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Best 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 #backpacking #hikingtips #trailfood

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

  • But it should be!

Eating the right food for hiking is a big deal.

One concept underlies all of the types of hiking food which female hikers can choose:

food as fuel

Hiking nutrition is just one big umbrella term to cover all of these hiking nutrition buzz words:

The hiking reality of food

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.

 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.

Fuel your day hikes

  • 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.

Thinking of planning
an overnight trip?

If you've never done one before, use these overnight planning tips first.

Then turn your attention to your menu.

  • 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.

Fuel for the long haul (literally)


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 specific aspects of trail nutrition:

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

Snacks are vital!

Snacks are important bribery components of any hike.

I myself use them to keep my motivation, as well as my energy level, as high as possible on a hike.

Here are my favorite hiking nutrition tips for hiking snacks!


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

Ever get the urge to munch
along the trail?

If that luscious red berry or glistening mushroom looks tempting, then you'd better know what you're doing, right?


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

all provided by Mother Nature.

Recovery and support foods
for hard working hiking bodies

Sometimes you just can't carry enough of the right types of food to keep yourself out of a nutritional hole.

That's when lightweight supplements and supportive nutrients can play a big role in keeping your stamina high.

Take a look at this plant based option:


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
  • repair damaged structures such as micro-tears in your muscles caused by hiking

The right type of clean 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?

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?

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

Here are a 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.

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 sweet deal:

Let me read through the geeky jargon, and give you  the bottom line on all things hiking, 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.

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!

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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