Climate change will increasingly affect the natural habitat and diet of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Understanding the energetic needs of polar bears is therefore important. We developed a theoretical method for estimating polar bear food consumption based on using the highly recalcitrant polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congener, 2,2',4,4',55-hexaCB (CB153) in bear adipose tissue as an indicator of food intake. By comparing the CB153 tissue concentrations in wild polar bears with estimates from a purposely designed individual-based model, we identified the possible combinations of field metabolic rates (FMR) and CB153 deposition efficiencies in East Greenland polar bears. Our simulations indicate that if 30% of the CB153 consumed by polar bear individuals were deposited into their adipose tissue, the corresponding FMR would be only two times the basal metabolic rate. In contrast, if the modelled CB153 deposition efficiency were 10%, adult polar bears would require six times more energy than that needed to cover basal metabolism. This is considerably higher than what has been assumed for polar bears in previous studies though it is similar to FMRs found in other marine mammals. An implication of this result is that even relatively small reductions in future feeding opportunities could impact the survival of East Greenland polar bears.