Being outdoors, taking in the natural beauty of Scotland and breathing fresh Highland air burns energy. So, to comfortably cover 96-miles of the West Highland Way, you’ll need to keep your mind and your body well fueled. As with all physical activity, you burn calories and lose water, so replenishing your energy stores is vital. Otherwise, you can run the risk of total fatigue.
Protein, carbohydrates and water are your best friends when hiking. Complex carbs, like oats, release energy slowly throughout the day and topping up small and frequently will help you maintain a steady metabolism. Proteins are essential for the recovery and growth of muscles, so incorporating a balance of carbs and proteins will give your body the means to keep you going while repairing your muscles at the end of long days. We’ve put together a healthy guide to adventure snacking to help fuel you along the West Highland Way.
NUTS & SEEDS
There are numerous health benefits to incorporating nuts and seeds into a balanced diet, and this is owing to their high content of healthy fats and proteins.
Hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds and walnuts are just a few popular options to try – the fresher, the better! What makes these snacks so great is that they are easily portable so you can fill up a wee box or bag and munch on them as you travel. Why not create your own mix?
Full of natural sugars, water and essentials nutrients, fruit is an adventurer’s best friend. While fresh fruit is packed with water and tastes delicious, it’s not the easiest to transport on long multi-day expeditions as it is prone to get crushed and bruised. That’s where dried fruit comes in. Removing the water from fruit makes them a lot lighter to transport and reduces the risk of them getting squashed!
Bananas deserve their own mention because they’re a great companion on walks and hikes. Giving you an instant boost of energy, bananas are full with goodness, but their soft creamy texture makes them prone to bruising, so we suggest you pack a couple for the day and ensure they’re at the top of your pack.
Another great snack for the trails is granola. While there are many different types and mixtures, granola is typically made from rolled oats, nuts and honey which is then baked until golden brown. Sometimes sweeteners, brown sugar and puffed rice are also used.
Oats contain iron and fibre while acting as a great source of complex carbohydrates. Coupled with oats are the nuts, which provide fat and protein to help you feel fuller for longer. Granola can be stored in zip-lock baggies or a container. However, you can make your own granola bars at home for easier transportation.
Trail Mix is the Pic n’ Mix of healthy hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s super easy to make yourself. Nuts, seeds dried fruits, chunks of chocolate, granola and cereal are standard options, but you can make your mix however you like.
The complex carbohydrates found in granola and cereal will give you a healthy boost in energy, while the nuts and seeds will enable you to sustain that energy for a prolonged period of time. Being efficient with space in your backpack is key when it comes to walking long distances, so we recommend you whip up some trail mix in a secure zip-lock bag which can be rolled up into your pocket. Don’t forget to share!
With the growing fondness of the outdoors and healthy eating, many brands produce energy bars which are convenient to transport and packed with nutrition, often available in a wide variety of delicious flavours. These are a great fix if you’re unable to make your own trail snacks, or if you’re really lagging behind and need a pick-me-up on the trail. They can be stored for a considerable amount of time, so it’s a good idea to stock up on a few bars to keep at hand in case a sudden case of fatigue arises.
Last, but by no means least, water. A majority of our body contains water which is lost through physical exercise in the form of sweating. It’s crucial that you carry water on you and take enough for the duration of your journey. If you’re travelling off the beaten path or wild camping on the West Highland Way, be sure to find out where your nearest water source is for topping up.
While there are plenty of wee villages and towns dotted along the West Highland Way, we do recommend you take your own supplies of water and food for each day on the trail. As a courtesy to all trail users and to help maintain the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands, please take all your litter with you and dispose responsibly at your earliest convenience.