High Fat Trail Diet

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    David D
    BPL Member


    Has any consensus formed over time for on-trail diet macro mix?

    Gear skeptic is recommending 65% Fat, 14% carb, 14% carb from sugar, 7% protein based on a review of the science.  Without doing olive oil shooters, this is tough to sustain.

    On the other hand, many others recommend a higher carb ratio than from fat such as here recommending 35% Fat, 50% carb, 15% protein for long distance hiking (undefined).  A dietician recommends keeping up carb levels while hiking and keep fat lower as they’re hard to digest while another dietician also stresses the importance for carbs on the trail.

    I tried a 50% fat diet for a week long trip last year because it looked like an attractive way to drop pack weight, but my body didn’t digest it well.

    I’m wondering if it takes time for the body to adjust to such a high fat diet and whether that’s even worth pursuing if you’re not through hiking?



    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    While studies are mixed about this, high fat diets haven’t shown to be substantially beneficial to endurance performance despite all the online buzz.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    65% Fat, 14% carb, 14% carb from sugar, 7% protein
    To me, that does seem a bit overly precise for a kitchen.
    It also seems a bit overly precise for a few days backpacking.
    I remember one dietician/medico suggesting you eat whatever you like as it does not matter for a week-long trip.

    I agree that high-fat diets can take a lot of getting used to. We ate very little fats in the Himalayas.


    DWR D
    BPL Member


    Downsides of High Fat diet:

    * constipation

    * missing out on nutrients in complex carbohydrates

    * over long term, clogged arteries and coronary problems

    * hard to digest, especially at altitude

    High Fat diets have been all the rage among fad diets… I have tried it, and had ALL the above issues…. :(((

    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    my body didn’t digest it well

    Rapidly changing your diet can “surprise” your friendly passengers in your colon. They don’t always like sudden change, but they will adapt over time.

    Gear Skeptic …[and]… dietician[s].

    I love Gear Skeptic, but he’s only half-right about nutrition. He’s optimizing for backpacking weight and volume and assuming that his listeners are fit and active; focusing on calories rather than nutrition. There are a whole lot of people in the world who could benefit from a deeper dive. Dieticians are often trained incorrectly. A few are good, but most tend to repeat government guidelines that vary from sketchy to just plain bad advice. If you’re happy with those limitations, then you can stop reading now. :)

    Whether, and how, to change your diet depends on your goals and current metabolism. The vast majority of information about increasing fat is in the context of reducing carbohydrates. For people suffering from metabolic dysfunction (central adiposity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, low HDL, or cardiovascular dysfunction), then reducing carbs could prolong your life. That applies to at least half of the people in the US, although possibly fewer regular hikers.

    If your goal is to lose weight, then cutting the carbs will help. You can only burn fat in absence of insulin, so carbs tend to interfere. If your metabolism is already messed up (insulin resistance), then fat burning can be illusive. Stick with it, though, because it is achievable (and walking is a big help for multiple reasons).

    If your goal is longevity, then know that the things that are most likely to kill you are glycation and inflammation, followed by cancer. Over a lifetime, glycation and inflammation contribute to cardiovascular diseases and metabolic dysfunction. How to prevent that? Reduce carbs and stop eating processed seed oils. Natural fats are generally healthy (more or less); those made in a chemistry lab are generally not. Get some sunshine daily, but not too much. Protect your skin and eyes.

    If you are fit and active but just want to have more control over when you eat, or want to feel better/stronger between meals, then shifting from a carb-centric to a fat-centric diet allows you to easily skip meals and eat when you want to; rather than when your stomach growls. Some long-distance athletes have had good success with this approach.

    Regardless of your reason for reducing carbs, you need to replace the calories. You can increase protein, which is not a bad idea for many people. Mostly, though, you will be eating slightly more fat. You don’t have to go crazy with it. Just eat fattier meat (fattier cuts instead of sirloin or round; hamburger instead of white fish), eggs, small fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring), and full-fat dairy (especially fermented dairy, like cheese).

    Initially you will eat more fat to stay satiated. Given the right balance and time (there is a lot of nuance here), your body will eventually prefer burning fat rather than burning carbs. THEN you can increase your fat intake if you like, or just burn more of your own, depending on your goals.

    For athletes (including all of us here), your focus should actually be on protein. The nutrients that you need in greatest amounts every day are Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) which you get from protein. There are also Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) that you must consume, but the amounts are small, and most people come close with their normal diets, especially when eating whole foods and small fatty fish. There are NO “essential carbohydrates”. You don’t need to eat any at all. Not even fiber(1). Your liver makes plenty of glucose for the few cells that require it via gluconeogenesis.

    It can be hard to eat enough protein to optimize muscle synthesis because it is a slow process. The “necessary” amount depends on the person and there is no agreement on minimums. There are also no widely-agreed maximums, other than a concern about TMAO which only matters if you are eating carbs. If you keep your carbs low, then that is not a concern, either. Up to two grams per day per kilogram of lean body mass is about as close as you’re going to get to consensus (for people who exercise regularly).

    The majority of satiety signals come from protein and fat, so eating those until you are satisfied is all it takes. The harder thing is to break your carbohydrate addiction, which you probably have. That part takes effort over time (perhaps months or years).

    There is also a LOT of bad information out there; much of it coming from public health officials who ought to know better. Protein and fat from natural whole foods will not clog your arteries, cause digestive issues, or lead to heart disease. Sugar and grains will. The party line about “healthy whole grains, fruits, and vegetables” is tragically wrong. While there are some micronutrients in some vegetables, none of them are required for life, especially not short-term.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat plants at all. I’m just saying that you don’t need them if you are eating sufficient meat, eggs, full-fat dairy, and small fatty fish.

    There is a lot of nuance to nutrition, but the basics are as simple as that.

    Footnote 1: Fiber is for your gut flora, some of which ferment the fiber into butyrate (a fatty acid) which then feeds other beneficial bacteria. If you eat few carbohydrates (<20-50g/day), then your liver will make abundant beta-hydroxybutyrate which feeds the same beneficial flora. Don’t worry about constipation; that is almost entirely about having sufficient fat in your diet.

    Disclaimer: I am not a physician and nobody should listen to me.


    BPL Member


    Locale: N NY

    I’ll suffer the extra weight to eat food I like . Whole food diet.


    baja bob
    BPL Member


    Locale: West

    Keto and high fat diets are not healthy. People can argue to the contrary all day long, but it won’t make it true.

    Murali C
    BPL Member


    Bill Budney – I was going to ask if you are a physician or dietician…..glad you had that disclaimer.

    What you are saying is very different from what the book “Burn” says. In that book, hunter/gatherers actually ate lots of carbs – in the form of tubers (ancestors of potatoes) and honey. They also ate meat they got their hands on – zebra, antelope etc. They do  not use salt/pepper etc – so food is mostly bland and not wicked tasty like what we eat. Vegetables have fiber which will make you full quicker and make you stop eating. It is an excellent book and talks about energy expenditure, how exercise affects calorie expenditure (surprising result – it doesn’t do much – unless you are running a marathon every day).

    The food that is being sold in most grocery stores are highly processed to make you addicted to food and interfere with satiety signals – so you tend to eat more which is the real culprit. Calories in and calories out is what makes a huge difference according to this book. So whatever diet you choose, you can control your weight if you manage the equation – calorie in/calorie out.

    There are so many competing theories about carbs, fat, protein – I have concluded that one just needs to eat everything in moderation. Don’t skew it too much to hedge your bets as science keeps changing. And I have concluded that unprocessed food is better – so, eat fruits like berries if you are hungry or nuts for snacks. Eat less.

    Now for backpacking itself which was the original question – most backpacking food seems like they are big on carbs. You can get high fat dinners as well. The theory of – if you restrict carbs, then body burns fat and you will lose weight doesn’t at least apply to me as I am already skinny. I don’t want to lose weight while backpacking. Even with a high carb diet during backpacking, I tend to lose 10 to 12 lbs when I do a 3 to 4 week trip. On my first JMT trip, I took powdered cheese, powdered butter etc and actually for me – I had loose stools. It didn’t agree with me. I stopped doing that. Not a fan of peanut butter etc.

    I mean it seems like when you are doing big hiking miles with lots of elevation – you will need instant energy? which carbs provides? I have also tried reading the book “Training for the Uphill Athlete” which has been mentioned in this forum which talks about training in zone 1/zone 2 mostly to stay in the aerobic range which can train your body to burn fat which is available in unlimited quantities (almost) in the body compared to carb calories – which is limited by what you eat. I have not been able to do this yet – need to. The book says that once you do this effectively, you will become faster and better while staying in zone 1/2 burning fat from your body.

    I would recommend reading this book “Training for the Uphill Athlete”.

    W I S N E R !


    I’m not so sure about the effect of high fat foods on pack weight but I can easily pack 3000 calories for <24oz when incorporating carbs, and do so in a relatively space-efficient way (last season had 9 days in a BV500 canister).

    I do know that fat adaptation, either through fasting, keto/high fat-low carb diet, Zone 2 exercise, or all of the above, has pretty big advantages in the outdoors, namely in not needing to eat as frequently. A lot of this was explored/pioneered by some of the top Ironman triathletes of yore; it was just too slow to be choking down calories every 30 minutes/hour at race pace.

    I’m not sure about advantages in endurance, but I do know it’s very handy to be able to hike, cycle, or climb all day without bonking due to a lack of food. I don’t find that this makes a whole lot of a difference on multiday trips though …because there’s really no reason to not stop and eat when you need to. But it can definitely help avoid the a bonk on big days or during hard efforts, which is worth considering.

    I don’t eat a high fat diet per se, but I do make sure I do nearly all of my training exercise, especially endurance, in a fasted state. I believe this adaptation also hinges on having a decent endurance base and being able to do long efforts while staying within your aerobic threshold (fat burning zone). I found it worth training for because choking down bars, gels, and other calories every hour during endurance events gets pretty annoying.

    ^^^I’d second reading “Training for the Uphill Athlete” if you’re interested in energy systems while hiking/training for the mountains. Zone 2…Zone 2…Zone 2!


    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    People are obviously omnivores. Look around the world and you see people thriving on very different diets.

    Hunter-gatherers tend to eat whatever is abundant. In some places, that included plenty of carbs during some seasons. In other places, more meat and/or fish. In arctic regions, almost entirely meat and fish.

    That thing about fiber filling you up is only a half-truth. Fiber can distend your stomach, which does provide weak satiety signaling. But what is more satiating: Hard boiled eggs or fiber? For me, it’s the eggs. Strong satiety signaling correlates better with nutritional density (mainly protein and fat).

    Do carbs give you instant energy? Maybe. But what sticks with you longer? Steak and eggs, or any carb mix you can think of? There is a reason that astronauts eat the steak and eggs before going into space. Or, at least, they used to back in the days when it was hard.

    Training and fasting can help, but the only thing required for fat adaptation is to eat fewer carbs. As Wisner points out, you don’t bonk when you’re fat-adapted.

    The majority of lifelong hikers tend to be thin, because our bodies adapt to the workload and become efficient at walking. That’s good, and hikers tend to live long lives. I’d be concerned about glycation effects over decades, but if you keep walking, that will fight off most of the harm.

    The thing that is most attractive about carbs for backpacking is that they dehydrate easily and carry well. For a given weight, you can probably carry more calories of oatmeal and coconut oil than meat, eggs, and jello. On the other hand, the meat/eggs/jello have the nutrients required to rebuild muscles and connective tissue that are worn down by the trail. Oatmeal and coconut oil do not.

    Nuts are perhaps the best high-carb foods. They have lots of calories per pound, and some protein as well, depending on what kind. Not as excellent a source as meat, but they are lightweight. Explains why peanuts and peanut butter are so common in trail foods.

    Metabolic flexibility occurs when you build fat adaptation then re-introduce carbohydrates in moderation. To maintain it, you will need to either limit carbs or fast periodically. Metabolic flexibility allows your body to efficiently burn whatever fuel you eat. For people who are already metabolically healthy, that might be the ideal combination.

    Murali C
    BPL Member


    I have started eating cauliflower rice and I know one serving fills me up realy nicely compared to real rice.

    I am 5′ 11” and 145 lbs. My goal is to not lose weight. But I end up losing 10+ lbs on a 3 week backpacking trip? It seems like my carb/protein/calorie intake is not enough and therefore body is starting to burn fat. If I further reduced my carb intake, it seems like I will lose more weight. Sure one has to make sure you are eating enough calories to begin with.

    Unless you all are saying that fat diet will replace the fat I am losing and maintain my weight? Or somehow I become more efficient in burning calories with zone 2 training – which I would think is going to use fat as energy – but because I am more efficient, I am not burning that much fat? or since I have trained my body to use fat, the carbs I eat can be converted to more fat as I don’t use anaerobic energy?

    Todd Stough
    BPL Member


    I think some of you are mistaking fat burning with burning body fat.  You burn your dietary fat first, then if you need energy you will burn your body fat.  Eating plenty of fat should maintain your weight.

    When you are not eating carbs you seamlessly go from burning to storing fat, you don’t notice a drop in energy.  You might eat 80% fat 20% protein or something like that to give you energy on the high calorie days.

    Pemmican is a classic example of high fat hiking food.

    As Bill said, you don’t need fiber at all.  I think it is important to live that way though, not just when you hike.

    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    Murali, When people gain or lose weight they usually gain or lose both fat and muscle at the same time. As the decades wear on, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain muscle mass. So make sure you are eating enough high-quality protein. Animal proteins match human dietary requirements well. Plant proteins less so; that means you need even more plant protein to compensate.

    Losing weight easily is a sign of robust insulin sensitivity. That is a good thing. It suggests that you should be able to gain or maintain weight by stimulating insulin while increasing calories. In that case, eating carbs with larger meals may help. Don’t overdo it, though. As with everything else in life, it is a matter of balance.

    I’m not recommending pizza, donuts, or ice cream, but those foods combine high glycemic loads with high calories from both carbs and fat. Chili con carne might be a more healthy approach to a similar combination.

    Walking/backpacking is predominantly zone 2. You don’t have to do anything special.

    The satiety effect you describe from cauliflower “rice” may be less due to fiber and more to the fact that rice (and other grains) quickly raise then lower blood sugar in kind of roller-coaster fashion, which makes you want more soon after. It raises an important point: SLOW carbohydrates are better than fast carbohydrates. That’s one of the reasons why beans and sweet potatoes are better for you (long-term) than grains and white potatoes.

    As mentioned above, when you reduce carbohydrates you want to increase other calories to compensate. It is hard to know exactly what is going on in your case without more information (like typical diet on- and off-trail). It does sound as though you are burning fat very efficiently, although you may also be chewing up your muscles some. Maybe. Do you feel weaker or stronger after three weeks on the trail (or a mix)?

    Increasing your fat intake is one way of increasing calories. Fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as either protein or carbohydrate.

    Carbohydrates increase insulin more than protein or fat.

    That said, it always makes sense to make sure you are getting enough protein, because that is the thing that you need most, and your body has no way to store it. After that, you can probably eat whatever calories you like. Spiking your insulin a little with your larger meals may help, but do it in moderation, because most metabolic dysfunctions are caused by hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in response to too many carbs).

    As Todd points out, when you eat no carbs, your energy stays at a steady level. It’s like a minor super-power. You should then be able to tune your weight maintenance by adjusting calories from protein and fat. Make your adjustments gradual over a week or four to avoid surprising your friendly passengers.

    Many classical keto diets recommend moderating protein in order to suppress gluconeogenesis which can interfere with weight loss (in people trying to lose weight). That’s where balances like 70-80% fat calories come from. For athletes, it may not be the optimal way to tune your diet. Walking already lowers cortisol which reduces gluconeogenesis, so no need to moderate protein.

    Protein is important for maintaining everything in your body, in addition to muscle synthesis (which is a very slow process that slows even more with age). You’ve got to get enough protein every day, all year, but especially when on trail.



    Locale: The Cascades

    I’ve been doing keto mostly on (occasionally off) for ~4-5 years now. I did the Wonderland Trail at 62 in five days doing keto and felt good the entire time. I’m a fan.

    Todd Stough
    BPL Member


    Bill my 80% fat was specifically while on trail and burning excess energy.  In normal day life I’m probably 50-60% fat although I don’t track it.  I do try to stay around 160 grams of protein.  I’m primarily eating ribeye and 80/20 ground beef.

    Freind of mine who is also 46 recently switched to Carnivore also, she was able to run 10 miles with no training and hadn’t eaten in 24 hours prior.  She felt great.  Needing carbs for energy is a myth.  You might still choose that but you don’t need it.

    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    Nice. That’s the way.

    Yeah, I am mostly carnivore these days as well. Love it. Just trying not to scare everyone away. :)

    Murali C
    BPL Member


    When you are not eating carbs you seamlessly go from burning to storing fat, you don’t notice a drop in energy. 

    Todd – what does this statement mean? Not eating carbs, and eating lots of fat will help you burn the dietary fat which will prevent burning body fat and hence will not lose weight? Whereas when eating carbs, the carbs get burned quickly and then the body fat next. I guess it takes, calorie wise, a lot more carbs than fat as fat has more calories and hence once could eat less ounces of food as well?

    Bill: by the end of week 3 while I have lost lot of weight, I don’t think I feel any weaker.  What I have noticed is that on day 1 of resupply in town, when I drink 2 to 3 cups of coffee, 2 to 3 eggs and bread with jelly/butter, I feel very strong and can do much bigger miles with less exhaustion. And it starts getting worse days 2 -5/6. Then I resupply, same effect. But not overly weak or anything like that. I can sustain 20-22 miles every day doing the usual 2 to 5k feet of elevation climbs.

    Doesn’t high fat diet increase your cholesterol and can cause cardiovascular diseases? Of course there is a school of thought that reducing carbs (sugar) will reduce triglycerides/inflammation etc which is the real culprit. And that fat is not the villain.

    MJ H
    BPL Member


    Carbs are delicious.  I’d rather go vegetarian than cub to 14% carbs.

    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    Murali, you are strong and light; a good combination for longevity. The only way to know, for sure, how a change in diet will affect you is for you to try it. Every individual is different, and you’ve got billions of passengers who all get a vote, as well. Try bumping up protein and fat slightly, and see how you feel.

    If you feel stronger on resupply-day, then what are you eating the other days that make you increasingly weaker (even if only a little bit)?

    You are on the right path. Yes, sugar and grains are the villains in cardiovascular disease; not dietary fat or cholesterol intake. Your body makes much more cholesterol than you probably eat. That’s one of those bits of common disinformation from people who should know better.


    Sarah Kirkconnell
    BPL Member


    Locale: Homesteading On An Island In The PNW

    If you ever get constipated, do a keto diet with processed keto items. HAHAHAHA…oh that fiber. Combined with higher fat. You’ll be wishing you were constipated.



    Locale: The Cascades

    I’ve never had that happen (diarrhea) on keto, even when eating a number of keto bars in a day. I am lucky, though, in that my body seems to take such things easily without much issue.

    David D
    BPL Member


    I don’t enjoy carbs or sugar all that much, fast 16 hours a day, and spend most of my exercise activities in zone 2 and train weekly (but not enough) but can’t afford to lose much weight. My journey on the macro analysis started because while backpacking I ate what I liked, satiated my hunger and was losing a lb a day on week long trips so wanted to make a change.

    I tried the high fat approach to carry more calories while limiting my increase in carried weight. Simplifying the estimation and ignoring protein for a moment, for 3000 calories a day over 7 days 65%fat/35% carb diet saves more than 2 lbs at start vs. a 35% fat/65% carb diet (250 cal/oz olive oil, 105 cal/oz instant couscous). In reality, weight saving is ~ 1.5lbs and decreases day on day. Nothing to sneeze at.  Edit: my other motivation is to try and fit a 7 day carry in my existing 10.7L Ursack, avoiding the expense and weight of the 20L version, or the hassle of also having to carry a bear hang along with my Ursack.

    Even while focusing on just this one goal for a moment, it’s important to try to understand all the pros and cons. I was motivated to try the high fat approach on trail by gearskeptic’s analysis and then found I was bunged for 4 days straight doing long miles.  It was like living the old Heinz Ketchup commercial in slo-mo over 4 days.

    One approach advocated here is easing into high fat over time to train the gut but to avoid fiber. This is a long term mission (months) and requires a lifestyle change that’s pretty radical.

    An alternative approach is to consume enough fiber while eating a temporary high fat diet. Recommendations I’ve read were for 10-15g fiber per 1000 calories. I think this is a good guideline if not wanting to go full keto full time. My research read (not tried yet) also advises to ease into the high fat+fiber diet and that will only take a couple weeks. Since the body in this approach isn’t fully trained to consume fat stores, snacking during day is still beneficial. A great food source for high fat and decent carbs hit is almonds. Not all nuts are created equal:
    cashews/oz: 14g fat, 1g fiber (outside sugar)
    almonds/oz: 14g fat, 4g fiber (outside sugar)
    peanuts: 14.7g fat, 1.7g fiber (outside sugar)

    My next long trip I also plan to carry chia seeds 10g fiber/oz as a bump, after easing into them for a week or two.

    Not discussed but important is bioavailability. Research shows bioavailability of whole nuts is ~ 5 to 32% less than shown on the label, depending on nut type, whereas nut butters were consistent with calories on the label (perhaps less energy in digestion, more complete digestion).  Good argument for carrying tasty almond butter!

    I’m not purposely trying to avoid importance of proteins.  Protein guidelines I’ve seen were gearskeptic’s 7% of calories and Skurka’s of ~ .5g to .75g protein/lb body weight per day.

    But my interest is more in how to make high fat work.  For through hiking, what are the other drawbacks of the high fat approach?  Is it possible to obtain the necessary nutrients and not just calories?

    I’m really enjoying this conversation.


    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    You’re on the right track.

    As mentioned, diarrhea is mostly about surprising your gut flora with a sudden change.

    If you eat something regularly you will have no problem (unless you have a deeper issue such as gut permeability, overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria, or autoimmune disease). For myself, I can usually adapt to a change over about three days. YMMV.

    If you suddenly eat a LOT of something new, then you might have issues. Sudden changes in fiber intake (or kinds of fiber), MCT oils, as well as some sweeteners and food colorings can all do it. Even just sudden changes in normal fat intake can do it. People who slam down several prebiotic drinks in a row are likely to be surprised.

    You don’t necessarily need to avoid fiber. It just isn’t necessary if your carbs are below 50g/day. The only problems with fiber come from sudden changes, because that surprises your passengers.

    I don’t know how else to say that protein should be your first priority. It is the nutrient that you need in greatest quantity, especially when exercising. Look at Dan Becker’s recent Grand Canyon trip to see what can happen when you don’t eat enough protein.

    IMO, percent of calories is the wrong way to look at it. A better rule of thumb is: 1-2g/kg (0.5-1g/lb) of lean body mass. Skurka’s numbers are a little light, but are in the right ballpark.

    As for bio-availability, nothing beats red meat. It contains most of the nutrients you need. Pair with eggs, some cheese, and small fatty fish (sardines/herring/salmon/trout) for complete nutrition. Vegetarians need to work a little harder to get everything they need.

    Weight-wise, Pemmican is ideal if you enjoy it. If not, then the combination of jerky and sausage can be adjusted to give you your preferred balance at minimal pack weight. Or freeze-dried. Canned corned beef is 25% lighter than fresh meat for same nutrition. Cooked hamburger is usually good for a day or two unrefrigerated, depending on weather and how you pack it (let it get some air; some of the worst bacteria are the anaerobic kinds). Cooked meats also save the same 25% of pack weight.

    Even lighter is protein powder (whey or cassein for best bio-availability; if you use pea protein then you need larger amounts). You will need to augment fat. Shaker balls can help with mixing.

    Once you have your protein handled, then you can pad the rest of your calories with fat. Always natural fats; avoid seed oils. (For mayonnaise, get avocado-oil rather than most commercial brands).

    what are the other drawbacks of the high fat approach?

    None. Just don’t shock your passengers by a sudden change. Ramp up over a few days or more.

    Fine Print Department: Oxidation can be an issue, especially without refrigeration. It’s what changes mono- and poly-unsaturated fats into trans fats that cause inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats cannot oxidize, so they carry well unrefrigerated and are good for cooking. Coconut oil and ghee are mostly saturated fats. The rendered suet (kidney fat) in pemmican is quite shelf-stable. Other fats (both animal and plant) have a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats, so are less shelf-stable.

    Is it possible to obtain the necessary nutrients and not just calories?

    The nutrients come from your meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and protein powder. Most of those include fat; enjoy it. Added fats are just for calories.


    David D
    BPL Member


    I looked into the protein powders but there were too many colourful stories of after effects so have shied away.  My meal plans do ensure 0.6g/lb or more protein a day though.  Shelf stable uncut salami, milk powder, parmesan, pepperoni, bacon crumbles, peanut butter, and sometimes egg crystals (but clean up is a pain).    First day treat is a big meat sub in the car before leaving and then frozen BBQ sausage or steak, precut & wrapped in clothes to try and keep < 40F for dinner

    Purposely carry a 1.1oz knife with 55mm blade which is about the minimum to cut Walmart Mastro salami, and a 0.5oz food grade plastic diy cutting board that wraps around the outside of my pot.

    Other shelf stable cheeses to keep things interesting: Asiago (medium and old) • Aged Cheddar • Colby • Feta • Monterey Jack • Muenster • Parmesan (& Reggiano) • Pasteurized Process Cheese • Provolone • Romano • Swiss/Emmentaler

    For fat, I live by olive oil bumps in lightweight Nalgene widemouth (8.5 fl oz container = 1.3 oz weight).  I Eat a lot of it at home, no system shock.  The French paradoz and Mediterranean diet in action.

    A great tasting trail bar at a great price with a healthy trail mix and high caloric density is Kirkland’s Signature Nut Bar, recommended!

    Pemmican looks interesting, thanks, I’ll check the butcher.  Not expecting to find in the Walmart aisles!

    Bill Budney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central NYS

    Canadian trappers lived all Winter on a sack of pemmican containing the dried meat and fat of an entire bison. The sack was made of bison hide and weighed about 70 lbs when new. They commonly made stew with it; adding whatever local leeks or onions or other flavorings they could find.

    That said, I haven’t found a low-sugar pemmican that I enjoy. Your butcher is a good place to look.

    You’re on the right track. Don’t be distracted by people blaming the wrong thing. Those colorful stories most likely were caused by surprising the gut microbiome rather than anything having to do with the protein itself. Same for stories of GI upset from anything else. Too much too soon is commonly the problem; not the change itself.

    I drink two or three 30g protein shakes a day because I just can’t eat enough meat to get the 200g that I aim for. I want to build as much muscle as I can now, so that maybe I won’t lose it so rapidly later. It is a slow process (decades).

    Also, muscle protein synthesis works in chunks, with maybe 3-4 chunks possible in a day. So shakes early in the day may stimulate synthesis during periods in which I otherwise don’t eat.

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