You’re not going to out-walk an elk herd, but eating and drinking right may help you catch them.
Boiled down to the basics, there are three things that keep us going on an elk hunt: food, water and the desire to fill a tag. If you’re reading this, you have the desire. But what about the fuel needed to get you to the next ridge? Are you carrying the best rations to light your internal fire? The answer might surprise you.
A breakfast with plenty of carbohydrates, snacks and electrolytes, and a good dinner is all you need, says John Cuddy, an avid elk hunter and researcher at the Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism in Missoula. In other words, hunt through lunch.
“Our research works to maximize human performance in challenging environments: heat, cold, altitude,” says Cuddy. Working with the military and wildland firefighters, Cuddy and his researchers have found that spreading out food intake and electrolye-laden liquids like Gatorade throughout the day can improve the body’s energy output 10-20 percent. Plus, drinks with electrolytes help the body retain fluids, says Cuddy. That way, you can carry less water.
“In the short-term, think of food as fuel. Eat a Snickers or an ‘energy bar’; it really doesn’t matter,” says Cuddy. “In the long-term, though, unless you’re hunting every day, you might want to lay-off the Snickers.”