By Kim Pierce, MS, RD, LDN, CDE
I’m a snack girl! People always seem to comment on the fact that I bring snacks everywhere I go. I’m here to explain why I do. I find that I am ALWAYS hungry. When I get hungry, I want to make sure I’m providing myself with good nutrition and energy in whichever snack I choose. Planning out my snacks for my favorite outdoor activities, hiking and biking, have greatly benefited me in the long run. Pun intended!
Depending on duration, performance goals, and planned route stops of your hike or bike ride, you’ll want to consider 2 types of snacks: longer duration snacks and quick fuel snacks
Longer Duration Snacks
These snacks consist of a carbohydrate (may have small amount of fiber, about 3 grams or less) and a protein. This type of snack will help to curb your hunger for a couple hours as well as help you achieve your calories, carbohydrate, and protein goals for the day.
Examples of carbohydrate snacks:
- Bars – Belvita, Kind, Kashi, Bear Naked
- Cereal – Kashi, Cheerios, Chex
- Crackers – Goldfish, Triscuits, Kashi
- Honey wheat pretzels
- Applesauce pouches
- Dried fruit
Examples of protein snacks:
- Organic jerky
- Tuna and salmon packets
- Nut butter pouches/packets – peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter
- Cheese stick
- Nut bars – Kind, Kashi
Examples of combination snacks:
- Homemade trail mix – dried fruit, shaved coconut, assortment of nuts, cereal
- Store bought trail mix – PowerUp
- Fruit and nut bars – Larabar
- Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter) sandwich
Tips For Creating Snacks:
Chose an item from the carbohydrate and protein section:
- Kind fruit bar and a packet of nuts such as cocoa almonds
- Belvita bar with peanut butter
- Triscuits with a tuna or salmon packet
- Goldfish cracker and cheese stick
- Dried fruit and nuts or jerky
- Applesauce pouch and a nut bar
Quick Fuel Snacks
These snacks will help you to not “hit the wall”, “bonk”, or “crash”. These snacks are mostly sugar and usually contain some electrolytes to help you continue at optimal performance while maintaining blood sugars for activities greater than one hour. Note: Some may contain caffeine. It is up to individual preference if caffeine is beneficial.
Examples of energy chews and gels:
Examples of kid friendly quick fuel snacks:
Putting it all together:
Personally, I like to bring a combination of snacks from both the long duration and quick fuel options listed above. For times when I don’t plan on stopping, I may grab an energy chew or fruit snack that I can easily consume while hiking or biking. I like to bring a bar, trail mix, or sandwich for the longer duration activities when we do plan on making a few stops. Additionally, consider the amount of space you have when packing a snack, which may also help in deciding what snacks to bring as well as the quantity.
Also, try different snacks out and see how your body feels with each snack during training sessions. The type of exercise and duration will decide which snacks to go for. If I’m on a long bike ride, I’ll need quick energy; if I’m hiking, I’m more likely to go for something with a small amount of fiber and protein.
Don’t forget that water bottle!
Proper hydration will be just as important as having the proper snacks. I always carry a water bottle, hydration bladder such as a Camelbak, or both with me depending on how long I’ll be out. Check out dietitian Marisa Michael’s post about hydration at altitude and dietitian Briana Bruinoodge’s post about what to drink in hot weather for additional tips for staying hydrated.
Interested in learning more?
Check out this delicious homemade snack that everyone will love during your next adventure – Cake Batter Hummus recipe. We recommend making two batches it’s so amazing!
Disclaimer: This is general nutrition advice and you should talk with your physician before implementing any dietary or lifestyle changes. Always check nutrition labels and ingredient lists to make sure food items will work for you.
About the Author:
Kim Pierce, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, The Outdoors Dietitian, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. She counsels individuals and athletes on proper nutrition to fuel their bodies for outdoor activities. Kim is a lifelong ice hockey player, cyclist, hiker, and lover of the outdoors. You can follow Kim on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at Outdoors Dietitian.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN). (2016). Fact Sheet: Eating During Exercise