T Nation

Avoiding Catabolism (Help a 16 Year Old Out!)

Hi guys

I’m a 16 year old who has been training for roughly 1.5-2 years, but only doing serious bodybuilder hypertrophy training for 1 year or so. I’ve been reading T-Nation for that entire time, but as you can probably see, haven’t posted much.

Anyways, in a few weeks time I have to go on a relatively strenuous 16 day hike- and this worries me.

Perhaps I’m being overly paranoid, but I can’t help but fear losing some muscle and strength over these 16 days.

The issue with the hike is that for 9 of the 16 days, we have to carry everything we eat on our backs, and for the other 7, we get fed at ‘bases’. I’m skeptical of the food that will be provided at the bases, and I know that the food I can carry on my back (and have to prepare in the great outdoors) will be less than optimal. Also, this means no gym for 16 days.

I’ve done my best to choose foods that will still provide me with lots of protein everyday, such as:

  • Packing whey powder into plastic bags
  • Lots of dried meats
  • Lots of protein bars
  • Lots of Tuna sachets

But I’m still not sure if this will be good enough. There are lots of you with way more experience than me on this site, so has anyone got any advice? Do you think that this hike will make any difference at all?
Oh, and I have considered BCAAs and Glutamine, but past usage of those supplements has not been great for my skin, and so I’d rather avoid them.

Any help/opinions will be appreciated.

Thanks a lot!

not worth worrying about at all. Just eat as best as you can, and when the 16 days are over get back into your routine.

you’ll be fine.

Hey man you are young this is a trip in heaven. Some go to war for 16 years, relax. You will have your packsack to militairy press, pushups with your again friendly packsack, squat with your best friend your packsack !
Whatever you loose will be back in a week. Tough days makes you tougher.

Haha, thanks guys! I did think that I was worrying needlessly. Hey, maybe this’ll even be a decent opportunity to drop my bf% below the current 9%. Thanks again for the responses.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
Haha, thanks guys! I did think that I was worrying needlessly. Hey, maybe this’ll even be a decent opportunity to drop my bf% below the current 9%. Thanks again for the responses.[/quote]

Definitely worrying needlessly. Enjoy the hike. Sounds awesome.

If you want to fit in some lifting try picking up/throwing random heavy stuff (rocks, logs etc) and doing some body weight stuff - push ups, pull ups, lunges, air squats etc. Maybe use your pack for added resistance (although I would probably hold it in front of you for squats). You could do this throughout the day when you stop for breaks and/or in the evening after you stop for the day. Maybe try to work on pistols (one legged squats) ore one arm push ups for the sake of something a little different. Improvise, adapt and overcome. But mostly have fun and don’t stress too much about every little thing.

Edit - higher fat foods (trail mix etc) will also be your friend in terms of compact, calorie dense fuel. That’s why they call it “trail mix”.

I guess you know about GORP
Good
Old
Reliable
Peanuts
Often a mix of peanuts, dried raisins etc…
For getting leaner each hour carry a friend for 1 or 2 minutes.
At 25 YO i was jogging with a canoe 2/3 my bodyweight on my shoulders.
Gee i envy you !

If you’be been hitting it hard lately, take a deload. I would try and drink more water than normally also.

Will it be quality water, that is too heavy to carry.

^good point, you win.

Muscle that you used to have is easily regained. We gain and lose muscle&fat on a daily basis without realising it, our body is in a state of constant flux. Do the trip, focus on making it through the hikes and then come back to the gym. If it helps, you will definitely get a lot leaner during your trip. Seriously.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
… in a few weeks time I have to go on a relatively strenuous 16 day hike- and this worries me.

Perhaps I’m being overly paranoid, but I can’t help but fear losing some muscle and strength over these 16 days.[/quote]
The only way you’ll lose any noticeable muscle during 16 days of “strenuous” hiking is if you undereat. Any strength loss will return quickly after a few sessions back in the gym, again, unless you undereat during the trip.

Presuming the height and weight in your profile are accurate, - 5’5", 115 pounds - you’re not in any position to be worrying about this. Eat until you’re stuffed at every meal, push yourself during the hikes, and enjoy the trip. You’ll be fine.

You’re not going into a coma. You’re not nursing a broken rib. You’re hiking with a ruck on your back. I wouldn’t even worry about being the nutbar in your group who “exercises” with his pack during rest breaks. Not sure the kind of group you’re traveling with, but if I was a group leader and saw you with enough energy to knock out push-ups and partner squats during our breaks, congrats, you just volunteered to carry a spare rucksack.

[quote]I’ve done my best to choose foods that will still provide me with lots of protein everyday, such as:

  • Packing whey powder into plastic bags
  • Lots of dried meats
  • Lots of protein bars
  • Lots of Tuna sachets[/quote]
    If there’s an experienced hiker who says that low fat, low carb, high protein foods are the best fuel for hiking, then I’m a pretty ballerina.

You need foods that provide the biggest calorie bang per bite, not the highest quality protein.

Agreed. Avoid them. You don’t need them now and you won’t need them when you get back, but that’s a separate issue.

I wouldn’t be worried about 16 days. I’ve done many 6-8 week stints out field with shit house rats, whilst working from before sun up, to well after sunset with heaps of full nighters too with the Army. Sure you come back a bit lighter, and weaker, but it doesn’t take long to gain it back. At 16 you won’t have to worry about any serious issues.

For high energy/weight you can’t go past pemmican. High in protein too.

Hey Guys

Thanks so much for all of the info! Haven’t checked the forums in a while, and so didn’t see it till now (hence the lack of responses).
But I’ll get to that now!

[quote]batman730 wrote:

Definitely worrying needlessly. Enjoy the hike. Sounds awesome.

If you want to fit in some lifting try picking up/throwing random heavy stuff (rocks, logs etc) and doing some body weight stuff - push ups, pull ups, lunges, air squats etc. Maybe use your pack for added resistance (although I would probably hold it in front of you for squats). You could do this throughout the day when you stop for breaks and/or in the evening after you stop for the day. Maybe try to work on pistols (one legged squats) ore one arm push ups for the sake of something a little different. Improvise, adapt and overcome. But mostly have fun and don’t stress too much about every little thing.

Edit - higher fat foods (trail mix etc) will also be your friend in terms of compact, calorie dense fuel. That’s why they call it “trail mix”.[/quote]

Definitely a good plan. I’ll be sure to do some new bodyweight movements when I have some free time. Thanks

[quote]chobbs wrote:
If you’be been hitting it hard lately, take a deload. I would try and drink more water than normally also.[/quote]

I’m planning on carrying 3-4 litres at all times- so, definitely going to follow that one. Thanks.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Muscle that you used to have is easily regained. We gain and lose muscle&fat on a daily basis without realising it, our body is in a state of constant flux. Do the trip, focus on making it through the hikes and then come back to the gym. If it helps, you will definitely get a lot leaner during your trip. Seriously.[/quote]

I’m looking forward to that extra ‘leanness’. As a FFB, once I saw my abs, I’ve never truly been able to give them up, and so haven’t been able to do an all out bulk at all (rather a very slow clean bulk). Perhaps the extra leanness will give me some space to do a big bulk with.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

The only way you’ll lose any noticeable muscle during 16 days of “strenuous” hiking is if you undereat. Any strength loss will return quickly after a few sessions back in the gym, again, unless you undereat during the trip. [/quote]

I’ll be sure to eat as much as possible, thanks. Phew, I’m, going to be carrying a lot!

The height and weight are both about a year old, I’ve gained 17 pounds since then (almost exclusively in the last few months), grown a few cms and become leaner, but as you said, I’m still probably not in any position to be worrying about this stuff. I agree entirely. I started my training career by reading and reading and reading (I went through the tnation article archives all the way back to 1997- and that’s only one source), and so I tend to stress the semantics a lot now (probably not a good thing). Although I have found a love for the science of body recomposition.

Haha, I’m not quite sure whether you’re telling me to do push-ups and squats, or not, but it was humorous regardless. I think I will end up doing some kind bodyweight movements.

[quote] If there’s an experienced hiker who says that low fat, low carb, high protein foods are the best fuel for hiking, then I’m a pretty ballerina.

You need foods that provide the biggest calorie bang per bite, not the highest quality protein. [/quote]

That definitely isn’t my full menu. It was literally only my protein sources. I’ve got quite a few sources of high carb and high fats foods too.

Hmm. I’m intrigued. Why?
Thanks a lot for the in-depth response!

Sorry if I didn’t quote anyone directly, I had to find some way to stop the post from being excessively long. Still appreciate everything though!

As Chris and others said, don’t fret about this buddy. No offense, but you’re not super advanced as it is, which means you have less to lose, and it takes more to lose it.

More importantly, you need to pack more calorie-dense food. Cannot [re]emphasize that enough man. That lean protein crap is going to have you suffering, and lacking any energy at all. Trail mix is your friend. Sure, supplement that with some dried meat, protein powder and the like if you feel like it. But those are the least of your worries, or they should be anyways. Any slight amount of muscle you lose will be quickly gained back within a week or two tops once you get back to the gym, and eating more.

Just enjoy this trip, have a blast, make memories, that type of thing. Enjoy life.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Muscle that you used to have is easily regained. We gain and lose muscle&fat on a daily basis without realising it, our body is in a state of constant flux. Do the trip, focus on making it through the hikes and then come back to the gym. If it helps, you will definitely get a lot leaner during your trip. Seriously.[/quote]

I’m looking forward to that extra ‘leanness’. As a FFB, once I saw my abs, I’ve never truly been able to give them up, and so haven’t been able to do an all out bulk at all (rather a very slow clean bulk). Perhaps the extra leanness will give me some space to do a big bulk with.[/quote]

Which, IMO, is the way to go anyway. I don’T give a fuck about what Rippetoe has to say on nutrition, no one needs to go above 15% fat to build muscle.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
You’re not going into a coma. You’re not nursing a broken rib. You’re hiking with a ruck on your back. I wouldn’t even worry about being the nutbar in your group who “exercises” with his pack during rest breaks. Not sure the kind of group you’re traveling with, but if I was a group leader and saw you with enough energy to knock out push-ups and partner squats during our breaks, congrats, you just volunteered to carry a spare rucksack.
[/quote]

Haha, I’m not quite sure whether you’re telling me to do push-ups and squats, or not, but it was humorous regardless. I think I will end up doing some kind bodyweight movements.[/quote]

He is telling you not to do them.

[quote]hungry4more wrote:
As Chris and others said, don’t fret about this buddy. No offense, but you’re not super advanced as it is, which means you have less to lose, and it takes more to lose it.

More importantly, you need to pack more calorie-dense food. Cannot [re]emphasize that enough man. That lean protein crap is going to have you suffering, and lacking any energy at all. Trail mix is your friend. Sure, supplement that with some dried meat, protein powder and the like if you feel like it. But those are the least of your worries, or they should be anyways. Any slight amount of muscle you lose will be quickly gained back within a week or two tops once you get back to the gym, and eating more.

Just enjoy this trip, have a blast, make memories, that type of thing. Enjoy life. [/quote]

Actually, in his Mass Made Simple article it seems to mean that Dan John actually advocates getting lean before a bulk, sort of a prime the hormones for a rebound type of thing. Not sure if there’s anything to it, but what the hell.

Second the trail mix thing. Keto-hiking for any distance sucks. Fat + carbs FTW.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
Agreed. Avoid them. You don’t need them now and you won’t need them when you get back, but that’s a separate issue.[/quote]
Hmm. I’m intrigued. Why?[/quote]
Glutamine has little to no actual benefit on muscular recovery or growth. It can be useful for general immune system (fighting colds and whatever), but for muscle building, it’s not very effective. BCAAs - some people do see benefits from them in certain situations, but I don’t believe they’re significantly more effective than a good (complete) protein supplement. So in terms of priority, I’d rather most people invest in a protein powder rather than a BCAA supp.

Yeah, like Nighthawkz said, I’m trying to say you won’t need to do them and shouldn’t bother. If you want to, though, have at it.

[quote]batman730 wrote:
Actually, in his Mass Made Simple article it seems to mean that Dan John actually advocates getting lean before a bulk, sort of a prime the hormones for a rebound type of thing. Not sure if there’s anything to it, but what the hell. [/quote]
There can be a “rebound effect” like you see in bodybuilders right after a contest, but that doesn’t quite apply when someone is already starting out fairly underweight or on the skinnier side.

[quote]hungry4more wrote:
As Chris and others said, don’t fret about this buddy. No offense, but you’re not super advanced as it is, which means you have less to lose, and it takes more to lose it.

More importantly, you need to pack more calorie-dense food. Cannot [re]emphasize that enough man. That lean protein crap is going to have you suffering, and lacking any energy at all. Trail mix is your friend. Sure, supplement that with some dried meat, protein powder and the like if you feel like it. But those are the least of your worries, or they should be anyways. Any slight amount of muscle you lose will be quickly gained back within a week or two tops once you get back to the gym, and eating more.

Just enjoy this trip, have a blast, make memories, that type of thing. Enjoy life. [/quote]

Seems like sound advice. Thanks a lot!