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Lake District

What to eat when you’re undertaking a big walking challenge...

If you’re joining one of our hill walking challenge events – whether it’s the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Snowdon or Ben Nevis – you need to have the right fuel to enable the body to motor effectively uphill and down dale.

We’re often asked: “How many calories will I burn doing this challenge?”

After replying: “A lot”, the question always sets alarm bells ringing in case people are considering restricting their food intake in the hope of losing weight on a challenge walk.

While hill walking has many health benefits, undertaking a big day’s hike of more than 10 miles isn’t the right time to be thinking of diets.

Eating properly before, during and after a walk is so important. Food not only provides sufficient energy but will also help keep you warm and minimise mental fatigue. The water content of food will also help keep you hydrated.

Charity fundraisers from Birmingham Children's Hospital take on Snowdon

Before a big hike

Eat a substantial breakfast beforehand. For those of you whose breakfast normally comprises just a banana or a cup of coffee, you need to think about ‘upping’ the intake.

Our recommendation – add sliced banana to a muesli-type cereal and follow up with two slices of toast, accompanied by a glass of juice and a cup of tea.

Out on the walk

Have enough food on-board. Not just sufficient for a lunchtime stop but also carbohydrate-rich snacks because it’s best to follow the ‘little but often’ rule rather than wait until you’re ravenous.

My pockets are usually stuffed with malt loaf, Pain au Chocolat and rice pudding.

However other good options are sandwiches, pasta, flapjack, fig rolls or a trail mix of nuts and seeds.

Don’t make the task harder by limiting yourself to unappetising foodstuffs that promise energy boosts or improved performance, they’re usually just sugar masquerading as science.

The ‘right thing’ is the thing you actually want to eat, so indulge yourself. Use your training walks to find out what you enjoy eating on the hill.

Importantly, you’ll need to carry sufficient water as well. Even on cold days you’ll be surprised how dehydrated you can get, plus water can help quell those hunger pangs.

After the walk

Re-fuelling post-walk is just as important as it will help the body recover from the day’s exertions and replace lost fluid/salt particularly if it’s been a hot day.

Of course, if you’re booked on one of our weekend breaks, we take care of the meals after a big day out. Here we tend to cook plenty of home-cooked nutritious meals that are also, rightly, a celebration of the day’s events!

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