Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Cold Thermogenesis

Performance Nutrition for Backpacking, Part 2: Optimal Hike Recovery

0:00 Opening
0:16 Introduction
1:38 Main take-aways from Part 1
1:53 Glycogen and its depletion
3:09 Limitations of glycogen reserves
3:45 Bonking
5:17 Recovery
5:38 Scientific Studies
8:10 The role of Insulin
10:00 The Recovery Window
10:52 Recovery Drink – The Sugar Part
12:48 Recovery Drink – The Protein Part
19:43 Selecting the Sugar (not all sugars are the same)
23:50 My recovery drink recipe
24:17 On caffeine
25:48 Testimonials
27:50 Commercial recovery mix options
33:17 Dinner
34:29 Protein (amount in one meal)
36:30 Protein quality scores
37:08 Thermogenic Effect
39:45 Summary & Conclusion

This video is Part 2 in a series. Part 1 covered camp breakfast and Optimal Trail Fuel. This part details an Optimum Recovery drink to maximize muscle glycogen replenishment, as well as camp dinner criteria for weight and energy efficiency plus muscle repair and thermogenesis (to keep you warmer at night).

Download the food chart with the links below.
Note: these are the latest version that may contain analysis columns not explained until later videos in the series. Watch all four videos for full explanations!

Hiker Food Chart (PDF version):

Hiker Food Chart (Excel version):

Check out the Calorie Density videos…

Defining “Ultralight” Food for Backpacking and Bug Out Bags

Freeze-Dried Backpacking Meals Rated by Calorie Density


Similar Posts

20 thoughts on “Performance Nutrition for Backpacking, Part 2: Optimal Hike Recovery
  1. I experimented with the recovery drink on my recent backpacking trip (minus the caffeine due to severe outdoor induced insomnia). Multiday hikes ruin me and I can barely function for days after finishing. I get home, "nap" for hours, wake up, go to bed really early, lie in and repeat the next day and still feel absolutely wrecked, to the point I won't eat.

    The weather hit 31c/88f with high humidity, with non-existent shade. The most I’ve ever hiked is 18.2 mi/29.2 km (in cool weather and carrying less). This trip I beat my personal record on the 2nd day (20.2 mi/32.5 km) and equalled my ascent record. The last 4 miles were a rollercoaster of hills designed to destroy legs. I didn’t plan to go that far but I reached my finish point with fuel still in the tank so I continued for another 3 miles, adding 872ft to my ascent.

    I drank this within 30 mins of stopping on each day. I don’t feel wrecked and I didn’t get the violent post exercise shivers like usual. I came home, had a small nap (because of the insomnia), woke up, done some chores, went to bed and woke up at a normal time. I feel good, tired in a good way but not utterly destroyed.

    I didn’t expect any difference at all, or for it to be marginal. I don’t feel this is a coincidence because I had more variables that were working against a positive outcome (excessive heat, humidity, backpack weight, lockdown meaning I was unfit, carrying more body weight and not conditioned) but it seems to have worked like magic. This may very well be a game changer for me, it's quite exciting. Thank you.

  2. Up to now, my preferred recovery drink was a post ride beer – I may have to do some reevaluation. Thanks! – great presentation and I appreciate how you summarize a great deal of information into guidelines and easy to apply ideas. You should consider submitting manuscript as a review article somewhere – Im sure it would be greeted with a great deal of interest and maybe get more hiking specific studies done.

  3. I must be a weirdo; most of what you recommend isn't what I do (except eating breakfast, all on board there! wish my hiking companions liked breakfast). I am always warmest just before getting up in the morning, coldest at bedtime, no matter when I eat. I love waking up at 3-4am because then i can nestle back in warm and cozy for some really excellent pre-dawn sleep. But eating before bed will keep me awake, or at worst make me hurl, so it's not an option anyway! lol – I also dislike shakes and whatnot, so drinking that protein stuff would really make me nauseous after a day's hike. A pre-dinner snack though…

  4. Tthe missing piece of my planning as I mentioned, brain fried over base weight vs budget. I cannot thank you enough for a) asking all the questions and b) sharing the answers. In the first third of the vid, you may have heard someone shouting "Yes WHEY!" When you added collagen to the possibilities; I knew I already had everything I needed in my daily routine and would not have to torture myself with junk from $ $tore. Thank you, thank you👍

  5. It's great video, but a lot pin-pointed studies. For example that "anabolic window", consensus isn't as drastic and meta-analysis doesn't support the idea that it goes from 80% to 0% within 30-120min. That was a myth that became myth from a singular study.

  6. You appreciate our time ? All this research took hours. It has taken less than 45 minutes to watch it. Thanks for the research and for posting this video. Very helpful for those that want the best diet for hiking. You've given us all the info needed to make the right choices.

  7. Another outrageously informative and helpful video! You are the MVP of long distance hiking nutrition info. I am very appreciative of your extensive research and time spent to provide others with very useful information.

  8. 55-60 grams of sugar in the recovery drink seems like a lot of sugar to be ingesting?

    Also I guess the amount of sugar and protein will depend on body size? How tall/heavy are you if you don't mind me asking just to get an idea of who your recovery drink measurements are good for.

    Also, when would you advise on taking a recovery drink? After only a few hours of mild hiking, or only after a full day of intense hiking?


  9. Thank you for your hard work! I have Diabetes 2 and I have a long hike coming up soon. I’m at a loss for devising a recovery and rebuilding regime that does not send my blood glucose levels off-scale. Suggestions very much appreciated, thank you.

  10. I can't find anywhere that sells the single-serving Clif Shot Recovery drink mixes. doesn't them. I could only find ONE site that even has a product page for them (, and they are sold out. Where did you find them?

  11. Very interesting research. I'd be very interested in trying the recovery drink but don't see a way to dabble in it very easily. i don't really want to have to buy a $50 massive container of something I might only use 1/10 of. Any suggestions for dabbling? Maybe some of the carnation breakfast things mentioned below mixed with Nido and water?

  12. Maybe I missed it, but how much water should I use for your recovery drink, or the commercial options? For example, the Gatorade Recover Whey Protein Powder says that it makes "about 12 fluid ounces" (per their website – I'm still waiting on mine to get here). Does adding the Starbucks Via change the amount of water needed? Do you prefer to use significantly more or less than the package recommendations?

    I'm thinking it would make sense to use a dedicated separate bottle, both to have a wider mouth than the smartwater bottles I typically use and to avoid flavoring my primary water bottles, but I'm not sure how large of a bottle I need.

  13. Thank you for these incredibly helpful videos. I'm heading to JMT next Tuesday, but still adjusting my first 10 days of food. Any chance you could send me your recommendations for electrolytes and hydration that you'll be talking about in the next video? I know you haven't finished the research, so feel free to PM instead of publicly replying. Any pointers would help even if they haven't been perfected yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.