Eating While Walking
What do you eat before and during your walk? Posters to the Walklist mailgroup recently asked each other this question. I have the same "problem" as others - I get hungry after a couple of hours. That was of concern until I discovered that it is normal to get hungry every 3 - 4 hours, and the proper response to hunger is to eat a nutritious snack and drink lots of water. Have a breakfast that is balanced - cereal, protein, fruit. What to eat before a morning walk.
Pack along a snack that is also balanced. If you budget for the fat, peanut butter on crackers is a good snack combining protein and carbohydrate. I used to simply pack some fruit or a bag of baby carrots, but I find that adding a little protein REALLY helps stave off hunger longer and give more energy.
The trick I have been using lately is to buy Balance bars or Ironman PR bars, which have a balance of protein and carbohydrate. You can find them at vitamin/health food chain stores like GNC. They really satisfy my hunger pangs and
give me energy. They have a hefty dose of vitamins also and advertise themselves as
suitable for meal replacement, although they are only 220 calories (Ironman) or 180
(Balance). I find them PERFECT as a mid-morning walking snack or as a driving snack if I
finish a walk and it will be an hour or two until I get home to eat a meal.
Top Picks for Energy Bars
Before You Buy Energy Snacks
I have a lot of trouble with the "sleepies" after eating a meal, and I don't get that at all with these bars. I'm finding that balancing carbs and proteins at every meal and snack really does help give me a more continuous energy level. I make sure to eat a good balance of healthy whole fruits and vegetables and meat, etc. and just use the bars as a snack supplement or as breakfast when on the road. They keep me from hitting up the fast food joints and getting way too much fat in whatever I might buy.
Here's what other Walklisters said:
It sounds like I am doing the right thing by eating and drinking on the walk. My first walk I didn't' drink a lot of the water and I notice the difference when I do drink it all. I now make sure I drink plenty while I'm on the walk, and eating too to keep me going.I too do not eat much meat. I do eat fish and chicken, but in small quantities. I eat mostly pastas and rices. I can't eat dairy but I drink Lactaid with protein powder and I think that helps too (to supplement protein). I also take plenty of vitamins every day.
Okay, this probably isn't the best nutritional advice. But I find the same thing, that I get weak sometimes on walks. I ALWAYS try to eat carbohydrate/protein breakfast, cold cereal (choosing one with whole grains not sugar as the main ingredient) with milk, or whole grain rolls, bread, etc, with yogurt, cheese (trying for low fat), and fruit fruit fruit.
But on a walk, it's awkward to carry fruit, and most need fussing (orange and banana peels need to be discarded, apples have cores, etc.). Veggies need to be prepared before hand. And then, I don't always get hungry on a walk. So...
For some bad advice, I often carry poptarts. Poptarts have only 20% of their calories from fat, contain some protein I think (haven't got a box in front of me), come in a prepackaged unit which fits neatly into my walk-pouch, the wrap folds up neatly and fits easily into my pocket for later discard. They have a long shelf life so that if I don't need it on the walk, I can save it for a future walk. Also, I sometimes carry the snack crackers, whole wheat cracker with cheese, or peanut butter crackers, which also come in an easily stored packet and save from walk to walk. Since I purchase these for only $.25, I feel okay about eating them, or saving them for later, or discarding them, if after a few months, they have become completely gross and inedible.
Anyway for all these items, I can look on the package before purchasing, buy them in the local grocery store or gasoline station, and get a lift during the walk if I need it. I hope I don't get drummed out of Volkssporting or denied the opportunity to go to Volkssport Heaven, for these recommendations.
Unlike Wendy and her high-priced energy bars, I prefer to take along in my fannypack an apple. One apple gives me plenty of energy to finish 20K, and there is no plastic wrapper to dispose of since apples are entirely biodegradable. Also, I never start a walk on an empty stomach, I eat a meal one to two hours before.
Well, in bicycling we call that energy loss a bonk! You can avoid bonking by drinking water before you feel thirsty and eating small snacks before you feel hungry.
I carry a small lightweight day backpack with my water, snack and whatever else I feel I may want or need. It's usually fairly empty and gets lighter as the walk goes along and I drink more of the water. The snack is usually a piece of fruit such as a banana, apple or orange and then something like a whole grain bagel, bread or crackers. Sometimes I put peanut butter on the bread and sometimes I bring a handful of some kind of nuts or seeds like pistachios, pumpkin seeds, or even trail mix with sunflower seeds and raisins. I stop ever-so-briefly several times on a 10K and have a couple sips of water and one little bite of snack.
The combination of keeping well hydrated and having complex carbohydrates and protein completely avoids the bonk for me. I eat a vegetarian diet almost all the time, and haven't felt the need for meat or dairy products, as long as I remember and plan to eat a nice variety of sources of vegetable protein. I also take a multi-vitamin, B-complex vitamin and calcium supplement each day. With this diet I seem to have plenty of energy all day, even when exerting myself on a long or more strenuous walk.
For 10 to 15 km. walk I'd say have your ordinary meals and bring something to drink and, if this walk takes you longer than two hours, have a light snack to eat, some fruit (apples are good, as mentioned by another walklister) or biscuits. Since you have problems after one hour, I think your body still has trouble shifting from short-term energy (burning 'sugar') to longterm energy (burning fat). You can help your body by starting to drink after about 45 minutes and keep doing that during the remainder of the walk. After having done these walks several times, your body will get used to the exercise and you won't 'meet the man with the hammer' as we say it in the Netherlands. I would not use high energy stuff. You might end up with gaining weight and a lazy, craving body. Just give yourself some time to get used to it. Walk for 1.5 to 2 hours regularly. I am sure you will notice a change after a while. I had similar problems when I started walking again after having been ill and unable to walk for about 6 months, but I am quite all right now.
Eat small bits, just enough to get your body looking for its own resources. (This advice is NOT for the anorexia!!) Sometimes just a little piece of chocolate can help you to get over the hill. Drink plenty of watery lemonade, half orangejuice-half water, just water may not do the trick for you. If it is really hot (or if you sweat a lot: an English friend of mine always says 'Ladies don't sweat', but I know I do), add a pinch of salt. Some people drink half a liter (or so) extra water before they start. This is good against muscle pain, I'm not sure whether this would help you.
If long walks are long walks indeed (like 60 km. and more, many km's more), try to keep eating something every 1.5 or 2 hours. A light sandwich, some fruit, yoghurt, custard, rice pudding, mashed potatoes, boiled egg with salt, soup, anything! Don't eat hard-to-digest stuff like whole grain bread. If you keep going for a long, long time at a fair pace, your bowels need lots of energy to work on that kind of food. They don't get it because you are walking and legs, lungs and heart need the energy too. Nausea and possibly diarrhea may result. Have light meals with bread, potatoes or pasta and well boiled vegetables some 2 or 3 hours before you go on a long walk. Force-feed yourself (and your company) if necessary on these long trails, since people don't feel they are actually hungry and thirsty. In the meantime, have faith, keep going!
I always carry dried fruit mixed with unsalted peanuts. I buy my fruit at Trader Joe's (cheap and tasty) and mix it myself. Personally, I tend to end up with slab apricots, apple rings, dried cherries, and raisins. Then the unsalted peanuts--because I prefer my fruit not salted :) I also carry gatorade, which I really prefer to water, and it replaces salts as well, which can be really important when it's hot.
Dried fruit and peanuts has the added bonus of NOT MELTING!! Depending on when/where you're walking, this may or may not matter.