Aug 7, 2012 at 9:12 am #1292713
I've noticed that on every backpacking trip, my appetite seems to decrease and that I have stomach issues (somewhat loose stool if you must know). The appetite thing could be the food I'm bringing–the usual backpacking stuff (nuts, cheese, bars, some rei dehydrated meals) which seems to get tiresome pretty quickly–or the stomach issues. My appetite comes back immediately when the trip is over.
As for the stomach thing, I guess it could be the (filtered) water I drink or the dehydrated meals.
Has anyone else experienced these issues?
rhzAug 7, 2012 at 9:40 am #1900837
@bzhayesLocale: So. California
I and others I have talked to tend to get somewhat constipated when backpacking.
If your diet is drastically different than what you eat at home stomach/bowel issue would be expected. It is probably not the water, but if you are actually getting sick, the most likely cause would be hygiene issue (make sure you wash your hands). I've started packing acidopholous pills (live and active bacteria from yogurt) that help keep your system regular.
Loss of appetite is probably caused by food and physical exertion. Long distance hikers often report low appetite the first few days and then it comes back with a vengeance. It is probably nothing to worry about unless you are already malnourished.Aug 7, 2012 at 10:24 am #1900856
are you backpacking at an altitude significantly higher than where you live?
loss of appetite and queasy feelings can happen at altitude.Aug 7, 2012 at 10:28 am #1900858
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Rafi, I would not worry too much about either of those issues. As Ben stated, make sure you wash your hands. I get constipated on my trips and when I go…..it is diarrhea. As for food, try to make sure to pack as many items that has lots of taste. Food tends to be bland at altitude and I too suffer from not being hungry. The last trip I did I ate regularly and actually forced myself to eat. For once I ate breakfast too. You know what? I actually hiked much better and did not bonk out during the day. Since being diagnosed with diabetes I have had to really monitor myself and in turn it has made me a better hiker.
BTW, great question!Aug 7, 2012 at 10:32 am #1900859
I also suffer from a loss of appetite when hiking. Ben is right, it's most likely the physical exertion causing your body to not feel hungry. I ended up changing my habits to eating a good breakfast in the morning when I am rested and then drinking most of my calories throughout the day. I will still eat a few snacks like Snickers and chocolate covered almonds. Helps me psychologically to eat and also feels good to have something on your stomach.
In the evening, I will rest for a little while then fix dinner, but I have to still force myself to eat dinner oftentimes.
RyanAug 7, 2012 at 11:40 am #1900870
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I also don't have much appetite at dinner time. It's partly just fatigue. It's worse at higher altitude. Loss of appetite is one of the symptoms of mild mountain sickness. So is nausea. I've found it better to eat hearty at breakfast and snack on dried fruit, nuts, cereal bars frequently during the day, but eat lightly at night. High-carb foods are supposed to help with altitude adjustment. It's also important to keep well hydrated, especially at higher altitudes. An electrolyte drink mix in your water may help; it does for me.
The change of diet can cause loose bowels. My grandson especially has a problem with this–it's the dried fruit and nuts that seem to cause it in him. Constipation is more my problem!
Personally, I can't stand commercial freeze-dried sawdust, so I spend the winter cooking and dehydrating my own meals. Check out trailcooking.com for ideas on more tasty meals.Aug 7, 2012 at 11:54 am #1900874
With regard to some of your comments, we hiked at 7000 to 8500ft, but I recall having this same issue on other trips at lower altitude. The stomach issue started within 12 hours of the trip. I doubt it was hygiene related. We hiked in at night, ate dehydrated food for dinner, and the stomach stuff started the following morning and stayed with me for the rest of the four day trip.
Thanks again.Aug 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm #1900877
Possibly with a dash of heat thrown in would be my guess as to the cause of your eating problems. I have had the same symptom and found that these three factors often play a part. I have had good luck drinking my calories in. It may be hard to eat but rarely do I have issues with drinking maltodextrin based drinks. I spent a lot of time solving this by forcing myself to eat about 300 calories per hour. I was very precise about it and then eventually it became second nature and rarely do I see problems eating. I found the same thing as ken, if you can consistent get the calories in then you may find that you have less fading away or bonking later in the day.Aug 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm #1900878
Prolonged exercise can have negative effects on the entire digestive system. There is decades worth of research with regards to this if you care to search for it.
How hard are you pushing yourself? How many miles are you hiking per day and what is your pace? How much are you sweating?
edit: (sp)Aug 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm #1900884
The hiking was not terribly strenuous–maybe 10 miles/day some at night. Not tons of sweating either.
As for drinking most of one's calories–how do you do that? Powdered drinks? Which sort?
Thanks again.Aug 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm #1900889
The goal is to replace what you are expending. You want to match your water and sodium intake with your sweat output and eat enough carbohydrates to "fuel" your activities for the day. It's a fine balance and may seem way too technical for a simple hike. I agree, but since you are having some digestive issues, it may help to work on this balance. On average, I think we only voluntarily drink about half of what we are expending, so it helps to be conscious of the amount you drink.
I like to use Nuun for electrolyte replacement and sometimes use "Clif shot bloks" for a little boost of carbohydrates. There are better products than Clif, but they are cheaper and easier to pick up for me. These don't offer much in the terms of calories and are really just supplemental. If you don't have the appetite to eat much, it's still important to make sure you are getting enough water and electrolytes. For a short term hike, your body can use energy from stored fat to make up for the calorie deficit.
If there is a nutritionist on here, they could go into a lot more helpful detail.
Bottom line: water and electrolyte replacementAug 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm #1900895
You could try a meal replacement powder on your next trip. I don't have any recommendations, but there are a plethora of companies that market these types of things to body builders. I think they have a bit more protein in them than you would want, but maybe there are some that are more carb heavy.
It might be a little easier to force down if you are really struggling with the appetite.
I've had the exact same problems that you have been experiencing on many occasions. I haven't found a perfect solution yet…Aug 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm #1901036
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
I suffer from a lack of appetite too, being obsessed with BPL I guess doesnt help :)Aug 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm #1901043
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I suspect that your stomach might be protesting against those preservatives and high sodium levels in many commercial freeze-dried meals. Many are high in monosodium glutamate which is upsetting to many. Reading the label on some of those can be scary! Try some of those brands with less preservatives (although higher priced) such as Mary Jane's Farm or Packit Gourmet (there are others).
IMHO, if your backpacking diet is similar to what you normally eat at home (using freeze-dried fruits and veggies instead of fresh), your system should tolerate it better. That's one reason I dehydrate portions from my home meals. I live alone so cook up an enormous batch of a one-dish meal, freeze some in meal-sized portions (to zap in the microwave later) and dehydrate several batches for backpacking. Note: don't do this if your dish contains peas; they'll remain the consistency of buckshot and will break a tooth. Instead, omit the peas and buy freeze-dried peas to add later. Also, meat has to be in very tiny pieces, preferably ground.Aug 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm #1901044
Drinking your calories – In a nutshell, determining how many calories you wish to take in for a given day & then using a drink mix to meet that goal. A lot of folks use Perpetuem. Drinking that many calories can be an acquired skill so I would start out replacing maybe a 1/3 of your daily goal and then seeing how that works for you.
RyanAug 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm #1901072
Ryan–thanks for the info.
Mary–the only dehydrated meal I ate (on the first night) was Mary Jane's Farms chilimac.
thanks again.Aug 8, 2012 at 8:34 am #1901148
If you want to try drinking your calories I would buy a container of Carbo gain. This is plain maltodextrin vs. other more expensive products such as Hammer Perpetuem or similar. I have had mixed experience being able to stomach Perpetuem due to the other ingredients contained in it such as protein. The thing I like about plain Malto is being able to mix up my own brew, flavoring it with just about anything. Malto has no taste and a mild sweetness so I ended up mixing it with crystal light mix and electrolytes. It tastes like crystal light and I like those favors better koolaid or other products. You can also mess around with concentration a bit. My latest stretgy is to pack out 900 calories in a half liter water bottle then dump that in my 32 oz gatoraid bottle and fill with water. This basically makes a triple strength brew and will give you enough calories for 3-4 hours depending on you target calorie intake. Using 4 hours.. It would mean you drink 8 oz. of drink mix an hour. You will also want to drink water as well during those hours since the mix is concentrated. I have found that this has worked well for not only myself but likely a dozen or so thru hikers that are using this recipes either last year or this year.Aug 8, 2012 at 9:38 am #1901169
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
I don't share your problem when hiking, but I do have a problem with tolerating solid foods during other endurance events like a longer run, ride or a long 5+ hours paddle. I believe it to be from the high level of physical exertion. For those scenarios, I rely exclusively on drinking my calories.
I haven't had good luck with the Hammer products. The Perpetuem makes my stomach turn; I found it to be like trying to drink runny batter. I want something light and with mellow flavor/sweetness.
So, I use a mild electrolyte/carbo sportsdrink mix (Suceed Ultra or Suceed Amino, depending upon the duration) and then supplement it with additional pure carbs (Carbo-Pro) as needed. It's a similar product to what Greg G (above) mentions. It has no flavor and dissolves readily into fluids, so I can add it to my drink mixes no problem.
I'll add in electrolyte tablets (like S-caps or Enduralytes) and Sportleg tablets (to help prevent lactic acid build-up) as needed throughout the event.Aug 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm #1901514
Agree with most of the explanations above. For different people, it's going to be different things or different combinations of things. You kind of have to figure out what works for you. It took me a lot of experimenting to find a diet that works well for me, and to confirm that if I'm going at high intensity for full days, I'm not really going to feel very hungry for the first week and a half or two of backpacking.
One thing not mentioned above is the effect of the pack's hip belt, if you wear one. If it's sitting in the wrong place, it can be a problem for digestive system and appetite.
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