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  1. #41
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Georgia and Hawaii


    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    my first issue with any discussion like this is the normal way of determining "calories" in food has little to do with the ability of that food to transfer usable metabolic energy to the human body

    food is dried, burned and heat creation monitored - modern science could do much better, but so far this marginally useful system is still accepted as valid

    not only does the available energy vs combustion energy of foods vary widely, different bodies and the same body at different times will vary on the ability to extract energy from the same food

    my answer to the questions raised by the OP is there are no valid answers to be had - way too many uncontrolled variables for any info to to considered "scientific"

    my advice: quit worrying about it - eat, hike, rinse, repeat

    if it seems that you are getting to thin/ feeling crappy ---- than just eat more

    This is somewhat in line what I was sharing. I want: 1) to be consuming nutrient dense foods in as close to a whole foods state as possible avoiding highly refined highly processed nutrient dismal food like products 2) create as best possible a state in the body that facilitates the optimal assimilation of those nutrients. A key to achieving this is having a healthy digestive system including microbiome.

  2. #42


    If you start smelling like ammonia, you might be burning muscle. Not a good thing to do. You can lose fat and gain weight because (building) muscle weighs more than fat.

  3. #43
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Raleigh, NC


    On the flip side of the coin, I truly enjoy watching the 5-10 lbs of excess fat I've managed to build up over several months melt right off of me during a 7-10 day section hike. :-)
    It's all good in the woods.

  4. #44
    GAME 06
    Join Date
    Prescott, Arizona


    I'll toss my 2 cents in.

    Dogwood and Malto have put up some good info, but most of the responses are based upon what would be a good diet for someone who lives in town and is not performing intense daily activity under the constraints of limited space and weight for ones food. Your regular 'good' diet of fruits and veggies and all that stuff does not work well for serious long distance hiking for a variety of reasons.

    If we are talking about serious thru hiking; that is 20-30 miles a day every day with few zeros we have to do something different (if you are hiking just 10 miles a day this does not really apply).

    The best advise for a thru hiker diet I have ever seen (and this is what I follow when I am hiking or in serious training (100 miles a week or more) is the hiker diet recommended by Dr. Brenda Braaten who is a long distance hiker and a Phd in nutrition. See here:

    The basic story is FAT. You need to dramatically increase the percentage of fat you are consuming and reduce the carbs. Protein stays basically the same. I will let you read what she has written rather than repeat it. You do not want to eat this way at home but on the trail it will really help you.

    The basic story for the 25 mile day person is 40-45% fat, 40% carbs and 15% protein. I might be higher on fat percentage than that a lot of the time.

    I count calories when I resupply and get exactly how many I need to eat and make sure I eat them all. Early in a hike one just does not have the appetite yet to manage to stuff down what the body really needs so almost everyone loses some weight. But when enough miles are in the appetite goes up and then it is easy to eat the calories the body needs.

    Eating sort of constantly is better than 3 meals a day as you are then delivering energy to the body at a steady rate and not fluctuating up and down. Pack your front pockets with peanut bars, peanut m&m's, mixed nuts and stuff like that and eat some every hour. I eat a fair amount for breakfast, a big snack but not a real meal at lunch, and a big dinner. And lots of the high fat snacks in between.

    I do not cook when I hike and do not carry a stove. This lets me carry more calories for the same pack weight. My food varies some by what is available but a typical load out from a town grocery would be something like this. A lot of you are going to not like this but read what Dr. Braaten has to say about them. When your fat requirements go way up many foods which you should not eat at home are ideal on the trail. She has a lot of food options to choose from. And I change out with other stuff on her list as I feel like or as the store options require.

    Poptarts 1 package per morning (400)
    Nature Valley sweet and salty bars 5-6 per day (so 850-1020 calories)
    Mixed nuts 5 servings (850 calories)
    Tortillas 2 per day (400 calories)
    Gouda cheese 1/4 lb a day
    Summer sausage 1/4 lb per day
    Fritos 1/5 bag per day (500 calories)
    peanut butter m&m's (about 300 cal a day)
    Dried cherries or cranberries
    High cocoa chocolate
    Instant Breakfast for electrolytes 2/day (260 cal)

    I only eat the tortillas, cheese and sausage for supper not in the day time.

    I don't have all this stuff in the house right now to put down calories for them. Like the Dr. said don't eat this way at home. But this is a lot of calories for reasonable weight and it powers you through the day quite well. If I have to do a huge food carry and weight is critical I would drop the tortillas to save weight and add in higher cal/wt food.

    I eat about 3500-4000 calories most days on the trail but I am older now and my body does not need as much food as it used to when I was a lot younger. I get better miles per calorie now for some reason. Or it could be because of this diet which I did not follow when I was younger. With this diet I drop down to about 160 lbs and then stay there after that. My muscles get tired by the end of the day but I don't feel fatigued like I have no energy. I sleep about 7 hours per night.

    I have learned that I hike better if I start very early and am hiking no later the 0600. I do not stop till noon unless I need a bio or have to move water from my side bottles to my shoulder strap bottles. I eat and drink as I walk at a comfortable pace I can hold for the 6 hours till noon. On average terrain I have about 15 miles in by noon. I never hike as fast as I can unless there is a compelling need. I take about 20 mins for a bigger meal at lunch where I drop the pack and lay down if possible. I hike without stopping till I find where I am going to camp. I normally end up walking slower in the afternoon. I do not handle the heat as well as I did when I was young so it is important to keep sweating down. I am normally well into the 20's per day and can do into the mid-30's if I really need to. I can hike much harder in the colder weather and last winter I did 24 miles with a 30lb pack with 3000 ft up and 3000 ft down by 1 pm. That day all I ate between breakfast and stopping was the Nature Valley bars - about 1 per hour.

  5. #45


    Some rules of thumb that I learned as a freshman in college PE is that people burn roughly 1 calorie/pound/mile. For example, 170 pound person plus 30 pound pack is 200 lbs. 200 pounds x 30 miles is 6000 calories. If you are at 200 pounds total weight and doing 20 mpd then the total is nearer 4,000 calories per day. Clearly this is not scientifically accurate, but it is a guide that allows folks to adjust their food need by their distance targets and weight. Of course this formula makes no allowances for terrain or weather; so, it is just a guide. Use your judgement. But, it can help you plan re-supply strategies. Math I have applied to general trail food at this weight range is that folks on western 30 mpd schedules burn roughy 6000 calories per day and need a bit over 3 pounds of food per day. (just eating that much is CONSTANT eating). Folks doing closer to 20 mpd burn roughly 4000 calories per day and need roughly 2 pounds of food per day. You can do you own calculations on food weight by creating menues and developing the quantities and calorie count to hit the total daily calorie need and then looking at the weights of the food required. Calorie densities are obviously a consideration, but the calories per pound for carbs is roughly constant. Similarly calories per pound for other food groups is roughly constant as well including fats, meats, etc. No guarantees here, just a planning suggestion.

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