Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 39
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    04-28-2019
    Location
    Lansing, Michigan
    Age
    38
    Posts
    8

    Default Calorie Requirements and Food Weight

    I'm planning on doing a 2 month section hike on the AT next year as my first long distance hike. I'll be doing some smaller weekend hikes for prep (and have done plenty of day hikes), but I have no way to do a test run for a long-distance hike where hiker hunger would kick in. I'm well on my way to selecting most of my gear, but having issues with food weight, and possible food volume that will impact my pack selection.

    I'm a big guy (6'5", >200lb, 37yrs), and eat a LOT normally (calculations show about 3200 Calories, and that seems reasonable). I see references to people burning 6000 calories, etc. a day. I'm assuming those people are closer to a 2000 calorie diet normally? When I run the calculators, I'm showing 8500-9000 Calories to maintain weight if I'm hiking near 10hrs a day. That seems to be well in excess of 3lb of food a day, which is a far cry from the estimates people are giving for 1.5lb a day. Combined with 2L water (I drink/sweat a LOT), I need about 20lb on top of base weight for the start of a section with a 5 day supply carry, and closer to 24lb for very short distances if I'm not camping by a water source.

    Do my food/Calorie numbers seem reasonable? If so, do you all run significantly shy of calorie needs on the trail to keep weight down and just rely on making that back with nero/zeroes? I'm thinking I have to be missing something major here....


    I put together a tentative gear list (weights yet to go for clothing), and I can't seem to get low enough on total weight to be able to use any of the more common thru-hike packs. I don't think my base weight is looking that bad, but the combined total will be peaking above 40lb. I realize I won't always need 5 days of food, but I need to plan the pack around the max I will need to carry at any given point. Packs like the Arc Haul and Exos seem to max out at an effective 25-30lb weight, so do big guys just have to stick to traditional internal frame packs for thru hikes?

    https://lighterpack.com/r/bcq33h


    Thank you!

  2. #2
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    52
    Posts
    4,255
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    I think the simple answer is that you're just not going to have any way to know exactly how much food you will need and will make adjustments along the trail. After all, as I've heard it discussed, most places are only a few days from a town were you can try to tank up (while you don't have to carry it) and buy more/less from the local grocery stores and outfitters as you learn what YOUR requirements will be on the trail.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,869
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by azdano View Post
    Do my food/Calorie numbers seem reasonable? If so, do you all run significantly shy of calorie needs on the trail to keep weight down and just rely on making that back with nero/zeroes? I'm thinking I have to be missing something major here....
    If you only hike 10 mpd, maybe you can keep up with caloric demand

    I avg closer to 20. I consistently lose wt. I cannot eat enough on trail, and i pig out in town. Yes, town needs to add back calories and glycogen. But it doesnt keep up . Im talking 5000-10,000 cal in a day in town too. It helps.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 04-29-2019 at 05:45.

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-22-2002
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Age
    57
    Posts
    7,888
    Images
    296

    Default

    Yeah, there is no way to carry enough food. Don't worry about it (and don't try!) You'll make up the calorie deficit in town stops. These days it's pretty easy to get into town every 3-4 days for resupply and town meals.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  5. #5
    Garlic
    Join Date
    10-15-2008
    Location
    Golden CO or Scottsdale AZ
    Age
    62
    Posts
    5,380
    Images
    2

    Default

    Ditto all the above.

    You may find that hiking the AT in the summer takes less energy than the tables show.

    Try it out, but you may find it difficult to eat 9000 calories a day while hiking. If you can't eat it, don't carry it, and adjust your hiking goals to maintain your weight. Town food is definitely a great tactic, readily available on the AT.

    As the weeks go by, your nutrition needs will change, too. You may become more efficient and be able to carry less food.

    And try to remember that over the course of a couple of months, nutrition is more than just calories.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  6. #6

    Default

    I'm 6'0" and 165 pounds, hike 15 miles per day on multi-week (non cold weather) section hikes, and have found that if I eat 4000 calories per day that I don't lose weight. Since you are a bigger guy than me you will likely need somewhat more than that -- but nowhere near 9000 calories a day.

    I'm convinced that some ways of consuming calories are more efficient than others. Eating smaller amounts throughout the hiking day (the slow drip method) probably makes better use of calories than packing all of those calories into 2 or 3 traditional "meals" a day. Also, if a hiker goes five days at 4000 calories per day they probably make more efficient use of those calories than someone who eats 3000 calories for four days on the trail and then gorges 8000 calories in town on the fifth day. Both consume 20,000 calories in five days but I'll bet the steady eater would lose less weight than the hiker who binges.
    Last edited by map man; 04-29-2019 at 19:03.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-01-2017
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Age
    47
    Posts
    156

    Default

    Well, as a fellow big hiker (280lbs) there are some challenges and differences that you need to account for. For one thing your gear is going to be a little heavier. (I need a larger tent, large sleeping pad, x-large quilt, 2XL clothes, etc., and all of that is a little heavier.) You'll also need more food and water. The good news is that you're a lot bigger and stronger than most hikers so that extra weight isn't that big of a deal proportionally. There are plenty of smaller hikers that feel a 20 lb pack a lot more that you're going to feel a 40 lb pack so don't try to compare your carry weight to someone that's 1/2 your size .

    I wouldn't worry too much about trying to consume enough calories to keep up with your burn rate: I really doubt that you'll be able to eat that much even if you were willing to carry it. I personally can't eat 2 lbs of food a day while hiking (I really don't have much of an appetite.) Maybe you'll do better but there's only one way to find out. I would plan on no more than 2 lbs of food a day for planning though.

    So my "back of the book" weight budget for a 3 season hike is something like this:

    Base Weight: 17 lbs
    Water: 4 lbs
    Food & fuel: 1.5 lbs /day

    So, for a 5 day hike I'll be carrying about 28.5 lbs at the start of a hike. If you add another .5 lbs of food per day you'd only be at 31 lbs. Not saying that's a perfect number but it's a lot less than 40 and I don't think that's an unreasonable planning number for a big guy.

    As far as packs go 30 lbs is right in the wheel house for most of them. The Arc Haul is a good choice and the Exos Atmos carries very comfortably. I've used both and either will handle that kind of weight with no issue.

    Just my humble $.02 - best of luck with whatever you end up doing!

  8. #8
    Registered User Nolan "Guido" Jordan's Avatar
    Join Date
    02-28-2019
    Location
    Lenoir City, Tennessee
    Age
    17
    Posts
    18

    Default

    The calories in calories out method only works in a test tube environment. It's NOT how the human body works.

    You don't need to eat 3000 calories if you're gonna burn 3000 calories. In fact, don't even worry about calories. Your main goal on the trail should be proteins and fats. Try it, and see how you feel.

    For food recommendations, buy a meat dehydrator, and dehydrate meats. It will save you tons of weight, and you can just cook it in water, and it will become food.

    I'm not an expert though, but this is from personal experience.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,869
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayne View Post
    There are plenty of smaller hikers that feel a 20 lb pack a lot more that you're going to feel a 40 lb pack so don't try to compare your carry weight to someone that's 1/2 your size .
    Bit of a stretch.
    2x as heavy in lean fit people, is still not 2x as strong.
    And if your a tubby bucket of goo...forget it.


    The idea is right. But not for 2x the weight. Maybe some lower percentage...30%, 50, etc. But not 100. Charts and graphs and US army studies are out there somewhere.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 04-29-2019 at 13:16.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    08-03-2017
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Age
    44
    Posts
    26

    Default

    Great thread...

    My buddies and I had the saying, "eat the town". Carry as much as you're willing, eat all day (slow drip, as mentioned before) and hit as many towns as you like. While there, eat everything in sight. It's one of the great caveats of AT version of an LD hike. These things will come easy to you once you've mastered your hiking style.

    I'm not a physician or nutritionist. YMMV.

  11. #11

    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,869
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Durwood View Post


    I'm not a physician or nutritionist. YMMV.
    Me neither
    But i believe empty calories are better than no calories

    So if all you can choke down on trail is chocolate frosting and twinkies....have at it .

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolan "Guido" Jordan View Post
    The calories in calories out method only works in a test tube environment. It's NOT how the human body works.

    You don't need to eat 3000 calories if you're gonna burn 3000 calories
    Good luck with that theory...

  13. #13

    Default

    No, it's true. Any long distance athlete is somewhat fat adapted. You are not entirely burning dietary calories, you are burning your tummy.

    At least you better be if you want to be successful at this line of work.

    The calories in/calories out theory never worked for dieting because calories are not equal to each other and the theory ignores the effects of hormones like insulin. It doesn't work for hiking either. If we had to eat 6000 calories for every trek we ever took, our species would have fallen flat thousands of years ago. Probably the greatest physical feats ever done were done fasted, by fat adapted individuals.

  14. #14

    Default

    I'm not debating the merits of fat adaptation because they're outside the scope of the general physics of the matter. Yes - you can burn off existing fat stores in your body. That doesn't change anything about total energy needs, however. If you are burning 'x' number of calories in a day, you will lose weight if you don't replace that amount of energy.

  15. #15

    Default

    Once the hunger kicked in, I just carried a lot of food weight, and ignored any pounds per day guidelines about food. I tried for generally healthy calorie dense foods of course. Slower burning foods to start the day, faster burning foods immediately before a steep elevation climb.

    Three meals idle a day, and non stop eating whatever I could fit in my hip belt pockets.

    The only difficult thing was ceasing to eat like a pig when I got off the trail.

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    08-28-2007
    Location
    Georgia and Hawaii
    Posts
    17,769

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    ...I'm convinced that some ways of consuming calories are more efficient that others. Eating smaller amounts throughout the hiking day (the slow drip method) probably makes better use of calories than packing all of those calories into 2 or 3 traditional "meals" a day. Also, if a hiker goes five days at 4000 calories per day they probably make more efficient use of those calories than someone who eats 3000 calories for four days on the trail and then gorges 8000 calories in town on the fifth day. Both consume 20,000 calories in five days but I'll bet the steady eater would lose less weight than the hiker who binges.
    Agree!

    There are other aspects of consuming calories in ways or under conditions that are more efficient that others i.e.; - health micro biome(gut health), hydration level, wider aspects of nutrition beyond cals and cal/oz ratios,...
    As an ULer with, IMO, a fairly advanced approach to consumable wt and bulk savings, I consider food, wider nutritional profiles, and caloric usage as a resource to be consumed efficiently. I consume less food in part because I adjust my output levels(pace), etc, where I get the most caloric boost input of resources verse output rewards. I don't go balls to the wall all the time. I use food, and hence energy, hence the POTENTIAL caloric energy in food, as efficiently as I can.

  17. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    08-28-2007
    Location
    Georgia and Hawaii
    Posts
    17,769

    Default

    "Do my food/Calorie numbers seem reasonable? If so, do you all run significantly shy of calorie needs on the trail to keep weight down and just rely on making that back with nero/zeroes? I'm thinking I have to be missing something major here...."


    They don't seem reasonable.


    1) @ 3 lbs(48 oz) food/day @ 8500- 9000 cals/day that's about a 180-185 cal/oz ratio. That's an exceptionally high Keto Diet like fat content diet of 84% of your daily calories coming from fat. Attempting to obtain a wider nutritional density with that high a daily fat content will be difficult likely among even diehard Keto dieters. I'd strongly suggest unless you're well informed about Keto Diets and maintain a Keto dietary approach pre 2 month hike you not have that high a cal/oz ratio on trail. It will be difficult getting your nutrition. Nutrition and energy is NOT, I repeat NOT, existent and determined by calories alone! The caloric energy in a food is potential energy. Converting it into useful kinetic energy is a process that is affected by range of aspects.


    2) Its' a mistaken thru hiking and LASHing notion one can always some how make up for a longer term
    4-5+ days nutritional and caloric deficit by in town gorging at zeros and neros every 5 days. That is not the way we function. There are potential negative consequences to that approach that few ever relate anyhow. For example, what if gorging at pig fests becomes habitual as it often can be among our U.S. compatriot LASHers and thru hikers post hike? What happens in performance and energy level metrics after a pig fest while returning to trail after a nero or zero? Nap time? I witness people regularly heading back to trail after a pig fest, while also realizing the consequences when I once did it, walking lethargically with a heaviness because so much energy is being diverted to digesting 1000's and 1000's of calories, often junk food calories. In town and Nero visits can be accompanied by problematic other behaviors so in a sense we are in a state of detoxification heading out of town. Combine this energy sucking vortex of a situation with a heavier consumables category after a resupply at an in town visit. After an in town visit one would expect people heading back to trail refreshed yet the opposite is often the case.


    Want to lower your consumable wt?
    1) Resupply more often. The AT is great for regular resupply opps.
    2) Supplement food, snacks, and H2O. The AT is generally considered a food abundant and wet trail overall.
    3) If the 2 months is during summer and shoulder seasons night hike. The AT is a maintained wider highly and regularly blazed and signed single track tread generally optimal for night hiking conditions. Night hiking means you'll need to carry less H2O wt and sweat less making for greater caloric/food and H2O efficiency. When it's cooler and we're backpacking under less physical and mental duress we consume less. This requires healthy consideration of consumption which U.S. citizens are not in the habit.
    4) Reduce body fat if obese or more than 20-25 over wt. Fatter people eat more food. Don't wait to start this body fat reduction until on trail. Don't assume excessive body fat is a good thing on trail. It's still wt and volume one has to carry.
    5) Consume less sugar. When I began doing these things I was astounded realizing 10-12% of my on trail food wt was sugar, often refined sugar, weight. Sugar hampers satiation and consistent maintenance of energy levels resulting in blood sugar highs/lows - energy roller coasting - often addressed with consumption of more sugar or increased lethargy. As Mapman said constant grazing, particularly of non sugary snacks and large meals, is the goal. It can assist maintaining blood sugar levels and therefore result in less binge eating.
    6) Avoid the wt and possible lack of satiation consequences by avoiding highly processed pre packed food like experimentation particularly food additives that this type of "food" often contains that have been demonstrated to interfere with satiation neurotransmitter control mechanisms within the brain. A LASH or LD hike's added caloric and nutritional requirements is not an excuse to continue with off trail junk food gorging and diets unless one is unconcerned with hiking performance and energy consistency. Habituation to on trail junk food gorging can be problematic not only on trail but, if one continues, and many do just that, post hike off trail.
    7) Consider one's drug use including prescription and OTC drugs as some can interfere with satiation, nutrient assimilation and absorption. Remember, calories and wider nutrition consumption does NOT, I repeat does NOT, necessarily mean one is optimally digesting and assimilating those nutrients. That equates with carrying food nutrients, which have wt, that aren't being utilized.
    8) DRINK more water! It is the elixir of life. It helps to achieve satiation and assimilation of nutrients. It's one of the best ways to lower food wt and increase a feeling of satiation.
    9) Dial in AT H2O logistics. Water is CONCENTRATED HEAVY WT! The AT also has uber documented water sources and their reliability. Vastly, AT shelters are located near or at H2O sources. AT shelters are spaced apart something like every 8-9 miles. AT water logistics are some of the simplest and easiest of any LD hike H2O logistics I've ever completed in the U.S. Unwisely carrying just 1 extra L of H2O due to ignorance of personal water needs and water locations equates in unnecessarily carrying 2.2 lbs of wt and bulk.
    10) Use the AT's abundant uber documented infrastructure, comforts, and conveniences to lower consumable wt and volume.
    11) Pre hike begin detoxing and creating a healthier gut. A healthy micro biome one can assimilate more nutrients in what is consumed while offering increased immunological and cognitive function. When one isn't prone to having their immune systems attacked and impacted and having greater mental clarity studies have demonstrated we're less likely to over eat. Less over eating(less consumption) equates with less food wt hauled. BTW, dont do 3 heavy square meals per day. Make it 5 or more with constant small grazing. You're less likely to over eat or potentially, feel hungry.

  18. #18

    Default Calorie Requirements and Food Weight

    Are You worried you could lose weight?

    I mean if you could benefit to lose some pounds then do not worry about carrying so much food and exercise mind over food skills

    (Intermittent starving is healthy)
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Let me go

  19. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    04-28-2019
    Location
    Lansing, Michigan
    Age
    38
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayne View Post
    Well, as a fellow big hiker (280lbs) there are some challenges and differences that you need to account for. For one thing your gear is going to be a little heavier. (I need a larger tent, large sleeping pad, x-large quilt, 2XL clothes, etc., and all of that is a little heavier.) You'll also need more food and water. The good news is that you're a lot bigger and stronger than most hikers so that extra weight isn't that big of a deal proportionally. There are plenty of smaller hikers that feel a 20 lb pack a lot more that you're going to feel a 40 lb pack so don't try to compare your carry weight to someone that's 1/2 your size .
    I'm less concerned about what I CAN do and just trying to minimize what I NEED to do. A big part of that is the pack itself. Right now, I have an older 70cuft internal frame that clocks in at almost 6lb (and cost $40 new at the time). That pack has no practical weight limit for me on something like this trip, but I could drop over 3.5lb if I was able to go all the way down to something like the Arc Haul.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayne View Post
    So, for a 5 day hike I'll be carrying about 28.5 lbs at the start of a hike. If you add another .5 lbs of food per day you'd only be at 31 lbs. Not saying that's a perfect number but it's a lot less than 40 and I don't think that's an unreasonable planning number for a big guy.
    Most of the numbers I was coming up with were putting me in the mid to lower 30s. Again, I'm not that concerned with the weight itself (particularly since the food weight will rapidly drop off on the trail), but rather having to bump up weight tiers on the packs themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayne View Post
    As far as packs go 30 lbs is right in the wheel house for most of them. The Arc Haul is a good choice and the Exos Atmos carries very comfortably. I've used both and either will handle that kind of weight with no issue.
    I've seen a lot of reviews that indicate the Arc Haul in particular performs poorly above 25-26lb. It's just too much of an investment/risk for me to get one of those packs for the higher weights, and you seem to have confirmed the weight band, even if I run a substantial calorie deficit (thank you for that!). I've also seen reviews indicating the Exos works well until about 30lb, but that's going to be right at the lower edge for me on resupply even if I can get by at 2lb food per day, etc.

  20. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    04-28-2019
    Location
    Lansing, Michigan
    Age
    38
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    Once the hunger kicked in, I just carried a lot of food weight, and ignored any pounds per day guidelines about food. I tried for generally healthy calorie dense foods of course. Slower burning foods to start the day, faster burning foods immediately before a steep elevation climb.
    I absolutely intend to do this. I'm just trying to figure out what my realistic weighting will be for pack selection, so I don't pick a pack that can't handle it well.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •