In town most of us are accustomed to eating three square meals a day. In the mountains sitting down for an hour to eat a big meal is not practical for several reasons:
• If the weather is nasty you will become uncomfortably cold if stopped for too long.
• On technical terrain there may not be a comfortable or safe place to stop.
• The gut-bomb that follows a big meal will impede your ability to keep going.
• You may not have time in your itinerary to cook or prepare food.
• Stoves and fresh ingredients are heavy.
I’ve developed a meal plan that I use for hard days that seems to work well for me. By “hard days” I'm referring to summit day or any day where I expect heavy exertion with few rest stops. This is all food that can be eaten on the go or during short breaks.
My standard summit day meal plan:
• Pemmican bar (400 cal)
• Two 5oz bottles of homemade gu (300 cal. each)
• 1000 cal. bottle
• Snack bags: one salty, one sweet (~500 cal. depending on what I put in these)
Total: 2500 calories
The snack bags serve to satisfy cravings if I get tired of eating liquid food. I find that having one bag of savory snacks and one bag of sweet snacks gives me options to suit my mood. Sesame sticks, Kettle Chips, Doritos, dried apricots, dried cranberries, Reese’s Pieces, and peanut M&M’s are some of my favorites.
In addition to the above trail food I’ll have a normal dinner in camp at the end of the day. I sometimes use Muscle Milk Collegiate mix as a recovery drink within the first hour of reaching camp. This is a high protein body building drink that helps muscles repair after a hard day. I’ll also have a good multivitamin some time during the day to make up for some of the vegetables I’m not eating.