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EAT THIS, NOT THAT: Best Healthy Foods To Bring on Hikes, Approved by a Dietitian

Snack and beverage ideas for all-day treks or casual walks at your local park. BY OLIVIA TARANTINO MAY 19, 2021 Whether you're going on an overnight backpacking trip or you're doing...

Snack and beverage ideas for all-day treks or casual walks at your local park.

Whether you're going on an overnight backpacking trip or you're doing a loop at your local reservoir, you should be thinking about two things before you head out for a hike: making sure you have enough water, and being sure to stock up on the best healthy snacks for hiking.

Staying hydrated and replenishing spent energy stores is key when it comes to hiking to help your body get the nutrients it needs to go the distance. There are a few different healthy snack ideas that can help you do this:

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"Healthy carbs can help give your body sustained energy, and protein and fiber can help you feel satisfied (so you won't be reaching for more snacks shortly after snacktime). And for strenuous hikes, replenishing key electrolytes like sodium and potassium is important to maintain your fluid balance," says Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, founder of Nutrition Now Counseling and author of Fueling Male Fertility.

"Hiking is not the time to go low-cal. Calories help fuel your body for what lies ahead," she adds.

We're way past the days where our only options for hiking snacks are GORP (good old-fashioned raisins and peanuts) and gas-station jerky. While these foods can get the job done in terms of delivering calories and macronutrients, there are so many better options out there now that nourish your body with more than just sugar or protein. Rather, healthy hiking snacks now deliver clean energy from whole fruits (with no added sugar), protein from organic, grass-fed beef, and healthy fats from nuts.

So what are the best snacks for hiking?

"When deciding on which snacks to bring along with you on your trek, you want to avoid anything too heavy. While foods like fried potato chips and pre-packaged pastries are many people's go-to snacks, they don't have the right balance of nutrients to sustain a hiker and can make a person feel sluggish shortly after snack time. Instead, people should shoot for nutrient-dense foods that give them sustained energy — think fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and oats," recommends Manaker.

Food isn't the only thing to focus on when hiking; it's also essential to pay attention to your fluid intake. "When planning for a hike, never underestimate the value of staying hydrated. For 'lighter' hikers, there is immense value of plain old water to meet your hydration needs; however, there are some excellent hydrating options on the market that not only provide fluid but also provide electrolytes too," says Manaker.

With Manaker's help, we put together this list of the very best healthy foods to bring on hikes. Bookmark this list for your next adventure! Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

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