How Much Protein, Fat, and Carbs should you store?

The three macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You can survive for quite a while with too little vitamins and minerals in your diet. Or you can store and use a multivitamin and mineral supplement. But protein, fat, and carbs are the three pillars of survival nutrition. So when you store food, you should make certain you have enough of all three.

How many calories does your body need per day or per year? I figure that the average physically active adult male will burn about 1 million calories (kcal) per year, which is 2740 kcal/day. And for a physically active adult woman, I would say about 20% less: 800,000 kcal/year and 2190 kcal/day. One medical study found that the average American man consumes about 2367 kcal/day and the average American woman about 1714 kcal/day.[1] But I consider that, when the SHTF, people will be much more physically active. You might need to grow your own food, travel more often on foot, do repairs to your home yourself, and so on. So make sure your stored food accounts for this increased caloric need.

What percentage of daily calories is protein, fat, and carbohydrates? You should get 20% of calories from protein, 30% from fat, and 50% from carbs, give or take 5% from each number. So that’s 400,000 to 500,000 kcal/year from carbs. With 4 calories to a gram of carbohydrate, you need 100 to 125 kilograms of carbs per year. Many carb crops are about 70 to 80% carbohydrate (wheat, rice, corn). So you would need 140 to 180 kg of the food from that crop per year per person. That’s less than one pound per person per day of the carb crop (providing about half your total caloric needs, plus some protein). These numbers work as a rough estimate of how much food to store. Figure on a pound of high carbohydrate food (e.g. grains) per person per day, and you should end up with a little more than you really need.

For dietary fat, you want 240,000 to 300,000 kcal/year from fat. At 8.8 kcal/gram of oil and 0.92 specific density of oil, these figures convert to 27 to 34 kg/year of dietary fat (or 29.5 to 37 liters of oil) per person per year. Now some of your food contains dietary fat, so you don’t literally need that many liters of oil. But maybe half your dietary fat is added oil, especially with a diet mainly consisting of food from storage and a garden. So store about 20 quarts (5 gallons) of vegetable oil for a year’s worth of food.

For protein, the yearly figures are 160,000 to 200,000 kcal/year, which at 4 kcal/gram is 40 to 50 kg of protein. You have to do some additional math on this one. Figure out how much protein is in each stored food: rice (7%), wheat (10%), corn (5%), quinoa and amaranth (14% each), etc. For dried beans and other legumes, use 20% as a general estimate (some legumes are higher). If you have 180 kg of a carb crop that is 10% protein, you have 18 kg of protein right off the bat. Nuts, seeds, and legumes provide more protein. Then if you are still short of your protein goal, consider that you will still buy some protein foods after the SHTF — whatever meat, poultry, milk, eggs, or seafood might be available.

You can also grow a variety of protein crops. Carbs and then fat are the easiest macronutrients to store. Protein is the most difficult. So it makes sense to focus a survival garden on protein. See my previous post: Survival Gardening: the 8 best protein crops.

– Thoreau

[1] Corwin et al., Dietary Saturated Fat Intake Is Inversely Associated with Bone Density in Humans: Analysis of NHANES III; Journal of Nutrition. January 2006 vol. 136 no. 1, p. 159-165.

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