Friday, 5 September 2008

marching on your stomach

Various work commitments this week meant that I've spent most days travelling on trains so what better use of time than to read a book. I plucked Derrick Booth's The Backpackers Handbook off the shelf for a delve through. The chapter that caught my eye was one about food and nutrition.

Looking at the sample menu I was shocked by how little food there seemed to be... Or should I be more shocked by how much I pack? This has started me thinking about optimising the food stuff I carry perhaps shedding some grams in the process. His focus was based on the delivery of a required number of calories with a classic ratio of carbohydrates (CHO), fat and protein to do so. My primary focus is on CHO and it's delivery balanced against the insulin dosages I take.

My current diet was put together out of experience and limited testing. In ideal conditions blood tests are easy to do; in the cold or wet they are easy to forego. When the weather has been particularly bad I've plodded on, skipped lunch and the midday injection and kept myself going on trail mix. The long acting insulin I take keeps the blood sugar on a even keel so the little and often approach does seem work in these circumstances. However I'm inclined to think that the good Doctor Anderson (my consultant) would say don't make a habit of it!

Looking at this I realise that it would make a juicy dissertation for someone looking to do a masters in sports nutrition, so perhaps I should head off to UCL with a sandwich board offering up my lunchbox to medical science.


Alan Sloman said...

Leaving aside you diabetes for one moment (a tricky thing to leave aside when on the hill, I would have thought) I have found that the easiest way to lose weight on a longish walk (Once you have dome the obvious stuff: tent, ruccsac, sleeping bag etc) is to look att the food you are carrying.

On a week's walk it really isn't a problem if your input calories don't match your output, as you will only lose a few pounds of belly. You also might get a little tired more easily.

On a two week walk (such as the TGO Challenge you need to be quite a bit more careful as in the second week with a reduced calorie consumption you can start to make mental and physical errors when walking and navigating.

It's really important when hitting civilisation to load up with 'good' slow burn foods like potatoes and pasta, plus a healthy dose of protein to rebuild wasted muscle tissue. Over two wekks a few vitamin pills will keep the lack of veg at bay, but the lack of fibre in your diet can be a problem.

Most people I meet on the Chally are carrying WAY too much food and end up either dumping it (my Mum would say this is a criminal waste) or carrying it all the way to the east coast needlessly.

It's best to measure out each meal for the hike and be realsistic about how much you will eat during the day when walking. Most walkers take too much!

However, on a very long walk (eg, my four mmonth LEJOG) it is vital you try to consume the calories: I ate and drank like a donkey eating strawberries for the four months and still lost 16% of my bodyweight. I was not 'tubby' before I set off yet I was positively skeletal when I finished!

I also carried anough medication to fill a second first-aid kit for my hyper-tension and gout problems.

I don't envy dealing with your diabetes on the trail. Good luck Baz.

baz carter said...

This may sound a bit strange but the diabetes isnt such a problem; it's the coeliac that I suffer from that complicates matters. Or rather that out of the way village stores have limited stock of which not much is likely to be gluten free. Hence why some of the recipes I've posted are based on rice satchets that can be boosted by stuff that you should find like tomatoes, tuna and pulses that are naturally gluten free.