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Caloric density
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Margaret Snyder
(jetcash) - F

Locale: Southern Arizona
Caloric density on 05/07/2008 09:03:53 MDT Print View

I'm trying to round up a bunch of ultralight food. What's the best calorie per unit mass food you can think of? So far I've got peanut butter and olive oil.

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
caloric density on 05/07/2008 09:27:52 MDT Print View

all the oils and fats will be the highest. but palatability is important too

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Also Nutrition on 05/07/2008 12:13:16 MDT Print View

I'm curious as to the answer too, but I imagine you have to factor in what it does to your stomach. You need carbs for energy. Sugar is probably very efficient, but I don't think you would want to eat that all day. I think you would be in a lot of pain pretty quickly. You probably need to get some protein in your diet too (although I'm not sure how long you can function without a decent amount of protein -- three days, a week?). Also, if you radically change your fiber content, that might make for unpleasant trip. I'm not sure if anyone has written much about "ultralight eating". Most of what I've read has said the same sort of thing (fats have twice the calories per ounce than protein or carbohydrates, carry so many calories per day, etc.).

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Also Nutrition on 05/07/2008 12:43:16 MDT Print View

My menu lately: ~ 3,000 calories/day

Breakfast- dry granola cereal, dried apples, +/- almond m&m's
Morning snack- almond snickers
Lunch- packet of ritz crackers/peanut butter, granola bar, dried cherries
Afternoon snack- baby ruth
Dinner- ramen noodles, meat packet, skittles

Packing- this all fits into a quart freezer bag.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Olive oil on 05/07/2008 12:45:15 MDT Print View

Olive oil is especially high in the calories:weight ratio and I have read of people who actually drink it on the trail!

However, it was not palatable to me in big doses and I prefer butter which has a somewhat lower calories:weight ratio.

This just reinforces the idea that weight is super-important when backpacking light, but it's not everything when backpacking right. As said so well above: you have to balance lightness with what your body can actually handle.

Mark Bishop
(mark_b) - MLife

Locale: Northwest (WA)
Caloric density on 05/07/2008 14:14:45 MDT Print View

There's been numerous posts regarding energy bars and lots of positive comments about Bear Valley Meal Pack bars having the highest calorie per weight ratio. 3 oz = 420 calories. I've since incorporated them into my hiking diet and find them to be palatable and wholesome. Check out the product review section for more info.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Caloric density on 05/07/2008 14:40:13 MDT Print View

Margaret....due to my braces I have so far lost some of my fattiest foods I used to eat - nuts and potato chips so far are no goes. I also cannot eat most energy bars as well.

So? Yep...olive oil and butter. I don't eat much PB unless in meals. Now PB slathered on pasta is good stuff. Add in some sesame oil and seasoning? Heaven.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Also Nutrition on 05/07/2008 18:41:04 MDT Print View

Hi Ross

> Sugar is probably very efficient
Actually, no. It can give you a very fast hit of energy, but the calorie content is far less than a more complex carbo such as flour or oats, and less again compared to fats.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Sugar on 05/10/2008 17:32:05 MDT Print View

Sugar, like all carbs, is less efficient per weight (carbs = 4 cal/gram, protein 4 cal/gram, and fats 9 cal/gram). But if the moisture and fiber content is low (as I assume it is) then it is a rather efficient carb. The only problem is, like you said, that it is a simple sugar, and thus will give you a spike of energy and then fade quickly. I think that is why it can upset your stomach if you eat too much. But that doesn't mean it isn't efficient. So far as I can tell, table sugar is pretty much all carb (no fiber, no moisture) in that it is close to 4 cal/gram:

By the way, this chart (which I've seen repeated many times on the web) doesn't add up:

Table Sugar, 1 level teaspoon (4g) 15
Table Sugar, 1 heaped teaspoon (6g) 25

15/4 = 3.75 while 25/6 = 4.166 (obviously there is some rounding going on here). Anyway, my point is -- if you just looked at the numbers (these numbers) you would say that table sugar is a very efficient way to get your carb calories. I think we both know that wouldn't be a good idea, even if it is efficient.

Oh, and these: are almost all sugar and they were on the first successful Everest expedition. Despite that success record, I wouldn't recommend too many of those.

Edited by rossbleakney on 05/10/2008 17:53:29 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Btw on 05/10/2008 17:48:30 MDT Print View

I have decided that avocados are my new hiking food. Yeah, heavy as all get out but ooh-la-la! I did though successfully dry guacamole. So even better.
The only thing that blows is packing out the pits and peels, but hey, I won't whine.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Caloric density on 05/10/2008 18:09:48 MDT Print View

You might want to consider nuts. Most of them are in the ~170-200 cal/oz range and give you a lot of variety, taste-wise. Also chocolate, especially that with a >70% cacao content; it will usually yield 160-200 cal/oz depending on other ingredients, e.g. sugar, milk, added for palatability.
Also, as Roman mentioned, butter. Clarified butter, an Indian product also known as "ghee", is worth investigating, too. It has the added advantages over conventional butter of storing well at room temperature and yielding more calories/oz since it is pure butter fat. This is because the milk solids(milk sugars and protein) in the regular butter from which it is made have been removed during processing to render it shelf stable. It was invented in India long before there was refrigeration. The flavor is rich and has a pleasant "nutty" taste. You can find it in Indian groceries and many Middle Eastern groceries as well.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Ghee on 05/11/2008 00:01:47 MDT Print View

Margaret, I was thinking...I have found Ghee done organically in the past couple months, it is also very easy to do at home. Not sure if I posted it here or not, but it is on the website under the spice section on how to do it. Once you make it, it is shelf stable for a long time - and all you have to do is get organic butter.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Caloric density on 05/11/2008 00:09:23 MDT Print View

I think if you average over 130 to 140 cal/oz for all your food you are doing pretty well. I don't carry anything that doesn't go at least 100 cal/oz, and as others have pointed out, certain items can hit 200 cal/oz.

Personally, I need a little fiber to keep it real, but perhaps you can persist on straight oil and creamy peanut butter.

Ryan Jordan has previously posted some high calorie density food lists ~ try doing a search on his personal blog, or maybe check what gear list is on his profile right now. I recall seeing his food for an Absaroka thru-hike last fall.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Caloric density on 05/11/2008 05:11:55 MDT Print View

Arctic 1000 food

cat morris
(catt) - F

Locale: Alaska
peanuts! on 05/11/2008 14:52:12 MDT Print View

I never tire of salted peanuts.

My newest addition is peanut butter-stuffed pretzels.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Caloric density on 05/11/2008 15:13:37 MDT Print View

From my menu. I don't eat a lunch per se - I snack every 2 hours (5 times at 500 cals each between breakfast and dinner. Here are a few examples of what I mix and match.

Snickers bar.............138 cals/oz
Kingsize Payday bar......121 cals/oz
Peanut M&Ms..............144 cals/oz
Crushed Pringles Chips...160 cals/oz
Cashews..................170 cals/oz

WHOLE Pringles also burn furiously and double as an emergency firestarter

Olive oil yields 130 calories per Tablespoon (1/2 fluid ounce). Add it to your dinner to help it "slide" down.

Edited by wandering_bob on 05/11/2008 15:15:42 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sugar on 05/11/2008 16:31:21 MDT Print View

> Oh, and these: are almost all sugar and they were on the first successful Everest expedition. Despite that success record, I wouldn't recommend too many of those.

They do actually contain a fair bit of nuts as well as egg white.

But I entirely agree: don't recommend them to anyone. That way there will be some left for me.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Kendal on 05/11/2008 18:49:53 MDT Print View

My MIL sent me a couple red package ones last week. Sooooo good :-D And the red package ones are sugar, sugar syrup, mint oil. Woo-hoo! Pure sugar! Woo! Woo! ;-)
My MIL called today and I told her she needs to be bringing back BOXES of them in all flavors. Lol!