This photo shows what 20,000 calories worth of food looks like, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

This photo shows what 20,000 calories worth of food looks like, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

It's no secret that a bear's appetite sees a serious uptick during their hyperphagia phase – basically when they're packing on the pounds for winter hibernation. During this time, Colorado's black bears can eat up to 20,000 calories of food per day. An image recently published by Colorado Parks and Wildlife shows just how much food that is.

While exact details of the food weren't revealed, here's a breakdown of what the photo appears to capture:

  • - a dozen doughnuts from Dunkin' Doughnuts (roughly 270 calories each = 3,240)
  • - an order of Pizza Hut cinnamon sticks (800 calories)
  • - a medium Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza (1,760 calories)
  • - two McDonald's double cheeseburgers (437 x 2 = 874 total calories)
  • - one Sonic sandwich (perhaps the 600 calories Sonic cheeseburger)
  • - a Starbucks coffee (perhaps the Pumpkin Spice Latte = 380 calories)
  • - a Jimmy John's sandwich (perhaps the Turkey Tom = 480 calories)
  • - a Chipotle burrito (chicken burrito is roughly 1,000 calories)
  • - a chili-cheese hot dog from Sonic (470 calories)
  • - chili-cheese tater tots from Sonic (530 calories)
  • - McDonald's smoothie (240 calories)
  • - Chicken bucket from KFC (10-piece = 850 calories)
  • - McDonald's fries (320 calories)
  • - five Hershey's with almonds chocolate bars (210 calories each = 1,050 total)
  • * All calorie estimates are a best guess based on the image and details provided on company websites. Actual calories may vary.

In our very unofficial calorie estimation, the food above equates to about 12,500 calories, which means a bear may be eating even more than what is seen in the featured photo on a daily basis. Hopefully those calories are coming from natural sources (like berries, at roughly 2,000 calories per pound) and not fast food restaurants.

This shows just how wild a bear's appetite is during this hyperphagia, making it crucial to keep non-natural food sources secure. If living in bear country, make sure all trash sources can't be accessed and do your part to keep Colorado's wildlife wild.

Read more about why it's important to remove possible bear attractants from your property here.

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Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.


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(2) comments


I was a black bear till I was about 40 years old. Now I'm down to two slices of pizza, two pieces of chicken, two donuts (three on Saturdays), and the occasional candy bar. Getting older sucks


HA! love it

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