Foods that Keep You Warm – What to Eat When Its Cold
You don’t have to stop hiking when the weather is cold. If you’re going to be backpacking or taking along day hike, pack foods that will warm you up and keep you warm. Hot foods are most appealing in the winter but they can also present more of a challenge to prepare. Keep in mind that having to melt snow for water and the colder air will contribute to longer boiling times, which will use up more of your fuel.
Make sure not to pack fresh foods or ready to eat pouches that contain liquid since they will freeze. You can insulate your water bottle with clothing or a sock so you don’t drink icy water which can chill you. The best way to keep your core warm is to eat often. Fat is the most effective source of calories to keep you warm. Don’t forget to drink lots of water since the cold often suppresses feeling thirsty.
Some of these foods may seem obvious and others may come as a surprise.
1. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are just overall the perfect hiking foods. They are full of healthy fats that will sustain your energy and they have a high caloric density. The healthy fat in these turns into fuel and not fat on your body. Basically, nuts and seeds will stimulate your metabolism and when your body generates energy you warm up.
Spices like cloves, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne will boost your body temperature. Cayenne contains capsasin and will make you feel cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather. That’s why they eat the spiciest foods in the hottest climate. Thermogenesis is the process of heat production. In ginger, it is two compounds called gingerol and shogaol that contribute to its thermogenic properties. In cinnamon, its an essential oil called cinnamaldehyde that causes fat cells to burn energy through thermogenesis.
The three oils I use backpacking are coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee. Just like nuts and seeds oils are high in heart healthy fats and will stimulate your body’s metabolism. The energy your body makes will generate heat. Ghee is butter that has been simmered and the milk residue removed. It does not need to be kept refrigerated and it has a high smoke point so its easy to cook with on the trail.
Soups with spices like turmeric, cumin, and cayenne are good choices. Also, black bean soup is one of my favorites while backpacking. The beans are high in iron and copper which are two minerals that help oxygenate your body. The warm temperature of soup also just feels really great going down on a cold day.
The warming properties of coffee do not have much to do with temperature of beverage. Its the caffeine in your coffee that stimulates your metabolism causing your body to make heat. You can drink cold coffee and still get the same warming benefits as hot.
Bananas are high in magnesium and B vitamins which can help your adrenal glands and thyroid regulate body temperature in cold weather. For backpacking, pack banana chips rather than fresh bananas. You can get the ones that have coconut oil for some extra calories and snack on them throughout the day or add them to your morning oatmeal.
Leave a comment and let me know if you try any of these foods that keep you warm the next time you are out backpacking in cold weather. Anything I missed?