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Gas Station Nutrition

the closest gas

You are halfway to the crag when you realize you left your pre-made snacks on the counter at home. You panic and tear off the highway towards the closest gas station. Today was going to be the day. Last night you dreamt of clipping the chains on your project. The dream is slipping away as your stomach growls. The bell rings just a bit too loud as you walk through the gas station door. After the inevitable Red Bull or burnt gas station coffee, you will have about ten bucks to fuel you up for the day. Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of gas station nutrition for rock climbing so that your day isn’t over before it starts!

The Do’s

High Protein, High Fat

The first thing you need to look for are foods that are high in protein and fat to keep you fueled throughout the day. Look for nuts, specifically peanuts, peanut butter, and almonds, but pay close attention to sodium and sugar. Some jerkies can also get the job done but they can get pretty pricey. 

High Calories Per Dollar

This one can be dangerous as calories are usually accompanied by sugars or other unwanted ingredients. Peanut butter reigns supreme as the calories per dollar and calorie per ounce champion, but there are some surprise contenders that also give you a good bang for your buck as well. Cheez-its and Goldfish, while processed foods, have an impressive amount of calories per dollar that make them a go-to gas station food. Most breads are also great calories per dollar as well. Everything in moderation!

Other Gas Station Nutrition Contenders

So you know you’re grabbing that jar of peanut butter but they’re all out of almonds and Cheez-its? Take a look at the chocolate aisle and grab some dark chocolate. While higher in sugar than our other options, dark chocolate (we are talking 70+%) has the protein and fats you are looking for with the added benefits of fiber and being linked to promoting mental health! It’s all about that head game. Also take a look at the refrigerated for string cheese or something similar. You want to avoid the pre-packaged cheese meals as those prices will be inflated, but string cheese can be a great source of protein for a day-trip.


The Don’ts

The Don’ts

Avoid Too Many Added Sugars

This may seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised where added sugars show up. A little sugar can serve as great short-term fuel, but you want to avoid a situation where you get to the crag and realize that everything you brought has a bunch of added sugar. Too many of those foods and you’ll feel your energy zapped by noon. So pay attention and check for the -ose in the ingredients in the foods you pick up at the gas station!

Avoid Pre-Packaged Foods

A lot of gas stations have started carrying “healthy options,” especially in the refrigerated sections. It may be tempting to get a salami and cheese prepackaged meal or a healthy nut mix, but more often than not you’ll end up with very few calories per dollar or even something that is not as “healthy” as you thought. 

The moral of this story? Just don’t forget your food in the first place. And definitely don’t plan to rely on gas stations to fuel you for a day of climbing. But if you do find yourself in a pinch, be sure to follow these tips to not only get the best bang for your buck, but to make the most of your gas station nutrition options. What’s your go-to climbing snack in a pinch? Let us know in the comments section below!