Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Food Strategy

Food was a big problem for me on the CDT. I lost weight and never had enough calories and probably protein. This weakened me and I got sick and had to spend a week at a generous thru-hiker's house in Leadville, Colorado. We had planned for "healthy" food and soon couldn't eat it anymore. We had to mooch food off people too many times to count! 

This time, I am going to take a calories based approach. Rather than focus on the number of days ahead of me and try to plan meals for those days, I'm going to take the mileage ahead of me and multiply it by a coefficient to see how many calories I'll need, then buy that number in the store. As I gain experience and my caloric needs change, I can modify that coefficient. I hope that this approach will ensure that I have enough energy to get me from town to town. I found that in Colorado we would buy what seemed like plenty of food, but run out of it one day early. I think counting calories can help avoid this. If you judge food content with your eyes, you'll probably intuitively be going by your normal food intake rather than your hypermetabolic PCT intake. 

So, let's say my coefficient is 200 calories per 1 mile. If I have a 120 mile section coming up, I'll need 24,000 calories. If I take 6 days, that's 4000 calories/day at 20 miles/day. If I take 4 days, that's 6000 calories/day at 30 miles/day. 

This time around, I'll be especially looking for foods that are high in protein. I'll try to have on average at least 400 calories per 100 grams of food. Some things, like olive oil or butter, are far higher than that, whereas pasta is a bit lower. 

I'll let myself buy foods that I would never eat at home, such as Oreos with a load of peanut butter on top (our best discovery in Peru). I'll aim for whole grains, but will sometimes be reduced to buying enriched grains.

I'll typically load up on fruits and vegetables and eat as many as possible the day I'm in town and that evening. 

The PCT isn't as difficult to resupply on as the CDT, and I expect to average about 4-5 days between towns as opposed to 7 in Colorado. That means less weight in the pack, and more speed. 

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