Food recommendations

This schedule is based on my own experiences as a mountaineer supplemented with advice from doctors and food experts. To obtain a schedule that is adjusted to your specific targets, I recommend you requests specialized advice from Etixx.

Challenge: Mountaineering at extreme altitude demands a lot of the human body. During your preparation, your body must be able to recover from intensive training. During the expedition, you need to stay healthy. A number of days sick in basecamp can be the end of your climb. On top of that, your body will lack sufficient oxygen at high altitude. This doesn’t just mean that physical exercise will become much harder. Your body will diminish or even shut down certain functions to save oxygen for bodily functions that are more important in the short term. This means for example:

  • That recovery from illness or injury goes much slower at higher altitude.

  • That digesting food becomes much harder (or even impossible at extreme altitude) while you are still consuming a lot of energy. This results in the loss of considerable amounts of muscle mass.

  • Warming your body becomes much harder as you climb higher because it requires oxygen to produce body heath. The first parts of your body that will suffer from this are your fingers and toes. The risk of frostbite therefore is very real.

  • Brain activity and therefore ability to concentrate can be seriously reduced. This can lead to bad judgment and poor decision making.

Proper food can help in overcoming these challenges. To be clear, whether you acclimatize fast or slow has nothing to do with food or physical condition. Acclimatizing to a large extent boils down to making more red blood cells. The speed with which your body can produce more red blood cells is genetically determined. But there are other ways to give your body a hand.

During your preparation: Healthy eating habits are key to a healthy body. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit and drink at least 1,5 liter of water per day. Avoid candy, sauces and fat food. Replace meat by fish regularly. Limit alcohol and soft drinks. And never miss a meal. I complement my healthy diet with the following Etixx products:

  • Multimax: replenishes shortages in vitamins and minerals

  • Co-enzyme Q10: increases the take-in of oxygen

  • Magnesium 2000 AA: helps your muscles to relax and therefore prevents cramps during training. This magnesium is a tablet that is specially developed to counter the sometimes laxative effect when taking magnesium.

On training days, it is important to give your body additional support. It is best to eat a meal containing lots of carbs before the training. You can supplement this meal with Etixx Full Training Complex Shake to help muscles and glycogen reserves to recover. During the training it is of the utmost importance to drink plenty. Immediately after the training, you can speed up recovery with the following Etixx products:

  • Recovery shake: replenishes the energy reserves in your muscles and helps with the recovery after a training session.

  • Amino Acids: counters the deterioration of muscles and helps to maintain muscle mass.

  • HMB 1000: speeds up recovery and stimulates the growing of muscles.

Month before your expedition: During the last weeks before your climb you can give your body a few more substances that will allow you to deal with the climb better. I use the following Etixx products:

  • Beta Alinine: slows down the production of lactic acids in the muscles.

  • Iron: to improve the transport of oxygen in the blood.

  • Carnitine: stimulates the burning of fat and production of energy.

  • Arginine: improves the recovery and functioning of the muscles.

Trekking to and stay in basecamp: Healthy food again is essential. And this time that means more than just the right combination. Make sure that all food has been washed with non-contaminated water. You’re best to eat cooked food only and avoid raw vegetables unless they come from a reliable source. Many travelers can be sick for days and become very weak after eating food that has not been treated properly. Our western stomachs have become fairly sensitive. When organizing the logistics of your expedition, take into account the quality of the cooks and food in basecamp. It’s better to pay a little more for healthy, fresh and varied food so you can really gain strength in basecamp. Especially in Pakistan, varied food can be a problem. During my expeditions in Pakistan, I ate pasta and rice for lunch and dinner for 2 months. Usually there was a bit of meat, but sometimes not. There was never fresh fish. Therefore you should take additional food to basecamp in Pakistan to complement this “diet” (for example canned fruit and tuna). During the expedition, I also use the following Etixx products every day: Multimax, Magnesium, Arginine and Carnitine. Also drink at least 3 liters per day. And one cup of coffee is also known to help a little with acclimatization.

Climbing days: Especially at extreme altitude, the replenishment of energy reserves is important but also difficult. Many climbers use freeze dried meals in the camps above basecamp. Not a restaurant meal, but usually pretty tasty. There is quite a bit of variation in the different brands so pick something that you like. But don’t forget that during the climb, calories are more important than taste. As I climb higher, I tend to switch more and more to liquid food: soup and Etixx Energy gels. Those are easier to digest so liquid food is a partial solution to the problem of a non-functioning digestion because of lack of oxygen. Also drink plenty: at least 3 liter per day and preferably 1 or 2 liters more ! On top of this, I supplement my meals on climbing days with the following Etixx products:

  • Anti-oxydants: Slows down fatigue and protects body cells.

  • Delactic: Gets rid of acids and therefore increases performance and recovery after a climb.

  • Energy booster: literally gives a energy boost and improves performance.

  • Energy gel: fat take-in of fast and slow sugars.

  • Carbo-gy: Carb-rich energy drink, ideal for cold weather.

  • Recovery shake: replenishes the energy supply in your muscles and helps with the recovery after a climb.

  • Amino Acids: counters the deterioration of muscles and helps to maintain muscle mass.

  • HMB 1000: speeds up recovery and stimulates the growing of muscles.

Summary: Most important products for the mountaineer.

  • Co-enzyme Q10: increases the take-in of oxygen

  • Iron: to improve the transport of oxygen in the blood.

  • Energy gel: fat take-in of fast and slow sugars.

  • Carbo-gy: Carb-rich energy drink, ideal for cold weather.

  • Recovery shake: replenishes the energy supply in your muscles and helps with the recovery after a climb.

  • Amino Acids: counters the deterioration of muscles and helps to maintain muscle mass.

  • HMB 1000: speeds up recovery and stimulates the growing of muscles.

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