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Hiking Nutrition:
What You Need To Know

This female hiker wants a tasty but nutrient dense hiking lunch. Maybe she should read these hiking nutrition tips!

Hiking nutrition may not be the first thing you consider when planning your hike.

But it should be!

Hiking food for women hikers is a big deal. One concept underlies all of the types of hiking female hikers can choose: food as fuel.

And "hiking nutrition" is just one big term to cover all of these hiking nutrition buzz words:

The reality: Your body needs fuel before, during, and after the hike.

So that explains the big appetite that goes along with big hikes.

Think of it as "refueling"!

Do I hike to eat?

You bet! And so should you.

And if you winter hike (also known as snowshoeing), you'll need even more calories to keep yourself warm and fueled.

But beware!

Huge yellow flowers of balsam root in abundance on a mountain ridgeI wonder how many calories it took to get me up here so I could enjoy these balsam root flowers? Oh yeah, and that big view.

Hiking water as a nutrient

WATER is a nutrient. You mean water is cellular fuel?

Yes, indeed.

Water is a required daily nutrient, biochemically speaking.

Your trillions of cells are water-based chemistry labs.

Without adequate water, it's harder for your body to

  • eliminate waste,
  • utilize oxygen,
  • manufacture important biomolecules for energy production, or
  • repair damaged structures such as micro-tears in your muscles caused by hiking.

The right type of water, in the right amount, is essential to feeling good on the trail. As important as the right mix of carbohydrates, fats and protein!

That's why staying hydrated should be a top priority on the trail.

And what about water in the form of sports drinks?

 What kind of hiking nutrition
do you need?

Trail food selection is a vast topic.

It's best to break it into the type of hiking you're planning to do.

DAY HIKE FOOD: There's tasty, and then there's tasty AND nutritious.

Some hikers rely upon tried and true portable foods such as jerky and bags of gorp (good old raisins 'n peanuts - although they get pretty fancy these days!).

But there are many creative ways to pack proteins, carbohydrates and fats in a hard working hiker's lunch sack, without overdoing it.


  • Weight is an issue.
  • Taste is a definite concern.
  • Easy preparation needs to be taken into consideration, to maximize your precious time on this short trip.


As you plan, don't neglect taste, nutrient content, and ease of preparation after a long day on the trail!

You need these great backpacking tips related to nutrition:


  • Yummy, and worth the weight.
  • Try something different on your next hike, including good-for-you dark chocolate.


  • seeds,
  • nuts,
  • berries,
  • mushrooms,
  • roots,
  • shoots,

all provided by Mother Nature.


HIKING RECIPES: I may not be able to create a great hiking recipe, but I know one when I taste one!

Digestion problems on the trail?

Have you ever heard the expression "You are what you eat?"

Words of wisdom, tied to another expression: "Garbage in, garbage out."

The reason I bring up these cliches is to urge you to consume the best quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you can afford (see above).

But we need to go a bit beyond that.

  • You are what you digest and absorb.

And that requires a bit of knowledge about the human digestive system.

If you're getting feedback from your gut (pain, unease, gas, bloating, weird stools), listen to another tried and true saying: "Go with your gut."

When your body sends you a message, heed it or ignore it, but it won't go away. Guess which choice makes sense for a smart, savvy hiker?

You just might need to go gluten free on the trail!

Maybe you only want only the best ingredients in your hiking food. I agree!

Here are few suggestions:

And if you're an older hiker (at least 45 years and approaching menopause), you might find this hiking nutrition information useful.

Latest nutrition news

I happen to like reading medical research articles on nutrition and fitness because it might contain a nugget of wisdom to make me a stronger, happier hiker.

I never know what I'm going to stumble across, on the trail or in the library!

So send me your questions about hiking nutrition, or hiking in general, and I'll do my best to find answers.

Just use the contact form at the top left hand side of this page.

Also, let me extend this invitation:

You can receive timely hiking nutrition nuggets, free of charge, just 'cuz I want to make you a stronger hiker.

Here's the deal: Let me read through the geeky jargon, and give you the bottom line on hiking issues, including what to eat (or not) for better performance.

I also try to cover the latest news in hiking injuries, gear developments, good deals, useful resources for hikers, breaking news, and whatever is on my hiking radar.

It's free, it's easy to sign up for my newsletter, and it's even easier to unsubscribe if you don't find it useful.

And of course I don't share your email address, or use it for anything other than delivering the monthly hiking news to your virtual inbox!

Just pop in your email address, and watch your inbox for the next edition.

And while you wait, enjoy the back issues.

Looking for even more specific
hiking nutrition tips?

I've pulled together lots of useful detailed information to answer your questions about which trail foods to select for day hikes, overnights, and longer trips.

And if you're a gluten free hiker, I've got you covered, too!

Take a peek at available titles in my Fast Hiking Facts.

Fact filled, but never boring. No hype, no fluff, only the good stuff you need!

And please drop by the Hiking For Her Facebook page for a daily shot of hiking inspiration, including hiking food tips.

Female hiker sitting on a blue tarp on a snowy mountainsideYum! It's lunch time! (otherwise known as a hiking nutrition celebration)

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