There have been a lot of questions about my diet on my 40 mile/day fastpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail. I choose to not cook, saving me the weight of cooking supplies, the headache of a less versatile food bag, and the time spent cooking. But there’s a huge misconception that the food I carry is somehow heavier than dehydrated meals. So I want to share my method of creating a food list for a trip, address some common misconceptions, and list some methods that can be used at quick resupplies along the way. The list is tailored to a fastpacking trip on the AT with ample opportunities for healthy meals but the method of analysis can be applied to any backpacking diet.
Update: Explanation for these food choices and the purpose they serve posted here: http://graysoncobb.com/2015/04/26/explaining-the-backpackers-diet/
I am in the process of compiling a google doc listing most potential foods for any given trip. I list cal/gram, then protein, fat, carbs, and sodium by fraction. Unfortunately this list does not include harder to calculate homemade items and dried fruits because of inaccurate nutrition data. What mostly creates a high caloric density food is fat content. With fat dishing out 9 cal/g and protein and carbs lagging behind at 4 cal/g, a high fat snack is going to be higher than a sugary one. With that said, surviving on swigs of oil simply isn’t practical or healthy so we need carbs and protein in our diet. The primary benefit of this spreadsheet then is to tease out the foods that have significant amounts of water or undigestible nutrients hidden in them. Anything that sits below 4 cal/g has something in it that isn’t providing energy and probably has a denser alternative.
Continue reading A guide to ultralight no-cook backpacking →
Since I was a kid, my dad would inform me of the recent dietary trend, from entire dietary restrictions to minor single food alterations. He would read about it in Men’s Journal and then tell me, “Oh, avocados are very good for you,” or “bread is very bad for you,” with no explanation further than that. It could have been attributed to the most recent journal article on the subject, some undergraduate run correlation study, or it could have just been the musings of a physician who overstepped their authority. I used to think that the reason these adjectives, good and bad, bugged me so much when applied to nutrition because they oversimplified things, but recently I realized that it’s because it massively overcomplicates nutrition. Continue reading The hallmark of a healthy diet →
I went to whole foods a few days ago for only the second time in my life. Having been a vegetarian for over a decade and recently switching to being vegan, a store like Whole Foods makes grocery shopping tremendously easier. However, after scanning the aisles and realizing exactly what “whole” meant to this company and its customers, I cannot bring myself to support their movement. Whole Foods and the movement that has fueled it makes me cringe with its lack of evidence and appeal to sensationalism. Claiming environmental awareness, sustainable agriculture, and healthier foods, Whole Foods fails to support these principles with its selection. From high prices and bad science of organic farming to the sale of meat, every step I took in that store was one step closer to never going back. Continue reading Why you should never shop at Whole Foods →
Just over a year ago I set my personal record for 800 yards. It was nothing to brag about, but having been known as a chaser throughout my triathlon career, it was nice to finally be able to come out of the water with the leaders. At 9:38, a personal record by over twenty-five seconds, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was thrilled that my swimming was finally taking off after years of flopping around in the water. But at the same time I wanted to know how I made such a giant improvement in a matter of a couple months. I looked back at my training and it looked consistent as ever. My form had adapted only slightly, but that day something felt different. I felt like I was on top of the water; I felt absolutely fatigue-free for the first six hundred yards. My flip turns were smooth and my stoke held strong. But what led to all this if my training and stroke improvement very likely didn’t? I was swimming with intestinal gas, loads of it. Seriously, I think it was because I had to fart. Really. Goddamn. Badly. Continue reading Swimming with intestinal gas →