What you put in, is what you get out.
After all the research, preparation and execution, I am proud to say we were able to successfully hike to Mount Everest base camp.
When I reflect back on all the steps taken to achieving the life goal, there were definitely things that I believe I would change, things that I should have done and things I believe we did well. This is called a “stop, start and continue retrospective” with which I will share for each of my key steps. The first being nutrition.
As mentioned in my initial Nurtition blog, climbing to Mount Everest Base camp can burn energy at a rapid rate (up to 10,000 calories) and therefore you need to have the right nutrition to perform your best. Aside from the breakfast, lunches and dinner provided at the lodges, energy and nutrition was also required in between. Huma gels was my choice of weapon to replenish my energy between breakfast, lunch and dinner. In this retrospective, I will cover the Huma gels and any other products used outside of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What I did notice and to be expected, for any product with a high fibre product such as chai seeds, is that after consuming the same ingredients for 6-7 days straight and with other high fibre products, I would start to incur minor and slightly uncomfortable stomach pains. To stop these stomach pains, I would recommend reducing the amount of fibre consumed on any given day.
Also stop consuming caffeine, sugar and alcohol atleast 1 week before the hike, having to focus on these withdrawals and hiking at the same time could and would be painful. Having consumed on average 3 coffees a day, I reduced my intake to 1-2 a week, 3 weeks prior to the hike. I replaced my coffee with mint teas (caffeine free), given my work requires a lot of meetings that usually include a coffee. What I experience during the first couple of days during my detox were headaches, feeling lethargic and frustrations. I am definitely glad that I stopped before the trip, to ensure I didn’t experience these feelings whilst on my expedition.
Reducing the fibre intake meant, switching from porridge in the morning to eggs, reducing the number of Huma gels to 1 a day, instead of 2-3 gels a day and replenish my energy with alternative snacks that still provided the carbohydrates that were needed to give the energy required such as snickers, hiking bars etc.
Eat as much as you can. The more you eat, especially at the beginning, the more energy you will have later on. Walking over a period of 12 days and at different levels and altitudes means that your calorie consumption will increase the more you hike. At first you may think it is too much food to consume, but trust me you will be grateful you did eat that whole plate of noodles or fried rice.
In regards to my energy snacks, continue to have the snacks that you really enjoy and that you look forward to. For me this was the Huma gels. Why? Well, firstly, I really enjoyed the flavors. Having a range of flavours (apple & cinnamon, raspberry & chocolate, raspberry and chocolate, with chocolate being my favourite), helped mix it up a bit and the best part was that they really tasted as per the description and not like the typical gel bars. With the gels being so tasty, I was looking forward to every break where it was time to consume another one. I also shared some of the bars with my fellow hikers, who were skeptical at first of having a vegan and gluten free product but after the first mouthful they were convinced. Also knowing that I was providing my body with nutritional vegan and gluten free products was reassuring and extremely important considering I was going to be using them for 12 days. In regards to performance, what I also noticed was that after walking 1-2 hours up and down and then taking a break the gels, they really gave me the boost I needed to keep me going until the next big carb loaded meal.
Drink lots of water. Hydration is key. Altitude sickness can be partly caused by dehydration and therefore it is crucial to consume at least 2 litres per day. With the combination of long hikes and wearing merino wool clothing, you won’t notice how much you sweat and can therefore become easily dehydrated. Having a 2ltr CamelBak reservoir made easy to drink water, as you don’t have to stop, extract your water bottle, drink the water, put the water bottle back in your backpack and then continue walking. A CamelBak reservoir will ensure you can keep walking without the hassle. Also as another reminder the team would call out “water” to ensure we were all replenishing adequately.
If you have condiments that you like, take them with you. There are sauces, chillies, salt and pepper etc available at the lodges. However, I also took with me cinnamon sugar for the porridge and vegemite spread for a special treat.
The research and preparation really ensured that I had the right products and tools for me to perform my best. There were only minor alterations that I would make to the overall execution for nutrition. I am really glad that I used Huma gels as my energy replenishment. They taste great, gave me the energy I needed and best of all are vegan and gluten free. For me these gels showed there worth and I will definitely be using them in the future for hiking, running or any form of fitness that requires that energy boost. I would recommend that you give them a try.