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caloric deficit
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Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
caloric deficit on 03/14/2013 11:13:23 MDT Print View

Has any one here tried backpacking on the premise that you will be home in three days(short trip) and you can probably do it with out food if you have to?

2 years ago I started backpacking with very little food for short trips say three days just over thirty miles in desolation wilderness (tough terrain). I would pack a pen rod and a couple lures so I could fish and one to two rice packets. I wouldn't eat lunch and only have a cliff bar for bfast. on top of that I enacted the practice of sitting and drinking water at the source and carrying very little on me. This significantly reduced my pack weight and I actually did not miss the food that much. I will say this on that third day I get extremely tired and on the second night I find I fall asleep much sooner. But nothing compares to the first tastes of pizza and beer(post backpacking staple) on the way home.

does anyone else hike like this? what are your thought on this? and what do you bring as your minimal food if you do, do it?

I apologize for the double post..... I posted this in nutrition with no responses maybe someone here has some input on this.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Caloric Deficit on 03/14/2013 11:32:37 MDT Print View

Not for fun. In SERE-C (NC in January) I went seven days with just a handful of wild onions, a bowl of rice, and two sardines. I was deprived of sleep for a few days so that plays into the following experience.

End of the course I dropped >20lbs. Hunger pains disappeared after the first couple days but I was plagued with fatigue throughout the week. You'll burn through the glycogen fairly quick and the brain is quite fond of glucose; fish will obviously not replace your carbs. Brain function will deteriorate and I started having difficulty completing mundance tasks. After the completion of the course, I had difficulty using my calling card to call my wife. As this was training, if I would have had a real life or death emergency, help was not too far away.

In the winter your body becomes a calorie burning machine to keep warm. Starving it of fuel only compounds the problem.

I'm a big fan of developing mental toughness and living off of the land but I'd only do this in a controlled environment which does not involve complex land navigation. Pack some food but only use it for emergencies. 'Into the Wild' is certainly similar to this topic.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
yoyo man on 03/14/2013 11:53:54 MDT Print View

Sorry I should have been clear I only do this in the summer. I forgot to mention that I bring Kool-Aid too that might have helped and I definitely was not out there for 7 days that would be brutal. Winter I pack a ton of food A TON. And I do bring some food just not very much I usually end up about 10-15 lbs. down by time I get done and then gain it back in the same amount of time.

Ok hear is the exact list of food I usually bring

Kool-Aid or Gatorade powder-6-8 packets
Fruit leather 2 a day
one rice packet per day
one cliff bar per day
all the fish I can catch- I usually catch about 5-6 and keep 2. only been skunked one night so far.
1 tbsp. butter per day
lemon pepper

I'm working at a deficit but you can see I clearly have food just not that much. I think it added up to less than two pounds for food and water if I remember right.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: caloric deficit on 03/14/2013 11:58:58 MDT Print View

It wouldn't kill me directly, but why would I deliberately compromise my ability to make decisions and carry them out? Mental and physical acuity declines under severe caloric deficit. If the unexpected happens and you are unable to make it back to the trailhead when planned, then what? You are entering a survivial situation from an already compromised condition. Not something I would do except in a controlled training scenario. If I want to challenge myself I do it in a positive sense (i.e. trying to do more, not make do with less).

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Fasting in the wild on 03/14/2013 12:24:01 MDT Print View


I think that it's wise that you limit this to the summer. My largest concern would be carbs in your scenario but it sounds like you've already been successful with this.

I've toyed around with the idea of combining fasting for a week with a retreat to the woods. This would be more for spiritual reasons and not to test the limits of my endurance. Basic plan would be to hike three miles in to my destination and no other hiking or calorie consumption beyond that for the week. Since I've basically fasted for a similar duration (<500 calories in one week,) I'm confident that I'd have no problem hiking back to the trail head.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: caloric deficit on 03/14/2013 13:39:57 MDT Print View

I haven't done this but if you go into a fast - it's very important not to eat anything. That way your body wiill go into fasting mode and you will in theory have plenty of energy. Y ou need to know how long it takes for you to go Into fast mode as you will be tired at first until your body flips the switch, then you can head out on your trip. If you eat anything at all you will not be in a fasting mode will simply remain tired.
My fast only last a day or so and I never have been on one on during a trip. my info on this comes second hand from people who have done long fast and according to some survival experts fasting is preferable to eating lightly as you will in theory have lots of energy in a proper fasting state. Practice at home before you go out.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 03/14/2013 13:42:03 MDT.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
diet on 03/14/2013 15:06:53 MDT Print View

yeah I guess where this started for me was dieting. I like to lift weights and go to the gym regularly as im sure a lot of you do. but I have done many different diets including cutting ones to try to get my bf lower and let me tell you nothing like being on an elliptical doing mileage while carb cycling(low carb days high carb days)on a low carb day. and I figured if I can do this for a week at home I can do it out on the trail.

Ill have to look into fasting never thought about not eating altogether.

Seems like the overall consensus is this is a bad idea.

The place I spend most my time is desolation wilderness its only like 20 square miles I know the area like the back of my hand and could get in and out fast if I had to as long as there is a sun. So I guess my conclusion is this.

Working with a caloric deficit in new territory would not be the best idea. Having to make decision and find route that could be hidden or knocked down can be hard no need to make it harder. But for me in an area I know really well this works and well.

Thanks for the help guys!