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Liquid calories vs food calories?
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Wallace Hunter
(jeepingetowah) - F

Locale: South Central
Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 08:45:09 MST Print View

For the sake of science I am seeking advice on calories. Let's say on a trail day I have 500 calorie breakfast of oatmeal. Then a 500 calorie lunch of rice, veggies, meat. Last I have a 750 calorie pasta, veggie, meat, & cheese. This is a total of 1750 calories in meals.

In order to make around 3000 per day, which is a # I currently work off of, I would need 1250 more calories through the day in snacks. Some ideas would be, gorp, chocolate, energy bars, jerky... typical trail snacks of any kind.

BUT... if you were to drink that many calories... let's just say you did... is that the same? Are there any articles that anyone knows about eplaining the difference performance wise on this type of thing?

Is there a difference in eating 1250 of whole grains vs 1250 calories in gatorade all day?

Liquid Calories pictures of what I made

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 09:26:40 MST Print View

"Is there a difference in eating 1250 of whole grains vs 1250 calories in gatorade all day?"

Some of the answer depends on your level of exertion. If you are near the max you can sustain all day you must rely "quickly available" energy sources and eating whole grains probably won't do it.

Eating something like liquid or gelled maltodextrin would get the job done. It is very quickly converted and delivered to the muscles. (But certainly Not Gatorade, which has nearly no nutritional benefit for hard exercise.) With a liquid diet, you must be sure it is balanced in terms of Carbs, protients, fats, minerals, vitamins, electrolytes, etc. Complex sugars by themselves are not sufficient to support life.

At very low levels of exertion you could probably eat/drink anything halfway reasonable to keep going all day.

The final part of the equation is Your level of effort and Your body's response to "phood". And that is determined by doing hard long training hikes to see what works.

All this assumes a multiday event. For one or two days you can probably get away with very poor nutrition - as long as the carb flow is high.

Edited by greg23 on 01/13/2011 09:31:35 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 09:46:12 MST Print View

It comes down to your body really. Some people swear by drinking protein shakes, etc. For others not chewing the food gets to them.

As for thanks on all those!

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Liquid calories vs food calories on 01/13/2011 09:53:09 MST Print View

Well, I am not a nutritional expert. But I have done some study. Generally, there is no difference. Calories are calories.

Whether you get them from carbs (starches and sugars) or proteins (meats eggs, beans, etc) or fats and oils(lipids) it really does not matter for a normal person.

Liquids are fine. Cocoa is not all sugars. Oils, minerals, salts and other things are also in it. So, it isn't a good idea to drink 3 liters of cocoa. Or anything, really (except BEER.) Gatoraid is something that I would recommend you avoid. Or, dilute it about 2-4 parts water to 1 part gatoraid. Really great for heavy workouts, heavy exertion in high heat, but not real good for hiking. Hiking is more long term endurance...8-12 hours of moderate energy output adding up to a large output at the end of a day. Not 3-4 hours of heavy workout. If you are climbing in high heat, sure. But, use common sense.

Your body doesn't really care where it gets energy from. In the blood, it is just the molecules that are important. Extra Glucose/Dextrose gets stored in your liver as a starch. This gets reconverted to sugar as needed. Oatmeal gets converted to sugars for transport to your liver. Anyway, skipping the HS biology, over 24 hours, it really doesn't matter where you get the energy molecules from. Drink, or solid food. I am ignoring a LOT of other things...long term effects of not chewing for example.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 10:12:37 MST Print View

Is there a difference in eating 1250 of whole grains vs 1250 calories in gatorade all day?

The glycemic index of gatorade is horrible. Even if you aren't concerned about diabetes now or in the future, the gatorade may give you an energy crash whereas the whole grains would be much better. My trail diet does involve drinking 3000 calories, but those have a low glycemic index and does not give me wildly fluctuating energy levels like simple sugars would.

Wallace Hunter
(jeepingetowah) - F

Locale: South Central
What kinds of drinks are recommended then? on 01/13/2011 10:19:19 MST Print View

@Eugene - so what is the recommendation for healthy drinks?

It seems that a lot of folks don't like Gatorade. But it is cheap and readily available for a thru-hike. My purpose is to have about 225 to 300 or so calories from a 1 quart serving of a drink on a daily basis to keep me sane on the trail. My AT hike starts March 1st of this year.

So what else can I do? Preferrably cheap, bulk, and high in calories.

I looked at things like GU Brew... but for 140 calories, that stuff is $$$.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
No difference on 01/13/2011 10:51:51 MST Print View

To answer the totle of the original post.... No there is no difference between the form that calories are consumed. To illustrate. imagine eating a poptart and drinking a liter of water with it. It is identical to your body if you throw the water and poptart in the blender and liquify.

I suspect that you are referring to energy drinks like gatoraid or perpeteum. In that case there could be a debate on the relative merits of different type of carbs etc. I think it is much more straightforward. What form of calories can get get into your system. I often stuggle eating at higher altitudes, but I will drink energy drinks. So I lean toward a mix of abbout 1500 cal in liquid to 2500 in solid.

As far as type of liquid calories. If carbs are what you are looking for then I would buy a bag of maltodextrin. It is the primary ingredient in most of the higher end energy drinks. I bought a 50lb. bag opf Maltrin QD-500 from Skidmore Sales for about $80 which is a fraction of what Perpetuem costs. To this I will mix in electrolytes and sometime protein depending on the trip. I flavor it with various flavors of crystral light. I prefer this hands down to koolaid.

For my PCT hike I made up several hundred 300 calorie bags of mix. Since it has a variety of flavors and it tastes just like crystal light I have no trouble drinking this during the primetime hiking hours when I need the energy.

Edited by gg-man on 01/13/2011 10:53:34 MST.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: What kinds of drinks are recommended then? on 01/13/2011 11:35:14 MST Print View

Wallace, my drink isn't something you would find on store shelves. I put it together from a mixture of ingredients from the Protein Factory, Nido and different sources of electrolytes. For starters, I would suggest looking at oat muscle or instant oat muscle from Protein Factory. If you're willing to put together a few different ingredients, I think you can do as well or better than Perpetuem and save yourself about 40% of the cost.

If you want to try something close to my mix, you might try this combo:
20% whey protein concentrate
40% EFA (essential fatty acids)
40% instant oat muscle

Here's the nutritional info compared to Perpetuem and plain instant oat muscle.

ProductGramsCaloriesProteinFatCarbsDietary fiberCals/lbProtein/lbFat/lbCarbs/lb
Perpetuem6927072.554 1774.92666546.0166172516.43450616354.985333
100% instant oat muscle5021073.53761905.08795463.502931831.7514659335.6583538

If you're using this drink for meal replacements on a loooooong hike, then I think you want much more fats and protein than Perpetuem, especially the fats. I also included fiber because being regular is important to me when I'm doing my business in the woods, but note that I could not find anything about fiber in Perpeteum.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: What kinds of drinks are recommended then? on 01/13/2011 11:55:22 MST Print View

+1 on Greg G's post. Read it again. Slowly.

"It seems that a lot of folks don't like Gatorade. But it is cheap and readily available for a thru-hike."

Read the label. You have to drink a Huge amount to get 300 calories. And there aren't enough electrolytes in there to cover 30 minutes of sweating. You'll die of bloat before your meet your nutritional needs on a hike.

"Your body doesn't really care where it gets energy from."
Taken a little out of context, but it Does matter.

Simple sucrose, like gummy bears, requires a specific osmoality in the gut for transport. If you eat to much to fast your gut will add water to dilute things. Take it one step further and you have diarrhea. (Been there, done that.)

Fructose, like honey (Honey Stingers), fruit leathers, etc. have a different transport mechanism, but it is quite limited, and requires processing in the liver, which is another bottleneck. Find people exercising hard with gut cramps, and chances are good fructose is in equation. (Been there done that.)

You can only process about 300 - 400 calories per hour when things are going right. So to stay ahead of your deficit curve they have to be foods easily and quickly assimilated. Otherwise they will sit in your stomach or gut.

Again, much of my spiel is about the upper end of intensity levels. Climbing the pass, booking to a meadow, closing in on a 15 hour day, is getting close. And unless you understand how things work, you Will get surprised. Training hikes are about gear, your brain, and your body.

Edited by greg23 on 01/13/2011 11:58:22 MST.

Michael Cockrell

Locale: Central Valley, Lodi-Stockton, CA
Re: LHammer Nutrition guide on 01/13/2011 12:58:29 MST Print View

Try these links to a good explanation on nutrition intake during endurance/hiking/running/etc.

Wallace Hunter
(jeepingetowah) - F

Locale: South Central
Error of my ways... on 01/13/2011 12:59:33 MST Print View

@Eugene - I see that there are a few ways to quickly mix up drinks that appear to have similar calorie counts and be at least a bit more nutrionally advantageous.

I greatly thank everyone for the updates and advice. I still think there is a tradeoff somewhere. I mean how do you sweeten the maltodextrin, unless you are using engineered sweeteners? IMHO, engineered sweeteners are on par with the color additives that are in the Gatorade. Does that play any role in your choice for sweetening the drink?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Error of my ways... on 01/13/2011 14:13:50 MST Print View

"I mean how do you sweeten the maltodextrin, unless you are using engineered sweeteners?"

After about your third serving of "flavored" MD you will very happy with "plain". Flavoring, if any needs to be Very subtle if consumed over days. And variety is just as important. I happen to like "Mocha", alternating with just plain. I have consumed 3000 calories of plain per 12 hour day for a week and was very happy it was just "plain".

I haven't tried mixing my own flavors, but it might be as simple as a tablespoon of Swiss Miss per "300 calorie baggie".

I believe Sam H. augmented flavored Carnation Instant Breakfasts to meet his daily needs.

Also, re-reading your original post, this thread has addressed the "liquid" question as a supplement to meet your caloric targets. Be aware that, I believe, the vast majority of calories consumed on the trail are Solid. For instance, on Andrew Skurka's Alaska Yukon Expedition his 4400 calorie days were solid food.

Unless you are truly hammering day-after-day I think you'll have more fun with real food. And use liquid "phood" as small part, if at all, of your diet. IMHO.

Edited by greg23 on 01/13/2011 14:14:44 MST.

Wallace Hunter
(jeepingetowah) - F

Locale: South Central
Maybe what I meant was... on 01/13/2011 14:17:25 MST Print View

In actuality I am looking back at what I stated also. Let me re-think/re-state what I am thinking NOW.

* What high calorie options are others drinking on the trail?
* If those calories are good from a combination of good ingredients, how does that differ from solid calories?

I honestly don't plan to SUSTAIN on those calories. I was really trying to find a point and seek information. For now these are intended to be a drink at lunch or dinner. 1 per day. Otherwise if it is cold, hot chocolate or coffee.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Glycemic load on 01/13/2011 14:28:31 MST Print View

The glycemic index of maltodextrin is 100 on a scale of 0 to 100. Worse yet, it creates a bigger insulin response than dextrose. Oat muscle has a glycemic index of 50, which is considered low, at least according to The Glycemic Index for Dummies. The scale they use is:

55 or lesslow
56 to 69medium
70 or morehigh

When considered this as a big part of a trail diet for a long trail, glycemic load becomes interesting too.

In my drink I would probably have 12 servings per day for a total of 3108 calories. 240 grams of carbs per day
50 glycemic index
(240 X 50) ÷ 100 results in a glycemic load of 120. That book recommends staying under 100 for the day.

If you substituted Perpetuem, the results would probably be worse. It's ingredient list has almost no source of carbohydrates except for maltodextrin. If that is correct, Perpetuem has nearly twice the glycemic load of the sample drink I used in my previous post.

To get the same number of calories with Perpetuem, I would need 11.5 servings for a total of 3105 calories per day.
621 grams of carbs per day
100 glycemic index
(621 X 100) ÷ 100 results in a glycemic load of 621.

In all honesty, I make some assumptions that make my drink look as nearly good as possible and Perpetuem as bad as possible. The protein and EFA in my drink does contribute some carbohydrates that I don't know the glycemic index for, so for now I'm treating it like the carbs from EFA, but it could be worse...although it could be better. I assume all the carbohydrates in Perpetuem are as bad as maltodextrin, but they could be better.

Edited by leaftye on 02/01/2011 22:36:05 MST.

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
Re:Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 14:56:21 MST Print View

This is great information, thanks all for sharing.

If you were going to substitute the maltodextrin in a home-made perpetual drink what would you recommend for a lower glycemic index source of carbs? I assume a low glycemic index would also make it more 'filling' and reduce the sugar high/crash and fuel you for longer.

For my own use, I would be using 'liquid calories' while hiking, in addition to some nuts/gorp, and then eating a solid breakfast and dinner, so maybe 1/3 to 1/4 of calories.

While generally I think having a daily total glycemic index over 100 is considered bad, that is also assuming total calories will be half as much, so I think a bit of leeway is OK in this case. I am sure hiking and sucking down pixie sticks is more healthy than watching tv and eating whole grains.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re:Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 15:07:02 MST Print View

"The glycemic index of maltodextrin is 100 on a scale of 0 to 100. Worse yet, it creates a bigger insulin response than dextrose."

Strenuous exercise greatly attenuates the insulin response.

If you are sitting on the couch it is a problem.
If you are trucking down the trail, eat what you can when you can.

Edit: When you get to camp and suck down that Jumbo Snickers you might spike....

Edited by greg23 on 01/13/2011 15:21:59 MST.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re:Liquid calories vs food calories? on 01/13/2011 15:09:50 MST Print View

I believe you meant having a glycemic load... And yes, I agree.

I do favor oat muscle or instant oat muscle as the source of carbs in a drink. Oat muscle mixes well enough for me, so I use that because it's a little less expensive. If there's something better, I'd love to find out about it.

Earlier this year I put together a spreadsheet of foods I might eat on the trail. I modified it somewhat for you.

FoodCalories per ounceCarbs (g) per ounceProtein (g) per ounce
Kirkland Macaroni & Cheese99.320.33.7
Olive oil9.00.00.0
Powdered butter212.64.74.7
Instant Fat Free powdered milk102.914.19.0
Brown sugar141.728.30.0
Kirkland trail mix150.011.34.7
Skippy extra crunchy peanut butter166.36.17.0
Potato flakes100.138.95.6
Sunflower seeds238.15.78.6
Oat Muscle159.428.15.6
EFA Powder187.56.64.7
Nestle Nido141.211.37.5
Peanut M&M's148.517.83.0

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Maybe what I meant was... on 01/13/2011 16:23:21 MST Print View

"* What high calorie options are others drinking on the trail?"
Keep in mind that all carbohydrates and proteins are 4 calories/gram and fats are 9 calories/gram. So you will not get high calorie (>125 cal/oz.)without adding some fat to the mixture. If high calorie/oz is what you seek there are much more efficient foods like nuts that you can eat.

"* If those calories are good from a combination of good ingredients, how does that differ from solid calories?"
Forget about liquid vs solid. Regardless of whether you drink Gatoraid or Malto, both the sugar and the Malto are solids mixed with water. You could eat the mix and get the same result. (Assuming you still drink the appropriate water

I would only entertain getting significant calories from an energy drink if you are doing high miles per day or high elevation gain or if you are having trouble getting enough calories in solid form. My threshold for liquid supplements is typically when mileage is expected to exceed 25mpd. For the vast majority of us on this forum there is little need to carefully monitor and control their calorie intact or worry greatly about the proper type of carbs. There are more important things like making edible food or even great tasting food or decreasing the weight of a given calorie load of food. For those of us that are doing the higher mileage or even trail running it becomes more important. But there is a wealth of information out there in other extreme sports such as long distance biking or ultramarathoning. They are dealing with instantaneous calorie issues much greater than all but the most extreme backpackers.

Edited by gg-man on 01/13/2011 16:25:54 MST.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Maybe what I meant was... on 01/13/2011 16:35:29 MST Print View

Since Greg mentioned it, I should add that I went to a liquid diet because I needed something I WOULD eat on the trail, not to save weight or bulk, and definitely not to save money. I found that I can't force myself to eat enough solid foods when I'm on the trail, so I needed a change. In daily life I found that I can large quantities of flavored drinks without much effort, which includes protein shakes. At one time I was drinking 8+ protein shakes a day. I thought, what if I added carbs and fat to those drinks? I found that my meal replacement drink works for me.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
A great article on Energy Gels, Glycemic Index and Exercise on 01/15/2011 09:24:02 MST Print View

This is a great 101 article on energy replenishment and ultramarathons. Would also apply to more intense backpacking. Very relevent to many topics on this thread.