© sott.netAMS fireball reports through 2013
If you are a regular SOTT reader, you are certainly aware of the many areas that are building towards potential disaster - from environmental earth changes and overhead bombardment to growing Fascism and impending economic collapse. The good thing is that you do not need to pick one of these threats to begin preparing yourself, family and local community. The basic requirements for getting prepared apply to all these possible occurrences and more.

The prepping web community has grown in massive proportion to what it was just a decade ago. Blog, prepper and survivalist websites abound and many offer very good ideas that can be applied or adapted to your own situation and needs. But it is rare to see any of these resources address the question of prepping your diet. If prepping your diet confers significant advantages in a disaster/survival situation, then it will have a significant impact on your food storage strategy and what to look out for during an extended disaster.

The question is, does prepping your diet yield enough advantage to suggest changes to your current diet now? And if so, how does this impact your food storage and preparation plan? The answer to the former question, I think, is yes. An answer to the latter is below.

The ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrate (sugar/starch/grains/etc) and consists primarily of animal fats and restricted amounts of animal protein (meat) such that the majority of the body's caloric needs are met by the fat. By concentrating good fat in your diet and driving carbohydrates very low, your body transitions to a fat-burning metabolism as opposed to a sugar-burning metabolism. The dietary meat protein is restricted since excess protein (beyond that needed for body repair) can be converted to sugar by the liver in a process called glucogenesis - which means that excess meat consumption looks like carbohydrate to the body and interferes with the fat-burning metabolism.

© UnknownUSDA Food Pyramid
The vast majority of the world population are sugar-burners, taking their dietary cues from some version of the USDA food pyramid, creating a massive demand for grains (the "staff of life"). But what if a sugar-burning metabolism is only a survival backup system for the primary fat-burning metabolism of our deep ancestors? What if, collectively, we have been living sub-optimally and compromising our health by remaining sugar-burners? Is there any evidence for this?

Much research extending back through the early twentieth century has shown that the healthiest tribes and cultures have been those that relied most heavily on animal (natural pastured) products including seafood and some plant oils (such as coconut and palm). Since the early research, the evidence has piled high in support of the ketogenic diet as neuro-protective and healing of many chronic conditions including cancer. The purpose in this article is not to present this evidence, but rather to suggest that the ketogenic diet should be a front-line response to general preparedness for the near future.

It should be noted here that transitioning to a ketogenic fat-burning metabolism is not as simple as suddenly changing your diet. There can be many bumps and difficulties along the transition road - especially for those that have been avoiding meat/fat for long periods, including vegetarians. Remember, you are taking a major metabolic energy function in your body (that extends to the sub-cellular level), and attempting to totally change the input fuel (from sugar to fat). There are two good guide books that can help make the transition as easy as possible: Nora Gedgaudas's Primal Body Primal Mind and Maria Emmerich's Keto-Adapted.

Comment: For more detailed information/research on low-carb and ketogenic diets see the SOTT Forum threads Life Without Bread and Ketogenic Diet - Path to Transformation.

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

If part of your preparation plan includes getting in shape and losing some weight, there is no better way than going ketogenic. Once you are transitioned, your body will burn your own fat stores just as easily as it burns dietary fat. Add a little intermittent fasting (12-24 hours without food) and some resistance exercise, and your body will quickly achieve the natural balance right for you, building muscle mass to boot. By transitioning to keto, many folks have been able to dump their prescription medications - a highly desirable action considering availability in a disaster scenario.

In my own case, I have been ketogenic for over two years and have no desire or intent to return to sugar-burning. Going 24 hours without food is effortless and is not accompanied with thoughts of food or eating. Back in my sugar-burning days this was quite difficult and uncomfortable. A sugar-burner needs regular sugar refueling in the form of dietary carbohydrate (what does the food pyramid say about how many meals you should eat? - a lot!). If a disaster strikes and you find yourself under stressful conditions, which would you rather be: a sugar-burner or a fat-burner?

There has been much recent study work on the ketogenic diet and the health benefits derived from it. One of the fascinating aspects is the change in genetic expression involving epigenetics. Your genes don't change but their expression does change in response to the metabolic fuel change. In the mitochondria (cellular energy factories) old worn out mtDNA can be replaced with new mtDNA improving the efficiency of the fat-burning energy generating process. Most people who keto-adapt report major improvement in energy and endurance.

Another major benefit of keto-adaptation is significant improvement in cognitive performance. Even though your body will maintain about a teaspoon of glucose in your blood (for specific needs of the brain, heart, etc), much brain tissue, commonly thought to require sugar, can also transition to fat-burning. It may be that the improvement in energy efficiency results in cognitive improvements.

If detoxing your body is on your preparation agenda, you can use the ketogenic diet to burn excess fat stores, releasing various toxins where they are typically stored. During keto-adaptation you may experiences symptoms as these toxins are released. Detox supplements can help relieve the severity and duration of this condition. Cleaning up your body is a worthy addition to your preparation list, and a ketogenic diet can play an important role.

Overall, it is hard to come up with a more important front-line item in your (and family's) disaster preparedness plan. Keto-adaptation should be accomplished before a disaster strikes since the transition process can take weeks to months depending on where you are starting from. Now we can look at what this means with respect to your food storage plan.

Impacts on the Food Storage Plan

If you are planning for a keto-adapted diet, then your food storage plan will concentrate on healthy fats and meats. Animal fat/meat should come from healthy pastured animals that have not been exposed to GMO feeds, drugs, or unhealthy/crowded conditions (note: this excludes nearly all commercial "grocery store" offers). Beef should be grass-fed/grass-finished. Good fats for storage include:
  • Ghee made from (grass-fed) butter
  • Pork lard and bacon fat (rendered)
  • Beef tallow (fat rendered and canned)
  • Good quality coconut oil or palm oil
  • MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides)
© sott.netGhee made from Amish grass-fed butter
While most people will be storing all manner of grains, dehydrated vegetables and fruits, seeds, and vegetable oils, your keto-plan will be much simpler. If you can find a source for grass-fed dairy butter, then you can clarify it to ghee and store it without resorting to canning. You can order grass-fed beef tallow online by the bucket, but you will want to can this just to be safe. The other fats in the above list do not require canning for long term storage.

You can render pork lard from the fat and store it off in jars. Since I cook a lot of fatty pork and bacon, I use a large cast iron pot that slowly fills with rendered pork fat. If you cook on low heat well below the smoke point, then the fat maintains its integrity. You simply pour off the excess, filter, and store the fat in jars being careful not to add any other organic matter in the oil.

© sott.netSliced pork jowl slow cooking in bacon fat
Grass-fed pastured meats will require canning for long term storage so investing in the right equipment is a good idea. For those in the US, you can also order cases of canned grass-fed/finished beef. Making, reducing, and canning bone broth is a very good idea since it is so healing and good for the gut - it could almost be considered a medicine.

For the keto-adapted diet, anything else you decide to store is just icing on the cake. For example, you may want to store some dehydrated organic wild berries (no added sugar) for an occasional treat or to add to meat dishes. Chocolate, nut butters, xylitol, coconut, and dry spices (don't forget salt) are other good additions. Play around with some keto-recipes and get creative.

Parting Thoughts

It is a good idea to search out local farms that specialize in healthy animal products. Visit them face to face, buy some products, and get to know them. If disaster strikes, you will know where to get fresh product, and you will likely be recognized as a good customer. In tough times, you may also be able to offer some help.

It is actually a good idea to store some buckets of organic viable grains. They will work very well in trade with those folks that cannot shake their belief in the USDA food pyramid. In this sense, these grains can help protect your own keto food stores. Also these grains, when sprouted, can provide very healthy food for chickens, goats, and even pigs - and one five gallon bucket can go a long way.

There is evidence that the keto-adapted body is significantly more capable of manufacturing much of what we have considered to be "supplements" until now. This means that we should be able to scratch a long list of supplements off of our preparation list. Enhanced immune function may also make the keto-adapted body far less susceptible to an acute or chronic disease outbreak.