Trail Nutrition: Eat For Recovery

Double your trail miles–or just boost your energy–with protein-rich snacks.

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“Carbs are critical to recovery, but they can’t do the job alone,” says Stacy Sims, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist at Stanford University. “To get glycogen into your body and repair the muscle microtears that occur during any strenuous workout, you need protein.” To reap the benefits, Sims recommends eating 20 grams of protein immediately after a hike or workout (also snack on protein-rich foods throughout the day, aiming for a total of .6 gram per pound of body weight on high-exertion days). Whey, egg, and soy sources are easiest to digest. We tested 10 recovery products to bring you the three best new choices—plus one old favorite.

Best for workouts Hammer Nutrition Recoverite

Testers reported noticeably less next-day fatigue when they downed a Recoverite after a tough hike. This milky drink hits the sweet spot with a 3:1 ratio of complex carbs to whey protein isolate (an easy-to-digest protein derived from milk) and it’s full of antioxidants and electrolytes. Best flavor: strawberry. Calories 170 Fat 0 g Carbs 33 g Protein 10 g ($2.69 per packet;

Best for the trail Clif Shot Roks

Crunchy on the outside and nougat-soft in the middle, these malted milk ball-like bites are easy to pop on the move and contain two grams of highly digestible protein per piece. Testers reported that the Roks prevented bonking on long days and reduced muscle fatigue the morning after. Bonus: Roks never melted, even in the hottest summer weather. Best flavor: peanut butter. Calories 270 Fat 
4.5 g Carbs 38 g Protein 20 g ($3;

Best for a sweet tooth PowerBar Recovery 

This caramel-filled, chocolaty bar may taste like junk food, but its 12 grams of highly digestible whey and soy protein isolates 
elevate it above typical vending machine fare. It’s like a candy bar with nutritional value and full recovery benefits. Best flavor: peanut 
butter caramel crisp. Calories 270 Fat 10 g Carbs 30 g Protein 12 g ($1.60;

Best value Eggs 

This favorite meets all our essential amino acid requirements and packs six grams of easy-to-absorb protein per egg—and is also an excellent source of antioxidants like choline and selenium. Carry them in a reusable plastic egg crate, crack a few into a water bottle and scramble them in camp, or hard-boil a few and stash them in a plastic bag (in cool weather, they’ll last for 48 hours). Calories 78 Fat 5 g Carbs .5 g Protein 6 g ($.25 per egg)