Primal endurance in a primal setting
Planning out a menu at home for 15 people isn't a very tough task, even when you consider everyone's dietary requirements. Planning several meals for the same group gets a little more complicated but is still quite doable. Now throw in a week-long camping trip in a primitive area, and the fact that scouts will be planning. This was my challenge previous to my last week spent in southern Utah's desert, slot canyons, and forests at just above 9000 feet. All in all, I think we did a wonderful job.
The keto aspect is relatively simple, think meat, cheese, and vegetables. The scouting aspect is equally as simple, think burgers, dogs, and ranch dressing. It is almost as though the ketosis gods came together and blessed this adventure with their fatty sausage like fingers (yes that was a keto-hiking pun). However, lunch on the trail for the keto-guy can get a little distressing. I had my concerns as this was my first major endurance adventure since beginning my keto journey some six weeks and 30 pounds ago.
The goal over the next four days was 50 miles broken into one 20-mile hike, and two 15’s, with one day of rest between the 20 and the first 15. Southern Utah can be unforgiving in the month of June with temperatures in the high 90s. We were lucky as we camped high on Boulder Mountain at around 8500 feet. Daytime and nighttime temps in camp were cool and perfect for recuperation as was the small creek running next to us flowing with icy cold water. Our hiking temperatures were not quite as cooperative.
20 miles in the desert will not only sap your strength, with little shade and lots of rock, the adventure is a lot like hiking in a convection oven. Each hiker carried approximately 2 L of water and we were able to filter from puddles any Texan would be proud to admit he drank from directly, up to the halfway point. My keto breakfast began with bulletproof cocoa, sugar-free of course with 3 tablespoons of MCT oil. I purchased a small battery operated barista's frothing whisk from Amazon, it worked perfectly in an environment lacking electricity for my Ninja Blender. Lunch and snacks were accommodated with almonds, almond butter, 86% dark chocolate squares, meat and cheese sticks, and lots of water. Truth be told, I ate no more than a handful (24) of almonds, one small pack of Justin's classic almond butter, and two small squares dark chocolate on any of the days. My meat and cheese sticks returned home every day. Frankly, I wasn't hungry, but what about energy levels?
So here are a couple of things I have noticed over the past six weeks. I had changed my workout sessions based on the knowledge I gained from reading primal endurance (well worth the read). Once a week I have been training for strength, but only to maintain not to increase. I am a dead-lift freak and that is the core of my strength training, five reps, 315 pounds, four sets. I increased my rest time to avoid a carb crash and maintain my heart rate between 135 and 140, my personal target area. The remainder of my workouts 4 to 5 days a week were strictly cardio, walking, elliptical, stationary bike, approximately an hour and a half a day and all within my target heart rate. I throw in daily yoga and body weight exercises, spontaneously. I found that I lost a little strength, but my recovery times were getting shorter. My time on the elliptical and the bike were both requiring higher reps and higher tension to maintain the same heart rate. So how does that tie into 50 miles of hiking?
Over three days of hiking 50 miles, we averaged 2.4 mi./h moving. Not record-breaking speed but not at all bad for a large group of 12 and 13-year-old boys in the desert. Me personally, I did better than I thought I would. I have hiked this distance before many times, but always with a very large “carb crutch.” It's unfair to say that I accomplished this trip “fasted”, but for a gentleman 6 foot three and as of the hike weighing 255 pounds, I started my day with approximately 400 calories, ate approximately 400 more at lunch, and then finished the day with about 500-600. If you do the math you can see, I was burning fat stores. One key I found to maintaining my heart rate, yes I wore my monitor, was focusing on my breathing, my allergies were not cooperating. On the steeper inclines and a few of the hills I definitely felt the lack of carbohydrates, but again I was amazed at my recovery time, it was next to nothing and that my crash level (how hard I felt the crash) was nowhere near what I would consider “bonking.” My return weight from this trip, 252 pounds.
I'm excited for this summer's adventures with my newfound freedom on the keto diet. I'm sure that sounds funny to most, freedom on a diet. This lifestyle doesn't feel like a diet. I eat food I like, I'm not hungry, and I don't feel and lacking for nutrients or energy. I do miss pizza; pizza salad is not quite the same. That craving is to be expected as anyone who knows me will tell you I am an addict, and if there were a pizza addiction recovery center I would have to be admitted. However next week I visit my doctor, have some blood work done, and see what my health is like. I suspect an "A-" report card, but more on that later. I'll attach a couple of the menu items and recipes below, have fun, be smart, and share your adventures!
Garlic butter chicken in the Dutch oven
- 10 pounds chicken quarters
- half pound butter
- teaspoon crushed garlic
- tablespoon seasoned salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- juice of one lime
In a well-oiled 15-inch Dutch oven place one layer, approximately half of the chicken.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and half of the garlic
Layer the remaining chicken on top and season with the other half of the salt and pepper and garlic
Cut up the butter into small tabs and placed evenly over all the chicken
Add the lid, and cook at approximately 375 to 400°F for one hour
that is approximately 14 coals on bottom and 18 to 20 on top
We serve this dish with fresh vegetables (broccoli, celery, salad) and ranch dressing
- lettuce & greens
- mozzarella cheese
- provolone cheese
What can I say? Make a salad out of it, I used ranch dressing, blue cheese is also delicious.
*For camping I really enjoy adding kale, it keeps better than lettuce.
#hiking #weightloss #picoftheday #keto #beautiful #dutchoven