MdS Nutrition Trial – Success, but don’t light a match!

Break out the Scotch and the Pizza! I’ve survived a week on my MdS gruel and it is time to eat again!!! Woohoo!!! Let’s do cartwheels, eat real food and crates of beer! 🙂

Well perhaps it hasn’t been as bad as all that.

I’ve been wanting to give my MdS nutrition a bit of a trial for a few months now so that I could learn about what works and what doesn’t. Lot’s of people have opinions on the best diet for a multi-stage endurance event, but really the only way to see what works is to give it a go.

So over the last few weeks I’ve been putting together a bit of a plan for MdS, and coupled with a bit of a recovery week (60km running and 60km walking), I thought I’d give it a bit of a try.

The nutrition plan I’ve put together is essentially pretty straightforward, there are slight differences on the long day and recovery day but essentially it revolves around a standard 2800kCal per day with the following staples


  • Rolled Oats
  • Protein Powder
  • Sultanas


  • 2 x Optifast saches (These are normally used with weightloss, but are a meal replacement powders)


  • 4 x Museli Bars


  • Dehydrated/Freeze Dried Meal and Dessert


  • Hydralyte Sports as Needed

So, after a week on this diet, how did it rate?

Well I fart a lot! I have been told that the reason the MdS organisers only provide Berber style tents (essentially a tarp over your head) is that people fart so much on the food during MdS that it would be dangerous to have someone strike a match in a tent. I can absolutely concur, that this would be a problem.

Seriously though and side effects aside, I’ve learned a lot this week.

Firstly the overall calories I’ve chosen seems to work on the whole. The MdS organisers have mandated that we need to carry 14000kCal for the week (or essentially 2000kCal per day). For my body weight 2800kCal is probably better and that is what I’ve worked to and it seems to be okay. Granted I’m not trying to plow 40km through the desert in 50C temperatures, but I’ve been working hard each day as well as training and overall energy hasn’t been too much of an issue.

So overall kCal seems to be ok, but there still needs to be some tweaks.

I used OptiFast as a meal replacement as they are essentially a shake that you just add water to. I’ve used them on a couple of my marathon training sessions, but found that this week they just didn’t do it for me. By around an hour after taking them I was gnawing my own arm off. I tried splitting the saches, having them around an hour apart but that didn’t really help either. I know (from previous tests) that my stomach empties liquids in around 90minutes, so this would account for the hunger pangs coming on so quickly. However I also have to bear in mind that running in the heat will be different and I probably won’t feel that hungry. Overall the concept is good, but I think I might have to try some other type of meal replacement. (Hopefully one that helps stop me farting)

The use of Museli bars seemed to work well as a replacement for Gels. Gels tend to give me stomach ache and not only that they weigh a ton for the calories you get. I might do another post on Musesli bars as there is so much difference between them. On the whole though the absolute winner by a country mile was Thankyou – Nut and Chia Bars, they tasted great and really filled me up.

I did find that replacing one of the Museli Bars with Beef Jerky at least on a couple of days was great, if for nothing else, just a change in taste.

So overall I think my snacks will go something along the lines of 4 x Museli Bars, 1 x Beef Jerky, 1 x Gel. That should be heaps.

Dinners were great, the Expedition Foods were tasty and except for the Chicken that resembled cardboard, they filled me up (But the mashed potatoes that came with them really hit the spot). I also found that I didn’t necessarily need/want the desserts, but I’m happy to take them. I’m expecting that on the MdS I’ll be having dinner mid afternoon (after finishing a run), so having a dessert later in the evening might work well. If all else fails then I can always use any spare desserts for breakfast.

On the subject of breakfasts, the mixture of oats and protein powder is ok, but again, I might have to play with the mixture as I was getting hungry an hour after eating it. Perhaps a little more protein and a bit less oats.

The final thing I realise is that I do need some coffee. The organisers suggest that you should take at least 1 special item of food for the week. For me I always used to take a tube of condensed milk when camping. So a coffee with some condensed milk might be my thing.

Overall, it was a pretty good first try. I’ll make a few tweaks then give it another go in a couple of weeks.

Back to training!