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The Adventurous Vegetarian – How to Get all Your Macros in the Outdoors

Nicholas Napier from Bhu Foods writes this guest blog post filled with great advice for trail-hungry vegetarians. Bhu’s vegan Apple Chunk Cinnamon Nutmeg protein bar is featured in the November Trailfoody. 

Hiking is a phenomenal way to safely enjoy the outdoors. But if you’re hiking for more than a couple of hours, then how you’re going to sustain yourself becomes a major concern. Obviously bringing your best water bottle is vital, but what about the carbs, protein, and fats that provide the energy you need to make it home? Explore how vegetarians handle this dilemma and how a plant-based diet can keep you well-fed, even during an adventure in the outdoors.

Macronutrients – A Brief Overview

Put simply, macronutrients are the three main groups of nutrients that the body needs to function. Often referred to as macros, these three categories are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Luckily, the foods of a plant-based diet supply all of these crucial macros and there are even a lot of options you can take into the outdoors.

Examples of Vegetarian Foods with Each Macronutrient

To help you understand how each macro benefits you as a vegetarian, some excellent examples of plant-based foods that provide plenty of protein, carbs, and fat are detailed below.

Vegetarian Protein Sources
Soy products such as tempeh and tofu provide high levels of protein. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein as well, as are certain veggies. For example, peas have 8g of protein per cup, and pea protein is often used in vegan energy bars and protein powders.

Vegetarian Fat Sources
Since vegetarians don’t ingest meat, there is virtually no saturated fat on a plant-based diet – which is good. But it’s still necessary to get the essential fats, and for that purpose, avocado, beans, lentils, coconut, flax seeds, and walnuts are all excellent choices.

Vegetarian Carb Sources
Many of the most popular fruits and veggies on the vegetarian diet are packed with carbohydrates, especially starchy ones like potatoes. While bread is packed with carbs, fruits like bananas and pears and veggies like sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts offer more nutritious advantages.  

Concerns for Packing for the Outdoors

While there are a wide range of food choices for accomplishing whatever you want on a vegetarian diet, venturing into the outdoors comes with it’s own set of concerns.

Starting with the most obvious, you’ll have to carry whatever food you bring with you, so maybe that bag of giant coconuts isn’t a great plan for your hiking trip.

Portability and freshness are also factors in choosing the foods you bring on your hiking trip. While some foods like apples and oranges, are easy to throw in your bag and eat whenever you’re ready, foods that are more high-maintenance should be left in your pantry.

Finally, you’re going to want foods that don’t just claim to have a high nutrient content, but actually have the nutrients to sustain you for a grueling hike. This means being mindful that the packaged bars and snacks you bring aren’t just loaded with sugar. Sugar will make you crash hard, and that’s the last thing you need when you’re hiking in the outdoors.

List of Smart Vegetarian Choices to Bring on a Hike

With your hike planned and backpack sitting on the kitchen counter, empty and open, what exactly will you put in there? Remembering the importance of portable, nutritious foods that are low in sugar will make your packing experience easier. Here’s a list of some excellent choices:

  • Any type of nuts due to excellent protein and portability
  • Apples due to their carbs and fiber.
  • Bananas are great to bring because they’re loaded with carbs and potassium.
  • Seeds like pumpkin or sunflower are excellent options with high protein content
  • Small tupperware containers with your favorite berries can be a great snack
  • Baby carrots are excellent – they’re durable and scrub your teeth with each bite
  • Sweet potatoes are a superfood with tons of benefits – consider preparing one
  • Low sugar protein bars, protein cookies, and packaged snacks can work well.

Conquering the Outdoors as a Fully-Prepared Vegetarian

Now that your bag is packed with foods that will provide the energy you need for your hike, there’s no stopping you. Getting macros on a plant-based diet is easy and it can even be done during a day-long hiking trip – it’s just a matter of knowing which foods pack the most nutrients. Whether you leave with your favorite packaged bars or with several of your favorite fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, embark on your journey with confidence that your vegetarian diet will keep you energized.

Helping Vegetarians Thrive in ANY Environment

Whether on a hike or while cooking for a date night, there is a perfect food for every occasion. By constantly improving your palette and experimenting with different plant-based cuisine, you can be prepared for whatever opportunity comes your way. Value based companies like Bhu Foods and Trailfoody do more than provide a valuable product or service for vegetarians – They promote kind treatment for all life forms and encourage clean, healthy eating. 

Trailfoody offers vegetarian and gluten-free options.

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Why You Might Become Dehydrated While on the Trail and the Importance of Proper Hydration

hydrate with electrolytes

You’ve probably heard that hydration can be more important than the food you eat during a challenging day in the outdoors. That’s why we asked Liquid I.V. to write this guest blog post about how to prevent dehydration. We were impressed with their Hydration Multiplier, which is why we included it in the August Trailfoody.

By Liquid I.V.

“Drink more water!” You hear and read about this all the time. And you know you are guilty of not hydrating properly from time to time (most of the time for some of us). Sounds so simple, but it’s honestly tough to be consistent about. It can be hard to remember to hydrate. And let’s face it… drinking plain water gets pretty boring after a while. We are human beings, and we demand excitement and instant gratification!

We force ourselves to drink whatever because we know we need it. Our bodies tell us we need it when we feel thirsty, but as we get older that sensation for thirst fades away. Plus, when given the choice, many of us gravitate to drinking something significantly less healthy and slightly sweeter (think soda, juice or artificial sports drinks).

hydration during trail runningMaintaining proper hydration levels is critical when exploring the great outdoors. A beautiful day can quickly turn into a bad day and hospital visit for an iv drip if you aren’t careful. Maintaining adequate fluid levels and replacing electrolytes serves a wide range of purposes in our bodies such as removing waste through urine; controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Your body will begin to shut down without water. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, confusion, fatigue, and even loss of consciousness.

Here are a few reasons you might become dehydrated while out on the trail:

Caffeinated soda or coffee. Consuming relatively small amounts of soda or coffee can lead to dehydration. These drinks are considered diuretics that can cause an increase in the excretion of water from the body. Try to keep these to a minimum before going on a long hike or trail run.

Sweat. Sweat is the moisture that comes through your pores as a result of physical exertion, heat or even fever. Getting a good sweat on from your workout is one of the key ingredients to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. An hour long run, bike ride, or hike up your favorite peak can cause your body to lose a great deal of its precious water and vital electrolytes like sodium and potassium. When you sweat, you can put yourself at risk of dehydration if you don’t replace what you’ve lost. A simple rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces of water for every pound of sweat you lose.

hydration during climbing and trail runningHigh altitude. There are decreased oxygen levels in the atmosphere at high altitude and therefore athletes gravitate to working out there for the benefits of improving their fitness. Your body acclimates instinctively when you go up to high altitude by speeding up breathing and increasing urine output. These are both necessary changes for your body to make in order to adjust to the elevation gain. Going to the bathroom and breathing harder – which forces you to exhale more water vapor – both cause dehydration.

Sleep. Sleep is an important element of human survival. Our brains are designed in a way that requires them to receive rest so they can process and store thoughts from the previous day. When you sleep, your body doesn’t receive any water. Going 6+ hours without any form of hydration causes dehydration. This is why you may wake up feeling parched in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. Your body loses carbon and water with every breath you take while you are asleep.

Stress. Stress is something that we all deal with, and some manage it better than others. Surprisingly enough, keeping stress in check is important in order to maintain a healthy balance of hydration in our system. When you stress your body releases a stress hormone from your adrenal gland, which can exhaust the gland and result in adrenal insufficiency. The problem is that your adrenal gland is also responsible for regulating the level of your body’s fluids and electrolytes with the production of the aldosterone hormone. When the adrenal gland becomes fatigued, it fails to produce aldosterone, which leads to dehydration.

Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier

So what can you do to stay hydrated out on the trail besides just downing more water?

Drink something with an optimal ratio of electrolytes, glucose, and water that your body can absorb quickly and efficiently. The key to hydration is uptake, not intake.

Stay away from traditional sports drinks, which contain too much sugar and not enough electrolytes. Liquid I.V.’s Hydration Multiplier contains 3x the electrolytes of traditional sports drinks with less than ½ the sugar and calories. The great-tasting electrolyte drink mix utilizes the breakthrough science of Cellular Transport Technology (CTT), a precise ratio of sodium, potassium, and glucose, to deliver hydration to your bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone. Drinking 1 Liquid I.V. can result in the same hydration as drinking 2-3 bottles of water. Plus it contains B vitamins, which help your body quickly break down carbohydrates and turn them into fuel.

Look for Liquid I.V. in your August Trailfoody bag!

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This is Why Refueling Throughout the Day is Better

fueling your body for performance hikning

You’ve finally made it to the trail. After a busy morning of packing, preparing a big breakfast, and traveling up to Colorado’s Four Pass Loop, you’ve found yourself eager to begin your family’s latest hiking adventure.

You know the day will be tough, but you can’t wait to experience the Maroon Bells wilderness for yourself. With numerous waterfalls, impressive mountain lakes, and fields of wildflowers, you know it’s going to be a trip well worth the challenge.

But there’s a problem. How do you squeeze out the best performance possible so that you can feel incredible with energy to spare? It’s a long journey, and you know you’re gonna need the right food.

So how do you do it?

keep your energy levels highKeep Your Energy Stores Primed

Think of your energy-producing body as a fire. You can add a lot of fuel at once, making the fire burn super hot, but then it’ll die down quickly as the fuel is depleted. Or, you can feed it a log or two at a time, making the fire hum consistently with strength and energy.

The same is true with how you fuel your body. Keep your fire burning at a consistent rate to be sure that you’ll have enough energy for a big hike or adventure.

Glycogen is your body’s stored energy, but it doesn’t last forever. According to sports medicine expert Elizabeth Quinn, glycogen can get used up in as little as 30 minutes. You’ll need more than that for most outdoor adventures.

And as we’ve mentioned before, refilling that tank of energy depends upon consumption. The sooner and more often you refuel, the faster you’ll regain the energy that’s been lost.

Fueling Through Small Breaks is the Way to Go

Fueling throughout the day is the best way to keep you moving and maximize your performance. That way, energy will be readily available as you go and can be burned once it’s needed.

Thus, it’s incredibly important to choose the right foods to snack on that will provide you with the constant flow of energy necessary for ongoing physical activity.

But how do you know what to bring with you?

high energy fuel for the trailYour Day Food May Be More Important Than Your Dehydrated Dinner

It’s important to bring adequate food with you out on the trail.

As we’ve mentioned before, a large portion of your calories should come from carbohydrates since these convert more quickly into readily available energy. The sooner and more often you refuel, the faster you’ll recover and regain the energy that’s been lost.

And, as noted by Sally Hara, a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and owner of ProActive Nutrition, carrying high energy/high carbohydrate snacks and sport supplements that you can eat along the trail is essential. Foods like energy bars, dried fruit, and mixed nuts can all work to keep you adequately fueled between formal stops and are relatively convenient to eat as you hike.

While you’ll definitely need to consume some fats, (which contain a lot of calories per ounce of food) Hara also mentions that it’s advisable to steer clear from foods with high amounts of fat while hiking, since they are difficult to digest and take longer for the body to process. These foods should be consumed during formal breaks like breakfast and dinner and not while you’re out and about.

Clearly, snack foods are essential. Not only do they provide the energy necessary for ongoing activity, they also serve to make the whole process much easier and worry-free.

But, What If I Prefer a Longer Lunch Break?

If you’re like us, you go on adventures because you want to have fun. So, it’s important to do what you enjoy. If you decide you’d rather have a longer sit-down lunch, then go for it. Just follow these tips:

  • Choose foods you don’t have to cook. Otherwise, you have to break out the camp stove, carry extra water for boiling, and deal with a clean-up effort after you eat (not fun).
  • Make the lunch a little smaller than you would normally eat so you don’t direct too much of your body’s energy to digestion. Supplement that with a few smaller breaks with good energy food to keep your energy levels high.
  • Opt for “shelf stable” foods that don’t need refrigeration. Or, store the food along with some freezer packs. Most sandwiches can last unless it’s really hot, but be careful of ingredients that are likely to spoil, such as mayonnaise.

Trailfoody’s Goal

Our aim is to get you out on the trail much faster, without any hassle, and with the best food for the job.

We’re dedicated to bringing you new, healthy trailfoods each month that are packed with nutrition. And while they can be eaten separately as snacks throughout the day, our trailfood is hand-picked so that they can go together as a meal if you choose to eat them in one sitting!

Learn more here about how you can sign up for Trailfoody today.

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This is How to Recharge for Your Next Adventure

how to recharge after hike

You’ve just finished your five and a half mile run around town, and you’re feeling great. Tomorrow, you’ll be heading out with some friends to hike a lengthy portion of the Appalachian Trail up to McAfee Knob, but how can you make sure you’ll have enough pep in your step to get you to the top? 

Loading Up on Carbs

Carbohydrates are the key.

According to the second edition of Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness: Functional Exercise and Nutrition for Every Body, the replacement of body glycogen stores is important if you have been involved in intense exercise lasting for more than an hour or if you have been engaging in endurance activities that often last for more than a few hours.

Glycogen replacement can be quickly achieved if extra carbohydrates are consumed as soon as possible after exercising. This will ensure a quick recovery, especially if you avoid significant activity for at least eight hours following said exercise.

The sooner you refuel, the faster you’ll recover. Thus, eating within 30 minutes of exercising is ideal. And, as is noted in one of our previous blogs, you’ll want to refuel with at least 15 grams of carbs.

However, you can also continue to replenish glycogen during endurance and outdoor activities such as hiking and backpacking by eating snacks and meals with a moderate to high glycemic index after a  workout.

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Just Pay $4 shipping

Will you like Trailfoody? Find out by getting a Trailfoody Taste, which includes 3 sample trailfoods, plus the Trailfoody stuff sack. It’s valued at over $13.

How Trailfoody Can Help

Trailfoody can help when it comes to recharging for your next adventure. We provide new, healthy trailfoods each month that are packed with the carbs necessary for both long- and short-term energy.

The kind of energy that you may need for hiking to McAfee Knob the very next day! 

Learn more here about how you can sign up for Trailfoody today and have yours shipped right to your doorstep.

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Workout Nutrition 101: How to Eat for Your Best Performance and Recovery

trailrunning

Founder of Happy Healthy Human and nutrition PhD Samantha Attard writes this guest blog post for Trailfoody with some valuable tips for performance and recovery. She has a unique approach to her trail mixes that we love:  they’re tailored to affect your mood, and that’s why we were so excited to feature the Motivation mix. It’ll give you the extra kick you need to reach the summit!

After some workouts or outdoor excursions, you feel on top of the world. Your energy is good and you feel strong. After other workouts…you’re a little less king of the mountain. The worst is when you feel so crappy mid-workout you have to stop early.

Why do some workouts feel so good?

It turns out that a huge predictor of how you feel when you work out actually has to do with what you eat before, during, and after that workout. With a little bit of planning, you’ll start to feel and perform better more often. And lucky for you, eating for a great workout can be easy and delicious.

Because nutrition (and exercise nutrition) can be very confusing, let’s be clear about what sort of workout/activity we’re talking about today. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume your workout is about a 2 hour run, hike, bike ride or rock climbing session. You’re working up a sweat, but you can still breathe/talk to your neighbor. For short or longer workouts, I’ll provide some extra tips at the end.

Before Your Workout

About an hour before your workout, get some carbs and fat into your body. Your carbs will fill up with glycogen, priming your muscles for your activity, while the fats will provide you more sustained energy for your entire workout. Don’t overdo it on the fat (about 10 g or less should be sufficient), or else you’ll go into your workout feeling over-full and not ready to move.

Great choices: Banana and peanut butter, Kind Bar, carrots and hummus.

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Get a Free Taste of Trailfoody

Just Pay $4 shipping

Will you like Trailfoody? Find out by getting a Trailfoody Taste, which includes 3 sample trailfoods, plus the Trailfoody stuff sack. It’s valued at over $13.

During Your Workout

The most important thing to remember during your workout is hydration. Water is a major key to giving you enough energy and stamina throughout your workouts. This is true particularly if you’re eating dried fruit, bars, or jerkies. Because these foods have such a low water content, you actually have to rehydrate them in your body so they can be digested. That means you need extra water to keep your hydration in balance.

electrolyte hydration mixParticularly for these longer cardio workouts, include simple carbohydrates (sugar) and electrolytes for better stamina and long-term performance. Grab an electrolyte powder like PowerPak or Enduralytes to put in your water. Make sure to snack on some fruit (fresh or dried) or lower-fat energy bars to keep your activity level at your peak.

Note that I generally recommend adding food during your workout if you’re working out for longer than 75 minutes. If it’s less time, you should be fine with water and electrolytes.

For your electrolytes, I love Trace MineralsSkratch, or Enduralytes for your electrolytes. For carbohydrates:  add some delicious fruit!

After Your Workout

After you complete your workout, it’s time to refuel. This is the time to get a generous helping of protein and carbs (fat is good, too!). We often focus on getting protein after a workout, but if you don’t have enough carbohydrates to refill the glycogen in your muscles, that protein is burned for energy instead of being used to repair and build muscle.

Happy Healthy Human

As soon as possible after your workout, refuel with at least 10g protein and ~15g carbs. But getting a full meal within 2 hours of your workout is another way to time your post-workout food.

Great Choices: High protein bar or shake, Happy Healthy Human Organic Trail Mix, or a huge, beautiful salad!

Your Post-workout food is one of the main determinants for how long it takes you to recover from your workout, so take it seriously! The faster you get fuel back into your body, the quicker you’ll recover and the better you’ll feel.

How to adapt this for shorter exercise:

If you’re working out for less than an hour, it’s less important that you eat directly before your workout. In fact, some people prefer to work out on an empty stomach! However, take time to notice how you feel when you do or don’t eat before your workouts, and find the right balance for you.

How to adapt this for longer exercise:

The longer you workout, the more important it is that you fuel during your workout with enough carbs and water. Researchers have found that it’s basically impossible to eat too much when you’re running or biking. The most important thing is to not only drink water but to include electrolytes while you fuel as well.

Find out what works for you

What I’ve laid out here is a guideline. You may find that your body feels better with slightly more or less food, or that you prefer sweeter or more savory meals. That’s why things like Trailfoody are so great! You can experiment with different meal choices until you figure out what works best in your unique body!

Enjoy the feeling of having your best workouts every time!

Samantha AttardAbout the author

Samantha Attard is a nutrition PhD and founder of Happy Healthy Human, a company dedicated to helping people eat, move, and live with intention. Her line of organic trail mixes are meant to help you personalize your diet and can be found in our July Trailfoody box. Stay up to date with her yoga events and workshops, or contact her for one-on-one coaching at BeHappyHealthyHuman.com