1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
I began a very low carb diet a little over ten years ago, but I switched to a NO carb diet in 2009. So, for about five and a half years, I have only eaten from the animal kingdom.
2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
I originally started eating a low carb diet, because I was obese and my doctor said that I needed to lose at least 100 pounds. After five years on a low-carb diet, I realized that I felt better when my carb intake was at its lowest. I was also growing weary of constantly trying to satisfy my sweet-tooth and having to workout two hours per day just to maintain my weight-loss on a low-carb diet. I was hungry and tired, and I also knew that climbing the “carb ladder” always resulted in weight-gain for me. So, I started reading about the possibilities of eating a Zero Carb diet. I found an online forum of Zero Carb-ers who all seemed quite healthy and claimed to have no more cravings and were able to stay fit without working themselves to death in the gym. I was intrigued and decided to try it out for myself.
3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
I had already been eating a very low carb diet for five years, so it wasn’t a major change to drop those last 10-20 carbs per day. It was a challenge in social situations, because those last 10 carbs can certainly help you fit in at a party! But otherwise, I was very ready to abandon the low-carb “franken” foods and just stick to my favorite foods: steak, burgers, bacon, roasts, etc. (Note: For more detail on Kelly’s experience moving from low car to Zero Carb, please read her blog post: Three Reasons Zero Carb is Easier than Low Carb.)
4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
I read quite a bit of Stefansson’s writings. But I mostly read journals of fellow Zero Carb-ers and learned from their experiences.
5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
First, let me explain that I am not currently trying to lose weight. I’ve been within about 5 pounds of my current weight for many months now and am quite happy at this weight. So, I am not at “strict” as I was when I was wanting to lose weight. For most of my last 5 years, I ate only meat and drank only water. But currently, I drink about 1-2 ounces of cream per day. I very rarely have any cheese. And I usually have some eggs at least once per week. The rest is all meat. If I were still trying to lose weight, I would return to just meat and water. Works every time.
7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?
I’m not picky, as long as there is some pink in it. I like my beef anywhere from medium to rare. It is truly a taste preference, not necessarily because of its nutritional value.
8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
I add a lot of bacon grease when I eat burgers. I don’t add anything to steak, unless it is a VERY lean cut. In which case, I enjoy some butter, tallow, or bacon grease. Or even some blue cheese crumbles. I definitely enjoy the extra fat on my burgers, though, which my husband fixes on the grill. Burgers with several spoonfuls of bacon fat is a daily staple for me.
9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?
As I have gotten closer to my desired weight, I have had to become very careful to not over-eat. I have a huge appetite and have a hard time recognizing when I’m full. Granted even if I overeat often, I tend to stay just 5-10 pounds heavier than I am now. But if I want to stay at my current weight, I have to make sure that I stop when I’m merely satisfied, rather than eating until I’m “stuffed.” I don’t go around hungry, but I also try to stop eating when I’m reasonably full. (Please note: Kelly actually gained 20 lbs. during her first six months on Zero Carb. Please read her blog post When Lowering Carbs Causes Weight Gain for more details.)
10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?
11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?
I don’t. I would if someone fixed it and offered it, but since that never happens, I never have any.
12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I usually eat three times per day. Plenty of Zero Carb-ers eat only 1-2 times per day, but I enjoy eating when my family eats. I don’t mind having three smaller meals versus one or two larger ones.
13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?
I currently eat about a pound of ground beef, several (4-6?) thick slices of bacon, and several spoonfuls of bacon grease. But that amount has varied tremendously throughout my ZC journey. I previously ate about 3 pounds per day for quite some time. And I definitely had long periods where two pounds of meat per day served me well. But I currently am enjoying bacon, bacon drippings, and about one pound of beef per day.
14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
I eat whatever is cheaper, which is almost always commercially-produced, grain-finished beef. I have tried eating grass-fed beef, but can’t tell that I feel any difference eating one over the other. The cost difference is pretty considerable, though, so I just buy what is most convenient and affordable.
15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I drink decaf coffee. And until about ten days ago, I drank plenty of regular coffee as well. I love seltzer water and occasionally drink unsweetened tea. I mostly drank plain water while I was trying to lose weight, but I’m a little more lenient with myself these days. I can’t tell that I have any issues or cravings with these extra additions. But if weight became an issue again, I would immediately return to plain water.
16. Do you use salt?
Yes, I do now. I ate completely unseasoned meat for several months and found that I felt no different using salt versus not. But I certainly preferred the taste when I added salt, so I added it back into my diet with no problems.
17. Do you use spices?
Pepper, sometimes. And occasionally my in-laws will use garlic and some spices when they have my family over for dinner. Those don’t bother me, but I really prefer the taste of just salted meat.
18. Do you take any supplements?
19. How much money do you spend on food each month?
I have two hungry kids and a husband that is not Zero Carb. So…I have no idea. I pay about $5/pound for my meat and eat about a pound per day, plus bacon. So, maybe $7 per day for just my own food.
20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
Raise your own cattle :) Ground beef is quite cheap, which is why I eat so many burgers, rather than ribeyes all day long. But seriously, once I eliminated all sodas, “sides”, supplements, deserts, etc, eating all meat is quite cheap!
21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
No, I do not “exercise.” I do move when moving feels good, which usually means playing on a playground with my kids or taking a casual family walk around the neighborhood. I avoid sweating, and I make no efforts to “burn calories.” I find that I stay at a lower weight just as easily without exercise, as long as I avoid all carbs.
22. What benefits have you experienced since beginning a Zero Carb diet? (i.e. recovery from illness, overall health, body composition, exercise performance, hormonal, mental or psychological, etc.)
Prior to eating a zero-carb diet, I had no menstrual cycle for years, and now I am quite regular. I also had horrible leg cramps at night, as well as brain fog, high blood sugar, a tendency to catch strep-throat (and other common illnesses), and a history of staph infections. All of that is completely resolved. I regained fertility, birthed two healthy children, sleep well through the night, and almost never get sick at all. My energy level is much higher now and my moods are far more stable and positive. I feel good and stay healthy.
23. Have you conceived, given birth, or breastfed while on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what was your experience?
I conceived, carried, birthed, and breastfed both of my babies while on a zero-carb diet. I had no morning sickness with either child. I was also back to my pre-children weight very quickly after having them. My kids are both healthy and quite intelligent (If I do say so myself!). If I am blessed with more children, i wouldn’t think twice about eating a zero-carb diet during my pregnancy. In fact, I wouldn’t do it any other way! (Note: For more information about Kelly’s Zero Carb pregnancies read her blog post: Should I Eat Zero Carb While Pregnant?)
24. Have you raised children on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what has been their experience? How difficult is it to keep carbs out of their diet in today’s world?
My children aren’t quite zero-carb, but they eat a very low-carb diet. They eat mostly meat, eggs, and cheese, but also have some low-carb vegetables and some granny-smith apples as a treat. Keeping grains, sugars, starches, and “junk” away from kids is hard. Really hard. But at age three, my daughter wouldn’t take bread or candy if you offered it to her. She politely says “no thanks” and can fluently explain that sugar and bread would make her feel sick. My kids have never tasted a piece of bread, a cracker, a piece of candy, or even a sweet piece of fruit, such as pineapple. They’ve never had a cookie. They have no sweet tooth at all and eat meat and vegetables quite happily! They are wonderful eaters and LOVE their low-carb meals. They get excited for every single meal! They don’t feel deprived in the least. (Note: For more information on raising children on low-to-no carbohydrates, please read Kelly’s blod post: Keeping Our Kids Off the Sugar Teet.)
Addendum: Kelly posted this comment in the Facebook Group Zeroing in on Health on March 7, 2015… “Even though my kids do not eat any grains, sweets, or starches, I did allow them to have a small amount of fruit in the morning – mostly Granny Smith apples, honeydew melon, watermelon, and cantaloupe. They ate their fruit along with their eggs, bacon, and sausage. Both of them have experienced mild skin eczema since they were babies. Their dermatologist said this was very common in young child with fair skin. Following L. Amber Wolcox-O’Hearn’s lead, I decided to remove most all of the fruit from my children’s diet. Suddenly, the eczema is completely gone. Seriously! Their skin is perfect for the first time since they were infants. They haven’t missed the fruit or even asked for it, and I certainly haven’t missed hearing them complain of itchy skin.”
25. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
It’s simple. I like thinking of my food as fuel, rather than obsessing over getting “treats” each day. I love how I feel, too. I have energy and yet, I’m not an emotional basket-case. I’m calm and have a very even temperament now. I also love that I don’t have to count calories, starve myself, or workout at the gym to fit into skinny jeans.
26. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
Keep it simple. Eat meat when you’re hungery. Eat fatty meats when it tastes good to you. Eat leaner meats when that tastes good to you. Eat when you’re hungry, and do something else when you’re not. Drink water when you’re thirsty and don’t force it down when you’re not. Think like a lion who happily eats an antelope every day without being bored by it. Food is fuel, not entertainment. If you give your body the proper fuel, you stay out of the way and allow it to function properly.
27. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?
No, but I thank you so much for the opportunity to share!
(Note: If you are interested in following Kelly’s ongoing Zero Carb journey, you can do so through her blog My Zero Carb Life.)
The Daily Mail recently published an article on Kelly: North Carolina Woman Who Couldn’t Fall Pregnant Reversed Her Infertility.
Please visit my Interviews page to read the stories of other long time Zero Carb veterans.
If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join Charles Washington in his Facebook group Zeroing in on Health or Michael Frieze in his Facebook group Principia Carnivora for guidance and support. These two groups use different approaches, so if you find that one does not suit you, please check out the other one.