This thread is timely for me -- it is something I have been looking into the last few days. I found some of the information on the Hammer Nutrition web site helpful -- not their products, but the background nutritional information. If you have not read their documents, I recommend doing so -- especially with regards too the comments about inevitably losing muscle.
I tried to use the menu planner in the spreadsheet I downloaded from BPL and found it very hard to come up with something at all consistent with my habits while also providing enough calories with a sane weight. I'm still working on that. My problem is:
*) Allow for generally acknowledged protein requirements
*) My hiking is quite aerobic much of the time, so allow for enough carbohydrate
*) Remaining food is fat, to keep the total weight down
*) So far I have been unable to do that and also fit into desired calorie/weight parameters. Still working on the problem.
*) It is complicated by the fact that I have discovered that the actual food weight (not counting packaging) seems to be about 10% more that fat+protein+carbohydrate weight.
Some reactions to a few of the earlier comments in this thread:
> #2 means burning fat, and probably (certainly) burning muscle. Which means you will get weaker.
The Hammer information explains this -- after the first 90-120 minutes your body wants to get about 10%-15% of its calories from protein. Either you supply that protein or else the body will catabolize your own muscle to get it. That's what's behind their "Perpetuem" product -- supplies both carbohydrates and a little protein. I'm not asserting we all need to dine on Perpetuem, but it might pay to take that information into account when planning what we do eat.
> Backpacking is NOT a high VO2max sport so you aren't going to need a ton of carbs. You can burn it off your body fat.
I'm not sure what "a ton" is, but you do need a certain amount of carbohydrate for the body to burn that fat.
I beg to disagree with the idea that day hiking and backpacking are not high VO2max sports -- they certainly can can be highly aerobic. Flat country may not be so (at least for most of us), but going up hills of much length and steepness is likely to be so. Most of my hiking is up-and-down, not along ridges or river valleys, so I have come to believe I am best off treating it as an endurance aerobic sport.
> This way my pack weight is much lower, and I lose weight (yay!) ... the downside is I do lose muscle but I try to stay in the gym to get it back.
Losing muscle -- see above.
> Bottom line is that I use 200 calories per mile with normal PCT style elevation gain, say 6k over 30 miles. This assumes a total weight out of about 200 lbs. ... I rarely attempt to take the full 200 calories per hour with me unless I am doing a long training hike specifically testing my ability to eat that much. (yes, I had to train myself to eat.). Rather, I take 100 calories per mile of primarily carbs eating 300 calories an hour (3mph average) and an additional dinner that is more balanced with protein at the days end.
Interesting figures. You are right at the upper end of what Hammer explains. They say that the most a body can assimilate is about 240-280 calories per hour, but they are talking about a 160# man and your weight is significantly more than that. What sort of calories & weight are you carrying?
> If you're in a low cardio volume, you body prefers to use adipose tissue/fat as its fuel supply. ... It isn't super healthy though as you also lose muscle.
Losing muscle -- see above