The Voice of Experience

Food to Eat When You’re Cold

Food to Fight the Chill

On a short trip or in mild conditions, poor food planning can be forgiven. Most people in reasonably good shape will survive through a little hunger, malnutrition, or weight loss.

During winter, however, it’s a different story. Strenuous exercise coupled with severe weather, can drain your stamina and leave you prone to frostbite, hypothermia, and other injuries. What you eat can make the difference. When it’s cold outside, think of food as fuel for heat, energy, and survival.

The effects of cold can hit unexpectedly. For instance, you might find yourself ravenously hungry shortly after eating a meal. Even if you haven’t exercised in that time, your body might have used up all that food just trying to keep warm. Strenuous exercise only compounds the problem. A winter activity will burn 12 percent more calories and 32 percent fatter than the same exercise done in warmer conditions.

Keep two things in mind: nutrition and calories. Proteins and fats release energy over a long period of time, which makes them particularly important during long-term, strenuous activities. A piece of chocolate (carbohydrate) will give you a quick power boost for that last mountain of the day, but a hunk of cheese or a handful of jerky (fat and protein) will fuel you through a longer, less strenuous period. Proteins and fats also take a lot of energy to digest, especially at high altitudes, so they should not be eaten in large amounts before or while you’re working hard. Spread them out throughout your day. A liberal use of butter in hot cereal and at supper is a good way to boost your fat intake. Dump extra powered milk (try to get whole powdered milk instead of non-fat or low-fat) and cheese into meals to increase your protein.

Your stove is one of the most important pieces of equipment on a winter backpacking trip.
Use 6” x 6 “ x 1/4” Plywood Square under the stove to insulate from snow or cold ground.
When it comes down to it, aside from the peace and stark beauty of the winter landscape, cold-weather backpacking is one of the few times you can eat a lot, run clear off the caloric chart, and not gain weight or feel guilty. That, in itself, is a treat!

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