How to Fuel Your Hike: The Complete Guide For Hiking Food & Nutrition, Approved by Nutritionist

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Provided they’re packed well and protected from bruising, bananas offer a great source of fast-acting energy from simple carbs.

The average banana also contains around 450mg potassium – essential for muscle function – plus manganese, which supports energy production and protein metabolism. You also get vitamin C, B6 and fibre and some studies have shown this may help reduce post-exercise inflammation.

Dried Fruit

The long shelf life, heat stability and compact nature of dried fruit makes it a perfect source of energy on the move. You also get many of the nutrient benefits of fresh fruit.

Gram-for-gram dried raisins, dates, figs, apricots, mangos, bananas can provide more fibre, vitamins and minerals than their hydrated counterparts. They’re also a fantastic source of antioxidants. For maximum benefit, add a variety to your own hiking mix.


With as much as 360 calories in a 100g slice, a long life and a pack-friendly density, fruit cake is a great alternative to trail mixes and neat handfuls of dried fruit.

If you really want to beef up that energy delivery, iced and marzipan-coated fruit cake packs an extra punch. Though it won’t score as high for health.

Dehydrated meals

If you’re embarking on longer expeditions and self-sufficient multi-day adventures, ‘proper’ meals come into the equation. Army-style dehydrated meal packs are a good solution.

These deliberately high-energy, freeze-dried meals are powdered and vacuum packed to save weight and have to be rehydrated with boiling water. You can find all kinds of dishes from savoury curries and chilli, to breakfast porridges and even classic desserts.

Be warned though: some expedition foods focus on convenience over health. So read the labels closely to ensure you’re getting the best quality.

Important nutrients, vitamins and minerals for hiking

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Electrolytes

If you want to feel well-fuelled for your hikes, recover well and generally keep your immune system strong, it’s important to understand the main nutritional building blocks that supply energy, support muscle repair and keep that hiking machine ticking over.

Here’s a basic introduction to the important macros, micros, vitamins and minerals that make up a healthy diet for hikers.


Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel for exercise, particularly when intensity levels climb. At lower intensities, you’ll also be using fat as a fuel source but you still need adequate sources of slow and fast-acting carbs to power your efforts.

Carbs get converted into readily-available glucose which is either used immediately as hiking energy, or stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver – your main fuel tanks. Your limited storage holds between 300 and 600g of glycogen and takes between 90 and 120 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity exercise to empty.

Taking on board some additional fast-acting carbs can be beneficial in certain hiking situations, for example, before you tackle a steep climb.


Provided you’re not power hiking up Mont Blanc, the proportion of calories you burn from fat, while trekking, will be higher. In fact, at 65 percent of below your aerobic capacity, fat contributes 50 percent of the fuel you need. It also offers more than double the potential energy that protein and carbohydrate do. Most of this comes from stored fat – that’s good news for your waistline though it is possible to top up fats too.

However, not all fats are created equal. The body needs ‘good fats’ – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – to function properly. These help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A,K,D and E) that support recovery, energy supply and your immune system. They can also lower blood pressure levels, reduce cholesterol and cut the risk of heart disease. Trek-friendly nuts and nut butters are good sources of healthy fats.

On the flipside, despite being big on calories, saturated fats found in foods like cakes, biscuits, crisps and fatty red meat, can be harmful to health. So as much as that pack of custard creams might seem like a good trekking snack, there are better options.


A vital building block, protein plays an essential role in recovery. At a hiking pace it’s easier for the body to process and getting protein into your trail snacks can boost active recovery, supporting the repair process while you’re still moving.

It helps repair micro-tears in the muscles and supports the uptake of glycogen into the muscles, refilling your fuel stores for your next outing.

Your protein intake depends on a range of factors, including the duration and intensity of your hike. But aiming to consume 0.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight at each meal, also provides a good regular supply to support your efforts.

You can get your protein from plants or animal sources but you should aim for combinations that provide complete proteins with all 20 essential amino acids. For example, peanut butter on a wholewheat bagel.

Or grab one of Veloforte’s Mocha or Forza protein bars for a convenient – and delicious – hit of complete proteins.


When we sweat, we leak more than just water. We also shed electrolytes that are crucial to balancing hydration, keeping our muscles function and supporting energy burn. We all sweat at different rates with varying levels of salt loss and temperature and intensity also have an impact.

It’s important to replace those lost electrolytes throughout your hike. Sodium is the main electrolyte lost through sweat. It plays a vital role in hydration, helping to maintain fluid balance. But it also helps to conduct nerve impulses, stimulate muscle contractions, and control blood pressure and volume. But potassium and magnesium are also part of the crucial electrolyte mix.

Carefully balanced electrolyte powders, like the Veloforte Vivo, Attivo and Solo, offer a lightweight, convenient and delicious way to top up. Vivo and Attivo also come with added hits of hike-supporting carbs so you get more bang for your backpacked buck.

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