How many calories per day?

10:10 a.m. on March 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Hello all,

So, I'm trying to figure out how many calories I will want to consume while hiking. I typically eat about 3,000/day on my days at the gym (lots of protein)

does anyone happen to know how many calories I would burn hiking about 7 miles a day, with 40-50lbs in my pack, with elevation change of about 835 feet? (thanks google earth haha)

I don't want to be hungry, but don't want to overpack either. I figured at least 3,000 like do on work out days, but maybe up to 4,000 calories???

I'm 190, 5'11" in pretty decent shape...

thanks for your thoughts

Josh

11:49 a.m. on March 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Here is Hammer Nutrition's guide to fueling.

 

I like their products for hiking.  I use mostly a liquid fueling approach to hiking.

 

http://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledge/less-is-best-the-right-way-to-fuel.8691.html

7:28 p.m. on March 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Aside from the article being mostly hype for Hammer (I do like Hammer Gel for on the go energy boost, though there are other similar products I like better), your energy requirement is something that is very individual, and depends a lot on your particular outing. On a summer backpacking trip (20-25 pounds in the pack, 10-15 miles, 2000 ft or so elevation gain cumulative in the Sierra/Rockies/other mountains), I find I burn about 3000-4000 calories per day (measured with an HRM that outputs calorie usage and correlates well with comparing weight gain/loss for a week-2 week trek). For something like my expeditions (like Antarctica in my avatar at the left, or the Kilimanjaro or Denali expeditions in some trip reports here on Trailspace), it goes to 6000 calories per day (and yes, that is kilocalories, the standard measure for food energy content) - less than that and I tend to lose weight.

Again, though, you have to measure the requirement yourself. Barbara and I started using HRMs to measure energy consumption a number of years ago when we were racing bicycles in USCF (now called Cycling USA), when they instituted their use in the development program for nationally-rated cyclists. Currently I mostly use a Polar RS800CX. You will probably find as we did that as your training progresses in the particular aspect of your activity, your efficiency goes up, so your energy needs decrease. Also, 40-50 pounds is too heavy for a pack unless this includes food to go for very long distances between re-supply on a through-hike, in which case 7 miles a day and 850 feet cumulative gain is too small. That is, unless you are carrying climbing gear or doing your trek in winter and carrying your 0F warm clothing. There is a rough formula you can use for hiking - 100 calories per mile, add 50 cal per 1000 ft cumulative altitude gain and per 20 pounds of pack weight. You will find other values given elsewhere, varying all over the place - the only reliable numbers are those you measure for yourself for doing the kind of hikes with the kind of pack weight in the type of terrain that you are going to be in.

10:22 a.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill S, thanks a ton for the info! I'm very jealous of your past expeditions!

40-50 pounds is a guess at this point: We didn't want a seperate food pack, so I have to carry all my breakfast, snacks, and lunchs, and 1 dinner for 4 people. plus, I 'll have my tent, sleeping pad, water filter, pots/pans, small shovel etc...   I'm pretty sure I'll fill up my 75 Liter pack. I also will have 3 32 oz nalgenes filled up, and my 3 Liter bladder.

Water isn't the most accessible on this leg of the trail, so we will have to stock up when we can...

the 100 per mile, 50 per 1000 ft, 20 per pound of pack helps a lot! 

5:39 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Slight clarification -

100 kcal/mile, plus 50 kcal per 1000 ft of elevation gain (cumulative)

Increase the kcal/mile by 50 per 20 pounds of pack.

So person carrying a 20 pound pack consumes 150 kcal/mile plus 50 kcal per 1000 ft of elevation climbed. A 10 mile hike, climbing 2000 ft, carrying a 20 pound pack uses roughly 1500 + 100 = 1600 kcal, according to the magic formula. My HRM on a similar hike generally reads more like 1800 kcal, so I suspect there needs to be an adjustment for "pack carried up a hill". In other words, the 50kcal for the pack just gets added to the level distance, and I think there should be an addition for the pack being carried uphill. Then again, that's like the magic formula for max heart rate = 220 - age. That says that a 20 y.o. has a max heart rate of 200 and a 50 y.o has a max heart rate of 170 bpm. Yet, at 70, my max should be 150, and when I bike or run, I hold 155 for long distances and am still aerobic (the anaerobic threshold is supposed to be something like 85% of max, or about 128 bpm. The magic formula doesn't make allowance for size and weight of the person, either.

9:55 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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For anything trip a week or less, I dont think about calories. I dont eat as much when I am exerting myself, I just dont really get as hungry.  For trips of 1 week less, you wont lose enough weight to matter.

10:03 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi Robby,

I just don't want to be hungry haha!  or run out of energy from lack of carbs etc..

Hi again Bill,

Thanks for the clarification. although the magic formula may not be fool proof it helps a lot in terms of ballparking the calorie expenditure. Now to make a shopping list...

7:33 p.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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..For something like my expeditions (like Antarctica in my avatar at the left, or the Kilimanjaro or Denali expeditions in some trip reports here on Trailspace), it (calories) goes to 6000 calories per day...

Just an aside: One annoying factor for me on these fuel burning jaunts is the amazing amount of time spent cooking, eating, and relieving one's self.  It is also dismaying to feel both hungry and full at the same time.

Ed 

5:36 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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The average soldier consumes 4500 to 5000 calories in MRE's daily in our multitude of battle fronts these days. Of course they are on the move in battle. The army has nutritionists who research this stuff. If you are constantly on the move on your hikes, and they are giving you a good workout, maybe this is the range for you. I keep it to 3500-4000 calories on hikes due to living in mountainous/hilly areas. Drink lots of water, which will curb your hunger.

10:57 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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D-Dog- Seems they  forgot to make them taste good...LOL Sorry my brother offered a few last week to me for "old times sake" Not No, but heck no...

11:12 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Ditto on the MREs. blahh!!! I hope no one was thinking I was suggesting MREs! I normally have one good meal supplemented with trail mix, jerky and nutrition bars. I also take a one-a-day pill. I only take water for fluids. I know Ed brings whiskey on his hikes, but I do not want to get arrested for HUI-Hiking under the influence-JK.

11:19 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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D-Dog I wonder if he has Knob Creek? Then I want to hike with ed...JK

11:03 a.m. on April 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Chicago Josh---To me it's not so much about calories as I never count them, but it's about variety.  VARIETY.  Whenever I plan a trip, I sit on the floor and pull out all my food choices (some are in the fridge), and count out the COOKABLE meals first---how many cooked meals will I be taking?  Generally, if it's for a ten day trip, I take ten meals-to-cook.

Along with this I add breakfast foods like oatmeal or Mary Jane's Farm Outrageous Oatmeal, etc, and add these to the bunch.  It helps to have two food bags, one for cookables and one for non-cooking things like bread, dates and raisins, granola or probars, crackers---anything you can eat without cooking.

Along the way I add what the heck ever I feel like humping and eating, and this can range from avocados to apples to pears to grapes to cantaloupe to a dozen eggs to baked tofu to goat cheese to rice cakes to almond or cashew butter to eggless mayonnaise to olive oil to brown rice and dehydrated beans.  It's fun to go to a good grocery store before a trip and just pull crap off the shelves and repackage and throw into your pack.  Papaya spears, dried mangos, you name it.

BTW, Andrew Skurka carried 2.1lbs of food a day for his 4,679 Alaskan trek.  He ate 4,760 calories a day.

4:36 p.m. on April 4, 2011 (EDT)
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thanks Tipi. I was also thinking cooking dinner only. hardboiled eggs and cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, granola bars, almonds, beef jerky for snacks. finding a local source for dry ice is proving to be a little difficult...

7:29 p.m. on April 5, 2011 (EDT)
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..I know Ed brings whiskey on his hikes, but I do not want to get arrested for HUI-Hiking under the influence-JK.

M-M-M-my wissskee is fer medisssssson'l p-p-p-purpposesss only! Eyessss ne-ne-nevvvver hyikes while d-d-dinkin' - Mounting trales d'man's totaled stobrietee. 

Actually hiking with a buzz REALLY sucks!  Once you get your heart going, you'll immediately start feeling like you have a bad hangover.  And that feeling will last as long as you remain awake.  Did it twice back in college, never again. 

Ed

7:36 p.m. on April 5, 2011 (EDT)
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..finding a local source for dry ice is proving to be a little difficult...

ASK your local grocery stores, many carry it.  Also try compressed gas sales companies, welding supply companies, and fire extinguisher service companies.

Ed

12:33 p.m. on April 6, 2011 (EDT)
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thanks Ed, i tried the Jewel and Dominicks (our grocery stores) and neither carried it. i was giong to try a local butcher shop too, but ill add those types of companies you listed to my search as well.

6:34 p.m. on April 6, 2011 (EDT)
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What is the dry ice for? Our local supermarkets carry it, but I've only used if for sailing trips where I take the "big cooler."

9:05 a.m. on April 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Can't speak for Josh, but on easier trips when an extra pound or ten is no big deal, I sometimes carry dry ice in a six pack cooler on select weekend trips to keep perishables cold and chill my cocktails. 

Ed

3:37 p.m. on April 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Wow, I am definately hiking with the wrong crowd. My life would certainly be sweeter with a beer-porter... I mean "hiking buddy" like you.

4:49 p.m. on April 7, 2011 (EDT)
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right on Ed.   i'm hoping to eat chicken on the 2nd night out on the trail. I have those blue fake ice things which i could use, but i know the dry ice would keep things cooler for longer...

7:09 a.m. on July 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Ha ha on MREs.

But they DO do the job. And they are cheap.

[commercial content removed]

7:58 a.m. on July 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I've wondered about calories as I count them daily when at home!  I'm on a 1400-1600 cal diet with tons of excercise.  Just looking at MREs with 400 plus and 2.5 servings per bag make me naseous.  What do I do with the other 1.5 serving if I am alone?  There has got to be a healthier and convnient(for lack of any other way putting it) way to do things.  Since I go alone or with kids I'm always carrying the kitchen.  Easier to string up one big pack and a 3 smaller ones than 4 big ones.  Never ran into any critters but not taking chances..lol  Oh and I'm with the wrong crowd as well...a little Jack would make some of the trips a little more pleasureable...lol

12:10 p.m. on July 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Agree on the 3700-4000 calorie total.  And, yes, MREs are way to heavy and bulky for most to pack efficiently.  Stick with dehydrated and/or calorie dense foods.  Fuel gels are a waste of money imho.  The most calorie dense foods out there are oils. So things like peanut butter packets or a packet of olive oil to eat with pilot crackers, etc have lots of calories, cheaper.

2:22 p.m. on July 7, 2011 (EDT)
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If you have time, as it sounds like you are enquiring to food necessitites for a longer hike.  Do a test run for a week, rather than going to the gym, go hiking (7+miles). 

I suggest aiming no less than your usual 3000 and up to 3500 calories.  Weigh yourself with the weighing timing/factors being as similar as possible.

Also for a trip I suggest looking at where you calorie count is coming from,

e.g. Carb's 40%, fat 30%, protein 30%

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