Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Planning: Appalachian Trail Food

When I came back from my 2019 AT attempt I was diagnosed as Diabetic.  I suspect this may explain why my body didn't feel like it was recovering each day.  I also suspect the carbohydrate heavy diet I ate on the trail contributed to the high blood sugar, high insulin resistant state I came home with.  When I planned my food then I only looked at the calories, if it could survive in my pack, and if I liked it.  Now I have to be more careful where those calories are coming from and this means I need to replace carbs with fat and protein.

I started by looking at what I was eating in 2019 which I posted about here.  I replaced the Clif bars and builder bars, Belvita Breakfast biscuits, and Snicker bars which are all high in carbs.  I replaced these with Keto friendly (i.e. high fat, adequate protein, low net carbs) to help reduce the number of carbs in my daily diet.  These include the Quest protein bars and peanut butter cups, caramel fat bombs (love the name), and beef jerky.  I have kept other high carb items including the honey buns (for a breakfast high carb boost), the tortillas (for a base for the peanut butter and they were my favorite on the trail last time - yummy), and the trail mix.  Here is a list of the typical days worth of food: 

Item

Qty

Total Calories

Fat
(gms)

Protein (gms)

Net Carbs (gms)

Mountain House Dehydrated Meal

1

530

201240

Quest Protein Bars

3

600

276312

Beef Jerky

4 Snack Bags

200

42816

Caramel Fat Bombs

4

360

3244

Quest Peanut Butter Cups

4

360

30222

Honey Bun

1

350

19440

Trail Mix

159 grams

819

562356

Chicken

2 Pouches

140

6260

Tortillas

2

420

12866

Peanut Butter

4 Tbsp

380

32148

TOTAL


4,159

238204244

After the substitutions I ended with a 35% Fat, 30% Protein, 35% Carbohydrate split (compared to the roughly 31%, 19%, 50% split I had in 2019). I'm hoping this will work better for me.

So my meal breakdown will be a Quest protein bar and a Honey Bun for breakfast; two tortillas with peanut butter, a Quest protein bar, and a pouch of chicken for lunch; the Mountain House meal and a pouch of chicken for dinner; and the remaining eaten as snacks throughout the day.  My issue usually is not eating enough while hiking.  I will have to try harder to eat everything allocated for the day.
One day of AT 'food'.
During my 2019 attempt I pretty much grazed throughout the day.  Stopping to rest becomes an opportunity to eat a snack and eating a snack forces you to take a more substantial rest break.  I learned this on the Camino, if I didn't eat a snack I would just stop for a minute or two at most before I moved on which was never enough.  Eating slowed me down and gave me a better rest.

My friends on Discord include several foodies.  I'm sure they are cringing reading this list of overly processed junk food.  Multi-day hikes have limitations when it comes to food.  Anything that requires refrigeration is a no-go.  Everything in my food list is shelf stable and, in some cases, will last forever.  The food has to survive being crammed into a food bag.  Anything that would crumble is a no-go. Also, at the end of the day I'm usually very tired and I don't want to spend too much energy preparing a 'real' meal.  In 2019 there were days I was too tired to boil the water for the dehydrated meal.  I have ideas for fighting that issue as well.  More about that when I actually get on the trail and try it out.


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