Sunday, September 27, 2009

Going primal in the backcountry

Another challenge I have faced in my life is continuing to eat primal while on expeditions into the backcountry.

You would not think so, but climbers/backpackers/etc are a group of people that are, in general, pretty set in their "conventional wisdom" ways of eating on expeditions. I could not count the amount of times I've heard something along the lines of "you need more carbs because you're exerting yourself at high altitudes which makes you need even more energy blah blah blah." I used to buy into that bullshit (I'd eat healthier at home but load up on the carbs during a climb) but I have noticed that since making the effort to bring primal snacks/meals with me on climbing trips, my hiking speed and endurance has
drastically improved.

Furthermore, if you think about it, mountain climbing is a very primal activity. Most of the hikes I've done here in Colorado are anywhere between 7 and 15 miles with anywhere from 3000' to 5500' of vertical gain (per day ... anything longer and I backpack in the night before and hike/climb the next day). What do you think "Grok" spent most of his day doing? Walking around looking for food. He probably did more mileage than this since there isn't much food to be had at the top of a 14,000 ft mountain, but the added exertion of the vertical gain makes up for the lack of mileage. Most mountains here (at least, the ones worth climbing to the top of) are an all-day -- or even multi-day -- affair.

So, being that it is a primal activity, it makes perfect sense to eat primally while doing it.
Some of my staples for climbing trips are:

Kind bars - I think they have brown rice syrup so not totally primal but they have lots of nuts in them  
Larabars - See my post about them :)
Nuts - I usually take a big bag of whatever nut mixture I feel like ... almonds and cashews are my favorite  
Fruit - apples are the standard pick because they can't get squished like peaches or blueberries. Great when accompanied by some healthy fat and protein like peanut or almond butter.

All of these are healthier and more primal than Power Bars (check out THAT ingredients list!) and the soy-ridden Clif Bars that the climbing community raves about ("they're like, organic, so they must be good for you, right?!")

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