Getting away for an outdoors adventure can be great fun, however, navigating what to eat while away can be tricky sometimes – depending on whether refrigeration will be available and how much room you have to pack your food.
An active holiday without appropriate food to fuel you for the fun activities you have planned can leave you feeling tired and run down. We’ve put together our top nutrition tips for hikers and campers to take the guesswork out of your next big adventure.
Plan Ahead & Prep Meals
A good plan is the first thing that every adventurer needs to make the most of their meals away. Without a good plan, you may end up relying on a lot of takeaway foods or worse – fail to pack enough food altogether, which could result in unwanted weight gain or weight loss.
How do you get better at planning? Think about these things:
- Length of your trip,
- Access to a fridge or esky,
- How often you will visit the shops, and
- The temperature/weather forecast of your destination.
If refrigeration isn’t possible or the weather is going to be warm, avoid taking any perishable food.
When it comes to preparing food for your time away, do not forget to consider the following:
- The weight of your pack if hiking (and avoid any canned or heavy foods).
- How much food you will actually need for the time away.
- Extra food to account for all of the energy you’re going to burn while away.
- That your food fits in your bag! Check it a few days prior to leaving so that you have time to adjust.
Nutrients to Consider For Your Next Adventure
This is a big one! Pack some carbohydrate-rich foods.
Why? Carbohydrates are an important fuel source for our bodies, and our needs increase when we are physically active. For longer periods of moderately intense activity (e.g. hiking up and down a mountain for 4-5 hours), you should aim to have around 30-60g of carbohydrates snack every hour.
Here are some 30g carbohydrate snacks and drink ideas:
- 2 LCM bars (Choc Chip is our top pick!)
- 600mL sports drink e.g. Gatorade or Powder
- 1 sports gels e.g. Winners brand
- Vegemite sandwich (2 slices of bread)
Limited Fibre Availability
Holidaying in remote locations can limit access to fresh fruit and vegetables. If you chose to get to these locations via foot, it can be made even more difficult – as you rarely have access to refrigeration and have very limited food space.
As you should know by now, fibre is responsible for a number of functions within the body. The one most relevant here is its role in regulating bowel movements. Let’s put it this way – a composting toilet block in the middle of a national park is NOT the place that most people want to be feeling ‘backed up’. However, if you go on a camping trip or hike that lasts multiple days, lower fibre intake is almost inevitable. We’d advise trying to get your fibre in wherever possible.
Here are our top tips to boosting the fibre intake with limited access to fibre-rich foods, to help keep any potential constipation at bay. This will also keep you feeling fuller for longer which is great for those who are trying to manage their weight. Please note, if you have been diagnosed with IBS-D, this advice does not apply to you – speak to your dietitian specifically about what you can do to help keep your toileting to a minimum.
If you’re a hiker and you’re going away for multiple days, eating pre-packed food is almost inevitable. That being said, a little bit of preparation is better than none at all. Try:
- Taking frozen meals with veggies and eat them on the first night.
- Packing vegemite or honey sandwiches for the first two days.
If you’re a camper, there is a little more hope for you – but you are definitely going to need an esky or camping fridge. Once you’ve got that, try the following:
- Cooking and freezing meals at home to be quickly reheated on the camp stove
- Pack fresh salad ingredients or pre-sliced veggies to cook on the pan or BBQ
- Pre-cooked packets of whole grains (such as quinoa) to quickly toss through meals
Best Foods to Fuel Outdoor Adventure
So, now that you’ve heard about all the things you need to consider for your next big adventure. Here are some of the best foods to fuel outdoor activity.
- Dehydrated meals
- Muesli and nut bars (a few per day)
- Trail mix
- 2-minute noodles and dehydrated veggies (remember your thermos of hot water!)
- Canned goods (e.g., peas, corns & carrots)
- Dehydrated foods
- Wholegrain crackers and spreads
- High fibre cereal (e.g., Weetbix) and long-life milk
Trips away can be a great way to recharge and enjoy nature. Having a plan in place for your food can help provide enough energy for your adventures as well as ensuring you stay on track with your health and weight goals.
If you’d like to know more or want individual advice, head to the link to speak with one of our dietitians.