Originally published November 23, 2009
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
If only that were true. What would it be like, I wonder, to move through life without ever having to worry about dieting? I’ll never know, but I do know one thing: when I’m hiking is the one time that I truly don’t worry about diets.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about food and hiking, including some suggested basics for a shorter and a longer hike. Then, last week, I wrote a post about how important it is — it’s one of the “Rules,” in fact — to pack enough food when you hike so that you don’t find yourself weakened from the exertion without proper replenishment. And here we are again. So this food thing must be important. The good news is that there’s a Good Stuff side to the Rule about food:
There’s No Dieting on the Trail
Okay, so it doesn’t have the same zip as “There’s no crying in baseball,” but let’s celebrate this. How often do you justify an indulgent meal/snack by promising yourself that you’ll spend an extra hour in the gym to make up for your transgression? (Too often, I bet. Don’t worry, I’m not judging.) Well, one of the great benefits of hiking — besides getting fresh air, and taking the time to slow down and notice the world around you — is that it’s great exercise.
I did some very scientific* research by looking up “hiking calories burned” on the Interwebs, and got a range of calories burned per sixty minutes of hiking, from as low as 340 calories to as high as 530. The broad range is likely because no two hikes are the same; some require constant climbing and are highly strenuous. Others are only a little more challenging than a walk in the park (and we know that a walk in the park is like…well, a walk in the park).
But the exact numbers don’t really matter. Even at 340 calories, that’s a lot of calories. And remember, that’s just one hour of hiking. If you go on a day hike and are out on the trail for six hours or more, you’re probably burning well over your normal calorie intake for the day just in those six hours.
Therefore, when I’m hiking, I really don’t worry too much about how many calories I’m eating. I try to pack a balanced array of food, and some extra energy bars, and I eat when I’m hungry, which tends to be at fairly regular and frequent intervals.
So when you’re on the trail, make like Mae West and don’t worry about dieting…but carrot sticks are a pretty good hiking snack.
*Not at all scientific.
© Her Side of the Mountain, 2009.