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  1. #1

    Question Lost weight on the trail? Added more muscle?

    I'm sure it's impossible not to experience both, but I was curious to hear what you all had to say. Did you lose weight walking the trail? Did you come home heavier but muscular? Any bulging calves? How about those who stayed pretty much the same?

    -Dxi

  2. #2

    Default Most Lose Weight

    I'll bet the average thru-hiker loses about 10% of his/her body weight. At least most of the folks that I was hiking around did. Personally, I lost lost about 10 pounds. I guess my calves may have gotten a bit bigger, but mainly I just lost what little extra fat I had. I've heard that men tend to lose both fat and muscle while women lose fat and gain muscle.

  3. #3

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    I always get both. Since I carry a heavy pack my legs get huge and my stomach and love handles go completely away till my ribs stick out. Since I take the pack off and on constantly, my arms get big. Once after two months I turned on a light in a cheap motel and scared the living hell out of myself. My face had sunken in, that combined with the wild hair, beard and the things living in them, I thought a maniac had broken in (I was right).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dxi00rebel
    I'm sure it's impossible not to experience both, but I was curious to hear what you all had to say. Did you lose weight walking the trail? Did you come home heavier but muscular? Any bulging calves? How about those who stayed pretty much the same?

    -Dxi
    I wouldn't hold out for bulging calves. I used to deliver mail and the guys who walked routes, many miles every day with a mail bag, had the skinniest legs I'd ever seen. People who run a lot also have very thin legs.

    I think that walking all day WILL develop muscle, but not of the bulging variety. Just long, lean, efficient muscles.
    Frosty

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    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Default Weight loss

    Weight loss was part of the survey done by Roland Mueser of 1989 thru-hikers. See his book "Long Distance Hiking." Also, Karen Lutz did a study of 1982 thru-hikers. Both colaborate roughly a 10% loss, more in men and less in women.

    However, there is a tremendous variation in individual results. Smaller people have less to loose, so they tend to loose less. Heavy people can afford to loose more, and so they do. And some people eat enough so that they don't loose weight at all! Some even gain weight.

    But, a good question to ask. I'm sure that if people put in as much effort in planning nutrition as they do planning equipment that the drop out rate would be less.

    Muscles? Someone said that many tend to loose upper body muscle. Maybe that's changed with the use of treking poles. Certainly, after a thru-hike, your lower body will be in the best shape of it's life. I know that after my hike, I ran a local road race and improved my times considerably, and without any training.

  6. #6
    Thru-Hiker Grimace's Avatar
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    At my lightest point on the trail I had lost 60 lbs. Imagine a guy 6'4" at 175 lbs. I was a little chubby before I started because I went out to eat in all of my favorite haunts before we left for the trail, but not that overweight. I lost a lot of muscle.

    The endurance walking and lack of adequate nutrition (tried my best) prevented any muscle growth.
    Grimace ME->GA '01
    JMT '03

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    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    I think that walking all day WILL develop muscle, but not of the bulging variety. Just long, lean, efficient muscles.
    You can't create new muscle tissue (larger muscles) unless you're running a caloric surplus over time (or taking steroids). Walking all day, day after day, at a caloric deficit or break-even may result in better conditioned existing muscles, but won't create new muscle tissue. If the caloric deficit is large enough, you'll lose muscle tissue.

  8. #8

    Default Gaining muscle while losing weight

    Quote Originally Posted by c.coyle
    You can't create new muscle tissue (larger muscles) unless you're running a caloric surplus over time (or taking steroids).
    I'm just talking theory, because this isn't my area of expertise, but I think it IS possible to create new muscle tissue while you're running a deficit. Like I mentioned in my first quote, I think studies have shown that women tend to LOSE weight but GAIN muscle. It seems, and I may be wrong, that most of those women are running a deficit, which is why they are losing weight, but they have enough fat in their bodies so they can actually have a net gain in muscle. Some guys can do that too.

    I agree though, that you're not likely to gain weight-lifter type muscle, more like the runner/mailman muscle described earlier.

  9. #9
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    I think that walking all day WILL develop muscle, but not of the bulging variety. Just long, lean, efficient muscles.
    I attended Western Kentucky University for one year. If you're not familiar with the campus, it is built on a hillside. The students are called hilltoppers. You could always tell who the seniors were because they had huge bulging calves from walking up and down the hill getting to classes for four years. People who walk flat or nearly flat surfaces all day may not get bulging muscles, but climb up and down hills all day and you will.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

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    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Default You can't turn fat into muscle

    Quote Originally Posted by Colter
    ... I think it IS possible to create new muscle tissue while you're running a deficit. ... studies have shown that women tend to LOSE weight but GAIN muscle. It seems ... that most of those women are running a deficit, which is why they are losing weight, but they have enough fat in their bodies so they can actually have a net gain in muscle. ...

    I agree though, that you're not likely to gain weight-lifter type muscle, more like the runner/mailman muscle described earlier.
    I'm not an expert, either. Just an old, self-taught weightlifter. I think I'm safe in saying that you can't turn fat tissue into muscle tissue, or vice versa. Folks who get leaner and fitter after starting an exercise program may appear to be more muscular because their existing muscles become more fit and are no longer covered by fat.

    If your body's making new muscle tissue, you're running a caloric surplus. You have to eat to make fat. You have to eat to make bone. You have to eat to make muscle. No difference. A hiker can gain muscle on a long hike, but only if he's running a caloric surplus.

    Think about what you said above. If you're running a caloric deficit and losing fat tissue, how could you simultaneously be gaining muscle tissue?

    Bodybuilders (anyone who knows me will tell you I am not one) are resigned to additional body fat when they are adding muscle, because they know they have to run a caloric surplus. They then run a relatively short term caloric deficit before a competition to get rid of the fat and become "ripped".

    This is an interesting topic. I wonder if any through hiker ever hired a dietician and followed his or her plan throughout.

  11. #11
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.coyle
    Think about what you said above. If you're running a caloric deficit and losing fat tissue, how could you simultaneously be gaining muscle tissue?
    ...because the fat tissue you are losing is turning into energy which is what your muscle tissues are using to build themselves up.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

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    Default You CAN lose weight and build muscle

    Quote Originally Posted by c.coyle
    You can't create new muscle tissue (larger muscles) unless you're running a caloric surplus over time (or taking steroids). Walking all day, day after day, at a caloric deficit or break-even may result in better conditioned existing muscles, but won't create new muscle tissue. If the caloric deficit is large enough, you'll lose muscle tissue.
    This isn't true at all. People do it most every year about this time (New Years). They cut back my caloric intake so that they run at a deficit (and lose some weight) AND hit the gym regularly and build new muscles.

    People become thinner AND build muscle mass. Ask anyone who's made a New Year's Resolution to get back into shape.
    Frosty

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    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilredmg
    ...because the fat tissue you are losing is turning into energy which is what your muscle tissues are using to build themselves up.
    Could be. Grimace's experience, above, makes sense to me. In any event, I should resolve to run a caloric deficit in '04.

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    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    This isn't true at all. People do it most every year about this time (New Years). They cut back my caloric intake so that they run at a deficit (and lose some weight) AND hit the gym regularly and build new muscles.

    People become thinner AND build muscle mass. Ask anyone who's made a New Year's Resolution to get back into shape.
    No they aren't. They may think they are, but they're not. Their existing muscles may seem bigger because they are more toned and no longer covered by blubber. But you gotta consume calories to build new muscle tissue.

    If you're running a caloric deficit - "burning" more calories per day than you take in - where does the energy come from to create new muscle tissue? Not from stored fat. If you're body isn't getting enough calories, it tries to make it up by "burning" stored fat for basic survival - to keep your heart beating, your lungs sucking, your legs moving, etc. - not building new muscle tissue. If your body consumes all its stored fat and you're still running at a deficit, it'll start consuming muscle. You can't turn fat into muscle.

    Man, I sound like a real know-it-all. Hey, I may be wrong, but I'll need to see some decent evidence.

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    Default wweight loss on da trail

    ck out the photos on this site for UNBELIEVABLE before & after weight=loss pictures:


    http://www.trailjournals.com/Tipperary
    see ya'll UP the trail!

    "Jaybird"

    GA-ME...
    "on-the-20-year-plan"

    www.trailjournals.com/Jaybird2013

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    I've gained a noticeable amount of muscle mass while fasting for 21 days. I Lost 25 pounds, went from 180 lb. down to 155. Aside from the first 5 days (quite trying) I experienced no energy loss or ill effects. I did find that I went to sleep nearly an hour earlier and slept like a rock. During this I continued my regular work and exercise schedule.

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