Updated: Apr 12, 2020
Distance Hikers Guide to the Galaxy*
*Trekking Bar - Food Guide
Hiking Food Guide
Mr AA aka Dunk is a type 1 diabetic so knows the importance of a balanced diet. We try where possible to follow a Low GI Diet and have carefully considered what food distance hikers carry when on multi-day/wild camping adventures. We have discussed before the importance of Camping Safely with Diabetes and Hiking Safely with Diabetes.
So what does low GI actually mean? GI stands for the glycaemic index, a medical term used to measure how fast carbohydrates break down in the digestive system. When carbs breakdown they form glucose which is what your body uses as its source of energy. This fuel is what your organs and tissue use too so if you put the right fuel in your body will perform better and for longer.
Low GI foods are digested slowly. Remember the LOW in slow - Low Gi
High GI foods are digested quickly.
You have no doubt heard the term sugar rush. This is where you have consumed high GI foods that your body rapidly converts to glucose. This rush is short and temporary as your body dispels that glucose and you will just as quickly come down to a sugar low.
Occasionally a high GI food is required, such as recovering from a diabetic hypo. It is always recommended that if you have needed a sugar rush that you follow it up it a slow-release low GI food.
There are mixed reviews and a myriad of opinions on the best and worst foods to take on camping treks. We thought we would put together a list of healthy and nutritious foods that we would recommend. We are not medical experts so only take our information under advisement and always seek professional advice from your GP if you are unsure of your own health requirements.
Here is a list of some ideas for rations, that is by no means exhaustive, but a useful starting point for inspiration to #getoutside.
Christmas Cake - Most dried fruit is high GI. For baking, a small amount of dried fruit is considering okay for glucose indexing, so Christmas cake is a convenient and tasty way to carry a high GI snack food.
Dairy - A lot of dairy products are in the mid to high GI rang. Dairy is difficult to keep fresh on long treks, but if you can get low-fat dairy products the are a GI diet staple as they are rich in protein, calcium and vitamin D.
Dehydrated Meals - There is a reason why armed forces use ration packs. Easy to transport, loaded with calories and easily prepared and eaten. You can, of course, make your own dehydrated meals instead of spending on ration packs and there are lots of YouTube tutorials should you want to try it yourself.
Fibre - High fibre foods are best as they help to reduce the GI.
Fish - (Tinned) - All fish and shellfish are low GI and rich in omega-3 oils.
Fruit - A great snack and natural sugar boost. If you use canned fruit buy it in juice not syrup.
Malt Loaf - Mid GI score, so similar to the Christmas cake, good to have as a boost snack.
Noodles - Fresh (not mixed with any sauce) low GI. KimChi/Pot Noodle, you know the processed stuff - mid to high GI. This is not a bad thing as you need the calories and likely to walk most of it off again, just keep it in mind. Not the healthiest option, but camping food tasty.
Oatcakes - You can get them with cheese or sunflower seeds as well as plain. Eat with cheese or salami and you have lunch. Nairns also do 3 packs of fruit and seed oatcakes which are delicious slow-release carbs.
Oatmeal - such as porridge or snack bars (check the sugar content, keep it low). A good slow-release complex carbohydrate.
Pasta - See Noodles. Fresh not mixed low GI. Start adding any sauces you are raising the GI. Like noodles, still balanced with a meal and okay if you are going to be walking it off again.
Protein - An essential nutrient. It will help your body to build tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and antibodies. Protein is also good for satisfying hunger, as it slows the digestive system. Go for lean poultry meat, fish and soya.
Rice - Choose long-grain as it has a much lower GI than short grain. Now you know.
Savoury biscuits - Water biscuits, cream crackers, rice cakes and corn crispbreads all high GI. Wholemeal crackers, rye crackers and oatcakes are mid-GI.
Sweets - useful for a sugar boost if you feel energy levels dwindling. Bear in mind though sweets and confectionery are fast carbs that do not sustain you. If you are starting to struggle, get rested and take on nutrition and some complex (slow release) carbs.
Trail Mix - Make your own from a selection of nuts (limit salt), dried fruit and seeds.
Vegetarian Food - options look at www.outdoorfood.com. They have two vegetarian options in the range. Apparently the spinach dahl is made from different types of lentils so they re-hydrate at a different rate to each other, meaning you get a proper texture to it instead of just mush. We haven’t actually tried these, so if you have please do get in contact with your thoughts.
Crisps - they are dehydrating and not nutritious.
That’s it folk. We have kept the avoid list brief as we are not savages. You are out hiking and exercising I am not here to tell you that you cannot have your favourite snack. If that is crisps who am I to judge.
Over To You...
Join the discussion what are your must-have go-to foods for adventuring? Let’s us know and we can add to the list. Comment below or find us on social media @AdventureAcces using hashtag #AdventureWild.
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