Going out for a hike in the summer? Fuel your body with energy-sustaining snacks

Going out for a hike in the summer? Fuel your body with energy-sustaining snacks

Going out for a hike in the summer? Fuel your body with energy-sustaining snacks



3  Mins Read

With summer holidays coming up, hiking local mountain trails is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of Hong Kong. Hiking is simply one of the best ways to experience the outdoors, but it can also mean some physical exertion in high temperatures. If you are planning a hike that lasts for at least 2 hours, eating proper meals and packing to-go snacks will help fuel this fun-filled activity.

Before your hike: eat complex starch + protein + fruits

Before going on a hike, fuel up with energy-sustaining foods. Start with a wholesome breakfast. Eating a balanced breakfast with complex starch, protein, and fruits will get you started off in the right way.

For instance:

  • Full breakfast: a full bowl of oatmeal + 2 eggs + a cup of fresh berries
  • Yogurt bowl with toppings:  a serving (¾ cup) of greek yogurt +  granola  + fresh fruit

3 foods to eat during your hike

  1. Most important: Water
    Your hydration needs depend on the duration of your hike and the outside temperature.  In general, on a relatively comfortable hike, you need to drink about 375 mL of water every hour.  In other words, if your hike will last about 3 hours, you will need 375 x 3 = 1,125 mL of water.
    However, liquid needs increases significantly when the temperature rises and there is no shade along the trail. You can easily lose one to two litres of sweat per hour hiking uphill in direct sunlight. So plan your water accordingly.
  2. Must-have snack : Dried or Fresh Fruits
    Plan to snack and refuel your body every 2 hours. As the main purpose of snacking during a hike is to provide on-going energy for your body, fruits are best at delivering instant energy. Dried fruits such as raisins are usually a good choice as they are easy to carry and won’t easily turn bad under hot weather. Certainly fresh fruit such as bananas, peeled oranges, grapes, cut-up melons are also suitable to pack.
  3. Nice-to-have snacks to add
    If your hike is shorter than 2 hours, you don’t really need to pack much food; dried or fresh fruits should be enough. However, if your hike lasts for more than 4 hours, you should bring along some easy-to-pack, energy-sustaining foods that you can munch on every 2 hours. As explained earlier, think of complex carbohydrates first; they deliver energy needed to fuel your body.

For starch options, you may consider packing:

  • slices of sourdough bread
  • granola bars (When choosing a granola bar as a snack, choose one with no more than 200 calories; if you’re using it as a meal replacement, look for one with 300 to 400 calories.)
  • crackers

Also consider bringing protein foods. Canned tuna is a good option. This replenishes your body with protein and some sodium and it’s something that you can eat out of the can without cooking. For vegans, instead of canned fish, scoop a few tablespoons of salted peanut butter into a small container and bring this along. Or pack one to two ounces (30 to 60 grams) of nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and pistachios.

After your hike: eat within one hour

Aim to eat within one hour after your hike. Treat this meal as a post-workout meal; in other words, it is best to include protein foods as well as carbohydrates.  Protein is important after any exercises or workouts - it repairs muscle breakdown and helps to rebuild them. An egg-salad or tuna sandwich, or a bowl of vermicelli with chicken and vegetables are good options.

For vegans, you can quickly blend a cup of green smoothie with spinach, frozen fruits, and plant milk; add additional almond butter, peanut butter, or protein powder for an extra protein boost. Alternately, make an avocado toast by spreading hummus or peanut butter on a piece of toast and topping it with ¼ or half avocado.

Gloria Tsang - Registered Dietitian