Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Weight gain on backpacking trip


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James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/16/2012 17:04:11 MDT Print View

On my last two backpacking trips, I have left on a Friday afternoon and returned Saturday afternoon, hiking about 12-15 miles each trip. Between Friday morning and Sunday morning, I gained 4 lbs each trip. I ate fast food one meal each trip on the way or on the way back but nothing to warrant that amount of weight gain. It has taken about 3-5 days after the trip for my weight to go back to normal. I backpacked a lot last summer and the big weight gain never happened. Has anyone else experienced this?

Jim
www.hikingfreedom.com

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
That's the saltiest thing I've ever eaten...and I once ate a whole heaping bowl of salt... on 05/16/2012 17:29:33 MDT Print View

How much sodium do you get in your normal, day-to-day diet? And how much sodium do you have in your hiking food?

The reason I ask, is because I've heard it touted that high-sodium diets (when you're not used to them) can cause water retention as your body attempts to reattain homeostasis. Now, that might not be what's happening...but, if it is...

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
loss on 05/16/2012 20:34:23 MDT Print View

hmmm that's interesting- I average ~ a 1# loss/day for trips up to a week, I eat pretty good too- but there is no way to keep up w/ the calories expended in my experience

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: That's the saltiest thing I've ever eaten...and I once ate a whole heaping bowl of salt... on 05/16/2012 20:45:11 MDT Print View

I'd agree...that sounds like bloating. It happened to me each time I was pregnant if I ate too much salt....holy cow I'd puff up for a day or three!

James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
weight gain on 05/16/2012 22:26:49 MDT Print View

thanks so much. That is exactly what happened. I completely avoid salt, especially added salt, in my normal life. But on these last two trips, I ate nuts, seeds, nut bars, beef jerky, Powerade and summer sausage -- all high in sodium. It was really freaking me out and it seems to take several days to work itself out of my system. Thanks for the insight. I'll avoid as much salt while I'm backpacking.

Edited by maniacjwj on 05/16/2012 22:28:03 MDT.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Give it a try...buuut... on 05/17/2012 07:58:13 MDT Print View

Note, thought, that you do need more salt on the trail than you do in day-to-day life (assuming that you don't work in a manual labor job). Now, it's unlikely that you'll not get enough if you eat commercially-prepared foods on the trail; most of 'em have more than enough salt in the mix.

But, it is something to keep an eye on if you wind up preparing all of your own food for the trail.

Hope it helps!

James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/17/2012 13:49:51 MDT Print View

I'll eat more salt than usual just because I'm backpacking but not as much as I have on my last two trips. I'm actually trying to lose weight so jumping 4-6 lbs in water weight from Sunday through Wednesday is pretty discouraging.

Edited by maniacjwj on 05/17/2012 13:51:19 MDT.

Hartley F
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Salt on 05/17/2012 16:06:57 MDT Print View

High sodium diet could explain this. There are other possibilities though. Were you otherwise well during and immediately after the trip? Any other symptoms? Medical problems? Medications? ?NSAIDS! What altitude?

Edited by backpackerchick on 05/17/2012 16:09:45 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/17/2012 16:23:35 MDT Print View

as others have observed, it could be weight gain due to water retention due to extra salt, though my reading of medical lit seems to indicate it's a minor of people who have excessive water gain with semi-normal (but elevated) salt intact. The other possibility is that your body is adapting to a new stress. If the body believes calories in are too low, most people's metabolism adjusts to be more efficient.

--Mark

James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
salt on 05/17/2012 17:28:43 MDT Print View

My health has been fine. I was between 7000-9000 ft but i live at 6800 ft. I backpacked a lot last summer and didn't have big weight gains but my backpacking diet wasn't focused on nuts, seeds and salted meats near as much. I was also eating unsalted nuts last summer. I wondered about metabolism but salt makes the most sense because I avoid it so much normally. I just weighed in 4 days later and I'm finally back to pre-hike weight.

Edited by maniacjwj on 05/17/2012 17:31:02 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: salt on 05/17/2012 17:37:41 MDT Print View

I used to get a lot of edema and inflammation when I hiked. I don't anymore and I consume even more salt now than I ever have in the past. What has changed is I don't eat as much packaged and dehydrated stuff and I eat way more fat and protein and no longer eat wheat or oats, sugar or vegetable oil. I do this off the trail as well as on. I have to consume a LOT of salt now and oddly it has the opposite effect it used to have.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Water retention from exercise on 05/17/2012 19:52:20 MDT Print View

When you start exercising considerably more than normal, it is a common response for your muscles to retain water (regardless of sodium intake). Hiking (particularly if there is any significant elevation gain) can be pretty intense exercise, and if you aren't working out regularly, may well induce this response in your muscles.

It sounds like last summer, backpacking was 'normal' for you, so you weren't seeing these water weight gains, whereas this season (at least so far) sounds like it has been a little less active.

James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
weight gain on 05/17/2012 21:14:52 MDT Print View

It is so amazing how our bodies are made to protect us and help us handle stress and sudden muscle exertion. Sounds like a combination of these factors.

Hartley F
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Kidney on 05/17/2012 22:51:46 MDT Print View

Healthy kidneys should be able to rid the body of excess salt...up to a point. NSAIDs (ie. ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, etc), especially when used in large quantities, tend to cause fluid retention via their effect on the kidney. This can be more pronounced when the kidneys aren't functioning effectively for whatever reason.

Yes, it is no doubt the sum effect of a number of factors. I would probably be somewhat concerned though. Consider consulting a physician and having a few simple blood tests and a urinalysis.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: weight gain on 05/17/2012 22:56:12 MDT Print View

To get an idea, get those new digital weight scales, from costco or bed bath and beyond, they give you a reading of Body Mass Index bmi, water, muscle, bones, and body fat. Oh yes and weight.

From my understanding, they send a little zap through your feet, and calculate.

This way, if you drank a gallon of fluids, and your blood cells are well hydrated, the scale will give you credit for muscle gain and fat loss, even though your gravity weight is up due to water retention and the "output" pending in your intestine.

Read up on BMI its a more honest measurement when dieting and trying to shed fat weight.

By the way, when you exercise, you build muscle and burn fat. Muscle is dense and weighs more than fat.
Example is that your waist line belt line is slimmer (fat loss) but the weight scale says more lbs (muscle gain)

Trust BMI, and get a good bmi scale with good reviews, not the cheapie with sporatic results. Read the manual, for accurate readings, your feet need to be slightly damp or wet for the electric sensor to work.

Good luck.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/17/2012 23:04:26 MDT Print View

One thing brought up is your body adjusting to commercial food versus at home foods. If you eat a low-sodium diet at home it can be odd for your body if you are consuming cruddy high-sodium foods on trail and then add in altitude and heat.
I was eating low-sodium for years until we went off nearly all processed foods and found I HAD to salt my food while cooking - since there was little in the raw ingredients. I was getting plenty even on a low-sodium diet it turned out.

Anyhow, from what I went over with a couple Dr's years ago is that as long as you are getting say 1500 mg a day you have little to fear - unless you are doing extreme sports like 100 mile runs or desert hiking. The average hiker is getting plenty of sodium just in their food.

But! Be sure you are getting enough potassium as well - it can be throwing off your body. Should you choose say potato chips for a salty snack you are getting potassium. Have this with your water at break time, no reason to drink flavored water! Or apricots or bananas....

PS: If you can, learn to love raw nuts. It takes awhile but your body will thank you!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/18/2012 00:26:39 MDT Print View

> If you eat a low-sodium diet at home ...

you can also be iodine-deficient. That's why most salt is iodised today.

Plenty of substitutes on the market - kelp pills for example. Yes, they can make a difference.

Cheers

James Jones
(maniacjwj) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/18/2012 06:19:25 MDT Print View

i'm so glad I posted my question. All these suggestions are so great. My weight was completely back down this morning. I won't be backpacking this weekend but might take a hike. I'll track the BMI measurement on my scale the same way I track my weight. I have a physical coming up too so I'll ask my doctor too.

James Landro
(justaddfuel) - F - M

Locale: MN
Re: weight gain on backpacking trip on 05/18/2012 07:37:47 MDT Print View

I think roger is on to something. Seaweed in your diet (there are some great seaweed crips on the market now) would really help with this.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Roger on 05/18/2012 08:20:42 MDT Print View

As long as one uses regular salt and not just 100% sea salt they will be fine (at least in the US). Iodine is added to table salt........