Nutrition for Hiking

This post is dedicated to my sister. For she keeps me honest and motivated to write regular blog posts! Thank you for your continued interest and support!!


Jimmy and I have been bitten, by the hiking bug. Again.

Hiking Mount Woodson
Mount Woodson Trail

We were quite the hikers in Hawaii. And while we haven’t hiked as much in the almost two years we’ve lived in San Diego, we are finally getting our butts back in gear.

We hiked the Mount Woodson Trail (6.4 miles) two weekends in a row. Woot Woot! No, we did not wait in line to take a picture on the infamous potato chip rock. Been there, done that. And I’ve been hiking Cowles Mountain Trail (4 miles) once per week after work.

Over the next few weekends, we have a long hike planned in Bend, OR and then the San Jacinto Peak (9.9 miles) in Palm Springs, CA. The later hike, will be the longest hike I’ve ever done. Estimated to take about 4.5 hours.

What are your favorites hikes in SoCal?

That got me thinking about my food choices and nutrition before and during long hikes of >2.5 hours. I am curious about how to structure my carb intake, as carbs are a major fuel source during exercise.

Usually before a long hike, I eat a plain blueberry or cinnamon raisin bagel and banana in the car. At the peak, I’ll have a Clif bar, fruit, or 1/2 PB sandwich. But, will that be enough for my impending 9.9 mile hike? I doubt it.

The article, Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance,  has recommendations for carb intake by athletes. Yes, I know I am recreational hiker, not an athlete. But, I am a [nutritional] science nerd and plan to test the following recommendations on myself.

~Carb loading for 36-48 hrs prior to hike: 10-12 g/kg/d = 590-708 g/d 

Wowza! That’s a lot of carbs. It’s doubtful I will eat that many carbs or even come close! The day before our hike, I will probably just choose carb-rich meals and graze on fruit through out the day. Basically just bump up my “normal” carb intake.


~Pre-hike for 1-4 hrs prior to hike: 1-4 g/kg = 59-236 g

My normal bagel and banana meal is ~55-65 g carbs. I’ll probably stick with that or increase it slightly. Maybe go with a mega banana – HA you know the ones.


~During hike: up to 90 g/hr = 405 g

Well, that is a very loose recommendation! On a shorter hike, I only eat 20-40 g carbs at the peak. On this hike, I plan to snack every 1.5 hours or about 3 times during the hike. I’ll be bringing Clif bars and bananas and/or apples. I’ll likely eat about 165 g carbs total or 35 g carbs per hour.

How do you fuel up before a long hike?

I will certainly document our experience hiking the San Jacinto peak. Stay tuned for a detailed post in the coming weeks.


And just for food sake, here is new favorite recipe. Husband approved.

Cauli-power Fettuccine “Alfredo”
Cauli-Power Fettuccine “Alfredo” [reheated]
[Vegan] Cauli-Power Fettuccine “Alfredo” recipe from Oh She Glows.

The recipe calls for 8 oz of pasta, and I used 12 oz of whole wheat Fettuccine, so I increased all the other ingredients by 1.5. Thankfully, my cauliflower was large! I skipped the olive oil and used raw garlic. Oh! And my almond milk was sweetened, but the sweetness was undetectable in the final product. At the end, I added steamed broccoli for color and texture. So many cruciferous vegetables in one dish!!

And one more…

Tucson Spicy Lentil Tacos
Tucson Spicy Lentil Tacos

This recipe from the Engine 2’s 28-Day Challenge Guide needs a little work. Or maybe my toppings need to be re-vamped. Either way, I love the concept and will try again soon!

Have a great week/weekend!

PS I’m t-minus 2 days till my 30th birthday – yikes!!

PPS As of today, I have officially been a Registered Dietitian for one year!! Happy career anniversary to me 🙂

~Katie J.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *