As I already admitted, I don’t know what I’m doing or where exactly I’m traveling to next month. That means that I don’t know where I’m sleeping or if I will have access to kitchens to prepare my own food.
And as I was thinking about this, I realized that I also don’t know the types of food I will need to bring with me. Especially considering I’ll be doing some hiking and adventuring.
That’s why I decided to talk to Brett Singer, RD, CSSD, LD, Sports Dietician with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute. He, by the way, is also an adjunct professor in the Master of Athletic Training Program at University of Houston.
Mr. Singer had a lot of good info (that I’m going to boil down into this digestible post) from his years of working with all sorts of professional and amateur athletes.
The first thing I wanted to know was what’s the actual ideal diet? I grew up with the food pyramid saying it’s one size fits all. Bread at the bottom, chocolate on top.
“There’s no ideal diet. You’ll hear now that it’s all about context,” said Mr. Singer.
Context, huh? And that means….?
“Well, take an endurance athlete. If they’re at the peak of their training, their diet should be different because their goals are different,” he said.
“All meals including snacks should have a protein, grain and starch, and fruit and vegetable. The amount depends on the activity. A triathlete in the middle of training will need more starch in his diet than someone who is doing resistance training. And the biggest thing you can do for yourself is hydrate enough every day and get enough sleep.”
This all makes perfect sense to me. Your diet should reflect your activity… why didn’t they teach that in health class?
So for regular touring, it makes sense that a diet should consist of the basics that he suggested.
But what about for a higher intensity activity, like hiking? What should your diet look like if you’re going for a long day hike, or even a multi-day hike?
“When thinking about activity, think about energy systems.” Mr. Singer said. “The level of intensity dictates what your body needs. So higher intensity needs more carbohydrates, and lower intensity needs more fats.”
“Hiking uses a lot of carbohydrates, and a lot of fats as well. Especially longer hikes. We also want to have protein because it’s filling – something to consider if you get easily hungry. You primarily want a diet supportive of your hike in order to meet your athletic demands.”
In general, he recommends the following snacks for sustainability for hiking:
Bars (breakfast, protein, or granola)
Sandwiches (if possible to bring are always a great way to get all parts of balanced diet)
And while I was listening to him list these items, I was thinking to myself ok but I can’t have most of those ; which is right when he said:
“But for someone with food allergies, obviously these will need to be amended. Seeds are good – pumpkin or sunflower, safe granola bars if possible, dried fruits and beef jerky would be a great option. Crackers or pretzels and those squeezable packets of applesauce are a great, sustainable source of energy that you can bring along.”
“There is constantly new research out there, so it’s important to stay educated.”
Regarding nutrition, Mr. Singer suggests that everyone familiarize themselves with The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Within the website, under Health, there is a Food Allergy topic page.
“If you have a food allergy, you can familiarize yourself with the information listed under that page,” he said. “But the most important thing is to see a physician trained in that field. See an allergist.”
By seeing an allergist, us allergic folk can better understand the severity of our allergy(ies), get recommendations for what we should or should not eat, and be exposed to an extensive network of other allergic kids, teens or parents to act as support.