If going out for a walk daily in the monsoons seems like a challenge, try going for a trek. Trekking is perfect in the monsoon season where you burn calories while enjoying the weather. Trekking is considered to be one of the most challenging outdoor activities, and only someone who has gone for one will know what I am talking about. Climbing uphill, the high altitude, low oxygen levels, and not to forget: the unbearable temperatures, most of us aren’t used to the conditions in the mountainous regions, which makes it more challenging. However, adjusting your diet and nutrition intake will make the climb, ‘not-so-strenuous’!
Before I get into what you should eat, and what you shouldn’t, it is important for us to remember that regardless of what your diet is, you have to limit the baggage for the trek. The weight of your bag affects your posture, which can cause further damage during the trek. If the duration of your trek is less than a fortnight, then go for a 40 to 50 litre backpack (in terms of volume). In general, a 50 litre backpack should be sufficient to carry the essentials and a sleeping bag. It’s best to limit the weight of the backpack to around 9-10 kg, but if the duration of the trek is longer than usual, then try to keep it below 12kg.
Now that we’ve covered the packing fundamentals of the trek, here are a few diet essentials that you must ensure are taken care of for your next trek:
Start Your Day With A Healthy Wholesome Breakfast
It is very important to have a nutritious breakfast to kick-start your hiking trip as it will keep you going and help you recover too. Healthy breakfast choices include upma, poha, idli, dosa, rolled oats with milk or yogurt, granola in milk with nuts.
Carry Lightweight, Filling And Nutritious Meals To Power You Through The Journey
As you may not come across stores in the mountains, it is essential to carry food items that are portable, convenient and which provide ample energy to help you feel full without weighing you down. While there are some treks where you pass by sparsely populated regions where the residents might welcome you with a warm beverage, the chances of that happening get slimmer as you climb up. Hence, you should pack your food well, keep it simple and nutritious. Soups and health shakes are ideal since they take hardly any time to make and are easy to carry. However, instead of regular instant soups, you should opt for high-protein soups and meal replacement shakes, which are infused with ingredients like moringa, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and turmeric. These ingredients are commonly referred to as Superfoods since they are rich in nutrients and vitamins, which are required by your body for the long climb and occupy comparatively less space. Soups also warm you up when it gets cold as you climb higher. All you need to make these soups is warm water. These soups are widely available across e-commerce platforms and retail stores.
If you want to steer clear of problems such as a sore throat or dehydration, cut down on your sugar intake before the trek begins. Sugar is essential for the human body, but most of us consume it in excessive amounts without realising. This can have ill effects on the heart, which is something you want to avoid at high altitudes. Some of us are addicted to sugar without realising it, and if you are one of them, then slowly cutting down on sugar on a daily basis would be a good idea!
Drink At Least 4 Litres Of Water
Again, this is something that we should be following on a daily basis, but we don’t! At high altitudes, the oxygen level decreases for obvious reasons, and the oxygen properties in water can compensate to some extent. Additionally, water will reduce the chances of a muscle cramp, which is a common occurrence for first time trekkers. Keep in mind, 4 litres of water can add a significant amount of weight to your bag. Hence, tread carefully on the mountain, and pack carefully for the climb!
Adjusting to a trekking diet from your normal diet is difficult. I would recommend giving yourself at least two weeks to prepare both mentally, and physically, for the climb ahead. For some people, trekking is an addiction. They say that once you reach the top of the mountain, nothing else on Earth can give you that adrenaline rush! Eat healthy, stay fit, and give your mind, body and soul the opportunity to experience that ecstatic moment!
The author, Sheryl Salis is a renowned Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.