Author Topic: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour  (Read 777 times)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« on: December 16, 2020, 10:43:46 am »
Hiking over 2,000 miles of the AT over 5.5 months I lost around 40 pounds. Basically you are 3 to 5 days between resupply and you burn about 3-4,000 calories a day more that you eat. One of the things we noticed watching endless hours of cross country ride videos that the riders do not appear to loss much, if any, weight on the trip. You see lots of pizza, burger, and beer pictures, so I am curious, is weight loss an issue?

I actually drank a whey powder and pudding mix every day hiking trying in maintain muscle mass.
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Online John Nettles

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2020, 10:54:40 am »
Everyone of course will be different.  For me, after 40+ years of touring, I can almost guarantee that if the tour is less than 10 days, I will gain up to 5 pounds as my body freaks thinking I need a ton of food due to the extra effort all of a sudden.  For trips of 10-18 days, the weight will stay about the same (+/- 1 pound) as the pre-tour weight.  For trips 18+ days, I will lose anywhere from a couple of pounds to 10 pounds depending on the length, difficulty, etc.

For the longer trips, I usually lose my max weight about 6 weeks out and it stays at that level until the end of the tour when I promptly gain back 50% of the weight within a week.

However, since I rarely "train" for a tour and I tend not to ride too much afterwards for a month or so since I am playing catch up with work and such, my results may not be typical.

Tailwinds, John
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 12:05:07 pm by John Nettles »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2020, 11:36:33 am »
On a cross-country tour, I will typically gain a few pounds.

Online jwrushman

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2020, 12:01:57 pm »
"...so I am curious, is weight loss an issue?"

For me, not weight loss but weight gain!

From NJ to Michigan, I gained 3 lbs.  I decided to stop buying Starbucks and ended up losing 10 the rest of the way to Anacortes.  Was it the Starbucks? Or just the cumulative effect of long days week after week?  Probably both.

Offline jamawani

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2020, 08:46:28 pm »
The issue for many people is when you finish the tour.
Your body is still demanding mega calories, but you aren't riding 75 miles per day.
Over the years many people have posted about gaining weight after the tour.

Also, the more you tour, the less you lose.
On your first big tour you may lost 20-30 pounds.
Then the next tour, your body sez, "Oh, he's doing this again."
By the time you've done a half dozen tours, your body has fully compensated.

And then there's age.
Why is it that a 27 year old can consume pizza, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and a six-pack of beer -
Every day. - - - And lose 25 pounds?
And a person who is 55 can have salad, ice tea, a tuna sanwich, and one beer -
And gain 5 pounds?
There is no justice in this world.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2020, 09:04:13 pm »
I hiked the AT at 55 and could drink a 6-pack and eat a large pizza in town every few days and still lost 40 pounds. We used to order milkshakes after a pancake breakfast. I was in a dinner one-day and had a double cheese burger plater and a milkshake - the waitress came by and said "would you like another" and I said yes please. When she grabbed my glass I said another milkshake is fine, but I really wanted another hamburger platter.

I only took 2.5 years to gain back the 40 pounds. :)
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2020, 11:13:25 pm »
I lost 35# on a year long tour. I probably lost closer to 40+# since the first few weeks I stopped at every bakery. After 2-3 weeks, my appetite settled in. Sadly, I've gained it all back...
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Offline LouMelini

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2020, 01:51:08 pm »
My wife Julie lost over 40 pounds during our 6-month Appalachian Trail walk (176 days) in 2016 and 22 pounds on our TransAmerica ride (71 days) in 2018, all gained back. She ate well on the trips. I went out of my way to eat and not lose weight on the AT. On the TransAmerica ride I also kept my weight stable without trying to overeat. I was 65 for the AT and 67 for the TA, Julie was 55 and 57. Congratulations to HikeBikeCook on your AT thru-hike.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2020, 01:58:21 pm »
@LouMelini - congrats to the both of you for doing a double bucket list together. I wish my wife had come on the thru-hike with me but too much living in the woods for too long for her. I sounds like we hiked about the same pace, I did it in 174 days with 10 rest days. We are planning to take what it takes to do the cross country ride, so it may be 70 or it maybe 90, it just depends on weather, motivation, and desire. :)
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline staehpj1

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2020, 05:25:53 pm »
For a 9-10 day tour I might gain, lose, or stay the same.  For a long tour I always lose.  How much probably depends on how fat or lean I am at the start.  I forget, but I think 15-20 pounds was about it for my coast to coast tours.  I sometimes find eating enough to become a chore at times on tour.

Offline misterflask

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2021, 09:05:42 am »
I lost about 1/2pound per day on a TA trip, or about 35lbs.  My BMI was hovering around 30 at the start so I had the weight to lose.  Towards the end of the trip I wasn't terribly hungry, but afterwards my body wanted every one of those pounds back and I couldn't stop eating. 

Two reasons for the weight loss, I think.  I cooked most of my own meals, and you really have to work at it to cook enough calories to support all-day cycling.  Also, I hadn't discovered Yelp yet and too many mediocre diners dampened my enthusiasm for eating out.

I've since whittled my weight down to a BMI<25 through careful-eating and one of the joys of touring is being to eat every doggone thing I want for awhile.  Lacking the weight buffer I started the TA with, I'd work harder at ingesting calories on a longer tour.  I've already resolved to eat more pizza.

The month after my tour the Hostess Cupcake Co. went bankrupt.  I think the end of my support pushed them over the edge.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2021, 09:26:10 am »
I am curious, is weight loss an issue?
I typically experience a 1 pound loss per every 100 miles, fully loaded, self-contained, solo.

Online John Nettles

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2021, 09:32:17 am »
I typically experience a 1 pound loss per every 100 miles, fully loaded, self-contained, solo.
I am jealous. To what limit do you lose weight?  By that I mean, say you do the TA and about 4,300 miles.  Do you lose 43 pounds?  I can see how you would lose 1 pound per 100 miles up to the first, say, 2,000 miles but not infinitely otherwise you could theoretically loose ALL your weight if you rode for years.  I am not arguing, just trying to see what your max weight loss is.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2021, 10:57:25 am »
I typically experience a 1 pound loss per every 100 miles, fully loaded, self-contained, solo.
I am jealous. To what limit do you lose weight?  By that I mean, say you do the TA and about 4,300 miles.  Do you lose 43 pounds?  I can see how you would lose 1 pound per 100 miles up to the first, say, 2,000 miles but not infinitely otherwise you could theoretically loose ALL your weight if you rode for years.  I am not arguing, just trying to see what your max weight loss is.
I am a little puzzled by the loss mentioned by bikepacker.  Obviously there has to be a limit to how long that rate would continue.  I'd guess it might depend on a number of factors including how much body fat you start out with. 

I figure that I have typically lost weight for some distance and then generally levelled off or even gained a little back.  I don't have good data because I didn't record weights and have now forgotten the details.  Also I seldom have chances to weigh myself on tour (I don't seek them out).  I am guessing that the weight levelled off on the TA (we took 73 days) at about the halfway point or a little sooner.  So maybe a month before I levelled off.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Average Weight Loss/Gain on Cross Country Tour
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2021, 12:09:41 pm »
Your body will burn through fat stores initially, if you are running a caloric deficit. But once your body realizes that the current eating regiment is the "new norm" it will start to conserve fat and burn unused muscle - for hikers that is typically upper body muscles. Pretty much the same for cyclists, unless you really use you arms for climbing and you are climbing daily. Just like a cubic inch of muscle weighs about twice as much as a cubic inch of fat, from what I remember, it also takes twice as many calories to maintain the muscle over the fat.
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966