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Sep 4, 2011 04:17 PM

Eating Before a Long Hike

I'm going for a fairly long (~10 miles round trip, at elevation) hike in a little while and I'm wondering what to eat the night before. Accepted wisdom seems to be to mix a high amount of carbohydrates with some protein, but I'm looking for more specifics. I thought that quinoa would be a good choice because it's a complex carbohydrate with protein, but I'm wondering if it's too heavy. I've read articles that advise simple, low-fiber carbs and others that advise against the same thing. I know this isn't a marathon, so I'm reluctant to just eat a bunch of pasta.

In the morning I've figured that I'll eat something like a few slices of whole wheat bread and some peanut butter: this is usually what I eat before running and I like it.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Sherpas, before climbing K-2, carb-load on Oreos, two boxes, one hour before the hike.

    1. Is this a well established trail? Will there be some climbing involved?

      It's difficult to really give some solid ideas not knowing the difficulty of the hike.

      If you're on a trail, you may get by with a small carb loaded dinner and your usual pb sandwich in the morning. You don't want to mess around with your diet too much. This is the same philosophy with a marathon where you don't want to end up with digestion issues.

      On the hike, you can pack another sandwich and a few energy bars, like Clif Bars and, of course, water too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dave_c

        Years and years ago, Mr Pine and I hiked the Appalachian Trail. While that kind of hiking involved lots of changes in our regular meal routine, a 1 day hike for us means our regular dinner the night before and a protein-based breakfast the morning of the hike. Take a few of those bars (I usually make our own) and if you can find them, individual pouches of peanut butter for extra protein.

      2. Take a pb&j and bottle(s) of water. I wouldn't worry too much about nutrition — that's a fairly short hike, even with altitude changes. I know a 92yo who does that sort of hike at least weekly with no ill effect.

        1. Thanks for everyone's input. I think a normal dinner with some more complex carbs than normal will be enough. As for the hike, I think I'll just take a pb&j and a little gorp (and some water) and that should be fine. I was wondering if whole wheat bread is a bad idea for the pb&j. I usually like that kind of bread but I'm a little concerned about eating that much fiber while hiking. On the other hand, it'll have lots of complex carbs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: zooxanthellae

            Eh, if it doesn't normally effect you, I'd stick with the whole wheat. As a runner, you're probably much more prepared for the hike that you think :-)

          2. A protein will fuel you for hours, a carb meal for a short time then you bonk... loading carbs isn't helpful; if your muscles aren't glycogen depleted, you can't get much more in.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mcf

              I can second the 'bonking'.

              Hubby and I attempted an Appalachian Trail thru-hike this spring - did 200 miles and got off because apparently hubby has thyroid issues that make him succumb to hypothermia more easily than the rest of us.

              Anywho, I struggled the first week, felt like Superman the 2nd, and toward the end of the 3rd week had absolutely no energy and found myself sitting on a stump, trying to down a king size Snickers, and crying. I was done, hubby was done days ago, so home we went.

              Stay away from simple carbs (sounds like you know that already) and don't shy from proteins - your muscles have to rebuild, after all, and that protein will stay with you. Jerky and nut proteins, definitely. I've found that I love dehyrated apricots - and funnily enough, the Wal-Mart ones are the only easily sourced ones I've found that aren't chock full of sulfates and sulfites and the like.

              I LOVE hiking - where are going?