Fuel for the Fire: How to Eat Right and Go Hard All Festival Long
Making it to the last day of a weekend music festival with the same energy and enthusiasm in which you entered is like winning the Triple Crown. By Sunday, the campsite is in complete disarray; the blisters on your feet have their own blisters; and the last time you ate anything was when that cute boy shared some of his fries during the early morning fireworks at kineticFIELD.
And then it dawns on you: With all the excitement of running around the festival and making new friends, your diet has dwindled down to one substantial meal a day, and your metabolism is in a coma. You used to be so good at eating. It was, like, your favorite thing. What happened?
The rave happened. We often forget that the quality of foods we put in our bodies largely dictates how much energy and clarity we will have to get us through the long walks and late nights. Sure, that 2am slice of pizza felt like a cheesy oasis at the time, but this morning your bloated stomach is feeling heavier than a 12th Planet & Kill the Noise b2b.
But with careful planning and a little research, you can properly keep your body fueled up and shuffle your way to festival triumph.
FRESH FOODS & NON-PERISHABLES
The folly of every young festival attendee is thinking they’ll have the time to cook or the focus to maintain a balanced diet. Reality knows better. It is best to prepare for the oversaturation of stimuli that will distract you from regular meal times and planning.
Keeping fresh produce and proteins in a cooler can be costly and time consuming, so it’s best to supplement your meal planning with non-perishable, on-the-go options. Bonus: no cleanup.
- Jerky is a great non-perishable protein and a staple of the outdoor diet. Just watch out for cancer-causing nitrates!
- Almond milk (unopened)
- Dried fruit (mangos, prunes, dates, etc.)
- Dehydrated meals
- Canned tuna or salmon
Buying food from a vendor might be your only time to sneak in some fresh vegetables. Our green friends are not only great for boosting our carbohydrate intake, but they are a primary source of fiber. And fiber isn’t just for grandma; it makes the difference between a happy, light camper, and a bogged-down, sluggish napper. The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of fiber a day, so make sure to get those in early:
- Popcorn (28g/oz)
- Avocado (76g/1 raw California)
- Almonds (87g/cup)
- Oats (54g/cup)
- Pinto beans (04g/cup) & lentils (15.64/cup)
- Chia seeds (69g/cup)
- Chickpeas & split peas
- Artichokes (54g/cup boiled)
Hydration is all the rage these days; however, your aqueous ambitions are futile without the aid of electrolytes. This motley cast of electrically charged minerals—sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate—help your body retain water when combating periods of parchedness.
According to a 2014 study published in Hospital Nutrition, dehydration’s negative physiological and cognitive effects set in at only a water loss of 2 percent of body mass. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to schedule weigh-ins between sets, so check in with yourself every few hours to watch for the following symptoms:
- A lack of elasticity in the skin
- Swelling of the face and fingers
- Strongly colored urine
- Dry mouth
Maintaining electrolyte balance is a pre-, mid- and post-dance process. In a 2–3 hour period of dancing, it’s recommended that you drink 0.7–1 liter of sports drinks containing 0.5–0.7g of sodium per liter.
When selecting on-the-go foods to consume throughout the day, consider:
- Sodium: Granola, trail mix, sports drink
- Magnesium: Dark chocolate, edamame, pumpkin seeds, cashews
- Potassium: Kale chips, avocado, banana, coconut water
- Calcium: Almonds, kale chips, dairy drinks
- Phosphate: Pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, turkey/chicken/salmon jerky
- Chloride: Olives, seaweed snacks, cherry tomato
Tree nuts and peanuts are a great way to sneak in some extra calories from healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews provide a high level of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for long, sustaining energy.
Many processed nut mixtures are high in sodium, so it’s recommended that you make your own from the bulk section at your local grocery store. Raw and unsalted varieties allow for customized seasonings and saltiness.
Bonus: Pumpkins seeds are a great source of healthy fats, and their mild flavor works well with seasoning mixtures.
It was nearly impossible to escape 2018 without hearing someone talking about high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diets. The new craze diet is great for weight loss, inflammation reduction, and drab small talk at social events. Love it or hate it, the diet has ignited a conversation around healthy fats and their role in athletic performance.
TL;DR: Carbohydrates burn easily and quickly. Proteins burn slower but last longer. Fats are more difficult to ignite but last the longest. So, if you plan to be out on the dancefloor for hours on end, make sure to weave in some unsaturated fats to keep you going. Pro tip: Fats keep you full for longer, but don’t over do it without a bathroom nearby.
Note: Consuming fat bombs alone will not allow you to enter metabolic ketosis, nor is metabolic ketosis the goal of prioritizing fats on a festival diet. That is a different article in a different publication.
You know that feeling when you ate and drank too much the night before, and it feels like two trap DJs are fighting over the aux cord in your engorged stomach? That’s your pH level telling you to lay off the acidic sustenance. Fried food, processed food, coffee, alcohol, dairy, and all the fun stuff can disrupt your gastronomic pH balance and lead to constipation, grogginess, and bloating.
If your morning routine starts with a vital cup of coffee just to lighten the load, you need to get your pH in order. Ahem, you know who you are.
Regular consumption of dark, leafy greens is one of the best ways to stay balanced. When you’re riding high on the excitement of a festival, it’s easy to say you deserve an indulgence at the food truck, but opting for the fresh veggie option will reward your stomach and keep you light on your feet.
If you plan to consume a highly acidic meal, a preemptive shot of unfiltered apple cider vinegar will help keep your stomach in order. Try this elixir in the morning: one shot of ACV diluted with 8 ounces of alkaline water, lemon, and a teaspoon of organic ground ginger. It might burn a bit, but it pales in comparison to the mid-set “Oh no, I need a bathroom—like, RIGHT NOW,” or even worse, “We’ve been here three days, and I haven’t gone #2 once.”
Keep in mind: A festival is a marathon, not a sprint. With some nutritional planning, you can avoid some very uncomfortable situations and have the energy to dance into the wee hours.