Nutrition and Supplements for Elk Hunters

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I just got back from a great weekend hanging out with several of the Pro Staff:  Corey Jacobsen, Brian Call and Anthony Spencer (Gritty Bowman), Russ Meyer, Donnie Drake, and my twin bro, Mark Skousen.  We got together to work on a fitness project we will be rolling out later in 2016 on While we were there, Brian recorded a Gritty Bowmen panel podcast with 6 of us as we discussed how our individual workout programs get us into ElkShape and ready for elk season.


As part of our podcast, nutrition, supplements and diet came up as an integral part of getting into peak fitness. The general consensus amongst some really fit and knowledgeable elk hunters is that you can have the best workout plan in the world, but if you don’t pay attention to your diet, you aren’t going to get the most out of your fitness efforts.  The point was also brought up that eating healthy is a lifestyle, and not something we should only focus on a few months before elk season.

It is easy to get lost in all the information and opinions about diet and nutrition. Just do a google search on the subject and you will see what I mean. The purpose of this article is not to debate which diet plan is best, or to discuss in a lot of technical detail which nutritional supplements work best. I’m simply going to share some basic principles that I live by that have helped me feel great and fuel my body.  I know that if you follow these basic principles, you will feel better and increase your fitness level for elk season, which is just 5 short months away!

Eat Clean

Eating clean involves not only choosing the right foods to eat, but also avoiding the junk foods and processed foods that are so readily available. My personal goal is to eat clean 90% of the time.  I have found that by doing this, my body feels strong, I rarely get sick, and I can push myself day after day without feeling sluggish, tired, and fatigued. Here are a few ways I practice clean eating:


  • Eat whole foods: Whole foods are foods that haven’t been tampered with in the lab or the manufacturing plant. Whole foods come straight from the farm and include things like: whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, wild game, low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts including raw almonds and seeds.  In my family, for example, we eat eggs at least three mornings a week in various forms (Scrambled, Over-easy, or Hard boiled).  On the other mornings, we eat oatmeal (old fashion), or throw together a favorite morning protein shake (see recipe below).  For lunch, I’m fortunate because my work has a cafeteria with a salad bar so I “build” a nice salad each day which has an assortment of veggies, protein (usually chicken), and nuts.  For Dinner, we usually have Elk, Fish, or Chicken, with a sweet potato or some other starch, and a vegetable.  During the day, between my 3 main meals, I snack on elk jerky, fruit (including apples or oranges), veggies (like carrots or celery sticks) and raw almonds.  By doing this, I always feel full and am not tempted to go and grab junk food.
  • Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are any food that has a label. A label means that more than one ingredient was used to make that food. You don’t have to eliminate all processed foods (like whole grain pasta or natural cheeses), but if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on a label, don’t put that food in your shopping basket or your body.
  • Eliminate refined sugars: Refined sugar provides nothing but calories. Other sweeteners, like honey or Agave, can be used in its place, but refined sugar should be eliminated from your diet.
  • Eat five or six small meals a day: By eating smaller meals throughout the day, you can rev-up your metabolism.  This takes a little planning, but as I mentioned above, just make sure you have some snacks on hand that are on the clean list.  This doesn’t mean you should eat 5 or 6 big meals a day.  Make sure all of your portions or the total calories you consume in a day doesn’t exceed what you are burning.  My target is around 2500 calories/day, but that varies by a person’s weight and their base metabolic rate.  You can download a free mobile app called “Lose It” from the app store which makes it really easy to track calories and nutrition from the food you eat.
  • Cook your own meals: Instead of buying meals in a box, cook meals from scratch. That’s not as hard as it sounds! Clean, whole foods need little preparation. The hardest part about this is just planning out a menu in advance.  If you don’t plan ahead of time, it is too easy to grab what is convenient and that usually mean it will be processed and unhealthy.
  • Combine protein with carbs: When you do snack or eat a meal, make sure that meal is balanced. For the most satisfaction from your diet, and so you’ll be less tempted to eat junk food, combine protein with carbs (or carbs and fat). Almonds are high in healthy fat, and are really good for you. This simple act will fuel your body and eliminate or reduce hunger pangs.
  • Drink lots of Water: Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices. The only downside to drinking lots of water is the amount of time you spend in the bathroom…

Supplements1Where do Supplements fit in?

Experts say there is definitely a place for supplements in our diets, but their primary function is to fill in small nutrient gaps.  Supplements are intended to add to your diet, not take the place of real food or a healthy meal plan. With that being said, I do use supplements to enhance my workouts, help me recover faster, and to add protein to my diet. For my weight and workouts, I need between 75-100g of protein every day.  For the average sedentary person, this can be calculated by taking your weight and multiplying it by .36. If you have an active lifestyle and you want to build muscle, you’ll need more protein.  For the past year or so, I have been using MTN OPS supplements and have experienced great results. (

There are three MTN OPS supplements that I use in particular. The first is Yeti, and I use it as a Pre-Workout and Workout drink.  I have taken pre-workout drinks before that have made my body tingle and feel weird.  Yeti has never had that effect on me, but it does make me feel alert and full of energy so I can make the most of my 5 a.m. early morning workouts.  My favorite flavor is their new “Blue Raspberry”.

I also use their product called Enduro.  I add 1 scoop to 9-10 oz. of water for a Post-Workout drink, or when I hit the trails on my mountain bike.

The last product I take is Magnum, which is a 100% Whey Protein Isolate.  I add a scoop of Magnum in either a Post-Workout protein shake or a breakfast shake. The MTN OPS brand of whey protein has a large amount of protein – 23g – and only 1g of sugar per scoop. Compared to most of the other brands I have used and researched, this is awesome!

In conclusion, I want to stress that I don’t believe supplements will automatically transform your body or help you lose weight on their own. I do believe though, that supplements will enhance performance and help you get the most out of the efforts you put into your conditioning.

Eating clean and taking supplements is not something that just makes you a better elk hunter. It can also make you a healthier, stronger person. When you make it a way of life, it will make you feel better in everyday activities AND get you better prepared to take on the challenges of elk hunting this fall. Commit to it, and then do it!

DSC04482_sElk Hunter Protein Shake

1 C Liquid (Lots of options here:  (Almond Milk, Skim Milk, or even water)

½ C Yogurt (My favorite is Greek Yogurt or Fage)

1 C Fresh Fruit (Whole strawberries, grapes, blueberries)

1 Scoop of Whey Protein (Magnum – Mtn. Ops)

Handful of green spinach

1 C ice

  ** Optional** 

1 TBS of Chia Seeds and Hemp Hearts (raw shelled Hemp seeds)

(Chia seeds are an excellent source of OMEGA 3 and Hemp Seeds have 10g of protein plus a bunch of good vitamins per serving)

Throw everything into a blender and mix until smooth.

Nutritional Information (Calculated with 1% milk):

655 Calories (Including chia seeds and hemp hearts)

65g protein

52g carbs

31g fat

337 Calories (excluding chia seeds and hemp hearts)

45g protein

35g carbs

4g   fat