Weight, conservation, heat, cooking time, energy input, availability of products on the road: there are many criteria to take into account when developing your diet during a long-distance hike!
Our European thru-hike will lead us across many rural areas and will probably often have little choice in our diet. Under these conditions, how can we maintain our balanced diet and stay fit? Since we are very lucky, we met the team of Nutriting who will assist us during all our epic journey.
What we liked about Nutriting?
First of all their products of excellent quality of course, for which they always favour the most natural and absorbed forms of the ingredients. Then, all their production is located in France, it’s not common nowadays, and within the framework of our European adventure, it is really important for us! Finally, in addition to offering quality food supplements, their approach is also to support a better understanding of nutrition and its effects on our health. Advice and lessons on their site popularize the basics of nutrition and help building a varied and balanced diet.
During one of our meetings, we interviewed them to let you benefit from all their good advice!
- Three founders, Julien, Patrick and Thierry and three complementary approaches: education, supplementation and pleasure. Tell us, how was Nutriting born? What motivates you in this process?
We're three childhood friends. We met on the school benches when we were about ten years old, and we haven't left each other since!
We did all our schooling in the same class, and as a teenager we were already talking about doing something together, one day... At that time, it looked a bit like empty words exchanged between classes, but in the end we finally realized our "dream": an identical tempo and the same passion for nutrition have taken us into the Nutriting adventure!
Nutrition was indeed a topic that brought all three of us together. Initially, there is our growing personal interest in this exciting field. Every day we discover a little more about the power of nutrition and its direct impact on our health, fitness and mental and physical performance. Then there is the desire to share this knowledge: educating people about nutrition and accompanying them towards a better diet is our first motto!
To this end, our conviction is that it is more effective to offer a playful and comprehensive offer. This means that we are not juste a mere information site... We offer people the tools they need to achieve qualitative nutrition: in the first place, this involves adapting their daily diet, for which we provide the essential keys to understanding; but also, in a second stage, possible supplementation with vitamins and minerals, which may be judicious in particular situations (sports practice, fatigue, stress, pollution, age, exposure to cigarette smoke, etc.). While not forgetting that eating must remain a source of satisfaction, and that it is important to rhyme food balance with gustatory pleasure!
- During all our ulralight hiking trip, the NuPower formula will help us to supplement our vitamins and minerals. How is it particularly suited to our thru-hike?
During a long trek, the organism is subjected to severe stress, on the one hand because of the intensity of the physical effort required, day after day, and on the other hand because of food supplies that are difficult to optimize, especially in terms of access to fresh food. In this context, regular use of NuPower will guarantee the intake of essential vitamins and minerals at physiological doses, with the aim of promoting better recovery and avoiding the loss of immunity frequently associated with extreme endurance activities.
- Proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, fiber, starchy foods, mineral salts, vitamins... may be a short reminder, so we all talk about the same thing?
Proteins are the bricks of the body. They make up our envelope: bones, muscles, hair, nails, skin, but also our internal messengers such as hormones, enzymes or immune system antibodies that defend us against infections. They are said to be essential because the body does not know how to make them from other nutrients and must therefore be provided by food. They are found mainly in meat (red or white), fish, dairy products, eggs, legumes and soybeans.
Lipids are more commonly known as fats. These are the most energetic nutrients. They constitute the structure of the membranes of our cells, and thus condition their proper functioning (neurons, brain, thymus), play an essential role in the transport of certain proteins and hormones in the blood, serve as vehicles for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and participate directly in the development of some of our essential hormones, such as sex hormones. Some of them are also essential, such as omega-6 and omega-3, which are often deficient in our diets. These are mainly found in fatty fish and certain vegetable oils (such as rapeseed or flax).
Carbohydrates are the body's fuel: they are our main source of energy. On the other hand, unlike proteins and lipids, they are not essential nutrients, since our bodies know how to make them from other nutrients. These are the "starchy" classics that we know: bread, pasta, rice, legumes, potatoes, root vegetables...
Fibre is another type of carbohydrate, and more precisely, they are non-digestible polysaccharides (more or less long chains of different simple sugars). Some are soluble in water, and will mainly be fermented in the intestine, where they will feed our bacterial flora (which is an essential ally of our immunity), and others are insoluble, so they will mechanically stimulate and regulate intestinal transit. They are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, oilseeds, unrefined cereals...
Finally, vitamins and minerals are substances that our body needs in very small quantities (hence the term micronutrients). They have no energetic value, but are nevertheless essential to the functioning of the body. This family includes water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C, group B vitamins), fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, K), major minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulphur, sodium, chlorine) and trace elements, mineral salts that are needed in very little quantities (iron, zinc, copper, fluorine, iodine, chromium and selenium).
In application of this "booster shot", the important parameters to be monitored in an adventure of this type will essentially be protein and calorie intake. The repetition of significant muscular effort over a long period of time can lead to some protein "breakage". It therefore seems necessary to provide the body with the necessary "bricks" for its reconstruction. In parallel, it seems obvious that the body's energy needs will be increased, which leads to recommend an adequate calorie intake. To the extent that trekking corresponds to relatively low intensity activity, this caloric intake can combine carbohydrates and lipids, depending on the digestive tolerances of each person.
As far as possible and depending on the supplies, the ingestion of fiber will be aimed at nourishing the intestinal flora and regulating the transit.
As for vitamins and minerals, as we have seen, their supply will be guaranteed by Nutriting.
- For a thru-hike like the one we do, involving about twenty kilometers of walking per day, repeated over several days, weeks, months, with between 15 and 20 kilos on our backs, how many kilocalories do we need per day?
An estimate of caloric requirements based on the expected stress intensity gives about 3000 kcal for Marie and 3700 kcal for Nil. Obviously, like any estimation, it may require adjustments according to the reality encountered in the field (in case of a significant difference in altitude, the need could rise to 4000 kcal for Marie and 4500 kcal for Nil). Among the possible criteria to rectify the shot if necessary, the use of a more or less regular weighing (according to the stages) will be very useful. On the protein side, it would be desirable to consider about 1.5 g per kilogram of body weight, i. e. about 90 g per day for Marie and 105 g per kilogram for Nil.
Be careful with the conversion of macronutrients, 100 g of protein obviously does not mean 100 g of meat, since in 100 g of meat there is "only" 20 g of protein. Fortunately, proteins are found everywhere, and so the impressive figure of 100 g can be reached quite easily, using powdered protein (whey, known as "Whey", or micellar casein) if necessary.
- What is the distribution of energy intake between morning, noon, evening and snacks?
This may sound surprising, but there are no hard and fast rules. This distribution will vary according to each person's habits and the walking plan of the day. If you're not in the morning, you can start with a light breakfast so as not to overload the digestive system when you wake up and compensate for the other meals of the day. The opposite is also possible: attack with a first "robust" meal and then operate more lightly. Indeed, a meal rich in protein in the morning (unlike what is traditionally done in France) can help to get the body off to a good start and on the right foot. Eventually, targeting a good carbohydrate intake at the evening meal can promote good recovery and facilitate access to sleep.
- During exercise, when it regulates body temperature, perspiration leads to a significant loss of mineral salts, doesn't it? How to refuel stocks easily? What about meltwater and rainwater?
By eating salted food and taking NuPower, mineral losses should be compensated. During exercise, drink regularly and without excess. Meltwater or rainwater can be used as a temporary fix, but it is better to avoid consuming them regularly as they can lead to electrolytic imbalances in the body. Their use obviously requires the use of a purification device to avoid any risk of contamination. Finally, to avoid digestive problems, it is better to refrain from drinking too cold (so watch out for snow or water from the torrents).
- If we do not always manage to feed ourselves in a varied and balanced way, what are the risks for us of a "bad" diet?
When the diet is not sufficiently varied over a long period of time and is essentially reduced to carbohydrate intakes in the form of starchy foods, a state of malnutrition can be envisaged, with the following manifestations:
muscle fatigue and weakness
decreased immunity with increased susceptibility to infection and difficulty healing cuts or wounds
damage to the dander with brittleness and dryness of the skin, hair and nails
edema of the lower limbs
digestive disorders with constipation or diarrhea episodes
Fortunately, over the duration of the trek and considering that an occasional supply of fresh fruits and vegetables will still be possible to complement the action of the NuPower and onboard meals, the risks of lasting impacting the organism are actually very low. So even if in theory a regular deficiency in vitamins, minerals and fiber could prove to be harmful, there is in fact little chance of encountering this case since a supplementation will be put in place.
- Because they are heavy, water-laden and have a low energy intake, we transport relatively little fruit and vegetables for hiking. Ideas to complement our fiber intake?
Use dry fruit blends (apricots, prunes, grapes...) and oilseeds (grenoble nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews...) seem to be the ideal solution. Dried fruits provide fiber, energy and compensate for the acidifying effect of physical effort. Oilseeds also provide fiber with added omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids (especially for walnuts) and calories to support activity. Another advantage is that these blends do not require refrigeration or preparation and can be eaten in small quantities during walking.
For more than 2 months we are on the road, we strive to put all this into practice. Our bodies obviously changed but we did not notice any alarming weight loss. Certainly our small shopping (mostly cold cuts, cheese and starchy foods), our freeze-dried meals, everything we get offered on the road and our NuPower, we have everything we need!
Talk to you soon!
Marie & Nil
Read the article : Choosing your photo and video equipment for thru-hiking and ultralight hiking trips