There are a lot of reasons why I want to hike the Appalachian trail and the fact that weight loss is part of the program is of particular intrigue to me.
There is no doubt that thru hiking the 2100+ miles from Georgia to Maine will help to increase physical stamina and overall health, even though it can also cause some substantial aches and pains.
When I first learned about the thru hiking aspect of the AT, my first instinct was not to ask about how much weight a person could lose along the way. The more I delved into the project the more I realized that it was just going to be part of the process whether I liked it or not.
Thru hikers can burn up to 9000 calories a day while hiking, depending upon the terrain that each day throws at us. It would be nearly impossible to carry that much food considering that most hikers will carry an average of 5 days worth of food at any given time.
So if we’re burning more than we are taking in we will lose a substantial amount of weight on the trail. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
I’ve seen before and after weight loss pictures of hikers who not only look thinner but also emaciated and unhealthy as well. I’ve also seen pictures of hikers who have lost the those pounds who also look much healthier and no worse for wear.
The key is in the diet. Not all calories are created equally so it’s important to maintain our proteins and whatnot while hiking; in other words we should be eating a robust and well-rounded meal plan.
My thru hiking food list will contain mostly things like peanut butter, jerky, stuff to make tortilla pizzas, energy bars, pop tarts, instant mashed potatoes, etc. Since I won’t be carrying a cook stove like many other trail wanderers all my food will weight much more than things like ramen and Knorr noodles would weigh, so I will need to be very strategic with my calories.
Not carrying a stove and all the pots and pans that others carry will save some weight, but it will also help save time at camp and with cleaning. I eat a lot of my food cold in the real world so I’m not sacrificing anything on this endeavor.
The weight loss on the AT is just a bonus for me. I try to live a paleo lifestyle in general just to keep my weight from getting out of control, but on the trail I won’t have to be so diligent since the calories will just be flying out of me each day. The challenge will be after the journey is over, and there are plenty of horror stories from hikers who have gained copious amounts of weight after their thru hike has ended.
Leave some comments if you have anything to add to the conversation…