Sunday, 14 August 2011

Trekking Nutrition

First of all, thanks to everyone who came out last night for the last drinks of the condemned woman. ;-)

As the departure draws closer, I've been considering what to bring along in the way of foodstuffs. While my meals are covered by the travel package, a bit of research has revealed that my nutritional and caloric (or should that be calorific?) needs will be altered for the duration of the trek.

For one thing, there's going to be a lot of exercise. Based on my height, weight, and the steepness fo the terrain plus the fact that I will be carrying a day pack and using walking poles, it is not unreasonable to estimate that I will burn 500-550 calories per hour while actively trekking. If we then extrapolate based on an average 6 hours trekking per day we get a conservative increase of ~3000 calories per day needed to maintain my weight in addition to normal caloric needs.

If you're eyes haven't glazed over yet, that means I will need ~5000 calories per day. I honestly don't see how it is physically possible for me to eat more than about half that amount but that's ok as I'm looking forward to a trimmer figure when this is done. ;-)

In addition, altitude does strange things to digestion. The higher I get the less appetite I'll have and it also becomes more difficult to digest things like proteins. People who actually summit come down flabby because it's easier for their bodies to live off of their muscle than to either digest food or to burn fat! I, sadly, will not be attempting to summit but the point is that I need to make sure that not only do I have enough calories to function but also must ensure that the calories that I do consume are digestible.

To complicate matters, I don't like chocolate -or- mint (so no kendal mint cake for me!). So to supplement the endless dal bhat I will be bringing instant hot chocolate sachets, instant oatmeal sachets, instant miso soup sachets (for when I get to the point where I totally don't want to eat at least it will help to keep me hydrated), fun-size snickers bars and homemade cookies from my mother. :-). I've asked for her Neiman Marcus Million Dollar cookies (which she really ought to post the recipe for on the family cooking blog - hint, hint) and her oatmeal raisin cookies (with raisins soaked in brandy.

You can see that oatmeal features heavily in my plans and this is for several reasons:

1. I really like it
2. It's a more complex carbohydrate and so will release it's energy slowly instead of as a sugar rush.
3. Apparently carbs should comprise 60% of my diet during the trek (sorry Dr. Atkins!)

If anyone else has suggestions that are polite and do not include chocolate or mint, I'd be VERY happy to receive advice!


Broklynite said...

Well, what kind of cooking setup are you looking at? Or are you only eating things which can be wolfed down without being cooked in any way?

If you can use a fire, a hot pocket is a extremely compressed and portable method of eating a lot of calories with a lot of meat, cheese, bread, etc.

Do you have any of the self-heating hot chocolate containers? Obviously you can't bring too many of them, but it may not be a bad idea to have a few. You pop the bottom and it mixes water and the chemical which exothermically reacts to heat the hot chocolate inside. They also have tv-dinner versions of this sort of thing where the meal heats itself. Again, not something you want to carry a lot of, but might be nice to bring one or two for variety.

If caffeine is apparently okay- chocolate covered espresso beans, or better yet chocolate covered almonds.



Taste Nirvana brand coconut water. It's essentially sugar water, but it tastes like sweet rice. It's the only brand that I can drink.

My impression is that everything is lightweight, high in calories and nutrients, and pretty damn close to instant although you will have access to heat.

Actually, if you don't want hot pockets, but same idea, there are tactical sandwiches (same thing) from Think Geek as well as tactical bacon. Not enough time to get them now, but maybe something similar sold in stores you can look for.


frozen ta siu (or char shao) bao- pork buns. They are lightweight, reheat beautifully, tasty, carb and protein rich, hand held, and easily packed. If you can't find any anywhere, check my recipe on the cooking blog- you can look up one for the baked kind if you prefer those.

Asti said...

I'm not cooking. Other people will do that for me. I need things that I can eat on the trail.

I've remembered that I have some glace chestnuts - those should make a nice snack.