How to Keep Your Hunger at Bay When You’re Climbing a Peak!
Written by Ben Moscona
Many hikers and runners believe in the idea of food as just fuel. But I see it as so much more than that. Food is your foundation. The great thing about a snack like Aspen Crunch is that it’s healthy, produced locally and often with local ingredients, and it tastes amazing. It helps you have a great foundation for doing something like climbing 14ers.
My approach to nutrition in the mountains is to first figure out how much food and water you need to take. Everyone is different but my rule of thumb is 200 calories per hour plus an extra emergency snack. So, if I’m going to go climb say Maroon Peak, I think about how long it will take me (let’s just call it six hours) and then I plan how much food I will take from there. So for six hours, I would take (6 hours x 200 calories + 200 calories) about 1400 calories of food. My approach to water is a bit different. I look at a map first and determine where I can refill my water. If it is easy to refill, I’ll usually only take a liter and try to drink about 350-500mL of water an hour depending on how I feel. Your body performs better slightly dehydrated. Overhydration, especially in cooler mountain environments is much more dangerous than slight dehydration so it’s better to err on the side of less water. On the other hand, without enough food you run the risk of bonking or having a rapid decrease in blood sugar levels. So, it’s best to bring a little extra food.
The next step is determining what kind of food to bring on your climb. Slow absorption is key here. Ideally, for a longer effort (over 3 hours) you should be eating primarily fats and complex carbs with fiber. Gels with sugar can be good if you are bonking and need to get blood sugar levels up but they should be avoided for the most part for longer efforts. So, foods like nuts, nut butters, low or no sugar granola, and dried fruits are perfectly suited for 14ers. Unsurprisingly, Aspen Crunch’s Mountain Munch is a great choice for 14ers since it has a mix of these ingredients. The dried fruits have some sugars but it’s okay because the fiber slows down its absorption into your bloodstream and you’re getting all the benefits of eating real food.
Oftentimes people will only bring gels or heavily processed bars on their climbs. It’s much better for your body to enjoy some real food. While every company might be touting how the new technologies in their product will make your body perform to its maximum potential, we are only just touching the surface of all the synergies, micronutrients, and incredible health benefits present in real, unprocessed food. We have been eating these foods for millennia. Discovering a new vitamin or health benefit is irrelevant because we know from experience that these foods work. They’re better for the planet, better for you, they taste better, and they will help get you to the top of your peak!