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#6675 - 08/17/10 07:08 AM Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
Does anyone have an equation or rubric to use to calculate calorie burn for distance/vertical? I am consistently having trouble managing my calorie intake, and so I thought first step would be to figure out how many calories I am burning. I am 225 pounds and wear a 35 pound pack when fully loaded.

I understand that differences in terrain and type of climbing make a difference, but is there any basic formula to ballpark it?

Many thanks.

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#6680 - 08/17/10 09:16 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 552
Loc: Murrieta, CA
I'm going to look into this. I'm 215 and yes, like to eat. It's accepted that the Whitney Main Trail hike burns 3000 calories for a "normal" hiker on a one day hike, whatever normal means, but I certainly don't think any research has been put into it. I usually just guesstimate 100 calories per mile on any terrain since it's harder going up and supposedly easier going down (which may seem easier, except on the knees and hips.) Adding the backpack would certainly lead to more calorie loss.

Are you having trouble maintaining 225 or getting some off?
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#6681 - 08/17/10 09:33 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
steelfrog, I wrestled with this same question last year and found that I got a wide range of caloric burn estimates depending on which resource I used. I'm 175 and the basic number I accepted as an average was about 500 calories per hour, assuming a 10 pound pack on reasonably level terrain below 5000 feet. Pack weight, hiking speed, elevation gain and altitude all play a role in that burn, along with things like body mass index, but I've yet to find a resource that takes these things into consideration and can spit out a truly personalized number.

When I use these on-line calculators, I play around with my body weight to simulate varying pack weights. Adding 30 pounds to my weight, I typically get about another 100 calories per hour burned. Almost all of my hiking is done in mountainous terrain with elevation gain as the goal, so I thumbnail another 100 calories/hour for that during the significant uphills (pure conjecture - it's probably more). In the scheme of things, I don't think there's much you can do to burn calories faster than strapping a pack on and heading uphill at a good pace. As I recall, a person burns between 75 and 100 calories per hour when at rest and something like 250/hour walking.

Net result, hiking steadily up a challenging grade with a 30 pound pack for an hour, I guestimate about 700 cals burned at the extreme top-end, 600 with a daypack. Add elevation in and I'm sure it goes up noticeably, but I don't know how to quantify it. With the difference in our body weights, I would suspect a bit more for you. I once had a sports science major tell me that something on the order of 900-1000 calories burned per hour is about the max the average human body can handle before very rapid exhaustion sets in. The past two years when I've made my Sierra trips, I'll generally lose 8-10 pounds over the course of a week hiking above 10K'. That includes a Whitney hike each time as well - and that's eating pretty much everything Doug can throw on the grill, with no dietary restrictions.

Maybe Harvey and Ken will weigh in (pun intended) - being physicians who mountaineer, they probably have some good solid data that can be relied upon.

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#6682 - 08/17/10 09:36 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
AlanK Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 583
Loc: Glendale, CA
Originally Posted By: steelfrog
Does anyone have an equation or rubric to use to calculate calorie burn for distance/vertical? I am consistently having trouble managing my calorie intake, and so I thought first step would be to figure out how many calories I am burning. I am 225 pounds and wear a 35 pound pack when fully loaded.

I understand that differences in terrain and type of climbing make a difference, but is there any basic formula to ballpark it?

Many thanks.

For several years, I was involved in extensive discussions of this subject on the WPS board, Richard Piotrowski's old board, and the San Gabriel Mountains board. But it's been a while (~3 years). I have lots of material on this at home, but here is what I was able to resurrect quickly.

In an old discussion on the WPS Message Board of hiking energy expenditure , I offered the following rule of thumb:

energy used (in Calories) = 0.6 * weight (in pounds) * distance (in miles) * (1 + 8.8 * grade)

This formula is based on data I gathered from various Web sites about 8 years ago. I have since found other data that do not agree perfectly, but this is a decent start. This works for hiking on level ground or uphill. I can make a quasi-derivation of this formula from basic physics, albeit with a fudge factor or two garnered from the literature. We'll save that, and the discussion of downhill walking, for another time.

So,
Power (in Calories/hr) = 0.6 * weight (in pounds) * speed (in mph) * (1 + 8.8 * grade)
or
Power (in Calories/hr) = 0.6 * weight (in pounds) * [speed (in mph) + 1.7 * rate of elevation gain (in 1000s of ft/hr)]

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#6684 - 08/17/10 11:56 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
OK, so using a real world example--on the one section I timed, on the Bishop Pass Trail, we went from 9900 to 11000' and 2 miles in an hour (or just under). So, using the last formula listed, it would be .6 times 255 times 2 times 1.7 times 1.1 equals 572 calories. That's for me. My daughter was .6 times 106 times 2 times 1.7 times 1.1 equals 238. Does that sound about right? So she's burning less than half the calories I am? She only weighs 91 pounds and her pack is half the weight, so I guess it makes sense.

Also--225 is the weight I've had for about 20 years, and before that it was about 215 for the 6 years before that. I was a college football and track athlete. Still carry a lot of muscle weight, which I understand is not conducive to hiking long distances. I no longer work out with weights (stopped that 15 years ago) but the size is still there.

The daughter and I this past week hiked/climbed 60 miles and 11,000' gain in Yosemite and Bishop areas, camping out 6 nights in our 2 man tent. We went one stretch of 5 days (4 nights) straight, and I was bonking big time I believe from inadequate protein and to a lesser extent calorie intake. The daughter has a severe alergy to all nuts, so we were nutless, so to speak, and we had whey protein and such, to mix with our oatmeal. Not good. Should have had more jerkey.

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#6686 - 08/17/10 01:10 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
> The daughter and I this past week hiked/climbed 60 miles and 11,000' gain in Yosemite and Bishop areas....

...So is THAT your trip report? wink

Despite the bonking, it sounds like you had a great adventure. I hope you will post a trip report, or, better yet, multiple discussion threads to talk more about what worked or didn't on your trip.

I recall you had a number of questions about the permits and such. How difficult was it getting the permits you needed?

As for the "bonking", how much food did you take along? What was on the menu besides oatmeal and whey?

What sort of workouts did you do, if any, leading up to the trip?

( Curious minds want to know. smile )
...maybe start another thread.

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#6687 - 08/17/10 01:57 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
Well, it's a truncated report until I have time to dig out at work. But I will get up a TR sometime before the weekend's out.

Re: permits--no prob at all--just go to the nearest Inyo ranger station the day before you want the permit at 8 a.m., put your name on the list; come back at 11 and it will in all likelihood be yours.

Training--nothing special--I play handball 3-5 times a week for 1.5 hours at a time. It's enough to get me by. I am 42 y.o., btw. Still young.

Food--big problem because Sabrina is allergic to all nuts, and every dadgum product out there either has nuts or is manufactured in a plant with nuts. So, it was a grand total of flour tortillas, whey powder, oatmeal, chocolate, fruit chews, crackers, and that's about it.

That was for the 5 dayer. For the 2 dayer, I had learned my lesson and brought pre-made sandwiches for the first day (eat before sleeping, no go in bear canister) and turkey jerkey for the next day, along with fruit chews, etc.

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#6690 - 08/17/10 04:00 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 366
Loc: Wildomar
I wore a Body Bugg thing on an EPIC a couple years ago. I burned 13,000 carlories according to it. Not sure how well they work, my wife swore by it and wanted me to try it. I hated the way it dug into my arm so I never used it again.

I was doing a day hike of Forester Pass from Roads End that went 23 hours and 42 minutes. It did show that some of the hardest work I did was about the time we were pushing to the pass and the last 1/2 hour - which was a full out run.

I took a scale with me to the trailhead a few times. Compared my pre and post weights. Biggest loss was 11 pounds in 25 hours of hiking. Mostly water weight I know............DUG

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#6693 - 08/17/10 05:38 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: DUG]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
DUG, your epics are just plumb crazy!!! crazy

But you still get my admiration.

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#6695 - 08/17/10 06:12 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: Steve C]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
If only this thread had started before the Sierra Challenge we could have monitored Laura's starting and recovered weights and calorie input to test the various theories against the course.

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#6697 - 08/17/10 07:19 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: AlanK]
AlanK Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 583
Loc: Glendale, CA
I based my earlier post on an old message from another board. Had I given it any thought, I might have dropped any two of the three equivalent formulas. I really didn't intend to spread confusion! blush

Originally Posted By: AlanK
[quote=steelfrog]energy used (in Calories) = 0.6 * weight (in pounds) * distance (in miles) * (1 + 8.8 * grade)

One implication is that it takes the same energy to cover a mile no matter how fast you do it. This breaks down for slow walking but works well for running and strenuous hiking. Another implication is that twice the weight does indeed mean twice the calories. What is more interesting to me is that hiking up an 11% grade (600 feet per mile) doubles your energy use (compared to walking on a flat trail). And a 22% grade (1200 feet/mile) triples it. cool


Edited by AlanK (08/17/10 07:19 PM)

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#6698 - 08/17/10 08:06 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: AlanK]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: AlanK
Another implication is that twice the weight does indeed mean twice the calories. What is more interesting to me is that hiking up an 11% grade (600 feet per mile) doubles your energy use (compared to walking on a flat trail). And a 22% grade (1200 feet/mile) triples it. cool


That's why you don't see many fat guys with well-worn gear hiking in the Sierra! wink

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#6699 - 08/17/10 08:24 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: Bulldog34]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 366
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
Originally Posted By: AlanK
Another implication is that twice the weight does indeed mean twice the calories. What is more interesting to me is that hiking up an 11% grade (600 feet per mile) doubles your energy use (compared to walking on a flat trail). And a 22% grade (1200 feet/mile) triples it. cool


That's why you don't see many fat guys with well-worn gear hiking in the Sierra! wink


Just me..............................DUG

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#6700 - 08/17/10 08:28 PM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: DUG]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 552
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Hey DUG, Obviously you never checked out my pics on the trip reports!!!!!!



And Gary's just braggin.......


Edited by quillansculpture (08/17/10 08:28 PM)
_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

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#6703 - 08/18/10 06:30 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: Bulldog34]
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34

That's why you don't see many fat guys with well-worn gear hiking in the Sierra! wink

And me.

As we neared Ten Lakes Pass, we passed by a small Oriental family, and I overheard the guy say "Big guy!" to his daughter in an astonished tone, just after we had passed, as if the Hindenburg blimp had just floated by.

Despite being 225, I maintain a reasonably good pace even when not trying to hustle--e.g., as I stated, we went from 9900-11000 and 2 miles in under an hour, and at our normal pace--we took some rest breaks, etc. That seems like a reasonably good pace. On flat/downhill on good trail we normally cover over 3 miles an hour easily.

And this is a pace that doesn't break the cardinal rule--if you can't talk, you are going too fast!

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#6705 - 08/18/10 06:42 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Just to clarify, "big" and "fat" are two different things, guys! You hike a lot in the Sierra, you'll still be big if you started out that way. What you won't be is overweight!

Last year I was hiking Mono Pass in Yosemite and I was astounded at the size of almost every man I came across. Almost all were trim or slender, but I swear all but a couple were like 6'3" to 6'6". I'm somewhere between 5'10" and 5'11", so these guys looked like giants to me. And this was out of maybe 30 guys I passed on the trail that day. I've seen plenty of tall hikers in the Sierra over the years, but never a concentration of so many in one place, one day. Something in the Sierra water, maybe . . .

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#6706 - 08/18/10 06:42 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 366
Loc: Wildomar
I'm probably 10 pounds heavier thanI should be and I'm not fast by anyone's measurement. I make up for that by doing what others don't like to do - I use ALL of the hours in a day. All 24 of them. I've done some big day hikes, but I've been out there over 23 hours at a time. I was researching a hike to do in Sept when I have some vacation days - I was looking at the Rae Lakes Loop as a day hike. Sounds impressive, until I found a guy who did it in TWELEVE hours. Kinda makes doing it in 24 seem like no big deal. Damn skinny little ultra runners...............................DUG

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#6707 - 08/18/10 07:00 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
Ya, no kidding. Show offs. I hate when I'm doing a Colorado mountain and I've got a pack full of water and food, etc., and a guy in trail runners and running shorts with one little bottle in his hand comes running past me up the damn thing...

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#6709 - 08/18/10 07:05 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
You both would have hated it on Whitney about a month ago. The day Joe and I started up was the last day of the Badwater Ultramarathon. We ran into a ton of these gazelles in their trainers, toting their single water bottle. I wanted to shake 'em and yell, "It's a mountain dammit! You need boots, a pack, trekking poles! Don't you have any mountain etiquette?!"

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#6715 - 08/18/10 08:44 AM Re: Calorie Burn while hiking/climbing [Re: steelfrog]
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
By the way, my Bro turned me on to this web site (he's a prof of microbiology at Brown U.):

http://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/calories-burned

Looks like I may burn even more calories than I thought!

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