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Tiny dense calorie brick
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peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 06:59:35 MDT Print View

" 113 kCal per oz, unremarkable "

exactly 100% correct.

am i way off base when i look at food specs and notice that if one takes out water and oil, that real food is pretty much 100 cal/ oz. of course, you can eat grass, and it won't pay the full 100, but it's not under the heading of real food either.
because that's what i start with. 100/oz.
if something is more than that, well then it's got oils in it. oil is not a bad thing, and in fact it seem the only way to bust pass the 100/oz barrier.
at any rate, when considering the sacred ration of 100 to 1, we can see that the bars under discussion are not big hoot calorie wise.
lacking big numbers may not be a curse. take Spam for example ... the 3oz packet fails to deliver even our hoped for 100/1 minimum (water, i suspect), but still pays it's way as a core component of a trekking food matrix.
i suspect the trick in food packing is how to best keep the oils stable. cashews for now seem my best (cheap too) option, but overage of cashews makes for looseness down low. so one can't quite live on them exclusively.

just my op.

cheers, (and more nets soon)

Jonathon Self
(Neist) - M

Locale: Oklahoma
Kind bars, anyone? on 08/11/2014 07:18:52 MDT Print View

I'm a fan of Kind bars.

They hover around 140 calories/ounce, and they are among some of the best tasting bars I've ever eaten. Sure, they aren't going to be cheap if you want to do a lengthy hike eating a bunch of them, but it's about the best I've found short of specific trail mixes or straight nuts.

The dark chocolate chili almond is a favorite of mine. Yum.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 07:23:37 MDT Print View

Another MYO Bars

Ralph Burgess
(ralphbge) - F
Energy density on 08/11/2014 08:01:43 MDT Print View

Peter, you're completely right.
Carbs & Protein have about 4 kcal/g (~115 kcal/oz), fats about 9 kcal/g (~250 kcal/oz)
Energy density is pushed up only by higher fat content; it's reduced mainly by water content.
Usable energy is also reduced if a lot of the carbs are the form of indigestible fiber, and this is not usually reflected on the nutritional label, which reflects the theoretical energy if everything were completely digested.

A typical energy bar has a little moisture and a little fat, and comes out in the 100-110 kcal/oz range.

Increasing energy density above about 110 kcal/oz means increasing fat content. The problem with this is that fat is more difficult to digest, especially when exercising. That's why most energy bars don't have too much fat. Nuts are high in fat, and the "energy bars" that have much higher energy density, like the "Kind" bars, are basically nuts shaped into a bar. You can get the same energy density by taking a bag of nuts or a jar of peanut butter. The question is, can you digest it?

I take a diet with a much higher fat content when I'm hiking at a moderate pace, taking breaks to stop and eat, and cooking a proper dinner that has time to digest. But moving fast, you just can't digest too much fat.

For me, the ideal bar would be something like:
70% carbs (with minimal fiber)
15% protein
15% fat

I've yet to find anything like this. Most have less fat than this - I think I can digest a little more, and I'd rather have it mixed in with my carbs in the bar than carry a separate high-fat item. Most bars have WAY more fiber than I want. You need some fiber to keep your digestive system healthy, but when you're eating a lot of food on the trail, I don't think most people need the amount of indigestible fiber that's in most energy bars. Power bars are the only low-fiber bar that I've found, they just don't taste so great.

Edited by ralphbge on 08/11/2014 08:05:11 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 08:47:23 MDT Print View

Check out Epic Meat and bacon in a bar

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 10:27:36 MDT Print View

These are the PowerBar Harvest Energy Bars that work for me -


They are 104 or 109 calories per ounce, and pretty close to 70/15/15.

(For comparison, I find ProBar Meal bars too high in fat, 39% to 47%, and too many calories, 360 to 380, to eat during continuous hard efforts. They are great in camp, but not so much on the trail.)


Edited by greg23 on 08/11/2014 11:05:52 MDT.

Bob .
(BCBob) - M

Locale: Vancouver Island
Re: Tiny dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 10:29:07 MDT Print View

IMO making your own trail mix and granola is easy to do and waaaaay better than most commercial bars or mixes. You can use better quality ingredients and include only what you want.

Granola -- oats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, ground brown rice & quinoa, coconut, almonds, raisins, extra virgin olive oil.
My breakfast -- 1 heaping cup granola, add my own dehydrated fruit (kiwis, cherries are good), plus a 1/4 heaping cup skim milk powder.

Trail Mix (lunch) -- Cashews, pecans, toasted pumpkin seeds & almonds, soy nuts, dried apricots, chocolate covered almonds.

High fat nuts will give you high calories per ounce.

Cashews -- 157 calories
Almonds -- 163 calories
Pecans -- 196 calories

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 12:47:54 MDT Print View

I just wrapped them individually in wax paper and put them in a ziplock.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 16:44:16 MDT Print View

"Check out Epic Meat and bacon in a bar"

Yowzers! 125 calories per oz and I think they taste awesome too. Too bad they're about $3 per bar.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 16:58:57 MDT Print View

Our local grocery store Winco carries Toffee covered Almonds in the bulk food section that are 134 calories per oz, have 10g of fat, 4g of protein, 24g total carbohydrate, and 65mg of sodium per 40g serving.

I contemplated living off of Moon Pies for a week on the trail until I realized that they are only 109 calories per oz.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 08/11/2014 16:59:32 MDT.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 19:46:50 MDT Print View

Ken -- interesting. But made by an accountant!

"I'm Chris Cage, the founder of Greenbelly. It all started back in 2012 when I decided to quit my job as an accountant to pursue the life I wanted to live. ..."

Okay, just kidding. Thanks for posting.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Dense calorie brick on 08/11/2014 19:52:16 MDT Print View

"Too bad they're about $3 per bar."

Well those tiny Kind bars are a buck fifty....

It's not like you eat this stuff every day.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Wow! on 08/12/2014 00:01:05 MDT Print View

Wow Pecans are 196 calories per oz? Wholly crap!!!
Sounds like a great way to fill the voids in my bear can.

As for meat bars....I saw then at whole foods...and tried them all. They are just like they sound. Soft meat bars. Actually pretty damn tasty...but... Kinda weird brain is still adapting to something that looks like a cliff bar mixed with a ground chuck. 2 of the bars I tried had bone fragments....

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Wow! on 08/12/2014 00:51:26 MDT Print View

"2 of the bars I tried had bone fragments...."

Those are your mineral supplements.


Jonathon Self
(Neist) - M

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Wow! on 08/12/2014 07:12:27 MDT Print View

"Wow Pecans are 196 calories per oz? Wholly crap!!!
Sounds like a great way to fill the voids in my bear can."

They do! Just be careful, because most nuts contain high amounts of Phytic Acid. I'm no expert, but what I've read online tells me that it inhibits absorption of specific nutrients and minerals. That, and they have an ungodly high fat percentage in them, which may or may not bother people.

I think something like the aforementioned toffee nuts is the way to go, in rationed quantities. Sprouts has a trail mix with peanuts, chocolate, and peanut butter cups which is in the mid 150s an ounce, and it limits fat calories to around 60%. I can eat handfuls of it. Delicious.

As for Epic bars, I tried the lamb one a few weeks back, and while it tasted okay, I couldn't get past the surprisingly soft texture. I think I'd enjoy it more if it was a bit firmer.

Edited by Neist on 08/12/2014 07:13:35 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Wow! on 08/12/2014 11:03:03 MDT Print View

"Wow Pecans are 196 calories per oz? Wholly crap!!!
Sounds like a great way to fill the voids in my bear can."


There are two major potential issues with this aproach.
1) you have to eat it. Ounce of food sitting in your food bag untouched will turn your spreadsheet theory into a much heavier reality. I can speak from personal experience with Macadamian nuts on my JMT and SHR trips.
2) it took me several years to finally figure out that for short term trips such as the JMT, it is not calories that you should be focusing on, it should be carbs and to a lesser extent protein. I, along with many on this site have been blinded by spreadsheet weight optimization where calories per ounce is all that matters. But unless you are in the top 1/2% of the American population you have more than enough fat on your body to supply your caloric needs. So all the fat that you are carrying with the nuts is wasted. Here is a challenge for you. Do three similiar trips. On one, take your high calorie/ ounce diet. On the second, calculate the carbs and protein from your first trip and only take that amount of carbs and protein without the fat. The second trip will be much more efficient. Want to go further, take a third trip carrying the same food weight as trip but primarily carbs with some protein. If your experience is anything like mine has been you will be far better fueled with option 3.

This approach is not valid for thru hikers or other extremely lean hikers. But for short duration hikes you will carry less food weight, have more energy and open up the food that you will carry. As an aside I have tested multiple types of carbs from straight sugar, to maltodextrin to complex carbs. I have seen no difference in performance as long as I drip calories in continuously throughout the day.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: using my stored energy on 08/12/2014 11:17:41 MDT Print View

What's the limit for estimated calorie deficit for shorter trips? I'm 6'2", 230, and plenty of that is "energy reserve" and not muscle. If I'm doing average 7 miles per day for 8 days, moderate elevation change (say +2000 avg), most online calculators say I'm burning between 1000 and 2000 calories from exercise. So is 3000 calories per day overkill? Could I get away with 2000? I don't bring more than 2000 calories for short weekend trips, but am not sure how that would play out for a week?

Jonathon Self
(Neist) - M

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: using my stored energy on 08/12/2014 11:31:00 MDT Print View

I'm no expert, but I imagine it's whatever you feel comfortable handling.

3,500 calories of fat equates to a pound, so if you are 20lbs overweight, then you have approximately 70,000 calories held in reserve. Assuming you still managed to intake enough carbs and protein to keep your energy levels up, you could go quite a while on a calorie deficit.

It all depends on your basal metabolic rate. I've done my own crude calculations for myself (6ft, 160lbs), and it'd take nearly two weeks to eat up 15lbs of fat at 30 miles per day while still intaking ~4,000 calories per day.

I'm pretty sure you could get away with 2,000 daily calories, but, like I said, you might not feel great running at a calorie deficit. I do know from personal experience (though I do weigh less than you) that I can walk 6-8 miles a day from walking back-and-forth to work daily and generally feel it unnecessary to eat over 2,000 calories per day.

But like I said, I'm no expert. Maybe someone with more knowledge can chime in.

Edited by Neist on 08/12/2014 11:32:44 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: using my stored energy on 08/12/2014 15:42:34 MDT Print View

I'm no expert but my understanding is the Atkins version which is you have to burn through your glycogen stores and hit ketosis before your body starts burning fat efficiently. For me, transitioning to ketosis is a miserable process but felt great and full of energy afterwards. I wasn't hiking 20 mile days then but I have gone through severe caloric deficit thanks to Uncle Sam, the most severe being SERE-C where I lost 20 lbs in a week.

I do know that I do bonk when pushing myself physically when I am operating under a calorie deficit but most of my experiences with this, I didn't have any control over the food I could consume. They were MREs in quantities controlled either by the mission or training requirements.

Now that I'm the master of my own ship and can choose my own food, I find this to be confusing. I don't want to "pack my fears," in this case, fear of bonking at mile 15 when I have 5+ to go with 5k' of elevation to contend with but it's a legitimate concern. But then again, I don't want to pack 2-2.5lbs of food per day when I can get away with 1.5lbs. For a seven day unsupported trip, that can be a difference of 3.5-7 lbs.

I've asked before and I'll ask again... I've read through some of the old threads here at BPL and some cycling forums but I'd like to learn more about adding Maltodextrin mix to my diet. I believe Greg Mihalik mentioned the other day that the human body can only absorb 200-300 kCal per hour. Is it as simple as making a mixture that I sip off of and knowing that, for example, 8 fluid oz is roughly 300 kCal and consuming that every hour or is there a better technique?

Edited by IDBLOOM on 08/12/2014 17:48:09 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: using my stored energy on 08/12/2014 17:43:12 MDT Print View


I'm flying that same "I'm no Expert" flag, but I have paid attention over the years ...

"... mentioned the other day that the human body can only absorb 200-300 kCal per hour. Is it as simple as making a mixture that I sip off of and knowing that, for example, 8 fluid oz is roughly 300 kCal and consuming that every hour or is there a better technique?"

Yep. That works. Greg G. - MaltoMan - is a prime example of it's success.

It is a very common approach used by competitive ultra-distance cyclists. They are literally handed a fresh 1 liter CamelBack of tolerable "stuff" on the schedule that works for them.

When I'm riding big distances I eat gel (along with water) every 30 minutes. Messing with a gel bottle twice an hour is all I want to manage.

When I'm on the trail I eat a bar every two hours in the mornings (125 calories/hr), and every 90 minutes in the afternoons (~170 calories/hour). It works for me.

We are all unique in our metabolic processing, are at different levels of fitness, and operate at different levels of output. Field Testing is the Only way you will figure out what works for you.

A 300 calorie per hour drip will get the job done, depending on the caveats, the biggest one being able to manage your water/energy intake balance.

Edited by greg23 on 08/14/2014 15:55:53 MDT.