Hiking in the mountains

How to stay fuelled in the mountains

Author: Rob Martineau

Snowdon, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike… Whatever you’re attempting to climb, you need to make sure you’re fuelled right throughout the day. Here, TRIBE co-founder Rob Martineau outlines the ultimate fuel plan for your hike.


Wild camping

Nutritionists say it’s the most important meal of the day and yet most of us skip it, or fill ourselves with sugary cereals. If you’ve got eight hours of hiking ahead of you, you need a good breakfast. These are my go-to options:

1. Porridge
A bowl of oats and milk will give you roughly 45g carbohydrate, 15g protein and 15g fats. It’s a pretty complete meal in terms of macros, is low in sugar and acts as great source of slow-release carbs. These, along with good fats, are the best source of energy for a long distance endeavour. If you want some additional calories, go for nut butter or fruit on top. I have this breakfast before every marathon.

2. Kippers on Toast
For a higher protein breakfast, this is a goodie. Two kippers on two slices of brown bread will give you roughly 35g carbohydrate, 45g protein and 28g fat. Have a banana at the foot of the slope to give you an additional carb boost.

3. TRIBE Infinity Bar
If you’re camping and want an early start (i.e. don’t want to cook), these are a great option. We built them for the toughest endurance challenges, and they give you a great complex of nutrients. They’re built from five endurance grains (including teff, the Ethiopian supergrain), include natural ingredients only, and deliver 40g complex carbohydrate per bar. They’re made for this type of adventure.

During the hike

Looking back at Bessho in Norway

Throughout the day of walking, you’ll need to keep fuelled and hydrated to keep your energy levels up. You’ll be running off a mix of energy derived from fat reserves and carbohydrate (which you store as muscle glycogen). Top up these fuels as you go, and make sure you keep eating through the day.

I first started looking at nutrition when preparing for a running event called the Marathon des Sables (six marathons in seven days across the Sahara). You have to carry all your food for the week in your pack for that race, so you have to pack only foods that deliver. I started looking at nutrient density of foods then: how much nutrition and energy each gram of food provides. I fuelled myself mostly off trail mix as the combination of nuts and dried fruits are incredibly naturally high in nutrients.

Other than trail mix, great options are natural energy bars, nut butter sachets and bananas. The most important thing is to keep topping up. For hydration, drink little and often. If it’s hot, make sure to add some electrolytes to your water bottle (sodium is the critical one here, so even just adding salt will help).

Refuelling after the hike

Camping with friends

After being on your feet for eight or more hours the first thing you need to do is eat and replenish what you’ve spent. The key nutrients here are protein and carbohydrate, and taking something in within an hour of finishing. As a rule of thumb, aim for a meal or post-hike snack that gives you 20g protein, and at least a 2:1 carb/protein ratio (i.e. 40g carbohydrate).

Always do your best to use natural ingredients as these are richer in micro-nutrients and easier for our bodies to absorb. Giving your body these nutrients will help you recover so you can go again the next day.

Who’s writing?

Rob Martineau is Co-Founder of natural sports nutrition brand, TRIBE, where he heads up product development. He is an experienced endurance athlete, having completed a 1,000-mile run across Eastern Europe, a 10,000 mile cycle across Africa, numerous ultra-marathons, and some great hikes (including long distance walks across West Africa and America). TRIBE is one of the UK’s leading natural sports nutrition brands and athletic communities.