Fuel for the send: why nutrition matters

In today’s world we are always looking for something quick and easy. McDonalds is at every corner (and in between every corner!) and with us running from one place to the next, it is easy to go through a drive through and inhale a cheeseburger and milkshake before or after a climb.

Nutrition, however, should play an important part to your training! Climbing utilizes anaerobic metabolism, thus causing muscle fatigue quicker and the nutrient stores necessary to produce energy are depleted more rapidly. Acid buildup also becomes a problem. Many climbers can relate to hand grip strength declining the longer they climb. Brain fatigue can also cause performance decline, which is never good when we are trying to impress someone with our awesome skills!

Climbers should always ensure they are fully hydrated before they begin a climbing session. You should drink about 16-20 ounces of water about an hour before climbing. You also want to make sure you do not drink too much as this can cause you to feel uncomfortable. You should plan to eat your final, high-carbohydrate meal of solid food at least an hour and a half before you climb or train so you do not experience gastrointestinal(GI) distress. It is also good to consume carbohydrates before a climb. Drinking 80-100 calories of a good sports drink such as our Skratch Labs hydration mix (which does not use coloring agents, artificial sweeteners, synthetic flavoring agents or other excess chemicals), as opposed to PowerAde which has high fructose corn syrup, dyes and more sugar, will keep you from feeling foggy and uncomfortable as fructose and dyes are associated with GI distress. Consuming carbohydrates can delay glycogen depletion by raising blood-glucose levels, which muscles can utilize as an energy source. The net result is that limited muscle-glycogen stores are preserved and muscle endurance is extended. The goal then is to raise the blood-glucose level before you start climbing.

While climbing you should continue to sip on your sports drink to refuel. Make it part of your routine to take a few sips of your sports drink and/or take a couple bites of a high carb snack with some water every 15-20 minutes. Depending on the intensity of your climb, you should consume 100-200 calories of your sports drink and/or gel per hour.

Immediately after exercise you need to refuel! You have about a 45-minute metabolic window during which, if the right nutrients are consumed, the result is a greater and more complete restoration of muscle-energy stores and an increase in protein synthesis, which is critical for repairing and rebuilding damaged muscle tissue. The greater recovery translates into a much stronger performance the next time you exercise. Multiple studies have shown that the ideal recovery beverage contains carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio. Later, post-training meals should include complex carbohydrates, along with fats and proteins.

Obviously the nutrition you consume before, during and after your climbs won’t magically transform you into a professional rock climber but consuming the right nutrients at the right times will enable you to climb stronger and longer and bounce back faster.


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