Many people believe that being on a low-carb diet can make them “not suitable” for rigorous outdoor escapades like hiking. A quick check, however, will tell you that while carbs are fastest to burn when going for a hike, there are other food choices which one can use to fuel the body and move with the pack without any fuss. In fact, your body may even be at its peak burning fat to energize a hike when you are into a ketogenic diet. The idea here is to create a keto hiking food list to ensure that you stick to the diet plan while maintaining the same level of vigor for the hiking days ahead.
How is the combination of keto and hiking useful?
The utilities of combining keto and hiking are –
- Improves your endurance and cardiovascular health
- Build strength in your legs and core
- Good weight loss arsenal as you burn a lot of calories
- Manage stress levels
- Aid stopping being a slave to carbs and hunger
What kind of food is ideal for keto hiking?
The perfect keto friendly backpacking foods to prepare lunches, breakfasts, snacks and dinner are such that will remain stable even without refrigeration, will be high on fat, moderate in proten and low on carbohydrates. You have to hit your protein macro need but stay low on your daily carb limit. Fat is what will pull you through. So regulate it depending on your daily calorie requirements. Protein will maintain the muscle mass and repair and the minimizing of carbs will set start ketosis.
What is the difference between normal backpacking food and keto backpacking food?
Normal backpacking food is mostly carbohydrates which get burnt very fast within our body. Moreover, these foods have very less nutritional value and you feel hungry as your body looks out for nutrients.
Keto backpacking foods usually use denser fat macronutrients so that your calorie requirements are fulfilled. Also these provide fat-soluble vitamins, aids in regulating hormones so that your body functions optimally and gives a steady supply of energy.
How about some keto meal plans for a multi day hike?
Here is a keto meal plan that will prepare you for multi-day hikes.
You will need to carry a liter of water, a liter of electrolyte water and 2/3 liter of coffee shake. The food pack should contain 3 ounces of keto trail mix, 3 different cheese snacks and nut butter for snacking throughout the day. For lunch and dinner, you should take along salami and cheese wrap with ranch dressing. Protein shake can come useful at bedtime or breakfast. You can also carry some chocolate for snacks.
The Keto Hiking Food List
Ideally, you will need hiking food packs for break, lunches, dinners and in-between snacks. And since this is going to be a multi-day hike, you need to pick-up shelf-stable food choices that require no refrigeration. This is not just any food though– you will need low-carbs, high-fat, and moderate-protein food packs like the go-to box above from OneStopPaleoShop. The idea is for you to create a meal plan and start from there.
To get you started, these food items can greatly help in curbing your carbs while raising your fat requirements and beefing up your protein body stash.
- Cured Food. Stock up on Spanish chorizo, salami, beef jerky, pork rinds, chicharron (crispy pork), and other meaty sensation. Or you may prefer tuna packets, salmon jerky, and turkey sticks like the one below from Vermont Smoke and Cure. While you can’t bring the whole charcuterie plate with you, getting your hands on these delicious cured food items will make hiking + keto diet = fun.
- Coming to salami or sausage, choose the hard salami brands which have zero carbohydrates and comes with white casing. This method of preservation not only adds to the taste of the food, it helps in preserving it for a few more days while you are traversing in the woods. Summer sausage is another great option.
- Preserved meat or jerky – You just can’t have salami as the only meat option for all your meals throughout the day. It is fine for lunch, but you need other meat options for your snacks. Be careful while purchasing jerky from stores. The air cured ones with no marinades/sauce is the correct keto hiking snack.
- Food Pouches. Most hiking trail mixes and food pouches are, indeed, higher in carbs than most. There are however some brands that offer low-carb, high-protein and fats. This ready to eat BUMBLE BEE Premium Light Tuna in Water pouch can be easily stashed in your hiking backpack. Meaty food pouches are also available. Given your limited accommodation, you may want to go for ready-to-eat or no-fuss cooking options.
- Hard Cheeses. Amplify your fat and protein deposit by packing hard cheeses like Parmesan, Romano or Asiago. Not only do these cheeses sodium content help compensate for electrolyte usage while on a hike, but they also don’t melt easily or go rancid without refrigeration. Softer cheeses are not recommended though as hot treks can easily turn them into jelly causing a mess to your stuff. If you may, you may want to pack up on a slab of Beemster Classic Aged Gouda for that gourmet tasting snack.
So just get hold of a good hard cheese and wrap it up so that it does make your bag too greasy. The Dubliner cheese is a good option as it is mild and can be had in a wrap or as a snack. You can slice it and put it within a wrap. If hard cheese is not to your liking, you can settle for some cheese snacks which are freeze-dried and can be had just like chips.
Classic hard cheeses like parmesan, asisgo and romano become too dry and salty for some. So some may opt for aged alpine style cheeses and goudas
- Low carb Tortillas/wraps – Take along a low carb wrap and have it along with almond butter. You may also have it as a sandwich wrapper for your cheese, salami and avocado. Be careful while choosing the brand so that the carb content is minimal. If calculation is tough, listen to what your body says or the way it reacts when you make the change in your diet. These are great for lunch wraps. But there is a huge variety here so experiment to find the one that suits your taste buds perfectly.
- Mixed Nuts– and Butters, too. If you have no known nut allergy, adding mixed nuts to your list of lightweight keto food packs to bring is a must. Think macadamias, almonds, pecans, and peanuts– in different flavors like this variety food pack from Keto Nut Mix Variety Pack. Feel free also to use nut butter as part of your handy homemade recipes.
But choose nuts carefully as most of these are not nuts actually. If you have too much of peanuts, you may be kicked out off ketosis. But nuts like macadamia and almonds are just ideal keto foods to take along while you are on your multi-day hike. You can also take along almond butter. It may be packed in a baggie or jar or you can purchase it in individual packets. It is so yummy that you can have it just by itself or can mix some sugar free chocolate with it or put it inside a low carb wrap.
- Mayo/Olive oil/Coconut oil packets – Keto backpacking food usually leans high on protein than on fats as meat is easier to preserve than fatty foods which become rancid more easily. So if you want to keep your macros balanced throughout your trail find ways to add back in fat. This can be in the form of few single packets of mayo or oil. You will get the correct amount of protein and fats and also the so needed calories.
- Condiments – Carry mayo, ranch, mustard and siracha along with you on your long hikes to add flavor and spice to your meals.
- Avocado – Take along at least two avocados for your hike – one on the ripe side and the other underripe. Have half avocado during each of the two major meals every day. These are a very good source of fat and also provide the much needed green in your daily diet while staying low on carbs.
- MCT Powder or Heavy Cream Powder – You may pack a baggie from a huge jar or may take a few single-serve packets so that you can add enough to your morning tea or coffee to make it a meal. Just by adding it you will get 400+ calories with your morning cup. It can also be used to make the meals that come later in the day richer in calorie so that your hiking is less strenuous.
- Low carb protein bars – Most of the energy-packed protein bars contain a good amount of sugar alcohols which is processed differently by different body. Just half a bar a day will increase your ability to hike up the hills. Just get hold of some good low carb protein bars which contain a limited amount of sugar alcohol to pack in your hiking bag.
- Powder Mixes. Yes, this may be fodder for debate in the weight loss department. However, it cannot be denied that when it comes to long hikes and low-carb diets, chocolate powder mixes which can be easily and quickly prepared is a great choice. This Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel in choco and coconut flavor is an excellent powder mix to bring on the trail. Simply add water and voila!
A traditional trail mix is usually high in sugar. But you can make your own to suit your keto needs this way. An ideal keto trail mix will contain almonds, macadamia nuts and sugar-free chocolate. Just have it to revel in its taste. It can be had on every day of your hike. You may also prepare another healthy version with unsweetened coconut pieces or sunflower seeds with cocoa nibs. Powders deliver calories efficiently. You just need to mix it with water and go for it.
- Tea/Coffee – Coffee or tea, both are equally good for adding a few extra calories during your tiresome days. It is also a fantastic way to start your day!
What should be an ideal keto dinner while on a multi-day hike?
For preparing this ideal dinner you would need conventional freeze-dried options which are padded with carbohydrates, like pasta or rice.
Don’t Forget – Hydration
Now that you know what keto hiking food to pack, it is also essential that you learn about hydration. You’ll be losing a lot of electrolytes as you sweat and being on a keto diet will hasten the depletion of insulin. It is therefore essential that you take a keen observation on how to make electrolyte supplementation. Bring enough packs of this Electrolyte Mix Super Hydration Formula + Trace Minerals with you. Or you may want to create your own sodium + potassium +water “keto-rade” recipe to satisfy your thirst when on a hike.
Hydration is not only important because you are on a hike. Rather it is essential as you are on a keto diet because you will urinate more frequently once the carb intake is reduced. If you are being plagued with issues like headaches, lethargy or heart arrhythmia once you are done with the initial fat adaptation period, the culprit is electrolyte.
If the content of electrolyte is improper, it will lead to heart palpitations, headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps and dizziness. Keto flu is caused by loss of electrolyte. Once you are off processed food, there will be a dearth of sodium in your diet. Also most people won’t get the correct amount of potassium in the diet. These can lead to major issues.
You can go for ketorade to get your potassium, sodium and magnesium requirement in pill form. You can consume one liter of ketorade every day when off trail and two liters while backpacking.
How do you track electrolyte?
You need to track the electrolytes to see that it is just perfect to meet your requirements. Your electrolyte supplement should not follow short of actual necessity. Your requirements will increase on hot, humid and active days. The requirements –
- Potassium – 3500+ mg every day
- Sodium – 3500 – 6000 mg per day
- Magnesium – 300 – 800 mg per day to be taken in the evening