Eating & Drinking for Paragliding & Hang Gliding Pilots


Based on a report in DHV-info 85, May 96, Ernaehrung by Dr. Andreas Weidinger, translated and condensed by Ulf Arndt

Before the flight

How to start an ideal flying day:

Have an early and adequate breakfast. Avoid too much tea and coffee, they fill up your bladder too fast. Rather have milk and fruit juice. Instead of white bread and jam, which provide fast used up carbohydrates, eat muesli products and dark bread with some cold meats, cheese and fruits. This combination will give you a longer reserve on nutrients and make you last longer.

An empty stomach reacts sensitive to turbulence. To avoid this, have shortly before getting ready to fly, a light meal or energy bar. Also a small amount of Coke can help before take-off. Beware of strong performance boosters, like Red Bull. As one is anyways excited before launch, your attitude can be increased to overconfidence, resulting in a lack of realistic assessment and wrong decision making.

In the air

During flight have a regular supply of small amounts of liquid and energy. 2 liters of water, or more, can be lost by breathing on a longer flight. Once you feel thirsty, you missed the best moment for replenishment. Always drink ahead. And, if you feel like it, have a chocolate bar.

After flight

Once landed, mineralwater mixed with fruit juice is a good thirst quencher. Now is the time to stock up the body again with an adequate supply on minerals. And start replenishing your energy reserves. If you plan to fly the next day again, have lots of carbohydrates, for example pasta. Avoid fatty food. And also have vegetables, salads and fruits. To ensure all vitamins and minerals are topped up, you can use a multivitamin tablet product.

Regeneration time

Avoid alcohol in the evening to replace lost liquid during the day. Alcohol disturbs the regeneration process and reduces the concentration capability the next day. Same is also caused by a lack of sleep. Alcohol and lack of sleep will result in measurable deterioration of reaction time and less capabilities to concentrate the next day. Which will impact on your performance.

Beverages - when and what
... Mineralwaterisotonic thirst quentcher carbohydrates Cola proteinbased energybooster
TradenamesValpré Isostar Perform Coke Powerplay Red Bull
before flying yes no no immediate not necessary not necessary
during flying no yes maybe/possible maybe/possible no no
after flying yes no no no no no