The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Diet During Your Outdoor Adventure
Spending time in the great outdoors is a great way to boost your health and improve your mood. Research even shows that spending time in the wilderness can increase your self-efficacy, improve well-being, and give you a deeper satisfaction with life.
But spending time outdoors can also be dangerous. You’re in a new environment, and there might not be a safety net there to save you if things go wrong. You need to consider factors like the route you’ll take, any obstacles you’ll face, and should account for the local wildlife that you will encounter. Most importantly, you also need to maintain a healthy diet.
A healthy diet can aid in decision making, will ensure you stay energized while adventuring, and can give you a psychological boost if you’re feeling low. So, before you head out into the backcountry, make sure you know how to maintain a healthy diet so you can enjoy your time and stay safe.
Any outdoor excursion requires planning and preparation. You need plenty of warm, water-resistant athletic clothes, emergency care kits, and enough food to sustain you throughout your adventure.
It can be tempting to follow a spartan John Muir menu, but bread, tea, and a handful of nuts are unlikely to sustain you for even half a day on the trail. Trying to push through a large caloric deficit will likely result in an emergency.
Instead, you should meal plan thoroughly and bring enough food to last at least half a day, or more. You also need to be savvy about the kind of food you bring. It should be weight effective and easy to prepare with the tools you have on hand. To ensure you have a good time outdoors, you should plan your meal strategically. Bring food that meets your needs and the demands of the activities you plan on doing:
- Hiking: You need to bring ample food to snack on while you’re hiking. The obvious solution is to keep a bag of trail mix in a nearby pocket, but you can also bring fruit, granola bars, or chocolate to keep you going — just ensure you don’t eat it all in one go.
- Overnight camping: If you’re only camping overnight, you don’t want to spend too much time preparing food. Instead, you’re probably going to prioritize other tasks like setting up tents and gathering clean water. You can bring a few sandwiches to chow down on and a small selection of veggies like carrot sticks and cucumber.
- Backpacking: When you’re backpacking, you want to bring food that won’t take up space. Dehydrated meals and MRE’s are light, calorie-dense, and relatively easy to clean up.
Calories are the single biggest consideration when planning your diet in the outdoors. Hiking, movement, and temperature regulation will burn through several thousand calories and leave you in a severe caloric deficit that might lead to fatigue, dizziness, or poor decision making.
You can pack on calories by taking regular breaks and eating as you go. Of course, you shouldn’t fill up on candy and cookies. Instead, opt for foods that will keep your energy up and provide you with a tasty reward for your hard work.
Calorie-dense foods like rice and lentils are light and will help you recover the energy you burnt while outdoors. If you’re not keen on cooking while camping or backpacking, cheeses, and meats are calorie-dense and weigh only a few grams.
Your body loses massive amounts of water during exercise, and you must replace the fluids you lost while hiking, camping, and enjoying the outdoors.
Folks who are engaging in strenuous exercise are advised to take on between 16 and 24 ounces of water for every pound of bodyweight they lost through sweating. You don’t have a weight scale while you’re enjoying the outdoors, but your sweaty clothes will give you a good indication of how much water you lost and how much you need to drink.
Regular hydration will also boost your immune system. Water helps your body deal with toxins and reduces the effect of lactic acid build-up that might occur while hiking. Taking on fluids like green tea will also help your body fight the viruses and bacteria you might rub up against while outside.
Getting the vitamins you need while on the trail is tricky. You can’t pick up a piece of fruit from the grocery store, and you certainly should not start chomping on berries you find growing in the wild. Instead, you can bring a handful of immune-system-boosting gummies with you to fuel your body while you’re outdoors.
Getting vitamins on the trail is even more important if you’re suffering from a health condition, or have a hormone imbalance of any kind. If this is the case, just being outdoors will do wonders for your health. However, it’s worth maintaining your supplement and medication routine while outdoors, and you can simply pack a small supply in a secure Tupperware for a weight-effective solution.
Taking care of your diet can keep you focused on what is important — enjoying the great outdoors. Ensure you pack more than enough food, and make sure you stay well hydrated throughout your adventure!