INSTRUCTOR’S INSIGHT: How To Meal Prep For The 3 Peaks Challenge

06 June 2019

HOW TO MEAL PREP FOR THE NORTH YORKSHIRE 3 PEAKS CHALLENGE.

Meal prepping. What does it all mean and how can it help when participating in the North Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge? From knowing how to fuel yourself in the morning with a nutritious brekkie to packing the right snacks for on the go. We’re going to talk you through how to best meal prep for the NY3P challenge…

REASONS YOU SHOULD MEAL PREP FOR THE NY3P CHALLENGE.

You’ve decided to take on the grand feat of climbing the three highest mountains in North Yorkshire: Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent, congrats! The challenge is going to be exactly that, consisting of 12 hours of continuous walking covering a total climbing ascent of 1585m (tiring just to think about, right?). Staying energised and hydrated will be key priorities on the day, without doing so you’ll simply risk hitting the dreaded bonk.

Rocky mountain face with hiker making an ascent.

When it comes to meal prepping for the challenge, there are a number of reasons you’ll need to get your snacks and food for the big day sorted beforehand to keep on top of your A game:

  • You’ll need to adapt your eating habits on the day. As you’ll be on the move, you’re going to need to adapt your eating style. Us humans are conditioned to eat 3 meals a day, usually sat at a table. Meal prepping for eating on-the-go takes a bit of organisation, we’ll show you how.
  • Snacking little and often. You’re going to want a variety of snacks for nutritional reasons and to keep your energy levels high across the 12 hours. Preparing on-the-go snacks is wise and is easier than you think!
  • Less stress on the day. The challenge itself is enough strain as it is. You don’t want the day to land and be underprepared when it comes to the fuel you’ll depend on to keep going.

PETE’S PREP.

Prep with you in mind, you know yourself best.”

Pete, the owner of NY3P is no newbie when it comes to prepping for the challenge. His own way of preparing for a busy day across the three peaks consists of a protein filled breakfast, wholesome snacks and more.

“A hearty spag bol does wonders the night before the challenge.”

  • Carbs for dinner the night before NY3P. You should try and stock up on carbs for dinner (or tea depending on your region) the day before you’ll be climbing. Carbs are good for energy and your body will thank you later.

“A lighter breakfast works for me as it gets you in the ‘eating little and often’ mentality.”

  • A protein-packed start to the day. Though our natural ways of eating may incline us to have a big breakfast and, it’s known as the most important meal of the day. Pete goes for a protein yoghurt topped with a little bit of museli to get him going when he’s out on a big trek. However, you may need a bit more than this, but as a rule of thumb perhaps give the full English a miss as a full stomach could leave you feeling the opposite of energised!

“Trail mix will be your best friend. I like a bit of dark chocolate in mine.”

  • The essential snacks. Buy them ready made or prepare your own, but bring plenty to keep energy levels high. Consider making some avocado brownies or pack them with beetroot (Pete’s a fan, but says you should chop them into bitesize chunks) as an alternative way of cramming in the beneficial nutrients. Otherwise, other good options could include paleo bars, energy balls and of course trail mix. When it comes to prepping your trail mix, add in a few sweet extras amongst the nuts and dried fruit. Pete goes for dark chocolate, but for a bit of fun why not throw in some Tangfastics, Jelly Babies or moral-ibos (Haribos)?

“Train hard, fight easy.”

  • Leave the energy gels behind. They may seem tempting, especially on a long and gruelling day of strenuous activity but Pete strongly advises against them. Unless absolutely necessary, like that of an emergency, energy gels are not good for you. They’re designed for consumption every 25 minutes or so and if introduced on the day of the NY3P challenge they will likely leave you feeling extremely unpleasant due to a large amount of sugar and caffeine.

“Practice filling your bag with the essentials when training, you’ll feel far more comfortable on the day.”

  • Hydration is key. When training for the challenge, you should get used to carrying a bottle of water around with you. Walk often and regularly and, pack your bag so you get used to the extra weight. On the day itself, you’ll need to keep your hydration levels up by sipping small amounts of water regularly every 15 minutes or so. Pete buys some High 5 Zero tablets for his water, they taste great and give him an extra energy boost when needed as well as help to replenish natural salt and mineral levels in the body.

“People who try and get through the day on Jelly Babies alone, don’t have a great time.”

  • Sweet treats. Pete has placed emphasis on the right and wrong types of ways you should consume sugary foods on the day. Whether you’re going to bring nutritious brownies as advised with some extra bits thrown in or not, your body will need sugar. Bring a separate bag of jelly-type sweets to snack on when needed. You’ll need to keep your blood sugars up at a healthy level!
Oatmeal with seeds and nuts on top on white background.

BENEFITS OF MEAL PREPPING.

Meal prepping as a whole is beneficial in many ways; it helps you save money, time and pushes you into eating healthier, more wholesome food most of the time. When it comes to meal prepping for the North Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, it’s going to differ from the traditional preparation schedules you’ll find out there as you’re planning for a strenuous one-day activity.

By getting your food prepped the night before you’re going to help yourself by ensuring that your body is covered with the crucial nutrients and energy sources it needs to get you to the top of not one, but three peaks.

As mentioned earlier, Pete will generally have a carb/protein heavy dinner the night before the NY3P challenge and, either prepare his own snacks or buy them. When selecting snacks for the day, choose what suits you. No two people are the same and you should, of course, stick to your own dietary preferences.

Sandwiches are a popular choice to bring on the challenge but don’t get ahead of yourself with this and bring a foot-long sub. To recap, you’ll be eating small portions intermittently as the instructors on the day will keep you moving for the first two-thirds of the trek. Cut your sarnies up into triangles as they’ll be way easier to eat on the move. Go wild with the fillings, if you fancy. Good options include peanut butter and jam, ham and cheese, egg mayo (full of protein) and tuna mayo too.

A triangular sandwich with ham and vegetables on brown bread with blue background.

You’re going to:

  • Save money. You can budget ahead of the challenge, who doesn’t love saving a few extra quid?
  • Be prepared ahead of the day. As believe it or not, there isn’t a trusty Tesco halfway up any of the mountains.
  • No waste. At NY3P, we place a huge emphasis on making the challenge an ethical one. Pack your snacks into a Tupperware and save on littering.
  • Less stress for everyone. While there is a cake and tea stop, the rest is up to you, save yourself unnecessary hassle.

CALORIES BURNT WHEN CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN.

On the NY3P challenge, you’re going to burn between 5,000 and 6,000 calories, depending on your body weight. That’s a lot, right? With a total of around 56,000-60,000 steps, your body is going to be working hard.

Therefore, it is essential that you consume more food than usual for energy.

Three men at the peak of a mountain looking at view and clouds in distance against blue sky.

SAMPLE MEAL PLAN (BUT YOU CAN CUSTOMISE YOURS).

We’ve put together a sample meal plan for the day before, during the challenge and the day after. That’s 3 days worth of food to consider if you’re planning on participating in the NY3P challenge.

The day before: Schedule in a hearty dinner that’s packed with carbs (essential for energy) and protein/veggies. Pete recommends spag bol, if you’re not a huge fan go for something else such as rice with fish or Quorn for example.

The challenge day: Pack your bag with the essentials. Cut up sandwiches with a filling of your choice, sources of protein such as cheese chunks and trail mix. You’ll need additional snacks like that of protein balls, homemade healthy brownies, paleo bars, apples and pears and a bag of sugary sweets – we recommend Haribos or Jelly Babies.

The day after. You’ll be resting after burning all those calories the day before and, your body will need to re-energise. You’ll need to up the carbs again, so go for something nutritious. A pasta dish could do the trick, or as an alternative, a dish such as salmon and potatoes or a rice salad.

Homemade energy balls containing nuts and dried fruit.

AND, FOR THOSE WITH SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS OR ALLERGIES…

We’ve tried to cover meal prep for all dietary requirements but, of course, there are the obvious things such as trail mix which is nut heavy and not suitable for those with an allergy. You’ll need to make up your own version of trail mix, paleo bars or energy balls as recommended above, but adapt them to fit your individual dietary needs.

ARE YOU PREPPED FOR THE BIG DAY?

Food prep aside, now we have that covered there are a number of other things you should consider for the challenge. From making sure you have the right footwear to getting the much-needed 8 hours of sleep the night before. Here’s a quick checklist of how you can best prepare for the big day.

  • Train! Walk uphill and downhill as often as you can.
  • Eat a carby dinner the night before. Stock up on energy, you’ll need it when you’re body is set to burn 6,000-7,000 calories.
  • Have a protein-rich, yet light breakfast. A stomach that is too full isn’t going to be fun when you’re walking up three mountains.
  • Meal prep ahead of the day. Save time, money and most important of all, stress. Don’t forget the sweets!
  • Wear your shoes in ahead of the challenge. You don’t want blisters.
  • Dress appropriately. Bring your waterproofs and even gloves too, depending on the time of the year you’re planning to complete the NY3P challenge. The top of the peaks are chilly (you’ve been warned).
Spaghetti bolognese on white plate with fork.

There we have it! All the essentials you need to know to best tackle the NY3P challenge. So, while your focus may be on the day itself and the training that goes hand in hand with it… don’t forget to prepare your food for the day before, the day of the challenge AND the day after.

On a final note, we forgot to mention there is a much-needed pub stop at the end of all your hard work, Woohoo!