Nutrition & Hydration

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General principles

Eating the right food, drinking enough water –  and at the right times for optimal recovery and required energy release – enables you and your group to achieve your specific expedition objectives, and to have fun and challenge yourself, safely and responsibly.

  • Bring combination of foods for slow and fast energy. Whole-wheat (low GI)  foods for slow release and long lasting energy, and simple carbohydrates / fructose / sucrose for fast energy.
  • Ensure that your water supply is accessible easily during the trek. A Camelback hydration system is ideal (but  not in freezing conditions or for altitudes above 4500m where it can freeze).
  • Bring enough food and water as contingency, in case of emergency, or in case you need more energy on particular days / sections. In colder climates (mountain ascents) you are likely to crave sweet and savory foods, so bring extra cookies, some cake, salted potato /cassava/corn chips and popcorn.

Nutrition Guidelines

24hr-period before trek start

Make sure you (and the members of your group if you are traveling together) have had breakfast / midnight meal, and drink a glass of water, on the day / night you aim to trek. Ideally, drink an extra glass of water and eat enough carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, bread) at dinner the evening before.

It is often the case that you are staying in a losmen or hotel which is not geared for mountain trekkers. This means that the food provided for particularly breakfast won’t provide sufficient nutritional energy for a full day mountain ascent. A slice of white bread and an egg is simply not enough!

It is always a good idea to bring along extra energy or muesli bars for the first breakfast, so that you are confident that you will be making a good start to the trek. idGuides considers nutrition  key to ensuring a successful and safe trek. Therefore, we will always be trying to make sure that the food catered by losmens and hotels for our mountains & treks will be suited for our energy needs.

During the trek

Make sure you have sufficient snacks/food in your day pack to eat on the trek / trail run, providing a good combination of fast energy (sweets, crisps, cake, fruit) and slow-release energy (whole wheat bread, raisin, nuts, etc).

During the trek, drink often. Do not be shy to stop to drink or eat at regular intervals, in order to ensure you remain well-hydrated and maintain energy levels. Remember you objective is not to get to the summit – it is to get to the summit, and to safely return down to base.

On treks lasting many days, you need to plan your food intake with the full trek objective in mind. Therefore, daily food intake (and the timing of this intake) must provide enough protein, fats and carbohydrate to give your body the best chance for optimum recovery after each days trek, ready for the next day’ This is especially important when your toughest day is well into the trek, for example reaching a summit day on day 3 or more into the trek.

There is an all-important trick to maximizing your body’s potential to recover and rebuild from strenuous exercise, including specifically the level of muscle cell breakdown which occurs with long ascents, descents or repetitive action. You have a golden hour to refuel after finishing strenuous exercise, during which time broken muscle cells are screaming out for protein.  Eat nuts, a hard-boiled egg with salt, or drink a protein drink within an hour of finishing exercise), to facilitate optimum recovery by feeding you muscle cells the protein they need. If you do not do this, the broken muscle cells will scavenge it from elsewhere in your body, which is already vulnerable and weakened from hard exercise and most likely also conditions at altitude.

After your return

Much like the golden hour recovery routine after each day’s trek, be sure to feed your body with the food it needs for optimal recovery, immediately after you return from your trek. You will need to drink extra glasses of water to replace lost fluids, and eat protein to maximize muscle cell recovery, especially in legs after long mountain descents. 

For a couple of days afterwards, you will also need to eat in aid of your recovery process. This simply means to eat smarter, listening to what your body needs. After multi-day treks, for example, it may be that your body craves fresh fruit or salads which you may not have had on the trek / mountain, and meat to recover more protein.

idGuides – Flickr

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