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March 2016 Issue
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How much tramping equals a steak ‘n’ cheese pie?

Twenty minutes of this buys you a free beer. Photo: Tomas Sobek, Creative Commons

Is it OK to pig out after a tramp, or does it undo all the hard work?

How many times have you finished a tough tramp and craved a calorie-laden feast of junk food?

‘It’s fine’, we tell ourselves. ‘It’s been a tough day in the hills – we’ve earned it’. But have we? Do our efforts justify the fat and sugar we’re about to thrust down our gullet?

Delightfully, the answer is yes.

“So long as you don’t eat substantially more on the trail than you would have done on a normal day, then pigging out won’t do you any harm,” says dietitian Elize van Drimmelen.

“An average male needs to eat 2300kcal a day to maintain their weight – an average woman needs 2000kcal – and this is on top of the energy burnt on a tramp.”

This means that just an hour-long tramp (and that’s a tough bit of tramping with a pack on – not a stroll by the river) can ‘buy’ an average male a guilt-free milkshake or steak ‘n’ cheese pie. Two hours can ‘buy’ a chinese takeaway or a chicken tikka masala.

But this comes with a warning from van Drimmelen, who says although the junk food may not exceed your calorie limit, it won’t provide the nutrients needed to stay healthy. So don’t think you can forge a new lifestyle of tramping in the daytime, followed by Big Macs in the evening.

Van Drimmelen has put together this table showing how many minutes an average male carrying a load between 4.5kg and 9kg would need to tramp to match the post-tramp food or drink.

Food Approx kcal Tramping time
Cheeseburger 353 41min
Small fish and chips 1234 145min
Steak & cheese pie 446 52min
Sweet & sour pork 1011 119min
Thai green curry 647 76min
Chicken tikka masala 760 89min
Small pizza 700 82min
Bar of chocolate 257 50min
Can of coke 159 17min
Flat white 115 14min
Milkshake 409 48min
Beer (500ml) 174 20min
Glass of wine (150ml) 124 12min