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

How a well-balanced diet can make or break a thru-hiker’s journey

Embarking on a thru-hike is a monumental undertaking that requires physical endurance, mental resilience, and strategic planning. While many hikers focus on gear and route preparation, one crucial aspect often overlooked is nutrition. The food you consume on the trail plays a vital role in fueling your body and ensuring you have the energy and stamina to complete the journey. In this article, we delve into the science of nutrition and explore how making informed dietary choices can enhance your hiking experience.

Are You Getting the Proper Nutrition?

Thru-hiking can take a toll on the body, and poor nutrition can exacerbate the challenges faced on the trail. To determine if you’re getting the proper nutrition, consider utilizing tools like My Fitness Pal, a website that allows you to analyze and adjust your diet. By inputting the foods you consume, you can generate reports that show calorie intake, nutrient percentages, and deficiencies. Additionally, the USDA’s My Plate website provides guidelines for healthy eating choices, helping you make informed decisions about your diet.

My Food Bag: A Balanced Approach

When packing your food bag for a thru-hike, it’s essential to focus on daily calorie intake and overall nutrition rather than specific meals and snacks. Aim for a balance of protein, carbohydrates, sugars, fats, and micro and macro nutrients. While prepared foods are convenient, it’s important to prioritize quality over convenience. Consider incorporating plant-forward options such as grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Strive for an average of 130 calories per ounce to ensure you’re adequately fueled throughout your journey.

My Product List: Fueling Your Body

To meet your nutritional needs on the trail, consider a variety of products that provide a balance of energy and sustenance. 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, and electrolyte packets like LMNT and Liquid IV are all excellent options. These products can provide over 4,000 calories before needing to prepare a meal. It’s also worth exploring online discounts and budgeting strategies to make quality food more affordable.

The Sludge and Other Goodness: Homemade Meals

In addition to pre-packaged options, consider incorporating homemade meals into your thru-hike diet. “The Sludge 1600” is a nutrient-dense breakfast option that includes quick oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dehydrated banana chips, Ka’Chava Protein Powder, and peanut butter powder. Divide it into two servings to regulate protein intake. Other homemade meals can include Jasmine rice or buckwheat Soba noodles, plant-based meat Korean BBQ, and shelf-stable Kimchi. These meals are light, sleep-friendly, and contain probiotics for better digestion. Pre-packaged or assembled meals can also be sent from home or prepared after resupply runs.


Proper nutrition is a vital component of a successful thru-hike. By prioritizing balanced and nutritious meals, hikers can enhance their physical and mental well-being, ultimately improving their chances of completing the journey. Whether opting for pre-packaged options or homemade meals, it’s crucial to listen to your body’s needs and fuel it accordingly. Remember, a well-nourished body is better equipped to conquer the challenges that lie ahead on the trail. So, make sure you’re doing right by your body and enjoy the journey to the far side.






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