Want to get off on the right foot? Start with a big breakfast. Studies suggest that a large morning meal better sustains energy and burns more fat than a small one. A caveat: For daybreak walkers, a large meal can weigh you down, forcing your body to route blood to your stomach for digestion — which defeats the calorie-burning and performance benefits.
Load up properly to get the most from your walk… and your fuel.
Benefit battle. Carbs reign over amino acids in boosting energy before and during exercise; go for protein-based foods afterward (peanut butter, cheese, or lean meat) because they rebuild muscles. Eat tummy-friendly sugars (fruits, low-fat yogurt, vegetable juice) within an hour of your walk. Add cereal, potatoes, or whole-grain bread if you have 3-4 hours to digest.
Caution cones. Avoid fattening and spicy foods. Greasy favorites like chips or fries hinder performance and provide little nutrition. And while a candy bar supplies a sugar rush, it lacks health benefits and will likely cause you to crash before your last steps.
Quick fixes. Forget expensive energy snacks. Go with a granola bar or trail mix for that extra oomph en route. Even a squeeze packet of jelly can nourish low blood sugar during a long trek.