1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
I started absolute zero carb in June 2009, which makes it a little over 6 1/2 years at the time of this writing. Since then, I have not eaten anything from the plant kingdom, although I have occasionally had animal food with a small amount of spices.
2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
My decision to go ZC was purely for health reasons. I did not have any issues with my health, but I knew that many people come down with various illnesses when they become older. I looked around and saw that people grew increasingly overweight and sick as they aged, especially those over the age of 50. I figured, why not find out how to stay healthy as I grow older instead of doing the usual thing of visiting doctors in my old age for remedies. That thought started me on doing intense research. I did not start out thinking that carbohydrates were bad for me. In fact, I had no idea. However, I let my research lead me without filtering of my preconceived notions of what is healthy. That is how I eventually discovered Zero Carb.
3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
I would say that it took me two months to physically adapt to a high-fat zero carb way of eating. In the early stages, my body was not accustomed to the high fat. My liver and gall bladder needed time to adjust. During those early months, the number one issue that I had was loose bowel movements because my body could not handle the digestion of the increased fat. Once my body adjusted, however, it was clear sailing. As for the psychology of it, I adjusted immediately because I absolutely loved all the fatty foods that I was eating. It was amazing to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast without feeling any guilt or remorse. My whole outlook on food changed. I no longer felt that I was harming myself when eating foods that I always loved.
4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
I started this journey to zero carb by first reading about the supposed benefits of drinking raw milk. Although I no longer consume dairy products, other than butter, it was my first step toward transitioning to a high-fat, low carb way of eating. I discovered Weston Price and tried eating that way for a couple of months, but gave it up when I became severely constipated. The casein in the milk was not doing me any good.
I didn’t give up and kept reading. I came upon Gary Taubes’s book Good Calories, Bad Calories. That was an eye-opener about the dangers of carbohydrates. I never new that “healthy” grains and other plant matter were bad. I kept reading.
The big breakthrough for me was coming upon Bear’s thread on one of the low-carb forums. Here was a man who was essentially zero carb for 50 years and he was sharing his extraordinary knowledge with anyone who had an open mind and wanted to understand what he was saying. Amazing!
I would categorize the above as the research that led me to the decision to try zero carb. As for the implementation of zero carb, I give credit to Charles Washington and all the people on the former ZIOH website. I joined ZIOH in June 2009, which was toward its early days. It was an exciting time because there were several people on the website posting their daily experiences with their transition to ZC. There were veterans on that site who had been ZC for many years. I learned a lot about the ZC way of eating from all those people. And as “icing” on the ribeye, it was a lot of fun meeting fellow zero-carbers when we would get together for “meat-ups”.
5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
I eat meat and eggs mostly, but I will include some butter when having sautéed shrimp or scallops. That’s it. I do not eat cheese, cream, or other dairy products. I’ve literally been eating ribeye steaks and burgers every day for the past 6 1/2 years, with minor exceptions of eating pemmican when I was traveling and could not get fresh meat.
6. What percentage of your diet is beef verses other types of meats?
I would say that beef is 95% of my meat consumption. Occasionally, I will eat chicken wings or pork and I eat shrimp or scallops frequently, but my mainstay is beef. The chicken wings, shrimp, and scallops are side dishes that do not account for much of my daily consumption. Sometimes I will eat pork in place of a ribeye steak, but I am never satisfied when I do so.
7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?
I always cook it medium-rare. Having made about 2000 steaks since starting zero carb, I’ve gotten very good at cooking ribeyes exactly to my liking, which is medium-rare. I prefer using a cast iron skillet on the stovetop to grilling when making steaks. I prefer grilling for burgers.
8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
I only add butter to my side dishes, such as shrimp and scallops.
9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?
I basically eat until I’m satisfied, but on average that means one pound of 73/27 burgers and about 3/4 pound of ribeye steak for dinner. For breakfast, I eat two poached eggs in broth.
10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?
I very rarely eat organ meats. The only time that I eat liver and heart is when I bake a whole chicken. Liver, heart, and gizzards usually come with the whole chicken, so that’s when I eat it. I do not bake whole chickens often, so this is a rare occurrence.
11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?
For the past year, I consumed about one cup of homemade bone broth with my poached eggs every day. I made the broth with bones and cow’s feet. Recently, after reading your post about glutamine causing some people to fall out of ketosis, I’ve adjusted the way I make broth. I no longer use cow’s feet, so my broth no longer gels up. In any case, I’m still consuming about one cup of broth a day with my eggs.
12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I eat twice a day. My main meal is in the late-afternoon. That’s when I eat the ribeyes and burgers. Breakfast is more of a snack, even though I never feel hunger or the need to eat more than once a day. For a few years, I ate just once a day, but I added the breakfast more because I enjoy eating a snack in the morning. I especially like the bone broth and eggs on cold winter mornings.
13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?
About 1 3/4 pounds.
14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
I eat meat that I buy at BJ’s Wholesale club. I buy 18 pound ribeye slabs and dry-age them in my refrigerator. I use a small USB fan in the fridge to maintain airflow over the slab. I also buy 73/27 ground beef at BJ’s. I have never bought grass-finished meat.
15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I occasionally drink decaf coffee. I often drink non-caffeinated tea, such as robois and a Japanese tea called mugi cha (i.e., roasted barley tea, which is made by placing roasted barley husks that are in a tea bag in hot water). That’s it. I do not drink any alcohol.
16. Do you use salt?
I never add salt to my food.
17. Do you use spices?
Very rarely. At one time, I would make curry shrimp, but now I’m concerned that spices may be doing me harm because they contain many anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid and salicylates.
18. Do you take any supplements?
Generally, none at all. However, on the recommendation of my doctor, I occasionally take vitamin D. When I say occasionally, I mean once or twice a year. Other than that, I have not ingested any supplements over the past 6 1/2 years.
19. How much money do you spend on food each month?
My wife is also zero carb. Between the two of us, I would say that we’re spending about $500 a month, which includes ribeye steaks, burgers, and shrimp or scallops every day.
20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
If I were on my own and not having to think about another’s preferences, I would eat 73/27 burgers everyday. 73/27 ground beef costs about $2.80 a pound, which means that I could eat two pounds each day for $5.60 or $168 per month. Sometimes it is possible to get ground beef on sale. To my amazement, BJ’s just yesterday had a one-day sale of 73/27 ground beef for just $2 a pound. At that price, I would be able to eat for a whole month for just $120, but such sales are rare (I’ve only seen it this one time). They must have been clearing out stock that was going to expire soon. Keep your eyes open for “manager’s specials” in the meat section. Meat that will soon hit its sell-by date is often marked down.
21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
No, not regularly aside from doing a set of push-ups and abdominal planks in the morning. I do not do any regular aerobic exercise, but I do walk a lot and use my bike for local errands.
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.)
The list of benefits include: easy bowel movements, steady energy level, no hunger during the day, clearer skin, a sense of well-being and calmness (i.e., better temperament), high level of alertness, leaner body with muscle definition, much improved lipid profile (e.g., my HDL went from 59 pre-ZC to 114 now; triglyceride went from 113 to 34), much fewer common illnesses (e.g., I have not had a common cold in the last 6 years).
I would add one other major benefit that is not directly related to the physiological or psychological benefits of zero carb: a different perspective about the world around me. Zero carb goes against everything that I was taught as a child. Like most kids, my parents encouraged me to eat vegetables and fruit. In school I learned about the supposed benefits of whole grains. From the government, I heard that I should eat according to the food pyramid, which now has morphed into an equally ridiculous “my plate.” I heard from “respected” nutritionists that I should avoid saturated fats, substitute animal fats with polyunsaturated oils, and try to approximate the ways of vegans.
From years of such indoctrination, I was convinced that anyone eating a fatty steak was headed for coronary hell. Despite the indoctrination, I broke through and found out for myself that it is all a big lie, whether intentional or not on the part of the indoctrinators. Now, I know with 100% certainty that zero carb is the true human way of eating. I know it not just from reading information about the appropriate way for humans to eat, but primarily because of my own personal experience.
As I mentioned, ZC gave me a different perspective on the world and one that I experienced first hand. This has led me to question other things about our culture and society that I have taken for granted in the past. For example, I have re-examined my understanding of politics, economics, and even history. It is amazing how much garbage is fed to us humans, both in terms of food and ideology. I credit zero carb for helping me to see other things more clearly.
23. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
I love the taste of the food and I love the simplicity of it. My wife and I do not have to think at all about what we are going to eat. There is no wasted time in preparing or shopping for food. Plus, I save a lot of money because I rarely eat out anymore.
24. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
Do not give up right away if it does not seem to be working for you. It takes time for your body to adjust to a new way of eating. For example, your gall bladder may now be close to dormant if you’re eating very low fat and high carbohydrate. A fully functioning gall bladder is important for the digestion of fat, so give it time to re-establish. I’m sure there are other organs that also need time to adjust. Be patient. Although you would have to take my word for it, which is not as good as experiencing it for yourself, eating zero carb is a life-changing thing in the best way. Your future self will thank you for chucking the carbohydrates.
25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?
My wife is supportive and is herself eating zero carb. At first, she resisted my decision, but she soon followed me down this path when she saw the great results. My friends are accustomed to my way of eating. They are neither supportive or opposed. I guess they have found a steady state of accepting that I will no longer dine with them on carbohydrates.
26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?
I think that I’ve covered it all above. For me, zero carb entailed positive developments in three areas: physiological, psychological, and ideological. All three are important, but I would say that the last of the three is the most unexpected.
***Please Note: Matt Shepherd is a pseudonym, as the subject of this interview prefers to remain anonymous.
Please visit my “Interviews” page linked at the top of this website 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 us in the Facebook group “Principia Carnivora” for support.
Nice article !!!
WOW, I have been Low Carb for over a year now. Ketogenic diet was for me the cure for celiacs, lactose intolerance and histamine intolerance. I did most recently consume carbs and gained +-15kg waterweight overnight. I also went pre diabetic and hypoglycemic (just because of 1 day carb consumption) my whole face was swollen, hands swollen and i had severe temper and concentration issues.
It appears to me that I´m by default sucrose/glucose/carb intolerant.
I have a question that is very important for me, as I am an athlete and very much into working out and staying very lean:
What bodyfat percentage (+- by estimation) do you and other Zero Carbers usually hold and how do High Intensity workouts work for you and how well do you perform in terms of reflexes and under extreme stress?
I know it`s a lot but thanks in advance 🙂
I’m sorry, but I do not know my body fat percentage. I would say that it is relatively low because I have very good muscle definition and I do not do any strenuous exercise. Before going ZC, I weighed 140 lbs. Now I am 123 lbs. I am 5’6″. Before ZC, I did not have good muscle definition.
As I mentioned in the interview, I do not do strenuous exercises, so it is not possible for me to comment about high intensity workouts. However, what I can say is that I have found myself in situations that required the maintenance of energy for long periods of time. For example, I used to go on business trips. I would have my first meeting in the morning at 7am and have successive meetings throughout the day all the way to dinner at 8pm. Usually, that meant eight full meetings a day and that included getting from one side of town to the other. I know that having meetings does not sound energy intensive, but it required a lot of brain work on my part and the brain uses about 25% of our energy on a normal day. The topic that I was discussing with clients was complex.
Before ZC, I would be totally exhausted by 5pm when doing those intense meetings. It was an absolute requirement in those days to eat lunch, otherwise I would simply be too tired and famished to complete my day. Once going ZC, I felt as alert and energized at 8pm as I did at 7am. Another benefit was that I no longer needed to eat lunch in order to maintain my energy level. On the downside, not requiring lunch freed me up for one more meeting a day 🙂
As for extreme stress, there is a world of positive difference between the zero carb me and the mixed eater me. Without a doubt, I now handle stressful situations much better now and that includes better reflexes. It’s hard to explain, but I now know that particular stresses are simply part of life and that I should not get overly upset about it. That is the way I would describe it in a sentence, but it does not capture the true meaning of it because I’m merely verbalizing an inner feeling. I am better able to assess stressful situations, which means that I can be more objective about it and take better action to remedy whatever it may be. Or, if it is out of my control, I am better able to deal with the consequences.
I realize that I did not directly answer your questions, but I tried to give you a sense of what zero carb feels like for me. I remember about five or six months into being zero carb when I had an epiphany. I remember thinking to myself: “wow, so this is what it feels like to be a real human being!” That was quite a moment. It partly had to do with the sense of well-being that came with my improved physical prowess and mental abilities. There is a reason why humans are the world’s most successful predators. We have an extreme intellect that is matched with an agile body.
thank you very much! A very thorough response!
I`m getting an Idea. I intend to do the transition phase very relaxed with little and light workouts only. I will definetly report on High Intensity performance, when I`m a few months in and fully adapted. In my understanding by eating fat first and reducing protein intake, one increases ketone levels and looses bodyfat easily and I will use this approach to maintain a lean physique. I`m ver excitet 🙂 !
In theory (against common knowledge ) a state of Ketosis will improve High intensity performance as well as ATP energy. ( once adapted to ketones)
Also I forgot to mention previously, I only eat once a day (late afternoon) which I started as a diet but I`m sticking to it out of convenience and time saving.
A great comprehensive, cogent and concise interview.
Thanks “Matt Shepherd” and Esmee.
I would answer all those questions exactly the same except that I eat only pork and drink only water . I still find it annoying that my friends and family are trying to convince me that I am crazy for eating the way I eat but I care less and less about any of their opinions on the matter .
Acer…..those are my sentiments exactly. After 6 1/2 years of eating this way, I’ve come to the point of not caring a bit about what other people think because I know that what I am doing is right. The uninformed opinions of others are meaningless.
I’d be interested to know how you do your aging meat set-up in your refrigerator.
I’d be interested to know where to find a piece of meat like the one on photo 🙂 . I never saw anything like that fresh ,only smoked .
That is rib roast, or bulk piece of ribeye.
I’ve been buying 15 to 20 lbs slabs of ribeyes for years from either Costco or BJ’s. They generally have the best prices. Also, the cost per pound is lower than the same meat cut into steaks plus you get the added bonus of getting all the fat. I personally do not like individually-cut steaks at the store because the butcher trims too much of the fat.
I should have mentioned above that dry-aging works best with ribeye sub-primals, but you could also do top loin (i.e., New York Strip).
The dry-aging process is simple. First, you need what is called a sub-primal piece of meat, which is a 15 to 20 lb slab of beef. (Steaks are created by slicing the sub-primal.) Place paper towels on the lowest shelf of the fridge. Put the sub-primal on a metal (stainless steel) rack, such as the ones that are used for cooling cookies after they are baked. Leave it in the fridge untouched and uncovered for at least 2 weeks. That is really all there is to it. It is important that you should minimize the chances for cross-contamination, so do not at the same time have uncovered fish or chicken in the fridge. Also, it helps to have a constant airflow over the slab, so I use a USB fan inside the fridge. You can plug the fan in an outlet outside the fridge. The wire to the USB fan is thin enough not to interfere with the seal on the fridge door.
I would post a picture of my set-up, but I do not see an option nearby for doing so.
I know that this is not the forum for a political conversation but I am very interested in how your understanding of politics and economics has changed. Can you give me a general idea of that direction?
Because I learned first hand that eating fatty meat is not the killer that the conventional indoctrination foists on us, I also learned to question other widely-held assumptions held by me and most people.
In politics, one over-riding narrative that is widely accepted is that the U.S. is a properly functioning democracy. The majority rules. The majority elects politicians, who in turn have a nearly free hand to do whatever they want. For example, if the majority votes for a politician who promises free health care and higher taxes, then we will surely get both despite the rights, opinions, or desires of voters who are in opposition. I began to question that assumption. Why should the majority rule over the minority? Isn’t that a brutal and immoral way to live? As an example, if the majority votes to ban the production of meat, why should the minority of people who did not vote that way suffer? Why do we assume that Democracy is the proper system? It seems evil to me if it means the biggest gang can trample on the rights of others. It became very clear to me after going ZC that each individual has a right to live his life as he alone chooses, provided, of course, that he does not trample on the rights of others. In politics, the key is not how we elect our political leaders, but the range of action permitted to the government. There are things that should be off limits to the government and not subject to the whim of voters.
In economics, I began to question the assumption that the government can create prosperity by taxing and spending other people’s money. The fact is that wealth is only created by people who produce something of value. The government provides a valuable service by keeping law and order, but it does not create new wealth. After becoming ZC, I thought of what the government currently does in this way: if a criminal robs someone and then spends all the loot, does that spending help the economy? After all, in essence, that is what the government does when it taxes (or borrows) and spends. The criminal may have more money to spend, but the victim has less. Why do we all assume that the government can boost the economy when it produces nothing of value that it has not first taken from taxpayers? Why do we assume that a centralized planning committee (e.g., the Federal Reserve) knows how to manipulate the economy? I now know that none of the widely-held assumptions about the economy are true. At the same time, I think that government is absolutely necessary because we each need protection from criminals and foreign invaders. I am not anti-government, but I am anti-rights-violating-government, which is what we have now. It is sad.
Preach it, Matt!!!
Thanks, Tante. I glad to see that you are in agreement. I only hope that more people wake up and understand that each person has a right to live his life as he chooses regardless of what others may think or may vote.
Matt – here are 2 of my favorite quotes on the subject:
“A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”
“Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.”
And there are plenty of Americans that would love to dictate your dietary habits.
Thanks Matt. I appreciate the response.