New to backcountry backpacking, but not new to the outdoors My issue right now is food. I eat roughly 3500 calories/day just for maintenance, and up to 6500-ish if I'm "active." I track everything daily, please don't bother disputing numbers. Usually this puts me to about 375-400gr of protein/day.
So I was thinking/wondering if anyone else is adding protein powders or powdered meal replacements to their meals. Or eating/drinking them exclusively. I thought to cook some rice (carbs) on trail, then just mix it with a few scoops of protein powder, and meal replacements powder (maybe plus mass gainer for added calories) and eat. Does anyone do this? Why not? The powders are fairly lightweight and don't take up much space.
Loc: Washington State, King County
I think a lot of people might do this, though mixing it with rice doesn't sound too appealing.
For a couple of long trips I went to costco and got the sort of "big can" of some sort of protein shake, mixed it up with powdered milk and used that.
Eventually I stopped, just because I found it a bit of a hassle, plus it tied me to resupply boxes (most trail towns didn't offer anything like this). But my normal, at home metabolism is very different from yours. I think one question that might or might not be meaningful for you is how many calories/day you would need or want after a few weeks of hiking. Wow. It can indeed be a lot of food to carry, so getting calorically dense stuff is a bit more important if you're processing that many calories per day.
Certainly I have heard of people doing this. I think taste and variety are the competing reasons not to.
I imagine if you are burning that many calories off the trail you lead a pretty active lifestyle. Perhaps when you hit the trail your activity level (and therefore calorie level) won't be that much greater than normal.
Loc: San Diego CA
I've done the protein powder, ect before. Some extra protein in the backpackers diet is a good idea. However,at this point in my life, mixing rice with protein powder does not seem too appealing. But who cares? Try it at home and see if it works for you. I do not see any health reason why you can't do it...
Sometimes I mix it into my peanut butter for trail, usually along with semi sweet chocolate chips.
To get a lot of calories you need more fat. Protein, although important, is a bit over-rated. At the calories you are burning there is nothing wrong with 40% fat in your diet. Nuts are good sources of both protein and fat. Cheese too. I like the 1-oz cheese sticks (pepper jack) because the last longer and are less messy than a huge chunk of cheese. How about olive oil? I take about 1 oz of olive oil per day and add to dinners. I put protein powder (1 Tbs) in my morning cereal. Then I put 1 Tbs of TVP in dinners. If you are using sweet sport drinks (like Gatorade) you may want to switch to protein power shakes. Somewhere a little while back Lori posted a link to a really good website on backpacking nutrition. It also confirms that a high fat diet is OK and perhaps not as much protein is needed as we think.
Loc: Portland, OR
I agree that, when you are seriously hiking most of the day that a high fat diet is not a problem, and you really only need enough protein to allow normal muscle tissue maintenance, plus a bit of muscle growth. Most Americans eat far more protein than they strictly require for health.
For me, the biggest reason not to substitute protein powder drinks for some or all meals, and the most overlooked part of a backpacker's diet, is fiber. At home I eat a lot of vegetables and whole grains. If I suddenly switch to a trail diet with almost no fiber, it plays holy heck with my digestive system. Protein drinks, for obvious reasons, often have negligible fiber or no dietary fiber at all. Nuts and dried fruit are two excellent trail foods, because they are not just concentrated, but also are unprocessed real food.