Nutrition is one of the most important part of an successful expedition. On a winter expedition in arctic climate you will burn over 5000 calories a day.
It’s 4 weeks ago now I got back from my solo crossing over Lake Baikal.
-The deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world. I walked 692 km over the frozen lake in 14,5 days. The last 6 days I walked between 50-60 km a day for 12-13 hours without any breaks more than a short stop to drink water every second hour. Eating was done by walking to save time.
I had temperatures down to minus 35 during the day at the start of my expedition, it was a very tough and cold start. In these temperatures you can only take food that doesn’t freeze when it gets really cold, you also want food that is as light as possible as you have to carry all your food with you. I had food for 17 days with me.
It’s all about routines on a winter expedition. My alarm was set on 4am every day, at 6-6:30 am I started to walk. The time between there I got out of my sleeping bag, turned my kitchen on to get a little bit of heat in the tent and melt water to top up my thermos. I ate breakfast, drunk a lot of water and started to pack my sled and tent.
My routines during the day was pretty simple, I walked for about 12 -13 hours and had one stop every second hour to have a little drink and grab something that I could eat while I was walking. Sometimes I stopped for a photo or two.
Before it got dark in the evening around 6:30-7pm I stopped for the day to set my tent up. It usually took me couple of hours to set the tent up, get everything organized, melt water and cook dinner. Around 11pm I tried to sleep. I only got about 2-4 hours of sleep most of the nights due to very loud noise from the ice that was cracking all the time.
My calorie intake was only 2700 calories a day on my expedition. Which is not a lot on a winter expedition.
But for me it worked very well. I never felt tired, exhausted or low on energy.
I didn’t loose more than 3kg which I gained back on after just 2 weeks after the expedition.
It’s not unusual that people loose between 5kg up to 10kg on an winter expedition.
I ate freeze dried food for breakfast and dinner with high amount of calories, the same food that the Norwegian army are using. During the day I ate beef jerky which is super light and high in protein, I ate one Clif bar a day and from Moonvalley.me I ate one energy bar, chocolate and endurance powder which has a lot of salt. You don’t notice on an winter expedition that you loose a lot of salt.
The chocolate from Moonvalley.me was my favourite. Dark chocolate with 51g of fat was just what I needed for my expedition. I also had few packages of nuts that I enjoyed after my dinner in the tent. Lot’s of tea and few sachets of hot chocolate, I also had few energy boost with caffeine with me from carlyt's natural. I believe to keep it simple for the body to be able to digest the food,
I love this organic dark chocolate from Moonvalley. 100 g chocolate contains 51g of fat with cocoa butter & 8,7 g of protein.
in total 596 calories. One bar is 80g.
I'm amazed over this product. The chocolate contains the same amount of calories as my freeze dried breakfast package.
And it is plant based!
I found it very interesting with the nutrition and how our body react when we push it over a long time. I'm still a newbie and trying different things to found out what works best for me. I have now done 2 winter expeditions. Last year I skied for 2 months from North Cape to Jackvik in Sweden and I didn't lose one kg on that expedition. This year over Lake Baikal I was only out for 14,5 days but the days were long and the temperatures extremely cold and I believe 3kg on a very low calorie intake per day for a winter expedition is pretty good. It's also very interesting why I haven't lost more. Maybe my body adapt very well.
I love plant based food, how ever I do eat a little bit of meat as well. Most of it is hunted meat from wild caught animals. When I lived in Sydney I was a vegan, but living above the arctic circle in northern Norway makes it a bit difficult.
// Gina Johansen