What to Eat Before a Hike: The Best Foods for Pre-Hiking Nutrition

When you’re gearing up for a hike, the last thing you want to worry about is your stomach. But if you don’t know what to eat before a hike, you might be in for a rough time – and no one wants that. In this blog post, we will discuss the best foods to eat before a hike so that you can stay energized and healthy!

What to Eat Before a Hike

The basic idea is that we want to focus on foods that our body breaks down slowly: a nutritious mix of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. But lets dive more in-depth to each of these nutrients to get a better understanding of why they work so well together.

  1. Complex Carbohydrates: Carbs are a great, long-lasting source of energy. Complex carbs, such as whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables, take longer for the body to break down and digest. This means they provide a steadier stream of energy that can help power us through a hike
  2. Protein: Protein is essential before any physical activity because it helps build and repair muscle tissue. It also serves a secondary source of long-lasting energy. Lean protein sources such as grilled chicken or fish, tofu, turkey, legumes and eggs are all great options.
  3. Healthy Fats: Fat is another important source of energy that our bodies break down slowly. It also plays an important role in keeping us feeling full for long periods of time. Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, and healthy oils like avocado.

It’s also important to stay hydrated before a hike. Drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your trek, and bring along water to keep you hydrated on the go. If you’re looking for something more substantial than water, try drinking sports drinks or juice boxes. They contain electrolytes which help keep you hydrated.

9 of the Best Foods to Eat Before a Hike

Now we know what exactly the nutrients we are looking for before a hike, let’s talk about some of the specific foods that provide everything we need. Here’s a list of the 9 Best Foods to Eat Before a Hike:

  1. Lean Meat: If you are looking for a more substantial source of protein before your hike, lean meats like grilled chicken, turkey, or fish are good options.
  2. Vegetables: Vegetables are a great way to get in some complex carbs before your hike. Try carrots, broccoli or bell peppers for an easy and healthy snack. Take your vegetables to the next level by dipping them in hummus for additional healthy calories.
  3. Fruits: Like vegetables, fruit is a good way to get in some complex carbs before your hike. Try an apple, banana or orange for a quick and healthy snack.
  4. Water: First and foremost, Water. Getting hydrated and staying hydrated is key to a good hike.
  5. Pasta: If you are getting ready for a long day of hiking, whole grain pasta has the carbs to keep you going. Just make sure you use a lighter sauce, as the heavier, creamy sauces will weigh you down.
  6. Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats, perfect for pre-hiking.
  7. Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is packed with protein and probiotics which can help keep your gut health in check while hiking.
  8. Nutrition Bars: There are tons of different nutrition bars on the market, and they can all be a great source of energy before your hike. Just make sure to choose one that is low in sugar.
  9. Nut Butter: Another good way to get in some protein and healthy fats before your hike is by eating a nut butter like peanut, sunflower, or almond butter.
  10. Oatmeal: Complex carbs in the form of oatmeal provide sustained energy throughout your hike.
what to eat before a hike

What Not to Eat Before a Hike

The worst thing we can do to our body before a hike is load it up on sugar! Sugar gives your body a quick burst of energy and then breaks down just as quickly, other wise known as a sugar high and a crash. Some foods to avoid before hiking are those that are high in sugar and low in nutrients like fast food, processed snacks, and candy bars. These types of foods will not give you the energy you need for a hike and might make you feel sluggish or sick. Another thing to avoid is eating too much; if you have a large breakfast it might be hard to stomach anything else during your trek.

8 Horrible Foods for What to Eat Before a Hike

Here’s a list of the 8 worst things to eat before a hike:

  1. Cream based soup/sauces: Cream based soups and sauces are high in fat and calories, and will only make you feel sluggish during your hike.
  2. Carbonated Drinks: Carbonated drinks like soda or energy drinks are high in sugar and caffeine, which is not a good combination before a hike. Caffeine isn’t necessarily bad – in fact, making coffee on trail is a personal favorite. Opt for black coffee instead of a sugary drink.
  3. Milk: Milk is a high-fat, high-calorie food that will only make you feel weighed down during your hike.
  4. Fruit Juices: Fruit juices are high in sugar and low in nutrients, which is not what you want before a hike.
  5. Burger & Fries: This is a classic example of a high-sugar, low-nutrient meal. Not only will it make you feel sluggish, but it will also leave you feeling heavy and bloated.
  6. Cheese: Cheese is a high-fat, high-calorie food that will only weigh you down during your hike.
  7. Candy: Candy is loaded with sugar and will give you a quick burst of energy that will quickly wear off.
  8. Spices: Foods with a ton of spices like Mexican or Indian food can irritate your digestive system when you’re hiking. This can lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea and you definitely don’t want that on trail.
what not to eat before a hike

About the Author

Derek Vitiello

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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