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mad owl woman 04-18-2016 04:24 PM

Backpacking food: weight vs nutrition
 
I was trying to figure out the theoretical minimum weight for backpacking/thru hiking food, an interesting problem that seems like it could be solved with information. The internet is usually good for solving information-based problems…but I had trouble finding the kind of information I was looking for.

One piece of information I was looking for was how the ideal calorie split changes when people are doing more physical work. Eg, what would a healthy diet look like for say, a construction worker or farmer.

I’ve been looking for reasonably reliable sources (eg, PhD thesis of a sports nutritionist – good. Editorial in a fitness magazine – bad) and most of my searches led me to weight loss sites and other meaningless fluff – so I decided to share what I’ve been able to find so far in the hopes that someone else will find this subject interesting, and that other people might have some gems to contribute :nerd:

Dru 04-18-2016 04:38 PM

I recall a John Baldwin article on caloric planning for multiday ski traverses, in the VOC Journal in the early 1980s, that argued that a diet of 100% margarine or butter is the theoretical minimum weight per calorie.

Point is, fats have 9 cal/g, alcohol has 7 cal/g, and protein and carbs have 4 cal/g. So the more you have fats in your hiking food, the more calories per gram.
Problem is, many fats go rancid. Not an issue for an overnighter but can be a deal breaker on a multiweek trip. Thus, margarine, which is stabilized. Butter, sadly, melts if not refrigerated.

Of course modern consciousness of health dangers of trans fats makes the whole issue more complex.

mad owl woman 04-18-2016 04:49 PM

For my original question - the hypothetical minimum - I came up with these numbers:

For a 3000 calorie/day diet with the following split:
50% carbs --> 375g
30% fat --> 100g
20% protein --> 150g

So if you could find some ideal combination of butter/mixed nuts/cereal/date palm sugar/what have you, the minimum would be 625g, or 1.38 lbs.

The split/3000 calorie number was pilfered from this blog post: http://thru-hiker.com/articles/trail_foods.php

Reading nutrition labels, fiber is counted as carbs. Do you need to subtract those numbers in order to get enough calories in your pack? Another blog post: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-...-calories.html

So far, my best info has come from reasonable-sounding blogs; I haven't dug up any major population studies of thru hikers and their diets vs weight loss, but I'll continue to look

mad owl woman 04-18-2016 04:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dru (Post 709681)
I recall a John Baldwin article on caloric planning for multiday ski traverses, in the VOC Journal in the early 1980s, that argued that a diet of 100% margarine or butter is the theoretical minimum weight per calorie.

Point is, fats have 9 cal/g, alcohol has 7 cal/g, and protein and carbs have 4 cal/g. So the more you have fats in your hiking food, the more calories per gram.
Problem is, many fats go rancid. Not an issue for an overnighter but can be a deal breaker on a multiweek trip. Thus, margarine, which is stabilized. Butter, sadly, melts if not refrigerated.

Of course modern consciousness of health dangers of trans fats makes the whole issue more complex.

I've considered the all-butter diet too! Maybe with some bacon thrown in;) for variety

Dru 04-18-2016 05:57 PM

Eastern bloc winter alpinists (Russian, Ukranian, Polish) had reasonable success with spek and vodka. Spek is raw pig fat, similar to Italian lardons. Neither will freeze easily, making them possible to consume at -20C or below.

Dru 04-18-2016 06:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mad owl woman (Post 709689)
For my original question - the hypothetical minimum - I came up with these numbers:

For a 3000 calorie/day diet with the following split:
50% carbs --> 375g
30% fat --> 100g
20% protein --> 150g

So if you could find some ideal combination of butter/mixed nuts/cereal/date palm sugar/what have you, the minimum would be 625g, or 1.38 lbs.

The split/3000 calorie number was pilfered from this blog post: http://thru-hiker.com/articles/trail_foods.php

Reading nutrition labels, fiber is counted as carbs. Do you need to subtract those numbers in order to get enough calories in your pack? Another blog post: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-...-calories.html

So far, my best info has come from reasonable-sounding blogs; I haven't dug up any major population studies of thru hikers and their diets vs weight loss, but I'll continue to look

Ultimately, unless your body fat is very low, it doesn't matter for a short trip as long as you have enough dietary starches or sugars to burn fat.

Marc-Andre and partner just did a spring climb in the Valley of Ten Peaks where they lost 15 lbs in 3 days. More fat would have helped there.

ashi 04-18-2016 06:13 PM

Hi Mad Owl Women,

I'll be following this thread. I have a few numbers I want to play around with this summer re: calorie split.

Dru is correct with the kcals/gram of fat being the highest, but how you pack for a backpack/thru-hike may depend more on what your body metabolizes quicker. < This will be based on your current diet. If your diet is naturally higher in fat (and lower in carbs) - your body will be better at oxidizing fat. If your diet is higher in carbs and lower in fat, your body is likely better at oxidizing carbs so you may need more carbs to delay fatigue during endurance activity.

I think the split depends heavily on the duration of physical activity/work. I'm sending a more detailed PM with a few different tangents/things to consider. CTer: Solo75 (Ron) has a wealth of knowledge on this topic, he'd be a good person to talk to.

solo75 04-18-2016 08:21 PM

If I understand correctly, you are looking for information on the different macronutrient ratios one need to consume when doing physically demanding exercise as oppose to normal daily activities OR are you looking for info on the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your body weight when doing physical exercise...or maybe both?
If you are wanting info on the macronutrient ratio for women doing aerobic endurance exercise then the amount of protein consumed should range from 1.2 to 1.6 grams/kg body wt/day. Fats (eg lenoleic and alpha-lenoleic acid) should comprise about 25 to 30% of total energy intake and with carbs making up the rest.
If you want to know how much calories to consume on a daily basis to maintain your body weight then this involves calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TEE) ( the total amount of calories you expend in one day) which involves using the Cunningham Equation. There is a bit of work involved in this but it is quite accurate. A less accurate but useful alternative is to use the calculator at http://www.health-calc.com/diet/ener...iture-advanced The only problem with this calculator is that it doesn't take into account the Thermic Effect of Food which refers to the amount of calories that it takes for the body to digest, absorb, and metabolize the food you ingest and this also contributes to the TEE.
If you want to know how to use the Cunningham equation, let me know as I will need to send it over via email attachment since there are tables which may not format correctly when copying and pasting.
What is also important to know when you go hiking is to Carb Load with certain sports drinks. This will prevent muscle glycogen stores from becoming depleted. Here are a few things to keep in mind though. If you exercise in the fasted state (let's say you skipped breakfast) then women (as opposed to men) tend to oxidize fat for fuel to a greater degree than carbohydrates. Also, compared to men, women will oxidize fats more than carbs or protein if they exercise at 75% VO2max (moderate intensity). If however, you ate a carbohydrate breakfast (eg oatmeal) then you tend to oxidize more carbohydrates and consuming carbohydrate as you exercise becomes important as your muscle glycogen reserves are limited and they become depleted over time. When this happens, fatigue and exercise performance declines so when you consume liquid carbs during exercise this will be oxidized in preference instead of your glycogen reserves found in exercising muscles. Normally, hiking for up to 60 minutes will have little impact on glycogen reserves however longer duration exercise will start depleting these reserves.
Hiking 1 to 2 hours consume 30 grams of carbohydrate per hour of single transportable carb (eg dextrose, highly branched cyclic dextrin). If hiking 2 to 3 hours consume 60 g carb/hour of single or multiple transportable carb. If hiking for greater than 2.5 hours consume 90 g carb/hour of only multiple transportable carb. When you consume a single transportable carbohydrate, oxidation rate of carb is limited however consuming multiple transportable carbs will increase carbohydrate oxidation and delay muscle fatigue. Cytomax drink contains crystalline fructose and dextrose (2 different carbohydrates) and they are absorbed at different rates.
After you stop hiking you need to carb load to replace the depleted muscle glycogen stores especially if you didn't consume much carbohydrates during the hike. If you are on a day hike, it isn't a problem but on a backpack it is difficult to increase glycogen synthesis fast enough to replace those lost in the exercising muscle. If you look at husky dogs, they have very fast rates of glycogen synthesis and can replenish lost stores within 24 hours however in humans this is more difficult but one can use the general formula: 10g carb/kg body wt/24 hours. Normally high glycemic carbs are absorbed faster than complex carbs however complex carbs are healthier (eg brown rice, sweet potato). If I do a day hike, what I usually do right after I finish hiking is consume a carbohydrate/protein drink to increase both glycogen and protein synthesis.
I've been experimenting a lot with different liquid carbohydrates and they work well to delay muscle fatigue during exercise however I don't like the fact that they are high glycemic because spiking glucose and insulin over time can eventually increase the risk for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Now that I am more concerned about my health, I searched all over to find a low glycemic carb. Well, you can buy sweet potato powder or oat powder but they usually taste like crap so I plan to go with a high glycemic carb like Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin and reduce the rise in glucose and insulin by including some PGX powder (polyglycoplex) since I read a clinical study which showed that it can reduce the post-prandial rise in glucose. It is best to avoid maltodextrin as a carbohydrate and they are found in a lot of sports drinks since it is cheap. They are also found in many food products as a bulking agent but this stuff can increase the risk and aggravate existing inflammatory bowel disease like Crohns and Ulcerative colitis since it is broken down in the large intestine and forms a biofilm which bacteria can adhere to the intestinal wall.
Say Ashi, non-glucose sugars like maltodextrin can cause false positive readings with some glucometers such that blood sugar readings may show high where in fact you may be hypoglycemic. The clinical study didn't state which glucometers but I know a lot of sport gels and chews contain maltodextrin.

mad owl woman 04-19-2016 01:16 AM

Well, tonight I did a 12 km walk/run towards the ferry terminal, now I'm re-fueling with cheese toast and beer. I'll let y'all know how that works out...

I'm working towards forced march...and then increase the distance...and so on. I've always been high fat/high protein/low carb and really really low sugar, so glycogen stores are new territory for me, which is part of what got me searching in the first place. If I need to double my calories, how best to do it, etc etc

For now, I'm toying with making my own energy bars. Round one is sort of like a bliss ball, but I think that's a stupid name, so I'm calling mine "SURVIVAL BALLS!" Except they are more of a disc-shape.

1 cup dates
3/4 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut
2 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 cup dried montmorency cherries
a few tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup agave cactus syrop

This recipe tastes good but doesn't hold together very well unless it's in the fridge. Also, I need to give seawallrunner full credit for pointing me to the basic recipe!

kellymcdonald78 04-19-2016 09:12 AM

There's also a difference between planning for a week long backpacking trip and a 3 month thru hike. It's ok to run a calorie deficit for a week and tap into fat reserves' while not maintaining a balanced diet (you're not going to get scurvy in a week). Doing the PCT or AT becomes more complex as not only do you need to maintain your calorie intake, but all the other proteins, vitamins and minerals your body needs, on the other hand you'll be resupplying along the way so incorporating fresh foods and real meals along the way is easier

nex 04-19-2016 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dru (Post 709681)
I recall a John Baldwin article on caloric planning for multiday ski traverses, in the VOC Journal in the early 1980s, that argued that a diet of 100% margarine or butter is the theoretical minimum weight per calorie.

Point is, fats have 9 cal/g, alcohol has 7 cal/g, and protein and carbs have 4 cal/g. So the more you have fats in your hiking food, the more calories per gram.
Problem is, many fats go rancid. Not an issue for an overnighter but can be a deal breaker on a multiweek trip. Thus, margarine, which is stabilized. Butter, sadly, melts if not refrigerated.

Of course modern consciousness of health dangers of trans fats makes the whole issue more complex.

Olive oil (or other seed oils) is your best bet if you are trying to pack calories with minimum weight. It doesn't go rancid like animal fat, it also contains more calories(9 x gram) than butter (7 x gram), it's non saturated, if it's good quality EVO it also has vitamins. It's been a staple in my backpacking diet since day 1. Well it's been a staple in my everyday diet since day one since I'm italian... :)

mad owl woman 04-19-2016 01:02 PM

When I was busing around Ireland, I used to buy tubs of blended butter/olive oil, which was great for both frying and spreading on bread. Wish I could find that here.

Solo75 - that's a lot of good information! Thank you for taking the time to type it out.

dougz 04-19-2016 10:52 PM

Coconut oil keeps and cooks best of all, but has a distinctive flavour that won't work with every recipe (you could just drink it on its own)..

There's some really good recipes on Andrew Skurka's blog :

http://andrewskurka.com/section/how-.../meal-recipes/

As for nutrition/cals/macros, here's what he has to say:

Quote:

My standard recommendation is to pack 2,500 calories per day per person, plus/minus 250 calories, for a range of 2,250 to 2,750. If you are younger, more muscular, fullerbodied,
and/or regularly active, aim for the high end of this range. If you are older, less muscular, more petite, and/or generally inactive, stay at the low end.


Exceptions:

"Admittedly, I do not always stick to my recommended range. There are at least three reasons that you may not either.


1. Personal experience. If you have learned previously how much food you seem to need, go with what you know. On several occasions I was certain that a client would starve because of their miniscule food rations. They were usually older, veteran backpackers and they knew their metabolism. Always, they proved to be spot on.


2. Physical intensity. On my most ambitious trips, I will hike for 15 hours per day, cover 30 to 40 miles (or less when offtrail), gain and lose 15,000 vertical feet at altitude, and start with up to ten days of food. For the first few days of such efforts, I can subsist on my recommended ration, but thereafter I need another 500 to 1,000 extra calories per day to quench my hunger, maintain my energy level, and help with muscle recovery.


3. Trip duration. Even on a low or moderate intensity trip, after about 10 to 14 days I notice that my metabolism spikes. It’s not that I burn more calories on Day 14 than Day 1, but that my body’s fat stores are being depleted unsustainably. Once my appetite kicks in, it’s difficult to ever feel satiated. After I emerged from the Smokies on my Appalachian Trail thruhike, my thengirlfriend’s ather fed me two grilled steaks, two chicken breasts, two baked potatoes, and a halfdozecookies before I was full"

If you were to maximize the caloric density of your food by packing only highfat foods, you might be short on a crucial nutrient, protein, which is key to muscle recovery. Nutritional science currently recommends that athletes a term that includes backpackers consume about 0.5 to 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. On intense trips, aim for the high end of this range; for more casual outings, the low end. For me, at 160 pounds, this recommendation equates to 80 to 120 grams (2.5 to 4.0 oz) of protein per day, which more tangibly translates to 10 oz of Jack Links beef jerky, six Clif Builder Bars, or 24 oz of cashews. Overall, 120 grams of protein would constitute about 15 percent of the total weight of my daily food ration, which weighs about 800 grams
(28 oz), assuming total caloric intake of 3,500 calories at an average caloric density of 125 calories per ounce.
Once my protein goal is reached, I am free to divide the remaining calories between fats and carbohydrates. In order to increase caloric density, I shoot for as much fat as possible while ensuring palatability through the inclusion of carbohydrates.

Metabolic efficiency

In addition to caloric density, there is another reason to increase the amount of fat calories in your backpacking diet: metabolic efficiency, or the ability of your body to utilize fat as an energy source.

While hiking our bodies draw energy from two sources: carbohydrates and fat. Carbs can be quickly converted into energy, but they are in limited supply: about 2,000 calories, stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Fats are more slowly converted into energy, but they are in near infinite supply: tens of thousands of calories, stored as body fat, even on a lean endurance athlete.

Your metabolic efficiency can be improved by consuming foods with healthy fats like nuts, pesto sauce, and even Fritos (which are made of just three ingredients: corn, corn oil, and salt); and by reducing your intake of carb-heavy foods like sports bars, gels, drink mixes, PopTarts and gummy bears. With an improved metabolic efficiency, you will better utilize your body fat and your food’s fat calories, thus allowing you to pack less food and more calorically dense food.


This guy has put in 10's of 1000's of km, so I'm inclined to trust him on this.. Hope it helps..

My own practice, at 200 lbs has been to try to hit 2750 a day (again, taking into account hike duration, none of which has been longer than 7 days), and an approximate 50c/30f/20p macro ratio. I generally just have a hot chocolate in the morning, then graze on carb-heavy but fiber-light stuff during the day, then fats and protein heavy stuff when I'm stopped for the day. I've found this is best for avoiding GI upset and general logyness on the trail.

Longillo 04-22-2016 02:59 PM

This reminded me of those guys that did the (truly) epic crossing from Harrison to Whistler a couple of years ago.

https://forums.clubtread.com/27-briti...r-village.html

Someone asked what they ate:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marduk (Post 528275)
14 days of food goes something like this, oatmeal for breakfast and whole wheat pasta for dinner... Pretty simple. Some fruit to go bars for snacks... All light. I don't care about replacing calories everyday, that would be impossible. Plus if your eating and training for mountaineering trips and eating healthy and training hard everyday of your life, you don't really need to do that. The trick is is about 6 months prior to your trip you should have enough muscle mass and endurance to outweigh any concerns of calorie deficit while climbing 10 hour days for 2 weeks. I don't really care for trying to pack a bunch of snacks and bars and all that crap... One big breakfast, one big dinner... Your good to go.

This doesn't really answer this thread's question, but it always stuck in my mind that these guys lived for two weeks off pasta and oatmeal. I think both of those might go down a lot easier with a big chunk of butter. I also like the idea of making a big batch of dehydrated pasta sauce, which would go a long way in terms of both flavour and nutrition.

mad owl woman 04-22-2016 11:23 PM

Yeah, I was pretty impressed with that diet too, it's certainly the most efficient (large quantities/few ingredients). It kind of reminds me of the mountaineering diet prescribed by Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums, which I had to dig out.

"and in the bulgar too I'm going to throw in all kinds of dried diced vegetables I bought at the Ski Shop. We'll have our supper and breakfast outa this, and for energy food this big bag of peanuts and raisins and another bag with dried apricot and dried prunes oughta fix us for the rest." And he showed me the very tiny bag in which all this important food for three grown men for twenty-four hours or more climbing at high altitudes was stored. "The main thing in going to mountains is to keep the weight as far down as possible, those packs get heavy."

Heh heh. I think there was bacon and chocolate pudding involved too.


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