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More Training Info > Energy Foods

Energy Foods

Q. What are some good energy foods to take with me into the mountains?

A. Look for foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, but that also have some protein and fat in an approximate ratio of 60%-20%-20%. I've played around with Luna bars, Balance bars, Power bars, Gatorade and other sports drinks, trail mix, candies, Pop-tarts, cereal mixes, sandwiches, crackers, pastas, and various forms of chocolate. What works for me likely will not work for others. However, I have found that trying to eat in "The Zone" (40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein) by way of the simple-to-tote bars in general makes me bonk--not quite enough sustained energy. It may simply be because the carbohydrates in bars are higher Glycemic Index, which will initially give you a boost of energy but then leave you feeling a little like you have hit a wall. You might be able to create a sandwich that is "in the zone" that has complex carbohydrates rather than simple sugars. A turkey and cheese sandwich on wheat bread, for example, seems to do the trick for me and leaves me feeling more satisfied for longer.

Forget the "diets" when out in the mountains; it's more important to make sure you have the adequate fuel, than to stick to some bizarre ratio recommended in a book. You need plenty of carbohydrates while in the mountains, even if during the week you opt out of them. Also think about your sport of choice--if you are a skier, you might want to bring along a thermos of hot soup, cocoa, tea, or Tang. If you are climbing at high altitude, drinking plenty of liquid is an absolute necessity, as the threat of dehydration is very real. Also remember that at high altitude, nausea is fairly common --you'll want to take comforting, familiar, tried-and-true food with you so that you will have a greater likelihood of wanting to eat high up on the mountains and therefore be able to maintain your energy levels. My favorite? A home blend of cereals, dried fruits, almonds, white chocolate chips or yogurt-covered pretzels, and Cranberry raisins. Even high up on Rainier, I was willing to nibble on this, while the thought of anything else quite often makes my stomach churn! One food that NEVER appeals to me are the older-formula Power Bars--I cut my lip on one and vowed NEVER AGAIN! Fortunately, they have some newer versions out that are higher in protein--they 1) are easier to chew, 2) taste better, and 3) have a carb-protein-fat blend that do better for my body.


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