View Full Version : Shed pounds while thru hike?

Flash Hand
12-15-2003, 05:57

I looked for the thread about losing pounds during thru hike or section hike. I want to know whats your first weight before you start hike and how much weight you lose after you stop the hiking.

Happy Hiking!
Lil Allan

12-15-2003, 08:06
Lil Allan:

Guys usually lose more weight than the ladies...
I can only give you my experiences....

In my 2 years of section-hiking the A.T....in 8 days on the trail....i lost 10 lbs...(2002) while eating the more than minimum requirements for my size, age, etc.

this year (2003) after 13 days on the trail..i had lost 15 lbs...

but, due to my "pigging out" on real food after i left the trail....i've always managed to put the lbs back on.... ;)

Backpacker magazine actually had a calorie-count chart for hikers a few issues back...

hope this helps....

if you wanna see some remarkable WEIGHT-LOSS photos...look in my photo gallery for the pics of TIPPERARY or go to:



p.s.: i lost a few lbs hiking in your state...last year..in Red Rock country (Sedona area) breaking in my new Vasque Sundowners!

12-15-2003, 10:12
During my PCT thruhike this summer I went from 215 to 193. The 215 was a bit
bloated from a couple of weeks of boozing and eating ice cream and the 193 was a
bit on the high side, as it was my weight after three days of high living after finishing.
During my Springer->Damascus section hike in 2002, I lost 8 lbs.

Blue Jay
12-15-2003, 10:31
A thru is not too hard to calculate. Take one of those fat tests. There is a buoyancy test which is better than the skin pinch test, and there are others. This amount of weight will be gone like the wind. Some muscle will be added to your lower body and some lost in your upper body, this often cancels each other out.

12-15-2003, 10:40
I started in Georgia a bit over 190.

I weighed 150 in Millinocket. I was a bit over 140 coming out of the Whites. I lost over three inches off my waist - had to buy new pants when I got back.

I know of at least two guys on the trail that lost over 100 pounds.

Of course, I've already gained 15 back and can still absolutely destroy a pizza.

12-15-2003, 11:46
I know of at least two guys on the trail that lost over 100 pounds.

if you wanna see a guy who lost the weight on a thru-hike....ck out Tipperary photos. I met this retired Priest in NC mtns near N.O.C.....(he looked to weight in the 250-275 range then)

in his summit celebration photo (on www.trailjournals.com) he looks to have lost 100+ lbs!


12-15-2003, 11:53
I can't find ANY photos by Tipperary on that site. Sure you got he right journal site? How bout a direct link?

12-15-2003, 12:05
Don't count on shedding all the excess fat while on a thru-hike. It CAN work that way IF you go easy on the fatty foods and go fairly easy on food while hiking. Lightweight hiking style will force you to carry less food, but bingeing in towns will get you too.

Women tend to lose less weight than men. I understand it has something to do with the body preserving its reproductive capacity. Womens' metabolisms just slow down to accomodate the calorie intake and can force them to slow their pace down to accomodate. You can overcome this with sheer willpower and a more efficient diet.

The biggest problem with the AT as a weight loss plan is that the reason the AT strips weight off folks is because it is a high calorie burning lifestyle. You are hiking 8 - 20 miles per day, or even more in some cases. The caloric burn rate of the lifestyle is simply insane, 4-6 thousand calories a day. That is 2-3 times what your "normal" rate would be. You cannot sustain this metabolic rate off the trail, but your body will continue to crave that caloric intake when you leave the trail. Tuning your caloric intake to your non-AT lifestyle will take more willpower than slogging up Albert Mountain or the Approach Trail.

In practice, many of us put the pounds right back on afterwards. It might take a year or three, but we eventually end up back where we started.

12-15-2003, 12:46
I was 188 before I started my thru-hike this year and 158 on the scale at the ATC Headquarters in Harpers Ferry. After that I pretty much leveled off and finished at Katahdin right around the 158 - 160 level.

12-15-2003, 14:07
I went from 225 to 190 after six months of hiking. The strangest thing to happen to me was my feet grew a size. I wore a size ten when I left Springer. I went to buy a new pair of boots in Harpers Ferry and to my surprize I needed a size eleven for the identical brand/type of boot I was wearing! Six years after my hike I now wear a ten and 1/2 shoe size. Nothing else grew in size! :-?

12-15-2003, 17:28
I went from 225 to 190 after six months of hiking. The strangest thing to happen to me was my feet grew a size. I wore a size ten when I left Springer. I went to buy a new pair of boots in Harpers Ferry and to my surprize I needed a size eleven for the identical brand/type of boot I was wearing! Six years after my hike I now wear a ten and 1/2 shoe size. Nothing else grew in size! :-?

The reason why you needed bigger boots is that you were carrying a pack for 1000 miles. With all that time and weight on your feet, they tend to spread. It's not unusual to go up a full shoe size.

12-15-2003, 17:35
I went from around 190 to 155-160 on my hike. I disagree with Iceman. It seems that I didn't meet anyone who had not lost a significant amount of weight. I pigged out at every town. I also had to hike big miles to make it to Katahdin in order to get back to school. I averaged 19 a day, and I needed every calorie to maintain body weight.

12-15-2003, 21:04
I went from about 185 to 165 or so. I'm 5'11" so it seems about right...except my wife says I could use a few more in... I mean pounds. Actually I gained about 5 back at first and then rehiked 80 miles of the Trail...got home and now, when I'm not able to hike, I do 7 miles a day on the treadmill to try an stay in shape for next year. I've been able to stay around 170.

I was able to eat all and everything I wanted on the Trail and stayed at the low end. Most all of the hikers I met also ate everything they wanted without a problem. One fellow, Eli, said he gained weight so go figure.

Cedar Tree
12-15-2003, 21:40
My story is similar to Footslogger's. Losing weight was one of my reasons for wanting to hike the A.T. I started at 188 lbs and I remember weighing 159 at Dennis and Mary's place at Laurel Creek. I finished around 160 lbs and have gained most of it back. I hiked in 2000 and I weigh 180 now.

The Solemates
12-15-2003, 22:26
I have been very interested in this weight topic ever since planning to do the AT. I am quite the opposite of most people, however.

I am 6'4" and weigh 210. At this physique, I have a very little fat on my body. It is mostly muscle that I have accumulated through 8 years of intense weightlifting. I have done everything I can to put on some fat in preparation for the AT. That way, perhaps I can lose the fat instead of losing so much muscle after hiking 2000 miles. The best have have been able to put on, however, is about 7 lbs or so, I guess due to my high metabolism.

I am concerned that after completing the AT I will become a gaunt little 190-pounder who has lost all his muscle. That may seem heavy to some people, but at 190 lbs, I'm skinny. Real skinny. I would rather not lose so much of my muscle mass. Anyone else have a similar problem? How to combat this?

12-16-2003, 06:30
I can't find ANY photos by Tipperary on that site. Sure you got he right journal site? How bout a direct link?

SOrry Iceman!

You're right...Tipperary has NO PHOTOS in his journal...but, if you go to www.trailjournals.com & search for tipperary in under photos...you'll get quite a few hits.....if you wanna save time....i've uploaded a couple photos of Tipperary in my Jaybird member galleries (photos).


12-16-2003, 09:39
Solemate, I think that part of the reason thru-hikers loose so much weigh is that they typically don't eat well enough. If you are burning 4000 plus calories per day, then you need to eat the same amount of calories per day. That can be a challenge for many thru-hikers.

First, typical backpacking food has about 100 calories per ounce. That means that you need to carry 40 ounces of food per day (2 1/2 pounds). Many backpackers carry only about 1 1/2 pounds per day.

Second, many thru-hikers don't eat right. You need carbs. Most processed foods have too much sugars. So, read the nutrition labels on all packaging and do the math.

It's a real challenge to get enough quality food while doing a long distance hike.

Everyone worries about gear. Very few pay attention to adequate food. If wanta-bees put in as much effort planning food as they do figuring out gear, there would probably be fewer dropouts.

12-16-2003, 09:56
My last section hike was 2 weeks long, I did about 150 miles, lost 19 Lbs. I sort of was doing this on purpous, and partly it was a natural process.

I gained about 13 Lbs back within the next month, but have at least managed to keep off 5 or 6 :clap

I loose weight almost every section hike, at least the ones longer than a week.


12-16-2003, 10:54
As has been said MANY, MANY times and as most of the above posters have shown, men lose weight easily on the trail. Women tend to lose weight to a point then level off at a point where their body seems to feel it has to be to maintain reproductive potential and health. You can force it beyond that point, but it takes some real effort. This has been documented in trail study after trail study over the years.

I personally started my thru-hike at 213 pounds and finished at around 175 give or take. That's a lot of weight and I carried a lot more food than a lot of folks anmd ate like a pig in towns. I went into Erwin with an empty food bag. That night I went to th Pizza Hut and finished off a pizza left over from some other hikers, then ate my own large pizza, two trips to the salad bar and an order of bread sticks.

It's taken 8 years, but I've regained all that weight back. I regained a lot of it right away, jumping right up to 195 within a few months. The rest has come back a pound or so a year. Funny thing though, as skinny as I had become, I still had a little extra around the waist at 175.

My main point though was that women do have a tougher time losing weight on the AT than do men and can reach a hard barrier to further weight loss.

I was probably not specific enough in what I was trying to say and made it sound like a generalized statement about weight loss in general rather than just the limited fact that women lose weight less easily and often stop seeing results pretty quickly unless they have a lot of weight to lose in the first place. Most Americans do. Most Americans could probably afford to lose 15-20 percent of their "normal" body weight without any deleterious affects on health and possibly substantial improvements.

12-16-2003, 11:47
I spent a lot of time this summer hiking with two women. Or, at least, hiking around them. One didn't seem to lose any weight, at least up to the point when I left her for good around the 1600 mile mark. She didn't eat very much and was hiking at the same pace that I was,which meant 25-35 miles a day. The other dropped a lot of weight at first and was getting dangerously low on body mass by the time we cleared the Sierras (about mile 1100). She then stabilized and regained enough weight to be healthy, although still thin. She was moving at the same pace I was.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went down to 193 at the end of my hike. I quickly got went up to 205 and have remained there for the past two months. I'd like to stay at that level, although I'm sure to put on a few pounds over the winter time.

Flash Hand
12-16-2003, 14:57
Many thanks for those replies from you. It sure does help me understand how important calories intake I need for the thru-hike. I also was wondering what carbs foods I can take with me in my backpack? What are those? Brocili? or is there any dry brocili? Candy bars? what are carbs food that is easy to put in my backpack? Do outfitter stores sell them?

I also understand that salt intake is important while summer hike. Do I need to take some sodium kind of foods, like what? or I don't need sodium while hike the summer?

Lil Allan

12-16-2003, 15:20
Carbs = Carbohydrates
Here are some of my favorites...

Potatoes (Idahoan Instant Southwest Flavor)
Pasta (Pasta Roni & Lipton's Chicken Flavor Noodles)
Rice (Near East Brand Wild Rice Pilaf or Spanish & Uncle Ben's Wild Rice Pilaf)
Breads (Arnold's Whole Grain Breads & Flour Tortillas)
Oatmeal (Quaker Apples & Cinnamon, Quaker Cinnamon Raisin)
Cream of Wheat (Strawberries & Cream!)
Granola (Anything with dried Raspberries.... Yum!)
Crackers (Cheez-Itz & GoldFish)

12-16-2003, 15:46
Do a search in the food section for a thread that I put up this fall called something like "Fueling up for 30 mile days". It has an indication of what I would eat on a typical day on the PCT this summer. It may be more than you would need, but it was just enough for me given the length of my days.

12-16-2003, 17:49
I might add to what Hampter posted.

Good sources of carbs that thru-hikers use (in addition to everything listed by Hampster):

Mac and cheese
Liptons rice and sauce
Liptions noodles and sauce

Both Liptons products have several flavors. You will probably find some that you like better than others.

Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes.

Instant oatmeal. Fruit and cream flavors are best.

Instand cream of wheat.

Breads: look for hearty breads that don't squish up too much. That's what makes pita bread, bagels, etc. good for backpacking.

Finally, other foods with high calories per ounce include fats like squeeze parkay, olive oil, peanut butter.

Former Easy
12-16-2003, 18:24
In 2002 I lost 25 pounds in a month of hiking and 200 miles. I got on the trail weighing in at 240 and was 215 when I got off the trail. I had steak dinners in just about every town I stopped in along with drinking a case or more of beer. I also left every trailtown that I could with a six of tall boys and a big roll of sausage and block of cheese. On the trail I usaully cooked two Liptons for supper and ate 3 or 4 large snickers during the day. I wouldn't do breakfast but would make coffee every morning. Everyones metabolism is different, but I didn't try to lose any weight and did. I will be getting on the trail this year at about 250 I weigh 265 now and plan on losing 15 pounds before hitting the trail in March with Bosco (my dog a well trained, friendly, and leashed German Shepard).
I probably will lose even more weight this hike since the booze is out, but I'll still be eating steak ever chance I get, I eat steak at home 4 to 5 times a week its my favorite food, this time of year im eating lots of venison steaks (good stuff).

12-16-2003, 21:34
I dropped 15 lbs. in 60 days, which was a good thing. Of course having access to a full refrigerator upon my return kind of killed all that weight loss and I ended up putting 20 lbs. right back on as soon as I stopped hiking!

I'd be curious to know how long the killer appetite stayed with people once they stopped hiking. It seems like I was eating everything in sight for over a month once I returned.

12-17-2003, 10:25
I dropped 15 lbs. in 60 days, which was a good thing. Of course having access to a full refrigerator upon my return kind of killed all that weight loss and I ended up putting 20 lbs. right back on as soon as I stopped hiking!

I'd be curious to know how long the killer appetite stayed with people once they stopped hiking. It seems like I was eating everything in sight for over a month once I returned.

For me it lasted about a month and a half. With two AYCE places (Indian and Thai) within a 5 minute walk of my office, it was hard to resist.

12-17-2003, 11:00
i feel a dejavu as if i answered this somewhere, maybe another trailforums.. :) anywy.

the weight issue is one of my biggest fears. i'm only 5'4 and weight about 120lbs. ive nothnig extra to loose. and I cant really afford to loose much. problem is, my weight has not changed in over 10+ years. i can eat like a pig and not put on an ounce, similarly, i dont loose.

i also eat less than a sparrow during a lean winter. i have strong legs from cycling with no fat, and only a lil tyre on the guts :D once that spare fat goes i could be in trouble.

the flipside is, i dont really expect to loose much at all, but any drop over i would say 8-10lbs, could be a danger. i'm not really quite sure.

the other flipside, good food can be heavy.. ohwell..
i plan to try and eat good food, as well as s%%t food to keep my fat balance. (and at least a drop or two of olive oil in my pasta each night mmm!)

does anyone ever leave town with a couple of fresh potatoes or some fresh baby carrots from the fruit+veg shop??

i was hoping to get some fresh baby carrots/celery stick etc. lightweight fresh veg to munch on...

Former Easy
12-17-2003, 11:20
Are you joking Aussie ........ leave town with fresh baby carrots and celery :D

No I have never seen that before, but if your serious why not. I've carried plenty of extra weight out of town and have seen others also, usaully just enough extras for the first nite out such as six-packs of coke or beer, huge bricks of chesse, jiffy popcorn, huge sausages, coffee cakes, cold pizza, etc..... If your leaving town in the afternoon and are only going 4, 5 or 6 miles its not to much of a big deal.

12-17-2003, 11:49
lol! i didnt mean 5 days worth of potatoes, baby carrot and celery. more like for that nights meal or the day after. baby carrots are tiny. carrots/potatoes etc survive well out in the open.

celery is good hiking out ;) i like chewen on celery sticks. celery is a 'hard' food to process. your gut gotta really work it over. its good roughage.

Trail Dog
12-17-2003, 12:07
started at 212 ended at 195, that was only 50 days of hiking, not even a thru hike

12-17-2003, 13:31
I went through Drill Sargents school when I was in the Army. Typically most recruits lose weight while they go thru basic training though a few do gain weight (I was one the latter, I gained five lbs). Generally the weight stays off while the individual stays active and in the military. The problem occurs when one because less active.

Each individual has their own set weight which they usually reach in one to two months of hiking. Generally their weight remains stable after that unless something serious happens (usually illness). As activity decreases the weight increases.

When I was in the military I was a 160 lb fighting machine and now I am a 270 lb movin and groovin hiking machine (not!).

Grey Owl

Trail Dog
12-17-2003, 18:21
O no not a drill sgt! did you accually serve as a drill sgt?

12-18-2003, 12:06
I went to school, passed and never served as one. Had a small problem. Back in 1970 we were training young men to be cannon fodder, not soldiers. Also by then I had also became a pacifist. I think it was because I had load one too many body bags on my chopper in Nam.

Grey Owl