R. B. Densley, D. A. DeFrang, & J. T. Peterson, FACSM

Linfield College, McMinnville, OR

PURPOSE: This study assessed changes in energy intake and macronutrient composition before, during, and after an alpine climb compared to climbing difficulty ratings in experienced mountaineers. METHODS: Nine male (age 56 ± 12 years, height 175 ± 8 cm, and weight 76.7 ± 8.6 kg) participants from the Mazamas ( a mountaineering club in Portland, Oregon) were given diet diaries with specific instructions to report each individual alpine route, length of trip, elevation gained, length of time for the trip, route difficulty (based on the Mazamas’ rating system), and weather. Climbers were then asked to report all energy and water intake the day prior to, days when climbing, and the day following each climb. Diaries were recorded from April to October of 2011. Nutritional data was input and analyzed with Food Processer© software. Variables were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with climbing difficulty as a between subjects factor (p < 0.05). RESULTS: Dietary data was recorded for a total of 38 climbs. The average and range of total calorie and macronutrient break down for all climbs was: Total kcal: 3023.67 ± 917.17 (1164.98-4804.20), protein kcal: 447.25 ± 231.88 (83.52-1257.36), carbohydrate kcal: 1589.97 ± 575.71 (58.04- 2877.36) kcals, and fat kcal: 980.61 ± 413.14 (160.92-2289.65). The percentages of protein, fat and carbohydrate were 14.56, 53.52 and 31.96% respectively. Climbers consumed more calories from protein on the day before and after compared to the day(s) during the climb, regardless of climb difficulty (p < 0.05). Interestingly, as the climbs were rated harder, the percentage of protein intake on the day(s) during the climb was significantly decreased compared to climbs rated less difficult (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: This data provides an example of the macronutrient breakdown of experienced mountaineers during a variety of climbs. The calories consumed remained similar regardless of climb difficulty. The macronutrient composition was also similar across climb difficulty ratings with the exception of protein which is consistent with our expectations. The consistent caloric intake with relatively little changes in macronutrient composition over a variety of climbs suggests that experienced climbers are consuming similar foods regardless of climb difficulty or duration, which may impact performance and recovery.

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