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Backpacker Magazine – May 2008

Eat Better

Want to hike farther, explore tougher terrain, and carry big loads without bonking? To achieve your biggest backcountry goals, you have to change how you eat.

by: Dorothy Foltz-Gray and Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, Photos by Justin Bailie

Photo by Justin Bailie
Photo by Justin Bailie

Sport-Specific Nutrition | Snack For All-Day Energy | Balance Your Backcountry Diet | Food Expert Q & A | The 10 Best Backpacking Foods | The Perfect Menu | A Day of Eating Healthy | The Burning Curve... | ...And a Radical Deviation

Maximize your performance by syncing your meals to your body's daily ups and downs.

The Need: Long-lasting fuel to prevent bonking at mile 5

  • The Fix: Slow-burning, high-fiber carbs are digested gradually, supplying you with a steady stream of energy. Start the day strong by eating them for breakfast.
  • The Food: Whole grain oats, quinoa, or granola with powdered milk or soy milk

The Need: A fast-acting burst of power to propel you up the day's monster climb

  • The Fix: Load up on simple sugars an hour before you hit the first switchback, giving your muscles a boost of easily accessible glucose.
  • The Food: A handful of M&Ms or raisins, shot of honey, or packet of energy gel

The Need: A post-hike snack to keep you going until dinner

  • The Fix: The enzymes that transfer glucose to tired muscles are most active within 30 minutes of a tough workout. Take advantage–and start refueling for tomorrow–by nibbling on fast-burning carbs.
  • The Food: Pretzels, a handful or two of dried berries

The Need : Power for tomorrow and nutritional TLC for aching muscles

  • The Fix: Complex carbs top off glycogen stores, protein rebuilds stressed muscles, and antioxidants fight free radicals, so load up on all three every day.
  • The Food: Brown rice, whole-grain pasta, dried or fresh veggies, beef jerky

Sport-Specific Nutrition | Snack For All-Day Energy | Balance Your Backcountry Diet | Food Expert Q & A | The 10 Best Backpacking Foods | The Perfect Menu | A Day of Eating Healthy | The Burning Curve... | ...And a Radical Deviation

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Oct 01, 2012

Opt2thrive was great! Light weight and fresh.
Easy way to feel full: high calories and protein and contains fiber

Mar 12, 2012

Serious long distance backpackers sometimes measure things in oz, its easy to make fancy stuff but the long distance guys I met had spreadsheets on calories/protein/fats per oz. It all tastes good out there when your hungry. the idea I have to heat something rehydrate or mix it up for lunch is a hassle on the trail when you're tired, better if its simple, easy acess and snacking throughout hike. I shoot for under a lb per day of food and oatmeal/almonds, then a bar, then jerky, dried fruit, then a bar, mixed with stuff mixed with water that i make enroute with steripen, saves on carrying water weight, and dehydrated dinners. graze and go, the lighter your load the more you enjoy it, best thing you can do is get in shape before the trip. I also carry potassium/electrolyte pills.

Dec 31, 2009

I think Craig is funny. He made me laugh. Thank you Craig. And you do bring up some very good points. Thank you again, Craig.

Nov 06, 2009

Two useful expert sources of fitness & nutrition:
1. U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion & Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM) - Hooah Health:


Sep 09, 2009

I don't want to eat what Craig eats. It appears to make you grumpy.

Jul 11, 2009

Ground flaxseed goes rancid in no time. Take the seeds whole and grind them yourself.

Jul 11, 2009

You really need to check your nutritional consultants credentials as she appears to be an imbecile.

Jul 11, 2009

Complex carbs breaking down slowly has absolutely nothing to do with why marathon runners eat it the night before a race. The reason they do that is to make sure their bodies' reserves of glycogen are full. The speed at which carbs are digested has nothing at all to do with how effective they are at replenishing glycogen, given that length of time. Stick to pitching tents and leave the nutrition to the experts.

Jul 11, 2009

Most retards who try their hand at being nutritionists these days are absolutely obsessed by carbohydrates. It's laughable that the only advice you have to offer is whether to eat simple or complex carbs. Here's a few facts for you about carbohydrates. 1) The human body can survive indefinitely with a bare minimum of carbs (even none) whereas eliminating protein or fat will result in certain death. 2) The diet our bodies evolved to eat and thus the one most conducive to good health consists of around 35% carbs, comprised from large amounts of vegetation and a moderate amount of fruit. 3) ALL the cereal grains you idiots are obsessed with are inedible in their natural state and are only made edible by heavy mechanical processing. I'm reasonably sure they didn't have the ability to process food when Palaeolithic humans were around and therefore these foods are ill suited to human consumption (regardless of how many dumbasses would claim otherwise).

Jul 24, 2008

Cheddar can go 4-5 days w/o refrigeration, it just gets oily and melty, but still tastes good (makes the best mac and cheese)

Jul 16, 2008

These are great recipes! One question though, how do you keep the cheese in the Tuna recipe cold on a muli-day trip?

Jul 16, 2008

These are great recipes! One question though, how do you keep the cheese in the Tuna recipe cold on a muli-day trip?


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