Dr. Troy Stapleton has spoken about his experiences at a number of our Low Carb Down Under events and inspired many people with Type-1 Diabetes to go Low Carb. He has recently returned from six days hiking in the Tasmanian wilderness. Here’s how he did it.
Where did you hike and how long did it take?
I am just back from the walking the Overland track in Tasmania. This is a 65-kilometre walk through a wilderness area from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. We walked the track over six days, staying in basic National park huts.
This winter in Tasmania has been the coldest in 30 years and there was deep snow on the track. We spent three of the days walking in snowshoes (my first time), which made it quite slow going. We were the first non-guided group to get through the track in the last six weeks. This was quite a milestone for me. I last walked the track in 2006 and I remember thinking soon after my T1D diagnosis that managing my diabetes would make such a trip difficult to do again.
We were well prepared for any adversity. In our group we carried an EPIRB, a GPS with the track details and a “yellowbrick” which allowed us to send out SMS messages via satellite and tracked our exact movements.
What food did you take?
I took eggs, salmon, tuna, salami, cheese, nuts, and beef jerky, tomatoes, onions, zucchinis, snowpeas, spinach, chilies, ghee and spices. I prepared all my meals from scratch and maintained low steady blood glucose throughout (I did cut my basal insulin from 14u to 10u as well).
How did you manage packing enough low carb supplies, including fresh food, for six days?
Carrying fresh food was not too much of a problem. The temperatures varied between about -2 degree and +10, so the food was easy to keep cool. The huts only have a small gas heater, so don’t go much above +10 degrees.
I carried one dozen eggs. I had a special egg carrier to protect them, and I kept them in the top of my pack. For breakfast I made scrambled eggs with ghee and salmon. Lunches/snacks included cheese, nuts, beef jerky, salami and salads. Dinners were salmon or tuna with salad or fried with snowpeas, zucchini, onion, chili, tomato and capers.
What was your base pack weight and your food weight carrying fresh food?
The pack weighed 20-25 kg but the bulk of that weight was from the sleeping bag, tent (for emergency shelter), sleeping mat, warm dry clothes, stove, fuel, EPIRB, water and utensils. Carrying fresh food rather than dehydrated was only a minor addition and made the trip so much better. The only carbs I had for the entire journey were small amounts in the vegetables and nuts.
Did you take any dehydrated foods?
No. Except for the beef jerky, I suppose. Interestingly fat is more efficient to carry than carbs because it is more calorically dense at 9 calories/g rather than carbs and protein which are only 4 calories /g. The early explorers and the military knew this and carried pemmican (70% fat/30% protein). I carried a 400g tin of ghee, which is clarified butter. This is solid at room temperature and is a good fat to cook in. I used the ghee in my morning scrambled eggs and to fry the vegetables and salmon in.
How did you keep your insulin at safe temperatures?
I was worried about the insulin freezing and my meter doesn’t work when it is cold. I took two meters, two sets of insulin pens and back up batteries for my meters. When the temperatures dipped, I stored the insulin and meters in my jacket pockets to receive some body heat. At night they were in my sleeping bag.
Would you do anything different next time?
My one luxury item on the trip was some freshly ground coffee. I under catered and had to ration this towards the end of the trip. Otherwise I would not change anything.