Ketogenic diet as a way to lighten pack?
Apr 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm #1862325Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
Hey Daniel, awesome you have such good results. I feel similarly. I get this limitless energy. It just feels so completely different from the way things used to be.
Harald, I'm going to have to try doing some dried sweet potato cubes. I remember trying to dry some sliced potatoes once but I needed to have a dentist on hand if I wanted to eat them.
Kimberly, coconut curry was what I brought for my first night this weekend. Very tasty. No rice, just tuna. I had hoped to put wild edibles in there but didn't find any near my campsite.
Here's the food I brought:
Top left to right:
Tuna in oil, coconut manna, dried onions, curry powder and Thai Kitchen green curry (tasty!); US Wellness Pemmican bars; Theo 91% chocolate; Starbucks Via packets; Beef jerky (uneaten); Date/walnut bar, fig/almond bar (my only carbs, mostly not eaten) and French Mimolette cheese; macadamia and brazil nuts. Mostly no-cook food because we anticipated the possibility of not being able to cook the 2nd day. I brought too much food. I could have gone lighter.
Eating foods like this might not be any lighter since they aren't dehydrated and I always bring too much anyway. But they are high calorie and high fat so during my trip this weekend when I got hypothermic, even though I had no-cook foods, I feel their high fat content helped a lot.
I wrote up a trip report about this if you are interested.Apr 2, 2012 at 8:51 am #1862508Steve CainMember
@hoosierdaddyLocale: Western Washington
Daniel: Where did you find the powdered coconut oil and the powdered butterfat? I'm REALLY interested in this!Apr 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm #1862730Diane PinkersBPL Member
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
Emergency Essentials has cubed/dried sweet potatoes available, in 4 ounce and # 10 tins. I have tried them for a "breakfast" treat with chicken and maple sugar with cinnamon, didn't rehydrate well, think they needed longer or hotter–I was "camping" in a hotel and using a microwave. I was thinking of blenderizing them next time to improve hydration.Apr 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm #1862787Chris MorganBPL Member
@chrismorganLocale: Southern Oregon
I can only find 87% ;)Apr 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm #1862807Kimberly WersalBPL Member
@kwersalLocale: Western Colorado
Google up "Sweet Potato Flour" and you should find some sources for sweet potato that will rehydrate more easily. This is basically what I made myself–the hard way (bake, dehydrate, freeze, grind), but it is too much work for something you can purchase online (and organic).
Packit Gourmet has dehydrated butter powder, and some other interesting stuff. I use their powdered tomato for some of my FB meals.Apr 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm #1867304TJ JonesMember
piper.. check out theprimalblueprint.com
it's a website with info about high fat diets like yours. basically carbs aren't nearly as necessary as we have been told. high fat diets are a lot healthier and efficient for your body, etc.Apr 16, 2012 at 10:43 am #1867754Harald HopeMember
@hhopeLocale: East Bay
piper, I cut the potatoes into about 3/16, 1/4" thick slices once they have cooled down, then cut those into little squares. Maybe 1/2" on a side max, then put them on the drying trays. I cut out some screen and put it into the drying tray to keep the little pieces from falling down.
My first attempt I didn't cube them after slicing, and had to use a hammer pounding on a towel wrapped around the potatoes to crack them, a big mortar/pestle barely dented them. Took so long to break up the big pieces I decided that the extra cubing time was time well spent.
These will rehydrate quite nicely with a cozy, takes about 15 minutes, 20 to be safe. They don't get soft like a potato again, but they get chewable, and taste really good, and also don't fall apart into mush. I'd guess that if you are going to be high, 8k or more, you might want to slice it thinner to start since the water won't get as hot.
This stuff gets so dry you can probably make a year's worth at a time safely I'd guess, like the dried boiled brown rice.
Slicing the potatoes is a bit time consuming, but just put on the radio or something and be zen about it, when you're done you're done and can do other stuff.
This stuff is so relatively easy to make that I can see no reason to ever buy it, the only real time is the drying part, plus you can source the potatoes/rice and end up with far better quality than you'd buy.Dec 6, 2017 at 2:19 am #3505771
To address the original question of this post, will a ketogenic diet lighten a pack load? Yes. A diet that is 90% fat is much lighter because fat has 9kal/g and this diet ensures you will improve the peak rate of fat metabolism. This is what I ate on a 707 mile section of the Appalachian Trail and I had steady energy doing an average of 13 miles per day. I also did a 51 mile 16k ft of climbing section of the white mountains in two days on the ketogenic diet and felt great. I wrote about this on my ketogenicbackpacking blog and book.
A friend of mine hiked the PCT and started out on a high protein paleo diet but felt weak and tired when he hit the Sierras and started eating a lot of crushed tortilla chips which he said helped a lot.
My current thought is that a full ketogenic diet works well but many people end up eating a high protein diet which is the least efficient backpacking diet of all because protein has closer to 3.2kcal/gram when you factor in the cost of metabolism. (Bijal Trivedi “The agony and ecstasy of the calorie”)Dec 12, 2017 at 6:04 pm #3507088Ben PBPL Member
Wife and I went with a near-keto diet while in Iceland this past October, worked very well for us. Very high fat, very high protein, never felt ‘stuffed’ of food during meals to hit our calorie requirements.Dec 19, 2017 at 11:44 pm #3508391
@Ben P Did you bring your food or buy it in Iceland? I just discovered salted dried “arenque” fish in a market here in the Dominican Republic while shopping for our backpacking trip up Pico Duarte. I had to rinse it repeatedly to get rid of the salt to the point of palatability but dipped in mayo it worked quite well. I figured it was a locally sourced food but when I asked people they said it was imported from Norway.Dec 20, 2017 at 4:46 am #3508443Terry SparksBPL Member
@firebugLocale: Santa Barbara County Coast
<b><i>.</i></b>Dec 20, 2017 at 9:02 pm #3508534
@Terry Sparks. I agree that protein needs to be adequate, at least 0.36g/lb body weight, slightly higher if you are trying to lose weight by undereating. But unless you are doing 30miles a day it is not that hard to avoid the caloric deficit with a high fat diet. I recently packed 20,490kcal for a 4 day trip in the white mountains and my total food weight, including the packaging was 6lbs.
“Agree with a high protein diet being the least efficient when measured by weight. But also keep in mind that for longer hikes and thru-hikes, a higher protein diet is needed to reduce the loss of muscle mass from being in a calorie deficit for months at a time. I wouldn’t get to caught up on the gram weenie savings, only to pay for it later, and with very little chance to recover from it while on the trail.”Dec 28, 2017 at 6:27 pm #3509726Alexander SBPL Member
Out of curiosity, how long was your hike in days/miles?
Personally I bonk out after 4-5 days of low carb high mileage / elevation gain hiking.Dec 29, 2017 at 12:44 am #3509775Tom KBPL Member
“I recently packed 20,490kcal for a 4 day trip in the white mountains and my total food weight, including the packaging was 6lbs.”
That’s a ton of calories for less than 6 pounds. Would you be willing to give us a list of the foods you used for a day’s worth of calories?Dec 29, 2017 at 1:46 am #3509779Greg MihalikBPL Member
20,490/(6*16) = 213 calories per ounce.
Well, if it’s not pure olive oil, I’m certainly interested.Dec 29, 2017 at 4:49 pm #3509837John VanceBPL Member
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
Even 6 lbs of butter won’t get you there at 204 kcal/oz. Hmmm.Jan 3, 2018 at 2:34 pm #3510621
Let me know if I made any errors in my calculations. All the recipes are from my Ketogenic Backpacking book on amazon. I also wrote up the details of my White Mountains hike on my blog ketogenicbackpacking.com. The heavy hitters were “Thai Cashew Cream” at 217kcal/oz which is mostly coconut and red palm oil (rainforest-safe source) and lardican at 211kcal/oz which is 75% lard.
Here is the food I packed:
Here is the recipe for Thai Cashew Cream:
- 2c (252g) lightly salted or Thai Chili Spiced cashews or cashew butter (Trader Joe’s)
- 2tbsp chili-lime seasoning blend (Trader Joe’s)
- 2tsp stevia powder (Trader Joe’s)
- 2c (420g) blended sustainable palm and coconut oil shortening (Nutiva)
- Place nuts in food processor and blend.
- Add stevia
- Add chili spice if not using Thai Chili spiced cashews
- Add shortening and blend until smooth
- Using Thai spiced cashews saves the step of adding spice but removes control over how spicy the butter will be.
- If you don’t have a food processor you can mix the ingredients by hand, but it is best to soften the shortening with gentle heating first.
And the recipe for my “Lardican”
- 50g shredded dried beef aka Machacado (La Nortenita)
- 150g lard (pastured Mangalitsa)
- 1tbsp hickory liquid smoke (Colgin)
- Melt lard gently with low heat then remove from heat.
- Stir in beef and smoke flavor
- Pour into a Ziploc or Mylar bag and then double bag.
Jan 3, 2018 at 2:36 pm #3510623
- Experiment with various spice combinations such as chili pepper, rosemary powder, Berber, and BBQ but use salt-free mixes because the shredded beef is already very salty.
- The quality of your lard will greatly influence the flavor. I recommend pasture-raised Mangalitsa lard.
- You could use beef tallow and it would be closer to solid at room temperature, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good.
Butter has a lower kcal/oz value than lard, coconut and palm oil because of its relatively high water content.Jan 3, 2018 at 10:24 pm #3510715Tom KBPL Member
“Let me know if I made any errors in my calculations”
I checked one set of numbers “on the back of a napkin” and found them close enough for gummint work. Thanks for getting back to us, Bryan. That is a very interesting and innovative way of packing in the calories. I don’t know that I could tolerate it, but that is not the point. For those interested in a ketogenic approach to fueling, this is worth a careful look, IMO.Jan 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm #3511048
@Tom K: “I don’t know that I could tolerate it, but that is not the point.”
I see two types of tolerance: gustatory and digestive. Both are the adaptable.
On the gustatory front, I started off as a person who likes the taste of fat, but after a few weeks on the ketogenic diet my taste for fat gradually increased and I found myself wanting to add more fat to foods that I would have previously found too fatty. I think that switching my mindset from fat being unhealthy to fat being a fuel source had a lot to do with this. Even so, I worked hard on my recipes to make them as delicious as possible. Sure you could just eat coconut oil, that would be quick and easy but it would be a travesty. One of the great pleasures of long distance hiking is all the food you get to eat. During 60 days on the AT on the ketogenic diet I enjoyed the majority of my meals and never found myself wishing I could eat something else.
As for digestibility, I had a few episodes in the evening where I ate too much coconut oil in thai curry sauce and ended up vomiting a few hours later. My limit appears to be about 1/4c of coconut oil, although I can tolerate 1/2c of other fats such as lard, butter, avocado oil and mayonnaise without issue. This only happened in the evening. I’ll be testing out fat digestion aids such as ox bile and lipase when we do the MA to ME section to see what my upper limit is. This is mostly an issue for those who need a lot of calories (I was eating about 5-6,000kcalday).Jul 26, 2018 at 7:44 pm #3548504Jessie – “Pipes”Spectator
Hey all. This thread was super helpful as I planned my keto PCT thruhike last year and thought it might be helpful if folks could see the types of things I packed in my bag [link removed]
Over all, it was a HUGE success and I had far better endurance (could hike longer, farther) than most of my sugar fueled hiker friends. Using the meal plan on that link, I completed all 2600+ miles without losing muscle mass and looked quite healthy when I finished (before/after pics attached here). Let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to answer them or check us out over at [link removed]Jul 27, 2018 at 1:59 pm #3548584eric de haanBPL Member
Thanks for the feedback !
How long have you been on keto diet before you hike the pct?Jul 28, 2018 at 6:37 am #3548690Jessie – “Pipes”Spectator
About a year, but wasn’t very strict before the trail. I would recommend allowing yourself time to adapt before a hike, and be prepared for a more slow-and-steady pace rather than a quick-bursts one. The hikers who have trouble with keto are usually those who are either not adapted or try to push themselves too far, too fast.Jul 29, 2018 at 5:44 pm #3548857Adam CassisBPL Member
I headed out on a 5 Day hike on the high Sierra trail. Staying keto as possible. Average of 3000 calories a day with a weight of 1.2 lbs a day. Things like powdered mct/coconut oil, olive oil etc pack a lot of calories per ounce (usually over 200). The salami and moisture laden meats pack less (100 or less) . Jerky although dry, doesn’t meet the 125/oz benchmark. Overall I find it’s let than when I packed carb heavy . I will report back how this works out afterwards did bring some carbs just in caseAug 23, 2018 at 5:04 pm #3552740Adam CassisBPL Member
brief trip report for the HST which I did keto. worked AWESOME. lighter load, no bonk. highly recommended.
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