Tired of trail mix? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chocolate-heavy trail mix, and that’s one idea on this list. But if you need some more snack ideas, read on to keep you fueled for all-day climbing.
When it comes to preparing for a day out climbing, one ingredient you don’t want to forget to pack: carbs. And plenty of them. Protein and fat have a place at the table, but don’t necessarily need a front row seat at the crag. Your muscles benefit from an easily accessible fuel source, carbohydrates. Carbohydrates get stored as glycogen in the muscle, which are kindof like tiny energy packs that fuel your brain and muscles.
So, what are some easy to prepare carbohydrate rich crag snacks?
Make a few extra at breakfast and take them with you to the crag. Berries, yogurt, carrots and spices could be added for varying flavor profiles. Buckwheat, oat or almond flours could be used in place of more traditional flours for those who struggle with gluten.
There are endless ways to customize these trendy bites. Make these the night before so that you can simply throw them in your pack the day of! Dates are full of natural sugars making this snack quite the energy bomb! A quick search for “date ball recipe” will leave you with more options than you can wrap your mind around.
Fruit is a great source of quick action carbohydrates. Some fruits might not sit well in your stomach while active, experiment with various fruits while you are training so you don’t end up mid-pitch feeling a little queasy.
When it comes to wraps, you can’t go wrong. Spinach tortillas, coconut wraps or flour tortillas can get filled with vegetables and hummus, leftover scrambled eggs from breakfast, or sliced meat and avocado.
Nuts are a good source of protein. Mix a medley of nuts with other seeds and dried fruit to create your own signature blend full of vitamins and minerals.
As a snack while climbing aim for white rice based bowls over multigrain varieties. Being a simple carbohydrate, white rice will digest quicker making it a more immediate fuel source. Load it with fresh veg, sprouts, pickled produce and avocado. Gourmet craggin’ at its best!
Read the back of the nutrition label. While climbing, aim for a snack that will give you 30-60 g of carbohydrates in a serving to sustain performance. Things like pretzels and sports gummies work well.
Why should climbers pack snacks?
Our bodies don’t always tell us when we are hungry during exercise. As climbers, we want to feel light on the wall. These facts can lead to climbers not eating enough and harming their performance and long term health. If you want to climb harder and longer you need fuel, preferably in the form of carbohydrates. Having snacks at the ready is one step you can take to ensure proper fueling. How many times have you been out cragging and hit a wall? Total bummer!
Avoid whole grains as fuel during climbing because they may leave you feeling heavy, bloated and gassy. (Not ideal for your belayer.) Whole grains are complex carbohydrates and require more time to digest and break down into glucose. If you struggle with gluten sensitivities turn to alternative flours like coconut, rice, almond or oat flours.
How much food should I eat while climbing?
A general rule of thumb is 30-60 g of carbohydrate per hour to sustain energy demands. The lower end of the range is for general climbing. The higher end is for more endurance work, like if you have a long approach to the crag.
You can find this much in approximately:
- 2 slices of bread
- 1 medium sized fruit
- 1 cup beans
- 1 medium potato
- ½ cup rice
- 1 cup chocolate milk
- Nutrition label with “Total Carbohydrates” listed between 30-60 g in a serving
When it comes to crag snacks, think simple. You want the carbs that digest quickly with a more immediate release of sugar into the bloodstream. Sugar in the form of glucose travels to the body’s tissues and is used to make energy for working muscles. However, if you’re out all day you will need more than just straight carbs. Some protein is helpful to keep blood sugars stable and keep your stomach satisfied. Jerky, nuts/nut butters are two easy protein sources.
Planning ahead is key. Pick a day out of the week to whip up the week’s snacks. If you don’t, you might find yourself under-fueling when you need the energy the most. Hangry people can’t climb as hard as properly fueled counterparts. Prepping snacks in advance will ensure you have them ready to throw in your pack on the day of. It will also give you time to be more thoughtful about what you take out with you.
This article was written by Kaila Dickey.
Get more recipe ideas and meal plans in the book Nutrition for Climbers: Fuel for the Send
~This is general information only and not medical advice. Always ask your healthcare provider before undergoing any diet or lifestyle change.