When you go to Antarctica, you need massive calories.
A shopping cart full of butter is one of the ways to get those calories. This mountain of butter was only part of the food I took to survive in continent 7. The checkout couldn’t even ring this many items up on one receipt. She had to run three credit card transactions for me to buy this.
Abu Gosch in Chile was a great place to purchase these supplies, cheaper than in Punta Arenas. It just required a taxi ride out and a very understanding taxi driver coming back in.
When humans are in polar environments trekking across ice, they have to burn massive
calories to stay warm and fueled for the activity. There are lots of options for calories but only a few efficient ones. Butter is one of those calorie sources. It is suggested, based on experience, to consume 6,000 calories per day to maintain weight. Much less than that and the body begins shedding massive amounts of weight.
Prior to my butter going bad, I had only lost 5 pounds. Once the butter died (went off, in British vernacular), I dropped 20 pounds in a mere two weeks. I lost 10-15% of my calories per day when the butter failed. It was amazing how rapidly the weight came off. However, Antarctica is a place where losing weight is really bad.
When the weight burns down, staying warm becomes difficult. Fat reserves really do work well for insulation. And, once the stuffing comes off, the harness begins to dig into
bones rather than riding on a nice layer of fat. My clothing ended up being two sizes too big, too. It looked absurd, really. As though as I was a little kid wearing my dad’s clothing.
Every day up until the butter failed, I was eating an 8 ounce block of butter every day. That is, the equivalent of two American sticks of butter. One block for breakfast and then one during the day. For the snack time butter stick, I ate the butter directly, not spread on toast or anything. Just like a block of cheese. A la the Zits comic above.
One thing I have done on previous expeditions is carry a lot of Ramen. Every day I would just eat the package of Ramen raw. Sometimes I would put the powder on top to give it a little bit of salt. Though, the MSG gets a bit much after a while.
So now for the Antarctic trip, I am testing cold Ramen in cold water. I’m testing to see how long it takes to reconstitute today. That way, when I am in Antarctica, I can have water, carbs, and cover a meal.
Eating raw Ramen is simple, though I’m not exactly sure how long it takes for the energy to hit me. I felt that in Yellowstone, it took quite a while before it kicked in.
Since the ramen is now wet, hopefully it will hit my system faster, that way I do not have any energy downtime.
For the past two days I have not been that hungry. I look at food and I feel like I need it but after a couple bites, it just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s rather annoying.
I have experienced this when trekking before, when I know I need lots of calories but nothing looks particularly appetizing. That is the one thing you have to learn – sometimes you just have to pack it down even though you’re not feeling it.
This is doubly troublesome when I need to be gaining about a pound a week and I’m not been making a lot of headway. The last few days before this, I was actually doing well hitting my 4000 cal a day target.
Normally I had a lot of fruits and vegetables during the day, at least when I’m at a desk job. Doing this wildly high calorie diet might just have run me into the wall.
It is either that or I since I throttled it back to 70 minute workouts a day, my body is revolting a little bit. This is all a very interesting experiment to try and get used to eating large amounts of food and gaining weight.
According to the schedule, I should be at 100 minutes a day of heavy workout. Haha! It’s been fairly easy to make the adjustment to this, but as the time for working out has increased, it’s become clear I’ve got to have most everything on auto-pilot. As I move into the multi-hour workouts, it’s going to get that much more difficult to keep on top of daily chores.
As is, I almost started getting hungry at the end of the session. Good thing I had 3 slices of bacon waiting at home for me. And the last of my protein drinks from Costco.
My breakfasts are hovering at the 900 calorie mark:
Soy milk: 100
Bacon (4 slices): 180
Butter (3 pats): 108
Old fashioned oatmeal: 150
High-protein chocolate shake: 160
Molases (1/4 cup): 240
Total: 1068 calories before 10am
And now I’m hungry 1/2 hour after. I think I’ll have 2 boiled eggs.
The iPhone app myfitnesspal computes I need 2950 net calories per day to put on a pound a week in anticipation of trekking Antarctica. Yesterday, I consumed 2583 calories, not even hitting my target. And I felt like I was eating all day. Then, doing 1258 calories of exercise put me way below my target. I did eat my half cup of ice cream before bed. Obviously that’s not enough, either.
Perhaps it’s time for Big Macs. The thing is, I really don’t like them. Maybe my tune will change?
Based on reading Alexander Gamay’s blog, a Norwegian who made the first solo trip to the south pole and back, I need to dramatically increase my calorie intake. The weight loss experienced by Gamay and also the Australian team demonstrated I do not weigh enough to survive the trek.
It was interesting to note in Gamay’s blog that he started eating ice cream right before going to bed. In order to compensate for the 20+ pounds he lost in Antarctica, he had to consume massive calories prior to the expedition. He needed to have enough cellulite to lose, he joked about himself.
Thinking about what is normally over-eating, having ice cream before bed, and generally gorging myself is not exciting in the, “I get to eat whatever I want” perspective. My biggest problem is I have a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, filling me with good wholesome nutrients. Bananas and apples won’t pack on the pounds so I can lose them later this year, though.
The irony is I eat pretty well for a bachelor. I consume little junk food. I never buy chips or snacks. This is all going to have to change.
Both Cas and Jonesy (the Australians) looked like refugees at the end. Gamay reported his legs were reduced to sticks. Most explorers lose at least 20 and some up to 40 pounds while in Antarctica, on an 80+ day trek.
As I’ve weighed in at 160 pounds for the past seven years, this is going to be a big challenge for me. It seems that no matter how much I eat, working out burns those meals right off. My metabolism is not that efficient for the activities I like to do.
In any case, I definitely need to step up my eating habits to include much higher calorie foods. But, I have to make sure these meals are still highly nutritious. The ice cream is just an extra bonus.
Consider this: when trekking through the Antarctic, humans burn 6000 calories per day. And lose weight. That amounts to eating 11 Big Macs. Supersize it.