Are you hiking on empty?
Over Memorial Day my husband and I went on a hike to Pt. Lobos in near Carmel, CA. It was one of the most beautiful hikes that I have been on since moving to California almost 7 years ago. I was amazed at all the beautiful beaches, birds and baby seals. It was perfect spring weather that day with a nice breeze. A big thing I noticed on the hike was the difference between how I used to feel when I was on a low fat diet and how I feel now on a lower-carb paleo diet. I have not been a fan of endurance exercise ever since my last half marathon in 2010 when my health hit a major speed bump but I do love being outside in nature. California has so many wonderful parks and beaches to see that it is shame to shun this wonderful calming zen activity. Moderate hiking is beneficial for the body and mind but it is important to get the right fuel for sustained performance.
Hiking Experience: Low Fat vs. Lower Carb Paleo Diet
Here I share my hiking experience with low fat diet and the difference I observed while on a lower carb paleo diet. It really makes a huge difference.
Hiking on a Low-Fat Diet:
When I used to hike on a low fat diet I was so anxious because I needed to eat every few hours. I could barely get out of the car to go on the trail because of my intense fear of hunger. I always brought a million snacks in my bag such as cliff bars or Kashi cereal in baggies.This seemed like the right kind of food to give me quick energy for hiking, but the opposite actually was true. My energy would plumet quickly and I would get shaky in the middle of the trek. I would also get very irritable if I didn’t know exactly how long the hike was or when we were stopping for lunch. It was not much fun to be with me honestly….I was hangry (a quote from one of my favorite clients)! I had major blood sugar problems which made me miserable for as long as I remember. I thought the feeling of being light headed was normal after being on a healthy diet but the bouts of hypoglycemia seemed to get worse the more I got into exercise and a low fat eating.
Pre-Hike Breakfast: 9:30 am
On this lovely holiday weekend we ate breakfast about 9:30 am which I made in the kitchen at the Residence Inn. I love this hotel because I can cook my own food and there is usually a grocery nearby. They even have stainless steel pots (not toxic teflon)! I stocked up at the grocery store early that morning so we would have food to cook breakfast and for the hike/picnic. It was not San Francisco but I was able to find some halfway decent food at this Super Walmart.
We ate breakfast at 9:30 am then we hiked all day!
And we hiked some more!
Picnic Lunch at 4pm
Going this long without eating would have never happened in my former life as a cardio/snack junkie. I would have flipped out at 12:01 pm and had a hissy fit by 1pm followed by inhalation of an artificially flavored Think Thin bar at 1:02pm. Wow, how times have changed! A little after 4 pm we found a picnic table and pulled out the lunch food from our backpacks. The funny thing was that I was still not especially hungry, it was just that my feet were tired and I was ready to stop walking. I could definitely eat but it was such a different feeling from the panic that used to come over me when I used to eat 6 small meals a day. Some feelings of hunger can be attributed to habit but most of the lagging energy is due to high glycemic foods that are spiking and subsequently dropping our blood sugar all day such as bread, cereal and snack bars. Most of us are on a highly inflammatory blood sugar roller coaster and we don’t even know it. Here is an example of a good portable paleo picnic lunch that will keep you full for hours including boiled eggs, roast beef slices, salmon, a small serving of fruit, snow peas and carrot sticks.
Health and lifespan is determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar people burn throughout their lifetime.–Dr. Ron Rosedale
Our bodies work much better on protein and fat which provide a steady energy source which we get from meats, vegetables, seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds. Take some advice from leading metabolism expert Dr. Ron Rosedale and teach your body to run on fat rather than sugar so you can be calm and relaxed on your next hike or whatever challenge comes your way!