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Calorie Deficit Question
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Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Calorie Deficit Question on 08/05/2009 11:14:22 MDT Print View

I am just finishing putting together food for my JMT trip in mid August. 14 days including rest day. It's an average of about 19 miles a day. We will resupply at Vermilion and Muir Ranch.

A typical day would include:

Breakfast to Lunch - Carnation Ins. Breakfast w/milk, breakfast bar, EmergenC, and between meals 2 bars (Balance, Kashi, Cliff, Power, etc.) maybe some jerky or peanut M & M's.

Lunch- PB, Wheat Thins, or Tuna, Triscuits or Pringles, Almonds and between meals 2 more bars.

This comes in at roughly 2,700 calories a day. My daily meals weigh in at 27 ounces (ouch!). I am set. I figure I will be burning about 5,000 calories a day from info. gleaned here and will be running a deficit, except for my day at Vermillion.

My son, who is 17, 5'9", 130 lbs., (edit 145+lbs.) and a very active person thinks this is too much food for him. I can stand to lose weight, but he doesn't have the years of fat reserves that I have! I am concerned that if he goes any lower on the calories it would not be sufficient to maintain healthy body function and ultimately he would be burning muscle instead of fat reserves that he has very little of.

Would taking in less calories be advisable.

Thanks for your responses.

Edited by scottbentz on 08/06/2009 08:23:42 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Calorie Deficit Question on 08/05/2009 12:06:41 MDT Print View

What's for dinner?

I'm 5'6" 150-ish# and have a metabolism that's slowed a bit over the last few years. I figure I eat 3000 minimum on hikes of more than a couple days, eating plenty and often, and still lose weight (and that's without doing the miles you're planning) Doing the Wonderland a few years ago, I lost a pound a day for nine days.

100 Cal./oz. is lower than the calorie density I like. Add some fat/oil/more nuts and you could push it to 125 Cal/oz or a bit more. Jerky and tuna aren't real calorie dense (but tasty).

For my palate, bars that taste good off the trail (not too sweet, lots of whole grains) taste like cardboard after a day or two on the trail. But that's just me. I assume if you're planning 19 miles/day on the JMT, you've hiked enough to know what works for you.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Calorie Deficit Question on 08/05/2009 12:10:24 MDT Print View

Your son is 17. Ignore him. You REALLY want to deal with a crabby hormonal teen who is hungry? Tell him you know best on this.

I would though add in some fruit and candy though.....

And yeah, I'd bet $20 that all he talks about is hamburgers, fries and anything greasy during the hike :-D And when you get done he will hoover down a massive meal and STILL be hungry :-D

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Calorie Deficit Question on 08/05/2009 13:03:45 MDT Print View

130 is already pushing the lower limits of what's considered a healthy weight range for a 5'9 male. If anything I'd weight the calorie split in his favor. You should also try to pack in more cals per oz. I'm about to go on a 5 day trip with my girlfriend and we're carrying around the same cals/day but at 21 oz.

Edited by simplespirit on 08/05/2009 13:04:15 MDT.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Chris--"Calorie Deficit Question" on 08/05/2009 13:30:09 MDT Print View

How about a list of foods with weight to cal ratio as a learning exercise?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Chris--"Calorie Deficit Question" on 08/05/2009 14:01:33 MDT Print View

Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel - 125 cal/oz
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate - 140 cal/oz
Peanut Butter Pretzels - 132.5 cal/oz
Clif Mojo Mountain Mix - 113 cal/oz
Walker's Highland Oatcakes - 118 cal/oz
Homemade Beef Stroganoff (dehydrated) - 135 cal/oz
Homemade GORP - 110 cal/oz

Those are some of the higher octane ones. We also have some lower ones like dried fruit which is around 70 cal/oz (that's the lowest). All of our breakfasts and dinners are dehydrated so that helps a lot. Homemade stuff is not exact but should be pretty close. Anything with a high fat content is going to be good here where it wouldn't be in a sedentary daily life. Candy bars can be good...Snickers is around 135 cal/oz. I may sub some of these in to our meals.

Edited by simplespirit on 08/05/2009 14:04:34 MDT.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Calorie Deficite Question on 08/05/2009 14:38:07 MDT Print View

I think the OP has underestimated how many calories he will burn each day on his trip.

I myself am 6'-2", 225 pounds and typically burn 9,600 calories over a 20 mile day (1,00-1,300 calories an hour). I know this for a fact as I was a participant in a study that measured caloric expenditure using an electric monitoring device strapped over my arm.

Now the OP's caloric need and metabolism will differ from mine but I typically eat 4,000 calories a day while backpacking. I have found that this number of calories lets me keep doing the miles without feeling worn out. Obviously with a 5,600 daily calorie deficit I lose weight but not enough to slow me down.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Calorie Deficite Question on 08/05/2009 14:58:13 MDT Print View

Wow. At a 5600 cal/day deficit I'd be severely at hospitalization risk after a week. That's one downside to being lean. For the op, keep in mind 3500 cals = 1 lb.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Calorie Deficite Question on 08/05/2009 15:03:57 MDT Print View

Me thinks your son in particular should have more fat (and thus more calories) in there. Like, a LOT more!

Nuts, oils, coconut, salami and cheeses, full fat milk powder etc...are all high in the calories to weight ratio.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Good Info. on 08/05/2009 15:20:01 MDT Print View

Sarah, I agree about the teen thing. He finally did say to just do what I wanted since he is on another trip right now and I have to get this stuff in the mail.

Chris, thanks for the information and suggestions. By the way, I asked the wife and my son weighs around 145 not the 130 I said. I guess I am too heavy for the calorie to weight ratio.

May I ask which items I have listed would you get rid of and change out to get a more caloric dense diet. My dinners are dehydrated meals for 2. I am concerned about getting too heavy and 27 oz. was my outside number. If I can get the same weight with higher caloric foods that would be great.

This may be my achilles heel.

Edited by scottbentz on 08/05/2009 15:52:27 MDT.

Kevin Yang
(kjyang) - F
dehydrated meals on 08/05/2009 15:39:35 MDT Print View

If you are bringing those Mountain House dehydrated meals for 2, they are really more for 1 person. I'm not a big eater and if I was to only eat half of one package for dinner, I'd be miserable the whole night.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Mountain House for 2 on 08/05/2009 15:51:25 MDT Print View

I am eating the whole package myself. It usually comes out to be about 640 to 720 cal. per package. On boy scout trips I always eat half a bag a night (meal for 1) because we only hike about 5-9 miles a day.

I will spike it with some tomatoes and olive oil.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Mountain House for 2 on 08/05/2009 17:04:33 MDT Print View

The real issue with commercial meals is that you might get 300 calories or so if you eat half a meal. Even for a 5 mile day that is NOT enough even for a small female or child.

Think of it this way: ever eat frozen "diet" entrees? Like Healthy Choice or similar? They are around 300 calories. Notice how they don't fill one up? That is what that commercial single serving will do.

So...bulking up becomes necessary - add in a Tablespoon of olive oil or butter, veggies, more meat, more carbs. Most commercial meals have too much sauce anyways so they take adding extras nicely!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Good Info. on 08/05/2009 17:19:54 MDT Print View

"If I can get the same weight with higher caloric foods that would be great."


Lots of good suggestions already, to which I would add high cacao content chocolate bars. Around 70% cacao is a good balance between calories and palatability. Seeds of Change, Black & Greens, and Seattle's Best Chocolate are some high quality brands that can get you up in the 150+ calories/oz range and still taste very good. Also, almost any nut will be very high in calories, ~160-200/oz depending on the variety, and contain quite a bit of protein, along with 1-3 grams of fiber, as well. If you combine these items with the suggestions of other posters, you should have your 2700 calories in 21-23 ounces or, conversely, 3100-3300 calories in 27 ounces. Spiking your freeze dried meals with an ounce of olive oil will give you a quick 250 calories, about the max you can pack into an ounce of food.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
My world is upside down. on 08/06/2009 09:30:30 MDT Print View

I got home late last night and had to re-think everything. I took it all apart to calculate the calories per ounce; which I should have done before. It's a real eye opener. I am ditching the 100 range and trying to get in the 125 range. Never thought I would eat so many peanut M & M's., peanut butter, olive oil, etc. I will also up the caloric intake for the day.

The sad part is that I have known about a lot of this for sometime by being a member of this website and reading the Ryan Jordan book. I just never had it come up in such a way since my hikes were shorter days and distances. This has been a great exercise. I don't have to change that much just take out an item here and there and add another that is more calorie dense.

Once again thanks for the help. I'm off to the store with my calculator and checkbook.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Calorie Deficite on 08/06/2009 09:47:44 MDT Print View

Chris Wrote:
"Wow. At a 5600 cal/day deficit I'd be severely at hospitalization risk after a week. That's one downside to being lean. For the op, keep in mind 3500 cals = 1 lb."

The funny thing is I'm a muscular built man with a normal (13 %) body fat. I think that my caloric expenditure has to do with my faster hiking pace combined with my large muscular build. I of course have fine tuned my trail diet to minimize the loss of lean muscle by eating diet with high protein, high complex carbohydrates, and moderate fats.

575 gram of carbohydrate (2,300 calories)
200 grams of protein (800 calories)
100 grams of fat (900 calories)

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Calorie Deficite on 08/06/2009 09:52:24 MDT Print View

Yeah, I'm running somewhere between 5 and 6% fat currently. Not a lot of room for error if I were to take on something more than a week or so. Good thing we pack light to allow more room for food. Ryan J. was even comparing the weight saved from drilling holes in his shoes to how many cals it would net him on his last trip. Hilarious but I can see doing that with my current minimal buffer.

It's great you have your diet nailed down so well.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
calorie deficite diet on 08/06/2009 10:31:57 MDT Print View

For planned calorie deficite diet any high sugar food like most meal bars and M&Ms are better avoided. Body uses a mixture of carbs and fats for energy. When you eat lot of sugar body stops using fats and stores fats. When you run out of sugar, your body starts burning muscles for energy because fats are locked. Dont look at just caloric density while selecting food. Also look at carbs (high), protein (high), fats (low-high), fiber (high), and sugar (low). For 145lbs aim for atleast 65gms of protein. If calorie deficiency is high make sure your diet is rich in complex carbs and low in fats. The add fats to decrease deficiency.

Here is list to get you started:
Muesli with no added sugar
nuts, seeds, legumes, fresh fruits, dried fruits, date filled w/ almond
whey protein
flavored peanut butters
Bear Valley Mealpack Bars
whole grain tortillas/crackers/pretzels/baati/crunchy chow mein/crispbread
dried beans/chickpeas/lentils/soy beans/peas
no-cook salads
Instant hummus, Whole wheat couscous, Polenta, Angel hair pasta, Organic quick rice, Minute rice, Dehydrated yams, Blond bulgur
olive oil
Dark Chocolate

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Chris--"Calorie Deficit Question" on 08/06/2009 16:33:49 MDT Print View

Here's a spreadsheet with our food breakdown. This is for one person for 4.25 days. Totals are right at 2600 cals and 22.71 oz for a 115 cal/oz ratio. This is lower than I would like but we like some fruit in the mix despite it's low cal/oz ratio.

Meals for One

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Chris--"Calorie Deficit Question" on 08/06/2009 16:42:20 MDT Print View

Fruit might be lower in calories than nuts but it is very easy to digest, is full of vitamins and needed electrolytes like potassium and most of all? Has plenty of fiber ;-)