Whether you’re tackling a particularly challenging mountain or heading on a multi-day or week hike, packing correctly for a hike will make the difference between a successful finish and a full-on failure. That’s why any experienced hiker will tell you that supplements are an integral inclusion on any packing list. With limited space and weight capacity, your body needs to be correctly fueled without access to a wide range of food items. To reduce the risk of injury, as well as to keep strong and energized for the challenging road ahead, here are the 8 supplements you need to pack on your next hike.
One of the first things any hiker will tell you is that water is essential for any strenuous or distanced undertaking. The most basic of necessities, hydration is key in making sure your muscles and joints are adequately lubricated, and all of your organs are functioning properly. The thing is, when you are sweating in such large quantities, water alone is not enough to make sure you are replenishing all of the substances your body lost in its perspiring state. Without also replacing electrolytes, your body will be severely low on sodium and start retaining too much water- a condition also known as hyponatremia. Sometimes, severe cases of hyponatremia can even lead to death. By taking an electrolyte supplement your body will be able to remain its salination equilibrium, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll nip the risk of developing a more serious condition in the bud.
Everyone knows that protein is responsible for growing and replenishing muscles. On average, a healthy human should be getting about 12 to 20 percent of their daily calories from protein. If you are expending more energy, particularly if you’re putting added strain on your muscles, this number should increase accordingly. When hiking, your body is working overtime to help support your pace, stability, and the taxing weight of your pack. As such, hikers’ muscles need to be getting maximum amounts of protein- amounts that would be impossible to carry with you in their whole food form. By adding a protein powder to your packing list you’ll be able to get the amount of protein you need without having to take impractically large quantities of meat, fish, or eggs on the road. Most hikers will attest to eating large quantities of carbs and sugars on the hiking trail, so you’ll want a high-protein supplement to ensure your muscles don’t begin to break down.
Unfortunately, hiking doesn’t allow for bringing anything but the essentials. This means scrapping any fresh fruits and vegetables, but it shouldn’t mean scrapping your nutrition. By adding greens powder to your list of supplements on hand, you can make sure that in addition to your immediately necessary supplements, you are covering all of your nutritional bases. A hiker should be thriving, not just surviving, while meeting their goals on the trail.
Contrary to popular belief, the best way to prevent joint and muscle pain and stiffness isn’t popping an Advil. Though the average long-distance hiker will look to ibuprofen to cure their inflammation and soreness, the truth is that heavy use of the over-the-counter drug can have seriously damaging short and long term effects. Instead, try reaching for an Omega-3 acid, which is proven to have all of the same anti-inflammatory properties, while also working to protect against a range of disorders and nutrient deficiency. If you are on the hunt for a plant-based alternative to the standard fish-oil supplements, websites like omvits.com are great resources to gain information and start your search for algal supplements. No matter what you choose, make sure you’re taking high-quality fatty acids with you on the trail- you’ll need them!
Here’s the thing about iron- it’s kind of a big deal. Essential for any activity, iron is responsible for transporting vital oxygen to the muscles via the blood. Since iron is depleted through exercise and heavy sweating, it’s easy to develop a deficiency on a long-distance hike. Though low iron is a diagnosis best left to a physician, if you are deemed to be iron deficient it is important to supplement accordingly. If left untreated, muscles can become slow and fatigued due to lack of oxygen. Additionally, iron can be lost through blood loss. If you are a woman concerned with how your menstruation will affect your pace and well-being on a long hike, an iron supplement may be something to consider.
With a host of benefits to its name, hiking is seen as an activity to bolster physical and mental health and well-being. While it is true that hiking is excellent exercise, as well as a true test of mental and physical discipline and stamina, it does have its downsides. One of these is the impact of a true hiking diet. High in sugar and carbs, most hikers will admit to having mild to severe issues with gut health. A great way to prevent this is by taking probiotic supplements. Opt for something with a prebiotic that is non-perishable to best protect your immune system and gut flora over long distances.
Muti-vitamins may sound like a no-brainer, but these are some of the easiest solutions to supplement what will inevitably be a deficient diet on long hikes. That being said, multi-vitamins are something to consider for general health even if you are just taking the kids to a local trail. A catch-all for missed nutrients, taking a daily multivitamin will ensure that you are fully covered when it comes to your health and fuelling your body. The last place you want to find out your diet is hurting you is on a physically demanding hiking road. A multi-vitamin can bring peace of mind to a hiker that wants to make sure they’re holistically considering their health and well-being.
Last, but certainly not least, magnesium has carved a well-earned seat at the hiker-essentials table. Combatting soreness and lactic acid buildup, magnesium is looked at as something of a secret weapon for serious hikers. On long hikes, one of the most crucial and often overlooked aspects of success is getting enough quality sleep. With aching muscles and joints, sleep can be difficult, and enough lactic acid buildup can render a trailblazer immobile. Remembering magnesium supplements can make a difference for a sore traveller who needs muscle and nerve relaxation- all while ensuring their looseness and general mobility.
Hiking is often thought of as a relaxing pastime, a chance to unwind and disconnect while being active in nature. That being said, if you are not adequately prepared for intense and prolonged physical exertion, your body will suffer. Checking off the 8 items listed above is a great first step to taking care of your health on and off the trail. Supplementing your diet with high-quality vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes will help heighten your hiking enjoyment and positively impact your body in the long run.