The Diet Challenges of the Appalachian Trail

HikeItForward-Final-MediumMost people lose considerable weight during a thru-hike on a long distance trail like the AT. It is said that men look like POWs and women look like supermodels when standing on top of Katahdin. I read a statistic recently that the average weight loss is about thirty pounds. I personally lost twenty one pounds and ended the hike a little nervous over the amount I dropped.

The number of calories needed per day on a thru-hike is estimated at somewhere between 5,500 and 6,000. That is a lot of calories and a lot of food to consume. Even if the hiker could consume that many calories each day, the amount of weight involved in carrying that much food is impractical. So how much is 5,500 calories? Lets try to put it into perspective.

In order to eat 5,500 calories a thru-hiker would have to eat:

Twenty three McDonald hamburgers a day,

Or, five foot-long sandwiches from Subway.

Ten Crunchwrap Supremes from Taco Bell,

mcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-Macmcdonalds-Big-MacOr eleven Big Macs from the golden arches.


Who could afford the food bill?

Stuffing the empty calories of donuts into one’s system, it would still take over 14 chocolate coconut donuts or 21 glazed donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I lived on bars during my thru-hike (Clif bars, Snickers bars, Granola bars).

snickers 2It would take 31 Snickers bars a day to hit 5,500 calories,

Or twenty-seven Pop Tarts,

Or twenty-nine Granola bars,

Clif bars (one of my favorite trail foods) average about 260 calories each requiring the hiker to carry and consume twenty-one per day.

It is not hard to see how hikers lose weight on the trail. However, if you are considering a weight loss plan, I would suggest many alternative, easier methods.

Big Mac Photo:

Snickers Photo:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin, Trail, Trail Food, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Diet Challenges of the Appalachian Trail

  1. Julianne

    Absolutely amazing. I am still amazed at your bravery, determination, and strength!

    • Julianne, thanks for your kind words. I might describe it more as crazy and bull-headed, but God was so faithful in providing for my every step. I would say that I have not eaten a pop tart since leaving the trail😃

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