Nutricious Meal While on Trek

"By Wanderers India"

Importance of a “nutritious meal” on high altitude treks?
Just like in our day to day schedule, it is important for us to have the right meals also on treks. A decade earlier, 2 chapattis with 1 boiled potato was considered as a one-time complete meal during high altitude trekking. As the trekking industry is evolving, the variety of meals on treks has increased. Other than the variety, it is important to have a nutritious meal. While trekking in the high altitudes, we burn more calories than our regular workout. It becomes important to eat right meals at the right time.

Why do we follow a vegetarian diet and avoid non vegetarian food in the high altitudes?
In high altitudes, we need to eat meals that are easy to digest. Acclimatization process is based on the fact that the food in the body starts getting converted into energy. The lighter the food, the faster is the process of acclimatization. Non-vegetarian food takes more time to digest. Therefore, it is recommended to eat vegetarian meal rather than eating meat.Eggs are an exception as they provide proteins which is essential for the trek.

Meal pattern on treks;
• Breakfast the 1st meal of the day – 2 or 3 of the below options: Corn flakes/ muesli/ bread &jam/ bread &butter/ boiled eggs/ scrambled eggs/ aloo – puri/ stuffed paranthas/ porridge (salty or sweet)/ poha/ upma/ halwa-puri/ pancakes

• Lunch – On most treks,there is packed lunch. Packed lunch refers to meal on the go – 1 of the below mentioned options Aloo jeera with paranthas/ Aloo beans with roti/ fried rice/ noodles with pickle/ roti with local subzi

• Tea & snacks – Usually after reaching the campsite, have tea and snacks after some rest. 1 of the below options in snacks;

Assorted pakodas/ pasta/ macroni/ instant mix (bhel style)
• Soups -A couple of hours before dinner, having a soup is good.
• Dinner the last meal of the day – Being the last meal of the day we ensure to have a variety of options in dinner. Below mentioned are a few examples;

Option 1: Daal (Lentils)/ Rajma (Red beans)/ Choley (Chick peas) + rice + roti + Sabzi + salad + pickle + pappad + sweet dish (locally made/ tinned)
Option 2: Chowmein/ noodles + soup + vegetable manchurian served with sauces + sweet dish (locally made/ tinned)
Option 3: Egg curry (boiled eggs, not fried) + rice + sweet dish (locally made/ canned)

• Ginger water/ bournvita – 20/30 mins post dinner, a hot glass of ginger water/ bournvita. This helps in staying warm through the cold nights.

*Note – All the above meals are prepared fresh each day. For any unforeseen emergencies, instant noodles (maggi/ top ramen) as a quick meal is offered.
Dry rations – Depending upon each day’s trekking distance & duration we would be giving 2 – 3 from the below options;
Biscuits (Parle-G)/ Cookies (Mcvitties)/ Chocolate bar (5star/ Barone)/ toffee candies (2 to 3)/ juices (frooti/ maaza)

Why is it important to drink a lot of water on trek?
As the humidity is low in the high altitudes, our bodies release more sweat. We might not realise the amount of water we’ve lost. Because of the low level of oxygen, we breathe in and breathe out faster compared do at lower altitudes. This makes us breathe deeply resulting in further water loss. As our bodies are continuously acclimatizing, the need to urinate becomes high. If not hydrated well, this could lead to dehydration.Water provides the main source of hydration in high altitudes.

How much water to drink in the high altitudes?
While there is no specific amount of water that can guarantee proper acclimatization, we suggest a minimum of 3 to 4 litres of water each day. This amount may increase depending upon the person’s requirement. If the urine color is yellow, it is a sign of dehyderated body.

Why drinking alcohol is not good in the high altitudes?

• Drinking alcohol during cold nights instantly causes warmth in the body. This instant warm effect is true, however is the not the complete effect. Once intoxicated, the body could instantly feel cold and get into a state of shock (depending on the level of consumption).
• Alcohol has a negative impact on the secretion of the antidiuretic hormone, thus increasing urination. This could lead to severe dehydration that could lead to AMS or even escalate to HAPO or HACO. Both these are lethal sicknesses.
• Alcohol disturbs the mental ability to take decisions. In the high altitudes, it is important to be alert and mentally sound. Mostly, consumption of alcohol on treks is done at night hours. In case of weather changes or any unforeseen emergencies, this habit can be a hindrance in the safety of the person influenced under alcohol.
• The after effects or the hangover of alcohol consumption could be severe dehydrations, cramps in the muscles, dizziness which will affect your performance on the trek. This not only causes delays in the day’s plan of action but also increase the chances of accidents.

For people who are fond of alcohol, we suggest to be completely off alcohol for at least a week to notice any withdrawl symptoms. Only then they are suggested to trek in the high altitudes.

Why smoking at high altitudes is bad for you?

We suggest having 1 to 2 glasses of water early in the morning in order to clear your stomach each day.

• Smoking has a negative effect on the breathing capacity. It significantly reduces the lung capacity to take in oxygen causing damage in the airway and the alveoli (small air sacks). This overall has a negative impact on the acclimatization process.
• Asthmatic people, both mild & major can have an attack post a single smoke. People trekking for the first time should avoid smoking as they might not be aware if they are asthmatic or not.
• Putting your entire trek in jeopardy would not be a wise thing to do for a habit that can be avoided (atleast while on treks).

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