I know. My recipes need nutritional information. I hear you, and thank all of you for your emails on the subject. Its officially on its way, I promise. Along with some pretty neat other tools I can promise you that! As some of you know I am a full time engineering student at the University of Calgary, with that I am programming a cool little game that will allow you to design multi-day backcountry meal plans that optimize nutrition using recipes found on this site. Pretty nerdy, eh?
But ultimately super useful! Nutrition is a critical component of any backcountry adventure and is often over looked. “Its just a couple of days”, I used to tell myself. The fact of the matter is that if I want my body to perform day in and day out I need to fuel it with nutritious, balanced, and satisfying meals.
While I have the satisfying part down, I am aware that I need to spend more time determining if my meals actually meet the caloric and macronutrient requirements my body deserves. To figure that out the first step is determining my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), caloric requirements based on activity level, and macronutrient (Protein, Carbs and Fat) requirements based on activity type. Here are the steps to doing just that, you can also use the nifty calculator at the end of the post to cut out the math if thats just not your jam!
Step 1: Your Basal Metabolic Rate
Your basal metabolic rate is a useful number when it comes to determining your caloric needs, it tells you approximately how many calories your body burns just existing. It is a simple mathematical formula (don’t get scared!) that you can use to calculate BMR based on your sex, weight (kg), height (cm) and age.
WOMEN BMR = 655 + (9.6 X WEIGHT) + (1.8 X HEIGHT) – (4.7 X AGE)
MEN BMR = 65.5 + (13.75 X WEIGHT) + (5.003 X HEIGHT) – (6.755 X AGE)
Based on this I can assume that my BMR = 655 + (9.6 X 59) + (1.8 X 163) – (4.7 X 25) = 1397. This means that by simply existing my body will consume approximately 1400 calories a day.
Step 2: Applying your Activity Level
Once you know your BMR you can multiply it by a value that corresponds to your activity level. Below is a table that shows the various values based on how active you are on a day-to-day basis. Remember that this is an average, just because you do a lot one day a week does not necessarily mean that you can put yourself into a higher activity level all together.
|Little to no exercise||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2|
|Light exercise (1–3 days per week)||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.375|
|Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week)||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.55|
|Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week)||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.725|
|Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.9|
By this logic I can take my 1397 BMR and multiply it by 1.725 to get a total of 2410 calories /day of shear enjoyment!
Step 3: Ensuring Macronutrients
The next step, once you know how many calories you need, the next step is to determine the exact breakdown of those calories. Now there are a number of schools of thought her. I have chosen values based on sports nutrition studies published by the American College of Sports Medicine. By their logic:
- Protein – Should represent 15-20% of your total calories
- 1.2 – 1.4 g/kg of body weight (bw)/day for endurance athletes
- 1.6 – 1.7 g/kg/bw/day for strength athletes
- 0.8 – 1.0 g/kg/bw/day (non-athletes/regular daily activity)
- Carbohydrate – 50-60% of your total calories
- 6-10 g/kg/bw/day (maybe more for ultra endurance athletes)
- Fat – Your total fat consumption should be <30% of your total calories
- Less than 10% from saturated fat
If you are looking for a more in-depth position statement on sports nutrition you should check out this article.