Nutrition for Rock Climbing
Are you ready to take your climbing adventures to new heights? Whether you're a rock-climbing enthusiast or a mountaineering novice, understanding the role of nutrition is crucial for reaching your peak potential. Explore our guide to climbing nutrition and discover how to fuel your body effectively for a successful and safe climbing experience.
Fueling Your Body For CLIMBING
Climbing is a physically demanding and mentally challenging activity that requires a substantial amount of energy and endurance. Proper nutrition can make the difference between a successful climb and an exhausting struggle. While a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals is advisable for all active individuals, it's worth noting that those engaged in climbing have a heightened need for carbohydrates and protein.
Carbohydrates are a fundamental and essential component of a climber's nutrition. They serve as the primary source of energy for the body, playing a crucial role in sustaining physical endurance during climbs. When you're scaling rock faces or tackling challenging ascents, your muscles require a continuous supply of glucose, which carbohydrates provide. For climbers the estimated carbohydrate requirements typically fall within the range of 3 to 7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. During a climbing session, the recommended intake of carbohydrates is around 20 to 30 grams per hour (1). To stay topped up during a climb, The Sci-Mx Choc Protein Flapjack is a convenient source of carbohydrates providing 37g per bar.
Climbing is physically demanding, placing significant strain on muscles which require repair and recovery post climb. Currently, no comprehensive studies have assessed the protein requirements specifically for rock climbers. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that climbers may need more protein than the normal recommended amount (0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day), especially during strength training. Athletes are often recommended to consume around 20–25 grams of protein per meal, resulting in a daily intake of 1.3–1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight (1). Sources of lean protein include chicken breast, turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes like lentils and beans. It's worth noting that selecting protein sources rich in leucine, such as dairy protein, can be particularly advantageous for climbers as leucine plays a key role in muscle protein synthesis, aiding in recovery and performance enhancement (1). For those who are dairy free, Sci-Mx has an Essential Amino Acids performance powder that contains a substantial 3.3g of L-Leucine per serving - plus it comes in a delicious blackcurrant flavour.
The guidelines for the general population are that 20-35% of your total caloric intake should be from healthy fats. In particular omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, primarily found in oily fish, as they may play a beneficial role in reducing inflammation and alleviating muscle soreness (1). Other sources of healthy fats come from foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil and mackerel. Did you know that the chocolate Sci-Mx Breakfast Shake contains omega 3 and 1.5g of omega 6 per serving.
Vitamins and minerals
It’s very important for climbers to consume a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals through a diverse healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Vitamin D has been suggested to support critical aspects of rock climbing, such as skeletal muscle function, strength, and balance (1).
It is generally advised to maintain a fluid intake of approximately 250 mL per hour, whether that’s from water or a sports drink, to prevent dehydration. However, it's important to tailor this intake to individual factors such as sweat rate and the specific climbing environment (1).
The pre-climbing meal provides climbers with essential fluid and energy for their activity. It should ideally start about 3 hours before the climb and consist of a mix of low glycemic carbohydrates for sustained energy, along with adequate protein. Proper hydration is crucial; studies recommend drinking 0.5 liters of water two hours before climbing. To maximize carbohydrate stores, consider a small meal or snack 30 minutes before the climb, along with an extra 0.5 liters of water (2). For a quick and easy fuelling snack, try the Sci-Mx Double Chocolate Protein Cookie which provides 27g of Carbs per cookie.
When rock climbing, prioritize proper hydration for sustained peak performance. During extended climbs or training, remember to regularly replenish carbohydrates to extend endurance and combat fatigue. Because climbing relies heavily on muscular strength, power, and endurance, consider adding branched-chain amino acids to your climbing sessions by mixing them into an electrolyte drink for peak performance (2). Consider incorporating Sci-Mx Essential Amino Acid powder into your water to enhance your climb. Each serving provides 9g of essential amino acids, including 1.4g of L-Valine which plays a crucial role in muscle repair and recovery.
Once you’ve finished your climbing session, it is advisable to consume a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. A blend of whey protein and glucose can effectively restore depleted glycogen stores, ideally within the initial 30 minutes post climb. Additionally, proper hydration is crucial, so make sure to replenish lost fluids. Recovery meals are also very important so approximately 1-2 hours after your climb, consider having a substantial meal consisting of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats (2). Enhance your recovery meal with a protein shake like the Sci-Mx Diet Protein, delivering 22g of protein while containing only 110 calories per serving.
- Michael, M.K., Witard, O.C. and Joubert, L. (2019) Physiological demands and nutritional considerations for Olympic-style competitive rock climbing. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2331205X.2019.1667199 (Accessed: 28 September 2023).
- Stanković, D. et al. (2013) The nutrition of rock climbers. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel-Stankovic/publication/311713564_The_nutrition_of_rock_climbers/links/5856cea608ae8f695558b236/The-nutrition-of-rock-climbers.pdf (Accessed: 28 September 2023).