Power Up With The Right Food

Here's a hunters' diet that even a couch potato can love

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Like marathon runners, hunters endure long hours of exertion and finish tired. But most marathoners pay more attention to nutrition than hunters do. Their advice: Eat all the fruits and vegetables you want and plenty of whole-grain breads (refined grains lose up to 80 percent of their nutrients). Use margarine and low-fat milk and substitute graham crackers and fig bars for cookies and candy.

Nuts and Fiber
Eat lots of nuts, too. They contain good HDL cholesterol and appear to cut the levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol in your blood. Nuts are high in calories, but they also fill you up. Ditto for peanut butter. Nuts and cheese add protein to your feedbag, and protein helps you to recover from hard hikes. High-protein food can raise glycogen levels 128 percent over levels resulting from carbohydrate replenishment alone.

You also should add both soluble and insoluble fiber to your diet. Apples and bananas are a good source of soluble fiber, while bran fiber is insoluble. For endurance, your body also needs complex carbohydrates, like those found in pastas. Simple carbohydrates from high-sugar granola bars give you a quick shot of energy.

Trailside Treats
On the trail, you'll want durable food. Try raisins, nuts and cheese in separate Zip-Loc bags, plus apples and bagels, which can stand up to the jouncing of a typical hunt. Snack on these foods all dayÐ a better plan than committing to a big lunch, because you'll maintain your energy and never feel sluggish. Incidentally, timing can determine how much you get out of your food. Eat heartily in the morning, but don't overload just before attempting a steep climb. Ease up on your intake at night.

Eat Smart
You can help yourself to stay fit all year long by putting these staples in your cupboard and fridge:

  • Bananas: vitamin B6, fiber and potassium (to keep the lid on blood pressure)

  • Black beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils: protein, iron, fiber

  • Brown rice: carbohydrates, antioxidants to prevent muscle damage

  • Canola oil (and fish!): omega-3 fatty acids (to fight heart disease)

  • Carrots: vitamin A, fiber

  • Clams: iron, protein

  • Flaxseed (or flaxseed oil): fat that improves blood flow, possibly enhancing endurance

  • Kiwi: potassium, vitamin C

  • Milk (1 percent): calcium, vitamins A and D

  • Oatmeal: fiber, carbohydrates

  • Potatoes (not fried): carbohydrates

  • Raisins: iron, fiber

  • Tomatoes: vitamin C and lycopene, a phytochemical that may contribute to lowering the risk of prostate cancer