Tips for Backcountry

How to choose nutrition for any outdoor sport?

Nutrition plays a vital role in backcountry activities. Nutrition is required for both common man and athletes (Sportsperson or trekkers, hikers, Mountaineers, skiers, rock climbers, cyclist etc.)

As their workload is high, they would need added nutrition, supplements and energy drinks to recover their energy and enhance performance. One needs to have good food and should be well hydrated to perform well, you could also choose food that is locally available and drink plenty of water whereas energy food and drinks have a great advantage in terms of convenience, easy to carry, and involves less work than preparing food.

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy needed to sustain our body before accounting for any activity or external temperatures (imagine lying in bed). Diversity in body size, shape, and composition means BMR can vary drastically. A 17-year old male weighing 160lbs has a BMR around 1,950 calories while a 25-year old female weighing 125lbs has a BMR around 1,300. Things that increase BMR include genetics, a greater body surface area (tall and skinny), and a low body fat percentage. The occasional male teenager can have a BMR as high as 2,500 calories.


Activity Levels account for a huge number of calories on outdoor sports. On a big hiking, multi-pitch, or dig-in day, trekkers can burn as many as 10,000 additional calories from activity. Thermoregulation is the body’s ability to maintain a consistent body temperature. Energy in the body (let’s say glucose) is used to do mechanical work (let’s say rock climbing) with only 25% efficiency. A byproduct is heat energy, which warms the body. When the body is too warm it sends blood to the surface of the skin to radiate heat out of the body as well as activates sweat glands to increase evaporative cooling. Conversely, when the body is cold it will divert blood away from the skin’s surface.

The food we consume during our physical activities provides 1600 calories per every 1.5 lb. (675 gm.) hence there is an average of 1600 calories loss/deficit of calories. This leads to underperforming, low energy, strength and motivation.

The food that we consume must have – 20% of carbohydrates, 25% of fibre, 40% of protein and 15% of good fat. Getting protein and fibre in the field/backcountry nutrition is not possible with regular food. Protein supplements such as plant-based protein powder, fibre, and protein shakes help to regain your muscle, nutrition and calories and help you to enhance your performance, fit, balanced nutrition, and maintain the weight check, and get rid of excess body fat.

There are many food and energy drink options available in the market these days, therefore it is important to go through the nutritional information when to consume, types, and features.

You need to possess a good understanding of nutritional information required for the outdoor sports before you get your hands on selecting what is best for you.

Based on your intensity, activity, and body type you would need 250 calories at an average per hour, most of the products available in the market like energy bars, bites, and drinks fall within this range. Carbs are one of the biggest energy sources and one can process only about 60 grams of carbs per hour and anything more than that should be avoided. Protein is important to rebuild the muscle tissue and provide sustained energy for strenuous activity. Natural Fats are beneficial to the body, Sodium and Potassium are electrolytes needed in mobilizing carbs and proper functioning of muscles, and it also helps in hydration. Vitamins and Minerals burn naturally in activities and the energy bars have a high content of vitamins and minerals. Amino acids are organic compounds required for the body and some food provide an excellent source for these to help the body. Some sweeteners are used instead of sugar for energy, Caffeine gives an additional energy boost, you could also avoid if you do not prefer taking it.

Almost all energy food is made to enhance your performance, some are consumed prior to the start of an activity which consists of carbs, fibres, and protein to give you good energy for the start, some are consumed during the activity which is easy to digest and absorb helping in sustained energy during the activity. And lastly, some are consumed after the activity mainly used for recovery consisting mainly of protein, amino acids, and tissue repairing elements.

Some of the energy food include Energy bars which are available all over and lots of options to choose from for your nutritional needs which consist of protein, carbs, fat, etc Energy gels are a popular option, easy to digest and are used to replace the electrolytes and useful for short time activity, Energy bites and chews perform the same function as an energy gel and have varying consistencies, they are consumed during the workout and sustain performance, Drink Mixes and Shakes are designed to replace electrolytes, when a person is low on electrolytes he may feel lethargic and fatigued. One should also monitor the intake if it is clubbed with other food sources. Protein shakes with high protein content should be consumed post workout or activity. Supplements like vitamins, nutrients, electrolytes offer various benefits depending on need and its correct usage. It’s important to drink sufficient water while using any of the above options.

Lastly, one could choose products and brands based on their preference which is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic and Non-GMO.


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