Taking a Hike...Here Are Some Nutrition Tips You Might Just Like!

Thinking of an Expedition

I was chatting with my girlfriend last night about her three peaks expedition, and one of the key items she could NOT have done without was first and foremost her picture of me, which was very closely followed by her isotonic drink, some carbohydrate bars, and her trail mix consisting of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and occasionally some high glycaemic index chocolate.

So with Lance Armstrong currently trending on social networks, I found myself conjuring images of gruelling ascents up snowy mountains, and cycle sprints down the French hills! So to all the endurance junkies out there, including those of you that enjoy a hike up a mountain peak....here are a few snippets of nutritional information to make it as efficient, painless, and as enjoyable as possible!

Carbohydrate & Carbohydrate Loading

Let’s start with the basics, any endurance activity needs to be energised by a starchy complex carbohydrate base. A carbohydrate loading phase is usually required to saturate your glycogen stores ready to be utilised when you’re hauling backside up a hill! Glycogen stores usually range from 100-120mmol/kg of bodyweight, but if these stores diminish, your body begins to mobilise its fat stores for energy. Despite fats higher energy content per gram, it is not broken down as quickly or efficiently meaning you hit a low spot during exercise until the energy can be fully utilised. Therefore ensure that you stock up on starchy polysaccharides 2-3 days prior to your hike…this is known as Carb Loading! During the loading phase, an ideal diet would consist of approx 80-90% carbs (compared to the normal 50%), aiming for approx 5-10 grams of carbs per kg bodyweight (Minehan, 2004).

Carbohydrate is the bodies preferred energy source, it comes in the form of monosaccharide’s, disaccharides (sugars), and oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (starch). An example of a monosaccharide is blood sugar aka Glucose, and fruit sugar aka Fructose, a common disaccharide we consume via the diet is Sucrose, and the hidden sugar found in milk, Lactose. When hiking, there is a place for all of these types of carbs! When the starchy carb base begins to deplete, a quick releasing (high GI) carb will give you the pickup you so desperately need. My girlfriend opted for High 5 Energy Source 2:1 which she mixed up each day in her water bottle, this was sipped every 10-15 mins to refresh and replenish. When you are hiking for 2-3 hours straight, the aforementioned trail mix provides 5-6 grams of protein per couple of handfuls, quick releasing carbs and useful satiating properties (protein satisfies hunger).

Replete and Recover

When you reach your check point, it’s time to recover and replenish yourself for the next day. The rations and food packs you carry with you might not contain all that is required, therefore a liquid source of nutrition such as Science in Sport Rego Rapid Recovery that provides low GI (slow release) carbs combined with high GI, and protein and key vitamins and minerals (electrolytes). The quick release carbs will give you the quick energy boost you need to sustain a chat around the camp fire, but will also (and more importantly) prompt a spike in blood sugars which will induce an insulin surge, shifting your body from catabolism (breakdown) to anabolism (growth). Insulin is one of the body’s major anabolic hormones, meaning a spike in its levels will promote muscle reparation and development ready for the endeavours of tomorrow!

That’s the nutrition sorted...so providing you’re Mum packed you clean undergarments, then what’s left to worry about! Enjoy!

Example Carb Loading Diet Plan (amend relative to your weight)

Below is a typical Carb – loading diet providing 3300kcal and 560g Carbohydrate equating to 70% Carbs and7g Carbs per kg bodyweight for an average 75kg person:


45g porridge oats with 350ml skimmed milk (250kcal; 16.5g Protein; 42g Carbs)
low fat yoghurt + 1x Banana and blend (460kcal; 56g Protein; 38g Carbs)
200ml Fresh orange juice (100kcal; 1g Protein; 20g Carbs)

Mid- Morning

1x Apple (46kcal; 11g Carbs)
2x Tangerines (50kcal; 10g Carbs)
350ml can soft drink (150kcal; 35g Carbs)


350g baked sweet potato (250kcal; 4g Protein; 69g Carbs)
30g low fat cheese (117kcal; 7g Protein; <1g Carbs)
200g baked beans (164kcal; 10g Protein; 27g Carbs)
Mid- Afternoon
High 5 Sports Bar (203kcal; 3g Protein; 37g Carbs)
500ml isotonic drink (70kcal; 17g carbs)


80g cooked wholemeal pasta (250kcal; 10g Protein; 59g Carbs)
160g boiled chicken breast in 300ml (146kcal; 32g Protein)
200g tinned chopped tomatoes (44kcal; 1g Protein; 7g Carbs)
&frac12; clove garlic
Mixed herbs
500ml isotonic drink (70kcal; 17g carbs)


Banana smoothie made with 200ml semi-skimmed milk, 1x banana and 15-20g honey (200kcal; 8g Protein;47g Carbs)

2x slices wholegrain bread and 50g Jam (210kcal; 50g Carbs)



Minehan, M. (2004). Department of Sports Nutrition, Australian Institute of Sport.
Carbohydrate Loading. Retrieved July 25th, 2012, from http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/competition_and_training2/carbohydrate_loading

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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