Elevate Your Mountaineering and Trekking Nutrition: 7 Key Tips for Peak Performance
Eating well on a trek or mountaineering expedition is paramount to your success and overall enjoyment. Trekking & mountaineering [especially at high altitude] place an extraordinary amount of stress on your body, requiring significantly more energy and nutrients than what you'd normal eat.
But here's the problem....
People tend to make an array of mistakes/rookie errors that often lead to inadequate nutrition...
Which then leads to decreased physical performance.
Decreased physical performance due to inadequate nutrition looks like this:
1. Fatigue:Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy.
2. Muscular Contraction Weakness: Not able to full contract muscles which means a loss of power. Think about needing to squeeze your hand closed to grip a Jumar or hold the cable of a via Ferrata.
3. Poor Endurance: Reduced ability to sustain physical activities.
4. Slow Recovery: Prolonged recovery time.
So with that in mind, here are SEVEN mountaineering and trekking nutrition tips to help you get the fuel you need, reduce mistakes/rookie errors and best prepare for loss of appetite, if you're doing a high altitude trek/expedition:
1. Start testing your snacks in advance
Start testing the snacks and foods you‘d like to take on your adventure while you are in your training period. You may find that high-energy foods such as chocolates or gels are hard to digest or that you prefer salty foods to something sweet.
2. Altitude can change your taste buds
Be aware that your taste buds may change with altitude. I have the biggest sweet tooth in my family but once I pass 5,000m, I can hardly bear to eat a boiled sweet let alone my favourite chocolate bar. The key here is to pack a variety of snacks ranging between sweet and salty.
3. Test different calorie density foods
You may find you prefer foods that are dense in calories that you can eat in smaller amounts and less frequently, without sacrificing your overall calorie allowance, such as a couple of slices of hard cheese or salami.
4. Find your favourite effervescent electrolyte tablets
Get used to effervescent electrolyte tablets with your water. Depending on how high you are climbing, you may have to start melting snow for water. Snow melt is notoriously deficient in electrolytes and minerals so using a supplement is highly recommended. Electrolytes help the body to retain water, which regulates the hydration levels of the body and helps keep the body’s pH balanced, both of which are critical for nerve and muscle function.
5. Line your pockets
When you are doing your final round of packing for your adventure, put a few small non-perishable snacks in the pockets of your clothing. Before I left for Aconcagua, I put some of my favourite Zimbabwean sweets into the pockets of various items of clothing. I had forgotten about them by the time I got to Argentina; so, on the mountain, every time I put my hand into a pocket and found one I let out an internal squeal of joy! Those sweets brought back the flavours of my homeland along with all the glorious memories of my life in Zimbabwe, and gave me the mental and physical boost that I needed.
6. Here's a challenge for you:
Practice getting to your snacks and eating them with gloves on. You would be surprised how challenging it is to not only open but also to eat an oat bar with thick mitts on, and of course not to lose the wrapper.
7. Know your stomach
Know what foods upset your tummy. It is very uncomfortable to be trekking with a backpack on and the strap tucked tight around your hips while you are bloated and gassy. It sounds obvious but I have a client (you know who you ❤️) who was on her summit push and was offered a sip of Coke - she hadn't tested out climbing with Coke before, let alone at nearly 6,000m... It took all of 15 minutes for her to get an upset stomach start throwing up.
Nutrition is just one part of the puzzle to your success for your next adventure. The most important part is your training. Think about it this way... You can have ALL the gear, know all the tips (just like these seven) but if you're not fit enough (and fast enough) then it won't matter. So, if you're struggling with your training - trying but not getting any fitter. Can I make a suggestion? Come join The Start To Summit training Course
This Course is about more so much more than just “training enough” or getting "fit enough". It’s about being so fit that you can ACTUALLY enjoy your adventure and not struggle through it. It’s about the peace & certainty that comes with a solid plan & not needing to google “mountain training” every other week. It’s about reducing the risk and bad decisions that often happen when we’re exhausted and not thinking straight. It’s about feeling like a badass, not an imposter and proving to yourself that you CAN do it. I absolutely want that for you - strength, confidence and a bad-ass nature about you because you KNOW you can do it - but you need to take the first step and join the waiting list to make that happen The rest of the steps are waiting for you in the Course! See you there ❤️