Whether you're an experienced hiker or you're about to hit the trail for the first time in years, you need to know that hiking is rigorous. You need to be in reasonably good physical condition. (If you're not, a few weeks of moderate exercise are a must). And you'll need to take along healthy and nutritious foods for energy on the trail.
Your nutrition goal is to ensure a safe and successful hiking experience by providing your body with the fuel it needs for endurance activities. Generally, that means you'll want to front-load carbohydrates, especially those which are easy to digest. Second, you need to pay attention to what you eat on the trail and before and after your hike. Third, you need to hydrate, drinking lots of water on the trail. Here are the best foods to eat, before, during and after your hike:
What you eat on the morning of your hike is key to having the energy you'll need when you're actually on the trail. Try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar. Instead, have a whole grain dry cereal or a bowl of oatmeal. Another option are whole grain toast eggs. Other breakfast ideas are fruits and vegetables, low fat yogurt, whole grain pasta or brown rice.
One of the keys to a successful hike is to avoid consuming large quantities of food at any one time. Instead, eat small snacks on an hourly basis. During longer rest times, you can eat a larger meal. (Don't overdo it; the last thing you want when you resume your hike is indigestion.
A rule of thumb is to eat about twice the amount of carbohydrates (and salty foods) as normal. The best foods to eat include nuts and seeds, peanut butter, crackers, energy bars, cheeses, granola bars and trail mix.
Among the best nutrition options for your hike are fruits. Chose ones that are durable like an apple or orange. (You don't want to discover a crushed banana in your backpack). Dried fruits which provide concentrated energy and easy to digest are a good choice.
Dried fruits need a good deal of fluids to digest, be sure to drink enough water when you eat them. The same goes for granola bars.
Once your hike is over, you might think what you eat doesn't matter—but it does. All that activity is likely to leave your body depleted. It's important to replenish key nutrients, within an hour or so after you finish your hike. The best foods to do this include those rich in proteins and complex sugars.