Munchy Trail Riders~Why Nutrition is Important for Kids on the Trail

Our kids are our most prized beings in our lives and if you’re anything like me you wonder how best to keep your children healthy.

I’ve struggled with the balance of vegetables ( you can just hide them in their mac n cheese, right?) and the occasional, “Mom, pleeeese can I have an ice-cream???” all the while wanting to please and care for my children at the same time. The end result often times is a finicky eater and if we struggle with getting our kids to eat healthy at home, what in the world do we feed them on the trail?

Mountain biking is an endurance/aerobic sport that when performed regularly makes the heart and lungs stronger. Aerobic exercise is an excellent way to keep our kids healthy and strong. Kids who exercise have many health benefits, “ Kids who are active will:

  • have stronger muscles and bones
  • have a leaner body
  • be less likely to become overweight
  • decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
  • have a better outlook on life

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better. They’re also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.” Knowing that mountain biking is a strenuous sport and one that requires considerable activity for up to two hours at a time, I wondered, how do I make sure my child is eating healthy and enough food to sustain him/her throughout the ride?

When I started mountain biking with my two boys I quickly realized that I needed a lot of food in order to keep their energy up (take it from me, the ride can end in a lot of crying if you don’t bring more than you think you should). Since the sport is taxing to the body it needs to be replenished before we ask more of ourselves and our kids. Foods that I bring along for my kids include:

  • Shock Blocks-I call this ‘trail candy.’ My boys love them and are similar to a gummy bear in texture. They are good for a quick energy boost. I get strawberry flavor and be sure to get the non-caffeinated
  • Snack bars-Kind bars are a favorite in my household with less sugar and a variety of flavors. Make sure to bring several per child.
  • Pancakes- Did I just say pancakes? Yes, I did! I make Kodiak superfood pancakes (you can find in any grocery store) which is full of whole grains, quality protein, and without GMOS and artificial ingredients. These pack well in their backpacks and provide a lot of sustainable energy.
  • Dried Fruit-I like mangos and strawberries but you should bring what you know your child will like. Dried fruit gives a boost of sugar which is vital for restocking muscle-glycogen stores and it stays nicely in a baggie.
  • Small bag of salted nuts-Sodium is lost from our bodies when we sweat and your child will be seating while mountain biking. Low sodium can cause various issues while exercising such as dehydration and muscle cramps. Eating a bag of salty nuts will help your child keep their electrolytes up and in turn happy and healthy on the trail. Snack size bags can be found at any grocery store.
  • Water-Water is the best drink for your little shredder. We are told that sports drinks are a great way to get electrolytes when we exercise but truly water is the best (also never put sports drinks into a hydropack, it is extremely hard to wash out and will end up ruining it).

Kids on the trail will get hungry often so be prepared to stop and take a break to eat every 30 minutes (even a couple bites of something will help maintain energy) for optimal results. You can set a timer to remind yourself to stop because waiting until it’s too late will end in your child ‘bonking’ ( “hitting the wall” ~for endurance athletes it is a sudden and overwhelming feeling of running out of energy) on the trail.

With all your food and patience prepared ahead of time you are bound to have a great time teaching your child how to be healthy physically and nutritionally while mountain biking.