Whenever I need to get energized for a big hike, I try to do it without depending on caffeine. I couldn’t drink coffee, tea, soda or anything caffeinated while I was pregnant with my son a few years ago (to avoid increasing my blood pressure and heart rate), which forced me to find other ways to keep my energy level up, and are things that I still do now whenever I want to hike or backpack. As a stimulant and diuretic, caffeine can cause a yo-yo effect on your energy levels, and increase how often you pee (which can lead to dehydration), so when I hike–I try to avoid it altogether, and use healthier ways to get energized instead.
Ways to stay energized throughout your hike
Build your momentum prior to the hike
Work out prior to your hike to hit the trial running when it’s time to begin. I didn’t work out as much as I should have prior to my 6 day backpacking trip in Patagonia, so when we hiked over ~10mi on the first day–my legs were wrecked. It didn’t get much easier the 2nd, 3rd or 4th day as we hiked between 7-14 mi per day, but by the time my body caught up on the last day–I practically ran my way through the final trail and wished that I had that momentum and speed on day one–so build your momentum early! Above is a list of my trail running gear that I use now to keep my momentum going for my next hike.
Eat before bed
I know. This is normally a no-no on any other normal night, but eating before bed gives your body the energy it needs to stay warm as you rest, and repairs your muscles throughout your snooze. I eat right before bed the same time I take my vitamins at night, but in general you want to eat often (50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein) to stay ahead of your fuel levels.
Go to bed early
Plenty of rest allows your body to restore your damaged muscles and energy levels. Going to bed early to get a ton of sleep is a no brainer, but getting quality rest isn’t so easy when your’e backpacking. Above are my favorite super-soft baselayers I love sleeping in on backpacking trips.
A drop in blood sugar is one of the many reasons your body can feel exhausted. Keep your glucose levels up by switching to five or six small meals per day as opposed to only three large meals that will make you feel overstuffed and overexerted.
Eat energy foods
Food that contains a lot of B6 and folate are good for boosting your energy levels, like bananas, mangos, carrots and avocados. I also like to snack on almonds, because they’re a great source of magnesium, an important mineral that can make hiking a lot more difficult if your body’s deficient in it. Having a lack of magnesium in your system can increase your heart rate and require more oxygen for you to perform simple tasks. Above are some snacks I like to pack to eat on the trail and before I go to bed.
One of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever experienced while hiking was getting dehydrated on the trail and not being able to walk without feeling like I wanted to vomit. At that point, the only thing that made me feel better was chewing on a nuun tab by itself, and sitting down for about 15 minutes. Stay ahead of dehydration by supplementing your water with hydration powder or tablets. They also make your water taste way better 🙂
Listen to lively music
Last but not least–sometimes I like to listen to loud rap and hip hop if I’m hiking alone; not only to keep me awake but also to let other animals know I’m nearby. Some of the songs I’ll play to get my energy going include: Money Trees (Kendrick Lamar), Can’t tell me nothing (Kanye), FUTW (Jay Z), and Don’t hurt yourself (Beyonce).
I hope this helps!
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below & let me know if you have any questions!
Thanks for reading 🙂