Calorie deficit to save weight. :)
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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/18/2013 22:10:22 MDT Print View

FIRST trip of the season so I just wanted to post about an idea I've been toying with.

In my long yellowstone trip of last year (2 weeks) I noticed that I really didn't want to eat much of the food I brought with me even though I was hiking and active ~10 or more hours per day.

So it dawned on me that I should just pack for a calorie DEFICIT ... I already have fat on my body. I don't need to pack any more weight.

So I'm targeting about 1500 calorie deficit. That's about 1/3rd lb of fat per day burned.

I should be fine for shorter trips I think. This is only a four day trip.

I think for LONGER trips it's probably best to make sure to pack in more calories. For example if you're doing a PCT thru trek running on a 1500 calorie deficit per day will just destroy you.

Further, it helps me stay trim :) ...

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Fasting on 04/18/2013 22:31:40 MDT Print View

I've experimented with weekend trips without any food at all. I wrestled in high school and fasted to make weight, now it's mostly a willpower thing and to reacquaint myself with how much food I actually need because I'm a big guy and can eat a LOT without even thinking about it (though there are lots of other reasons one might give it a try too, fast your own fast I suppose, or cake your own cake, either way).

So long as you're not putting yourself or others in danger(planning a two week trip with a deficit and running out of food 5 days short or something) I'm all for it! Just start small and build your way up.

If you find your deficit doesn't detract from the enjoyment of your trip, so much the better! I wonder how many people would have more fun if they cut out even one meal and brought the equivalent ounces in more comfortable sleeping gear.

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 04/18/2013 22:34:26 MDT.

Alasdair Fowler
(MessiahKhan) - F

Locale: Newcastle, UK
Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 05:36:49 MDT Print View

I think I was in a deficit nearly every day on the PCT. I ended up loosing 41lbs in 162 days, having started at 183lbs. My wife lost 1lb, lol. That certainly wasn't trying to be in a deficit either. I simply couldn't physically carry and eat enough to maintain my weight.

For shorter trips, I could quite easily go on a deficit as I don't tend to have a very strong hunger response at all, so a bit of willpower and I'm fine. On the PCT though it could get hard as all you think about is food. I remember coming in to Timberline lodge, and we were both nearly passing out after having miscalculated our previous resupply by 2 days, and living on a few chocolate bars for two days. The Timberline Lodge food was oh so good though!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 05:36:57 MDT Print View

Just to clarify: 1500/3500 = 42.8%, so a bit more that 33%.

I run about a 1200 to 1500 per day calorie deficit (based on weight loss) when I hike the JMT. 20 to 25 mile days are typical. As long as I keep a "slow drip" of carbs trickling in, about 200 calories per hour, I do fine. If I start to "hate this frikken trail" I know it's time to eat again, and then all is well.

YMMV

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 06:38:43 MDT Print View

If I start to "hate this frikken trail" I know it's time to eat again, and then all is well.


I'm the same way. I usually bring just a snack for the first night.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 06:59:37 MDT Print View

As a rather strong but slightly chubby girl I tend to actually feel much better with a bit of a calorie deficit. The small handful of longer, no-resupply trips I've done have involved planning for a bit of a deficit simply because I couldn't (didn't want to?) carry enough food.

I considered it like an old school cleanse.........

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 07:43:12 MDT Print View

"I considered it like an old school cleanse........."

That's how I feel about divorce.....

I should also plan for calorie deficit, like Kevin. I just don't feel like eating much when I'm out on the trail. Every trip I've ever taken, I've brought food back with me, sometimes not just a little bit of extra food either.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 07:53:55 MDT Print View

Having a deficit does not bother me, but on a recent trip I did not pack enough savoury snacks and I was craving them big time.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Hard to avoid on 04/19/2013 09:01:50 MDT Print View

Like several of the people above I think it's actually quite hard to avoid some sort of deficit if you're walking 20+ mile days. Fairly sure that I do it to some extent even when staying in bed and breakfasts and that's normally quite a lot of food!

The fear of overshooting would I think make me worry slightly about actively aiming for one.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. :) on 04/19/2013 19:16:24 MDT Print View

I can do this for about two weeks, as long as I'm cruising (*not* pushing upper end of aerobic capacity) at ~ 20 miles/day. After that, I get ravenously hungry, and if I don't eat, I bonk.

I haven't tested it myself backpacking, but my experience in other sports and my reading of some of the literature suggests I would not want to try this on purpose if I were pushing really hard. Optimum recovery from intense exercise doesn't seem readily compatible with caloric deficit.

Best,

Bill S.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
short term vs. long term on 04/20/2013 11:33:35 MDT Print View

As others have said, long distance hikers typically run somewhat of a calorie deficit, and try to make it up in town --- it's certainly a factor in why long distance hikers are rightfully dreaded by owners of all-you-can-eat buffet type of restaurants! :-)
Seriously, it is a factor in how much time you spend in town at resupply stops; try to cram too much food in too fast and you have potentially unhappy consequences.

I think there's a big difference in handling a caloric deficit for a short-term vs. a long term trip. On a long trip at some point you will likely have lost basically all of your discretionary body fat and just feel hungry a lot, and find that you can put away a lot more food than normal. You become sort of a walking, eating, pooping machine as it were. For trips lasting just a few days or couple of weeks, most people don't get to that stage, as most of us (me included) carry around enough excess pounds that a mild caloric deficit doesn't get you down to the ravenous stage before the trip is over.

In fact, I find this the easiest weight loss program ever, with the trick being to then get OFF the trail before "the hunger" hits, because if it does hit I find it's difficult to throttle back my caloric intake after I get back home.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting a person hike on starvation rations (!). You need fuel coming in even if you're also burning some body fat, and running seriously short of food when you're a ways from a trail head is not a happy experience. For my personal metabolism somewhere between a 1 pound to 1-1/2 pounds of food per day works for short term trips (and the start of long-term trips). If it's not a particularly stressful, energy burning trip I'll shoot for about 1.1 pounds per day. Of course YMMV on what's right there based on your body size/shape and metabolism.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: short term vs. long term on 04/20/2013 13:31:24 MDT Print View

I do this routinely but I believe there is a second part that has to be considered if deliberately using body fat short term. That is..... What are the calories that you do that in this scenario. I generally plan for a lb a day (3500 calorie) deficit out of a total of 7000-8000 calorie a day burn, basically about half. In this case the traditional BPL mantra of high calorie density is not the way to go. Your body does not need fat, it needs carbs and enough protein for repair, it is getting fat from burning it. Combine a high carb diet with dribbling the calories in and I have found I can sustain energy all day. Here is a real live example for last weekend.

Saturday - 42 miles on the AT, 10k elevation gain.

Food eaten
1) 3600 calories Maltodextrin
2) 400 calories of Brookside Candy.
3) 460 calories of Mounds Bars
4) 220 calories of Hershey Chocolate

Total - 4680

Dripped 100 calories per mile, 300 calories per hour. Finished off 300-400 at days end. Normally I would also have included protein for recovery but this was a test to gauge the impact of not doing that. The following morning I woke up, normal energy and finished off 24 miles by 1:00 with no negative impact from lack of protein. (My overall recovery was worse on this trip which I believe was a result of the diminished protein.)

One final note, it was a warm day and I really didn't want to eat anything. This is where drinking in the Malto mix really helped.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: short term vs. long term on 04/20/2013 14:56:05 MDT Print View

"I think there's a big difference in handling a caloric deficit for a short-term vs. a long term trip. On a long trip at some point you will likely have lost basically all of your discretionary body fat"

The very essence of the problem.

Christopher Gutwein
(syntax) - MLife
I have not yet on 04/23/2013 09:00:30 MDT Print View

I have not done it yet because every intro to backpacking book I ever read always said dieting on the trail is a bad idea because you'll crash energy wise, which can lead to a ruined trip and safety hazards. That said, people here seem to be fine with it and I'm going to try it next trip given the positive reviews. I always have a couple pounds I seem to want to be losing and eating less on backpacking trips over 2-3 days always seemed logical, I've just never done it. Yet.

Edited by syntax on 04/23/2013 09:01:14 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Difficult to Maintain wieght on 04/23/2013 09:30:42 MDT Print View

I find it very difficult to maintain weight on trips. I figure my burn rate is about 5000 calories per day and eating regular food I find it difficult to eat more than about 3000 calories per day. Adding in drinks can get me to around 4000 calories per day but I definately lose weight.

Although my long hikes cap out at two weeks so I never have hit the ravenous hunger that people talk about on longer hikes.

In the end I take about 2 lbs per full day and 1lb first and last. So a 7 day trip I have 12lbs of food. I try to average 4.5 calories per gram (125 cals per ounce). Usually by the end of the trip I have a days food left over (1-2lbs). I am slowly trying to cut that down. But calorically I am bringing about 24,000 cals over 7 days with about 3000 calories left over. So I am buring about 35,000 calories and eating about 21,000 so a 4lb net loss.

This is sustainable for a week or two but I wouldn't want to go much longer losing 4lbs a week. For me this isn't intentional but more just eating until I am full. If I wanted to through hike I would have to look at ways of eating more. Perhaps getting more calories through liquids on a steady drip throughout the day.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. SERIOUSLY! on 04/23/2013 10:28:10 MDT Print View

"In my long yellowstone trip of last year (2 weeks) I noticed that I really didn't want to eat much of the food I brought with me even though I was hiking and active ~10 or more hours per day."

The idea of taking less food could fall into the recent thread of "Stupid Light Ideas".

I'm amazed when I read such ideas. You should be asking yourself why you didn't want to eat first.

Then you should be asking yourself how this will affect your body.

The average altitude of Yellowstone is 8K feet.
http://www.nationalparktravel.com/yellowstone_facts.htm

Altitude can affect hydration, appetite, how your body metabolizes food you eat and which body fuel it uses first - protein or fat.

Do your research.

Those that are just looking at pound lost might be misleading themselves in thinking it was beneficial. They should be looking at the fat to muscle ratio before and after.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+high+altitudes+affect+food+metablism&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#client=firefox-a&hs=DYh&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=how+high+altitudes+affect+food+metabolism&spell=1&sa=X&ei=Rbd2UcraJZKgqwGh4YCQBA&ved=0CC4QvwUoAA&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.aWM&fp=1d5bb760b99fffb1&biw=853&bih=433

Edited by dextersp1 on 04/23/2013 10:42:21 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
one other factor --- dehydration on 04/23/2013 10:51:08 MDT Print View

A stray thought here, and apologies if this is already obvious to everyone but ...

If your trip duration is measured in just days or at most a few weeks, do keep in mind that if you weigh yourself before and after the trip that part of your weight loss might be based on being somewhat dehydrated when you leave the trail. Perhaps best to check again a day or two later to see if you really lost what you initially think you did.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: short term vs. long term on 04/23/2013 11:32:29 MDT Print View

Brian, I agree 100%
For short term trip, losing a few pounds is OK. Most of us can afford it. I can for sure!

For longer tru hikes, I find that two to three weeks in I start eating an extra 5 or 6 ounces. For example, I will make a stew that has about 1500-1700C for supper. Three -4 weeks, I add a packet of rice/noodle sides, around another 1000 calories. 6-8 weeks in, I will add a couple candy bars, too.

I started with 1.2pounds, ended with about 2 pounds. But, I am older with a slow metabolism. Someone younger, with a faster metabolism will need more to start and add more.

I believe Mike Clelland wrote about this in his book, also.

Turning in to the proverbial "garbage can," when you finish...well that is a differnt problem...ha, ha... Anyway, my 2 cents...

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. SERIOUSLY! on 04/23/2013 12:29:25 MDT Print View

"The idea of taking less food could fall into the recent thread of "Stupid Light Ideas".

I'm amazed when I read such ideas. You should be asking yourself why you didn't want to eat first."

Paul,
With all due respect your comments fall under the "just because I can't do it means it can't be done." There are many here who have successfully used body fat VERY DELIBRATELY as an energy source. It is not a matter of not wanting to eat, it it more (in my case) of not needing to eat more than I do. No clue how much you hike or the kind of trips you do but some of us spend a lot of time on the trail, pushing to test our limits and have discovered that the conventional wisdom is either flat out wrong or at best misleading. A great example of this is the famous fat/carb/protein percentages. Many reference guidelines that were developed for thru hikers which is a whole different critter than this short term discussion. Understanding the difference between the short term and long term allows you to optimize your energy replenishment for the task at hand. I know as a result of extensive testing that my current food plan will supply 12+ hours of sustained 3mph hiking. This was not the case when I was eating what I would call the more traditional backpacking diet.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Calorie deficit to save weight. SERIOUSLY! on 04/23/2013 16:00:37 MDT Print View

gg-man,

Do I recall correctly that you did fine on just chocolate covered donuts or on Mounds bars?

Best,

Bill S.