Hikers Diet Plan

Weight loss on the PCT This post isn’t about what I’m going to eat on the CDT. It’s more to point out the craziness of what I eat when I’m hiking a long distance every day. In the first 5 weeks of the PCT I lost 65lbs. I wasn’t exactly skinny when I started, a svelte 220lbs… but that’s still a lot of weight loss.

If you want to lose 65 lbs in 5 weeks, here’s how to do it: 6 days a week you can eat anything you want. The only caveat is that you have to carry all the food on your back all day. The exercise component of this diet is that you must walk a minimum of 32km per day, 6 days a week. On the 7th day, you can rest and eat as much as you want. I suggest “all you can eat” buffets. Also, ice cream by the pint.

I figure that in my average week on the PCT I spent about six days hiking and one day in a town. As I understand it, a pound of fat is the equivalent of ~3500 calories. So to lose 65 lbs in 35 days, I had to be short 6500 calories a day. Obviously something is missing from that little equation, but that’s the idea. I actually wasn’t insanely hungry during all that either. I was mostly hiking in the desert, where temperatures regularly above 40C kept my appetite down. I had food I didn’t love, so I wasn’t too excited about eating it.

Whenever I got to a town, I would savage their food supply. I felt like some kind of freak, sitting down to dinner and ordering 2-3 full meals. And then 3 desserts. And then going back to the hotel with a dozen donuts and a 6 pack of beer under my arm… And being hungry again by bedtime.

After that first 5 weeks, I ran out of fat to burn off my body. Things got ugly fast. I was hungry all the time while I hiked. I had to significantly change my hiking food choices to emphasize calorie-dense foods. At the same time, I was trying to keep my pack weight down so I didn’t get hurt from the daily marathon I was walking. I discovered that cream cheese keeps well enough for a week. String cheese is alright too. Spray cheese? Not bad. Nutella and peanut butter. You get the idea. Not the most appetizing foods, but it had to be done, or I might have disappeared! Stay tuned for my food plan on the CDT…

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4 Responses to Hikers Diet Plan

  1. Hailey says:

    Wow, look at those collarbones! They could poke somebody’s eyes out.
    You look very very hungry 4 weeks in.

  2. Rocky BaKer says:

    That is crazy! 6500 calories short a day..it’s unfathomable.

    I love these blogs… keep them coming!

    p.s – I am working right now, not readng your blog 😉

  3. Blair says:

    So rather than walk home from work which takes 10 minutes, I now plan to walk to the ferry and back first. Thank you Ryley, your post has been an inspiration for me and I fully intend to test your 5 week dietary plan.

  4. karen cunningham says:

    tempting…. except the spray cheese

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