Food and drink

A hand, holding a water bottle, outdoors beside a cliff 

Keeping your energy levels up

It’s important to take plenty of food and water with you when out walking to keep hydrated and keep your energy levels up, especially on longer walks.

Being prepared will help make your walk more enjoyable so here are few handy tips:

  • Carbohydrate-rich foods, fats, and healthy sugars are a good source of energy and will help you keep the pace and prevent exhaustion from setting in.
  • Go for foods that provide long-lasting energy, rather than a short-term sugar-rush. A Trail mix, which combines nuts and dried fruits, or energy bars are an excellent, high energy snack.
  • Fresh fruit also has a high water content so can help to keep you hydrated. Bananas are high in potassium and natural sugars and harder fruit like apples and pears are compact and easy to pack. Pack softer fruit with care at the top of your rucksack to avoid it getting squashed and take plastic bags to avoid anything leaking into your kit.  Chocolate gives you a good boost of energy so it’s always handy to keep a couple of bars on you.
  • If you’re going on a longer walk, it’s better to snack on small amounts throughout the day rather than eating one big meal. This will help you keep your blood sugar levels up and avoid painful cramps.

It’s important to remember to take all your litter away with you – including fruit peels, skins and cores - to avoid spoiling the beauty of the countryside, and causing unnecessary harm to wildlife and farm animals.

Staying hydrated

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things to do when going walking. Dehydration can lead to tiredness, cramps and headaches and could be dangerous, so take plenty of water with you, particularly if you’re going on a long walk or are walking in remote areas.

A few helpful tips:

  • The Department of Health recommends that we should drink about 1.2 litres of fluids a day. If you’re exercising you may need more, particularly in warm weather. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink, as this is one of the first signs of dehydration. Rather take regular sips as you go along.
  • Plain tap or still mineral water is your best option. Fizzy drinks are not good for quenching thirst as they are difficult to drink quickly. Fruit juice and non-diet soft drinks contain sugar which will boost your energy but aren’t as effective as water at keeping you hydrated.  
  • Isotonic and sports drinks are formulated to improve the rate at which water is absorbed, but water is still the healthiest option and best way to rehydrate.  
  • Avoid drinking unboiled or unpurified water from streams, and try to carry emergency water purification tablets if you’re hillwalking.


Photo: © Crissy Pauley