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High-fat diets on trail

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  • John Ladd
    I recently stumbled across an interesting US Army study re the physical effects of consuming fewer calories/protein than needed when physically active. They
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 24 10:39 AM
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      I recently stumbled across an interesting US Army study re the physical effects of consuming fewer calories/protein than needed when physically active. They found that measurable effects of caloric restriction were not too severe over 10 days even with a significant shortfall of calories to energy uses (e.g., 1000-15000 calories consumed vs over 3000 burned). 

      After 10 days, however, they found that test subjects paid a significant price for calorie shortfalls, including muscle and strength loss by some measures and increased fatigue and irritability.

      One counter-intuitive finding, to me at least, was that fat supplementation of diet, while limiting weight loss by a little over 40% (2.1% weight loss vs 3.7%), did not significantly improve various performance and health measures in one small study.

      Inline image 1

      Full article -- covering much more than the added fats issue -- is available from our Science links area under heading Diet and Physical Performance


      The 1991 Hoyt study described above is found at


      I haven't read the 1991 study yet - only the summary above

      Also worth noting are the current Army Nutrition standards:

      Inline image 1

      from


      at page 4.

       and (from same source at page 3)

      Inline image 2

      Despite these findings and recommendations, I guess I'm still going to bring a significant amount of ghee and olive oil to boost my calories, if only because they reduced weight losses in this study (albeit not statistically significantly in this relatively small 8-subject study). But the Army findings in this regard are a counter-argument to my efforts to increase fats.  

      Roughly 45% of my calories probably come from fats and oils either in foods (peanut butter) or added (ghee and olive oil). So I am more fat-intense than the Army's standards for operational rations, but my willingness to accept more of my calories from fats does reduce the weight I carry for the calories I prefer (about 3000 per day). But it seems only fair, since I've often recommended high-fat diets to others, to note the Army's conclusions.

      John Curran Ladd
      1616 Castro Street
      San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
      415-648-9279
    • Roleigh Martin
      It always seems like these studies are unreal for 100% use by JMT hikers. I wish they had studied only bringing say, 2100 calories a day of food versus
      Message 2 of 10 , Jun 24 10:49 AM
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        It always seems like these studies are unreal for 100% use by JMT hikers.  I wish they had studied only bringing say, 2100 calories a day of food versus 1,000-1,500 versus 3000 burned.  Plus allowing interjected "pig out" days about 7 days apart, what that does to subjects.  In the groups hiking with me 2100 healthy calories is not unreasonable at all and nobody gets lethargic or weak as the hike progresses, in fact they get more energized.  Plus I find in many cases they feel like they are forcing themselves to eat all that food by day's end.  But then they do pig out every supply stop and they do have consumeable fat stores to utilize.  Like how many soldiers have spare fat to utilize?

        Still I very much appreciate the studies you find.
        -------------------------------------------------
        Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research links)
        _



        On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
         

        I recently stumbled across an interesting US Army study re the physical effects of consuming fewer calories/protein than needed when physically active. They found that measurable effects of caloric restriction were not too severe over 10 days even with a significant shortfall of calories to energy uses (e.g., 1000-15000 calories consumed vs over 3000 burned). 

        After 10 days, however, they found that test subjects paid a significant price for calorie shortfalls, including muscle and strength loss by some measures and increased fatigue and irritability.

        One counter-intuitive finding, to me at least, was that fat supplementation of diet, while limiting weight loss by a little over 40% (2.1% weight loss vs 3.7%), did not significantly improve various performance and health measures in one small study.

        Inline image 1

        Full article -- covering much more than the added fats issue -- is available from our Science links area under heading Diet and Physical Performance


        The 1991 Hoyt study described above is found at


        I haven't read the 1991 study yet - only the summary above

        Also worth noting are the current Army Nutrition standards:

        Inline image 1

        from


        at page 4.

         and (from same source at page 3)

        Inline image 2

        Despite these findings and recommendations, I guess I'm still going to bring a significant amount of ghee and olive oil to boost my calories, if only because they reduced weight losses in this study (albeit not statistically significantly in this relatively small 8-subject study). But the Army findings in this regard are a counter-argument to my efforts to increase fats.  

        Roughly 45% of my calories probably come from fats and oils either in foods (peanut butter) or added (ghee and olive oil). So I am more fat-intense than the Army's standards for operational rations, but my willingness to accept more of my calories from fats does reduce the weight I carry for the calories I prefer (about 3000 per day). But it seems only fair, since I've often recommended high-fat diets to others, to note the Army's conclusions.

        John Curran Ladd
        1616 Castro Street
        San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
        415-648-9279


      • John Ladd
        ... I agree that the Army studies are not fully transferable to typical hikers without further thought. Often interesting, though, and no one studies
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 24 10:57 AM
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          On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 10:49 AM, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@...> wrote:
          It always seems like these [Army] studies are unreal for 100% use by JMT hikers. ... 

          I agree that the Army studies are not fully transferable to typical hikers without further thought. Often interesting, though, and no one studies recreational backpackers with the intensity with which the Army studies soldiers.

          John Curran Ladd
          1616 Castro Street
          San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
          415-648-9279
        • Ray Rippel
          Interesting stuff. I can tell you that I am at the far end (not sure which end!) of the bell curve when it comes to consuming calories on the trail. Some days
          Message 4 of 10 , Jun 24 11:27 AM
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            Interesting stuff. I can tell you that I am at the far end (not sure
            which end!) of the bell curve when it comes to consuming calories on
            the trail. Some days it's hard for me to push down 1000 calories. My
            experience has been interesting:

              - When I "bonk", I bonk badly. If I fail to get at least a certain
            amount (not sure what that is, but I think it's about 900-1000) I
            quite simply have to sit down and eat. I do not have the energy to put
            one foot in front of the other.

              - That said, if I do stay above that line, I seem to be able to
            operate quite well. I'm not fast, but then I never am. I do have some
            interesting food related dreams, and I find myself craving the most
            interesting items. (I can clearly remember coming down Forester Pass
            craving a caprese salad.)

            A couple of important points: I'm not suggesting that anyone else take
            this approach and, in fact, I wish I could eat more. It's just the way
            it works out for me. Second, I eat healthy portions at TM, RM and MTR.

            I also usually lose about 13 pounds in the three weeks on the trail.

            Last item: I'm no gourmet, but I do like to cook. I've created some
            great recipes while sitting on a rock listening to my cravings. I jot
            them down in my Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and then thoroughly enjoy
            preparing them later, all the time remembering where I got the idea.

            Good hiking, Ray
          • John Ladd
            ... By way of comparison, the average American [non-backpacking] diet gets 34% of its calories from fats.
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 24 11:52 AM
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              On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 10:39 AM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
              ... Roughly 45% of my calories probably come from fats and oils either in foods (peanut butter) or added (ghee and olive oil). ...

              By way of comparison, the average American [non-backpacking] diet gets 34% of its calories from fats.


              at page 24

              John Curran Ladd
              1616 Castro Street
              San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
              415-648-9279
            • dosten
              I am a paleo eater and am used to getting most calories from fat and protein. My diet for my upcoming has more carbs (mainly from cocoa and other sugars like
              Message 6 of 10 , Jun 24 8:16 PM
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                I am a paleo eater and am used to getting most calories from fat and protein. My diet for my upcoming has more carbs (mainly from cocoa and other sugars like Justin's maple almond butter) than usual. I will report on how this diet works when I get back.
              • julesnmaya
                I did the High Sierra Trip completely paleo without much sugar at all except some dehydrated fruit. I really liked using dried sweet potatoes for carbs and
                Message 7 of 10 , Jun 26 7:08 AM
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                  I did the High Sierra Trip completely paleo without much sugar at all except some dehydrated fruit. I really liked using dried sweet potatoes for carbs and ate this for hydrated for breakfast with coconut oil and nuts and added this into my dinner stews. I also used a fair amount of fat--ghee, coconut oil and butter through the day and nuts--and my energy was great.

                  --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, darren@... wrote:
                  >
                  > I am a paleo eater and am used to getting most calories from fat and protein. My diet for my upcoming has more carbs (mainly from cocoa and other sugars like Justin's maple almond butter) than usual. I will report on how this diet works when I get back.
                  >
                • Renee Nell
                  I m happy to hear there are other paleo type hikers here. I changed my diet drastically in the last year, but haven t done a backpacking trip with these new
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jun 26 7:50 AM
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                    I'm happy to hear there are other "paleo" type hikers here. I changed my diet drastically in the last year, but haven't done a backpacking trip with these new food choices, so I'm glad to hear that others are successfully hiking with this type of food, which is not as easy to pack.   

                     




                    From: julesnmaya <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                    To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 7:08 AM
                    Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: High-fat diets on trail

                     
                    I did the High Sierra Trip completely paleo without much sugar at all except some dehydrated fruit. I really liked using dried sweet potatoes for carbs and ate this for hydrated for breakfast with coconut oil and nuts and added this into my dinner stews. I also used a fair amount of fat--ghee, coconut oil and butter through the day and nuts--and my energy was great.

                    --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, darren@... wrote:
                    >
                    > I am a paleo eater and am used to getting most calories from fat and protein. My diet for my upcoming has more carbs (mainly from cocoa and other sugars like Justin's maple almond butter) than usual. I will report on how this diet works when I get back.
                    >



                  • woodyrtt
                    I ve created some great recipes while sitting on a rock listening to my cravings. I jot them down in my Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and then thoroughly enjoy
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jun 29 5:06 PM
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                      "I've created some
                      great recipes while sitting on a rock listening to my cravings. I jot
                      them down in my Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and then thoroughly enjoy
                      preparing them later, all the time remembering where I got the idea." Ray, that's s great idea! Rod

                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Ray Rippel <ray.rippel@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Interesting stuff. I can tell you that I am at the far end (not sure
                      > which end!) of the bell curve when it comes to consuming calories on
                      > the trail. Some days it's hard for me to push down 1000 calories. My
                      > experience has been interesting:
                      >
                      > - When I "bonk", I bonk badly. If I fail to get at least a certain
                      > amount (not sure what that is, but I think it's about 900-1000) I
                      > quite simply have to sit down and eat. I do not have the energy to put
                      > one foot in front of the other.
                      >
                      > - That said, if I do stay above that line, I seem to be able to
                      > operate quite well. I'm not fast, but then I never am. I do have some
                      > interesting food related dreams, and I find myself craving the most
                      > interesting items. (I can clearly remember coming down Forester Pass
                      > craving a caprese salad.)
                      >
                      > A couple of important points: I'm not suggesting that anyone else take
                      > this approach and, in fact, I wish I could eat more. It's just the way
                      > it works out for me. Second, I eat healthy portions at TM, RM and MTR.
                      >
                      > I also usually lose about 13 pounds in the three weeks on the trail.
                      >
                      > Last item: I'm no gourmet, but I do like to cook. I've created some
                      > great recipes while sitting on a rock listening to my cravings. I jot
                      > them down in my Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and then thoroughly enjoy
                      > preparing them later, all the time remembering where I got the idea.
                      >
                      > Good hiking, Ray
                      >
                    • trail2nowhere
                      I ve experimented with hiking paleo quite a lot and I ve learned that for me I ve got to become body fat adapted before I start otherwise I get pretty sick at
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jun 30 11:05 AM
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                        I've experimented with hiking paleo quite a lot and I've learned that for me I've got to become body fat adapted before I start otherwise I get pretty sick at high altitude. I also dropped the chronic cardio / running approach to fitness and started doing Crossfit 2.5 years ago as a result I have put on a lot more muscle than when I did the Muir Trail in 2009. As a result I am much stronger and have a lot more calorie burning capacity. In daily life I get about 43% of calories from fat and can maintain that on trail. Calories are about 2,800 a day and that weighs about 1.75# a day.

                        We are heading out in a week for a trip that is a JMT/SHR mass-up using other trails and routes that parallel the JMT but have much lower use. Staying out of yosemite valley and away from the Whitney summit zone. In short, TM to Cottonwood Pass.

                        On a side note, the funniest thing I ever saw in a hiker barrel was a Special K diet food bar. Obviously someone had figured it out and dropped the weight of the useless calorie to weight ratio. Although most people lose a lot of weight on the JMT it a really bad idea to peruse the hike as a weight reducing plan.

                        off belay,
                        Jack

                        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Renee Nell <reneenell@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > I'm happy to hear there are other "paleo" type hikers here. I changed my diet drastically in the last year, but haven't done a backpacking trip with these new food choices, so I'm glad to hear that others are successfully hiking with this type of food, which is not as easy to pack.   
                        >
                        >  
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ________________________________
                        > From: julesnmaya <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                        > To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                        > Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 7:08 AM
                        > Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: High-fat diets on trail
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >  
                        > I did the High Sierra Trip completely paleo without much sugar at all except some dehydrated fruit. I really liked using dried sweet potatoes for carbs and ate this for hydrated for breakfast with coconut oil and nuts and added this into my dinner stews. I also used a fair amount of fat--ghee, coconut oil and butter through the day and nuts--and my energy was great.
                        >
                        > --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, darren@ wrote:
                        > >
                        > > I am a paleo eater and am used to getting most calories from fat and protein. My diet for my upcoming has more carbs (mainly from cocoa and other sugars like Justin's maple almond butter) than usual. I will report on how this diet works when I get back.
                        > >
                        >
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