Food

The experience from the Everest 2005 expedition and scientific publications show that the energy expenditure in the Everest base camp is 2500 kcal/day at rest and when climbing above that around 4900 kcal/day (1).

In the base camp we will have a cook and will eat as much as we can. In the higher camps we try to eat 4000 kcal/day even though the need would be even 4900 kcal/day. The lack of oxygen will cause the calory intake to be lower, i.e. the appetite is weaker in high altitudes. The studies indicate that at the beginning in the high camps the calory intake being at the level of 3100 kcal/day and when the time goes by it will go down to 1800 kcal/day. (2).

The recommendation is to eat 2500 kcal/day in the base camp and when going higher the assumption is that 4000 kcal/day is reserved for each climber. The ones who have the appetite will eat all that and the others whatever they can. This way we will avoid carrying unnecessary loads of food to the higher camps. Another way of thinking is that we would reserve to the camps higher than 7000m 4900 kcal/day for every climber. However, we are realistics and as mentioned want to avoid carrying unnecessary loads we will share the food rations carried to the higher camps according to each climbers appetite.

In 1998 Reynolds et al. studied the differencies between high fat and low fat diets (High fat, low carbohydrate diets (35% and 50% of energy, respectively) or low fat, high carbohydrate diets (20% and 65% of energy, respectively) and found no substatial difference in the climbers' performance (3).

A generic recommendation has been low fat, high carbohydrate diet but it doesn'št have any scientific foundation. The low calory intake in the higher camps seem to occur due to the way the food is cooked and the taste of the food (cold fat stick to your palate...). When you have to eat cold food it is recommended to favor carbohydrates. When you can cook your food favor high fat diet to be able to get enough calories.

The conclusion is that the high camp food will be e.g. Reiter camp food and additionally every climber takes salami, chocolate, tuna in oil etc. based on their own preference. Vitamin supplements are not neccessary but e.g. Multitabs pills can be used, again based on personal preference.

Sources

  1. Energy metabolism increases and regional body fat decreases while regional muscle mass is spared in humans climbing Mt. Everest. Reynolds RD, Lickteig JA, Deuster PA, Howard MP, Conway JM, Pietersma A, deStoppelaar J, Deurenberg P. J Nutr. 1999 Jul;129(7):1307-14.)
  2. Operation Everest. II: Nutrition and body composition. Rose MS, Houston CS, Fulco CS, Coates G, Sutton JR, Cymerman A. J Appl Physiol. 1988 Dec;65(6):2545-51.
  3. Intakes of High Fat and High Carbohydrate Foods by Humans Increased with Exposure to Increasing Altitude During an Expedition to Mt. Everest. Robert D. Reynolds, Julie Ann Lickteig, Mary P Howard, and Patricia A Deuster, The Journal of Nutrition Vol. 128 No. 1 January 1998, pp.50-55