Climbing is a demanding sport on our bodies and on our minds. We want to be as light as a feather, climb all the rock in a single attempt with super human strength, see beta without tape, and not freak out when the brain spiders set in. We require strength, endurance, power, sustained energy, flexibility, and some level of insanity. So, how does nutrition factor into all of this? Today, let’s start with a glossary of terms, so we’re all on the same page:
Carbohydrates are produced and stored in plants in the form of sugar, starch, and fiber.
Simple carbohydrates are fruits, fruit juices, sugar based snacks and drinks, white bread, white pasta, and baked goods. They give you that jump start power, taking a magic carpet ride into our cells via insulin and are used immediately, i.e. cheap date.
Complex carbohydrates, foods such as whole grains (brown rice, whole grain breads and barley) lentils, peas, beans, fruits and vegetables. They enjoy a languid approach, are slowly broken down and converted into simple sugars which take the insulin train into our cells over time. Complex carbs are the ones that will help you to sustain energy levels to “send” all day long.
Proteins are found in plants, whole grains, animal products, nuts, beans, and legumes. They are made from subunits called “amino acids”. Our bodies can do so many things with amino acids (like climbers can do with a 4 footer). Our bodies use proteins as a source of energy and individual amino acids contribute to most the important moment in a carbohydrate’s life, which is when it becomes energy!
Fats (aka “lipids” or “fatty acids”) can be found in nuts, seeds, olives, fruits and animal products. Fats are a major source of energy and they play many roles in our bodies.
There are only two essential fatty acids that we need to eat, and our bodies actually make the other ones.
Omega 3, which helps us remember beta, dial in a new technique, and gets to work on the inflammation (aka bad stuff) in our joints.
Omega 6, which helps us see hidden holds and aids our nerves from not being entirely shot at the end of a long day.
Vitamins are sensitive molecules that are needed in small amounts and are found in plants (the colorful stuff), whole grains and some animal products. They help the major players (remember our friends carbs, proteins, and fats) do their jobs.
B Vitamins work together with carbohydrates to create energy. Also, if you’re wondering why you may not be dialing in your beta or that new move? Try getting some B Vitamins from food into your life on the daily, as they are key physical components of our neural network.
Vitamin C works with protein to make Collagen, the glue that holds the body together, helps our boo boo’s heal and transports iron into our cells on warp speed.
Minerals need to be eaten because our bodies can’t make them.
Check out your trail mix. Do you have a wide variety of nuts and seeds in there (and no, M&M’s do not count as a nut)? If so, well done! Plants, whole grains, and some animal products have them as well.
Minerals work together with carbohydrates to create energy, help supply muscles with oxygen (to defeat that dreaded that “pumped” feeling) and help to patch up our flappers!
Water…. the essence of life. Where is it found in the food world? Plants! Fruits! And animal products! ??????
Yes! Muscle has more water associated with it than fat, so therefore lean whole animal proteins have a lot of water in them!
Water is not fun to carry (a pint a pound, the world around) but a necessary tool for us to maintain focus, motor control, body temperature, and to fight off fatigue.
Whole foods don’t demand a lot from us or really require much effort, they just want to contribute to your climb! So consider bringing along some of the following:
Oranges (simple carb, workin’ hard), Bananas (vitamins packed with carbohydrates), Pears, Apples, Nuts and Seeds (healthy fats for fuel), Whole Grain Bread with PB&J, AB&J or PB&H, (carbs, proteins and healthy fats sandwiched into one) Shredded Roasted Chicken, String Cheese, an Avocado, Homemade Granola Bars laden with Dried Fruit, Nuts, Dark Chocolate and being held together with Coconut Oil and Love (please don’t forget to bring the love).
-Climb (and Eat) On!