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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Eat for All-Day Energy

On the trail, when you're snacking is just as important as what you're consuming.

by: Berne Broudy

(Illustration by Jackie McCaffrey)
(Illustration by Jackie McCaffrey)

Got a brutal day ahead? The proper balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats will keep you bonk-free, advises nutritionist Monique Ryan, author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes.

7 a.m. Replenish glycogen stores (which dip as low as one fourth of the optimum level overnight) with a carb-rich breakfast–the body will draw on this accessible fuel source first when you start hiking. Aim for complex carbs (whole grains), which are digested more slowly and provide lasting energy. Include caffeine to boost alertness.

  • Eat Oatmeal with powdered milk or granola with nuts and dried fruit; coffee, tea, or caffeinated energy gel

10 a.m. In the midst of the day's big climb, top off blood glucose with simple sugars. These light, easily digested snacks will give your muscles a quick burst of fuel when you need it most.

  • Eat Gel shot, raisins, granola bar, or honey

12 p.m. Lunch on a combination of complex and simple carbs (to replenish your reserves), plus protein to keep you feeling full.

  • Eat PB & J; pretzels or energy bar

2 p.m. Now's the time to fuel the final push: Snack on slow-burning, healthy fats with a dash of protein.

  • Eat Gorp with chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit; cheese and crackers

4 p.m. Your muscles soak up carbs best within an hour after a workout, so replenish your stores now. Drink up to rehydrate and help flush lactic acid from your muscles–aim for two to three quarts before bed.

  • Eat PB with pretzels or energy bar

6 p.m. You need four to six ounces of lean protein to rebuild exhausted muscles, grain or pasta to restock energy, and healthy fats for long-lasting calories. Go ahead, have dessert–you've earned it.

  • Eat Lentils with brown rice or salmon pasta with dried veggies and olive oil; chocolate-chip cookies

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