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Unravelling the myriad of walking snacks

When you head out for a walk it is important to make sure that you have ample water with you, but also that you carry some food. An army marches on its stomach and all that! The million dollar question is...what are the best snacks to take with you when you go out walking?

When you head out for a walk it is important to make sure that you have ample water with you, but also that you carry some food. An army marches on its stomach and all that! The million dollar question is...what are the best snacks to take with you when you go out walking?

There are lots of things to consider. What’s the most nourishing, what will give you the right energy levels and the greatest lift? What will pack away easily and can’t be damaged? There are several schools of thought from nutritionists on the best foods to give the healthiest nutrition and most appropriate energy release. It is imperative to do your own research, find out which regime best fits your needs and lifestyle and you’ll soon find the ideal munchies for your own requirements.

Sugar the bad guy...

More and more in the news these days we hear a general consensus that refined sugars are bad. Even though we crave them and they give us a quick energy boost, the boost will quickly fade leaving us feeling sluggish. So biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks are not recommended. Instead, nutritionists suggest slow-release energy foods.

Energy and endurance...

For energy and endurance one school of thought is to combine complex carbohydrates with good fats and proteins. The fibre in the complex carbs (such as oats and wholewheat) slows down the release of glucose into the blood and helps to avoid the ‘sugar rush’. Protein (such as eggs, nuts and seeds) supports this process and aids muscle function. Good fats are also found in the nuts and seeds.

The carb debate...

Whilst many nutritionists are in agreement that complex carbohydrates (like oats, brown rice and whole grains) are a good source of energy and fibre, there are other trains of thought (like the paleo movement) that believe grains, even in their complex form, are best avoided in a healthy diet. If you choose to minimise the carbs, but still want snacks to provide energy on the go, try dried meats (like beef jerky) plus a mix of seeds, nuts (not peanuts which are actually legumes) coconut flakes and berries. The nuts and meat will provide plenty of protein with good fats coming from the nuts and seeds. The berries provide some sugar but are lower in sugar than many other fruits.

Inspiring ideas...

Below are some of the commercial snacks available plus ideas from nutritionists for easy nibbles to make at home and enjoy on the go.

Vita Coco: Plain water is a great way to stay hydrated. If you fancy something a bit different, one alternative is coconut water (such as Vita Coco). Unlike traditional sports drinks this has no caffeine and less sodium but still contains electrolytes and minerals to help your body recover from its exertion. The handy drink cartons are available in several flavours including lemon and pineapple.

banana chipsNakd Bars: Nakd Bars are ready wrapped individual bars that are easy to keep in your bag or pocket. Combinations of nuts (cashews, pecans, almonds) with dates give the combination of protein, fat, fibre and carbs as recommended by some nutritionists. There are many tempting flavours such as Cocoa Delight, Pecan Pie and Strawberry Delight.

Bounce Ball: A mixture of nuts, seeds, brown rice and whey protein, the Bounce Ball is a natural energy ball conveniently packed individually, ready to carry on your walk. The balls are all gluten-free and contain the optimum balance of high quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy mono and unsaturated fats. The balls come in a range of flavours including Almond Protein Hit, Apple and Cinnamon Protein Punch and Coconut & Macadamia Protein Bliss.

beef jerkyOat Cakes and Almond Butter: Oat cakes are a convenient, light form of snack to carry on your walks. The oats provide the ideal form of complex carbohydrates for slow energy release. Try sandwiching them together with almond butter to add good fats and protein to the mix.

Beef Jerky: Beef Jerky is a good choice because it is rich in protein and doesn't contain many calories and fat and its dried nature makes it easier to transport that normal cooked meat.

CarrotSticksCarrots and Hummus: Carrots are rich in vitamin A, full of fibre and have many benefits for your blood sugar regulation. And if the old wives’ tale is to be believed they may also help you see in the dark. Take some hummus as a dip too for the fat and protein element. Hummus also contains tahini (sesame paste) which is packed with calcium, great for healthy bones.

Trail Mix: Trail Mix is a catch all term for a snack to eat while out hiking. The idea is that the different ingredients contain both protein and carbohydrates to keep you going, and salt to replace the amount you lose when walking. For a very basic trail mix you should put together equal portions of raisins and salted nuts, along with some dried fruit (try mango or pineapple), some dark chocolate chips and some (low sugar!) breakfast cereal. 

Sunflower Seeds and Dried Bananas: A different take on trail mix, this is another idea for a mix to eat as you walk. Sunflower seeds are high in calories and bananas are high in potassium which is good for staving off cramps, as well as giving that welcome energy boost.


Of course, whatever snacks you choose to take with you, in my opinion you can’t beat a great pub lunch as a reward at the end of the journey!


6 January 2015  

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