If you’re trying to lose weight this spring and summer, try getting out for a hike. The Naperville area is full of beautiful parks, with trails that offer both a strenuous, well-balanced workout and a taste of the great outdoors. Getting out of the stuffy gym and into the wild can be a breath of fresh air for any weight loss program and a way to keep your regular exercise from feeling like a chore.
But before you hit the trail, it’s important to prepare yourself. Bringing water is crucial, of course, but if you’re planning a long day of hiking, it will also be necessary to bring along some lightweight, healthy snacks that stay fresh and pack the energy punch you’ll need. Though ideal for hiking, these portable snacks are perfect for any time you’re on the go, providing healthy sustenance while not taking up much space in your bag.
Seeds. Tiny, light and full of nutrients, seeds are a perfect trail snack. One that might be of particular interest is the chia seed, which is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. They also absorb nine times their weight in water, which will help to keep you full and hydrated. Best known for sprouting into the “hair” on Chia Pets, chia seeds also have a long history of providing on-the-go energy, as they were once used as an energy source for Aztec warriors during battle and by Native Americans during long journeys.
Nutrition Bars. Packed full of the protein you’ll need to keep your muscles and bones healthy and plenty of carbohydrates to give you energy, nutrition bars offer a lot for such a small package. When picking a nutrition bar, be sure to take a look at the calorie and protein content. Some may be best suited for a quick snack while others will provide you with enough energy to substitute a small meal.
Trail Mix. It may seem like a no-brainer hiking snack, but most of the trail mix you find in stores is full of sugar and empty calories. Instead, try mixing up a batch of your own using dried fruit (with no sugar added), raw nuts and energy-boosting foods like the goji berry, which contains over 20 vitamins and minerals like fiber, protein and vitamin C.
When considering your trail snack options, there are several problem ingredients you’ll need to be on the lookout for in the grocery store. Though the above are all great on-the-go energy sources, many versions of these products will contain things like high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, aspartame, MSG or artificial preservatives like TBHQ, BHT and BHA. These kinds of unhealthy ingredients can ruin the otherwise beneficial energy boost that each trail snack provides.