You could sit around wishing you were one of those kinetic people with endless stamina on the trail–or you could eat your way to better endurance. Start by choosing energy-boosting foods and consuming them in power-maximizing combinations. “A combination of high carbohydrates, moderate protein, and low fats at each meal produces a higher energy level by stabilizing your blood sugar,” says Bob Seebohar, a sports nutritionist with the University of Florida who counsels endurance athletes. Seebohar recommends the following backpacker-friendly superfoods, and the recipes at right.
The natural sugars in dried fruits work as fast-acting carbs–perfect for a boost at the bottom of a big hill. All varieties are jammed with nutrients, but plums are a standout with lots of fiber and antioxidants–compounds that boost the immune system, which can be compromised by endurance activities like 12-mile hikes.
Combine carb-rich fruits with protein and fat for balance. Try sunflower seeds and chocolate-covered soy nuts.
Dense calories, protein, and a dose of healthy fat make nuts of all varieties nutritional powerhouses, with walnuts and almonds leading the pack. Walnuts are packed with antioxidants and heart-helping omega-3s, while almonds contain a significant amount of calcium and nearly as much potassium per 2-ounce serving as a medium banana.
Combine with carbs like raisins, pretzels, or pasta.