Hiking while fasting!

In March of 2018 I conducted a short experiment with going on a hike while fasting, the hike itself is described Here:
In this article I want to clarify what led up to the decision to hike fasted and how I prepared for the experiment.
So, if You been following my stuff for any amount of time, You already know that I’m a proponent of low carb nutrition and fuel my own activities primarily with fat. I noticed a considerable shift in my metabolism after the 30 day hike in nutritional ketosis I did in the summer of 2017, after which I no longer need a few days adaptation when choosing to up the carbs for a day or a few. My thoughts are that the prolonged activity during ketosis restored my bodies natural metabolic flexibility and increased my ability to fuel with free fatty acids directly.
I have felt inclined to try an extended fast for quite some time, just didn’t seem to get to it, and now I thought the time was right and the decision was made on pretty short notice.
Just a couple of days before the start of the hike on Friday, March 23rd 2018, I caught myself falling into a pattern of spontaneous OMAD (one meal a day). I had my usual fat coffee in the morning and just wasn’t hungry more than once a day.
Probably this can be explained by stress levels being a lot lower than back in Stockholm and the abundance of sunlight I enjoy here on the island.
Anyway, I was clearly in fat burning mode when I skipped my fat coffee on Friday morning, leaving dinner at 18:00 (6PM) Thursday as my last meal before going out into the hills 13:30 (1:30PM) Friday.
Totalling just short of 80km (50 miles) I ended the hike on Sunday 16:00 and did only take in water and pink Himalayan salt (contains lots of electrolytes besides the sodium) during this time. Admittedly I consumed a lot of water and added about 0.5 tsp salt to each 1.5l bottle.
Timing proved to be perfect and on Sunday night my body told me to end the fast, dinner at 20:00 (8PM) left me with a 74 hour fasting period, maybe it had felt good to go longer if I had not been hiking. For now and under the circumstances, this was exactly right for me.
Now, I can’t stretch enough the importance of being properly fat and keto adapted if You want to copy the experience. Though it is true that fasting is one of the fastest ways of entering nutritional ketosis, doing that while being this physically active can only be a very unpleasant experience.
So, will I do this again?
Well, on the fasting side – definitely! I felt really good the whole weekend, good energy levels most of the time and really no feelings of fatigue or even serious hunger. The plan for now is to incorporate 24-36 hours fasts on a more or less weekly basis with an extended fast every now and then when it fits into my life situation.
At some point, when life’s slow and rather stress free, I´d like to go for a longer fast, maybe 7-10 days, to really reap the health benefits. For now the natural intermittent fasting I do on an almost daily basis will suffice!
That’s all for now, thanks for checking out the post and I hope you found it valuable.
Please share if you did!
Peace // Claes

Food Planning

Ok, first things first – lets decide if You want to be primarily fat or carb fueled as this changes the game of planning Your trip and choosing Your foods.
Chose fat and You can carry food for a lot many more days, go with carbs and You need to plan for visiting a store of or meet up with someone who can refill Your provisions once every week or more as You can´t utilize Your body fat stores as efficiently and the carbs that You rely on carry less than half the energy value of fat.
So, even if You carry quite a lot of calories in Your pack in the form of butter, coconut oil and olive oil, the same amount of calories in the form of rice, pasta etc is both heavier and bulkier (a lot…)
Please check out this post  if You haven´t read it and pretty much know it by heart!
I usually plan for 100-150g of butter or coconut oil daily depending on how much supplemental olive oil and pumpkin seed oil I carry, beef jerky with fat and some nuts is a great breakfast or snack and a good amount of fat in every dinner dish helps replenish energy and fuel the next days efforts.
Oh, and before anyone gets hung up on the rather high amount of saturated fats mentioned above, just give a thought to what kind of fuel You burn as soon as You run out of the last meal…
Right, the stuff we carry around our waist is nothing but animal fat and the butter and other saturated fats we consume works just as well for fueling our activity.
For those of You preferring to go with carbs I highly recommend putting in the work of dehydrating high quality starches like jams, sweet potato, beet root and even white potatoes. The nutritional value of these foods is just way superior to store bought rice, pastas, cous cous etc. and the latter can often be found in stores and cabins along the way to supplement with if needed on longer hikes.
It´s rather challenging, though, to carry enough of these foods to fuel more than a few days of hiking, jams is the most dense one with 28g of carbs per 100g raw weight and brings us up to around 200g of dehydrated weight (800g fresh) providing less than 1000kcal which wouldn’t fuel many hours of hiking.
Make sure You get an adequate amount of protein, You are physically active a huge part of the day for quite a few days and we want to avoid the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Not only are those muscles useful during the hike, also their breakdown is one sign of starvation and we definitely don´t want to starve ourselves on a hike, right?
The numbers here are rather conservative and on the safe side so You might get by with a little less, yet for the reasons mentioned above there´s really no point in getting low here. The only exception is for hikers who are full blown keto adapted and have been so for some time as the state of ketosis in itself helps protect muscle tissue and spare protein. Chances are, though, that You´re normally eat more than 25g of carbs per day and that You´re not in this group so lets stay safe 😉
Opinions on protein needs wary greatly both in literature and depending on who You talk to, most people can agree that a daily intake of around 1g per kg of bodyweight should be sufficient for most of us outside from extreme situations.
That means a person weighing 80kg should get 80g/day of protein and someone at 55kg bodyweight needs 25g less. Now, as You probably already figured out, we normally eat food and not isolated nutrients!
Once again, lets err on the safe side. Most meats, fish, seafood etc contain on average a little over 20% protein so lets crunch the numbers again. Taking this into consideration our 80kg person needs 400g meat, fish, poultry or seafood every day to satisfy his/her protein needs, while someone weighing 55kg needs just 275g.
Normally You reduce the weight of the fresh foods by 65-75% by dehydrating them, bringing us down to 120g and 90g daily respectively for the examples above.
That means 840g and 630g total for a weeks worth of hiking, not that bad for saving lean body weight or what do You say?
Most of the time we can even go a little skinnier here as protein is also provided by the nuts and seeds we use as snacks on the hike.
Though usually I just go with this calculation and see that extra nutrition as a bonus!
Well, talking about extra nutrition brings us beautifully into all the other good stuff that enhance the experience. This is where we bring veggies, tubers, fruits, nuts, seeds and treats into the mix.
I go with 1.5-2kg/week (pre dehydration weight, that is, once dried is weighs next to nothing and what becomes the real limiting factor is the volume it takes up in Your pack) of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers, zucchini, brussel sprouts, spinach, etc.) and carry very little, if any, dried fruit and tubers. Nuts & seeds wise I prefer the fattier ones, like macadamia nuts and pecans, just to provide more energy per weight unit (remember that I often carry 2-4 weeks worth of provisions when I start the hike).
Apart from this I really like my dark chocolate and prefer to go 85% or more on the cacao content, normally devouring a 100g bar in 3-4 days as a treat with my coffee or together with some plain, unsalted nuts.
Other treats and snacks that, being rather perishable, are reserved for shorter hikes or the first week or so of longer tours, are hard cheeses (parmesan is awesome with coffee) and salamis or smoked and/or dried ham.
Lets face is, variety matters – just make sure it does not hit Your backpack to heavy!
Personally I boiled the nutritional side of hiking down to pretty much one cooked meal per day, usually dinner after building the camp, motoring through the day´s hike on what most people would call snacks.
The difference being that I normally have quite a lot of snacks at one or two occasions and call that a meal instead of spreading them out over the day in smaller units.
Here´s where everyone needs to tinker a bit and find what works for them personally, my strategy is to stay pretty low carb all year around and cut the carbs out almost entirely a week or two before the hike to get myself thoroughly fat adapted before hitting the trail.
For someone who prefers a more carb heavy nutrition (meaning more than 100-150g of carbs daily on a regular basis) it would certainly be wise to pack some dehydrated jams and tubers as well as supplement with rice along the way (often found in the ”use-what-You-need-leave-what-You-can shelf or offered for sale in cabins). A higher emphasis on dried fruits, especially the sugar dense varieties like figs, dates, pineapple, mango and like, is also recommended for more physically challenging tours. Just pack less nuts&seeds and more of these fruits for snacks!
So this is what a weeks worth of food looks like for me (I´m around 80kg):
  • 1kg of butter/coconut oil
  • 1.75kg grass fed ground beef (525-560g dehydrated)
  • 1.5kg veggies (250-300g dehydrated)
  • 1kg of lean grass fed beef, sliced thin for jerky (300-350g dehydrated)
  • 200g dried, powdered cream (milk powder/coconut milk powder are sugar heavy substitutes)
  • 350g nuts
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200g cheese
  • 250g salami
This adds up to 450-500g of provision per day, 3.2-3.5kg per week (first one or two weeks) or 12.5-14kg per month (no cheese and/or salami third and forth week), which now has to be added to the rest of the equipment to determine the total load.
Obviously the use of plastic bags for storage is most convenient and saves weight, though those made from non-renewable sources not very environmentally friendly.
Please use the ones that are manufactured from plant material, let them double as waste bags after use and make sure You carry them out of the wilderness and recycle them in the right container at the next cabin or mountain station!
Please leave a comment below to let me know if this was helpful or if you have questions!
Good luck, have fun and love the experience!!!
Peace // Claes

Day 3 – March 25th 2018

Wow, I slept so much better than last night having solved the pillow issue. I just folded up my pants and put them in the tent cover and this worked remarkably well.
Feeling really rested I still had a slow and easy morning before departing just before 8:30. Knowing I did 6km more than planned yesterday I was I no rush at all. Just stopping briefly at the monastery to refill water, I was soon well on my way.

Ketonix reading in the morning was very much lower than last night, yet I could feel I was definitely in fat and keto burning mode. Hike was really easy and the biggest challenge was the slippery gravel on the downhill slopes.
Once more I stopped in Lythrodontas to fill water, this time I got help from a friendly young woman working at a hospital for the elderly.
The paved road leading away from the village was a steady uphill slope for about 3km before I reached the next stretch of gravel and got away from the asphalt.
Soon I came to the fork where the alternate trail left the mail E4 and I decided to take on the extra elevation and go for the lookout on top of the hill. Amazing view, totally worth the effort!
Going down on the other side the trail becomes very faint and at times I was probably following goat tracks as the trail disappeared entirely. Here I also took my only fall this tour, got a scratch on the palm of my left hand and that was it.
Hitting the main trail again all became easy going and I started seeing that I would rather easily make it back to the car already this day.
Besides sore feet and thigh muscles, my body works exceptionally well and I had no doubts I would have the energy and stamina to pull this off. I just did not at all look forward to the stretch of paved road around Delikipos and I made decision to hitch a ride if possible.
Interesting enough there came a car from the right direction after I walked just a couple of 100 meters on the road and seeing my sign the driver pulled over immediately. There are two young men in the car, and no backseat so they invite me to ride in the trunk. Turns out they live in Kornos and I get a ride all the way to that village, saving me a total of 7km asphalt and rather boring gravel road. Actually they offered to drive me to my car, yet that wasn’t the way I wanted to end this tour and I choose to walk on from Kornos.
Those last 7-8km were pretty swift and easy, again I got hit by some raindrops, yet nothing serious. Turning around I could see the dark clouds coming up from behind, though, and increased my speed to get back to the car before getting soaked.

That’s all for now, thanks for checking out the post and I hope you found it valuable.
Please share if you did!
Peace // Claes

Day 2 – March 24th 2018

Midday break after about 4.5 hours hike with just some water breaks. Close to the villages I’ve seen a few cars and people working on the farms and in the fields, yet I met no one on the trail and haven’t spoke to anyone either.
The night was ok, I spent almost 10 hours in my sleeping bag, yet sleep quality was far below par or even average.
Woke up just before 6AM, took it very easy and had everything packed up ready to leave at 7:45.
After a slightly rough start, I felt lightheaded and weak the first 1.5-2 hours or so, I’ve been motoring along amazingly well.
Mostly comfortable dirt roads so far, with the exception of some pavement closer to the villages.
It’s been mostly uphill so far today and I freely admit not aiming for any speed records.
My iPhone App still tells me I’ve done 16km (10 miles) and that feels pretty accurate, though it’s virtually impossible to check on the maps I have access to here.
Anyway, I feel great, feet and legs are a little sore, not unexpected as I’ve not done any longer hikes in quite some time now.
Ketonix measurements started climbing yesterday (20.7 last night) and this morning (32.5) only to go through the roof at my measuring right now (74.8).
I’m intrigued to see how this continues!
Continued after just a short break at the side of the road and soon I reached the Profitis Ilias Monestery with a very nice picnic area where I spent around 30min, refilling water, resting and, without any success, trying to get my solar charger to work. No idea what’s wrong with that thing, it just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to despite Cyprus sun in the middle of the day…

Heading for Klonia I found myself on the most beautiful nature trail, about 7km all together it was without a shadow of a doubt the most fun hiking this weekend. I frankly enjoyed every step, and reaching Klonia without finding any suitable camp site, I didn’t mind at all to double back to a site I spotted on the way up, just about 1km from the monastery.

This also subtracts some k’s from tomorrow’s hike, which will be mostly descending and challenging for knees and core!
Checked my Ketonix measurement when arriving here at the campsite, around 48 hours into the fast, and I hit 89.9.
It’s super clear that I’m burning fat, or I would never have made it this far, the rate indicated by the measurement, though, is just flabbergasting!

That’s all for now, thanks for checking out the post and I hope you found it valuable.
Please share if you did!
Peace // Claes

Day 1 – March 23rd 2018

After driving around some to find a trail head with reasonably decent parking space, I finally started the hike from Aspradi along the road to Stradovuoni at 1:30PM.

Going for approximately 1.5 hours, mostly on gravel yet some dirt roads and paved stretches, took me to Kornos picnic area where I could sit in the shade for a little while and refill my water bottles. So far I’ve used 3l already and I can tell that regular refills are going to be of vital importance for the success of this tour.
For the first time ever I go on a multi day hike in a faster state, bringing only water and pink Himalayan salt. My last meal was now over 21 hours ago and hydration is top priority.
I feel just slightly light headed, yet cannot tell if that’s caused by moving into mild hypoglycemia or by being in ketosis.
Actually the latter is more probable as I’ve been going on an unplanned OMAD, apart from my usual fat coffee in the morning (mixing 1tbsp each of coconut oil and butter into my first coffee)for the last two days anyway, just haven’t been hungry more than once a day.
This morning I also skipped the fat in the coffee and my last calorie intake was 6PM last night. I’m pretty amazed by my energy levels so far, and by my lack of hunger.
During this break I used my new water filter for the first time, I found it in a shop in Portland, Oregon, and it’s doing a fantastic job. You can’t really trust the tap water here on Cyprus and it’s a bliss to being independent from finding a store and by bottled water several times a day.
This island is pretty well equipped with public bathrooms and they all have running water. Wouldn’t use it without filtering it first, though!
After 30min break I continued at 3:30 PM and hiked on until 6PM when I easily found a superb camp site right next to the dirt road I was following.
Most of the second part was also gravel and dirt roads, yet about 3.5km (2.2 miles) was paved road and pretty busy with traffic. Not so much fun…
The hiking was pretty soft and easy the whole afternoon and I’d guess I did around 18-19km (about 11 miles) total. I feel really good, still not hungry and energy is rather normal.
Pitched my tent right away as it gets dark here soon after the sun sets at 6, and I guess it’s gonna be an early night. Mostly due to lack of other options.
I’m trying out a new tent for the first time and so far it’s great. It’s a combination of traditional tent and hammock so tonight I use it on the ground for starter. Tomorrow I find some trees!

That’s all for now, thanks for checking out the post and I hope you found it valuable.
Please share if you did!
Peace // Claes