“Fasting usually brings on greater clarity of thought and improved recall that assists in making plans and decisions.”
Basic Safe Travel and Boreal Survival by Mors Kochanski
After writing Emergency Preparation: Some Thoughts About Water and Food Security, I have found myself thinking a lot about the benefits and detriments of fasting during a survival situation. In a real survival situation, food doesn’t matter. Most healthy people can fast for 30-45 days without permanent damage but we cannot last very long without water. In a survival situation, safe drinking water is the first priority. In extreme weather conditions, shelter is the first priority even before water.
“By realizing that there is no need to eat for six weeks, panic may be more easily held in check. Fasting can act as the stop gap measure until you have had the time and opportunity to become competent in living off the land. You can learn fasting techniques in less time than you can learn to use one edible plant. In some instances you may have no choice but to fast. Unless you are reasonably expert and well practiced in hunting and trapping, and game is plentiful, or you happen to have a firearm, you may mismanage your energy budget. You could spend more energy catching and eating the animal than you would have saved by resting.”
“In a true fasting state, within two to six days your energy reserves become available to be used at a more normal rate of expenditure. You may not feel like it, but you can now exert yourself to the point of expending four to five thousand calories per day. On a diet that is less than your basic metabolic rate you may collapse from exhaustion. If you are going to walk out, you will do better in a fasting state. In an experiment in Sweden ten people walked 320 miles in ten days ingesting only the spring water found enroute. On being examined by doctors after the walk, all were in a perfect state of health.”
“You generally heal more quickly in a fasting state and overcome any illness more readily. The ketosis in fasting usually brings on an euphoria, making the discomforts of survival more tolerable and any depression less acute.”
“To fast, simply eat nothing and drink far more water than you normally would. The water should be brought to a boil and drunk as hot as possible.”
As Mors Kockanski states, “The ketosis in fasting usually brings on an euphoria, making the discomforts of survival more tolerable and any depression less acute.” He states that if you are in a survival situation you are better off fasting than eating too many carbohydrates, because if you eat too many carbohydrates you will not be able to access your body’s fat stores. He thinks that over 150gm carbohydrates a day is too high.
Research would suggest that this number is way too high for most people. Studies with athletes have shown that most elite athletes cannot eat over 100gm of carbohydrate a day and remain in ketosis. Average people would need to eat under 50gm of carbohydrate a day to remain in ketosis. People with metabolic syndrome or diabetes need to eat 20-30gm of carbohydrates to be able to access their body’s fat stores.
In a survival situation, fasting is a viable option. There is a way to continue eating and stay in ketosis by consuming a high fat, just enough protein, and a low carbohydrate diet. This will mean changing the type of rations carried in a typical survival kit. Ketogenic rations have the added benefit of the rations being low in weight and volume and not needing water for re-hydration. The ketogenic rations can be extended by doing every-other-day fasting or by fishing, hunting and gathering. The ketogenic rations will also ease the body’s transition into a true fasting state, if necessary.
The ketogenic rations (80% fat, 10% protein and 10% carbohydrate) weigh seven pounds and topped out at a total of 17,259 calories. This would last a theoretical male for 6.6 days at 2600 calories a day.* The rations would last a theoretical female at 2210 calories a day for 7.8 days.* In a survival situation, implementing every-other-day fasting would make the rations last the theoretical male for 10.8 days and the theoretical female for 12.3 days.** Ketogenic rations will help the body make the transition to a fasting state with less discomfort. These rations will help your body access your fat stores and makes starvation easier, while maintaining clear mental function.
- 1 pound homemade beef jerky
- 1 pound raw hard cheese
- 1 pound salted pork bellies or homemade bacon (Reuse the lard.)
- 1 pound butter or ghee
- 1 pound coconut oil
- 1 pound creamed coconut
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushroom powder with added sea salt***
- 1/2 pound sea salt or 1/2 pound cocoa or 1/2 pound coffee
How to use the Ketogenic Rations
- The jerky can be eaten as is or added to soups or stews. Be very careful not to overeat the jerky. Be careful to only consume your minimum daily needs for protein.
- The salted pork is only ration that would need to be cooked. If at all possible do not eat the pork fat alone but use it to season wildcrafted foods. Save the pork fat and use it with greens****, frying fish or game. Reuse the salt in the pork for cooking. If you don’t want any of the rations to need cooking, remove the pork and add an extra 1/2 pound of jerky and hard cheese.
- The butter can be eaten raw with the hard cheese or added to hot drinks. The butter can be used for frying fish, game or greens.
- The coconut oil can be eaten raw with the creamed coconut or added to hot drinks. The coconut oil can be added to the jerky to make pemmican. The coconut oil can be added to the mushroom broth for a warm, quick meal. The coconut oil can be used for frying fish, game or greens. The coconut oil can be added to the butter which will bring up the smoking point of the butter, making cooking easier. Coconut oil is a multipurpose lubricant and is good for many types of infections.
- The creamed coconut can be eaten raw with the coconut oil or the butter. For a person used to a ketogenic diet the creamed coconut tastes sweet and can be eaten like a dessert.
- The mushroom powder is very nourishing and is great for a quick, warming drink and should be consumed with butter, coconut oil, creamed coconut or lard. The mushroom powder can be added to thicken soups and stews.
- The sea salt is for people in the interior. It is used for seasoning food and preserving wildcrafted fish and meats. People near the ocean can make their own sea salt. There is an option to bring cocoa or coffee for hot drinks. Both drinks are good with coconut cream, coconut oil and butter and make a great ketogenic coconut coffee or ketogenic bone broth.
*In the book When Disaster Strikes, Matthew Stein uses a system of multipliers to figure out the calorie requirements of different family members. The system is based on the caloric needs for the typical adult male at 2600 calories per day.
adult males 2600 x 1.0 = 2600 calories
adult females 2600 x 0.85 = 2210 calories
teenage males 2600 x 1.4 = 3640 calories
teenage females 2600 x 0.95 = 2470 calories
male children (aged 7-11) 2600 x 0.95 = 2470 calories
female children (aged 7-11) x 0.75 = 1950 calories
children (aged 4-6) x 0.6 = 1560 calories
infants (aged 1-3) x 0.4 = 1040 calories
PLEASE NOTE: Lactating woman require 500-700 calories more each day.
**Every-other-day fasting requires eating a normal amount of calories one day and doing a 600 calorie modified fast the second day. For males: 2600+600=3200/2=1600calories; 17,259/1600=10.8 days. For females: 2210+600=2810/2=1405calories; 17,259/1405=12.3 days.
***Here’s my Homemade Mushroom Broth and Healing Broth. There is added sea salt in both recipes. Traditional miso or bonito flakes would be a suitable replacement for the broth.
****With ketogenic rations it is safe to consume your fill of wildcrafted greens while maintaining ketosis. Read more about eating greens and ketosis in Healthy Household: Fat Loss on the Cheap: Part II. Just know your local wild plants before getting into a survival situation!
For more information please see the Emergency Preparation Series.