I just returned from a solo in the Sierra and was musing on food much of the way. While not the hardest trip or mileage I've done, it was hard enough. Roughly 16 miles/day for two days (8 hours of solid hiking/day), each day including Kearsarge Pass, Glen Pass, and Rae Col, with a an additional trip up to the top and down Sixty Lakes Col on day 1.
Comparing the pages of nutrition advice on the current "How to do 20 miles/day thread" here on BPL with my own nutrition experiences over the last two days, I have to wonder about a few things...
I only ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner on day 1. I only ate breakfast on day 2 (no snacks or meals until I finished and reached my car).
I was fine.
Breakfast, Day 1: coffee, apple, Lara bar, a handful of nuts.
Lunch, Day 1: two slices sprouted wheat bread, 1 avocado, 1 tomato, ~1-2 ounces of Fritos.
Dinner, Day 1: 1 package ramen with 1 cup spinach and one hard boiled egg, 1 Lara bar.
Breakfast, Day 2: coffee, Clif bar, ~2 ounces of trail mx.
That's it. By the numbers, I suspect most people would say I should've bonked, and bonked REAL hard.
Now this raises a big question in my mind about fat metabolism and fasted exercising, something the "paleo" camp advocates. Most of my exercise is done fasted, so maybe I'm pretty good at the fat metabolizing...
I've found myself asking a lot of questions:
I understand the need for fueling during strenuous and long endurance events, but for moderate, all-day activities, are we over eating?
Have we been trained to fear the slightest sign of hunger?
Have people trained their bodies through constant snacking to not metabolize fat and need a constant suger/carb drip?
Have average hikers been co-opted by the abundance of sport nutrition info out there, becoming overly concerned with a constant "caloric drip" or need for food?
It seems that the sports snack industry in this country would be more than happy to convince everyone they need 1 gel, a bar, some cubes, or some other snack every hour of the day...
So what happened to breakfast, lunch, and dinner? And plain water? It worked for me when I did 8 hour shifts loading trucks at a hardware store. It worked for me during years of construction and doing demolition for 8 hours/day in the sun. And it still seems to work for a lot of people...
I know nutrition is a very subjective topic, but I increasingly find myself questioning whether the average athlete/hiker has been sold a bill of goods concerning sports food and electrolyte replacement.