NOTE: This post originally appeared on my page at The Trek. If you'd like to read it there, click here.
Heads up, nutrition sticklers!
I can’t believe I’ve only got five weeks to go before I get on the trail. The time will both fly by and seem endless all at the same time, but I'm embracing the paradox!
Next week I’m headed to Alabama for a week of family duty involving hospital coffee and Fox "news."
But there's also good news!
I’ve got some resupply planning to do.
Also helpful, these articles from our Trek community: Appalachian Trail Resupply Points and The Best Towns to Send Mail Drops on the Appalachian Trail.
Trying not to overthink this while also trying not to eat crap the whole way.
I don’t want to over-plan or make things hard with too many town stops that revolve around hitchhiking and post office hours. I know you can hike most of the trail without sending a single box to yourself if you’re willing to eat crap the whole way.
Pop Tarts are not your friends!
At least no mine.
I'll admit, Pop Tarts worked for me in my twenties.
But I'm not in my twenties anymore!
When I rode my bike across Europe (in my twenties), I remember having packages of little French butter cookies in my handlebar pack at all times.
I remember long climbs over pink granite mountains in Corsica.
I remember popping cookies in my mouth, one right after another, all the way up those mountains.
I was like a stoner with a bag of Doritos in the wee hours of the night.
The days of cookie binges are gone and I know there’s a better way to fuel my hike.
It’s just that the Dollar Generals and the 7-11s don’t know that, yet. Even the little grocery stores, like the Price Chopper in Lincoln, New Hampshire, though miles beyond the 7-11 in selection, still caters to cookie monsters.
Not that I don’t love a good Oreo, even now in my food snobbery. They rule after a long day on a trail.
I just want to make sure I’m also offering my body actual nutrition.
Which brings me back to resupply. Because if I want actual nutrition in the land of Pop Tarts and cheetos, I’m gonna need to send it to myself.
I’m also gonna need to carry it.
Therefore, I’m gonna need to make some hard choices about what's in my food bag.
Hard choices, nutritional gold.
Here’s what I’ve decided is worth it’s nutritional weight in gold and what I plan to supplement my Oreo diet with over the long haul.
1. Olive Oil.
Healthy fat is an oak log in your furnace, as opposed to sugar’s pine twigs. Fat is in it for the long haul, burning slowly and consistently.
On my bike trip, I had to keep eating cookies because sugar burns up so fast in working muscles. I’ve learned through my transition from vegetarian diet to a more primal/paleo lifestyle that burning fat is way more efficient that burning sugar. And more sustainable for an overtaxed endocrine system, too.
Olive oil is satisfying, tastes good and offers micro-nutrients, as well. Plus, I bet I can even get it at the Dollar General.
2. Bulletproof Collagen Protein Powder.
You can put this protein in literally everything and not even know it’s there. It’s flavorless. It dissolves in cold as well as hot liquids. I put this in my morning coffee and feel all righteous for having upgraded my coffee.
I know I’ll need high-quality protein to help "rebuild, repair and restore" overtaxed muscles, ligaments and everything else I’ll be abusing in my body on a long hike.
It might as well be easy.
Two tablespoons contains 10g of protein.
I’m a devotee of Vitamin C and my go-to supplement is Emergen-C. Imagine my delight to find an electrolyte supplement that has 200mg more vitamin C than Emergen-C and comes in a similar handy pouch!
Two for one!!!
Trace Minerals Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak is also reasonably priced and offers a bevy of trace minerals along with the essential electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Because I know I’ll be missing my kale and broccoli, this is my solution…powdered greens.
Vitamineral Green goes above and beyond powdered kale, though, and includes seaweeds, enzymes, probiotics and juices from 18 different plants. And it doesn’t even taste vile, so, bonus points for being palatable. (It doesn’t taste much like anything, but the color is vibrant and I feel good when I drink it.)
Enough with the powders, let’s finish this list with some more real food. I can’t remember where I first saw this recipe, but I add this savory sprinkle to everything. It’s made of some of the highest protein plant foods you can find and it adds a great little crunch to any rehydrated mush.
Two tablespoons contain 15g of protein.
Here’s my version of the recipe:
Optional for breakfast, add shredded coconut and cinnamon and sprinkle it on your oatmeal , or other rehydrated mush, for an extra nutritional kick.
Speaking of rehydrated mush...
If you’re looking for healthy carbs of the non-Pop Tart variety, i.e. unrefined carbs that don’t spike your blood sugar, overtax your pancreas and lead to a crash (followed by endless cookie bingeing later), here’s my recipe for Paleo Trail Porridge.
This breakfast passes the Primal Blueprint/Bulletproof Diet test. I prefer it hot, but have been known to hike a couple of miles in the morning while it rehydrates in my little Ziploc Twist 'N Loc container.
Sprinkle liberally with the protein sprinkles.
Tastes better than it looks, I swear!
What about you, fellow hiker? What do you do to fill in the nutritional holes on a six-month hike? Leave a comment and let us know (before we seal up our resupply boxes and send them out into the world)!