We’ve all done it at some point. Well, at least I know I have. What, you ask?
No, not shit in the woods. Though that’s definitely been done too. I mean making a poor food choice right before an adventure. You know, like grabbing the cold pizza from the fridge for a quick bite because you woke up late for your hike in the woods? Or, what about gorging on that massive burger during lunch at your favorite burger joint before you set out on your afternoon bike ride with your buddies? Whatever reason we may have for eating carelessly before an outdoor activity-be it convenience, tradition, or just plain laziness-we often end up suffering instead of making the most out of our time to have fun.
Always remember, the food that we eat prior to a hike, a run, a bike ride and the likes will have a tremendous impact on our bodies’ well being during any outdoor activity.
While there are recommended food items that will fuel us with the needed energy and power to see these types of outdoor activities through, there are also foods that we have to absolutely avoid before going on an outdoor adventure. Here is a list of some food items that will be detrimental to our hiking, riding, or backpacking goals:
1. Greasy Fast Food
I love fast food as much as the next guy, but cheeseburgers, french fries and all the other yummy deep-fried fast food staples will do you no favors in any outdoor activity. Unlike complex carbohydrates and protein, foods with high fat content cannot be converted efficiently by our bodies to energy. If you gorge on fast food before exerting yourself physically, you can count on lethargy and a midway crash.
2. Dairy Products
This is a no-no for me every moment I am awake, because dairy just simply doesn’t work with my body. While most people have no problem with it under normal circumstances, consuming dairy products before having outdoor fun will make you regret it. Dairy products like cheese, ice cream, cream-based soups or sauces and milk take a bit of effort from our bodies to digest, and this may cause you to feel sluggish during your time outside. A large percentage of your blood flow is going to be diverted to your digestive system from your heart, lungs and muscles to try and process this difficult food category. Moreover, eating dairy products before any outdoor activity may also cause you to experience severe reactions like stomach cramps and the ever so fun diarrhea.
3. Spicy Food
Heartburn is the mortal enemy of anyone who enjoys the outdoors, and spicy food is one of the best things ever. Talk about a conundrum. However, unless you enjoy burning burps and indigestion to go along with you leg strain on the 2000 foot ascent, I suggest that you stay away from curries, Mexican food and the likes. Moreover, our stomachs cannot digest spicy foods that quickly, so you might be dealing with a very bad situation for the duration of your foray outdoors. I know, it sucks, but trust me, don’t even think about it.
4. Sugary Snacks and Drinks
While candy bars, sodas and fruit drinks may give you a brief rush of energy, eventually your energy level crashes as the insulin spreads around your body to remove the sugar from your blood and get it into your tissues. The result – overwhelming fatigue. This ladies and gents, is what the science man calls reactive hypoglycemia, or in lay-man’s terms, the sugar crash. So keep the five-year old in you in check, and lay off the sugary treats.
At the risk of sounding like your overprotective mother, put down that double bacon jalapeno cheeseburger and extra thick chocolate milkshake, and stop insisting that it’s the perfect pre-game. On a more serious note, let’s not forget that our bodies’ peak performance is ensured by what we consume prior to our chosen outdoor activity, so let’s choose what we eat and drink wisely.
‘Till next time, fellow adventurer!