OWW Blog

From licensed healthcare providers who are experts in their field

Top 4 Nutrition Questions From Climbers

Aug 08, 2023

Written By: Lauren MacLeod, Registered Dietitian


With so much information about nutrition for climbers circling on the internet, you may be left wondering...what do I believe? Zoe Caliendo, DPT and Lauren MacLeod, RD co-lead workshops focusing on training and nutrition for injury prevention and recovery. Here are the top questions Lauren has received time and time again from climbers of all genders:

1. Collagen for climbers: Love it or leave it?

Many climbers have heard of collagen, but they don’t actually know what it is. Collagen is the structural protein that makes up skin, hair, nails, joints, tendons, ligaments, and more. Research has indicated that supplementing regularly with collagen can be beneficial for athletes recovering from chronic or acute soft tissue injuries, such as with ankles or knees

However, collagen not a complete source of protein; it won’t do its job if you aren’t already hitting your daily protein needs. It’s also important to combine collagen with a source of vitamin C; vitamin C is the boat that carries collagen to the parts of your body that need it most. For example, you can use collagen in a smoothie or oatmeal and be sure to include berries or orange juice on the side.


  • Helps with recovering soft tissue damage

  • Not a complete protein

  • Needs to be combined with vitamin C

2. How much protein do I need per day?

Many climbers want a clear answer to this question, but it’s really based on a wide variety of factors:

  • What’s your style of climbing? Boulderers and alpine trad climbers may have different needs

  • Gender and related hormones

  • Are you recovering from injury?

Athletes can start with a general guide of 1.3-1.8 g/kg current body weight. So if you are a 150 pound athlete, that’s about 88-122 grams of protein per day. This comes out to somewhere between 20-30g protein per meal and 10-20g protein per snack. Again, this can be highly individualized based on when and how athletes choose to eat their protein. 

3. How can I make sure I get enough protein as a plant based athlete?

With a well-planned plant based diet, it can be no problem getting enough protein. However, it is important to consider that common foods on a plant based diet can be high in bulk and fiber; athletes may feel early satiety or bloating that will prevent them from eating enough to meet protein needs. Here are some protein choices you can include with meals and snacks:

  • Beans + grains, such as rice and quinoa

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Whole soy products, such as tofu, soymilk, tempeh

  • Seitan (vital wheat gluten)

  • Plant-based protein powders, such as pea protein 

4. How should my nutrition change if I am recovering from injury and am less active?

Regardless of your level of activity, your body deserves to be nourished. It still requires adequate proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fluid, and vitamins and minerals to support recovery. Even if you aren’t as physically active, your brain and muscles still need the fuel to carry out daily processes. Climbers and non-climbers alike use these nutrients even while sleeping!


Outdoor Women's Wellness 

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