Nutrition Plan for Kilimanjaro
Trekking up Kilimanjaro is going to take a minimum of 6 days and sometime even more depending on the route you have chosen to the summit. This means that fatigue is going to compound over time. And with that comes many changes in your body’s chemistry that can have an effect on your performance especially at altitude. And yes you are going to need a massive dash of willpower and determination to make the summit (unfortunately we do not have any vitamins to help with that except maybe a beer afterwards), but the key to making the summit more attainable is most definitely a good nutrition plan for Kilimanjaro.
Nutritional preparation does not start on the first day of your trek. Your body needs time to absorb and prepare for the endurance needed to climb the highest mountain in Africa.
The 3 key essentials in terms of preparation are:
- Storage of carbohydrates in the liver and muscles as glycogen which is converted into glucose which gives the body the energy needed to climb
- You will have to discipline yourself on the climb to up your intake of the essential nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins like Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and Vitamin E. All of these are essential not only for energy but help with acclimatization as well.
- Breakfast is the most important part of the day!! As much as you may not feel like eating, it is imperative that you try and our nutritious breakfast into you. This will ensure stable blood sugars which are critical on Kilimanjaro. You do not want to spike your sugar levels and suffer the consequences of the low that follows it. Maintaining your sugar levels is vital.
How do I improve my glycogen storage?
Basically Glycogen storage is the process of eating more carbohydrates. Remember what we said about converting them into energy. Carbohydrates are the back bone of energy production. Equally important is protein as protein strengthens muscle cells where glycogen is stored. And remember that your body breaks down muscle before fat.
How much carbohydrates is sufficient?
7-11g / kg body weight, i.e. ±450g for woman and ±700g for men.
When should I start increasing my intake of carbohydrates?
We recommend 3 days prior to the climb
What effect does drinking water have on carbohydrate absorption?
We suggest that you drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. (±2,7g water is required to store 1g carbohydrate)
Can I substitute Carbo-loading drinks instead of food?
It’s all about balance. Many climbers find it difficult to consume the carbohydrates required for the climb. So they substitute with a pre-endurance sports drink. Probably a good idea given the challenge that lies ahead of you
Should I be taking vitamins on Kilimanjaro?
We highly recommend taking vitamins to supplement your diet on Kilimanjaro. Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in the immune system maintenance, metabolism and overall health.
What vitamins should I take on Kilimanjaro?
- SELENIUM 100 microgram (m g) per day
- VITAMIN E 500 International Units (I.U.) per day
- VITAMIN C 500 milligram (mg) per day. May be increased to 1000mg during times of illness
- ZINC 20mg per day. May be increased to 40mg a
- Beta Carotene
Preventing dehydration on Kilimanjaro
- Use an isotonic or hypotonic solution to prevent dehydration.
- Before starting the trek: try to consume at least 500ml of the hypotonic solution
- During hiking and climbing: 500-900ml per hour of hiking / climbing.
- Drink at intervals of 20-30 minutes – STOP every 30 minutes and take 4-6 sips (± 200ml)
- Drink even if you are not thirsty; the first sign of dehydration is absence of thirst.
- Our guides will be constantly reminding you to drink. Prevention is better than cure!!!
- Straw coloured urine indicates good hydration.
- Dark yellow urine indicates that you are in urgent need of more fluids (remember B vitamins also tend to colour urine very deep yellow).
Can I only drink water?
Too much water intake will see a drop on plasma sodium concentration that reduces the feeling of being thirsty and will also stimulate urine output. This in turn increases your chances of dehydration. Using an energy drink that contains electrolytes and potassium is highly recommended
Menu on Kilimanjaro:
Our mountain cuisine normally includes the following:
BREAKFAST: Fruit Juice, Fruit, Cereal/Porridge, Eggs bread/French-toast/Plain-toast/Pancakes, Sausages, Margarine, Jam/Honey, Tea/Coffee/Drinking chocolate. Boiled egg, spinach omelet or fried egg with beacon and bread.
LUNCH: Sliced Carrot and Cucumber stripes, Avocado slices, Boiled egg, Vegetable/Meat cutlets, Sandwiches (Egg/ Cheese/Tomato/Tuna/Meat/Peanut butter), Fruit. Boiled egg, salami sandwich, cheese, French toast Macaroni and meat sauce and bread.
DINNER: Soup of the day, Bread, Salad, Rice/Pasta/Potatoes, Chicken/Meat, Mixed Vegetables (Carrot/French -Beans/Cabbage), Lentils, Fruit Salad, Fruit with custard, Tea/Coffee/Milo/Drinking chocolate. Spaghetti with meat sauce or fish with rice, Fried beef with roast potatoes, rice, carrots, cabbage. Roast chicken with vegetable, fried rice, green pepper, carrots.
ON WAY TO THE SUMMIT (midnight snack)
Hot Chocolate, Tea or coffee and biscuits, orange squash or soup