Food on the ice

How Much of What is Enough?

Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen were the master chefs at their own “Antarctic Diner” — where winds blew at 100 mph (160 km per hour), temperatures were cooler than a refrigerator’s freezer and melting ice to its liquid state was a daily chore.

To maintain high energy levels and keep warm, Ann and Liv ate and drank foods that were high in nutrients, calories and fat. The combination of extreme cold and 12 to 16 hours of skiing each day required each woman to eat between 4,500 and 5,000 calories in a 24-hour period. (An averaged-sized woman should eat 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, while the average man should eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day.)

Bancroft Arnesen Gourmet Menu


• Hot cereal – fortified with an oil or butter

•Hot drinks – including coffee and cocoa fortified with a high-fat cream.

• Multi – vitamin high in calcium (Ann and Liv are middle aged. Like all women of their age, they need to be cognizant of getting enough calcium – sounds yummy!)

Lunch • Ann and Liv did not eat lunch. They snacked throughout the day at one – hour intervals.


• Chocolate bars

• Caramels

• Sports drink with lots of calories and electrolytes designed to replenish fatigued muscles.

• Assorted nuts with dried fruit.

Dinner (after skiing or pulling they will set up camp and start melting snow for their dinner)

• After getting the snow melting, Ann and Liv started with potato chips, a good source of fat, calories and salt. They followed with a cup of soup to warm up.

• Freeze – dried food fortified with fat. The freeze – dried meals were provided by Real Turmat®, a Norwegian food company. Flavors included cod stew with sour cream, beef and potato stew, pasta bolognese.

• Hot drinks included mint tea and hot chocolate.

*No drinks with caffeine during the night because it is a diuretic (makes you urinate a lot) and it decreases the blood flow to their hands and feet thus having the potential for them to be chilled or frostbitten. They protect themselves from frost bite with the clothes they wear.

Daily Treats

• Ann likes Coffee Nips®

• Liv likes licorice

Weekly Treats • A high – fat, very dense cake

Food Prep — In a Cramped Cloth “Kitchen”

Ann and Liv prepared all of their food and drinks by heating it over a one-burner stove in their tent. It took four hours to melt enough ice for one day and prepare water for two. Once the ice was melted, the water was kept in specially insulated thermoses so it did not freeze. Throughout the day, Ann and Liv added water to powdered beverages and most of their food, 80 percent of which is dehydrated. Ann and Liv used white gas — a type of fuel that burns at high altitudes and all temperatures — in their stove. They too 17 to 28 gallons (60 to 100 liters) of white gas.

What We Know!

Why was it important that we ate so much fat?

Ann and Liv ate about 4500 calories each day. Forty-five percent (45%) of their calories came from fat. High-fat intake is important because they pulled sleds that weighed about 250 lbs. (113kgs) for between 8 and 14 hours a day and were exposed to temperatures that dropped as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit without the wind chill factor. Together the two factors cause human bodies to burn a lot of calories to power itself and to keep itself warm. They had to keep replenishing their fat stores so they did not burn muscle. Both explorers gained approximately 15 extra pounds before they went on the Expedition to increase their fat reserves. Shouldn’t we all be so lucky.

Why did they consume so much liquid?

Liquids were important to decrease the risk of hypothermia.

Antarctica is more arid than the Sahara and quickly whisks moisture away from the human body. To avoid dehydration, which can ultimately lead to frostbite, it was very important for Ann and Liv to drink plenty of water. Each woman consumed two, two-and-a-half-quart (five pints) thermoses of hot liquids daily while skiing.

Did Ann and Liv get cravings for certain foods?

As Ann and Liv have aged, their cravings for certain food items have decreased. Neither can explain why this happened. One thing they both craved, however, is fat. This was probably a result of their bodies telling them they were burning their own body fat at a high rate, and if they did not eat enough, their body would begin to burn muscle tissue. Burning muscle is bad because muscles provide the body with power. Burning muscle cuts into the body’s source of strength.

How did Ann and Liv select the types of food they took on the Expedition?

Ann and Liv worked hard to choose the foods to take to Antarctica. They tried many different brands of freeze-dried foods and snacks. They finally settled on their menu based on how the food tasted, how easily it packed and its weight. They selected food with very little packaging because they are very concerned about the environment, and because they packed out all garbage.

Who is the better cook, Ann or Liv?

Both explorers are in agreement that Ann is the better cook. According to Liv’s family, she knows how to prepare only three dishes, and all three are pasta dishes (shrimp pasta, lasagna, and cheese pasta). However, Ann and Liv shared cooking duties on their Expedition. Very little preparation was involved with the meals they selected. All they needed to do was boil water and pour the water into the pouches of freeze-dried food or into their vacuum bottles.

Didl Ann and Liv carry extra food?

In case Ann and Liv were unable to pull their sleds for a period of days due to bad weather or injury, they carried enough food for ten extra days. They received one resupply of food at the South Pole.

Ann and Liv Extras!

Facts About Foods

• Menu Choice/Calorie Chart

Gorp Recipes

• Great outdoor mix for hiking

• Fun for kids to make