Diet at 8000m to keep fat adaptation

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  • #16347

    I’ve been training my body to burn fat. I don’t follow a keto diet, but I try to restrict carbs and all my aerobic training are done on a fasted state, even the long one (>3h).

    This spring I’m planning to climb a 8000m mountain, so during the trek to BC I’m planning to use some “keto tricks”, like drinking butter coffee with mct oil in order to increase blood ketones.

    Knowing that at high altitude our body doesn’t digest fat so well, when should I stop eating fats and drinking butter coffee?
    If I start eating a lot of carbs from BC up, will that compromise my fat adaptation?

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    Anonymous on #16348

    I have almost no high altitude experience, but I remember hearing a very experienced friend say that he can always tell who’s going to last on an expedition by how much they eat.

    Personally, I think there will be enough stress on your body just with the expedition itself. I would eat whatever’s available. I don’t think a short-term spike in carbohydrate intake will have anything other than a beneficial effect.

    Colin Simon on #16349

    Sounds like The Colonel…

    Anonymous on #16371

    As Scott S suggests, getting enough calories will be your primary goal on the climb. Appetite suppression at altitude can make eating a challenge. Different people seem to handle carbs or fats differently. Some do well on salty, fatty foods like nuts and sausage other seem to handle carbs best. I would not dwell on your macro nutrient composition but instead ensure you are getting enough calories to sustain yourself.


    Participant on #16414

    I usually don’t loose my appetite while in the mountain, at least up to 7000m. And so far I never lost any weight.
    Since climbing 8000m must be much more difficult, I’m looking to all the means that can give me some sort of boost, such as continuing fat adapted. That’s why I’d like to find the right balance between consuming a fat diet without compromising the body’s ability to digest this kind of diet at altitude.

    Anonymous on #16453

    If this is your main objective, I wouldn’t worry about compromising anything. Performance becomes the priority, not maintaining a preparatory state. Whatever facilitates performance “on race day” should be pursued.

    In training, the priorities are switched: preparation over performance. That necessity is why real training is so unpopular. It’s not very gratifying. And it doesn’t lead to getting the course record on Strava.

    But on “race day” (whether that’s at 1,000m or 8,000m), just go for it. Use whatever’s available. Don’t rule anything out, especially when it comes to food.

    “Train on fat. Race on carbs.”

    Colin Simon on #16454

    Carbohydrates are essential for recovery. All those acclimatization days force your body to do a lot of work to adapt, and you have the physical exertion part layered on as well. So ideally you’d be eating a ton the way Scott Semple suggested. At some point laying off the carbs with that much exertion just runs you into a hole.

    Participant on #16496

    I found a really nice study:

    “From our results, a recommendation not to exclude palatable high fat foods at the high and extreme altitude camps can be made for future expeditions. Inclusion of such items would allow the climbers to self-select energy-dense foods along with the easily prepared, high carbohydrate foods needed for endurance. Items such as cheese, canned fish in oil, retort sausages, and chocolate bars, among others, meet these criteria for the high fat foods. Provision and modest consumption of such energy-dense foods may help provide the extra energy necessary to ensure climbing success and, perhaps, survival.”

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