Saturday, 5 May 2012

TGO Challenge: Wasting Away…


Expecting to lose a few pounds on my LEJOG, I ate like a horse and drank like a fish, but after four months of walking I resembled a skeleton upon my return home. I had lost about 30 lbs (That’s about 15kg, for the European and metricised amongst the congregation).

Now, the Challenge is only a two week walk, but this is still quite a demanding walk. It’s important to pile in the calories to fuel the lithe, mean, walking machines that we all become the instant we face east at our start points on the west coast of Scotland.

However, food is jolly heavy,  seemingly more so when you are carrying five days of the stuff from Spean Bridge to Braemar. (Who on earth planned this daft route with such long distances between re-supply points?)

Because of this I have plumped for dehydrated evening meals, which come in at about 5 ozs in their packets. To supplement these, I have gone for Granola bars, Breakfast bars, Mars bars, Toffee Crisps, honey roasted peanuts and jelly babies. All have high calorific contents. The things is though, you just don’t feel satisfied eating just that rubbish. You can’t beat good old cheese in crusty white rolls for scoffy-satisfaction and so I always take a block of cheese and half a dozen rolls as well for each leg.

I have never sat down and worked out how many calories I consume on this diet; All I ever notice is that I lose weight on the walk – not a bad thing in itself, after all I am not going to starve over two weeks, and I ensure I refuel handsomely when we hit Braemar. (Did you know Guinness has over 200 kCal per pint?)

So, after scrutinising packets and wrappers I did some sums today. Here’s a fairly typical “on the hoof” day’s consumption:

BREAKFAST                                           kCal             No.       Total kCal

  • White crusty roll & cheese               400              1             400
  • Cadbury Brunch bar                        165              2             330
  • Orange juice & Coffee                       25              2               50


  • NV Granola                                     198               1             198
  • NV Granola/choc                             123               1             123
  • 45g (1/4 pkt) H/R Peanuts               256               1             256
  • 62g (1/4 pkt) Jelly Babies                213               1             213
  • White crusty roll & cheese              400                1            400
  • Mars Bar                                         260                1            260
  • Toffee Crisp                                    229                1            229


  • Packet soup                                   100                 1            100
  • M/H Main meal (av)                         500                 1            500
  • Custard portion                              155                 1            155
  • Hot chocolate                                 120                 1            120
  • Coffee                                              25                 2              50

TOTAL CALORIES PER DAY                                                   3,384 kCal

That doesn’t seem like a lot, I suppose, but then you could add in the odd slug of Lagavulin and a glass of wine and it tips the scales at 3,500 kCal. Lord only knows how many calories an unfit, unhealthy bloke gets through with half a house on his back, clambering up mountains and wading through bogs and rivers.

I had better stock up on the beers at Braemar.


  1. a block of cheese and half a dozen rolls as well for each leg.

    Interesting concept, feeding each limb on an individual basis. But what of the arms? They too make their calorific contribution, levering the unfit carcase uphill on Leki poles. What do you feed to those overworked and undernourished appendages?

    1. Never having been over-encumbered by useless muscle mass, my arms can go for days between meals. They hang from my shoulder blades like floppy chains. My walking poles are employed to hold the lazy bastards up, otherwise they would hang lazily at my sides, piggybacking the poor overworked legs.
      My legs deserve a slap-up feed. My arms can go hang!

  2. Of course you forgot the additional items...........

    An example might be 2 pasties, a pie and a packet of Nan bread. I cannot remember the rest.

    Something like that anyway .. Cannich Spar springs to mind

    1. Oh my! My tummy had a little spasm at the mention of those Naan Breads (two packets - they were a bargain!). I was eating the things eleven days later on the train back home from Montrose. Never, Ever, Again!
      The pasties, Scotch eggs and pies were lovely though.
      A boy can get a tad hungry out in the wilderness, you know.

  3. This walking malarkey is great, isn't it? Can't be going out on an empty stomach and need to replenish when we get back.

    That's my rationalisation anyway, although I might be making the facts fit the answer I'm hoping for.

    1. With my ruthless avoidance of beery substances, my 'problem belly' has all but disappeared.

      Perhaps I should have left the love handles for unforeseen moments of starvation? That's why camels have their humps, after all.
      Good Lord! You don't think I'm "overtrained", do you?

  4. All that sugary rubbish sounds like a recipe for diabetes to me!

    1. Hi Felicity
      I tried eating oatcakes once. There was more flavour when I chewed my desk... Dried fruit's a "no-no" (The consultant has it on her list of foods that will 'surely do me in')
      so it's a huge pizza or fish & chips at Spean Bridge, then an Indian in Braemar. Then, back to the above untill Tarfside, where it's bacon butties and beers all the way to the coast!
      I'm a bloke. I hate washing stuff up.

  5. When I do the challenge, my diet will consist exclusively of scotch eggs and water straight out of the burn....what can go wrong?

    1. I know a chap who gets across with bread, cheese and water from the burns. A great giant of a man, too. Doesn't seem to do him any harm for a couple of weeks.

      I'm not sure I would want a share a tent with you though...

    2. On a small laptop screen the words 'BURN' and 'BUM' are virtually indistinguishable in lower case.

      Just saying.

  6. I've experimented with pasties (one day trip, one pasty, two day trip, two pasties etc) to the point where I can't look one in the eye these days. Since those days I've moved onto bread rolls with cheese and salami plus some greenery (lettuce or cucumber). The salami has proved to be the secret ingredient that made them palatable on multiple day trips. Should a Dickinson and Morris pork pie be available it will also be added to the comestibles bag for variety - I won't make the pasty mistake of having them all the time, just as a treat!

    1. My mate Phil is a pastie man. Well he was for the PreWalkDaunder this year - he had a rucksack full of the beasts.
      Like you, I am not sure if he'll be doing it again. This could be because that nice Mr Osborn stuffed VAT on them...

  7. I have discovered that dull as ditchwater oatcakes are OK when dunked in hot chocolate heavily laced with brandy. Under a moonlit sky sat outside a remote bothy they become surprisingly MOREISH.....

    1. Peter.
      That's the brandy talking. The bothy furniture would be more tasty. Why do the Scots eat the things? Is it a Calvinist thing going on here?

  8. There's an article about fuel for the fells in TGO April this year, that makes interesting reading. Using the Harris-Benedict formula to calculate RMR (resting metabolic rate) the energy needed to keep your body going, then calculates the calories required for various types of day out. For a 'long walk' (20km, 1200m ascent, over 8 hours)Dr Chris Fenn calculates a requirement of 3990 cals on top you would need to add the RMR calories too! So no wonder you're alway losing weight...

  9. To follow up my previous comment about fuel for the fells, my RMR is 1736 cals. I'd better re-examine what food stuff I take. Fat is twice as high in calories as carb and protein so nuts, salami, kabanos, cheese and (and bacon!) Should be high on the list.

    1. Thanks for that information, Baz. From looking at the formula (thanks for the reference, I missed that article first time around) I make that about 5,500 kCals per day for a typical Challenge day for me: My RMR coming out at about 1500.

      This year I started the walk at 11 stone 10 lbs and came home 11 stone 2 lbs - I lost 8lbs in two weeks.

      The trouble is, I find that you just cannot eat enough on the days that you are walking. As you'll have seen from the list above, I eat fairly standard fare on my walks. Indeed, I believe I eat quite a bit more than most people that I walk with!

      This is okay for a walk of two weeks - indeed it might be seen as rather a good way to lose some unsightly fat - but on my LEJOG it was a serious problem - losing over two stone weakened me quite a bit towards the end.

      I think the answer rests with more beer. So, Thank you for that! Beer will now feature more heavily in future Challenge diet plans!


Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!