High-altitude traveling is a great way to explore the world and its natural beauty. There’s nothing better than trips that promise fresh air, exercise and a great photo op, but these adventures do come with some risks — including altitude sickness.
Anyone who wants to travel anywhere that’s 8,000 ft. or more runs the risk of experiencing altitude sickness and its symptoms. Even mild forms of the condition can make you feel tired, nauseated and dizzy, which is enough to ruin anyone’s trip. While there are many ways to deal with altitude sickness, including natural supplements that help prevent it, the right nutrition is essential to staying healthy during your climb.
Eating properly throughout your trek gives you the calories needed to complete your adventure. It also helps to minimize the symptoms of altitude sickness.
If you’re new to this type of travel, you may not be sure what to eat on your journey. What should you pack? What should you leave behind?
It can be confusing or overwhelming to think about, but with the right guidance you can build the perfect menu of snacks or meals that will give you the energy to keep on trekking and relish a delicious trip.
Here are seven simple hiking food tips for healthy high-altitude eating:
This is not the time to diet.High altitude trekking burns more calories much faster. You need to fuel your body with high-calorie, carb-rich foods that will keep you energized and invigorated. It’s also very common for high-altitude trekking to suppress appetite. This is counter-productive because your body requires extra energy to conduct normal bodily processes at higher altitudes where the barometric pressure is lower. If you don’t eat, your body won’t have the calories it needs to sufficiently oxygenate your blood, which could cause you to suffer altitude sickness more severely. So make sure you bring the right foods and schedule your snacks and meals-time throughout the hike.
Don’t Make Healthy Too Heavy. Any seasoned trekker will tell you — food can be heavy to carry. When planning your trek, aim for foods that pack a lot of caloric punch without putting too much weight in your backpack. Snacks like energy gels and bars are high in calories and low in density, which makes them a good option for trekking. Yes, they may be a bit pricier than other snacks, but they’re designed for activities like this.
Think High-Fat, High-Carb.High-fat foods are high in calories and burn slowly in the body, which is perfect for trekking that requires endurance. Consider snacks that incorporate nuts and nut butters, clear oils like olive and canola, as well as seeds and high-fat dairy. Whole wheat bread and grains are also an essential addition because they complement slow-burning fatty foods with valuable bursts of the quicker-burning carbs that you’ll need throughout your journey.
Pick the Right Sugars.Breads and grains provide slower burning sugars, while energy gels and bars can give you that extra energy shot you need if your body starts “bonking.” Fruit is also a good source of quick-burning carbs. While hiking while toting fresh apples or pears might be cumbersome and heavy, dried fruits offer a sweet and satisfying alternative. That said, remember that these sources of sugar will give you a short-lived energy boost and should only be used to complement your slower burning caloric resources.
Harness the Power of Protein.Incorporate foods that are high in protein and iron. This could be red meat, fish, nuts or legumes. Like fruit, it’s best to carry these nutrients in dried form. Jerkies, for example, make great snacks but can also be re-hydrated and incorporated into a main meal on longer treks. Protein is vital for maintaining your metabolic processes and keeping your strength throughout the trip. Any high-altitude trek works your muscles, so feed them what they crave!
Consider Supplementation.Good nutrition is vital for a safe and healthy high-altitude trip. That said, even the best-fed travelers can succumb to the symptoms of altitude sickness. Consider taking Altitude RX, designed to help mitigate the symptoms of altitude sickness while you adjust to changes in barometric pressure. Altitude RX is a natural supplement that includes ingredients with vital nutrients to help you feel energized and vital at high altitudes. It’s a great addition to a high-altitude food plan.
Wash It Down With Water.Hydration is a major concern for high-altitude travel. At 8,000 ft. above sea level, your body is in metabolic hyperdrive, which means its internal processes are operating at a rapid pace. You will need more water to ensure that you process calories efficiently, allowing for your internal systems to run properly. On any given hike, you should drink at least 1 gallon of water per day. Plan water breaks to ensure that you get the H2O you need, so you can complete the trip you dreamed about.
Planning your next great adventure should be fun and easy. Don’t let concerns about nutrition overwhelm or confuse you. These simple tips will help you choose effective, nutritious and delicious snacks and meals to keep you ready and energized to tackle the trail and reach the peak.