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Nutrition on Trekking Challenges

We asked one of our mountain leaders for advice on how best to fuel yourself during the National 3 Peaks.....

In this blog post, we will discuss the type of food you should consider taking on your trekking challenges, specifically for the National 3 Peaks. It can be challenging to create a plan that suits everyone, but we can certainly provide some useful pointers based on experience.

Keeping the weight of your backpack as light as possible is crucial, and this includes the amount of food and drink you carry. Many participants carry too much, wasting valuable energy and resources. However, keeping some reserve is also necessary, so finding the right balance is crucial. Experiment during your training walks to determine how much food and water you actually need. Keep in mind that your primary food intake will be after each mountain, so the food on the mountain is used purely to keep your energy levels up and enable you to keep moving!

For fluid, you should carry at least 1.5 liters of water in your pack, and consider using a Camel Bak type bladder as it’s easier to drink from when on the move. You may also want to carry a couple of rehydration tablets that can be dissolved into the water to replace lost minerals and salts.

During the trek, it's best to carry small items such as chocolate bars, jelly beans, and fruit for energy. You could also include energy bars, breakfast cereal bars, etc. Energy gels can also be helpful, but it is vital to try them out weeks beforehand as different brands can affect people in different ways. For endurance events such as running, walking, or cycling, energy gels are my priority go-to item.

Upon returning to the support vehicle, consider having hot food in the form of specialist “outdoor” food. These are pouches of food that either self-heat or have hot water added to them. They can be bought in all good outdoor shops and are a great provider of essential calories and energy. Pre-cooked pasta or rice mixed with veg or a sauce is also an excellent option for nibbling as you travel.

Ensure you eat a good meal the night before/morning of your challenge to provide the necessary energy fuel. Plan your food for the challenge ahead of time, as getting it right can only help you on your challenge.

My best advice would be to have several uphill training walks of similar length to any of the 3 Peaks, weeks in advance, to gauge your needs. There is no better preparation than actually doing it! Remember, everyone is different, and these are my personal preferences. However, keeping the weight of your pack down by not carrying unnecessary items can make the whole experience more enjoyable.