Nutrition is a tough topic to tackle because it can vary wildly between individuals. Some people are vegetarian, some follow paleo, and some have severe food allergies. To ensure I don’t upset anyone I’m only going to talk about what I personally bring in terms of food to GORUCK Challenges. This is what works for me… it might not work for you but I hope it gives you ideas when putting together your food bag. I’m going to break this post down into three sections: meals, energy, and snacks. These events can last well over 12 hours and in that time you’re going to be physically working hard the entire time. In my opinion bringing too much food is better than not enough because you can always share with your team. There’s generally someone who doesn’t bring enough and it’s great to help them out.
The goal of food is to ensure you can continue the GORUCK Challenge. That’s about it… you eat because you need the energy to keep on with the event. Whatever you end up eating you want to ensure that it will not upset your stomach. The only way to know if this will happen or not is to bring different food with you on your training rucks. Personally sugar destroys my stomach so I usually bring protein bars with fake sugar.
I keep all of my food in a SealLine Storm Sack that is cinched down tight. I’ve never had water get in it before but my sandwiches have turned out a little balled up a few times. They still taste delicious but the bag definitely doesn’t offer much protection to anything besides the water.
The staple that I keep coming back to is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The peanut butter gives you some protein and fats and the jelly gives you some sugar. The bread I use is always a high protein and fiber (6 grams of each per slice) style of bread so that I can get an additional 12 grams of protein in there. For a Challenge I’ll bring two of these just incase I need them but I usually end up saving one for after. For those who don’t like jelly I’ve heard peanut butter and honey works well too… I know it sounds delicious to me at least.
In addition I also bring between 3 and 4 protein bars that I pick up from Costco. I always grab the ones that are low(ish) in sugar because my body doesn’t process sugar as well as it should. For some reason it processes that fake stuff better and I’m not going to argue because there isn’t easy access to a bathroom. They’re great for between my sandwiches and I feel like they give me enough energy to keep on going. I hardly ever eat all of them and usually end up sharing with people who didn’t bring enough food.
I always bring a few energy supplements along to these events. I never bring 4 hour energy or anything like that but I will bring GU and Chomp energy packets. These are generally used by runners and provide sugar and carbohydrates that can perk you up for a short amount of time. I run a lot of races and usually end up with a few energy packets after each so I’ll just bring whatever I have lying around. I usually turn to these around 4 a.m. or so when the sun isn’t up yet and I’m in need of an energy boost.
I usually bring one or two snacks with me during these events. A snack constitutes something that is solely there to pick me up and make me feel better about all the shit that’s going on. A good snack is something you can share with the team… something like Skittles. Sometimes when you’re in the shit and there’s a huge task in front of you people will start losing focus. That’s when the Skittles (and smiles) come out which will boost morale and get everyone back together.
Post in the comments what food works for you! I’ve seen stuffed peppers and MREs and am always interested in hearing what other people have to eat.