Layman’s Guide to Hiking – Part I: Breakfast

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is what they always say. Yes, I do tend to agree with this. However, it’s what you eat that is important. Especially if you’re about to undertake a full days worth of hiking. This post is devoted to what I eat before a hike. What I’m not going to mention is what you should eat the night before and all of that other nutritional things you should do. That’s for another post.

With that said, let’s get to it.

It’s morning, you wake up and go through your mornings routine before you head out the door. The question is now, what do I eat? For me, it used to be McDonalds. An Egg McMuffin with hash browns and an orange juice. This was an especially good meal which brought back childhood memories. But as happened then, happens still, it leaves me feeling a bit sluggish. It was probably just too heavy and probably doesn’t have the essential nutritional requirements that I would need.

So eventually I moved on to what I eat now, a Clif Bar, or if that’s unavailable, a Powerbar. This seems to hold me over pretty well until lunch which is normally 3-4 hours into our hike and normally either at the summit or near our goal. So for the most part, all the leg work is already done.

But as of the last two weeks, I’ve come to start drinking Sugar Free Red Bulls along with my Clif Bar. Why? For the caffeine. A couple of hikes, I drank a cup of coffee, but that left me parched for a good hour or so on those hikes. So trying to rehydrate while on the trail at the beginning of a hike wasn’t my idea of fun.

Alright, below are the nutritional values of a Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar and a Sugar Free Red Bull.


The only real numbers that stand out to me are the calories and sugar. Fiber as well, but I’m thinking that isn’t as important starting out as it is during the hike. So Clif Bar has the calories to provide the fuel, and a good amount of sugar to provide the kick.

As far as the Red Bull is concerned, it’s most likely the caffeine that gives me a jolt. Here’s some facts about it:

it contains, per 250 mL (8.4 U.S. fl. oz.) serving, about 21.5 g sucrose, 5.25 g of glucose, 50 mg of inositol, 1000 mg of taurine, 600 mg of glucuronolactone, vitamin B — 20 mg of niacin, 5 mg of vitamin B6, 5 mg of pantothenic acid and 5 μg of vitamin B12 , 80 mg of caffeine.

So why the switch from a tasty Egg McMuffin meal to something that only astronauts stranded on Mars would eat? Here’s why:

  Cals Fat Carbs Protein Egg McMuffin
Hash Browns
OJ (small)

I suppose these nutritional values would make some sense if you’re going on something extreme like Cactus to Clouds, but even for our day excursions, I think this is too much. Especially considering that I’m looking to lose body fat on these hikes. The fat count here along with the carbs is pretty extreme. Perhaps the carbs would help the night before. But even I know that there are better/healthier ways to carb up. Again though, for another post.

So that’s breakfast. Is it the breakfast of champions? Most likely not. But so far, it works pretty well for me. So until I find another alternative cocktail mix, this will be my morning nutrition for the foreseeable future.

Next up in the Layman’s Series, lunch.

Related posts:

Clif Bar Recall
Live Mountain Cameras
Upcoming Event: Vetter to Chilao

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 10:47 am and is filed under Exercise & Nutrition, John's Guide to Hiking, Upcoming Event. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Layman’s Guide to Hiking – Part I: Breakfast”


Robb March 9th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

If I don’t have something substantial, I get pretty cranky, but then again my metabolism is pretty high, and I’m not looking to lose weight, if anything I could stand to gain some pounds. I think a breakfast is key to keep you going until you can fuel up again. I must admit I love those Starbucks Sausage sandwiches. OMG! If you look at the nutritional stats though, they are frightful, but so tasty!

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