High Calorie Vegetarian Fats

Backpacking long distances in mountainous terrain can burn up to 5,000 calories per day. Because fat provides the highest source of calories by weight, hikers need to consume a greater amount of fat to account for lost calories. Besides providing energy, fats are vital for insulating your body, supporting immunity and brain health. They are also necessary for vitamin absorption, acting as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

There are many different types of fats, but only a few are essential. The essential fats are those that your body cannot create internally and must be consumed through food. These essential fats include omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid), and an omega-3 fatty acid (linolenic acid), and are highest in nuts, seeds, and fish. See also a chart of the breakdown of fats (omega-3 and omega-6) found in nuts and seeds.

If you are planning a thru-hike, we suggest adding an extra amount of fat gradually to your diet, and to focus predominately on non-animal (unsaturated) sources to maintain cardiovascular health. While hiking, continue to add fat calories by supplementing all your meals with the added fats listed here.

High-Fat Foods Sorted by Total Calories

Nutrients Per Ounce
Food Product 1 ounce
(28.35 grams)
Fat
(g)
Protein
(g)
Carbs
(g)
Total Calories (kcal)
Oils (Olive, Peanut, Canola) 2 TB 28 0 0 250
Coconut Oil 2 TB 27 0 0 234

Butter Powder, Full Fat (Use Sparingly)

2.5 TB 14 0 0 213
Macadamia Nuts, Roasted 11 whole nuts 22 2 4 204
Pecans, Raw 19 halves 20 3 4 196
Peanut Butter 2 TB 16 7 8 188
Coconut, Dry Shredded, Unsweetened 1/3 cup 18 2 7 187
Brazil nuts, Dry 6 whole nuts 19 4 3 186
Walnuts, English, Raw 14 halves 18 4 4 185
Hazelnuts/Filberts, Blanched 21 whole nuts 17 4 5 178
Sesame Seed Sources (e.g.Tahini in Hummus) 2 TB 15 5 6 175
Peanuts, Dry, All Types 28 whole nuts 14 7 6 166
Chocolate, Dark, 60-69% Cacao 2 squares 11 2 15 164
Sunflower Seed, Dry Kernels 3.5 TB 14 6 6 164
Cashews, Roasted 18 whole nuts 13 4 9 163
Almonds 23 whole nuts 14 6 6 163
Pistachio, Dry 49 whole nuts 13 6 8 161
Flax Seed 3 TB 12 5 8 151
Whole Milk, Dried
(Use Sparingly)
1/4 cup 8 7 11 141
Chia Seed 2 TB 9 4 12 139
Tofu, Freeze Dried (Koyadofu) 2 square pieces (1.5″) 9 14 4 136
Hard/Aged Cheese (Goat, Cheddar, Muenster, Monterey, Parmesan)
(Use Sparingly)
1 slice 10 9 1 128

A complete listing of food calories can be found at USDA database.

The vegetarian website soystache also offers an excellent summary of high-calorie foods.

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