Whether you’re hiking, camping, kayaking, or fishing, it’s easy to let your eating habits fall by the wayside while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Good nutrition is especially important when you are exerting yourself and burning more calories than you would by sitting at home. Not eating well can lead to a plethora of physical and mental ailments that have the potential to ruin your trip. Luckily, there are plenty of simple ways to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to maintain your energy levels and boost your mood.
Today we’ll talk about how to fuel your body for a day of outdoor adventures and share some easy meals and snacks for you to eat before, during, and after a fun day outdoors.
Focus On the Right Nutrients
Sure, it’s easy to stop at the local gas station for cheese puffs, potato chips, and candy on your way to the trails, mountains, or lake. However, eating too many of these foods in a short timespan will end up leaving you sleepy, sluggish, and may even lead to digestive discomfort.
Let’s talk about the key nutrients you’ll want to focus on, and the role they play in your energy levels and recovery at the end of the day.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are going to serve as your body’s primary source of energy. If your body was a car, carbohydrates would be the gasoline. The more active you plan to be, the more carbohydrates you’ll want to consume.
- Protein – Not only does protein help you maintain high energy levels, but it is also essential for helping your body recover after physical exertion. Protein replenishes your glycogen stores to prevent fatigue and improve your recovery process.
- Hydration – Since you’re sure to work up a sweat, your body will be losing a significant amount of fluid throughout the day. To prevent dehydration, it’s important to learn about how much water to drink a day, and be sure to consume plenty of electrolytes. If you prefer to stay away from sugary sports drinks, you can also drink coconut water, or sprinkle some sea salt into your water to boost your hydration.
Meal and Snack Ideas
You’ll want to make sure you eat a nutrient-dense meal between 1 and 3 hours before your outdoor excursion, and bring plenty of snacks to eat along the way. Some great examples of easy-to-pack snacks include:
- Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread
- Beef jerky
- Granola bars
- Tuna with whole-grain crackers
- Trail mix
- Turkey wraps
Don’t forget about post-hike recovery! After a long day outdoors, be sure to eat a meal or snack that contains plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates within about an hour after your hike. Here are some great recovery meal ideas:
- Salmon with brown rice and broccoli
- Chicken salad sandwich
- Scrambled eggs with avocado toast
Nutrition is crucial for a successful activity-filled day. Focusing on nutrition before, during, and after your excursion will help you maintain your energy, prevent fatigue, and expedite your recovery so that you’re ready for another fun day outdoors!