Joe Paranee knew what he was getting himself into back in 2009 when he booked a hunt for the increasingly rare Marco Polo sheep.
The now 44-year-old Bethlehem, Pa., resident knew he would be hunting in the rugged terrain of Tajikistan at elevations two and three miles high. This wasn't a trip where beef jerky and pork rinds were going to work as fuel.
"When you're high-elevation mountain hunting, if you see something a mile and a half away, you're glassing (using binoculars)," he said. "You can't climb over to the next hill to get a closer look. Eye fatigue sets in, especially after six hours of glassing. There's an incredible eye strain because of the glare from the snow and the ice. And when you climb, it's physically challenging and difficult to breathe."
Paranee knows something about challenging, and he knows exactly how to train his body for the rigors of incredibly difficult hunts, and how to eat properly to fuel his body. He is one of the increasing number of active sportsmen who are taking advantage of the world of fitness nutrition products to provide fuel for their bodies to train for difficult hunts and hikes in the same manner as marathoners, triathletes and cross-fit athletes.
"You can't just drink tea or coffee and climb a mountain," Paranee said, "just like you can't expect to eat a breakfast of bacon and eggs and climb elevation (without experiencing gastric distress)."
Paranee is the poster boy for Enhanced Performance Nutrition (EPN), nutrition products from the Bethlehem-based Just Be Natural (JBN) Enterprises company founded by Rick Bartolacci, whose family used to own Laneco supermarkets.
"The first time I realized how important nutrition was on these big hunts, I was 22 years old hunting in Zimbabwe, and on this once-in-a-lifetime hunt, one of the guys was living on Tang and candy bars. He didn't fare so well," Paranee said.
Paranee recently attended the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the largest retail outdoors show in North America, to help promote the EPN line of hunting nutrition. EPN revealed a poster with Paranee hiking back from a successful sheep hunt, with the slogan: "Enhanced Nutrition for the Extreme Outdoorsman."
"We're looking into expanding into the hunting and outdoors market," Bartolacci confirmed. "With hiking and climbing, everyone is becoming a lot more outdoors-oriented. I'm big into cycling, and marketing these fuels to the outdoors community is generating a lot of interest."
Bartolacci first got interested in nutrition after suffering health issues from carbon monoxide poisoning while in college. He needed to find a way to build his body back toward normal, and after working with nutritionists and herbologists, developed the beginnings of the JBN line about 30 years ago. He later ran the CR Pharmacies at Laneco and introduced the products to the Lehigh Valley.
The newer EPN line takes that knowledge to a more modern way of fueling, hydrating and replenishing the human body during the stress of training and competition, with similar applications to the active outdoors sporting world.
"Whether you're climbing Mount Everest or going to hunt a sheep, or just playing basketball or softball, you can adjust the product accordingly to only use as much fuel as you need," Bartolacci said. "We're really proud of it."
Paranee -- who said he will never tire of hunting Cape buffalo, sheep and whitetail deer, and has taken a particular hankering to using a recurve bow while hunting Pennsylvania whitetails -- has seen the results first-hand and is convinced that nutritional supplements are the way to go. He uses protein powder as the base for his "clean" fuel program.
"A sheep hunt is so expensive and a sheep tag is so hard to draw," he said. "It's a grueling hunt. Only a fool would show up out of shape and not ready to go. You see all these guys on the Outdoor Channel in their Spandex hunting gear, these guys are ripped. They're not eating pork rinds. They're using nutrition supplements but just not talking about it yet.
"When people think of supplements, they think of the old days of muscle heads and bodybuilders, but it's not just for that anymore. It's for an active, on-the-go lifestyle. You throw some EPN in your individual water bottles to rehydrate or block lactic acid buildup, and you go. You will feel and perform so much better than the guys who are eating candy bars and drinking hot chocolate or eating sausage."
Paranee puts his mission to the test with frequent workouts. When he's gearing up for a big hunt, he'll actually load a backpack with 30 pounds or more of weight and hike hills to simulate the stress he will feel on the real hunts in Asia, Africa, Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, Colorado and New Mexico.
"During an Alberta hunt for a bighorn sheep, I was in camp for 23 days basically in tents and never really got warm," he said. "I got my bighorn on Day 21 with a 380-yard shot. When you're walking in 3 feet of snow with a 36-pound backpack and you kill something, you've got about a 130-pound pack on your back, going downhill, and that just saps you. The right fuel comes in really handy right then."
(c)2013 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services