An image of a female abseiling a waterfall with the words canyoning calories overlaid on top

Canyoning and Nutrition: Everything You Need to Know

Are you ready to set out on an epic canyoning adventure? Before you explore those waterfalls, you'll need to fuel up!

You don't want to get halfway into your journey and become so tired that you can't continue. The goal is to fill your body with enough nutrients to propel it through the journey ahead and replenish any energy you lose. 

Today, we're taking a closer look at the link between canyoning and nutrition. How many calories can you expect to burn? Why is it so important to eat well before, during, and after your adventure?

Join us as we explore deeper!


Canyoning and Caloric Loss

Canyoning is an exciting and physically challenging activity, particularly when done in aquatic canyons or during colder seasons such as winter. In countries with hot temperatures and strong sunlight during the summer, it is crucial to consider various nutrition and hydration options to sustain energy and endurance levels.

Just how many calories can you expect to burn when you set off for a day of canyoning? The answer will vary depending on your body weight. 

For comparison's sake, let's review the numbers for a 60-kilogram, 70-kilogram, 80-kilogram, and 90-kilogram person. 

Climbing Hills with 4-Kilogram Gear

According to nutritionist data, climbing hills with gear that weighs up to four kilograms burns the following number of calories per hour:

  • 60 kilograms: 413 calories
  • 70 kilograms: 493 calories
  • 80 kilograms: 572 calories
  • 90 kilograms: 651 calories

These numbers are the same for backpacking or hiking with a pack on for one hour.

Rock Climbing and Abseiling/Rappelling

But if we compare the calories used whilst climbing and abseiling (rappelling). The numbers are higher and as follows:

  • 60 kilograms: 472 calories
  • 70 kilograms: 563 calories
  • 80 kilograms: 654 calories
  • 90 kilograms: 745 calories

The only catch? Your canyoning trip will likely last all day! It's also an adventure distinct from hiking, with its own set of gear and guidelines, a mix of hiking, abseiling, scrambling and swimming. No account has been taken for the nervous energy consumed during a canyoning adventure.

That said, let's compute the total amount of calories that you'll burn over the course of a typical six-hour canyoning trip:

Comparison over a period of six hours

Hill Walking

  • 60 kilograms: 2,478 calories
  • 70 kilograms: 2,958 calories
  • 80 kilograms: 3,432 calories
  • 90 kilograms: 3,906 calories
  • Climbing and Abseiling

    • 60 kilograms: 2,832 calories
    • 70 kilograms: 3,378 calories
    • 80 kilograms: 3,924 calories
    • 90 kilograms: 4,470 calories

    Most active males aged 19 to 50 only need around 3,000 calories per day at most. Active women in the same age range require a maximum of 2,400 calories.

    Thus, you'll need to intake more than your average amount of nutrients when you're setting off for an extreme experience like canyoning!


    Why Nutrition Is Important!

    A heart-shaped plate of fruits and vegetables promoting healthy eating.

    The morning of your big day isn't the time to start eating right. To get the most out of your canyoning experience and make sure you're up to the challenge, it's important to look at the bigger picture of your food intake.

    Many outdoor enthusiasts know that it's common to hit a wall during an endurance event. Your muscles and liver begin to lose valuable glycogen, which happens to be your primary fuel source. 

    As a result, you run out of energy all at once. Your legs feel heavy, your body becomes fatigued, and you're forced to stop. 

    To prevent hitting the brick wall and have enough momentum to last all day, your overall diet needs to be rich in whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

    The day of your canyoning trip, there are certain foods you can consume to amplify your energy levels. However, it would be best if you aimed to establish a healthy diet, that you can stick to, on a regular basis to see long-term results. 


    What to Eat Before Your Canyoning Trip

    Now that you know how many calories your body needs, you can find any foods to fill that quota, right?

    Not so fast.

    Beware of empty calories* and strive to power your muscles with nutrient-rich ones instead. What is the best way to do so? Focus on healthy carbohydrates that are easy to digest.

    *Empty calories refer to foods and beverages that provide energy (calories) but little to no essential nutrients or health benefits. These are typically foods and drinks high in added sugars, solid fats, or both. While they may contribute to your daily caloric intake, they don't provide the body with the vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other essential nutrients it needs to function correctly and stay healthy.

    The morning of your trip, power up with eggs, whole-grain cereal or oatmeal. You can also reach for whole-grain pasta, low-fat yoghurt, brown rice, along with fruits and veggies. 

    Keep in mind that it's important to eat beforehand, even if you aren't hungry. The fast-paced act of canyoning can diminish your appetite for a while, which could leave you feeling fine for the first part of the trip. By the afternoon, however, you'll be reaching in desperation for that last morsel of protein bar, if you decide to skip breakfast.


    What to Eat During Your Canyoning Trip

    People who enjoy adventure sports in nature, such as running, biking, climbing, and hiking in the mountains, need to eat a balanced diet to stay healthy and energized. They need foods rich in carbohydrates, fluids, vitamins, minerals, and sugar to keep them going. Many athletes rely on energy bars, gels, and supplements to get a quick boost. However, natural foods like nuts, raisins, bananas, apples, and oranges can also provide the energy and nutrients they need. Sometimes, taking a short break in the canyon is the perfect time to recharge with a fresh sandwich and a warm drink, ensuring that you stay hydrated and energized.


    Prepare For The Adventure Ahead

    Moving through the challenging terrain of slippery rocks and waterfalls can cause your body temperature to fluctuate. To ensure proper nutrition and hydration, it is recommended to eat small amounts of food to keep you strong, without overeating and drinking enough fluids regularly, such as water, tea with honey, or a coffee substitute, to stay hydrated.

    It is important to note that sweets and chewing gum can be dangerous during rappelling and should be avoided.

    Never set out for a canyoning adventure without packing your bag with plenty of healthy goodies to keep your energy levels up. 

    Especially if you plan to explore canyons throughout the day or for multiple days, plan to snack at least once an hour. For day trips, reach for these nutrient-dense, high-carb and high-protein foods:

    • Nuts and seeds
    • Trail mix
    • Beef jerky
    • Pre-made tuna wraps
    • Low-sugar granola bars
    • Whole-grain tortillas

    Fruits are also great snacks to pack, but ensure to bring those that won't squash in your rope bag or explode after dropping your bag 20 meters down a waterfall. For instance, an apple travels better than a banana.

    One note on dried fruits: While these are easy to pack in your bag, your body has to work extra hard to digest them. In fact, it rehydrates them to do so. Make sure to drink plenty of water to replenish your fluid levels!

    Be Proactive

    It's always a good idea to be proactive and carry extra food in your waterproof container. You never know when you might need it, it's better to bring it back home than to be left without any food in the event of an emergency, a slow group, a colder canyon, or the need for a longer stay in the canyon.

    What to Eat After Your Canyoning Trip

    You did it! You completed your canyoning adventure, and it's time to head home. At this time, focus on loading back up with lean protein and complex sugars. 

    From energy bars to fruit squeezes, you'll have plenty of options. Try to consume this snack no more than one hour after your trip ends. 

    Note

    Mountain Rat Adventures offers each client a free drink and snack at the end of every adventure. They know how important it is to start the rehydrating and re-fueling process.

    You can use the calorie calculator below to give you a very good idea of how many calories you will use during your adventure.

    Calories Burned: 0.00


    The Danger of Dehydration

    An outdoor scene of a person and a bottle of water with water pouring out.

    There is very little point to canyoning and nutrition if you overlook the importance of staying hydtrated. It is important that you drink water before embarking on a canyon experience, despite the common misconception that you'll be surrounded by water throughout your trip. Preloading with water is crucial to ensure you do not get dehydrated quickly, especially on a scorching hot day. 

    Before your canyoning adventure, make sure to drink 0.5 litres to 1 litre of water to pre-hydrate. During the day, you should also drink 1 litre of water for every two miles you go. Aim to take a few sips every few minutes, even if you aren't thirsty, rather than gulping it down all at once. 

    Lee Wilson owner of Mountain Rat Adventures

    Lee Wilson

    In my experience

    " Women struggle with this concept due to fear of needing to pee, as it is not as easy as it is for men."

    Why go to this measure?

    Dehydration is a very real danger that canyoners face. It often sets in first as a headache. If you ignore it or aren't sure how to diagnose it, it can lead to weather-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion or hyperthermia.

    In addition, dehydration can lead to confusion and disorientation. If you're canyoning alone, you don't want to run the risk of making a mistake! Make sure to monitor your water intake, along with your urine colour. If it's clear and copious, you're on the right track. 

    ?

    Have you ever asked the question:

    Why do I get a banging headache after an activity?

    This is more than likely due to dehydration. Ensuring you stay on top of your drinking will keep you hydrated and prevent the headache.


    Here is quick round up:

    • -Symptoms of dehydration headaches include dull, persistent aches, sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
    • Dehydration headaches can be prevented and treated through proper hydration and being mindful of physical activity levels.
    • Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in, causing the brain to shrink and trigger pain signals temporarily.
    • Signs of dehydration include thirst, dark urine, fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.
    • Water-rich foods and beverages, such as fruits, vegetables, herbal teas, and infused water, can help increase hydration levels.
    • Electrolytes are essential for maintaining fluid balance and can be obtained through sports drinks and certain foods, such as leafy green vegetables, dried apricots, nuts and some breakfast cereals.

    **Keep an eye out for our dehydration blog coming soon.**

    Conclusion

    Canyoning and Nutrition: Stay Well and Have Fun

    Canyoning is meant to be one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable outdoor sports around. It can be that way if you're not exhausted, depleted of energy and sluggish. 

    This is where diet and nutrition must be considered as safety factors throughout the adventure. 

    Before, during and after your trip, fill your body with the good proteins, carbs and produce it craves. For the best results, take a whole-diet approach to nutrition and aim to eat well all the time, even on your rest days!

    Remember Canyoning and Nutrition go hand in hand! 

    canyoning and nutrition go hand in hand, as depicted in the image.

    Want more information on how to get the most out of your next adventure across the canyons? Contact me and let's plan your next adrenaline rush!

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    1 thought on “Canyoning and Nutrition”

    1. Thank you, a nice article it made me rethink my approach to canyoning and eating. Is there a difference between men and women MET values?

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