Food

Basic theory

The theory of nutrition is fairly simple, as follows. Under non-ketosis conditions (which is the desirable state for hiking), the brain burns primarily glucose, while the muscles primarily burn fat, provided the muscles have enough oxygen, otherwise the muscles must burn glucose. That is, in order for the muscles to burn fat, we have to slow down and avoid overexerting ourselves. At high altitudes, where oxygen is scarce, the muscles will tend to burn only glucose regardless of how slow we go. The digestive system and/or liver can transform either dietary carbohydrate or dietary protein into glucose. The liver is also capable of converting muscle protein to glucose, but this is something we want to avoid. Fat, unlike protein, can never be turned into glucose. Assuming we engage in slow but steady exercise, and are not at high altitude, so that our muscles burn mostly fat, the liver stores enough glucose to supply the brain's needs for about two days. The liver and the circulating blood also stores several days worth of so-called labile protein, meaning protein which is readily available for use in rebuilding tissue anywhere in the body. Thus the limiting factor for hiking trips of a few days between town stops is glucose, and that is best supplied by eating mostly carbohydrates.

Running out of glucose and suddenly feeling tired is commonly known as "bonking", and is a common phenomenon with long-distance runners and bicylists, as well as hikers.

Minimum food requirements

For a man weighing 77 kilos (170 lbs) and burning 4500 kcal/day while backpacking, minimum daily dietary requirements are approximately as follows (these are all very rough estimates, given the huge number of variables to consider, such as how heavy the pack is, how difficult the terrain is, how many hours we are walking, how fast we are walking, physical condition, etc):

The difference, in this example, between the hypothetical 4500 kcal/day being burned by the body and 1600 kcal/day in the diet can be met by burning 2900 kcal of body fat. There are about 7700 kcal per kilo of body fat. Suppose a man weighing 80 kilos has 13% body fat (fairly lean, in other words), of which 5% is essential (used for padding and other essential purposes by the body and hence not available to be burned for energy) and 8% expendable fat. This man will thus have about 6 kilos of expendable body fat. Consuming half of these 6 kilos of expendable body fat will allow the man to go about 8 days on this fat-burning regime, and reduce body fat percentage from 13% to 9%, which is very lean but still far from the danger level. 8 days should be plenty enough time to make it to the next town stop, at which time fat reserves can be replenished.

The above theoretical analysis is not meant to suggest that we should always carry just the minimum amount of food necessary, nor is that my standard practice. However, there are times when we cannot carry as much food as we would like, or we are limited in our food choices, and that is when the theory becomes valuable.

For periods of just a day or two between town stops, the theory of minimum food requirements can be further simplified. If walking on level ground at low altitude, just fast (eat nothing), so that muscles burn body fat while the brain runs off glucose stored in the liver. If walking in hilly terrain or at high altitude, so that muscles need glucose, then eat 300+ grams (1200+ Kcal) of carbohydrates per day. That is, if we can't find something better, we can get by for a while eating nothing but cookies and other sweets. Note carefully, however, that most candy bars are high in fat. So if we will be carrying nothing but candy, then we need to make sure that we carry enough to supply at least 300 grams of carbohydrates daily, regardless of how many kcal total there are in the candy. The limiting factor is always carbohydrates, since the body needs a constant supply of glucose while exercising heavily or at high altitude, but the body cannot store more than about 500 grams of glucose, whereas fat can be stored easily and protein is only needed in small quantities. Again, these figures are strictly approximate and assume a man weighing 80 kilos who is burning 4500 kcal/day and isn't burning excessive amounts of glucose.

It is possible to fast even when walking in hilly terrain or at high altitude, but my experience is that this will be unpleasant if the fasting is for more than a day. It will be necessary to go very slow while walking uphill, and even then the muscles will feel sore, and the mind will be obsessed by hunger for protein and/or easily digested carbs (bread, rice, etc). What is happening is that the body will use up all the glucose in the muscles and liver during the initial fasting period, then it will begin breaking down muscle protein to convert to glucose, which is painful. The reason for being forced to go slow is that the body simply cannot transport enough oxygen for the muscles to work at full capacity while burning fat and walking uphill or at high altitudes. Burning fat requires much more oxygen than burning glucose. Oxygen is not an issue while walking on level ground at low altitude, since the muscles do not have to work at full capacity then, and hence can burn fat without being forced to go slow.

Low-carb "caveman" diets

The discussion above raises the question of how humans who are or were mostly carnivorous (Eskimos, ice age Europeans, Masai tribesmen in Africa, other nomads who live exclusively off meat, milk and blood) are able to engage in endurance activities, such as running long distances. One possibility is that they are not able to run long distances very well, though they can run short distances. Another possibility is that the combination of hormones released during heavy exercising, plus low blood sugar from no carbohydrates in the diet, plus a huge supply of dietary protein (like 300 g/day) causes the liver to convert protein to glucose more rapidly than would be the case for someone eating a normal balanced diet. Another possibility is that these peoples have extremely high lung and blood oxygen-transport capacity, either due to genetics or training, allowing them to burn fat under conditions where most people would need to burn glucose. There are people in the United States eating the low-carb/high-fat "caveman" diet and they say they have plenty of energy for endurance activities. Then again, I've never heard of successful endurance athletes (winners of marathon races, for example) eating a low-carb/high-fat diet. I briefly tried a low-carb diet while hiking, using beef jerky as my sole food source, and found it disgusting and gave it up after day, though this may be due to all the additives in the beef jerky rather than the nutrient composition. Note that fasting (described previously) is also a low-carb/high-fat diet, with the source of fat being body fat, except fasting is deficient in protein, so that there is muscle loss if the fasting lasts for more than a day or two.

Getting enough protein on vegetarian diets

If the protein we eat is unbalanced vegetable protein (high in some amino acids and low in others), then whichever amino acids are in excess supply can be converted into glucose with some loss of energy in the process. Combining vegetable foods so as to get balanced protein is thus not necessary, as long as we get enough of whichever amino acid is in shortest supply. In particular, wheat and oats both have a high enough percentage of protein that even someone eating little other than these grains, and eating them in large quantities, should get enough of all of the essential amino acids, and those amino acids in excess supply due to the unbalanced nature of the protein can simply be converted to glucose and burned for energy. By contrast, corn (maize) and rice do NOT have enough protein content to compensate for their lack of balance, and thus normally must be combined with some other food (beans or nuts) in order to satisfy minimum protein requirements. Unlike vegetable protein, animal protein (meat, dairy products) is balanced. That is, animal protein provides animo acids in more or less the right proportions for use in building tissue in humans.

Food strategy for waterless stretches

For every gram of glucose storage, there is about 3g of water storage. Thus depletion of the entire 500g of glucose storage releases about 1.5 liters of water. Metabolizing glucose also creates water, at the rate of about 55g water per 100g glucose, or .275 liter water for 500g glucose, which equates to about 2000kcal energy. Fat metabolism generates water at the rate of about 100g water per 100g fat, so if we burn 220g fat, for another 2000kcal energy, we gain an additional 220g water that way. Thus the final result of burning off the 500g glucose storage plus 220g fat is about 2 liters water. This 2 liters of water can be used for perspiration, in lieu of scarce drinking water. The 2 liter water boost from fasting only works once, since most of the water comes from depletion of glucose storage. Once glucose is depleted, we must burn fat and protein for energy. But fat metabolism releases comparatively little water, while water generated during protein metabolism is offset almost exactly by water required for excretion of uric acid generated during protein metabolism. When replenishing the 500g glucose store, we must consume 1.5 liters of water to be stored with the glucose, either by drinking water or from moisture mixed with the carbohydrates we are eating.

This suggests the following strategy for long waterless stretches. Drink plenty of water with a large carbohydrate meal the evening before setting out on the waterless stretch, so as to fully replenish glucose and water stores. Drink as much as possible in the morning, but eat lightly at breakfast and at lunch, so as to force depletion of glucose storage as the day progresses, thus freeing up about 2 liters of stored and metabolic water to supplement what we are carrying. Depletion of glucose storage will reduce bodyweight by about 2kg (4.4 lbs), making movement easier. Continue eating lightly (just enough carbohydrates to meet immediate metabolic needs for glucose) until arriving at the next water source, at which time glucose and water stores can be replenished.

Storage of food in pack

Strong-smelling foods (peanuts, cheese, jerky, empty fish packages) should be stored in a sealed OPSak (odor-protection sack) by Loksak (see the discussion of carrying systems elsewhere), since otherwise the smell will contaminate everything in the pack. Ordinary plastic, even multiple layers of ordinary plastic, plus a dry sack is not sufficient to prevent food smells from escaping, in my experience.

Also, bread packed in plastic inside a dry sack can be smelled by rodents who examine the dry sack bag at close range, thus causing them to gnaw through the dry-sack to get at the bread. Thus bread carried in areas with human-habituated rodents (well-used campgrounds) should also be stored in OPsaks. If there are no rodents, then using an OPsak for bread and similar weak smelling foods is probably not necessary, since whatever smells migrate out of the dry sack will not permanently contaminate the pack and its other contents.

I have never had problems with rodents when carrying instant rice in a silnylon bag, plus peanuts in plastic bags inside an OPsak, and both the rice and peanuts inside a dry sack. Thus instant rice appears to be essentially odorless, at least when inside a dry sack. I also never had problems with rodents when carrying oats in a silnylon bag inside a dry sack, though I did have a rodent gnaw at the metal cup I had used earlier to eat those oats from. Evidently, the rodent could smell the oat residues on the lip of the metal cup but not the bulk oats in the dry sack.

OPSaks are fragile, and so should be stored themselves inside some other more durable container, such as a dry sack or bear canister.

Preferred diet

In the United States, assuming carrying weight and storage space are not issues (such as when towns not too far apart or bicycle touring rather than backpacking), my preferred diet consists of 700g (24oz) whole-wheat bread, 200g (7oz) cheese (sharp cheddar and swiss cheeses are best for hot conditions), 150g of dry-roasted and lightly-salted peanuts, plus a multivitamin pill. This diet weighs about 1060 grams (2.3 pounds) and provides the following nutrition: 3454 Calories (37% carbohydrate, 43% fat, 20% protein), 170g protein, 318g carbohydrates, 60g fiber, 5567g sodium, 2782g potassium (plentiful supply of both electrolytes). There is more protein here than is necessary. The excess can be converted to glucose and burned. Difference between Calories burned and 3454 Calories in the trail diet can be supplied by body fat, with the body fat replaced during town stops. Under some conditions, I may not be able to burn fat easily. For this reason, especially when bicycle touring, I sometimes also carry several loaves of compressed white bread for emergency carbohydrate supply.

In Europe, towns are close together, so my typical diet there includes a large amount of sardines, chocolate, fresh fruit (oranges, tomatoes, green peppers, bananas), fresh olives, something called fried tomato (seasoned tomato sauce), all of which I mostly eat in town. Bread, cheese, nuts and dry-biscuits are my typical trail foods in Europe.

Comments on various trail foods

Bread and cheese

Sliced wheat bread can be easily compressed, by pushing both ends of the package while letting air escape, then tying the bag shut. Compressed size of a standard American 24oz loaf is about 5 inches per side. Fresh European-style loaves are more cumbersome to compress. However, town stops are closer together in Europe, so carrying large amounts of food is not normally necessary there, and thus compression is also not normally necessary.

I normally premake sandwiches and store these inside a plastic bag (such as the bag sliced bread comes in), so that the bread absorbs any moisture given off by the sliced cheese in the heat. In Europe, I sometimes buy processed cheese which comes in individually wrapped foil packages, such as "La vache qui rie" brand in France or "El CaserĂ­o" brand in Spain. Another possibility in Europe is cheese packed in tough waterproof plastic, which can endure repeated cycles of melting during the day then re-hardening at night, without either spoiling or making a mess in my pack. Cheese becomes rubbery in taste after melting then re-hardening, but remains edible. All cheese is constipating, but especially hard and semi-hard cheese, so these cheeses are best eaten with whole wheat bread.

White bread in the United States has negligible fiber, whereas white bread in Spain, whether European-style loaves or sliced American-style loaves, usually has sufficient fiber added back in that it isn't constipating when eaten with either processed cheese (El CaserĂ­o or equivalent) or Spanish semi-curado cheese (though it might be constipating when eaten with Emmental cheese). I normally eat fresh white bread in Europe and whole wheat bread in the United States.

Dry-roasted peanuts

Salted nuts often include monosodium glutamate and other additives which become disgusting if eaten in large quantities. This is why I prefer and recommend the unsalted or "lightly salted" versions. In addition to salt (sodium chloride), "lightly salted" nuts often include a small amount of sugar in the form sucrose, dextrose, maltodextrin and/or corn syrup, plus some cornstarch to keep the sugar from getting sticky, but these are not problematic additives. Peanut butter is a messier substitute for peanuts, and typically includes all sorts of junk additives. Dry-roasted peanuts is a commodity food, but I nevertheless make a point of buying the more expensive brand-name (Planters). There have been numerous issues with dangerous fungus growth and other contamination with peanuts over the years. Presumably, the highest quality peanuts are sold under the brand-name and the lower quality peanuts sold as store brand. It is often possible to notice a significant difference in taste between Planters and store-brand peanuts. (There is a huge taste difference in the various brands of wheat bread, and I often pay more to get the better-tasting bread, but I doubt there are any health differences. Likewise, there is sometimes a taste difference between Quaker oats and store-brand oats, at least for the old-fashioned variety, but I doubt there are any health differences.)

Dry biscuits

Widely available in Spain, Greece and Turkey and composed of wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil, salt. The Spanish versions are usually called Maria biscuits. I prefer versions with low fat content (25% or less of calories from fat) and 5% fiber (30 grams fiber for a day's ration of 600 grams of biscuit). Sometimes stores only have versions with no fiber or very high fiber, in which case I can combine the two versions to get moderate fiber. These biscuits are a convenient and tasty trail food in Spain, when bread is not available. Hob-Nobs biscuits, available in Britain, are also tasty but much higher in fat, so that eating enough of these to satisfy my requirements for carbohydrates caused me to gain weight. None of these biscuits has adequate protein, but that is not a problem in Europe, since towns are closely spaced and thus a protein deficiency one day can be compensated for by overeating protein the next day.

Instant rice

Instant white rice does not require cooking, since it is pre-cooked and then dehydrated. Just mix with water, let sit for a few minutes, then eat. By contrast, instant brown rice does require cooking for the rice grains to soften. Rice grown is the United States, especially the southern United States, is known to contain large amounts of arsenic as of 2012, because arsenic was used as a pesticide for many years and the soil is now heavily contaminated. Because of this, I make a point of not eating rice other than as a trail food, so as to keep my arsenic load down. Instant rice is fairly easy to find in the United States, but not at all easy to find in Europe.

I used instant rice successfully as a trail food on several trips, but then I experienced several cases, while bicycle touring, where the rice went rancid on me. I'm not sure what happened here. The bicycle touring was not in particularly hot conditions, the rice was recently purchased, and it was well before the expiration date on the package. In any case, I've decided to give up on instant rice as a trail food for now.

Instant potatoes

Like instant rice, instant potatoes have indefinite shelf life in hot weather, and require no cooking, contrary to what the instructions on the package indicate. Just add cold water, let sit for a minute or two, then eat. Potatoes are richer in sodium and especially potassium than rice, which is an advantage in hot weather. On the other hand, sodium bisulfite is added to preserve color, and I'm not fond of additives. Also, instant potatoes are much bulkier and messier than instant rice (density is less than 300g/liter). I also find that instant potatoes give me gas.

Corn tortillas

Substitute for wheat bread. Along with instant rice and instant potatoes, corn tortillas are a good staple starch for those who can't tolerate the gluten in wheat bread or wheat pasta, or who are simply tired of wheat. Contrary to what the labels sometimes say, and despite the fact that corn tortillas are often stored in the refrigerator, they will last at least a week without refrigeration. Corn tortillas are common in the United States, due to Mexican immigration.

Oats

Raw quick rolled oats was my trail diet during three long section hikes in the United States (southern 700 miles of the PCT, northern 1000 miles of the PCT, northern 1000 miles of the AT), each lasting six weeks to two months. This was certainly a very convenient diet, because (as with instant rice) all I had to do was mix some oats and water in a cup and then begin eating, and oats are widely available in the United States. 500 to 700 grams/day of regular or quick rolled oats, eaten raw, seemed to give me sufficient energy to climb hills with ease, but there wasn't enough protein, so that I was always thinking of beans, meat and cheese while hiking. Oat protein is well-balanced and oats are rich in protein—the main problem was that I simply wasn't eating enough. Had I been eating 1000 grams/day, I would probably not have suffered from protein hunger. But eating that much raw oats is quite difficult when hiking. The oats diet caused quite a bit of flatulence, but it didn't smell terrible and wasn't that annoying. I then tried this diet on a section hike of the High Sierra and it was a disaster, though I'm not sure why. My gut made constant bubbling noises, I was constipated and always tired, I eventually couldn't stomach another bite of oats and so marched on without eating anything for two days. Perhaps I was sick with a stomach bug, perhaps I hadn't properly acclimated to high altitude, perhaps my digestive system had somehow lost the enzymes to properly digest large quantities of raw oats. Upon arriving at Vermillion Valley Resort, I went on a protein binge (beans, chili, tuna) and felt much better afterwards. Then I threw away the oats and replaced them with pretzels and other easy-to-digest high-carbohydrate foods, which was enough to get me to Red's Meadow. When I got back home, I resumed eating oats, both raw and cooked, as part of my normal sedentary diet, with no problems. And then a few months later, I experimented with gradually adding instant oats back to my diet while on the Appalachian trail, and experienced no problems there either. I will probably not be using oats as part of a trail diet in the future, since I'm happy with my current bread, cheese and peanuts diet. Regular, quick and instant oats are very similar nutritionally. Regular oats are simply oat berries that are rolled then steamed to prevent the oils from going rancid. Quick oats are cut into small pieces after rolling. Instant oats are rolled very thin before cutting into small pieces and perhaps pre-cooked and fortified with extra vitamins. Density of rolled oats is about 450 grams/liter, which is similar to instant rice.

Couscous

Couscous is much denser (670 grams/liter) than instant rice, and thus would be ideal for use with a bear canister, at least for someone who likes the taste. As with instant rice, cooking is not necessary, since couscous is pre-cooked and then dehydrated. Simply mix with water, let sit for a few minutes, then eat. Refined-wheat couscous was my primary trail food during my thru-hike of the French Pyrenees, since it is widely available there and the dry biscuits I used for my thru-hike of the Spanish Pyrenees were not available. I didn't much care for this refined wheat couscous, but it wasn't nauseating either. Trader Joe's sells whole-wheat couscous, which I used as my trail diet for a few weeks on the Appalachian trail, supplemented with tuna and salmon in foil packs. This whole-wheat couscous gave me adequate energy and didn't ever nauseate me, though I eventually grew to dislike it intensely, and so switched to bread as soon as I was past the Smokies. Couscous and bread are both made of wheat, so my disgust with the couscous wasn't due to a wheat allergy. I may try white-flour couscous in the future.

Flour tortillas

These fit conveniently in a bear can, and thus I thought would work perfectly as a trail food, since they are more compact than bread. Unfortunately, flour tortillas are mixed with soybean oil, which imparts a disgusting taste and smell to the tortillas (at least for the brand I bought at Echo Lake Resort), so disgusting that I preferred to fast than eat them. Corn tortillas are NOT mixed with soybean oil.

Salmon or tuna in foil packages

The empty packages stink horribly and so must be wrapped in multiple layers of plastic to avoid contaminating the pack. I hate to think what would happen if a full package were to spring a leak somehow. This is reason enough to no longer carry these packages, though I experimented with them for a few weaks on the Appalachian Trail, as a way to supplement the protein content of couscous, which was my trail food then. The salmon packages made me slightly sick after a while. I think this was due to the "natural flavoring and spices", which probably means monosodium glutamate.

Sardines in cans

I sometimes carry these in Europe, but I don't actually eat them on the trail. Rather I wait until I get to a town with no supermarket and eat them there, then dispose of the packages in a dumpster. I prefer sardines packed in tomato sauce, but only if they have no oil or good-tasting oil, since some of the sardines with tomato sauce have a huge amount of vile-tasting oil.

Cookies, potato chips, pretzels, candy bars

Lacking in both protein and fiber, and often more fat than carbohydrates. But widely available, tasty and very long shelf-life. Pretzels were my main food upon leaving Vermillion Valley Resort after the oats fiasco in the Sierras. Though lacking in fiber, pretzels are very low in fat, digest easily, and don't leave a nasty aftertaste. That pretzels work well isn't surprising, given that they are essentially dried bread.

Chocolate

Up to 25% of my calories when hiking in Europe comes from milk or dark chocolate, at least when I am passing through cities frequently. (I seldom carry chocolate in my backpack but rather usually eat it immediately after purchasing.)

Breakfast cereals

Some of these, such as Grape-Nuts, are high-fiber and high-carbohydrate and thus might work as a trail food, though I tend to find them disgusting after a while due to all the added flavorings.

Dried fruit

Raisins is the only dried fruit I can digest well, and even raisins I can only take in small quantities, since, like most people, I have limited capacity for absorbing fructose from the small intestine. Other dried fruits cause me terrible flatulence due to the high sorbitol content, and/or they have sulfur dioxide added as a color preservative, which I find disgusting and which gives me a headache, and/or they are coated with dubious oils (banana chips especially). All dried fruits tend to cause cavities. In terms of quick energy, bread, biscuits, instant rice, and instant potatoes are all superior to dried fruit, since these refined carbohydrates digest almost immediately into glucose, whereas the sugar in dried fruit is half glucose and half fructose, and the fructose is slow to digest. I only carry dried fruit if nothing else is available.

Tree nuts

Mostly fat, and thus not a good trail food by themselves, since what is most needed in a trail diet is carbohydrates. But assuming carbohydrate needs are met, tree nuts are an excellent way to add protein, calories and minerals. Tree nuts (along with peanuts, or ground nuts) are a good substitute for cheese in very hot weather, since cheese becomes problematic then (intense smell, mess from melting, spoilage after a few days). The only tree nuts I can eat in large quantity, without feeling sick afterwards, are cashews. I can eat other tree nuts, but only in moderate quantities per day.

Energy bars

I tend to find these disgusting after a while, probably due to all the flavorings and sugar. They are probably not that healthy either, due to use of soy protein plus various forms of sugar which will cause tooth decay.

Beef jerky

I have tried eating jerky several times, both alone and mixed with bread, but either the meat or the flavorings make me sick after a while. The huge amounts of garlic also leaves a disgusting aftertaste in my mouth.

Life Extension Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement

Most multi-vitamin supplements have all recommended vitamins. I am primarily interested in minerals, other than calcium, plus substances for which there is currently no recommended daily allowance.

Magnesium 50 mg 12% RDA Magnesium oxide
Zinc 12 mg 80% RDA Zinc citrate, zinc sulfate
Selenium 100 mcg 143% RDA Sodium selinite, high selenium yeast
Manganese 1 mg 50% RDA Manganese citrate, gluconate
Chromium 100 mcg 80% RDA Chrominex 3+ chromium
Molybdenum 50 mcg 100% RDA Molybdenum amino acid chelate
Iodine 75 mcg 50% RDA Potassium iodide
Boron 1.5mg Boron amino acid chelate
Lycopene 1mg

Additionally: 25mg Inositol, 12mg alpha lipoic acid, 10mg mixed natural tocopherols, marigold extract (equivalent to 2mg trans-lutein, 75 mcg trans-zeaxanthin), 5mg apigenin.

No copper.

Trader Joe's Men's Once Daily Supplement

Most multi-vitamin supplements have all recommended vitamins. I am primarily interested in minerals, other than calcium, plus substances for which there is currently no recommended daily allowance.

Magnesium 25 mg 6% RDA Magnesium oxide
Zinc 20 mg 133% RDA Zinc citrate
Selenium 200 mcg 286% RDA Selenomethionine, amino acid chelate
Copper 2 mg 100% RDA Copper amino acid chelate
Manganese 2 mg 100% RDA Manganese citrate
Chromium 200 mcg 167% RDA Chromium amino nicotinate
Molybdenum 75 mcg 100% RDA Molybdenum amino acid chelate
Lycopene 1mg

Additionally: 20mg Inositol, 25mg Citrus bioflavonoid complex, 20mg Choline bitartrate, 100mg herbal power (including Saw Palmetto and Spirulina), 10mg of Vegetable juice complex (equivalent to 40 mg of powdered kale, spinach, dandelion greens and beet juice), Digestive Support (Protease, Amylase, Lipase, Lactobacillus Sporogenese probiotic), 10mg Betaine HCl.

No iodine or boron.

Walmart Equate Once Daily Supplement for Men 50+

Most multi-vitamin supplements have all recommended vitamins. I am primarily interested in minerals, other than calcium, plus substances for which there is currently no recommended daily allowance.

Magnesium 75mg 19% RDA Magnesium oxide
Zinc 15mg 100% RDA Zinc oxide
Selenium 21mcg 30% RDA Sodium selenate
Copper .5mg 25% RDA Cupric sulfate
Chromium 60mcg 50% RDA Chromium picolinate
Molybdenum 50mcg 67% RDA Sodium molybdate
Iodine 150mcg 100% RDA Potassium iodide
Lutein 300mcg
Lycopene 600mcg

No boron. Oxides less easily absorbed by body than chelates, citrates.

Nature's Way Alive! Supplement for Men 50+

Most multi-vitamin supplements have all recommended vitamins. I am primarily interested in minerals, other than calcium, plus substances for which there is currently no recommended daily allowance.

Magnesium 100mg 25% RDA magnesium oxide
Zinc 26mg 175% RDA zinc oxide
Selenium 122mcg 175% RDA sodium selenate
Copper 2mg 100% RDA cupric sulfate
Molybdenum 75mcg 100% RDA sodium molybdate
Iodine 150mcg 100% RDA potassium iodide
Manganese 4mg 200% RDA manganese sulfate
Boron 150mg sodium borate
Lutein 300mcg
Lycopene 600mcg

Additionally: 100mg powdered fruit and vegetable blend.

No chromium, very low on boron. Oxides less easily absorbed by body than chelates, citrates.

More Food comments

Are Kraft singles unhealthy petroleum-based junk food?

[From an exchange in bikeforums.net]

Actually. Kraft singles are healthier than "real" cheese. Milk consists of water, fat, sugar (lactose), whey protein and casein protein. Traditionally, pastoral peoples have mostly been interested in the fat. Whey protein, which is the healthiest part of the milk, is separated off during cheese-making and either sold cheaply for human consumption, fed to calves or lambs if these are available, or fed to pigs or dogs otherwise. Casein, which causes constipation and perhaps other problems, was kept because it makes the cheese solid. Some of the lactose, which many people can't digest, is used by the bacteria that makes cheese and the rest is separated off with the whey protein.

Kraft singles use extra whey protein, the healthiest part of milk, to keep costs down. Protein powders also use whey protein, partly to save money and partly because it is healthier than casein. Kraft singles also include plain and skim milk, so they have more lactose than real cheese. Most people of northern European ancestry can digest lactose as adults, at least in small quantities.

Bottom line, Kraft singles have more and higher quality protein than real cheese, more carbs (which is good when you are exercising heavily), less fat. Kraft singles and similar store-brand processed cheese products are NOT petroleum based. There are some ultra-cheap store-brand imitation cheese products which are based on soybean oil—these taste horrible and are probably unhealthy as well. If you are lactose-intolerant or want extra fat in your diet, then yes, real cheese is better than Kraft singles. I also prefer the taste of real cheese. Also, there is more water in Kraft singles than real cheese, so the calorie content per gram is lower, which might be disadvantage for weight-conscious hikers. Because they have less casein than real cheese, Kraft singles are less constipating and thus might be preferable to real cheese when only white bread is available and the diet is otherwise devoid of fiber.

As an aside, some dairy products (but not Kraft singles), including many yogurts and ice creams, contain tasteless gummy vegetable substances to make them gel better, such as guar, from the bean of that name, and carrageenan, from a type of seaweed. Casein provides the gelling in cheese. These vegetable substances have been used as food additives for hundreds of years with no indications of being unhealthy. Compare with casein, which has been implicated in various illnesses (see here, for example).