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The Perfect Pair : Combining Jerky With Other Snacks For A Balanced Hiking Diet

D.Jays Gourmet Beef Jerky - Traditional

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Hiking is arguably the very best way to experience Mother Nature at her finest, but there is one thing about hiking that gets everyone in a little bit of a tizz.   No, it’s not the weather.  It’s not fitness levels or the gradients of the mountains or the possibility of blisters or getting lost either.  It’s not even what backpack to take.  It’s the snacks. 

What foods should we take on our hike?

Why the choice of foods on a hike is so important

Food is fuel.  And when you’re clocking up the Ks and clambering up hills, you’re going to need the right type of fuel (and enough of it) to maintain your energy levels over a prolonged period of time.

The key here is balance. 

A balanced diet for your hike isn’t having a 250ml can of soft drink in one hand and a 250g chocolate bar in the other – it’s about taking in the right amounts of calories and nutrients at the right time for both short-term energy hits and longer burns.  Carbs, protein, salt, fat and of course plenty of water are all really important considerations when planning your hiking snack pack – and the good news is that we’ve done the hard work for you.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best and most popular choices for a balanced hiking diet – starting off with beef jerky.

Why is beef jerky a hiking essential?

Let’s get real here, there’s really nothing to beat this protein-rich meaty treat which not only tastes utterly delicious, it also packs a powerful nutritional punch.  Oh and did we mention it’s easily portable, mess-free, easy to hold and eat and doesn’t need refrigeration? 

Once we’ve explained just why no hiker should leave home without beef jerky, we’ll expand our list to show how this delectable savoury snack can be paired with other food items to make up a balanced hiking diet.

As we said, beef jerky is a great source of lean protein which provides fuel for the body and which is important for maintaining muscle health and aiding recovery after your hike.   Beef jerky is also rich in iron, vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc, phosphorus and folate which are vital for muscle strength and repair.

It also comes in a variety of flavours depending on the marinade (why not try our DJays Gourmet beef jerky sampler pack to discover your favourites?) and is the perfect protein base on which to build your balanced hiking snack pack.  And because it’s preserved during the manufacturing process, beef jerky can be eaten anywhere anytime – making it the perfect hiking companion.

Now let’s look at some other snack options which you can add to your beef jerky to get a good balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein to replace the salt and calories you’ll lose when hiking.

Snack foods which combine well with beef jerky

Lean protein like that found in beef jerky is digested slowly by the body, providing it with a steady source of energy throughout the day.  However, when you’re out on a hike or walking in the bush, you’ll also need carbohydrates as a primary source of energy.

You’ll need to take in a balance of carbs and protein, along with fats and salts in order to maintain energy levels and to recover strongly from the exercise.   Generally, a hiker will need to eat between 30g-60g of carbs every hour to maintain energy levels.

Lollies such as snakes, gummy bears, boiled sweets and jubes are all great options, but eat them sparingly to avoid sugar lows which can leave you feeling lethargic and irritable.  Chocolate, chocolate coated lollies or yoghurt-coated peanuts are other great options for fast-acting energy boosters.

You’ll also need to replenish the salt you lose from sweating, so it’s a good idea to take some savoury, salty snacks on your hike.  Salted popcorn (so easy to make your own), salted crackers and crisps are all good sources of sodium and carbs and they pair really well with fresh veggies like carrots and cucumber.   Remember, ease of eating and convenience is paramount on a hike, so why not do a little food prep beforehand and cut your veggies into sticks or cubes?

Fresh fruit is a good source of fibre which can make you feel fuller for longer, plus it provides the body with heaps of essential vitamins and minerals.  Consider if there will be any waste (and unwanted weight) with the type of fruit you intend taking such as banana skins, apple cores or orange peel and consider easy options like hulled strawberries, blueberries and pitted dates.

In fact, dried fruit is a really good way of getting the nutritional benefit of fruit on your hike without any extra weight or waste.  It also makes the ideal pairing with beef jerky because it supplements the meat’s protein power with carbs and sugar for energy.  Dried fruit is also a highly nutritious source of minerals, vitamins, fibre and phytonutrients.

Nuts and seeds are another hiking staple which are great for a quick-acting energy boost and together with the beef jerky, will provide a good source of protein.  In fact, trail mix or ‘scroggin’ which contains a mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and choc chips is found in just about every hiker’s backpack as it provides high-energy goodness – and you can customise your mix to suit your personal preferences.  Protein bars like Clif bars are another popular hiking snack option as they combine protein, carbohydrates and fat.

A final word on why you need a balanced hiking diet for optimum enjoyment and performance

They say Australia is the lucky country.  Well, how lucky are we to have so many vast and beautiful spaces in this magnificent country to explore on foot? 

That said, you wouldn’t want your luck to run out on your hike because of a lack of planning around food and snacks.  It’s really important to have the proper nutrition to fuel up and remain energised and healthy for the duration of the hike – and for recovery too.

Hopefully, this article has shown you how to put together some tasty snacks for a balanced hiking diet – and it can all be done in a flash.  Simply start with protein-rich beef jerky which will provide the right type of fuel for slow-release energy (read this to find out which are the best high-protein snacks) and add a variety of different nutritional elements from there.  Remember, you can order your beef jerky or beef biltong online from DJays Gourmet today and we’ll have it delivered to your door wherever you are in Australia. Trust us, the great outdoors is even greater when you have the right foods for your mood, your mind and your body.  Happy hiking!

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