Walking is an excellent form of exercise, but you can really reap its benefits by ensuring you are eating the right foods for your workout. The key to your walking diet is to eat little and often. If you eat too much, you run the risk of feeling sluggish and not wanting to go any further, but eating too little can be equally dangerous as you need to keep your energy levels up when walking
Your walking diet isn’t just about what you eat while you’re on your walk. Eating the right foods before and after your walk is also important.
The amount you need to eat depends on how far you are walking, your age, weight and general fitness levels.
Keeping hydrated is extremely important when walking. Make sure you carry plenty of water with you. You may also want to take some energy drinks with you to replace the salt you lose through sweating, but try to avoid drinks that have many additives. You can even make your own sports drink by mixing sugar and salt with water and some flavouring.
Some studies have shown that a short walk before breakfast is good for those who want to lose weight, but many people find they feel better if they have eaten. If you are going on a walk for more than 45 minutes, it’s very important that you eat a healthy breakfast before you set off.
A light breakfast that releases energy slowly is best, and this can include porridge or yoghurt with banana and other fruits. Everyone is different, so experiment with what works well for you and try to leave at least an hour before you set off on your walk.
Make sure you take plenty of snacks with you to maintain your energy levels throughout your walk. This can include fruit such as:
Nuts and seeds such as:
If you are going to sit down and have a rest and some lunch, go for some of the snacks above plus a food high in carbohydrates and protein. Opt for wholemeal versions of pasta, rice or bread where possible, as these are better for you. You might want to take a wrap or sandwich filled with healthy fillings such as cottage cheese and salad, fish, or lean, white meats such as chicken or turkey.
If you have walked for two hours or more, you’ll need carbohydrates and protein to help replenish your muscles. You could try a recovery drink, or make your own smoothie out of yoghurt or milk, fruit and honey. Or, have a snack combining both carbs and protein such as a bagel or oatcakes with peanut butter or low-fat cheese.