A motivating bugle over the next ridge coupled with a high fitness level will carry an avid hunter an impressive distance. Fueling the hunt strategically will carry him or her even farther—by improving strength and stamina. Smart nutrition will promote recovery and allow the arduous hunt to be done again the next day.
Don’t sacrifice calories for ounces. You can efficiently carry enough nutrient dense calories into the backcountry that are quick and easy on the go. I will share food lists and recipes in later articles. Different hunts will require different nutrition strategies. If you haven't read my previous article "How to Eat During Your Backcountry Hunt," click here: wildscall.weebly.com/blog/how-to-eat-during-your-backcountry-hunt
Even before you get moving, the body needs energy to fuel basic functions like circulation and breathing. This is called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and accounts for energy to keep your body functioning. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is similar to BMR but with the addition of non-exercise daily activities. The metabolic rate will be influenced by factors such as gender, age, height, weight, and muscle mass. Believe it or not, you burn more calories at rest than exercising on a typical day—a whopping 60-75% of estimated calorie needs will go to feed the RMR (note: at home, not on a rigorous backcountry hunt). Calculate an estimate of your BMR here as your first step to calculating how many calories you need: www.omnicalculator.com/health/bmr. Then multiply by 1.2 to factor in non-exercise activity and to calculate your RMR. Ex. a 150#, 5'7" male hunter would have a BMR of 1,609. Multiply by 1.2 to get RMR: 1,931 calories each day before exercise.
Exercise and recreation also require a significant amount of energy for muscle contraction and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to working tissues. A great way to calculate energy burned during exercise is by using the MET system. MET (metabolic equivalent) is the amount of oxygen used for various activities, which corresponds to the amount of calories needed to complete them. 1 MET is the equivalent to the amount of oxygen burned at rest. A greater MET requires more calories. Here is an example of various activities and their MET value:
Backcountry hunting generally falls within the MET range of 6-7 but will be higher when carrying out a load. Calculate your calories using the following equation:
MET x body weight (kg) x time (hrs)
Divide your body weight by 2.2 to get kilograms. For the same 150# hunter, a calorie estimate for seven hours of active hiking would be 6*(150/2.2)*7=2,864 calories. You can find the updated, comprehensive list of MET values here: sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/Activity-Categories/walking
When you combine the necessary RMR calculation with the MET calculation, this hunter would have an estimated energy requirement of 4,795 calories per day (2,864+1,931). It's not abnormal for a mountain hunter to burn 6,000-9,000 calories (1).
To take this a step further, the Omni Calculator is a resource that utilizes MET values while factoring in pack-load and trail grade. You can find the calculator and its rationale here: www.omnicalculator.com/sports/hiking
Individual training level, walking efficiency, weather and trail conditions, etc. also may affect workload intensity and energy required, but this calculation provides a great estimate.
Stay tuned for ways to dial in your nutrition strategy while keeping calories lighter and saving time.
1. Wilson, Stefan. (2015). Nutrition for hunters. Go Hunt. Retrieved from https://www.gohunt.com/read/skills/nutrition-for-hunters#gs.X5GqoQZc