Prois Strong Pro, Kelli Jennings is full of fantastic suggestions! Kelli recommends nutrient-dense foods for backcountry excursions.
Low-volume, light fuel is the name of the game when backpacking. But, your food choices also need to be calorie-dense, protein-dense, have adequate carbohydrates, and dare we?…be delicious (nothing kills morale more than facing a meal you disdain). I recommend including a combination of carbohydrates and proteins at meals and snacks when engaging in strenuous hunts. Backcountry meals often include grains and dried fruits for carbohydrates, but low-volume, shelf-stable proteins can be a bit trickier. Here are 10 options for nutrient-dense foods to sustain you while hunting in the backcountry, and how to use them in meal/snack planning:
1) Any type of meat jerky – loads of protein, iron and sodium in a lightweight food
2) Tuna foil packs – when it comes to nutrition, fatty fish like tuna are some of the best protein options around
3) Hard processed meats like salami – not quite as small in volume, but the sodium and protein are worth a bit more room and weight
4) Nut butters and nut butter powders such as PB2 – not as high in protein as meats, these options still add protein and calories in a small, convenient form (especially the individually packed peanut butters – and if you haven’t considered a peanut butter and bacon combo, you should)
5) Hard-boiled eggs and egg powders – you can dehydrate eggs or buy egg powder, or just pack in some hard-boiled ones. Make sure to keep tightly packaged and do your best to avoid cracks in the shells
6) High-protein breads: Bagels (such as the Everything Bagels highlighted in this post) can pack 10 grams protein per bagel, and if salami or tuna is added to it, you can fuel up on upwards of 30 grams protein and significant carbs – not bad for a backcountry lunch!)
8) Protein Powders – I’m a fan of undenatured whey powders (here’s why) such as Natural Factors Whey Factors , and these can easily be added to drinks in the backcountry. For example, 1 scoop of the chocolate powder mixed into hot chocolate will warm you up and add 20 grams of protein.
9) High protein grains: Couscous (cooks by simply adding water in 5 minutes) or pastas such as Barilla PLUS pasta (made w/ chickpeas, and cooks quickly) can pack 8-12 grams protein.
10) There are many, many ideas in backcountry cook books such as Lip Smacking Backpacking. You can dehydrates sauces, meats, and more to make backcountry trips more enjoyable. After hiking, hauling, and hunting, a good high-protein meal goes a long way. Or, try pre-made options like Mountain House.
While your body could use even more, aim for 80+ (women) and 100+ (men) grams of protein in the backcountry. Pair these proteins with carbohydrates such as grains and dried fruits at meals and snacks. If you’re doing a lot of hiking and climbing throughout the day, consider using a “sports drinks” such as Skratchlabs or Carborocket for 50% of your fluids during the day…the carbohydrates and electrolytes can absolutely improve athletic performance (if possible, it’s easiest to drink these adequately from a hydration pack). Protein goals can easily be accomplished with the above options, aiming for 15-20+ grams at each breakfast and lunch, 25-30 at dinner, and 15+ at 1-2 snacks using a high-protein bar and 1 scoop protein powder in hot chocolate. Plan your nutrition and stay strong in the backcountry!
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