Nutrition for the Trail

The air is warm and welcoming. Flowers are full of color.  It is spring! After a long, cold winter, it is time to get outside! One of the best ways to take in spring is to visit your local, state or national park for a hike through the woods. Whether you are planning a six-month gaunt on the Appalachian Trail or spending a day at the local park, it is important to pack lightweight foods and snacks that will keep you energized and full. You don’t want to be bogged down on your journey. Be sure to pack foods that are light, but don’t skimp on nutrition and energy.

A few suggestions include:snack-right-on-your-hike

  • Trail mix: A combination of whole grain cereal pieces, nuts, and dried fruit with a little added chocolate (preferably dark) are great for staying power and burst of energy.
  • Turkey jerky is high in protein and can be low in saturated fat. Not all jerky is beef—it’s also made from chicken, turkey or soy sources. Enjoy the variety!
  • Nuts are packed with healthy fats, fiber and protein but won’t weigh down your daypack or picnic basket.
  • Nut butter is equally full of healthy fats, mobile (in tiny packets!), and great with crackers.
  • Granola-type bars are easy to pack and won’t spoil. Look for varieties that offer healthy options such as protein, whole grain or fiber.
  • Fresh fruits/baby carrot sticks are good for day hikes.
  • A tuna salad kit is portable, won’t spoil and makes a great mini-meal for longer day hikes. Tuna is also a great source of protein and vitamin D.
  • Bagels and pita breads offer carbohydrates to keep up energy levels but won’t disintegrate on the trail. Mix in cheeses and hard meats that don’t require refrigeration for an energy-packed meal.

Most importantly, be sure to pack plenty of fluids or a water filtration system to keep hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink about three liters per day depending on level of physical activity and weather.  According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), healthy adults should be taking 2.7 liters of water for women, or 3.7 liters for men. You may need even more on an active day, especially if the weather is hot.

With thousands of local, state, and national parks in the United States, a beautiful trail is closer than you think. Old man winter will be back before you know it, so pack your favorite nutritious snacks and get out there!