Balance of food types

A high carbohydrate diet releases energy from carbohydrate combustion, and is the best source of energy for moderate to high intensity exercise. Those who enjoy outdoor activities will derive more benefit from a high carbohydrate diet than a high fat or high protein diet. For general bushwalking conditions, a suggested dietary breakdown might be 10% fat, 20% protein and 70% carbohydrate.

Generally, only extremes of climate affect energy expenditure. It is estimated that energy requirements increase only 3% for every 10°C below 10°C. For most Australian outdoor activities, a healthy diet high in carbohydrate will help give you the optimum performance. What you eat before you go is as important as what you eat during short trips. This means that other factors such as palatability, weight and ease of preparation are critical factors to enjoying food in the bush.

Most nutritionists say that the balance of a diet must be assessed over a substantial period of time, and that consumption over a short period is of no great consequence. Thus, from a total nutrition perspective, the overall balance of intake during a two or three day bushwalk or ski tour is not very significant provided the normal diet is well balanced.

Table 27.1 Guide to typical daily energy requirements

BuildWalking ratingEnergy required (kJ)
    Men Women
Slight Moderate 8800–10000 7900–9600
  Difficult 9600–11300 8800–10500
Average Moderate 10000–11700 9600–10500
  Difficult 11300–12500 10500–11700
Heavy Moderate 11700–13400 10500–11700
  Difficult 12500–14200 11700–12500