An active lifestyle depends on a healthy diet. In the heat of the moment, people can neglect to properly replace the energy their bodies are burning. Day hikers in particular are infamous for being ill-prepared in the nutrition department. Developing a proper meal plan for high energy activity is very important. But what do you eat? How much? When? Why?
Deciding how to fuel up can be tricky. Here is a brief synopsis on sports energy drinks, bars, and gels to point you in the right direction.
In short, you should be drinking fluids for any activity. The longer your activity lasts, the more essential drinks are to your energy replacement method, especially if you can’t take a break. Runners should opt for water or energy drinks.
Energy drinks are mixtures of water and carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, and galactose. Most come with added electrolytes to compensate for the excessive loss of sodium through sweat during times of physical activity. They are ideal for marathons, long bike voyages and active adventure travel.
Energy gels are very similar to energy drinks in terms of nutrition, only in a dehydrated form. The idea is to offer energy and nutrition in a condensed and convenient package that can be easily carried by a runner or biker. They come in packaging similar to hotel shampoo packets and are to be squirted directly into the mouth. They are about 100 calories each.
The big point is that gels need to be taken with water for digestion purposes. For this reason, the packaging is really only convenient in times when you’re being supplied water as you go, like during a marathon. In situations where you’re carrying your own liquids, one asks, “why the extra step?”
An important factor when deciding how often to take gels is whether you are taking sports drinks at the same time. Since they are both geared towards ingesting carbohydrates, they both count. It is a good idea to choose either sports drinks or water and gels to keep your regiment simple and safe.
During times when you’re working hard and have the opportunity to take a break (kayaking, rock climbing, trekking, and rafting), energy bars are ideal. The trouble is that the market is saturated with them. Differing contents, pricing and packaging make informed decisions a difficult task.
In short, an energy bar is a glorified candy bar. What you really need is carbohydrates. For this reason, choose a bar that is high in carbs (25 – 40 grams) and low in protein, which is not a crucial fuel source during exercise.