Archive for April 2006

Basecamp Food: Breakfast Burritos

The first posts on food were how to take as little as possible on an alpine route. This is about how to stuff your face at basecamp. There are two fun parts to a climbing trip; the bit where you actually get to climb something and the other bit – when you sit around, eat, read, watch the weather and talk BS about the routes you’re going to climb.

One of my big time climbing partners, Simeon, is a bit of a “foodie”. He’s the sort of person who knows stuff about what wine goes with what food, how to make his own pasta and what the hell truffle oil is. You get the idea. Me, I’m in the “there are three foods; protein, carbs and fat” camp. Shopping for expedition food can be a little entertaining at times.

Where Simeon really comes into his own is at basecamp… This is one of his top efforts from our last Yukon trip.

Breakfast Burritos

A couple of eggs or egg beaters*
Tomato paste
Cayenne pepper
Dried onions
Oil, margarine or butter
Flour tortillas

Making the hot sauce: Boil up the onions in a little water. Drain off most of the excess. Add the pepper and tomato paste and heat.

Fry the eggs in the fat and soften the tortillas by laying them over the top of the frying pan. Assembly the eggs with hot sauce in a tortilla and you’re set!

* According to Simeon eggs taste better. According to Ade egg beaters are easier to fly in and he can’t really tell the difference.

Food and

So Graham commented on having two diets, a climbing diet and a training diet. Which I guess is pretty much what I do – in that I don’t eat a 70/15/15 diet on a daily basis.

I actually spent most of the weekend thinking about food. Surfing the web, reading the Zone book and checking up on stuff. Someone on the CrossFit nutrition forum recommended as a good way to track what you eat. It’s a great site! Completely free and lets you track your food intake and activity (to give an approximate value for calorific requirements). You can also set goals for specific things like daily saturated fat consumption.

With the idea that you can’t get somewhere until you know where you’re starting from I’m going to try tracking everything on FitDay and see what I really eat. I suspect that it’s not quite what I think. Of course the Heisenberg Principle applies… the act of measurement will change the result – but in this case hopefully for the better.

Climbing Food Part 2

So after today’s CrossFit Workout of the Day I was discussing diet with Michael – co-owner, coach and, this morning, the guy who got me through a 5000m row in under twenty minutes. He’d been reading my original post on climbing food and his take on it was that it was carb heavy. As a proponent of The Zone Diet (40, 30, 30) he meant really carb heavy. I’d been meaning to do some more thinking about this before my next trip and this prompted me to make a start.

Firstly here’s the breakdown of what we took last time.

Item Carb (g) Protein (g) Fat (g)
Pre climb “meal”
2 Nature Valley granola bars 58 8 14
During climbing
2 PowerBars 90 18 5
6 Gummy bears 13 0 0
3 Hard candies 13 0 1
2 Gu or Hammer Gel 50 0 0
Cytomax, dry power for 1 quart 40 0 0
Post Climb Recovery
Teas 0 0 0
1 PowerBar Protein Plus bar 38 23 6
1 Lipton Instant soup 9 2 2
1/2 Alpine Aire meal 66 13 2
Total weight (g) 402 74 30

This breaks down into the following by energy intake.

Item Carb Protein Fat
Pre climb “meal”
Total calories (kCal) 232 32 126
Breakdown 59% 8% 32%
During Climbing
Total calories (kCal) 824 72 54
Breakdown 86% 7% 5%
Post Climb Recovery
Total calories (kCal) 452 152 90
Breakdown 65% 22% 13%
Total calories (kCal) 1508 296 270
Breakdown 72% 14% 13%

Interestingly on a more recent trip Stuart and I ate pretty much the same menu minus the Alpine Aire meal due to fuel limitations. I also had a much thinner sleeping bag to save weight. This worked fine for three days but it literally took me a day to warm up after we got back.

By any measure the above is high in carbs and low in fat and protein. Improving this would be easy if it were not for the following contraints:

  • Can’t weigh any more than about 500g per person per day.
  • Fat isn’t metabolised as effectively at altitude and may worsen AMS symptoms (see references). This suggests that a high fat diet, while calorifically benificial may have other disadvantages. In addition most climbers, including me, find fatty food hard to eat at altitude.
  • Must be paletable and easily consumed in cold temperatures with little preparation or cooking.
  • Items eaten during the day must be tolerated when eaten during exercise.

For example, given none of the above I would plan on consuming 2300 carbohydrate calories in the first few hours after exercise and about 800 kCal in protein just for recovery. I’d also eat a big chunk of fatty food prior to sleep to give my body fuel to generate heat during the night. Unfortunately that represents more than I’m willing to carry in total.

However it should be possible to replace some carbs with fat and protein which should get better balance and, by increasing highly calorific fat, have the nice side effect of upping the total number of calories. More fat should help with aiding use of the fat metabolic pathways and a bit more protein will reduce muscle canabalism by the body. I’m also going to try and replace some of the psychological foods, like gummies, with something more useful.

The other big issue is hydration and this time, like last time, we’re going to try and do a better job, maybe by taking slightly more fuel to allow for a midday brew stop – time allowing. On our last trip we drank only 2l of water during a typical climbing day of ten hours or more and an additional total of 2-3l before and after climbing.

Part 3 should include a new eating and hydration plan.

Useful Links:

High Altitude Nutrition
DIET–Scientific American Article
Endurance Athlete’s Guide to Success
Endurance Sports Nutrition, Suzanne Girard Eberle
Gym Jones – Knowledge

See also links in my original blog.

Training: HiTUP

Hike Til You Puke (HiTUP)…

  1. Find a hill with a trail and a couple of thousand feet of relief.
  2. Take your running gear, some water a few energy bars and gels and maybe a waterproof shell.
  3. Start climbing as fast as possible. Run as much as you can, when you can’t run walk, if you can’t walk crawl.
  4. When you reach the top… stop.
  5. Try not to puke either before, during or immediately afterwards.

Alternatives to #2 include hiking poles and/or a 45lb pack (fill with water bottles so you can lighten the load for the descent).

Around Seattle there are numerous places you can get a great workout doing this; Tiger Mountain, Mount Si, Granite Mountain and a whole bunch of other suffer fests.

I started early this year running Tiger a bunch of times in January before I got injured and sick. Well the clocks went back this weekend so it’s time to get serious.