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  1. #1
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    Default Looking to lean up while backpacking?

    I'm not overweight or out of shape exactly, but due to some circumstances, I didn't go out very much since Sept. and I've gained some chub' here and there. But I was wondering, if I eat at a calorie deficit while hiking, would that be wise? I won't be eating anything in the 2,000 range, I was thinking just at 3,000 cals. And even then, I'll only be looking at mainly 'all-natural' foods. I'm thinking that I'll be fine as my body will burn off some of the fat that I've accumulated over time, and I won't be hiking for weeks, mainly just 2-5 days at the most in the beginning. Think this is smart or is it dumb?

  2. #2
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    My hunger doesn't kick it till about 7 days. A always have extra food on a short hike, but I never planned it that way.

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    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

  3. #3
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    As a weekender and short-sectioner, I depend on hiking for weight control. I was stuck in town most of the last winter and porked up a bit. But I hope to lose it again once I'm able to get out more this summer. I actually wind up losing appetite for most of my trips ... I'm essentially never out for the time that it takes for 'hiker hunger' to kick in.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  4. #4

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    Most lose weight
    Its hard not to if you hike decent mileage
    Especially early on when you arent all that hungry.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies everyone! Since I did read a lot of threads about how you don't start burning a lot till the 5-7th day, I figured I'd eat around 2600 cals - 3100 cals for the days depending on how hard I worked. This is an example of one:

    Meal Plan Ounce Calories Cal/Oz
    Breakfast
    2x Maple Oatmeal 3 320 107
    Larabar CCP 1.7 210 123
    Total: 4.7 530 112
    Snack
    Peanut M&M 1.7 250 147
    Snack 2
    Sun maid Raisin 0.5 45 90
    Lunch
    2 Cracker Barrel Cheese Stick 2 180 90
    2 Medium Flour Tortillas 3.4 300 88
    2 oz Salami 2 220 110
    Total: 7.4 700 94
    Snack 3
    Snickers 1.8 250 139
    Dinner
    1 Pouch Starkist Tuna in Olive Oil 2.6 190 73
    2 Ramen 4.4 580 131
    Cocoa Classics Rich Chocolate 0.98 120 122
    Total: 7.98 890 111
    Total All together: 24.08 2665 110

    And again, all my meals range from 2600 cals to 3100 cals (also in the 24 ounce to 27 ounce range). Does this sound good at all?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by BP219 View Post
    I'm not overweight or out of shape exactly, but due to some circumstances, I didn't go out very much since Sept. and I've gained some chub' here and there. But I was wondering, if I eat at a calorie deficit while hiking, would that be wise? I won't be eating anything in the 2,000 range, I was thinking just at 3,000 cals. And even then, I'll only be looking at mainly 'all-natural' foods. I'm thinking that I'll be fine as my body will burn off some of the fat that I've accumulated over time, and I won't be hiking for weeks, mainly just 2-5 days at the most in the beginning. Think this is smart or is it dumb?
    I find that if I eat 3000-3500 calories a day (1.3 to 1.5 pounds of high cal backpacking food and snacks), I am not hungry and still lose about a half-pound a day on typical trails going 12-15 miles/day on average. That means I'm dealing with about a 1750 calorie deficit per day. If I were lean to start with (I'm not) or got lean on trail, I would increase my food budget by a half-pound per day to avoid burning muscle. YMMV.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by QiWiz View Post
    I find that if I eat 3000-3500 calories a day (1.3 to 1.5 pounds of high cal backpacking food and snacks), I am not hungry and still lose about a half-pound a day on typical trails going 12-15 miles/day on average. That means I'm dealing with about a 1750 calorie deficit per day. If I were lean to start with (I'm not) or got lean on trail, I would increase my food budget by a half-pound per day to avoid burning muscle. YMMV.
    Thanks for the reply!

    So I should increase them all to at least the 3000-3400 range? I'm just a bit worried about eating so much that I actually gain weight over the trips haha. I was just thinking about adding in more protein to my diet to help conserve the muscle I do have.

  8. #8
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    Be careful, some folks don't deal well with cutting back on food when they go backpacking, you are far better off tapering before you go. I have met folks who have tried the same thing and they end up losing miles as they just "bonk out" mid day. You will lose weight carrying standard meals but where you can get in trouble is post hike as your metabolism can shift into high gear if you are out long enough. There was book about long distance backpacking statistics that men lose more weight then woman as a percentage of body weight but the men gain it back quicker.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Be careful, some folks don't deal well with cutting back on food when they go backpacking, you are far better off tapering before you go. I have met folks who have tried the same thing and they end up losing miles as they just "bonk out" mid day. You will lose weight carrying standard meals but where you can get in trouble is post hike as your metabolism can shift into high gear if you are out long enough. There was book about long distance backpacking statistics that men lose more weight then woman as a percentage of body weight but the men gain it back quicker.
    Gotcha, thanks for the heads up! I'll plan on carrying extra food just in case I do feel fatigued while on the trail, but my metabolism is pretty high already (from sports in high school, never really wore off). I'm planning just to disperse the meals even more just to keep my stomach from grumbling. But, I'll keep that in mind, thanks again!

  10. #10
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    Your body won't jump into ketosis state being in caloric deficit. This is very harmful and may lead to dystrophy. If you want to be lean better practice fasting. After three days of no-calories your body will start burning fat and you will get your best shape without effort.. but get informed before doing this


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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dingo4321 View Post
    Your body won't jump into ketosis state being in caloric deficit. This is very harmful and may lead to dystrophy. If you want to be lean better practice fasting. After three days of no-calories your body will start burning fat and you will get your best shape without effort.. but get informed before doing this


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    are you saying don't eat for three days straight?

  12. #12

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    Universally, to my knowledge, when fasting it is advised to somewhat reduce strenuous activity not increase it which is likely to happen going from a somewhat sedentary off trail somewhat out of fitness lifestyle to a strenuous longer term on trail life.

    If you wanted to adapt an on trail ketogenic diet might want to learn how to personally experience it off trail first!

    Fasting or even drastically reducing daily caloric and nutrient intake on a hike assuming it will just reduce fat and not reduce muscle mass also is a big question mark? The longer one goes on a pro famine trail diet the more drastic the consequences. It is misleading and incorrect to assume within the hiking community one can simply totally "make up" for a famine condition, particularly if it's longer term or habitually re-occurring, with periodic gorging in town even if town stops are every 5 days. This is the kind of scenario that doctors are now labeling eating disorders possibly leading to more serious eating disorder consequences. There' a problematic line that can easily be crossed under such scenarios. How many times have we heard of newly post thru-hikers quickly gaining wt and fat %, then assuming they are going to lose it all on their next LD hike. That yo yoing within a wide range of body wt and body fat % is a highly questionable approach IMO?

  13. #13
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    Almost every hiking trip I do is at a calorie deficit. You don't talk about what mileage you are planning but I would swap out high fat foods for more carbs while using your body fat for fuel. I generally will do about a 3-4000 calorie deficit per day but I also do very high mile days. A steady stream of carbs will allow you maintain energy without the dreaded bonk. Good luck.
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  14. #14
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Bumping a 2 year old thread brings bad karma

  15. #15

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    Malto, you seem to know what works well for you. I will inquire though:

    How long are most of those hikes to which you refer running a 3-4k/day caloric deficit?

    What is your normal baseline body fat and muscle %? Do you normally physically carry yourself as you appeared in the L2H Route pic on Swami's site of Bobcat, Dirtmonger, Swami, and yourself. If so, from what it seems you can afford to lose some wt on some hikes. You look darn solid overall though. Was that pic post, during or pre L2H Route? I don't know the spot.

  16. #16

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    Malto, you NOBOed the PCT right? What shape were you in going in(baseline ballpark?) How did you maintain body wt and muscle mass? How much wet and mass did you lose? How often were you resupplying? What was your ballpark caloric deficit/day for that PCT hike? Any pre, during, and post pics for that PCT NOBO?

  17. #17
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    Yes... only after three days the body starts eating fat.. but this should be approached knowledgeably because it's a serious detoxification. You need to do enemas every day, clean your liver and push the acid from the gallbladder .. also do special exercises to release the acid from the stomach and not feel hunger , it is unacceptable.. it's actually the only normal method of loosing fat... we are not meant to eat 3 times a day.. we started this so called normal diet after industrialization.. people were forced in the past to do long food pauses because they couldn't always hunt... fat is not our enemy but the reserves body keeps for situations like lack of food.. any diet is harmful because it forces the body to consume more than it takes in ... if you are interested in the topic check more information about intermittent fasting...
    https://youtu.be/tIuj-oMN-Fk



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  18. #18
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    And of course you can't do this on trail.. the idea was that hiking shouldn't be the main method of loosing weight


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  19. #19

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    Glad it's been said. Going into a fasting state is a detoxification state. This can have many unpleasant side effects,... more the detoxification the more unpleasant and dangerous. This is why medical supervision is sometimes advised when detoxifying from anything from pesticides, foods, rapid wt loss, legal and illicit drugs, etc etc etc. Doing so in the context of long term backpacking where one is adding to that questionable state with the physical, emotional, and mental rigors. Body fat holds many toxins. Dropping these toxins into the body or trying to get a ketogenic state during backpacking when one has not personally experienced it beforehand and understanding of their state before attempting it is questionable.

    There is a widely held misconception that all a hiker needs is calories as if that's the be all end all to what the human body needs. Not so! It is actually a wider overall amount of nutrients that's needed. If all we needed was fat than we'd all be consuming nothing but a bottle of olive oil or butter or ghee or coconut oil. Try that for a week and see how that goes! Likewise, assuming we're going to get the wide spectrum of nutrients required solely by attempting to burn existing body fat in the context of hiking is a fallacy. Body fat DOES NOT contain all the nutrients needed during strenuous long tern activity of body, mind, and spirit. The reverse is true. It contains toxins that the body has to contend when fat is being burned. That it turn can have a cascade detoxifying effect on other bodily systems. Doing a full long term fast while attempting to regularly daily hike under stress??? Even partial famine diets have consequences particularly under strenuous exertion further increased if it's over the long term. Again, thinking we can just instantaneously make up for a sustained daily caloric and nutrient deficiency under a wk after wk after wk scenario by high calorie gorging in town every 7 days without any consequences is incorrect.

  20. #20
    Registered User Luna Anderson's Avatar
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    Hiking shouldn't be the main method for you to lose weight. You'll be fatigued when hiking 2000 range without drinking or eating anything. Thus, the calorie you gain thu food will exceed the calorie lost on the trails. You shud calculate the calorie in advance and make sure that the calorie deficit is smaller than the cals gained. Better buy a scale and a fit watch, lol.

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