My nutrition has not always been the best on the trail. I lost twenty pounds on my AT thru hike. I lost five pounds just on my two week Colorado Trail hike. I never got sick of the foods I was eating last year, but when I started eating them again this year, it was gross.

In packing for my next trip, I created a spreadsheet to actually see how many calories I am eating, and it turned out to be not nearly enough. An average diet is 2,000 calories/day. A thru hiker diet should be at least twice that. The longer you’re out, the quicker your metabolism gets, and the more calories you need.

I’m trying to add variety in addition to better nutritional value. I also need food to be at least 100 calories/ounce. More is better. Otherwise, it’s just too heavy. I usually make an exception for lunch foods so I can have something resembling normal food instead of something dehydrated for once.

One thing I am doing now is adding oil to every dinner. I’m also going to try to pack out an avocado in every town since they have good fat (even though they don’t meet the weight requirements). I’m adding more dried fruits since fresh ones are too heavy. I’m also adding protein powder and some supplements (multi-vitamin, fish oil, probiotic) to up the nutrition.

I came up with a sample four day food plan to get around 4,000 calories/day. Here is day one:





See the full spreadsheet here. It has a few different options each day, and a more expansive list of all the stuff I normally buy on the last tab.

Do you have any recommendations for lightweight, high calorie, delicious, and nutritious food?


Add yours →

  1. What about some salted nuts? You need to make sure you have enough salt.

  2. This is great info. I always wonder if we are getting enough calories. We were thinking of adding oil to our meals for our next long-distance hike, just for the calories. Do you like Nutella? That has always been our lunch of choice. Or hard cheeses (saw you had cheddar on the list).

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