Doing Right by Your Body: The Importance of Proper Nutrition on a Thru Hike

Fueling your body with the right nutrition is crucial for a successful thru hike

Embarking on a thru hike is no small feat. The physical and mental challenges of hiking for weeks or even months on end require a body that is properly fueled and nourished. While many hikers focus on packing lightweight gear and planning their route, one aspect that is often overlooked is nutrition. In order to endure the demands of a thru hike, it is essential to provide your body with the right nutrients. In this article, we will explore the importance of proper nutrition on a thru hike and provide practical tips for ensuring your body is well taken care of.

Are You Getting the Proper Nutrition?

Thru hikers often face numerous obstacles that can lead to quitting, and poor diet is often a contributing factor. It is important to consider how the food you consume impacts your overall health and performance on the trail. One helpful tool for analyzing and adjusting your diet is My Fitness Pal, a website that allows you to track your food intake and generate reports on calories, percentages, and deficiencies. By using this tool in conjunction with guidance from a nutritionist, you can ensure that you are meeting your nutritional needs. The USDA’s My Plate website also provides guidelines for healthy eating choices that can be helpful in planning your meals.

My Food Bag

When packing your food bag for a thru hike, it is essential to focus on daily calorie intake and overall nutrition rather than individual meals and snacks. Aim for a balance of protein, carbohydrates, sugars, fats, micro and macro nutrients, and any necessary supplementation. Consider purchasing prepared foods and stove-use meals as secondary options, and opt for a diet that is plant-forward and includes grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Aim for approximately 130 calories per ounce to ensure you have enough fuel to sustain your hiking efforts.

My Product List

Choosing the right products for your thru hike can make a significant difference in your nutrition and energy levels. Consider carrying items such as Honey Stinger products, Greenbelly Meals, Range Meal Bars, Sans Meal Bars, ProBar Meals, BoBo’s snacks, Nature’s Bakery Bars, squeeze packages of peanut butter, electrolyte packets like LMNT and Liquid IV, and a variety of granolas, bars, and fruit and nut mixes. These products can provide over 4,000 calories before you even prepare a meal. Additionally, plan to include one purchased backpacker meal for every three days on the trail. While quality food may be more expensive, it is worth the investment in your health. Look for online discounts and plan your purchases in advance to manage your budget effectively.

The Sludge and Other Goodness

Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast is key to maintaining energy levels on a thru hike. Consider creating “The Sludge 1600,” a mixture of quick oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dehydrated banana chips, protein powder, and peanut butter powder. This high-calorie meal can be divided into two servings to avoid overwhelming your kidneys with excessive protein. Other meal options can include Jasmine rice or buckwheat Soba noodles, plant-based meat, and shelf-stable Kimchi. These meals are light enough to promote restful sleep and contain probiotics to aid digestion. Pre-packaged meals such as ramen-bombs, tamale pies, and champurrado can be assembled after resupply runs or sent from home. Additionally, prioritize consuming green juice, yogurt, and other probiotic foods, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables during town stops to ensure a well-rounded diet.


Proper nutrition is a vital component of a successful thru hike. By prioritizing your body’s nutritional needs and fueling it with the right foods, you can enhance your performance, endurance, and overall well-being on the trail. Remember to plan your meals and snacks based on daily calorie intake and overall nutrition, and consider incorporating a variety of high-quality products into your food bag. With the right approach to nutrition, you’ll be well-equipped to conquer the challenges of a thru hike and enjoy the journey to the fullest. So, pack your bags, fuel your body right, and see you on the far side!






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