Eat Right at Altitude with these Five Tips

Feeling your best above 8,000 feet requires what may be some welcome changes to your diet.

At altitude, there is less oxygen the higher you go. This causes your body to work harder as less oxygen feeds your muscles. While you won’t be able to acclimate on a short visit, these tips will help you perform at your best.

#1 Hit the iron before your trip.

Spinach, beef, lentils, eggs, there are a ton of iron-rich foods to choose from. You will be left feeling fatigued if you hit the fun with low iron stores. Start at least four weeks before your trip.

#2 Hydrate. No, really, hydrate. 

Many of us live not far above sea level and in humid conditions. High elevations are dry as you lose more water through respiration and urination. Less water means a lower blood volume which makes your heart beat harder. One study says there is a 3% decrease in exercise capacity for every 300 meters above 1500 meters. You need to drink 3-5 liters a day, about 13-21 eight-ounce glasses. Drinks with electrolytes and carbohydrates are all the better. Just watch out for sugar; it will make you release the water you’ve consumed faster. If you are not thirsty, drink. Don’t wait until you are.

#3 Eat those carbs

Your body requires more carbohydrates at high altitudes. Adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are all elevated with exercise at altitude. These hormones increase the use of carbohydrates for fuel, which are your body’s go-to energy source at high altitudes.

#4 Fat is your friend at altitude.

High fat means high calories. It’s also easy to take with you for noshing on the hill. Nibble the day away on jerky, nuts, olive oil, chocolate, and butter or ghee. You don’t want to bonk just when things get fun.

#5 Protein is your BFF at altitude

25 to 30 grams of protein after your fun and then more throughout the day should keep you fit and ready for more.

Believe it or not, weight loss is a big concern when spending a lot of time at high altitudes. If you find yourself losing weight on your high-altitude trip, it’s a sign to eat more.

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