Best Diet for Rock Climbers

When speaking regarding the best nutrition for rock and ice climbers, it is a relative topic that depends particularly on the build of each person, but also on the activeness and other physical attributes of the individual. While it would be a good idea to do some more substantial research, talk to your gym instructors and local nutritionists as well. Also try to do some experimenting of your own with various healthy foods, incorporated before, after (or even during) your climbing session.

One of the foremost important things to do is to find out what the intensity you’re looking to climb at, and the duration of the course as well. With shorter time durations, but higher power regarding physical workouts such as bouldering (a popular kind of indoor climbing) it is a good idea to fuel up beforehand with healthy carbohydrates and fats that are easy to digest.

Some of these foods are bananas, dried fruits (that’s why ‘trail mix’ is almost always 1/3 dried fruit!) rice milk, oatmeal (known in the U.K as quick oats) and sweet potatoes. However, if you’re looking to do slower, less intensive climbing sessions with a much longer duration, you’ll want to invest in slower burning fats and carbs to keep a steadier stream of energy. It would also be wise to eat this at least an hour before your workout. Some of those foods for this workout would be brown rice, beans, nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts, and quinoa.

Make sure to avoid fatty foods (even if they’re natural fats and not saturated fats found in junk food) before any workout, but especially climbing. They are far slower to digest than carbohydrates and protein and can cause cramps or other stomach problems when you’re working hard.

One thing to keep in mind is what you eat before the workout. Not an hour, but three or four hours prior. If your last meal has a healthy balance of natural fats, protein, (see article) and carbohydrates, you won’t need to take a workout supplement to boost your energy before working out.

Depending on the duration and physical acuteness of your climb, you may need to refuel your immediate energy stores mid-climb. Try to replenish your glycogen stores. These fast-acting energy stores are where your body gets energy, if it runs out of standard carbohydrates, and requires immediate energy. It acts almost like a natural 5 Hour Energy drink.

If you have any form of diabetes or even a simple problem with keeping your blood sugar down, aim to refill your glycogen stores every hour or so, as opposed to doing it more frequently. Going any longer without refilling could potentially increase the risk of your muscles breaking down (because there is nothing to rebuild them) and an increase in fatigue, as well as an apparent decrease in performance.

If you have caffeine gum handy, or any energy gel, be sure to hydrate regularly. Obviously, it’s best to drink before you even feel the need to drink, but drink a large amount of water every 30 or so minutes also.

Now, there is a lot more to it than what I’ve written here; it’s always a good idea to commit to researching as much as possible before changing a habit, especially if it’s your diet. These are just the main few things that you’ll be wanting to look out for, but for now, you should stick to these tips and build off of this as a foundation.

Oh, and in case you’re vegan:

Joshua Hicks