Heading outdoors? Energize yourself with the right food choices

April 17, 2001

Heading outdoors? Energize yourself with the right food choices


Waterproof hiking boots? Check. Compass? Check. Extra socks, poncho, map? Check. Check. Check.

Whistle? Check.


Now the hard part: What to eat?

So many choices. ... It has to be portable, which means no four-course meals. But there are several options available to eager hikers setting out on a long day on the trail.

Searching for quick boosts of energy on trail breaks, outdoorsmen and women can turn to a series of foodstuffs to make it through the day.


Before settling on solid food, however, nutritionists and park rangers recommend stocking up on liquid refreshment.

"Take lots of water," says Tom Ambrose, park superintendent at Cacapon Resort State Park in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. "Especially if you're not used to being out in the woods because you don't want to get dehydrated."

Lowell Freese, store manager of The Gentle Nudge, a wellness education center in Hagerstown, says water wins out over other beverages because there is no down side to drinking it. Fruit juice is fine to drink, just not in place of water. And soda shouldn't be the first choice either, he cautions.

"It'll give you a short burst of energy, but the sugar wears off quickly," Freese says. Particularly when the temperature rises, water should be the first option for wetting the whistle.

As for food, the options are vast.

"You don't want to get out there and be exhausted. Having some basic food with you to keep the senses sharp is good," Ambrose says. "Just pick some basic things that give you that taste you like and that burst of energy you need."

Fruits, such as apples, bananas, grapes and raisins, are a good start. Grains and granola bars are also good building blocks. Freese suggests taking high-protein and carbohydrate bars, like the ones athletes use to maximize performance.

"They're good because they're relatively small but they're packed with energy," he says.

Of course, recreational hikers who want to stick with the basics can turn to old-fashioned trail mix to satisfy hunger pangs on the trail.

"They're good. They don't necessarily pack high energy but they generally have good nourishment," Freese says. "Nuts have protein and complex carbohydrates. That's a lot better than some of the stuff that has white, refined, flour.

"Usually, there's enough variety of foods, the nuts and seeds and fruits, that it's a more broad nourishment. That's a good thing to have."

The Herald-Mail Articles