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Backpacker Magazine – June 2007

Why Backpackers Need to Eat Protein

Protein helps hikers regulate their metabolism, repair tired muscle, and boost their immune system.

by: Pete Rognli


Chris Melby has a beef with backpackers who neglect protein. As a professor of nutrition science at Colorado State University, he knows its importance in regulating metabolism, repairing tired muscles, and boosting the immune system. "Protein can come from a variety of sources," he says. "You don't need to grill a steak on the trail." To keep your engine running on all cylinders, keep these 4 principles in mind.

Prime the pump The amino acids in proteins create the enzymes that regulate metabolism. Without them, your body can't produce energy. You need plenty of protein (12 to 20 percent of daily calories) so your body doesn't start to break down muscle tissue.

Shop the deli Animal products contain complete proteins–that is, entire sets of the nine essential amino acids your body needs. Pack foods like beef jerky, hard salami, powdered milk, and Romano and cheddar cheeses, all of which provide more essential amino acids by themselves than plant sources such as peanuts and soy.

Combine and conquer Not a fan of meat or dairy? Use combinations of plant proteins to diversify your amino acid intake. Add almonds, peanuts, and walnuts to trail mix. Cook a one-pot dinner with beans, rice, and corn. Spread peanut butter on a wheat tortilla. The general rule: mix legumes (peas or dried beans) with nuts or grains.

Fortify Hiking at altitude diminishes appetite even as your protein needs increase. Try frequent, small portions of chicken and beef soup. You can raise your amino acid intake by adding 2 ounces of whey-based protein powder to your water or electrolyte drink.



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Gaburel
Mar 27, 2012

Ismael is wrong...

Anonymous
Jun 12, 2011

Primal diet is the way to go if you can manage. For a hike - lots of berries, nuts, dried meat, canned meat (sardines, tuna, chicken, etc.). Thru-hikers can bring perishables for the first night or two of their trail-days freshly away from town, so it wouldn't hurt to bring say a small portion of veggies and fruit or even eggs for the first night.

Grains are terrible for you and generally speaking not meant to be consumed by humans. Processed meat will kill you, so skip on the sausage and deli meats. Dry your own meat, bring canned meats; supplement your diet while you're on the trail to keep your vitamins in balance.

evan
Aug 06, 2010

Corn has been altered so much over recent times in order to up production and try to make it more resilient to pests, etc. Supposedly it barely holds a resemblance to the qualities corn had in past centuries.

matt
Oct 14, 2009

who says corn does not get digested? corn has been a major foodsource for entire civilizations for hundreds of years, tell those people who eat corn as their primary foodsource that it is a useless substance!

Ismael
Jul 11, 2008

Why add corn too the diet when they virtually dont get digested. It would be an honest mistake to take them because it would just be added weight.

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