A hipster Californian and his supplements
Keeping an eye on your nutrition is worth your thru hiking while. Food is your first measure for medicine. The fundamental principle being you won’t have as many health problems down the road if you eat well, eat naturally, and eat sufficiently. Your body needs a ridiculous variety of nutrients to function. When there’s a deficiency anywhere, your body has to compensate for it. Often, you don’t notice the minuscule differences because you’re too busy with general existence. Its way easier to just remember phrases like an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Or you can take a gamble and hope you don’t have to deal with the repercussions 20 years from now.
Well I’ve been meaning to write a little something about this topic for awhile. The problem is that this subject matter is more tedious than shooting monkeys into outer space. At least launching space monkeys would be fun. Let’s face it – eating an optimal diet throughout the entire trail with a cheap budget is a challenge when you’re depending on picking up food as you go. Well I’ve got 6 days until my flight to Atlanta leaves so I’m going to get this nutrition talk out of the way.
I’m not doing it. Boom. Done. Ahh, that was easy.
I really don’t want to do a ton of research over nutrition science instead of better physically preparing for the start of my thru hike. I’m no doctor anyway so who am I to tell you what’s best? (Cue the song Lazy by Pete Philly & Perquisite.)
You must care to some extent if you’re reading this so I won’t leave you totally hanging. I’ll show you my supplemental game plan for the start of my thru hike. I’m aiming to do a mail drop maybe once a month due to using disposable contacts and what not so this works out for me.
This is way better than staying up till 3am researching conflicting nutritional science in between looking at pictures of cats on the internet. Onwards with my supplementation shenanigans.
Chosen for it’s compactness, Glucosamine, and plethora of sweet delectable/questionably artificial goodness. This wonder packet sports vitamin C like an epic high five. If I had definitive knowledge about vitamin C, I would tell you. All I can say is that I’d much rather eat real vitamin C (this stuff is synthetic) but I’ll pussyfoot around it. Key note: this is the only Emergen-C flavor that has Glucosamine in it. I honestly don’t know the differences between hydrochloride or sulfate and what not, but the consensus seems to be it supports your joints. I don’t know about you, but I like to be nice to my knees.
I actually take Fish Oil combined with vitamin D3. I just no longer have the bottle. Emphasis on the Omega-3 awesomeness. My main reason for this supplement would be how it seems to lubricate your body. Particularly in the areas where your bones grind into each other. Lube is good folks. Don’t neglect da lube.
Supposedly its a great amino acid that aids protein synthesis, brain function, and digestion. Your body processes L-Glutamine from foods such as beef, barley, peanuts and other stuff. No clue how effective L-glutamine works as a supplement so I wouldn’t pay much mind to this one. I honestly couldn’t tell ya if it has done anything for me. With or without it, I’m just one of those awesomely gened Asian persons who can take abtacular selfies in the bathroom mirror. Don’t judge me for making up words or knowing about bathroom selfies.
Based on the assumption I won’t be eating a salad everyday or have access to a lot of good ole leafy green veggies, I specifically sought out Magnesium. I heard magnesium citrate gets absorbed best, so I went with this powdered drink mix with stevia as a sweetener. The thing about Magnesium deficiency is that it is known to produce symptoms like muscle weakness, fatigue, and it negatively affects your mood. Magnesium is needed for Serotonin, that neurotransmitter supposedly responsible for feeling like the dopest dope ever smoked. Another upside is that if you’re one of those people that hates drinking plain water (what’s wrong with you? DON’T YOU WANT TO LIVE?!) this tastes pretty good and so does emergen-C.
All I got on this brown wonderful pill is that it has anti-inflammatory properties. I’ll take it! I’m not one who carries a lot of NSAIDs like ibuprofen because I prefer to just deal with the pain naturally if it arises. Being only 24 years old, I’m a firm believer that any pain I have should be paid attention to instead of simply suppressing it. A lot of older friends (people twice my age) are always telling me how great anti-inflammatory agents are because they’re basically always holding their backs like the old people they are. But I want to save my liver for alcohol abuse, not tylenol abuse.
If my anecdotal experience matters to you at all, I noticed my body feels better overall after heavy physical activity if I’m consistently taking Resveratrol and L-Glutamine opposed to not taking any supplements.
You are what you eat which means I’m freaking delicious. Coconut oil is my holy grail. Can’t say enough good things about it. So I’ll stick to what appeals to backpackers – high calorie and fat content. Chug it, swig it, cook with it, massage with it, use it as mouth wash or just go crazy with it. Coconut oil is your friend. There’s a reason you tend to see jars of coconut oil in the pharmacy section. My buddy C oil gives you hefty doses of awesome.
Also note that Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) is often made from coconut oil. Why do you care? MCTs are more easily digested, absorbed and metabolized in a way that effectively produces more energy, burns fat and helps absorb nutrients. Check out dat Lauric Acid tho. Dat stuff throws more big words at you like a sexy librarian. Antiviral, antimicrobial (did you think I was kidding about using it as a mouth wash?), antiprotozoal, antifungal, and you might as well throw in APHRODISIAC since there’s so many A’s in there.
I’ll stop. What are you waiting for? Go get some coconut oil. I should have started and ended with it. Don’t worry about the chia seeds I have below.
Chia seeds are like having this really cool but quiet friend. Completely unflamboyant and forgettable. I didn’t include these in the groupie picture because frankly I forgot. Here are the nutrition fizacts
Get on that Chia poppin’ party by throwing it in your water, oatmeal, or general vicinity of your mouth. Extra omega-3’s in the house.
What didn’t make it into my supplemental nonsense: a multivitamin, acidophilus zinc, and sea salt.
I don’t want to dish out $30+ dollars for quality multivitamins. At a glance, it looks like the cheap multivitamins give you what you pay for – crap ingredients that don’t absorb well or are ineffective for one reason or another. If you eat real food in balanced meals, you shouldn’t worry about multivitamins. Of course, you’re probably not going to get balanced meals on the trail unless you’re hyper self vigilant.
Acidophilus is a probiotic, one example of good bacteria. I would get into it, but this conversation means going in a long hearty conversation about poop. I’ll talk poop with you if you want, but maybe this is not the time.
Zinc got cut out because I was just looking for one less thing to carry. If you research the benefits of zinc and want to take it, be sure to get zinc gluconate or citrate or whatever has a better absorption rate to get your daily 10mg worth.
I would have tossed sea salt into my pack without a question because sodium is crucially important to your health. But when I glanced at the back of a dehydrated dinner and potential meal options and saw how much sodium I’d be consuming in a day, I ruled sea salt out. You do need a lot of it when doing stuff like backpacking because it plays a crucial role for nearly every cell in your body. I mean, my mind was blown in EMT school when I learned about the sodium potassium pump. However, there’s a point where it becomes ridiculous. You also need to help balance it out with tons and tons of water which you SHOULD be drinking as much as you can anyway.
Real talk now. I’m just some guy. There’s thousands of some guys all over the internet. I studied biological sciences for like 6 months in college and I didn’t even take any science classes because I was just getting general education out of the way so I can ninja my way into Bizness Skewl. If you’re a Dr. Rhonda Patrick type of person who actually researches this stuff with a tenaciously tedious discipline, please do help spread the science. I wrote the word science with a mental image of throwing my hands and fingers into the air with despair for dramatic effect but I seriously doubt anybody in the world would have gotten that.
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