Nutrition for Long Distance Backpacking

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Ryan Grayson- Podcast

Ryan Grayson
long distance hiker and avid blogger

Ryan Grayson started backpacking in 2006 and quickly developed a love for the sport. In 2011, he quit his job, left all of his possessions other than what he could sling over his shoulders, and set out to backpack America's best trails. His hikes have included the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, The Long Trail, John Muir Trail, Wonderland Trail, Highline Trail, Teton Crest Trail, and hundreds of miles in over 30 National Parks. In March 2014, he will be hiking from Mexico to Canada on the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail. You can follow his adventures and learn more about the sport at ABackpackersLife.com.

This story has lead me to want to learn more about how Ryan fuels his body during a long journey and how it affects his energy levels and performance. 

In This Podcast You Will Learn:

1)      How did he develop an interest in hiking?
2)      Who are considered the top hikers in the industry today?
3)      The various distances athletes hike (shorter vs. longer trails).
4)      His future plans for hiking (upcoming quest vs. plans for 2015 and 2016)?
5)      What does a 1 week hiking nutrition plan look like vs. a 1 or 2 month hiking plan?
6)      What are some of the nutrition challenges he faces during a long hike?
7)      What are some of the strategies a hiker uses to re-stock food?
8)      The importance of recovery and how he gets sufficient rest, hydration, and refueling?
9)      Dietary Supplementation during a long hike. Is this a common practice among hikers?
10)    Strategies to stay hydrated during hikes in a humid environment or during high altitudes?
11)    The changes in body weight that may occur during a long hike (2-3 months) and how his body adapts
12)    Strange encounters that he has come across during a hiking trip

Links and Resources:

Podcast Transcript

0:00 The Next Level Podcast Intro and Welcome by Tavis Piattoly

2:00 Ryan Grayson Background

  • Ryan Grayson started backpacking in 2006 and quickly developed a love for the sport. 
  • In 2011, he quit his job, left all of his possessions other than what he could sling over his shoulders, and set out to backpack America's best trails. 
  • His hikes have included the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, The Long Trail, John Muir Trail, Wonderland Trail, Highline Trail, Teton Crest Trail, and hundreds of miles in over 30 National Parks.
  • In March 2014, he will be hiking from Mexico to Canada on the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail. 
  • You can follow his adventures and learn more about the sport at ABackpackersLife.com.

3:09 How did he develop an interest in hiking?

  • Always had a love for nature and felt at home
  • First hike was 4-5 days and got hooked after that
  • Happiest moments were on the trail

5:09 Who are considered the top hikers in the industry today?

  • Andrew Skurka
  • Justin Litcher

7:30 The various distances athletes hike (shorter vs. longer trails).

  • Can range from 30-300 miles
  • Takes time to acclimate to longer distances

9:13 His future plans for hiking (upcoming quest vs. plans for 2015 and 2016)?

  • Increase miles overall and daily
  • Hike north to Canada, just under 2700 miles
  • Hike across New Zealand

11:00 What does a 1 week hiking nutrition plan look like vs. a 1 or 2 month hiking plan?

  • Making sure to get enough calories for both.
  • Longer trips, maintain bodyweight by adding more fat to diet such as nuts and nut butters.
  • Eating a variety on longer trips is important in order to not get bored and maintain calorie intake.
  • Can eat almost anything you want on a long hike

15:03 What are some of the nutrition challenges he faces during a long hike?

  • Eating a well balanced diet can be challenging
  • Potentially lacking in vitamins and minerals
  • Not eating enough to maintain weight

15:54 What are some of the strategies a hiker uses to re-stock food?

  • Shop at grocery stores to restock
  • You never know where you’re going to end up
  • Can be easy to not eat healthy
  • Long distance trail have guidebooks for places to re-stock food
  • Wants to try Walmart.com on next hike.

18:49 The importance of recovery and how he gets sufficient rest, hydration, and refueling?

  • It is not as hard to get rest as one might think. Not many people are around and wildlife is more afraid of you than you think

23:13 Dietary Supplementation during a long hike. Is this a common practice among hikers?

  • It is becoming more common
  • Whey protein, fish oil and multivitamin

24:36 Strategies to stay hydrated during hikes in a humid environment or during high altitudes?

  • Carrying purifying tools (filter straw) are helpful when drinking natural water.
  • Some hikers don’t purify at all.
  • Powdered gatorade to help with electrolytes depletion.

26:07 The changes in body weight that may occur during a long hike (2-3 months) and how his body adapts

  • Will lose about 5lbs if not more.
  • It is difficult to not lose weight because you are using so much energy
  • Put 15lbs on after the Appalachian trail hike. 

27:59 Strange encounters that he has come across during a hiking trip

  • One night, a stranger talked about 2 people that were murdered on the same trail Ryan was sleeping on. A man wearing a headlamp appeared around midnight with a shotgun and it was a scary moment having just heard that story.
  • Almost had an encounter with a bear.

31:23 How to learn more

  • Whiteblaze.net and backpackinglight.com are great resources to learn more about hiking
  • Tons of hiking groups are around the country if you don’t want to hike alone

33:25 Conclusion 



 

Download Eat 2 Win Nutrition App