Hiking has many wonderful aspects, but carrying a rucksack filled with clothes, food, and other items is not one of them! The goal for any hiker is to have as light a rucksack as possible while still being able to carry everything they need. Considering the calorie-to-weight ratio of protein powder, it seems like a no-brainer. But is protein powder good for hiking? This article will help you to discover the truth.
Protein powder is an okay option for hiking, but most people would get a better experience from meal replacement shakes. This is because meal replacement shakes contain carbohydrates and fats rather than just protein. This will give you more energy for hiking and provide a better hiking experience.
There are benefits to using protein powder when exercising, but due to the nature of hiking (low intensity for a long duration), a shake that contains complex carbohydrates will always be a better option. In this article, we will take a closer look at the pros and cons of using protein powder and why meal replacements are a better option.
Is Protein Powder Good for Hiking?
There are a lot of advantages to carrying protein powder with you on a hike. There is a high calorie-to-weight ratio, with 100 grams of powder containing more calories than you would find in foods that weigh a lot more.
Protein powder is also unlikely to be affected by being stored in cramped, humid conditions for long periods of time. Making a protein shake is easy, not requiring fire or cooking utensils, just a protein shaker.
Protein powder is also highly satiating, meaning that it will leave you feeling fuller for longer than many foods. Protein can also be used to preserve muscle mass while in a calorie deficit. Not a big issue if you are on a one-day hike, but potentially important if you are hiking for multiple days.
While protein powder has its uses, it also has some downsides. Long-duration exercise cannot function on protein alone. You need carbohydrates. These provide you with initial energy as well as sustained energy, particularly if the carbohydrates are complex and contain a lot of fibre.
Protein powders are also quite low in calories compared to a full-sized meal. A typical lunch is around 500-700 calories, and a protein shake is usually around 200 calories. You could triple the dosage, but that is a lot of protein to deal with, which can have unpleasant side effects. It would also be hard to digest (protein is the hardest macronutrient to digest).
Protein Powder Alternative for Hiking
Meal replacement shakes such as Rootana are a great idea for hiking. They contain a well-balanced macronutrient profile (protein, carbs, fibre, and fats), are more substantial in calories (usually around 400 calories), and provide the same benefits in terms of satiety (actually more due to fibre content) and ease of use.
Meal replacement shakes are perfect for hiking because:
- They contain all the nutrients required for health
- They are highly satiating thanks to high protein and fibre content
- They contain slow-burning energy from complex carbohydrates
- They are lightweight and easy to store
- They require little to no preparation
- They can be prepared in seconds
- Very little waste, unlike protein bars or snack foods
What Makes Rootana Special?
Rootana is a natural meal replacement shake that avoids the use of artificial sweeteners, instead using coconut sugars as a natural sweetener.
There are 400 calories per serving, 16 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 7.1 grams of fibre, and 21 grams of protein (based on the Original flavour Rootana). This is a perfect ratio of carbs, protein, and fats, which can recreate the effectiveness of a regular meal and keep you fully energised during your hike.
Is Protein Powder Good for Hiking? Final Thoughts
There are several advantages to taking a protein powder with you on your hike, but a meal replacement shake has all of the same advantages, plus several more. We recommend a plant-based meal replacement shake because it will be easier to digest and is better for the environment. Something that all hikers should be enthusiastic about.
Is protein powder good for hiking? Yes, but meal replacement shakes are a better option.
Check out our article on what foods to pack for hiking to get a clear idea of the many options that are available to you when hiking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I drink a protein shake before hiking?
A meal replacement shake that is high in protein would be a better option, but a protein shake is a decent source of quality calories for any hiker. The calorie-to-weight ratio is superb, it is cheap, and it can be stored in a backpack for a long time without going off.
Why is protein important for hiking?
It is highly satiating, will keep you feeling fuller for longer, and the amino acids can help to protect your muscles from breaking down during longer hikes. But that protein can come from a number of sources, not just protein powder.
Is Whey good for hiking?
Yes, whey is perfectly fine when hiking as a form of protein. But if you are lactose intolerant, it will cause a lot of gastrointestinal distress. Using a plant-based protein may be a better option.