Whether you’re hiking remote trails or exploring urban treasures, the right backpack snacks will give you plenty of energy to enjoy the sights and keep you in top shape. These portable picks are easy to pack, stay fresh, and won’t weigh you down.
Energy Boosting Drink Mixes
For an energy boost without caffeine jitters, look for ingredients such as these: green tea extract for healthy metabolism; vitamin B12 for mental energy; vitamins C and D and zinc for overall health and immunity; chromium to help burn food as fuel rather than storing it as fat; and super nutrients such as resveratrol, the key beneficial ingredient in red wine.
One to try: EBOOST effervescent packets that dissolve in water. Choose from Orange, Açai Pomegranate, or Pink Lemonade flavors. Sweetened with stevia, one serving packs only 15 calories.
Seeds for Endurance
Legend has it that ancient Aztec warriors ate only chia seeds for strength and endurance during battle, and Native Americans lived solely on chia during 24-hour marches. Studies show that the seeds (yes, they’re the same ones that put hair on chia pets) are extremely high in healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidants, and rich in fiber and protein. Because they absorb nine times their weight in water, chia seeds also keep you hydrated and full.
One to try: Greens Plus Omega 3 Chia Stick Packs. Eat seeds by themselves, sprinkle them on other food, or mix with water as a drink.
Bars for Mini Meals
Nutrition bars are a handy source of portable protein to maintain healthy muscles and bones, plus carbohydrates
for energy. Protein and total calorie content vary, giving arange of options, for light or hearty snacksor mini meals. With a multitude of flavors, there are plenty of choices to keep you going.
Two to try: Atkins Advantage Bars pack 5–19 grams of protein per bar, depending on whether you want a snack or a meal replacement. Protein sources include soy, whey and other milk proteins.
Amazing Grass Organic Vegan Whole Food Energy Bars include a variety of superfoods, such as chlorella, spirulina, açai, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and digestive enzymes, with 5–12 grams of plant protein.
Make Your Own Trail Mix
For a healthy trail mix, choose raw or dry-roasted nuts, some dried fruit, and goji berries, an energy-sustaining superfood with over 20 minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C, plus protein, and fiber.
One to try: Navitas Naturals Organic Goji Berries.
Enjoy a nutritious snack disguised as a yummy dessert on your next hike or outdoor excursion. New on the scene are “functional” desserts that are not only delicious but are loaded with protein and low in sugar so they’re good for you, too. Look for those that use natural sweeteners such as stevia that won’t spike blood sugar, for sustained energy all day long.
One to try: MHP Power Pak Pudding in Chocolate or Vanilla Crème.
Ingredients to avoid
Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer, co-authors of Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks, analyzed dozens of nutrition bars and other snack foods and found that many contain these unhealthy ingredients—avoid them.
- High fructose corn syrup: more likely to disrupt your metabolism than sugar.
- BHT, BHA, and TBHQ (artificial preservatives): can cause hormone disruption, nausea, and other symptoms.
- Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils): make arteries stiff.
- Aspartame: can cause neurological problems.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate): can trigger headaches, fatigue, hot flashes, and other side effects.