more for taste)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Toppings: Pick your favs and stir them in at the end!
- 1 tbsp cacao nibs
- Shredded coconut
- Goji berries
- Dried cranberries
Nutrition Fun Facts:
Stevia: Contains no carbs and has no effect on the body’s insulin levels when ingested. It has been shown to regulate blood sugar and improve digestion.
Buckwheat: Don’t be fooled by the name, as buckwheat contains no wheat! It’s classified as a seed in the same family as rhubarb. It contains amino acids; it’s high in manganese, vitamin B and vitamin E. It also contains calcium.
Hemp: A complete protein, containing all 10 essential amino acids. It also has superior digestibility.
Flaxseed: Highest level of Omega-3 in the plant kingdom. Aside from its ability to reduce inflammation, Omega-3 allows the body to burn fat as fuel more efficiently