Food


Initial Loss of Appetite


Hangry - It's a Real Thing

Sometimes you might start to feel depressed and discouraged. Without something happening to trigger bad thoughts, you start thinking about quitting or get angry with your paddling partner. Maybe a minor frustration like a sticking zipper on your spray skirt drives you to tears. When this happens, you probably just need to eat something. Hangry is a real thing. So if you are feeling down or angry, stop and eat a Clif Bar. It's miraculous, and vividly demonstrates how emotional well-being is connected to physical well-being.


Caloric Requirements

There isn't much good science out there on how many calories someone burns while kayaking. A search of academic medical journals for studies of long distance paddlers turned up no results.

 

Adequate meal planning requires an estimate of calories burned each day. That estimate is tricky because of the many variables:

your weight           your speed                your age            fitness level

type of kayak         winds & currents      your gender      number of hours paddled

 

Websites such as Health Status, Self Magazine, Calories Count, Calories Lab, and My Fitness Pal, have free calories-burned calculators to help us make the estimate. We have doubts about their accuracy and scientific underpinnings, but they are best available at the moment.

 

After averaging the results from multiple online calculators, we created this chart:

 

hours spent paddling

5

6

7

8

9

your weight

110

1250

1500

1750

2000

2250

120

1360

1630

1900

2180

2450

130

1470

1770

2060

2360

2650

140

1590

1900

2220

2540

2860

150

1700

2040

2380

2720

3060

160

1820

2180

2540

2900

3270

170

1930

2310

2700

3080

3470

180

2040

2450

2860

3270

3670

190

2150

2590

3020

3450

3880

200

2270

2720

3180

3630

4080

210

2380

2860

3330

3810

4290

An important caveat: this chart accounts for just two of the eight variables: weight & time. That said, the results can give us some idea of how many calories the paddler needs, and this will help grocery shopping & meal planning


You Run a Deficit

Pig-Out in Town

Regardless of how well you shop and plan meals, you will run a calorie deficit. During his thru-paddle, our editor Mike and his paddling partner Dan both lost weight. So stuffing yourself silly while in town is important. Order some pizzas. Buy a lot of fruit at the grocery. You may experience the strange sensation of being both full and still hungry at the same time. You can max out the capacity of your stomach before fully making up the deficit. Eating continuously throughout the day during a zero day solves that problem.

 

Intense Cravings

Fantasizing about comfort foods like pizza and ice cream is normal. However, if you start having intense cravings for specific or strange things, or begin thinking about food constantly all day, even after eating, then you are likely running a severe calorie and nutritional deficit. At the next town it's very important to pig out and eat a wide variety of food.

Vitamin Supplements

You will need to take a multi-vitamin while hiking. On-trail meals don't have many fresh fruits or vegetables, and there is little variety. You will run a deficit of vitamins and minerals. Women are particularly vulnerable to becoming iron deficient.


We recommend taking a children's chewable vitamin, like Flintstones or a store-brand equivalent. We've found that people end up not taking big, non-chewable pills meant for adults. The bag ends up at the bottom of a stuff sack and forgotten. Taking them seems like a chore. They can upset your stomach. Chewables however, are like little candies. Keep them with your food and you'll be sure to eat them at meals.


On-Trail Meal Strategies