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Old 06-02-2019, 05:34 PM
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What food has the highest caloric density that you can eat straight (w/o refrigeration)


I have been reading multiple books about long hikes and find the info interesting. So I'm wondering what the highest calorie food you can eat straight is that has the most calories per gram.

Things like almond butter, peanut butter, chocolate, peanuts and sunflower seeds are at about 6 calories/gram. Those can be eaten straight.

Obviously pure fats should be at 9 calories per gram, but can you eat those straight? I thought if you drank pure oil or ate pure lard it could make you sick.

I guess what I'm asking is, is there a form of fat (either solid or liquid at room temp) that can be eaten straight that is taken by backpackers on long trips and eaten straight (not mixed in with pasta, but just eaten by itself)?
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Old 06-02-2019, 05:37 PM
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I've heard that people in Antarctica sometimes add sticks of butter to their daily diet (you need a LOT of calories to stay warm in that environment). Yes, you can eat straight butter, or a lot of other varieties of fat. Until your system got used to it you probably wouldn't want to eat a lot at a time.
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Old 06-02-2019, 05:47 PM
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The USDA site has fairly complete nutrition statistics for a massive list of brand-name foods, for example, Blue Diamond almonds:


https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/s...a=&qn=&q=&ing=

It also has information by generic name, such as "walnuts":

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/s...a=&qn=&q=&ing=

Both those, by the way, are in the neighborhood of 6 calories per gram. A variety of nuts and seeds would be a smart item to pack in the situation you describe.

Last edited by Sherrerd; 06-02-2019 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 06-02-2019, 05:58 PM
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Some backpackers carry single-serving olive oil packets, about 8.5 calories per gram. It's up to you as to whether or not that's palatable. Probably also a bit of a mess to pack the empties out with you.
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Old 06-02-2019, 05:58 PM
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I've heard that people in Antarctica sometimes add sticks of butter to their daily diet (you need a LOT of calories to stay warm in that environment). Yes, you can eat straight butter, or a lot of other varieties of fat. Until your system got used to it you probably wouldn't want to eat a lot at a time.
I've heard about the Tibetan butter tea - tea laced with yak butter - that non-Tibetans can't stand but natives love. They, too need something that is calorie-dense at extreme altitudes.

Applesauce keeps fairly well at room temperature, as long as it's in an unopened container, and some people who do keto diets, especially for medical purposes, hide oil in it to increase their fat intake. Apparently you can do close to 50% applesauce and 50% oil without the flavor or texture changing all that much, if you use a light, flavorless oil.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:02 PM
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This may help: http://topfoodfacts.com/top-10-high-calorie-foods/
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:21 PM
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Have to add a shout out to pemmican https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pemmican

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Old 06-02-2019, 06:57 PM
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I've heard that people in Antarctica sometimes add sticks of butter to their daily diet (you need a LOT of calories to stay warm in that environment). Yes, you can eat straight butter, or a lot of other varieties of fat. Until your system got used to it you probably wouldn't want to eat a lot at a time.
When my daughter was in Namibia, they are butter sandwiches: a stick of butter between two slices of bread. It was a regular lunch for many people there.

That's a possibility, though you'd need to keep it from melting. Keeping it in water could do it.
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Old 06-02-2019, 07:14 PM
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I've heard that people in Antarctica sometimes add sticks of butter to their daily diet (you need a LOT of calories to stay warm in that environment).
Iditarod racers do that also.
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Old 06-02-2019, 09:22 PM
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Some backpackers carry single-serving olive oil packets, about 8.5 calories per gram. It's up to you as to whether or not that's palatable. Probably also a bit of a mess to pack the empties out with you.
Yeah but can you just drink olive oil straight, or will it make you sick? Also thats a terrible price, you can buy a container or olive oil for far less.

There are lots of different fats out there. Vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.

Can 'any' of them be eaten straight or do they all need to be mixed with other things like sandwiches, tea, rice, pasta, applesauce, etc to prevent nausea and diarrhea?

Apparently butter only has 7 calories per gram. I would've assumed it had 9. Thats only a little more than chocolate or peanut butter.

Its probably splitting hairs at this point. A pound of chocolate or peanut butter has almost 3000 calories while a pound of olive oil has about 4000. Its not a huge different at that point I would assume.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 06-02-2019 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 06-02-2019, 09:42 PM
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Butter contains some water.
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Old 06-02-2019, 10:43 PM
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I always have salami and cheese on long hikes, keeps well and is high in fats.
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Old 06-02-2019, 10:48 PM
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I haven't researched the question but, from my experience as a tourist on the Pacific Crest Trail and talking to people who had, peanut butter was the winner. And I assume that that's down to more than just calories per weight, but also price, availability, packing efficiency, etc.

They throw it into everything. I saw a guy mix up a package of ramen soup at a 1:1 ratio soup to peanut butter. When you're hungry, you don't care and peanut butter is the answer to what you're needing.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:09 PM
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Sure you can eat fat. If you aren't used to it, and you eat a lot of it, you might get some diarrhea. I've never heard of nausea from eating fat.

But I assume you are packing some food other than pure fat. And my guess is you can build up to a diet that's mostly fat, if all your digestive parts work. Beef tallow and lard keep fine at room temp for long enough for a hike. Butter and oil do, too, they'd just be messy. I know a woman who eats a spoonful of coconut oil (solid at room temp) out of a jar every day. And I confess, I might have eaten a butter straight up once or twice. I can assure you it didn't make me nauseated.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:10 PM
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I haven't researched the question but, from my experience as a tourist on the Pacific Crest Trail and talking to people who had, peanut butter was the winner. And I assume that that's down to more than just calories per weight, but also price, availability, packing efficiency, etc.

They throw it into everything. I saw a guy mix up a package of ramen soup at a 1:1 ratio soup to peanut butter. When you're hungry, you don't care and peanut butter is the answer to what you're needing.
Yeah, I've heard peanut butter, tortillas, chocolate, jerky, energy bars, etc are big things on the trails.

I could see why peanut butter would be the winner for the reasons you said (its cheap, its available everywhere, it tastes good by itself, it mixes well with other stuff, etc).

I wonder if meal replacement powders are used.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:50 PM
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Peanut butter is 167 calories per ounce, so dense. One thing to note is that for human beings, it's rarely the energy we run out of when we starve. It's usually running out of protein. So protein containing energy-dense foods are probably a better choice for this exercise than pure butter or vegetable oil, which is all calories but no protein or other essential nutrients.

Milk powder is 141 calories per ounce and is more or less a nutritionally complete food, in that it has most of the vitamins and minerals, as well as protein and energy, to keep you alive almost indefinitely. (might want to take a multivitamin to be on the safe side)

Last edited by SamuelA; 06-02-2019 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 06-03-2019, 12:14 AM
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After following a couple of the links provided in this thread, it seems like macadamia nuts might claim the prize. One of the links had them at over 700 kcals per 100g, and the other link put them at over 800.

Thatís higher than pecans, almonds cashews, peanuts, or pistachios ó but Iíd rather snack on any of those last three.

When Iím canoeing or rafting, my standard snack is Peanut M&Mís, which only have about 550 kcals per 100g. But they sure taste good when youíre tired and wet.
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Old 06-03-2019, 12:28 AM
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When my daughter was in Namibia, they are butter sandwiches: a stick of butter between two slices of bread. It was a regular lunch for many people there.
.
That gives me a flashback to my life in Mozambique - through a security company, we had 24-hour/day armed guards at our house. Technically we had no responsibility for the guards other than to pay the company, but of course the people who came as guards were regulars and of course we wanted to connect with them as fellow humans.

So along with providing everything they needed for lots of sugary hot tea whenever they wanted (lots of sugar, tea, water, and a hot plate), twice a day we gave the guards on duty snack plates. Based on our understanding of what would be appreciated/consumed, each snack plate included three pieces of bread covered with ridiculously huge amounts of butter. We'd been told that the high levels of fat would be appreciated.
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Old 06-03-2019, 03:02 AM
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Yeah but can you just drink olive oil straight, or will it make you sick?
Yes, you can drink it straight. I think the getting sick part might be at least a little bit psychological, although there is some need to let your system adjust to a high intake of fat/oil. And for people with certain medical conditions, like gall bladder problems, it could be a problem/make them sick.

But a very physically active person burning 4000 or more calories a day might well need something like that.

Quote:
Also thats a terrible price, you can buy a container or olive oil for far less.
Yes, but the single-serve packets are portion-controlled, don't require you to keep an open container with the possibility of a spill, and don't require refrigeration. If you're backpacking or doing anything that requires you take haul your gear on your back (or on a dogsled or other small conveyance) then those things start to take on a greater importance. Weight can also be a factor - 7 or 8 single-serve packets weigh significantly less than a large bottle of olive oil.

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There are lots of different fats out there. Vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.

Can 'any' of them be eaten straight or do they all need to be mixed with other things like sandwiches, tea, rice, pasta, applesauce, etc to prevent nausea and diarrhea?
Yes, you can eat all of those straight... after an initial period of adjustment because suddenly dumping large quantities of anything you're not accustomed to eating into your system can cause digestive upset and/or diarrhea. Pretty sure the nausea is, as I noted, partly psychological. When I was a kid I could eat solid chunks of butter with no problem whatsoever (and back then I was active enough/growing fast enough to get away with it). Arctic people eat blubber, which is basically solid animal fat (maybe a bit of skin attached for flavor).

There's no reason you can't drink olive oil straight, people do... other than worries about adding a lot of calories to your system. And, as I noted, suddenly dumping a lot of it on your system can have side effects - but if you're constipated that might be a plus, actually. As noted, there are people who eat "butter sandwiches", where the bread seems to be acting more as a convenient butter holder than anything else. If you're able to burn off those calories it shouldn't cause problems for you.

Quote:
Apparently butter only has 7 calories per gram. I would've assumed it had 9.
Pure fat has 9. Butter isn't pure fat, that's why it has some flavor. Butter is about 80% fat, the rest being water and milk solids, with some very small amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A and E. Not dietary significant amounts, but the protein content is why people allergic to milk can't/shouldn't consume any butter at all. The process of making ghee removes water, resulting in something that is about 99% fats/oils and about 9 calories per gram.

Quote:
Its probably splitting hairs at this point. A pound of chocolate or peanut butter has almost 3000 calories while a pound of olive oil has about 4000. Its not a huge different at that point I would assume.
...and that's why chocolate bars are also a favorite in Antarctica, the Iditorod, mountain climbing, etc.
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Old 06-03-2019, 05:04 PM
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Some AT thru hikers bring olive oil at 250 cal/oz, basically they will add it to everything, sometimes take it straight in small amounts.

Also

Grain Alcohol (Everyclear) is 190 Cal/oz IIRC, and sometimes carried for a ultralight night cap, and yes taken straight, though usually with a water chaser (though some carry some less proof spirits and even wine).

Both can also be automotive fuels with little to no modification so I don't think you are going to best them.

Last edited by kanicbird; 06-03-2019 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 06-03-2019, 05:17 PM
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Can everclear be used to power a camping stove? that would give it dual usage.

I am sure Broomstick is right and you can eat oils straight.

I wonder what the most dense forms of protein are. I would assume just a whey protein powder has the most protein per gram (since its almost pure protein). Jerky, according to google has about 400 calories and 33g protein per 100g of weight. Whey protein powder has about 90g of protein per 100g of weight. But I don't know if hikers carry a ziploc bag full of whey protein they can mix into their water on hikes. I'm sure a few do.
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Old 06-03-2019, 05:34 PM
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Can everclear be used to power a camping stove? that would give it dual usage.
Yes, called a alcohol stove - many thru hikers use them and many make their own, and some chose to use Everclear as fuel because of fear that denatured alcohol vapors may be unhealthy when burned. However most use denatured or HEET gas antifreeze in the yellow bottle (methanol) due to cost and obtainability along the trail.

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Old 06-03-2019, 05:57 PM
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I don't have any numbers, but I knew a serious hiker (multiple AT completions) who swore by red potatoes. He'd eat them like apples, raw, while walking.
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Old 06-03-2019, 06:22 PM
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I've looked into this issue for my own hiking trips. Lots of backpackers still emphasize fatty foods on the theory that it has the most calories per ounce. I think that's a mistake, unless you're already painfully thin.

There is, unfortunately, a limit to how fast your muscles can burn ordinary fats (containing long-chain fatty acids). If you exercise at low to medium-low intensity (resting to sauntering), your muscles can get almost all of their energy from fat. As intensity rises, you need to add more and more carbs into the mix. Decades ago, it was believed the limiting factor in fat metabolism was how fast fats can be released into the bloodstream (both from the digestive system and body fat storage). However, research in the last 15 or 20 years has proven that after the first 1 or 2 hours of exercise, the limit is set by the presence of membrane transport proteins. (During the first 1 or 2 hours, the muscle cells can burn intramuscular fatty acids that are already inside the muscle cell.) One type of protein moves fat from the blood to the muscle cell's cytoplasm, and two more move it from the cytoplasm into the mitochondria where it needs to go if it's going to get burned. If you have a reasonable amount of stored body fat, eating extra (ordinary) fat before and during exercise isn't going to help much. Your body fat stores already provide as much (ordinary) fat fuel as your muscles can handle.

Medium-chain fatty acids, on the other hand, can diffuse across membranes without help from the transport proteins. You can buy refined nearly 100% pure MCFA oil, but it's expensive. Natural coconut oil is the only really good natural source of MCFAs, containing about 50% long-chain and 50% medium-chain. I find that if I mix it with sugar and vanilla, or cook it into a sort of fudge with sugar and cocoa powder, it provides a reasonably tasty mixture of carbs and easy-to-burn fats.

There is some tantalizing evidence--but not proof--that over the long term, changes in diet (switching to a high-fat diet even when not exercising) and exercise habits (long-duration bouts of aerobic exercise) can increase the number of transport proteins. That would allow your muscles to burn more fat at high intensity, but it probably takes on the order of weeks or months to have a significant effect.
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Old 06-03-2019, 07:20 PM
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I've looked into this issue for my own hiking trips. Lots of backpackers still emphasize fatty foods on the theory that it has the most calories per ounce. I think that's a mistake, unless you're already painfully thin.

There is, unfortunately, a limit to how fast your muscles can burn ordinary fats (containing long-chain fatty acids). If you exercise at low to medium-low intensity (resting to sauntering), your muscles can get almost all of their energy from fat. As intensity rises, you need to add more and more carbs into the mix....
In practice those thru hikers who did high carb, low protein/fat (Raman and hunnybuns) were the ones with the greatest 'hiker funk' (smell) and also appeared to be wasting away. I believe the lack of protein was the the factor in this .

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Old 06-03-2019, 07:27 PM
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When Iím canoeing or rafting, my standard snack is Peanut M&Mís, which only have about 550 kcals per 100g. But they sure taste good when youíre tired and wet.
They also taste good when you're dry and rested.
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Old 06-03-2019, 08:29 PM
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...

There is some tantalizing evidence--but not proof--that over the long term, changes in diet (switching to a high-fat diet even when not exercising) and exercise habits (long-duration bouts of aerobic exercise) can increase the number of transport proteins. That would allow your muscles to burn more fat at high intensity, but it probably takes on the order of weeks or months to have a significant effect.
I have a friend who does ultra marathons. Like the Spartathlon, a 246km race. He avoids carbs completely, trying to stay in a constant state of ketosis so that his body can burn fat efficiently during the races.
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Old 06-03-2019, 08:34 PM
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I've eaten high-density long-storage-life emergency rations. I'd rather eat peanut butter.
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:00 PM
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The OP doesn't state how long this scenario is expected to last. If it's 1-3 days, then macadamia nuts are probably the best choice. Functionally, pounding them into a mash in advance would make it more convenient both to pack and to eat them. You could put them in small ziplock bags and just bite a hole in the corner at mealtime. Carry a larger bag to hold the dirties until you can dispose of them.

If i were in this situation, and I knew water would be available along the way, I might consider powdered baby formula. Anything more than two days without vitamins and I lose energy and perspective. I can't think of any food as light and complete. There are meal replacements meant for adults that would taste better, but they are not as nutrition-dense. Soylent used to come in a powdered form, so that might work, perhaps in combination with coconut oil.

Last edited by TruCelt; 06-03-2019 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 06-04-2019, 03:50 AM
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Yeah but can you just drink olive oil straight, or will it make you sick?
Yes you can drink it straight, why would it make you sick? Adding it to lettuce (aka "Mother Nature's green paper") doesn't change it chemically.
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Old 06-04-2019, 06:49 AM
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Yes you can drink it straight, why would it make you sick? Adding it to lettuce (aka "Mother Nature's green paper") doesn't change it chemically.
I had read drinking too much gives you diarrhea.
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:03 AM
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If you pourel the oil over lettuce and chew well, you increase its surface area, making it more available to gut juices to break down. I think it's true that if you drink a lot of oil, especially if it's more total oil than your system is used to, it may pass through you, resulting in soft greasy stool that is hard to retain.

I wouldn't describe the resulting condition as an illness, or "making you sick", but it would be unpleasant, and you wouldn't be absorbing all the calories.

But I think that if you build up to eating more fat your digestive system adapts, having more bile handy, for example. And unless you are currently on a very low fat diet, or have other issues, it's perfectly safe to drink small amounts of oil just as oil, and that's unlikely to give you any problems. (And if it does, they will be a minor inconvenience. Unless you have underlying health issues that interfere with digesting fat.)
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:17 AM
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If the OP is interested in true compact sustaining nutrition, he should try lembas. For easy storage wrap them in a leaf.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:26 AM
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Why You Should Try Drinking Olive Oil

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Lots of people in the Mediterranean drink about one-fourth of a cup of extra-virgin olive oil every morning. This helps cleanse the body, and gives the body a kick-start for the day. Usually, the small cup of olive oil is followed by a small glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:19 AM
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I'm pretty sure I could drink a quarter cup of olive oil in the morning with no adverse digestive effects. I don't think I could get all my calories for a week without from olive oil without getting the runs.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:33 AM
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Cleansing the body isn't a thing and people on the Med aren't in the record book for longevity in particular, so really they're just people who drink oil for no reason.
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:30 AM
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Mediterranean people have decent life expectancies as compared to Americans. It's unlikely to be "the magic of the Mediterranean diet", as Finns and Japanese and Canadians do, too. But check out this graphic:

https://www.google.com/publicdata/ex...9_&hl=en&dl=en

(It works better in Chrome than in Explorer)

In "world development indicators", select health, and then life expectancy. In "compare by" select some countries, such as Spain, Italy, US, Finland, Canada, .... If you do that, an option to compare for just males or just females should pop up.
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Old 06-04-2019, 12:38 PM
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If the OP is interested in true compact sustaining nutrition, he should try lembas. For easy storage wrap them in a leaf.
That's a real thing, aka hardtack. This brand says 500g will keep you alive for 72 hours.
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:59 PM
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The OP doesn't state how long this scenario is expected to last. If it's 1-3 days, then macadamia nuts are probably the best choice. Functionally, pounding them into a mash in advance would make it more convenient both to pack and to eat them.
I know this isn't a general experience, but I don't eat nuts or trail mix while on the trail, because every now and then I inhale one. It's not a problem I have on sidewalks, but the trails I (used to) walk were a bit rougher, required more concentration and more effort, and it didn't work for me.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:31 PM
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That's a real thing, aka hardtack. This brand says 500g will keep you alive for 72 hours.
I'm pretty sure I can survive 72 hours with no food, if I have shelter and water. I won't be happy, but I'm not going to die of starvation in three days.
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:27 AM
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Sure, and you need shelter and water anyway. But you'll live 72 hours longer with the hardtack than you would have without any food whatsoever.

PS I tried one of those bars once. They're not bad.

Last edited by DPRK; 06-05-2019 at 12:31 AM.
  #42  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:40 AM
elfkin477 is offline
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Originally Posted by Baal Houtham View Post
If the OP is interested in true compact sustaining nutrition, he should try lembas. For easy storage wrap them in a leaf.
While it covers basic nutrition, it has the unfortunate side effects of making people whiny and irritable after even just a few days of eating it to exclusion, so it might not be the best choice.
  #43  
Old 06-05-2019, 09:41 PM
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I'm pretty sure I can survive 72 hours with no food, if I have shelter and water. I won't be happy, but I'm not going to die of starvation in three days.
I'm pretty sure I can survive a month with no food, if I have shelter and water. I won't be happy, but I'm not going to die of starvation in thirty days.

A lot of people find that they get slower and dumber after even 1 day without food. I think you're body can adapt to that kind of regime, but I think that most of us here aren't adapted that way.

If you are staying at home, you can conserve energy, and getting slower and dumber doesn't matter much anyway. If you are hiking or working, getting dumber can put you in life-threatening situations.

Last edited by Melbourne; 06-05-2019 at 09:42 PM.
  #44  
Old 06-05-2019, 10:32 PM
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Cacao butter would be solid at room temperature/easy to transport and eat. I do not know the calories. Cocoa butter is the processed version.
  #45  
Old 06-05-2019, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
Mediterranean people have decent life expectancies as compared to Americans. It's unlikely to be "the magic of the Mediterranean diet", as Finns and Japanese and Canadians do, too. But check out this graphic:

https://www.google.com/publicdata/ex...9_&hl=en&dl=en

(It works better in Chrome than in Explorer)

In "world development indicators", select health, and then life expectancy. In "compare by" select some countries, such as Spain, Italy, US, Finland, Canada, .... If you do that, an option to compare for just males or just females should pop up.
What about if you adjust for obesity?



You might also try the gini coefficient and the average number of miles driven in a year.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-05-2019 at 11:11 PM.
  #46  
Old 06-06-2019, 12:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melbourne View Post
I'm pretty sure I can survive a month with no food, if I have shelter and water. I won't be happy, but I'm not going to die of starvation in thirty days.

A lot of people find that they get slower and dumber after even 1 day without food. I think you're body can adapt to that kind of regime, but I think that most of us here aren't adapted that way.

If you are staying at home, you can conserve energy, and getting slower and dumber doesn't matter much anyway. If you are hiking or working, getting dumber can put you in life-threatening situations.
Yes, yes,. I just thought, "keep you alive 72 hours" is a bizarre claim. A more useful claim might be "keep you well fed for 72 hours", or, "contains 3 days of recommended USDA nutrition" it something.
  #47  
Old 06-08-2019, 04:37 AM
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Sure, and you need shelter and water anyway. But you'll live 72 hours longer with the hardtack than you would have without any food whatsoever.

PS I tried one of those bars once. They're not bad.
One of my old books describes how to make a chocolate-and-oat bar, (for people who want to have something on hand). The author observers that
Quote:
"At first it won't appeal to everyone, but after a few days, it won't appeal to anyone"

Last edited by Melbourne; 06-08-2019 at 04:38 AM.
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