Eating for energy

Posted on June 1st, 2009

Naren climbing a dihedral

As a rock climber I spend long days outdoors hiking around and exerting large amounts of energy scaling up rock faces. This requires a lot of energy, so when I am out climbing I want to eat a diet that will allow me to perform my best. I believe this is best accomplished through a RAW food diet. The days I am at the crag at least 2/3 of the days food intake comes from RAW foods.

Most of my RAW food intake is through fruits. Typically I will carry with me: 3-4 bananas, 2-3 apples and an orange.  The reasoning for the high fruit intake is that fruit (as well as vegetables) is easily and quickly digestible, thus providing me more energy for climbing. The fruit provides energy in the form of glucose, which the body turns into energy by using oxygen.  Fruits also contain lots of water, and we all know drinking lots of water is essential to the human body and even more important for an athlete during performance days.

Protein is also essential for energy, as well as muscle recovery. On crag (climbing) days I consumer most of my protein through nuts and seeds, or the occasional smoothie with hemp seed protein added in that I blended up the day before.  Nuts and seeds are high in protein and an essential part of a RAW food diet. Just don’t overdo it, as they are high in fat.  I will usually pack a home made trail mix with me consisting of cashews, almonds and raisins. Sometimes I even throw in pumpkin or sunflower seeds as well.  My Buckwheat Treats also contain a lot of seeds and are high in protein and I usually have these with me as well.

A new snack I have recently started bringing with me on climbing trips are Chocolate Chia Seed Crackers. Chia seeds are magical little seeds that are extremely nutritious and have tons of health benefits. One of their major advantages is that they slow down the breakdown of glucose, thus making the release of energy last longer when eaten with fruit.  I often sprinkle chia seeds in my fruit salads for this reason. These tiny little seeds also pack tons of protein.

One of the major advantages in my opinion of the high RAW diet on climbing trips is that it affords me more time to climb. There is never a long stop down for lunch because I am always eating throughout the day between climbs. I do however occasionally have to wait on climbing partners but can usually find others to climb with while they stuff their face with foods that will begin slowing them down later in the day.

In the past I would feast on gummy bears, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or turkey sandwiches and all sorts of other random junk. Sometimes I would even forgo eating altogether.  But now that I am smart about what I eat I find I not only perform better while climbing, but I enjoy it more too.

A plethora of RAW food ready for a weekend of climbing.

A plethora of RAW food ready for a weekend of climbing.

Here is what a typical daily meal looks like for me when on weekend climbing trips.

Breakfast – A smoothie I prepared the evening before, sprouted grain cereal (not truly RAW, but still very healthy) toped with agave nectar, bananas, raisins and hemp seed milk or almond milk. Since the smoothies won’t keep very long I have started to dehydrate them into a giant fruit rollup. I will have this for breakfast on the second day. Unfortunately they don’t taste that well dehydrated because of the hemp seed and veggie powder mixture I put in them.
Lunch – Don’t really have “lunch” but I snack on lots of things throughout the day, nuts, seeds, fruits, etc.
Dinner – This becomes tricky. I usually pack a mixed green salad with fruits, but often end up going into town to eat with the crew. Most of the people I climb with rarely stay in camp to eat so I often compromise this meal. This is not ideal for me, but I am a very social individual and refuse to compromise friendship over food.

So next time you are out climbing, backpacking, biking, swimming or running try eating for energy. Eat lots of fruits and veggies that are easy to digest. I promise, you will enjoy a real boost of energy.  When I first started eating RAW foods I almost immediately noticed an increase in energy, not just when climbing, but in every day life. I no longer went into a food comma after lunch at work, thus making me more productive. But in terms of my climbing, my ability almost immediately went up. I jumped from bouldering V1 to V3 and went from climbing 5.9 to getting my first 5.10b onsight.

The benefits of eating RAW foods are tremendous!

Here are some recommended Web sites to find out more about RAW food. These will eventually be added to a resource section of this site once I finish up the new design.
Living and Raw Foods
Give it to me Raw
Kristen’s Raw
Raw Fu
Gone Raw

5 Responses to “Eating for energy”

  1. Arne says:

    This sounds really interesting. I haven’t gotten quite as specialized in my diet as you. But I agree: Eating well and healthy on a daily basis adds greatly to your general athletic well being and performance. Nothing tastes better on a hot hard climbing day than a big, juice apple instead of food bars. Unfortunately, I am often lazy and do stuff my pockets with Clif bars and things like that.

  2. patty says:


    Hey! I found your blog through GI2MR :).

    I’m still fairly new to climbing, and I’ve been on and off with eating raw for almost a year.

    Currently, I’m living abroad in South Korea-which is AMAZING for climbing…but awful for a raw vegan :(.

    I’m thankful to have found your blog, it is always REALLY encouraging reading about fellow climbers who are advocates of a high raw lifestyle. There are a handful of vegetarians in the group that I regularly climb with; however, I’m the only vegan (let alone someone trying to stick to eating raw).

    I look forward to frequent blog updates-keep them coming!! :)

  3. Lauren says:

    Energy from raw foods is amazing! Glad it’s working for you. Yummy food you bring on your climbs!

  4. [...] health and a contributing factor to my overall fitness level. One of my first posts here was Eating for energy, where I talk about what I typically eat on my climbing trips. I find it kind of strange that I [...]

  5. [...] I like about it is I incorporate chia seeds. I have mentioned this potent little seeds before in Eating for Energy. The nice thing about chia seeds is that they slow down the breakdown of glucose when consumed with [...]

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