Like other forms of exercise, hiking of any kind requires certain dietary considerations. With the inclines and elevation gains you’re likely to experience (depending on where you’re hiking, of course), you want to be sure you’re adequately fueled for the journey. As someone on a raw, gluten-free vegan diet, however, the days of continually loading up on pre-packaged Clif bars are far behind – special deliberations for the raw vegan hiker means thinking not only about what you’ll eat but also when you’ll eat it. No matter whether you’re hiking a small mountain valley in Colorado (that’s me waving at you up there!) or traversing the hills of some wooded backcountry or bumpy sand beach, you’ll want to stimulate your body with the right stuff that hits your body’s needs at opportune times. Read on, trail trekker!
Before Your Hike: Drink tons of water. This is probably a given, but whenever you’re climbing up and down any sort of elevation, you need your body as hydrated as possible. Start drinking cool water the night before your hike, preferably, and keep your H2O binging up on the drive to your hike location the morning of.
Breakfast (The Day of the Hike): Think protein mixed with a pinch of fruit sugars. The proteins will keep your muscles going on the hike, and a bit of fruit sugar should provide you with a bit of energy (without the crash) later. A heaping mix of raw almonds, cashews, and various berries would be a great breakfast choice. Typically, I’ll opt for equal parts almonds and cashews with a tablespoon each of dried cranberries and blueberries.
For the Initial Ascent: the first portion of your hike requires a kick-start of energy to start the momentum you’ll need to keep going later on. Continue to drink water and fuel your incline with one of the world’s simplest fruits: raisins. That’s right – you get to go all elementary school here – pack one of those lunch-box sized boxes and scarf those bad boys down on your way up. Remember to keep drinking that water, also.
Mid-point: after your ascent, you’re going to eventually reach your mid-point, whether that’s the top of the hill, the top of the mountain, or the highest pile of dirt you find halfway along your hike. For this point of the journey, it’s important to take a few moments to pause – both to enjoy the scenery and to chow down some more. For the mid-point of a hike, I love “Go Raw” Granola bars. They’re raw, gluten free, vegan, and packed full of good stuff like flaxseeds and dates. What’s more is that they’re light, super easy to transport in your backpack, yet still enough substance to feel like you’ve eaten something along the way. To accompany this mid-point fueling food, gulp down a probiotic drink like Kevita’s Living Greens. This stuff has a tiny bit of caffeine and is loaded with great ingredients like chlorella, a lovely superfood that boosts your body’s cellular oxygenation – a fancy way of saying it’ll improve your breathing capacity (a much-welcomed side effect on any hike). Mix this drink with some great big gulps of fresh water, too.
Descent: You’ve made it up the mountain (or the hill or sand dune) – time to wind your body up for the climb down and at the same time cool it down. The perfect raw and vegan snack at this point? A bag full of old faithful – vegetables! A great mix is pre-washed, pre-sliced cucumbers, celery, and carrots. These will help A) cool your core and B) boost your body full of anti-oxidants. Mixed will all of those feel-good exercise endorphins from the hike, you’ll be buzzing by the time you reach the bottom.
At the Bottom: Since I haven’t said it enough already: drink water. But now that you’ve reached the “bottom” – or, the end of whatever trail you’re navigating – it’s time to reward your sweet body. Look at what it just did for you and give it some love: that’s right, I mean chocolate. Believe it or not, a bit of raw chocolate is a fiberful, filling snack with a power punch of minerals and antioxidants. I love Navita Natural’s Raw Cacao Nibs for a post-hike pick-me-up. You’ve earned it!
Image Source: Tyler Hitchcock/Flickr