Hiking a 14er in Colorado is one of our must-do activities during the summer months. It’s like recertification for those who enjoy hiking outdoors. Hiking at such a high altitude necessitates the proper footwear, clothing, pack, and headgear, all of which must be brought along. However, one of the most crucial aspects is ensuring that you are properly nourishing your body.
Reduce your sugar intake and eat a diet similar to that of our ancestors in order to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. But one thing is certain: unless they were part of the Donner Party, our ancestors weren’t trekking up 14ers for fun and didn’t have to worry about food for miles and miles of rocky terrain.
There are 58 14ers in all, and today is the perfect day to give it a go. It’s not an easy task to conquer a mountain, but the sense of accomplishment that comes with it is priceless. Before attempting your first 14er, make sure you’re well-fueled with the right foods.
What Exactly Is A 14er?
A mountain peak that rises to or exceeds 14,000 meters above sea level is referred to as a “14er.” Colorado has the most at fifty-eight, followed by Alaska with twenty-one, of the ninety-six 14ers in the country.
Because of the abundance of 14ers in the state of Colorado, it’s a popular destination for first-time 14er summiteers and those who want to conquer multiple peaks in one day (in order to be its own peak, a mountain must rise at least 300 feet above the saddle of the next mountain over).
The hike up one of these mountains is considered a badge of honor and a rite of passage for locals and visitors alike.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that certain 14ers are deemed easier than others. It’s impossible to climb 14ers that aren’t difficult. Even the “simple” ones can take many hours of hiking with significant elevation variation and demand fitness and tenacity.
Nearly two-thirds of the route will be above treeline, placing you at risk of severe weather and rapid temperature swings. While hiking a 14er can be a lot of fun, it is important to plan ahead so that you can get the most out of your experience.
Is There A Difference Between “High-Altitude” And Other Hiking Conditions?
Experts in the field of sports nutrition define “high altitude” as anything above a height of 6,600 feet. Some of us are lucky enough to live at an altitude of more than 5,000 feet. Moreover, some of us have come all the way from the coast to climb a mountain.
There is less oxygen in the atmosphere at higher altitudes because of the increased atmospheric pressure. Your body will be under a new level of stress when you’re participating in an activity like mountaineering, where oxygen requirements are quite high
If you are a 13er climber, then this blog post is for you, too! Whether you’re climbing a 13er or 14er, your dietary requirements are nearly identical! You know your body is dependent on your aid, so let’s talk about how to nourish it optimally so that you can feel invigorated and powerful on your climb.
Basic Nutrient Requirements
Not all calories have the same effect on weight loss or weight gain. Carbohydrates are your muscles’ primary energy source, according to the American Heart Association. Select carbs that are easy to digest before a workout to avoid feeling sluggish. If you’re hiking, you may not feel like eating, but it’s important to keep your body temperature stable by eating.
We all know that member of our group who refused to eat breakfast and is now staring at every crumb in desperation because they’re so hungry.
Climbing A 14er: What Are The Most Important Nutrients?
Drink between 20 and 32 ounces of water an hour or two before you hike. If you haven’t pre-hydrated, don’t go on the trail. Once you begin your hike, aim to drink 32 ounces for every extra two miles you cover.
Drink small amounts frequently, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Not to mention your four-legged companion. Bring extra water and a container for your dog to drink from if you’re going on a hike with him.
Drinking water when you’re thirsty will put you behind the curve. As tempting as a beer at the summit may be, wait until you’ve finished the hike and replenished your food and water supply before consuming any alcohol (or sodas, tea, coffee, etc.).
Drink at least 8 ounces of water as soon as possible after your hike to replenish your water supply. When trying to stay hydrated, alcohol and beverages with a lot of caffeine can have negative effects.
Water is 33 percent oxygen, so drinking water can help your body take in more oxygen, which is essential at high altitudes where your body is working harder to do so. This means that you should drink plenty of water the days leading up to your hike.
How To Accommodate Your Fluid Requirements At High Altitudes?
As previously mentioned, the environment at a higher elevation can be very different from what you’re used to. At higher altitudes, the air tends to be colder, drier, and less oxygen-rich.
At lower altitudes, our typical water losses from breathing average around 100 milliliters per day, but at altitudes in very cold weather, they can reach 1 liter per day.
When it comes to ascent day, however, if you are someone who only consumes 2 or 3 glasses of water a day, we urge you to reconsider. Take 2-3 liters of water with you on every mountain-climbing trip, and consider taking additional water with you if you know that running water is nearby.
Other Essential Nutrients
When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, which can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and brain fog. In particular, sodium needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Many supermarkets and sporting goods outlets carry sports electrolyte drinks.
When it comes to absorbing water, our bodies can be a bit of a challenge. Water cannot passively cross the lipid gate that surrounds the majority of our cells because of the fat barrier.
A carrier is needed to deliver water inside so that we can utilize it to supply oxygen and generate energy. Our cells use electrolytes to carry water into them. It’s like having a water storage tank in your home. Without a water tank, you won’t be able to get water into that cell, and especially not while you’re exercising!
Our electrolyte balance is profoundly influenced by our perspiration. When we perspire, we lose electrolytes in addition to water. Our sweat has a high proportion of sodium, an electrolyte. However, it is difficult to know how much salt you are getting in your food and if it is enough to rehydrate you when eating salty items like salted nuts, seeds and jerky.
Even if you don’t plan on going on a long hike, oatmeal is a great breakfast to have on hand. Oatmeal’s high fiber and carbohydrate content will keep you going strong on your journey. Honey, brown sugar, and/or fruits can be added if you don’t like oatmeal.
Before heating, add a scoop of protein powder or peanut butter to boost the protein content. Omega-3 fatty acids from chia and flax seeds are added to this porridge to give you an extra boost before a long trip.
For hikers, protein is an essential macronutrient. It boosts metabolism and aids in the recovery of weary muscles, which is a given when climbing a mountain.
Before a trek, consume some lean meats like chicken, turkey, or fish to reduce muscular discomfort. It’s an excellent source of both protein and healthy fats: Cajun chicken with avocados.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein for breakfast. When combined with carbs, they enhance performance, reduce muscle damage, and speed up recovery time.
Eggs and toast have a satiety index that is 50% higher than breakfast cereals, so you won’t be tempted to snack the entire hike. You may get the most out of your eggs and carbs by combining them in the following ways.
Whole wheat toast slathered in your favorite nut butter goes well with your eggs. To promote muscle strength and bone health, nut butters are rich in fiber, protein, and magnesium. Hiking over an extended amount of time necessitates excellent muscular and bone health. Choosing the proper bread and nut butter can have a significant impact on your health and well-being.
If you don’t have time to cook, a nutrition bar is an excellent pre-hike food replacement. However, it’s not enough to eat just any bar, as some have as little nutritious value as a chocolate bar. Real ingredients and a substantial amount of protein, carbs, and other nutrients are essential for a successful hike.
While most people don’t realize it, veggies are rich in complex carbohydrates, which are superior to simple carbs found in sugary meals in terms of nutrient content. Sweet potatoes and carrots are two excellent vegetables from which to choose. When dipped in hummus or nut butter, a serving of carrots is enhanced by the addition of protein and beneficial fats.
Fruits, like vegetables, are abundant in carbs and can help you hike farther and faster. A pre-hike snack of fruit, like bananas, apples, or peaches, is ideal. Adding them to oatmeal or Greek yogurt enhances their flavor and savoriness even further.
The protein in Greek yogurt, when coupled with fresh fruit, will keep you going strong on your hike. If you start to get peckish throughout your hike, don’t forget to bring some fruit.
Vitamin D is critical to so many metabolic processes, including recuperation, immunity, and metabolism, that it is well worth your time and test panel money to find out your vitamin D levels.
During the summer, your body makes use of the increased amounts of vitamin D it receives. If you don’t obtain enough vitamin D from the sun in the winter, you’ll need to think about supplementing your diet with vitamin D supplements.
This mineral is a must-have item in your arsenal. Magnesium is essential for more than 300 bodily functions, including energy production! Hiking up a mountain, we often have difficulty acquiring enough magnesium from our mountain cuisine.
Conventional farming practices have robbed our soil of nutrients over the past 150 years or so. Deficiency in nutrients in the soil affects the quality of our food because it is absorbed through the roots.
The following meals, which are high in magnesium, are excellent hiking companions:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Black beans
Keep in mind that these foods are easy to take in your backpack, but only provide around 20% to 55% of the magnesium you need in a day per serving. Magnesium demands may or may not be greater in an environment where you expend more calories (and hence generate more energy) than the ordinary person.
If you’re thinking about taking a magnesium supplement, be aware that it sometimes causes people to feel tired or to have more bowel movements than usual.
For high-altitude athletes, iron is a critical nutrient since it is the nutrient responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the muscles through the bloodstream. A process known as hemolysis occurs when our red blood cells are spliced by the frequent impact of trail running or mountain-climbing on the ground.
Red meat is the only source of heme-iron, which is the most easily absorbed type of iron, thus many people avoid it. In addition to these foods, which are rich in non-heme irons, there are many more. For example: spinach, apricots, lentils, and chickpeas
Foods To Avoid Before The 14er Hike
Burgers & Fries
Before embarking on a hiking trip, you should steer clear of greasy fast food. You’ll only slow down and crash in the middle of your hike if you eat a lot of deep-fried, fatty food. The reason for this is that fat foods are less efficient in converting into energy than carbohydrates and protein.
While hiking, you’ll need all the energy you can get, so avoid the drive-thru and instead make one of the snacks listed above.
However, even while chocolate may provide you a brief energy boost, it won’t stay long. The moment you eat it, your blood sugar will rise. After that, your body releases insulin to remove the sugar from your blood and store it in your tissues, resulting in a drop in your energy.
When you exercise, your muscles receive the sugar, which might lead to a double energy dump, making you want to walk back down the mountain rather than up it.
Cheddar is one of the most wonderful foods in the world, but if you eat any kind of cheese before you go hiking you’ll have a whole different perspective of it. You feel like you’re carrying a brick when you eat it because of the fat content and the length of time it takes to break down in your stomach.
If you eat spicy meals before a trek, you won’t burn as many calories as if you ate them later in the day. Heartburn or indigestion may occur because spices and flavors in your leftover Mexican food take so long to break down.
Instead of a long or arduous hike, they’ll make you want to take a nap. The protein-rich snack of choice if you’re in the mood for something flavorful and salty is jerky.
After drinking carbonated beverages, most people feel bloated, which can be extremely uncomfortable while hiking.
Additionally, you’ll only experience a brief spike in blood sugar and subsequent collapse as a result of the lackluster sugar and energy it provides. If you’re thirsty, just get some cold water and you’ll be much better off, especially in the summer heat.
Juice from fruits doesn’t have the same satiating impact as fresh fruits when consumed before a trek. In order to avoid an upset stomach on the trail due to their high sugar content, you should avoid them.
Even though they’re high in sugar, they won’t keep you going for long because they’re high in simple carbohydrates rather than complex ones. Instead, go for whole fruits or juice that’s been mixed with other solid complex carbohydrates like whole grains.
Cream-Based Soups Or Sauces
Do not use Alfredo or any other form of cream-based sauce on your pasta before your hike. Because they take longer to digest, creamy meals might cause severe stomach pains.
In addition to diverting blood flow away from your heart, lungs, and muscles, heavy-cream sauces and soups might make you feel lethargic, slow your pace, or cause cramping. Avoid heavy soups and sauces before embarking on a hiking trip by opting for lighter options instead.
Dairy is far more difficult to digest than other foods, so eating a lot of it just before your trek could pose some problems. Discomfort and cramping are common side effects of this. Even
if you’re stuck at the top of a mountain or in the middle of the woods, no one wants to start cramping up when they’re working out. To avoid any of these issues, refrain from consuming dairy products for at least two to three hours prior to your hike’s start time.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts!
Your energy levels and general performance will improve immensely if you use clean energy sources and time your intake of different-metabolized nutrients correctly. As a result, we’re committed to providing the most prevailing, practical information on how to fuel optimal sports nutrition for athletes who engage at high altitudes.
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Hey Guys I am Michael, I am a writer & editor at Outside Origin. I love being in the outdoors and I hike quite often. I have actually hiked at Inca Trail, Samaria Gorge, and Milford to name a few. I plan on visiting more locations and hiking trails!