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Lightweight Food and Nutrition (LEGACY POSTS FROM OLD FORUMS)
Contrary to popular belief, ultralight backpackers don't (only) subsist on nuts, berries, obscure roots, and the inner bark of the white pine. Some of us actually go light - and go gourmet. Others prefer a simpler approach requiring minimal fuel, minimal fuss, and minimal mess. Share your ideas for backpacking food and nutrition in this discussion.
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Look at the food list on 10/27/2004 22:35:32 MDT Print View

Take a look at my food list. There are lots of carbs and fat.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Great, why my engergy on this topic on 10/28/2004 08:43:42 MDT Print View

Great, I did, does look like it has enough. I agree with your comment as well that folks have very strong feelings and not always rational idea regarding food, even when in other areas of their lives they are make rational choices.

Pardon me if I have been less than clear here. One reason forums are good things is that people with very different views get exposure to new ways of thinking. Sorry, if my comments are not in line with your possible sense of "hey this works for me, let me share my enthusiam for this discovery". I can see my comments may look like rain on the parade. Not intended.

To be real about it, I reflected on this and I do have a concern, not with anyone, or the topic but with world hunger and how we Americans are sometimes blind to how we contribute to it. Protein is a very very scare resource in the world and many millions of people starve and are near death from lack of it. We americans have an enormous surplus of it. We eat huge amounts of beef, the raising of which takes enormous amounts of land, water, fertilizer, and energy. By modest estimates, if we ate 1/2 the meat, the savings in energy and resources would be enough to supply the whole world with free protein.

Where I get concerned is how we americans who have such surplus food get into trouble with eating too much. We have sucha hard time dieting we then develop a way to lose weight that now involves guess what, ways to justify eating even more protein. We also have the resources spare energy and leisure time to take ourselves adventuring, and concern ourselves with high energy foods to enhance those experiences, also involving using more protein than we need. This just seems like we have gotten ourselves into a way of life that is not connected to the ecology, compassion for others less fortunate, and living in a way that is better for everyone. It does not mean that you, others, me, intend this on anyone, just maybe we have lost sight of how the personal is political, thiniking locally needs to be thinking globally, and how we can personally change the world through our own actions and communications.

Hope this is constructive and a clearer expalnation of why I had energy to assess whether enthusiasm for protein rich foods to sustain energy has so much of my mental energy behind it!

I am mindful that this is only my viewpoint, and that all viewpoints have equal merit.

Edited by on 10/28/2004 08:44:58 MDT.

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Easy way to increase fat intake on 10/29/2004 08:28:54 MDT Print View

Get an empty 1 qrt. wide mouth soda bottle (you can find Pepsi in these at gas station convenience stores). Buy the highest calorie potato chips you can find with zero Trans Fats (Lays-in-a-tube =160 calories/oz is what I use). Crush the chips to small bits and fill the soda bottle--use a 2nd bottle cut in half as a funnel to make this easier. This gives you over 1,600 calories in a small space & is a perfect trail snack when you keep it accessible on the side of your pack.

(sanderson) - F
Recipes on 10/29/2004 10:45:49 MDT Print View

Carol. Thanks for the additional information about your ground beef and veggie dinner. I will definitely try it, but first I must get a dehydrator and learn how to use it. Your recipe is exactly what I have been looking for. Thanks for having the courage to go against the “old-school”. I hope you will continue publishing information on this subject. Have you considered adding a “Recipes” section to the website? It would a great way for us to share trail proven recipes with each other. I’ve been working on one I call “Montana Monster Cakes”, which is kinda like a pancake, but a complete breakfast, if you are interested. sa

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Montana Monster Cakes on 10/29/2004 13:20:23 MDT Print View

I'm definitely interested in your Montana Monster Cakes. What's your recipe?

Edited by cmcrooker on 10/29/2004 13:22:09 MDT.

(sanderson) - F
Montana Monster Cakes on 10/31/2004 16:56:11 MST Print View

Carol, Before I give you my recipe, I must give you a little background. I told you I was into the low-carb thing. I started the South Beach Diet, in January of this year. My goal was to lose 10 pounds and drop a few points of cholesterol. I bought the book and got into it. The first 2 weeks were pretty hard, no sweets, no bread, no potatoes, no beer, no chips, no fun. After the two weeks I had lost 7 or 8 pounds, but I got a great surprise that the book didn’t mention. That is, I started sleeping through the night. I have been a terrible sleeper for about 20 years. Up walking around the house, reading, thinking, watching TV or sitting in the hot tub, off and on all night until about 4:00, then I would be sleeping like a rock when the alarm went off at 5:30. Tired all day. The doctor gave me some sleeping pills that helped, but I don’t like to take pills. So when all the sudden I started sleeping it was wonderful. I mean, really really wonderful! I ended up loosing 10-12 pounds, 50 points of cholesterol and 50 points of triglycerides.

So, I like my high protein – low processed-carb diet, but it didn’t fit very well with backpacking food. All the hiking gurus preach high carbs, carbs, carbs. I came up with this recipe to give me a light weight, high protein breakfast, that sticks with me all morning and gives me plenty of energy. I don’t know if the energy comes from the protein, the complex-carbs or ??, but I don’t care, it works.

1.5 TBS whole grain soy flour
4 TBS whole-egg, powered eggs
1.5 TBS Krustez whole grain pancake mix
1.5 TBS powered milk
1/3 Cup All-Bran Bran Buds
2 TBS raisins
1 TBS chopped walnuts or your favorite chopped nuts
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 salt to taste
1.5 tsp sugar or Splenda, I use Splenda
1 tsp olive oil

Combine all dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl, mix real well, and put in a baggie. It should weigh about 4oz. It’s best to make only one cake at a time, because it’s hard to divide the chunky mixture. You can make a bunch of them pretty quick, once you get everything laid out in the proper order, with the right sized measure in each container. In camp, start heating some water. I use an alcohol stove and start enough water for my coffee and a little more. When the water is warm, put a little water and the olive oil in the baggie, reseal it, and squish it all around until it is all mixed and about the consistency of pancake batter. Let it sit for a few minutes while the water boils. I make my coffee, then turn the heat down as low as it goes on my alcohol stove or to about ¼ throttle on my MSR Drageonfly. Put a little olive oil in the bottom of an 8” MSR fry pan, smear it around the bottom, then dump in the batter. It is pretty chunky so you might have to smush it down a little to make it like a thick pancake. Put the lid on and let it cook slow. When it is ready, turn it over just like a pancake. Turn frequently to avoid burning. When it is done it is like a real heavy, chewy, chunky pancake. I like them just plain, or with a little honey. Each one has two eggs, milk, cereal, pancake, nuts and raisins. So they are pretty filling and stick with you all morning. Sometimes I make another one and save it for lunch. It takes a little practice to cook them without burning them, but they are pretty good, I think. Let me know, if you try them.


Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Montana Monster Cakes on 11/01/2004 10:47:15 MST Print View

I've had lots more energy eating controlled amounts of High GI carbs (meaning not that many, sticking to low GI carbs, ie avoding processed carbs). Since you mentioned avoiding processed carbs, you might like the Pro Bar. It's high in carbs but it's mostly from nuts, seeds, fruit, and rice syup. Very tasty!! available from We'll be publishing a short article soon mentioning it.

The Monster cakes sound yummy! I don't take a frying pan backpacking but I've had good luck making something similar in my ti cup with a muffin foil. I definitely want to try these!

(sanderson) - F
Pro Bar on 11/02/2004 08:05:33 MST Print View

Carol. Thanks for the Pro Bar tip. I have been looking for a good bar that fits my diet. As far as the fry pan, the one I use is not really a fry pan it is just a shallow aluminam pan that works for boiling water or baking my cakes, the only two things I need from my cooking kit. I have a Ti cup/pot, but I found my boil times were longer, because the diameter is too small to absorb all the heat from my alcohol stove. The aluminam lid is a few ounces heaver than the Ti lid, but I figure I get it back in fuel weight and I can still make my cakes. I like you idea about the aluminam rings for making muffins and will try it next time I'm out. sa

Stephane Savage
(save) - F
Dehydrating eggs on 11/02/2004 18:01:04 MST Print View


I've read on the net that dehydrating eggs requires pasteurization to kill bacteria and is not recommended for dehydration at home; so what's the technique you use to dry your eggs?


Edited by save on 11/02/2004 18:01:37 MST.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Things to avoid while finding your own way on 11/04/2004 08:03:38 MST Print View

While finding a way that works for us that are alternatives to the usual ways, we think, hey I will try that, it can't hurt me. Well sometimes it can. Few if any here are advocating no carbs but low carbs may not be great either. Regardless, knowing the underying principles can help inform our personal choices. Here are some researched conclusions by a noted excercise physiologist who speaks to the athletic world.

Dangers of a Low Carb Diet

By: Greg Landry

Low carb (carbohydrate), high protein diets are the latest dieting craze. However, before you jump on the band wagon, you may want to consider a few things:

1. Low carb (ketogenic) diets deplete the healthy glycogen (the storage form of glucose) stores in your muscles and liver. When you deplete glycogen stores, you also dehydrate, often causing the scale to drop significantly in the first week or two of the diet. This is usually interpreted as fat loss when it's actually mostly from dehydration and muscle loss. By the way, this is one of the reasons that low carb diets are so popular at the moment - there is a quick initial, but deceptive drop in scale weight.

Glycogenesis (formation of glycogen) occurs in the liver and muscles when adequate quantities of carbohydrates are consumed - very little of this happens on a low carb diet. Glycogenolysis (breakdown of glycogen) occurs when glycogen is broken down to form glucose for use as fuel.

2. Depletion of muscle glycogen causes you to fatigue easily, and makes exercise and movement uncomfortable. Research indicates that muscle fatigue increases in almost direct proportion to the rate of depletion of muscle glycogen. Bottom line is that you don't feel energetic and you exercise and move less (often without realizing it) which is not good for caloric expenditure and basal metabolic rate (metabolism).

3. Depletion of muscle glycogen leads to muscle atrophy (loss of muscle). This happens because muscle glycogen (broken down to glucose) is the fuel of choice for the muscle during movement. There is always a fuel mix, but without muscle glycogen, the muscle fibers that contract, even at rest to maintain muscle tone, contract less when glycogen is not immediately available in the muscle. Depletion of muscle glycogen also causes you to exercise and move less than normal which leads to muscle loss and the inability to maintain adequate muscle tone.

Also, in the absence of adequate carbohydrate for fuel, the body initially uses protein (muscle) and fat. the initial phase of muscle depletion is rapid, caused by the use of easily accessed muscle protein for direct metabolism or for conversion to glucose (gluconeogenesis) for fuel. Eating excess protein does not prevent this because there is a caloric deficit.

When insulin levels are chronically too low as they may be in very low carb diets, catabolism (breakdown) of muscle protein increases, and protein synthesis stops.

4. Loss of muscle causes a decrease in your basal metabolic rate (metabolism). Metabolism happens in the muscle. Less muscle and muscle tone means a slower metabolism which means fewer calories burned 24 hours-a-day.

5. Your muscles and skin lack tone and are saggy. Saggy muscles don't look good, cause saggy skin, and cause you to lose a healthy, vibrant look (even if you've also lost fat).

6. Some proponents of low carb diets recommend avoiding carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, carrots, etc. because of they are high on the glycemic index - causing a sharp rise in insulin. Certain carbohydrates have always been, and will always be the bad guys: candy, cookies, baked goods with added sugar, sugared drinks, processed / refined white breads, pastas, and rice, and any foods with added sugar. These are not good for health or weight loss. However, carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain breads and pastas, and brown rice are good for health and weight loss. Just like with proteins and fats, these carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation. Large volumes of any proteins, fats or carbohydrates are not conducive to weight loss and health.

The effect of high glycemic foods is often exaggerated. It's does matter, but to a smaller degree than is often portrayed. Also, the total glycemic effect of foods is influenced by the quantity of that food that you eat at a sitting. Smaller meals have a lower overall glycemic effect. Also, we usually eat several types of food at the same time, thereby reducing the average glycemic index of the meal, if higher glycemic foods are eaten. Also, glycemic index values can be misleading because they are based on a standard 50 grams of carbohydrate consumed. It wouldn't take much candy bar to get that, but it would take four cups of carrots. Do you usually eat four cups of carrots at a meal?

Regular exercisers and active people also are less effected by higher glycemic foods because much of the carbohydrate comsumed is immediately used to replenish glycogen stores in the liver and muscle.
By the way, if you're interested in lowering insulin levels, there is a great way to do that - exercise and activity.

7. Much of the weight loss on a low carb, high protein diet, especially in the first few weeks, is actually because of dehydration and muscle loss.

8. The percentage of people that re-gain the weight they've lost with most methods of weight loss is high, but it's even higher with low carb, high protein diets. This is primarily due to three factors:

A. You have lost muscle. With that comes a slower metabolism which means fewer calories are burned 24 hours-a-day. A loss of muscle during the process of losing weight is almost a guarantee for re-gaining the lost weight, and more.

B. You re-gain the healthy fluid lost because of glycogen depletion.

C. It's difficult to maintain that type of diet long-term.

D. You have not made a change to a long-term healthy lifestyle.

9. Eating too much fat is just not healthy. I know you've heard of people whose blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides have decreased while on a low carb, high protein diet. This often happens with weight loss, but it doesn't continue when you're on a diet high in fat. There are literally reams of research over decades that clearly indicates that an increase in consumption of animal products and/or saturated fat leads to increased incidence of heart disease, strokes, gall stones, kidney stones, arthritic symptoms, certain cancers, etc. For example, in comparing countries with varying levels of meat consumption, there is a direct relationship between the volume of meat consumption in a country and the incidence of digestive cancers (stomach, intestines, rectal, etc.).

Fat is certainly necessary, and desirable in your diet, but they should be mostly healthy fats and in moderation. Manufactured / synthetic "low fat" foods with lots of added sugar are not the answer. Neither are manufactured / synthetic "low carb" foods with artificial sweeteners or added fat. By the way, use of artificial sweeteners has never been shown to aid in weight loss and they may pose health problems. According to Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, "In my experience, unless you're willing to throw out decades of research, you cannot ignore that diets chronically high in saturated fats are linked to heart disease," Dr. Ayoob is also a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association and says that low carb, high protein diets are an attempt at a quick fix and not a long-term lifestyle change.

10. As someone recently told me, "it must work - people are losing weight". People that are truly losing fat on low carb, high protein diets, are doing so because they are eating fewer calories - that's the bottom line. There is no magic - the same can be done on a healthy diet.

11. Low carb diets are lacking in fiber. Every plant-based food has some fiber. All animal products have no fiber. A lack of fiber increases your risk for cancers of the digestive track (because transit time is lengthened) and cardiovascular disease (because of fibers effect on fat and cholesterol). It also puts you at a higher risk for constipation and other bowel disorders.

12. Low carb diets lack sufficient quantities of the the many nutrients / phytonutrients / antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, necessary for health and aiding in prevention of cancer and heart disease. In fact, you need these nutrients even more so when you're consuming too much fat as is often the case on a low carb high protein diet.

13. Amercans already consume more than twice the amount of protein needed. Add to that a high protein diet and you have far too much protein consumption. By the way, most people don't realize that all fruits, all vegetables, all whole grains, and all legumes also contain protein. Animal products contain larger quantities of protein, but that may not be a good thing. Excess dietary protein puts you at a higher risk for many health problems: gout (painful joints from high purine foods which are usually high protein foods), kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis (excess dietary protein causes leeching of calcium from the bones). By the way, countries with lower, healthier intakes of protein also have a decreased incidence of osteoporosis.

14. Low carb, high protein diets cause an unhealthy physiological state called ketosis, a type of metabolic acidosis. You may have heard the phrase, "fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate". Excess acetyl CoA cannot enter the Krebs Cycle (you remember the old Krebs Cycle) due to insufficient OAA. In other words, for fat to burn efficiently and without production of excess toxic ketones, sufficient carbohydrate must be available. Ketosis can lead to many health problems and can be very serious at it's extreme.

15. Bad breath. Often called "keto breath" or "acetone breath", it's caused by production of acetones in a state of ketosis.

So why the low carb, high protein craze? I believe there are several reasons.

A. Weight loss (mostly muscle and muscle fluid) is often rapid during the first few weeks. This causes people to think they're losing fat rapidly.

B. It gives you "permission" to eat the "bad foods": bacon, eggs, burgers, steak, cheese, etc., and lots of fat.

C. Many see it as the new "magic" they've been looking for, although it's been around, in various forms, since the 1960's.

- Brooks, G, Fahey, T: Exercise Physiology - Human Bioenergetics and its Applications. John Wiley and Sons, 1984.
- Cheatham, B, Kahn, CR: Insulin Action and Insulin Signaling
Network. Endocrine Review 16:117, 1995
- Fain, JN: Insulin Secretion and Action. Metabolism 33:672, 1984.
- Fitts, RH: Cellular Mechanisms of Muscle Fatigue. Physiological
Review 74:49, 1994
- Griffin, James, Ojeda, Sergio: Textbook of Endocrine
Physiology. Oxford University Press, 2000
- Guyton, A, Hall, J: Textbook of Medical Physiology. W.B.
Saunders Company, 2000.
- Herzog, W: Muscle Function in Movement and Sports. American
Journal of Sports Medicine 24:S14, 1996
- Hoffman, JF, Jamieson, JD: Handbook of Physiology: Cell Physiology. Bethesda: American Physiological Society, 1997 - Kimball, SR, Vary, TC, Jefferson, LS: Regulation of Protein Synthesis by Insulin. Annual Review Physiology 56:321, 1994.
- McArdle, William, Katch, Frank, Katch, Victor: Exercise Physiology - Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance. Lea and Febiger, 1981.
- Mcdougall, MD, John: The Mcdougall Plan. New Century Publishers, 1983.
- Simopoulos, AP, Pavlou, KN: Nutrition and Fitness. Basel:
Karger, 1997

Edited by on 11/04/2004 08:28:31 MST.

John Brennan
(johnb) - F
Comments and What Works for Me on 11/09/2004 12:16:17 MST Print View

It has been more than 20 years since I went on a no-carb diet (for carb packing on the the swim team). I recall that it required absolute vigilance to get my body to shift to the ketogenic state. Most people I observe who are on a low-carb diet eat too many carbs to become ketogenic, or, better put, are starting over, over and over.
I think it would be very difficult, though not impossible, for a backpacker to go into a ketogenic state while on the trail (especially with the limited offerings of many town stop restaurants).
I've found through off and on-trail eating that fat is the key to sustained energy for me. I believe that much of the protein I eat comes with a good dose of fat (beef jerkey and nuts come to mind) and have come to associate protein with sustained energy.
I'm a long-distance backpacker who preaches the benefits of fat.
(On and off trail, I eat as little sugar as I can, and what I get is from fruit or maple syrup. Sugars make me grumpy, lethargic, and emotional. Protein can offset the effects of sugar.)
John B./Cupcake

John S.
(jshann) - F
Calorie Count? on 11/12/2004 09:41:38 MST Print View


Why is there no estimated calorie count for your listed meals? Or did I miss it? Thanks.

Brad Hoyt
(bdhoyt) - F
Grocery Store Prepackaged Foods on 11/20/2004 17:24:48 MST Print View

What are some of this board's favorate prepackaged "Grocery Store" foods to put in a "lightweight" backpack?

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Fig Newman's on 11/23/2004 10:34:14 MST Print View

Organic Figs. Fat Free or Low Fat Wheat-Free/Dairy-Free, A few more calories from organic palm shortening, but :palm fruit oil is plant derived, has no cholesterol, is lower in saturated fat than butter, contains no trans-fatty acids

Very good. Very soft and fresh. Thick and juicy. Fig flavor is outstanding. Lots of fruit. Not too crumbly. Not too sweet. Crust is heavy but moist. Probably too healthy for some who crave pure sweets, etc. but holds up, can chew when cold or hot. High on the A list because tastes good so likely to help you to snack frequently as advised to keep spare muscle glycogen, etc.

Edited by on 11/23/2004 10:39:43 MST.

D Apron
(ultradave) - F
0 oz. chewing gum on 11/23/2004 12:02:15 MST Print View

Have you ever noticed the sap seeping from verrious types of pine trees?
It makes great chewing gum and you do not have to carry it into the wilderness.
It is there for the picking.
I find a big "drop", about 25% dry. That seems to work best. Experiment for you taste.

This tidpit is courtecy of my grandfather who was last in a line of mountain men.

Dee Apron

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Montana Monster Cakes on 11/26/2004 22:00:18 MST Print View

I tried your Montana Monster cakes on my last backpacking trip. I cooked my cake like a muffin by staming it (as I described earlier) using an esbit tablet. Tasted great! Thanks for the recipe.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Dehydrating eggs on 11/26/2004 22:01:29 MST Print View

I cook the eggs first, then dehydrate them.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Calorie Count on 11/26/2004 22:14:46 MST Print View

You didn't miss the calorie count. I did not include calories on my food list (I'm not sure how accurate I could have been trying to calculate calories for all the home dried food I had on my list). However, future food lists will have calories.

Greg Landry article posted by Shaw on 12/04/2004 20:35:12 MST Print View

I don't think this should be a place to argue diet, but I must respond - nobody should be frightened away from a lowcarb way of eating because of quasi-scientific "facts" like these - Be aware that for every study cited here, there are others finding the exact opposite. As for the claim that one loses muscle, that is simply hogwash, complete hooey. I have not had more than 15 g carbs per day literally for years, and only slow-acting ones with lots of fiber - broccoli and such. And I have lost fat and gained muscle. Generations of eskimos and explorers have lived indefinitely on practically zero carbs. And this way of eating has literally saved my health - without it I might very well be doing my hiking today with a seeing-eye dog and on prosthetic feet. There are LOTS of us diabetics who have reversed our complications by avoiding starch sugars and grains. So, as I say, wouldn't want anyone to be put off by these scary "facts."

(sanderson) - F
Lewis and Clark on 12/05/2004 16:56:55 MST Print View

It seems that some people (Bernard and others) are confused by the “low-carb” diet. That is, they think all low-carb diets are the same, which is totally wrong. I agree that the Atkins diet is not healthy, too much fat, not enough fruits and vegetables. Many of us, like the last poster, Carol, and me believe and practice a diet that has “more protein” , less “processed carbs” and plenty of fiber. Since starting the diet I have more energy and get twice the trail miles, or more.

The last poster mentioned Eskimos and explorers as being low-processed-carb higher-protein dieters. Lewis and Clark come to mind. Their journals report that they ate only protein for parts of their journey, that being wild game and for months on end. So, if only 10% of our energy comes from protein, where did the rest of their energy come from?

Ps: the first annual light weight backpacker trade show, held yesterday in Bozeman, was awesome! I got to meet Ryan, (he’s much younger than I expected) and got to see all the cool stuff talked about on this website. Can’t wait ‘till next year! sa