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Eat Better

Want to hike farther, explore tougher terrain, and carry big loads without bonking? To achieve your biggest backcountry goals, you have to change how you eat.
Backpacker_Magazine_eatbetterintroPhoto by Justin Bailie

Sport-Specific Nutrition | Snack For All-Day Energy | Balance Your Backcountry Diet | Food Expert Q & A | The 10 Best Backpacking Foods | The Perfect Menu | A Day of Eating Healthy | The Burning Curve… | …And a Radical Deviation

…AND A RADICAL DEVIATION
Andrew Skurka is no nutritionist–but he knows a thing or two about backpacking food. While traveling the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop last year, the über-hiker estimated he torched two to three times more calories per day than the average couch potato. What’s it take to eat like Skurka? Here, he breaks it down.

Profile
26 years old
6’0", 170 lbs. (start)
155 lbs. (finish)
15-pound pack
35-mile, 15-hour days
208 days total; 8 days off
On his appetite when thru-hiking: "Ten days in, my metabolism just goes out of control. I become obsessed with food."

Trip

Colorado section

  • 10,000-plus feet average elevation along the route
  • Rugged, steep terrain
  • Daytime temps in the 50-60°F range = 7,000 calories burned/day

New Mexico section

  • 5,000-9,000 feet average elevation
  • Mellower terrain
  • Daytime temps in the high 50-60°F range = 5,500 calories burned/day

Overall

  • 4,500-5,000 calories eaten per day = 15-20 pounds of weight lost over the entire trip

Sport-Specific Nutrition | Snack For All-Day Energy | Balance Your Backcountry Diet | Food Expert Q & A | The 10 Best Backpacking Foods | The Perfect Menu | A Day of Eating Healthy | The Burning Curve… | …And a Radical Deviation

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