There is no doubt that fueling your body in a proper way before a climbing session is crucial for both performance and endurance, but it is necessary for you to persist in your effort.
According to the length of your climbing session, your body need to be refueled in order to prevent the sudden onset of fatigue. Your body is a very efficient machine, but it will work effectively only if you give it everything it needs to function properly. At this point we perfectly know climbing demands a lot of energy, so clearly you are in need of filling up your fuel tank if you want to keep on hiking your mountains.
The last time I have given you some pieces of advice on what you should eat before your climbing session to enhance your efficiency. Now, it is time to talk about what we are supposed to do during your climbing time. In order to maintain your peak performance level it is fundamental that you are aware of why, when and what you should be eating. Let us start with the “Why”…
If you read my previous posts you will know that your primary energy source derives from stored glucose and your secondary energy source comes from stored glycogen.
Once your muscles have begun to rely on glycogen for energy, your glycogen levels start to deplete very quickly and your muscles do not gain much strength back, even after a rest. That means that your muscles (especially your forearms) have little energy and continuing to climb will be more and more difficult. Your ability to improve is disrupted because your muscles need an extra day or two to recover, which basically means less climbing time.
Moreover, another reason why you should snack while you climb is associated with the necessity to allow your muscles to repair and recover from the strenuous work. Since you obviously want to delay tiredness, you need to aid your muscles to repair and recover during exercise by supplying them with protein.
So, to sum up, the following reasons explain you briefly why it is crucial to refuel during climbing:
– to extend endurance (delay tiredness)
– to maintain performance
– to prevent depleting secondary fuel tank
– to stimulate muscle repair and recovery
Once understanding the “Why” we can move forward to the “When”.
After having nourished your tank before climbing, then you should not need any snacks until approximately an hour of climbing. In terms fluids the situation is completely different. Hydration is one of the most critical elements for maintaining peak performance. We have already said that in the previous posts. Make sure you are well hydrated before you start climbing and, once you have started, be sure to maintain hydration by drinking water about every fifteen minutes at least.
Snacks become relevant if you plan to climb for a longer period of time. In this regard, it is important to listen to your body. If you feel tired before an hour then you will take a break and grab a snack in order not to deplete your secondary storage tank. The best choice is having small snacks sprinkled throughout your climbing session, instead of eating bigger snacks less frequently.