Now that the cross country season has ended, I will begin what will undoubtedly be my favorite part of preparing for a thru-hike: eating. While there are, of course, other physical preparations I'm going to have to make, gaining weight is a big one for me. So I'm starting early.
One reason body weight is important is your pack should equal about 1/4 your body weight. I'm aiming for a 30 pound pack, so my minimum body weight target is at least 120 pounds. Ten pounds to go! Sounds easy ... but I want a lot of this bulk to be in muscle.
Also, you're likely to lose a lot of weight on the trail. Mostly this is because you're burning more calories than you can carry in your backpack. Trailquest.net states that AT hikers can burn over 6,000 calories a day. Can you imagine how many granola bars that would equate to? So it's standard to lose a great deal of weight during the trip. I'll be moving at a faster pace than most, so it's even more important for me to have a strong foundation.
For my diet going into the hike, I plan on an overall increase of food intake, but with focus on carbs and protein.
Am I using the AT as a shameless way to feast on the daily? Possibly. But I'll also balance it out with cardio exercise and weight lifting targeting backpacking muscles. More to come on my preparation and how it works out for me.