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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Undereating. on 12/13/2011 20:54:14 MST Print View

I suffer from underrating on the trail. I will hike all day and not have much of an appetite when I get into camp. I will eat half a ramen packet and end up dumping the rest because I just can't eat anymore. I end up eating less than at home, and I already under eat at home. It's definitley a problem for me, I end up very exhausted when hiking more than one day. I am a little new to longer trips and I figured I would grow out of this, but my recent trip to big sur was hard going and I did not feel all that great at times.

Do you guys have any advice for this? And yes, I do smoke the mary jane but that didn't help much.

Eli .
(Feileung) - F
Undereating on 12/13/2011 23:45:46 MST Print View

Cleland's "Super Spackle" looks like a great way to get calories in quickly.

Does eating make you sick or does it just not sound good? If its the latter I'd just say to consider it another component of endurance and eat because you need to, not because you want to.

Also, nuts and crackers. Just eat one or two at a time all day long if you can't/don't want to eat a meal of them.

That's all I've got. I have the opposite problem when hiking. I could eat peanut M&M's all day long.

Edited by Feileung on 12/13/2011 23:46:25 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Undereating on 12/14/2011 00:06:05 MST Print View

I try and snack as much as possible. Eating doesn't make me sick, it's just I often have no appetite.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Continuous snacking instead of big meals works for me. on 12/14/2011 00:09:43 MST Print View

On high mileage multi-day trips, I used to lose weight.

Now, on super-long dayhikes, I figure I burn 5,000-7,000 calories in a day. But I can eat that just fine if I nibble as I go. There's sort of a mental game to it, as well, "In the time it took me to nibble those four cookies or eat that deli sandwich, I covered another mile. Cool."

A hot meal is a wonderous thing at the end of the day and hot tea / soup / hot chocolate / coffee is that much less water you need to filter or treat chemically. But Top Ramen can be nibbled dry as you hike and the very lightest stove with the lightest fuel is the stove you don't bring.

Two or more people = comradery around the stove/fire and I cook.

Solo = moving fast and I go stoveless and eat as I go.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Undereating on 12/14/2011 04:50:03 MST Print View

"I try and snack as much as possible. Eating doesn't make me sick, it's just I often have no appetite."

For the first week or so on a trail, this is about how I feel, too. At day 4 or 5 I am getting my apetite back, but still, not eating as much as I should eat. By day 7 or 8, I am back to eating according to a trail schedule: Big breakfast, hike all day(snacks) and a big supper, often after dark.

Do not worry. You will get enough, provided you bring enough. Your body needs some time to adjust to a working schedule. Some calories all day are important. But, a few lost pounds over a week are really no big deal. Do what makes you COMFORTABLE.

At the end of the first week, you will eat what you didn't eat the first week. Seemingly, you cannot eat enough. By the third week you should start eating less again with your apetite guiding your eating.

Think about the next day, though. Climbing/hiking requires a LOT of calories. If you are doing a lot of hills, force a few extra high calorie foods down at supper. If you will be traveling across flats, maybe you won't need to.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Undereating on 12/14/2011 05:46:46 MST Print View

I used to have a lot of problems with this also. In my case I think it was a combination of higher altitude (Sierras) and the physical exertion. The worst case was a 3 day 45 mile snowshoe trip when I only ate about 2000 calories the whole trip. And I had food that normally I couldn't resist eating such as PNB M&M's. After a lot of trial and error I did the following:
1) Don't take ANY marginally yummy foods.
2) Meter in calories in continuously. It was a lot easier eating a candy bar every hour than sitting down and eating a 1200 calorie meal.
3) I drink a good chunk of my daily calories, no not my Kracken rum, but via Maltodextrin. In my case it is just like drinking crystal light and I have never dreaded drinking it. If I were to leave today on a Sierra trip then I would take about 2k calories/day in Malto.

As others have said, your appetite will recover. The lower calorie intake is really only a problem if it results in insufficient energy to hitting your daily objective.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Undereating on 12/14/2011 17:51:07 MST Print View

"3) I drink a good chunk of my daily calories, no not my Kracken rum, but via Maltodextrin. In my case it is just like drinking crystal light and I have never dreaded drinking it. If I were to leave today on a Sierra trip then I would take about 2k calories/day in Malto."

+1 At least until the body fat runs out. After that, you have to supplement the malto with higher calorie stuff or carry a LOT more malto. The higher the daily mileage, the sooner you have to deal with this. The other issue from the beginning is to make sure you get enough protein in your diet to avoid muscle loss.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Undereating on 12/14/2011 18:12:28 MST Print View

hmmmmm- I have never had this problem, I do lose weight BUT eat like a horse

I think the advice to eat (and drink) small and often is good, I've done a lot of day hikes in the 30-ish range (DIAD's) and I think that has been a large part of finishing in half way decent shape

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Altitude on 12/15/2011 02:36:15 MST Print View

Wow, I usually have the opposite problem- I'm usually ravenous on the trail.

When this happens to you are you at high altitude? Because loss of appetite is pretty common at high altitudes and you just have to force yourself to take in the calories. No other solution, really.

I guess if you've lost a lot of salt and your electrolytes are off-whack that might affect your appetite, too, but that doesn't sound like what you're describing.

Michael Cockrell

Locale: Central Valley, Lodi-Stockton, CA
Re: Undereating-Liquid fuel on 12/15/2011 07:48:08 MST Print View

I use liquid fuel, sometimes adding in solid fuel.

I use Hammer Nutrition's Sustained Energy, HEED, and include some of their bars if I want to "chew something up".

The liquid fuel makes me eat more, as I need water anyway, so mixing in fuel into bottle, I am forced to eat & drink as I hike. Gotta stop anyway to refill water, so good to snack on bar as I refill.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Undereating. on 12/15/2011 14:11:52 MST Print View

Hi Justin

Are you eating immediately you stop? That is known to be a problem. While you are walking fast your blood supply is shunted to your legs and back, and not much goes to your digestive tract. That's OK while you are walking.

When you eat certain chemicals build up in your digestive tract and tell you that you are full. That makes you stop eating. Just how quickly those chemicals build up depends on the blood circulation though. More circulation => slower build-up.

Taken to an extreme, people have been known to feel about to vomit after really hard exercise. That's because their digestive tract can't handle the build-up of those chemicals which can happen. A bit like feeling ill after over-eating - same thing really. (Narcotics can make this much worse.)

So, you could try waiting a little while after you stop before you start to eat. Give it half an hour for the blood circulation to return to your digestive tract, looking for nutrients for your body. Pitch camp, go for a wash, and so on. Then see how you feel then - you may be a bit more hungry then.

After many years of walking your body will get used to this as well, so that you can switch from walking to eating very quickly.


Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
re: Undereating on 12/15/2011 14:27:37 MST Print View

This past summer I completed an 18 day hike of the JMT and I was definately suffering from undereating in the last 3-4 days. I unhealthfully lost 19.5 lbs over the 18 day trip and that even included a stop at the Tuolumne Grill, the Mulehouse Cafe in Red's Meadows, and an overnight stay in Muir Trail Ranch. As the original poster comments, I tend to not have a huge appetite when backpacking. I have to admit I was warned though. I think it was Roger Caffin who, in some earlier thread, mentioned to me that I was not consuming enough calories on the trail. He was right!