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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wülfgang View Post
    The reason why is this is actually a more energy-efficient way of eating on trail (but not necessarily more practical), because lipids (fats) yield more energy per gram than carbs or protein (9 vs 4).

    A small study was recently done on ultra runners and they found that the ultra runners who ate low-carb, high-fat diets actually burned MORE fat and had the same aerobic capacity as ultra runners who ate low-fat, high-carb diets. (article)

    The only drawback they found was that the low-carb runners did not have the energy for a big surge, or sprint. Fats burn more slowly from a metabolic standpoint and this can be a problem if you need to kick it into higher gear for a short time.

    IMO, most hikers could benefit from a high fat, moderate protein, and low to moderate carb diet. You do need carbohydrates if you are hiking, plain and simple; but I don't think we need as much as we think we do. A typical carby backpacker dinner should be enough. The rest of the day your body can utilize the stored glycogen from your dinner and the remainder of your energy will come from fats you consume throughout the day. Of course, you should eat protein every chance you get to mitigate catabolism of muscle tissue.

    It's also worth noting that it takes your body some time to adapt to this diet. If you are a typical American who probably gets >60% of their daily calories from carbs, it will take a couple of weeks for your body to adapt to a lipid-dominant metabolism. But, it will be more efficient and you will effectively need to eat less frequently.
    Excellent post. This makes good sense. I will have to look up that article tomorrow at work (my office computer gives me access to academic articles). I would guess that hikers don't really need that big surge of energy making the low carb diet more compelling for hikers (and people like me who need to lose weight).

  2. #22

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    OMG. More nutritional puzzle pieces narrowly enamored instead of being taken into the full context of the entire puzzle.

    There's a world of difference in how simple carbs like the highly refined processed highly concentrated sugar in a Coke, absent of the matrix of fiber, enzymes, phytonutrients and any appreciable nutrition, hence the term an empty calorie food, affects the body, namely causing significant AND RAPID insulin spikes causing the sugar to be stored as fat, fluctuating energy, and affecting hunger than say the mostly complex carbohydrates found in a Coconut Almond Boone Bar that also has a moderate amount of sugar, high fiber, appreciable vitamins, and other nutrients. The Boone Bar, in this case is going to burn slowly not causing such high and rapid insulin spikes leaving the consumer with a longer feeling of satiation. To even remotely suggest carbs are only of the kind found in a Little Debbie or a Snickers or these are healthier representatives of carbohydrate containing foods is misleading.

    Another example is consuming a fresh fruit within the matrix of being a WHOLE ORGANIC FOOD, containing things like fiber, enzymes, phytonutrients, etc deriving its caloric content largely from carbohydrates, has a different affect on the body, than say that same fruit's juice which is highly concentrating the sugars and removing things like fiber, resulting in spiking insulin levels and possibly leafing to a lack of satiation.

    Do you really think the same diet that optimally serves an ultra runner in the physical condition that most ultra runners are in with their typical regular work out regimens with their race day energy needs during a 60 - 100k is also the most appropriate for someone who's experiencing medical abnormalities such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer or heart disease? Now, that would be something IF that was the case. Unfortunately, what was once abnormal is becoming the new normal as far as physical and mental health in the U.S. The FDA and modern Nutritional Science don't have it all figured out like they want you to believe!

  3. #23
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    Mudsock--Thank you for pointing out that "Everyone does not process carbohydrates as well as a totally healthy 20 year old hiker." Because I allowed myself to gain 45 pounds during my 30s and 40s, I have had type two diabetes for the past 15 years. Despite taking four oral diabetes medicines, including Metformin, my H1C of 6.7 currently is not quite as low as yours is. My doctor tells me that my target is 6.3, an H1C level said to reflect "good" control by people with diabetes.

    I'm also aware of risks that low blood sugar levels can pose. My wife has been insulin dependent for several years. She recently had an insulin overdose and almost died.

    My conclusion from all this is that everyone, including people who are still young, healthy and athletic, should eat good diets. For many people that means eating more fruit and vegetables an consuming fewer carbs and less fat.

    Many of us who backpack occasionally backpack are less active at other times. So we should, I believe, stop eating the calorie intensive stuff (think left over trail mix) as soon as we leave the trail heading home.

    Shortly after I was diagnosed with diabetes a dietician put me on a healthy diet. I followed that diet for two years, losing some weight and controling my diabetes successfully without taking medication. My diet was based on making eating choices similar to those recommended for the general population, but with food quantities (allowances) limited somewhat, and customized to reflect my size, activity level and need to gradually lose weight.

    Interestingly, that dietitian warned me to avoid consuming large quantities of protein. In other words, I was cautioned to not massively substitute protein that for the large carbohydrate loads that I had been consuming. The dietician told me that proteins produce byproducts that augment the amount of work that the kidneys need to perform. So, consuming very large quantities of protein can potentially harm a person's kidneys.

    I am skeptical of health claims made on behalf of both high fat diets and also high protein ones.





  4. #24
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    I think I know why most people don't do the high fat/protein low carb diet thing on the trail. Carbs just pack easier, and I don't mean energy. Most high fat/protein foods will go bad on the trail while most high carb foods will not. Meat and cheese for the most part need to be dehydrated or refrigerated to last a long time in the heat of the sun, while most high carb foods are already dry.

    Personally, I'm of the belief that a more balanced diet on the trail is better than putting one thing over another, but that is just me. Carbs fat and protein are all needed.

  5. #25
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    The next time that I am on a self-propelled excursion, I'm going to eat what Josh Kato ate.
    On the last day of his 2 week+ ride from Canada to Antelope Wells, NM, Josh had pie in Pie Town, NM and McDonald's in Silver City, NM. Under the circumstances, his diet worked when needed.
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    Dogwood,
    The links to Boone Barr nutrition data are slightly skewed. They evidently reduced the size of their bars since that information was listed. The current size is 2.25 ounces/64 grams.
    I only offer this so anyone purchasing the bars today has up to date information.
    Bottom line: They taste great and pack over 100 calories/ounce.

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  6. #26
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    No one is suggesting that all carbs are created equal, Dogwood; nor are we suggesting interchangeable diets for elite athletes and de-conditioned people with metabolic disease. I diagnose and manage metabolic disease everyday of my working life. I'm suggesting, like the OP, that a lipid-dominant diet is more efficient for the typical thru-hiker. Ultra-runners certainly have intense metabolic demands, but we can draw some comparisons between the energy systems used for ultra running and long distance hiking day after day.

    Beyond that, for all the dietary hubris out there (everyone is an self-anointed expert and has the pathway isolated to the perfect human diet), for the average healthy adult with no metabolic disease our modern fund of knowledge can be distilled into a few easy-to-follow principles for most people: Whole foods whenever possible, minimal processed/refined sugars, fresh fruits and green vegetables as the mainstay with a lean source of protein in each meal and ample healthy fats. That advice is not going to decrease anyone's lifespan.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudsock View Post
    "I am not familiar with the reasoning behind a low-carb diet when hiking."

    I was happy to see the information in this thread. Everyone does not process carbohydrates as well as a totally healthy 20 year old hiker. In those 65 and older, 25.9% have diabetes. Medical professionals estimate that seven million people in the US have diabetes and don't know it. Type 1 diabetes occurs in young people - it is an auto-immune disease. They are insulin dependent.

    Diabetes alters the body's ability to process carbs without unaccept
    ably high glucose levels. (Blindness, amputations, heart disease, etc. are the long term downside.) Even with heavy exercise, diabetics have to be careful. Five years ago, I was able to eat a nice amount of carbs, do a vigorous half hour on the elliptical machine and see my glucose levels be cut in half. I could go from 260 to 130, for example. It is not like that today. My exercise intensity (judging by the magneto-resistance setting) is higher now, but I don't get the same drop in glucose levels. Type 2 diabetics still produce insulin. Adding drugs that cause additional insulin production is another way to drive glucose down. That has to be balanced with the amount of carbs consumed, or the glucose levels can get too low. Exercise (which lowers glucose) and insulin, or insulin production enhancing drugs in combination, can be especially troublesome. Extremely low glucose results in insulin shock. One episode which requires a visit to an emergency room will raise the potential for later dementia by as much as 50%.

    Eating a limited carb diet with exercise allows many diabetics to stay in control only taking Metformin, the preferred drug that addresses the body's resistance to insulin. With that combination, glucose levels never get too low. The problem is that many diabetics won't exercise and many are overweight.

    Even for a slender person, carbohydrates, insulin promoting drugs and exercise are a juggling act. It can be a roller coaster. Eat too many carbs and the glucose gets high, so you add drugs and exercise and the glucose may end up too low. That is more dangerous than being high. The worst case short term consequences can be coma or death, if not caught in time. So you have to quickly add carbs to recover. It used to be that I would eat pizza or Mexican food for dinner on occasion. High carb dinners produce glucose for hours as the body digests the food. I would exercise, take a drug and then have to stay up until midnight to make certain that my glucose did not do a nose dive while I slept. Sometimes I did another half hour and a few times even an additional hour on the elliptical at the end of the day to get back in control. It really isn't worth the twenty or thirty minutes of pleasure eating the tasty food.

    Things are much more difficult for most diabetics. My semiannual doctor's appointment was today. For the past two years, my A1c has been 5.4. That is a good number for a non-diabetic.
    I have excellent control; my doctor says top 1%. A low carb diet and plenty of exercise are the keys.

    Sugar is a bad thing for most of us. If I had limited my sugar earlier in life and had been exercising consistantly, it would have been beneficial. Sugar intake has recently been shown to be a factor in Altzheimer's, disease. That disease starts decades before there are symptoms in many cases.

    Moderation.

    Hikers who keep their weight down have a better chance at avoiding both Altzheimer's and diabetes.

    +1 on all of the above, Mudsock.
    My A1c is typically in the mid 5s also.I made eating changes after I was diagnosed, cutting things and reducing quantities.I can eat most things, for me consistency is important, I can keep my tests around 100.I’ll be higher tonight because I was eating the M&Ms while making trail mix for this weekend.
    I don’t see a lot of ups and downs while hiking (except the hills).If I think about it I may cherry pick the M&Ms and dried fruit out of the trail mix before a hill so as not to tank, but I don’t worry about it.YMMV.
    High BGL can be dealt with, low BGL may be a medical emergency.Be careful out there.
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  8. #28

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    Yes, I saw that too Vencha. Got to not portion size the nutritional labels are referring to.

    Wulfgang, glad you made a pt of noting that. It's usual for folks to jump to conclusions for themselves and their diets based on a diet or the unique situation that maybe right for someone else. For example, some of these recommended diets are based on individuals who have specific medical issues. Not everyone has diabetes or heat disease or high blood pressure. At least not yet.

  9. #29

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    "No one is suggesting that all carbs are created equal, Dogwood; nor are we suggesting interchangeable diets for elite athletes and de-conditioned people with metabolic disease. I diagnose and manage metabolic disease everyday of my working life."

    If that is so and, as you have admitted, the public is apt to make comparisons and jump to conclusions, you of all people should be noting some vital information forthright concerning carbohydrate assimilation and diet especially since the thread topic is low carb foods/low carb diets. Up to both our last posts on this entire thread I hear no one making any distinction between simple carbs, like sugars, and the organic complex carb sources, or mentioning how sugar or fiber or the typical U.S. diet depending heavily on processed highly refined foods/food like products play a vital role in carb assimilation and overall metabolic health.

    "I'm suggesting, like the OP(Hmm?), that a lipid-dominant diet is more efficient for the typical thru-hiker. Ultra-runners certainly have intense metabolic demands, but we can draw some comparisons between the energy systems used for ultra running and long distance hiking day after day." Yes, and finally you clarify a bit. There are many possible and likely dissimilarities as well! Not everyone is on a hike for 6+ wks either, starting hikes from the same health/physical baseline, doing the same hike possibly requiring a slightly amended diet, etc.

    "Beyond that, for all the dietary hubris out there (everyone is an self-anointed expert and has the pathway isolated to the perfect human diet), for the average healthy adult with no metabolic disease our modern fund of knowledge can be distilled into a few easy-to-follow principles for most people: Whole foods whenever possible, minimal processed/refined sugars, fresh fruits and green vegetables as the mainstay with a lean source of protein in each meal and ample healthy fats. That advice is not going to decrease anyone's lifespan."

    THANK you for finally cleaning up some possible misleading perceptions/conclusions. I was hoping your distinctions would have been communicated earlier. Again, particularly as you are aware of the "dietary hubris" that occurs. OMG attempting to share and receive dietary/nutritional info is often on par with the perilous discussions of religion or politics.

  10. #30

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    An interesting thread...I've come to the conclusion that a person's diet is highly variable and it's not as important as we seem to make it out to be, but that's not to say it's an insignificant factor. I just don't believe diet is nearly as important as we've all been led to believe.

    I believe the biggest trouble with one's health is due to inactivity and diet << I know a little contradictory from my first paragraph, but all I mean really is diet can be bad if we eat too much, period. Although, I do try and get a balanced diet, because that's the way I've been brainwashed, but I'm not sure even how important that is, based on all the various diets out there around the world, some of which isn't very varied << cool word combination

    Look at the Maasai people of Africa that eat Milk, meat and blood and yet they are very healthy http://www.thomsonsafaris.com/blog/t...et-blood-milk/
    http://www.wired.com/2012/09/milk-me...in-the-maasai/

    Then you got the Tarahumara people with their funky diet http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/433816

    And there are so many more examples of strange diets around the world.

    And then you got the American diet which seems to be always changing, but was kind of cemented (but is currently becoming undone) in the 1950's, in which fat was a very bad thing, so bad that it was to be avoided. This wasn't some fad diet recommendation, no it was heard everywhere and passed on as scientific fact from doctors. Why, because (and this is the funny part) it was the Scientific Consensus I love that term

    As with so many scientific consensuses it has fallen apart, see here http://sciencenordic.com/when-scienc...-sugar-healthy

    However, a new consensus is forming over processed foods, sugar and many other things, to which I say...when will we learn...

    I know sugar is bad, but I'm still going to keep eating my m&m's even if it kills me

  11. #31
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    Thanks for this. I'll probably be going ketogenic again the next time I hike, so I appreciate you posting this. Last hike I did on keto my food consisted of Oscar Mayer precooked bacon, beef jerky, cheese, copious amunts of olive oil, tuna, salmon, and chicken packets, bacon jerky, Hormel pepperoni, dehydrated eggs (yuck) and almonds and macadamia nuts.

    I had half of a glazed donut 3 days later and I could literally feel the sugar buzz hit me.
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    And miles to go before I sleep."

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    I eat what I crave. Mornings seem to be carbs with low fat. Evenings protein with carbs and foods high in sodium. Lots of water all day with honey and more carbs. A bagel with peanut butter and honey will do just fine anytime. When in town its fresh fruit and raw veggies.
    Simple is good.

  13. #33

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    This post has given me some good ideas for what to take next time on the trail I just started a keto diet and was curious what I would take with me into the back woods since in the past I lived off of ramen and mountain house.

  14. #34
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    i like to stay away from the salt

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    and the carbs as well

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    its tough eating on the trail

  17. #37

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    Still recognizing a contradiction by those saying they are on a low carb diet and specifically listing a bunch of foods indeed low in carbs, and then listing fresh fruit in the same list. Fresh fruit is virtually 100% carbohydrates. Vegatables are virtually 100% carbs as well.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Still recognizing a contradiction by those saying they are on a low carb diet and specifically listing a bunch of foods indeed low in carbs, and then listing fresh fruit in the same list. Fresh fruit is virtually 100% carbohydrates. Vegatables are virtually 100% carbs as well.
    I'm not seeing the contradiction but I see your point. Fruits and vegetables are not 100% carbs. The calories they provide are virtually 100% from
    carbs. And like you suggest contain valuable nutrients far beyond their caloric contribution. Jeffrey Bland, PhD, one of the leading experts in nutritional science, makes the distinction between the glycemic index of a given food versus the total glycemic load of a meal. The glycemic load may be quite low even though the meal contains a high glycemic contributor (like a piece of fruit).

    For people with metabolic issues minimizing sugar from any source, even healthy fruits, may be necessary. And like you suggest all carb sources are not equal. How they are combined and processed also has an impact. Apple with almond butter, apple, apple sauce, apple juice. Different glycemic responses.


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  19. #39

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    How many people who follow a low-carb, high fat, keto style diet while they hike the AT actually lose a significant amount of weight while maintaining healthy stamina to keep going ? i think bringing protien powder would help alot.

    Do people who follow this diet and walk 10-20 miles a day end up losing 30-60 pounds of fat at the conclusion of their hike ?

  20. #40
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    I look at it this way. Your body must have carbs because your blood glucose levels should stay relatively constant. If you don't eat carbs, you must make them, and since they can't be made from fats, they must be made from protein. But there is a limit to how much protein you can catabolize in a day due to the amount of urea you can produce and excrete. This is why you can not survive on a protein only diet. Thus I'm not giving up on carbs, or anything else. I just try to eat a balanced diet.

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