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Sodium content

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Sodium content

Postby millertime » Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:42 am

As everyone knows, freeze dried meals (i.e. mountain house) have very high sodium content, 1000-1300 per single serving, 2000-2600 per double serving. Max intake per day of sodium is 2500mg, but its recommended not to consume 1500mgs daily. Eating one of those double serving meals which I often will as the single servings just aren't quite enough, puts me above the recommended and around the max intake. Now say you have 3 cliff bars during the day (at 120-140mg each) plus trail mix and other food thats another 400-600mg's of sodium. So I wouldn't be worried about consuming say 3000-3400mg for one day (add 1000 more if you each one of their breakfasts), but say one does this over 5 days. What are the effects?

It's just such a hassle to bring ingredients to actually cook something, and doing so almost always increases the weight of your pack, and the freeze-dried meals are so easy and simple. What are your thought on this matter? I tried looking around other threads but couldn't find much regarding this.



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Re: Sodium content

Postby rlown » Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:39 pm

There was a similar thread, but it came at the sodium issue from a different perspective, at:

viewtopic.php?f=26&t=3950&p=24827

Personally, I think the RDA is probably different if you're sweating like a pig most of the day. I don't do the two person meals by myself, because I just don't feel like eating that much the first couple days. My breakfast is usually a couple packets of maple sugar flavored cream of wheat, lunch is a couple mini-sourdough rolls with cheese and summer sausage, and dinner would be a fish or a "pro pack". Jerky, cheezits and Blueberries would be my snacks.

My problem has been cramping on the way in, usually uphill, so i still throw the electrolyte tab in my water supply for those trips. After I get up to whereever i'm going (and after a nice stroganoff pro-pack), i feel fine.

If you do 2-3 Mountain house meals a day, that might be overkill, salt-wise.
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Re: Sodium content

Postby Timberline » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:25 am

Howdy, millertime!
I'm not aware of any professional advice about sodium that specifically applies to a backpacking regimen, but here's Dr. Andrew Weil's general perspective. < http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02808/sodium]> I've been careful about sodium intake for quite a few years now, especially after developing a tendency toward high blood pressure (no more Ramen noodles, but I still like my dehydrated whiskey!).
IMHO, everybody's different! :soapbox:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Sodium content

Postby markskor » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:02 am

I had always thought that in an environment where you are constantly sweating out copious amounts of perspiration...consuming gallons of water and not urinating...the body loses 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium through the skin and needs to replace this in addition to the regular requirements of ~1,500 mg needed for daily homeostasis.
While we all agree that too much sodium in a sedentary setting leads to high blood pressure and related maladies, here this is not the case. The body requires this added sodium to function correctly, specifically at high altitude.

Mountain House type, pre-packaged, pouch meals may have their drawbacks - bad taste, hard to swallow - but if leading an active mountain life, the extra sodium (from somewhere) is a necessity.

That being said, too much of anything in one sitting cannot be good, especially if repeated daily...Vary the mountain diet.
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Re: Sodium content

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:21 pm

millertime wrote:
It's just such a hassle to bring ingredients to actually cook something, and doing so almost always increases the weight of your pack, and the freeze-dried meals are so easy and simple. What are your thought on this matter? I tried looking around other threads but couldn't find much regarding this.


I can't answer you on Mountain House because I never have and never will use them. They are expensive and too much food for me to eat in one sitting. All of them that I have tried, mostly via the kindness of other hikers who shared, have tasted ... well. Never mind. Not my kind of food, at any rate. I had better luck with Enertia, which is now Coleman - but they are still too expensive and I find it easier to come up with my own food.

I use an endless variety of add-in stuff with a cup of instant potatoes, instant rice, couscous or dehydrated cooked pasta - I use those 3 oz tuna cups/packets, 3 oz packets of chicken, dehydrated chicken (use canned chicken to dehydrate your own), or shelf stable meats (these are around, just have to look), along with Just Tomatoes brand freeze dried veggies/fruits or Harmony House (both great quality products), and spices. Also I pick up Nile Spice cup a soups and all kinds of other soup packets/mixes that are just add water. There are a ton of add-boiling-water items at grocery stores. Since I have eaten too much oatmeal in my lifetime (ugh) I take packets of instant grits and add cheese, or granola with a few tablespoons of Nido (whole dried milk) for hot cereal. Flatbread or tortillas with packets of Justin's peanut butter and jam, or tuna/mayo/relish, or Nutella, or hummus, or refried beans/cheese/taco sauce.... All kinds of possibilities.

My favorite sites:
packitgourmet.com (for ingredients I have trouble finding elsewhere)
trailcooking.com
minimus.biz

I get trail mix ingredients or the mixes themselves, dehydrated refried beans, hummus mix, candies, nuts, crackers, and all kinds of things including logan bread from the bulk section of a local big warehouse type grocery store (Winco).
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Re: Sodium content

Postby kd6swa » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:24 pm

Anything to watch out for with sugar also. Max RDA is 40 grams. Dried fruit has a bunch and
don't know what other trail snacks like chocolate bars pack. Any recommendations?

73
KD6SWA
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Re: Sodium content

Postby Ikan Mas » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:50 pm

First, I am not a doctor. However, here are some random thoughts.

A typical day of 7-10 miles with a 40-47 pack going up a thousand feet or two is a pretty good workout, especially since I keep a pretty steady pace and don't stop much. I think of myself as an athlete, and train and hike as such. I'm not a big sweater, but I do perspire a lot when hiking.

Here's what the Canadians say about sodium and athletes:
http://www.coach.ca/sodium-facts-for-athletes-p140738
Looking at that and other websites, seems that the consensus is that athletes working out need more sodium or run the risk of hyponatremia. One of the symptoms of hyponatremia is cramps. Seems to be a common problem.

It would be nice if someone studied how sodium issues works on us older athletes (I'm 51) who backpack.

I'm getting ready for a trip, so I happen to have a fair variety of meals to look at. Here is the sodium levels for several:

Backpacker's Pantry:
Chana Masala: 1350 mg (56%)
Cuban Coconut Black Beans and Rice: 810 mg (34%)
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice: 1160 mg (49%)
Katmandu Curry: 1220 mg

Mountain House:
Mexican style rice and chicken: 590 mg (25%)
Rice and Chicken: 1500 mg (63%)
Mexican Style Beef: 1570 mg (66%)
Sweet and sour pork with rice: 810 mg (34%)

So depending what you buy, there are big differences in the sodium in the meals. I'm usually looking for the most calories, not sodium. I split my two packs with my hiking partner. It seems to be just enough, but I do lose weight on week long trips.

While it is true that Mountain House lasagna with meat sauce, beef stroganoff, chili mac, spaghetti with meat sauce, beef stew, and others taste exactly the same as they did in the seventies (bleck!) when I first backpacked, they have came out with some new meals that are pretty good. Chicken and white bean chili is good as is New Orleans rice and shrimp. Some of the other brands have dog meals, including Enertia. My brother and I make a point of buying the new varieties and evaluating them (would you eat this again or not?). Find what you like or what your diet allows you to eat, try new meals when you can, and mix it up to avoid boredom.

Lastly, if the meals aren't enough, go catch yourself some trout. The protein is high quality and good for you. Its rare that I can't bring back a trout or two and it certainly makes the meal.
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Re: Sodium content

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:53 pm

My opinion of freeze dried meals remains the same as when I originally posted in the thread...

I'll dehydrate my own leftovers, any day, and leave the hyper-expensive spiced-paper-tasting preservatives to others.
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