What Does An Alpinist Eat?
I should firstly say that I am NOT a nutritionist. But I have done some research and testing and found what works pretty damn well for me. This eating system, or something like it, might work great for you. But my number one piece of advice is to experiment and find a system that works for you. That said, here's what I have been doing.
During the day, I eat Trail Butter because I like what it's made from and how calorie rich it is. If I could, I would buy Core Bars, but they're expensive and keeping them refrigerated is an issue. But if you want a bar for closer to home, they are the jam. Super simple, excellent ingredients, raw, gluten free, dairy free, organic. I buy them at Seattle Bouldering Project.
I'll generally also carry a few chewy sugary things like Shot Blocs for when I need a sugar hit. But I try to stay on top of my eating so I can run effectively on fats and proteins, which take much longer to metabolize in your gut but carry a lot more energy.
During the day I've also been putting chia seeds into my water. This helps with hydration, big time. The chia seeds inflate with water and then stick to your stomach lining, resulting in time-release hydration. Check into it.
In the morning I pound oatmeal—I eat it in the packet. it's easy to get down with the sugar to get me going and I don't have to think about it. I always drink instant coffee. And I will get bars moving through my system early, once I actually start climbing.
When we stop to bivy is when the real fun starts. I have a drink mix that's most of what I consume in the evening. Here are the components...
Mix a liter of water with a couple of scoops of this stuff and your body will go into full recovery mode. And yes, feel free to put some chia seeds in as well. I'll also eat some solid food, but about half as much as I normally would. This is mostly to make me feel happy and give me something solid that's harder to metabolize, therefore keeping me warm when I sleep.
This solid food will be half dried mashed spuds and half rolled quinoa mixed with salami, cheese, sea salt and turmeric. Basically a comfort meal with the added benefit of helping you hydrate (salt), working as an antiflam (turmeric) and giving you hella protein (quinoa).
The super drink gets mixed up in a water bottle and the solid food gets mixed up in an old freeze-dried meal bag, meaning that the reactor pot stays clean and can be melting water the whole time that consumption is going on. Also, all of this can be cooked with tepid water simply poured over it. Meaning, no mess and super fuel efficiency. Which in the mountains, is the kind of world we want to live in.
Photo by Forest Woodward