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Thread: I'm new here, recovering from LD hiking page

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    sbhikes's Avatar
    sbhikes is offline Senior Member
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    I'm new here, recovering from LD hiking

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    Two years post completion of the Pacific Crest Trail and I was still having trouble with hunger. I also gained all the weight I lost while hiking (some of it before I finished the trail!) and was hoping to find a way to lose weight. Regular low calorie, low-fat eating and exercise triggered my hiker hunger so when I saw the video by the Swedish diet doctor about how eating a paleo diet of more fat and less carbs would calm the stomach, I decided to try it.

    Day 1 for the first time in my life I went from breakfast all the way to dinner without eating in between. I felt like an eating disordered person who'd just lost the addiction and now had nothing to fill my mind with, no more food obsession.

    I've struggled through the last 4.5 weeks. I've had trouble adapting to such a very low carb diet. During the last 4.5 weeks I've slowly given up running because I couldn't do it anymore. I was feeling worse and worse every day. On Saturday I thought I would die on a weekend hike in the mountains. The weakness was so profound.

    Since then I've started taking potassium and magnesium supplements, drinking more water and even licking salt poured into my hand to try and crawl out of this debilitating dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. I think I almost feel normal right now, but I may feel worse again in a few hours, so we'll see. If I ever get my strength back, I may try lifting weights but for now, a little walking at lunch is all I can manage.

    Being 46 and female I have not found this to be particularly easy. I'm also puzzled that the reaction of my body would be so severe when I really wasn't all that terribly bad in diet before. But I am seeing progress finally in my weight and if I can get the electrolyte thing fixed, I think I might turn out normal like all of you.

    Anyway, I hope it's okay to join this forum if I'm not following the exact Primal blueprint diet and have no desire to wrack my body with cross fit. If anybody has any good ideas for food to bring on a backpack trip that won't spoil or melt into a huge mess and that is lightweight, I'd love it!

    Sorry this was so long.

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    yodiewan's Avatar
    yodiewan is online now Senior Member
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    Welcome to the forum.

    I dream of one day hiking the Appalchian Trail, so I'm jealous that you've had such an adventure! I want to do at least a week-long section hike first to get my feet wet. I plan on bringing lots of homemade jerky, maybe some pemmican, and maybe some dehydrated stews and potato flakes. Any advice from your experience?

    How active are you? If you are fairly active, you may have better energy with more carbs. Tubers and white rice are acceptable options.

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    I think a week long backpack isn't anything like a long distance hike, but you should do it anyway because backpacking is wonderful. There are just so many people who actually do not like backpacking but they love long distance hiking. It's totally different in ways you'll never expect until you go out there. Perhaps try your week long hike on the Appalachian trail during thru-hiking season to see what I mean.

    I'm not really all that terribly active since I work at a desk job and basically just get a little exercise in at lunch and on the weekends. I really want to keto-adapt because I want better metabolic flexibility. Hiking the PCT absolutely destroyed that flexibility. I ate candy, cookies and crackers for most meals and basically got to the point where I was eating if the trail was flat or down hill and not eating with my stomach growling if the trail was up hill. I was also starting to gain back the weight before I was finished and am now fatter than before I began. Like most long distance hikers.

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    Jen AlcesAlces's Avatar
    Jen AlcesAlces is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    Being 46 and female I have not found this to be particularly easy. I'm also puzzled that the reaction of my body would be so severe when I really wasn't all that terribly bad in diet before. But I am seeing progress finally in my weight and if I can get the electrolyte thing fixed, I think I might turn out normal like all of you.

    Anyway, I hope it's okay to join this forum if I'm not following the exact Primal blueprint diet and have no desire to wrack my body with cross fit. If anybody has any good ideas for food to bring on a backpack trip that won't spoil or melt into a huge mess and that is lightweight, I'd love it!
    Hi sbhikes and welcome! Your problems reminded me of an article that I read a while back (one of many that pointed me down the path to Primal)... It's called "Why Hikers Get Fat" Although his dietary advice is very zone-like and not my cup of tea (I'm not so afraid of animal fats), his Theory of the insulin-sensitive hiker is what intrigued me. I'd recommend that section and the one following it.

    I also have metabolic issues, and I have found that my primal-ish eating style has helped to level out my weight and has gotten rid of a lot of health problems I had before (and ridding myself of blood sugar issues). It did take me a few weeks to get over the worst part, then several months to find a way of eating that worked for me. I basically have 2 diet plans... one for when I'm backpacking and one for when I'm not. When I'm not, it's similar to PB. When I am on the trail, I eat a lot more refined carbs, etc... although I do avoid gluten.

    Here's another thread from a while back that has suggestions of hiking food, etc. My favorite thing is powdered coconut milk.
    Appalachian Trail Thru Hike

    You will find many flavors of Paleo, Primal, Perfect Health Diet, etc here... with all levels of compliance. You are most certainly welcome here!
    Last edited by Jen AlcesAlces; 11-03-2011 at 01:08 PM.

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    Mike Gager's Avatar
    Mike Gager is offline Senior Member
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    out of curiousity how long is the trail and how long did it take?
    Primal Chaos
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    current 338lbs 49" waist
    goal 240lbs 35" waist

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Thank you for the welcome.

    The PCT is about 2663 miles. I think they just lenghtened it by 6 miles now that they've fixed a bridge that was washed out when I went through. I actually did my hike in two sections, the first was about 1200 miles and the second was 1800 miles. I overlapped some miles the second time and also added a hundred miles hiking from my house to the PCT.

    I have a backpack trip coming up over Thanksgiving. I bought some coconut butter but haven't tasted it yet. Also some beef jerkey. I figure I'll bring tuna and chicken in pouches, cheese, almond butter. Maybe some mini-rice cakes so that there's something to put the almond and coconut butter on. Maybe rice cereal for breakfast? I don't know. I keep looking for good info on food possibilities and there seem to be a lot but I really should write them down so I don't forget.

    I read that article Why Hikers Get Fat a while back and it was like ah-ha! That's what happened to me! The hair-trigger insulin thing. So here I am 5 weeks into a high-fat, low-carb diet hoping to restore the health I sort of had on the trail, but do it without having to hike 30 miles a day.

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    Low Carb Trail Food | Mark's Daily Apple

    Read this thread for lots of great suggestions. Be sure to read the comments as well.

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by honeybuns View Post
    Low Carb Trail Food | Mark's Daily Apple

    Read this thread for lots of great suggestions. Be sure to read the comments as well.
    Thanks for pointing me to that thread. Lots of good ideas.

    I have had difficulty with dehydrating certain kinds of things. I have a passive dehydrator. No fan, just a heating element and trays that stack and are rotated. I haven't had much luck with dehydrating potatoes. They come out hard enough to break teeth and never rehydrate. I haven't had much luck with leathers or mashes. They just dry around the edges and go bad in the middle before the middle dries, then sticks to the paper to become totally inedible. I sort of can't see the point to dried veggies. No calories so why bother eating them?

    I also have the problem of it usually being in the 80s during the day, even at this time of year. This limits my options to things that won't melt or spoil. I looked into buying pemmican but Welness Meats say it has to be refrigerated. Jerky is good enough. Hard to find without added sugar but I did find some (wow, expensive!)

    So anyway, I'm going to test making the coconut butter the main source of fat, perhaps also bringing some coconut oil if I can figure out a fool-proof way to store it so that it doesn't leak during the day when it's liquid and can still be consumed in the morning when it's hard again. I hope I can find a plastic container that closes very tight for the melting hours of the day.

    Since I have ultralight equipment, I can't really splurge on heavy food because of the weight limit of my pack. It is uncomfortable above 20lbs. I have to limit fresh or canned foods and even dehydrated fruit and nuts can get pretty heavy. Since I hike in what some people call the "desert", I also have to factor in all the pounds of water I have to carry.

    I love a good challenge though, and ultralight backpacking has been the most expressive means for my own personal creativity and problem-solving that I've ever found.

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    Mike Gager's Avatar
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    i have to wonder if someone is exercising all day long (hiking) everyday for months on end, how much food are they consuming during this time? how many calories are consumed each day and what kind of food is it? its not like you can carry a bunch of stuff with you or hunt while you are hiking

    if you are hiking 12 hours a day, a 160lb person will burn over 5000 calories, that means they would need to eat somewhere around 6500-7000 calories just to maintain their weight

    if a person is basically starving themselves while doing these long hikes it seems rather obvious there would be some major weight gain once they stopped and returned to eating normally without the constant exercise
    Primal Chaos
    37yo 6'5"
    6-19-2011 393lbs 60" waist
    current 338lbs 49" waist
    goal 240lbs 35" waist

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    I can't speak for everyone, but I think my experience was fairly common. You carry as much food with you as you can manage, knowing fully that it's a calorie deficit. Then you make up for the deficit when you get to town.

    As I neared the finish line, my hunger lessened a little bit. I was starting to gain back the weight. I started watching my calories even with 250 miles left to go.

    When I got to Canada, I had one more big breakfast and that was it. When I celebrated with friends at dinner, I actually skipped dinner and had just some wine and a few bites of dessert. The very next day, I was back to eating like normal, trying to favor fruit and vegetables to keep calories low. I fought the hunger and as long as I didn't exercise, it wasn't bad. But the weight came back all the same despite eating like a normal person again. I had to limit exercise to mild walking so as not to trigger hunger and overeating. Still no use. My metabolism was totally broken.

    I believe that I no longer have the ability to tolerate carbohydrates more than a minimal amount. If I ever keto-adapt--I'm having one HELL of a time doing so--I believe that will be the only way I can feel normal again.

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