1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
I started my ketogenic diet on December 17 2013, at the age of 36. I did about 6 months of no carbs, then i tried to re-introduce some carbs. I tried many forms of carbs from veggies, fruits, grains, and even certain kinds of sugar like dextrose, but after about another 6 months of experimentation, I realized that i was reacting negatively to all types of carbs. So i decided to give them up completely at the end of last year. So, now I have been completely zero carb again for over a year.
2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
Health. I started to realize that there was something going on with my overall health in 2005. I had noticed that i was constantly tired. At that time, I was doing weight training every day. But I was not sleeping a lot, so it was normal for me to feel tired.
However, I felt that there was sometime more than just tiredness going on because I started to develop some skin rashes and some foods intolerances. After many eliminations diets, i discovered that all my skin rashes were food related. I began my real “diet journey” in 2009 and my goal was to find the perfect diet for me. So, from 2009 to 2013, i tried all the available diets. Sometime i tested two different diets at the same time by using the foods allowed from one diet that were also allowed in another diet.
During all that time, my health condition was getting worse. So i decided in the beginning of 2013 to try the “healthiest diet in the world” (at least according to some), and I adopted a completely vegan diet with absolutely no animal products. It was also a very low fat, low protein, high carb diet.
For the first 3 months I ate only fruit, a regimen highly promoted by Dr. Robert Morse. i bought his herbs and i follow his protocol. Big mistake! My blood work was horrible, my teeth were rotting from the inside out. It caused some sort of mineral deficiency or overwhelmed my body with too much sugar. And i was constantly hungry. I had to eat every 2 hours and i was hungry again 30 minutes after eating even if my stomach was still full.
Then, I switched to Dr. John Mcdougall’s high starch diet, a bit of veggies and rice, my teeth stopped rotting after about 1 week and started to heal on this diet. But I was bloated all the time. Half of my food intake was cooked (mostly grains like quinoa and amaranth), and half of it was raw.
At the end of 2013, I was 30 lbs underweight at only 140 lbs. (I am 5′ 8”), severely anemic, almost bed ridden. My bathroom is located on the first floor, and it was too physically demanding to climb 1 set of stair to go to the bathroom. So, i was peeing in a bucket that i kept in my bedroom. I’ve never been in such bad shape in my entire life. You can’t imagine that kind of weakness until you experience it. “Healthiest diet in the world” my ass…!
In the current picture of me at the top, I weigh 170 lbs. In the picture below, I weigh 154 lbs. I don’t have any pictures of myself when I was at my lowest point of 140 lbs. Prior to becoming ill, I actually weighed 195 lbs. and I was solid muscle.
Then there was only one diet left on my list: Low Carb High Fat Ketogenic diet. Since i’ve been brainwashed all my life that fats were bad, fats make you fat, etc. i wasn’t expecting too much from this diet. But I had reached a point where I literally had nothing to lose. I was dying anyway. The ketogenic diet not only stopped my downward spiral, it began to reverse my condition. After about 2 months of eating a LCHF/Keto diet, my blood work was much better, my energy was increasing, and i was gaining some weight. That’s when I realized that i was on the right path.
3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
It’s hard to put a number on this because i feel like my body in constantly adapting. When I first started my ketogenic diet, I ate no carbs at all and about 50 gm of proteins with about 280 gm of fat. With this macronutrient ratio, I was able to have a blood ketone level of about 1 to 1.5 mmol/dL upon first waking up in the morning. When I tried increasing my protein intake to 80 gm, my blood ketone level was greatly affected. My ketones would drop. But now fast forward to today, my fats intake is 240 gm and my protein intake is 200 gm and I still maintain a blood ketone level of about 1 to 1.5 mmol/dL in the morning. Because I was already so weak and sick to begin with, I didn’t really notice the “keto flu” as many healthier people might when first transitioning to a LC or ZC diet.
4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
I didn’t read any books. I just did some research on the web and experimented along the way.
5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
A zero carbs diet is already quite restrictive. Mine is even worse. I always had quite bad digestion and because of that i’ve hard time eating any kind of muscle meat. So, i very rarely eat steak, chicken, or bacon. My primary food sources are chicken liver, egg yolk, and whey protein powder. I have an intolerance to most milk products. I even react to organic Ghee. But for some reason, i’ve been able to find one brand of whey protein powder that give me no problem at all.
6. What percentage of your diet is beef versus other types of meats?
I rarely eat beef due to severe digestive problems.
7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well?
I do not eat beef, but I cook my chicken livers very lightly. I have the heat setting on medium and then I continually stir the purée to cook it evenly for only about 5 minutes. It is hard to tell from the pictures below, but it is still pink.
8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
My liver and my yolks have a total of about 45 gm of fats, and i need about 240 gm of fats per day so i do add a lots of fat. I mostly use lard, tallow, MCT oil, coconut oil, and macadamia nut oil.
9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?
Since my diet is so restricted, I basically eat the very same meals everyday. Four meals per day. I am a kind of freak in this department LOL. I weigh all my foods very precisely and i know exactly how much fat, protein, total calories, etc. that I consume every day. I know that at 3400 calories per day I start to gain body fat, at 3000 calories per day I will lose body fat, and to maintain my weight, i need about 3200 calories per day. I don’t eat until I am satisfied. I could probably eat twice as much food without any problems, but that would give me 6000 calories per day and would make me fat. But I do not feel hungry am not really hungry, and I have stopped thinking about food constantly since I started eating a high fat ketogenic diet.
10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?
Yes, i eat chicken liver everyday.
11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?
I did a lot of experimentation with the bone broth and unfortunately for me, all bone broth gives me a skin rash.
12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I always have 4 small meals per day. Each of my meals weigh 125 gm and fill about a half of a cup. I blend everything in my Vitamix to help my body digest it better.
13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?
I have 200 gm of chicken liver per day and 6 egg yolks.
14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
All of my chicken livers and eggs are organic.
Here is a step-by-step photo journal of how I prepare my liver, egg yolk, whey, and fat Zero Carb “smoothie.”
15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I react to so much that i decide to stick to water only.
16. Do you use salt?
From what i’ve read, you are supposed to increase your intake of salt on a ketogenic diet, so i am currently adding about 4gr of sodium per day from sea salt.
17. Do you use spices?
Again, because of my multiple reactivity to things, I prefer to not use any.
18. Do you take any supplements?
I do take general multi-vitamins, vitamin D, various amino acids and whey protein powder.
19. How much money do you spend on food each month?
Probably around $300 (Candian)
20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
Unfortunately, not really.
21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
I do weight training 6 days per week, and i try to keep the intensity to the max.
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.)
I have more energy, I am way less bloated, I can control my body fats % much more easily, and I am much less sick than before.
23. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
24. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
Don’t be afraid to experiment, don’t trust everything you read, give it a try and see how it’s working for you.
25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?
Everybody seem to think that I am a weirdo by eating this way, but i don’t much care. I do what i can with what i have in order to get better. In the end, you have to listen your own body.
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.
Hi Sebastian, thanks for your detailed responses. Could you advise which brand of whey works best for you?
The only brand of whey protein powder that i can tolerate is made by Biochem.
Here is the link below:
Am using only the natural flavor.
Doesn’t it raise your insulin level?
The only way to know if something raised insulin levels would be to eat the food and then test post-prandial insulin response through a hospital or doctor’s office. Perhaps you meant blood sugar which can be tested at home?
Like Esméelafleur have mention,you probably meant blood sugar.In my experience,any amount of proteins is gonna raise your blood sugar to a certain degree,this can’t be avoid.After 2 years in ketosis,i can “get away” with 200gr of proteins per day and still have my fasting blood sugar in the 70’s range,of course this is mainly related to my weight training,if i stop my weight training,am gonna have to lower my proteins intake in order to stay in ketosis.
Hi Sebastian. If you would like another whey protein powder recommendation that is as simple (unflavored, no additives at all) as I have ever found, and lowest in sodium (52 mg sodium per 30 gram scoop of protein), Novus Life Solutions makes batches of 5, 10, 25 and 100 pounds of whey protein concentrate. They also sell isolate, but my digestion cannot tolerate that form of protein powder. This brand of whey protein concentrate is the only protein powder I can digest well. Here’s the link where I last bought it.
All Natural, Undenatured & Unflavored
No additives, sweetners, fillers or preservatives
Made in the USA
Diabetes Safe and Bariatric Approved
Ingredients / Bulk Whey Nutrition Facts (5lbs)
76 Servings Per Container
1 Gram of Fat
3mg of Cholesterol
27 Grams of Protein
330mg of Potassium
Best of luck to you.
Hi Bonnie and thanks for the info.
If i was living in the USA,the shipping would be free and the it would be a good deal.
I’ve just check and unfortunately the shipping cost to Canada is a “deal breaker”.
This company below also sells an unflavoured and unsweetened protein powder with even lower sodium per serving – and it’s Canadian! 🙂 They have a U.S. page as well.
Natural (unflavoured & unsweetened)
Whey Protein Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin (Less than 0.5%).
Best of luck to you Sebastien.
I did try their unflavoured protein back when i was looking for a Whey protein that would “work” with my guts and i got severe diahria at each try,can’t explain why exactly,my guess would be some gluten cross contamination even if it’s suppose to be gluten free.
Anyway,i’ve been lucky enough to find one brand that seem to work very well so i don’t really looking for something else at the moment but thanks again for the suggestion Bonnie!!
Nice article..thanks ♥
As far as energy/mood goes, do you feel 4 meals a day works best? I seem to go back and fourth with IF and 4 meals a day. Would love to here your opinion on the subject.
I did experiment to know how many meals would be best for me,i’ve try from 1 meal per day up to 6 meals per day,always the same total amount of food daily but equally divided by the number of meals per day.I think for me,the main reason why 4 meals seem to be optimal is mainly related to my overall weak digestion.I’ve notice during my test that the smaller my meal was,the easiest it was to digest/process without heavy stomach.So let say my total amount of food for a day weight 500gr,if i split this in four meals,i got four meals of 125gr which i seem to process well,if i would go for 2 meals per days,that would give me 2 meals of 250gr which would be much harder for me to process,i would be sluggish for the first 3 to 4 hours and one meals per day knock me down for at least half of the day.I’ve a average of almost 300gr of fat per day,eating all that fat in one meal is “neutralizing” my poor digestion for a while and i can’t function at all after that.
So long story short,4 small meals per day kinda give me a more stable energy without overwhelming my digestion.
6 meals per day was even better but i had hard time to fit those 6 meals into my daily schedule.
Do you use any potassium supplements since you propably don’t get much from your diet? Since you do bodybuilding I would think that would require lots of potassium.. Let me know please.
You’re right about my diet not containing a lot of potassium but for some reason,potassium supplement make me dizzy at time,i can’t explain the “exact medical” reason why but i think it as something to do with the electrolyte balance and/or maybe a low adrenal condition that potassium intake seem to exasperated.
Anyway,long story short,i’ve try many form of potassium supplement and they only seem to make my condition worst,so in the end,am listening what “my body is telling me”.
Wow, that’s really interesting. You look really strong, do you feel that being on a low potassium diet has affected your strength levels? How much water do you drink every day and do you add any salt to your water or just meals?
Because i went from extreme chronic fatigue(almost bed ridden) to really strict keto
diet “overnight”,i didn’t notice any of the potential drawback that most peoples get
when starting a really low carbs/keto diet,by that i mean that i was already so tired
from my previous condition that even the “worst symptoms” associated with the
adaptation period were almost a improvement in my situation.
And because of that,i can’t really answer you about potential lost of strength
that a low potassium level might have create.
Someone who is already training for a while and decide to cut is potassium
intake overnight would certainly notice something.
When i’ve restart my weight training program,i had to restart at the very
“bottom of the latter” in term of muscle development but also in term
of strength level so i kinda had nothing to compare with.
I drink about 2 quarts of water per day,nothing added to it.
All my salt intake is in my meals.
Hi again Sebastien,
One last question about electrolytes. Do you supplement any calcium and magnesium and how much? I’m going to try to get by without potassium supplements too because I too have some strange feeling in my head after potassium supplements.
Am taking 1 tsp of Magnesium Glycinate powder per day ( from Hard Rhino )
split thru the day.It give about 450mg of Magnesium.
And for calcium,am taking 2 tablets per day of (MyKind Organics Plant Calcium)
from Garden Of Life,it give a bit more than 500mg of
organic calcium which is suppose to be more bioavailable
than any inorganic form of calcium.(ex: Calcium carbonate )
Now i don’t know if it’s necessary to supplement with those
minerals but i’ve use them since i’ve start my keto “journey”.
Hey Sebastian…on a diet such as you are on, either now or during the transition period to your diet did you experience constipation and/or insomnia? how did you handle it? People say to add carbs to combat insomnia for keto diet…for constipation i suppose most would say take magnesium.
I did experience some period of insomnia at some point and i never find anything to help with that,i’ve try high dose of magnesium glycinate before bed time,nothing really seem to have work for the insomnia,they were “leaving” on there own and come back a month later.Maybe it’s a part of the adaptation cause i didn’t had this problem since at least a year if not more.
But i did notice that the insomnia were more frequent and intense when my blood ketone level was quite high,like in the 3 to 5 range.
For the constipation,i’ve start a detox program about a year before starting my zero carbs diet and this detox was including one coffee enema per day,it’s been about 4 years now and i still do my daily coffee enema.I’ve heard that some peoples had great result using magnesium oxide has laxative.
Good Luck And Take Care Man!!
Hi Sebastian, thank you for sharing your story and experience. I found it very helpful as I have a very lean body type and an extremely fast metabolism and was looking to see if very slim people can actually make good lean muscle gains on a zero carb meat diet. Seems like your interview is the only one that touches on this. Most talk about fat and weight loss and there is almost nothing on gaining bodybuilding mass anywhere.
Could you please tell me which amino acid supplements you have found helpful and currently take? What kind of bodybuilding workout do you current do? You say you stared from the bottom, can you please explain what that was? What workout progressions did you do from the start till now? May I ask how tall you are?
You look great by the way, strong and fit with a great balanced aesthetic look. Well done to you sir!
Kind regards and best wishes,
Hi Chris and sorry for the delay,am too busy right now for my own good!
Unfortunately,it start with the genetic,i’ve always been naturally more muscular than the average and that alone is a big plus but it doesn’t mean that you’re screw if you don’t have it.
The only 2 “bodybuilding supplement” that i was taking at the time was my Biochem Whey proteins powder and some micronized creatine.I do take other amino acid but there not directly related to muscle building (glycine,lysine,proline).
I always train six day per week for about a hour.I’ve 3 different day:
Day 1 = Chest , Triceps , Shoulder ( 2 exercise per muscle,4 set per exercise,8 reps per set )
Day 2 = Back , Biceps , Back Shoulder , Traps ( again same as above 2 exercise,4 set,8 reps )
Day 3 = Legs , Calves , Abdo , Lower back
Day 4 is Day 1 again
Day 5 is Day 2 again
Day 6 is Day 3 again
Day 7 is off
When i said that i’ve restart at the bottom is because of my health problem my body weight had drop to 140lbs,I was very,very weak so i had to start with ridiculous low weight and increase slowly.
I did the exact same program but i was training with lower weight and only 3 days a week at first,then i’ve increase to 6 days per week.
Don’t be scared to experiment,some exercise work better for some peoples than other,some combinaison can have a synergic effect when done in the same session.
There is unfortunately no secret,you have to “crack your own code”,find what’s work for you.
Also,i’ve notice that if my proteins intake is lower than 200gr per day,am losing weight,muscle weight and i’ve up to 300gr of proteins per day without any noticeable benefit so i stick to 200gr per day.
In order to maintain a nice weight my daily calories intake have to be at 3200
If i wanna “bulk” a little i raise my daily calories to 3400,i’ll gain some weight but mostly fat.
And if i wanna leaning out a little,i drop to 3000 per day.
Hope that help!!
Take Care Man!!
Thank you very much Sebastien for the detailed reply and information it’s very helpful.
So many similarities!
I too was on a 6 day a week training program but dropped to a 3 day a week full body while I transitioned into this all meat diet. Actually I eat a ton of eggs too because I’m bulking up and am hitting 5k calories a day now. I also use some whey between meals and and creatine. It took a moment but I have my macros perfectly tuned for my goals. It’s all flowing beautifully.
ps: I also play a Jackson Soloist Pro!
Thanks again and best wishes to you. 🙂
Wow! Super interesting. Thanks for sharing your story. I actually am currently doing the Dr Morse protocol, so you have given me a few things to consider. Blessings! ❤️
My Pleasure Sam,Good Luck On Your Journey!!
Great results Sebastian, congratulations. Wondering if you have changed any part of your regime since you conducted this interview, and any update on how you’re feeling and performing? And would you mind sharing the quantities of food and supplements that you’re using? It would be great to get an understanding of how you’re being nourished overall. Have you felt any improvements in your digestion in this time? Thanks for any additional insight you can provide!
Well…it’s been quite a long time since the interview and like always,i’ve try a lot of things in the last few years so i’ll give you the a update on the major points.
-First,am no longer following a zero carbs diet,so i’ve try to restart experimenting with carbs.I still have “side effect” from carbs in generals so i’ve choose the 2 that give me the “least amount of trouble”,the sweet potatoes and the dextrose powder.
-My digestion didn’t really improve but didn’t got worse.
-The main reason why i’ve quit the zero carbs diet are:
(1) – During my 4 years on zero carbs i got 5 kidney stones,i can’t explain exactly why but i never had a kidney stone before and i didn’t had any since i’ve restart the carbs
(2) – I was already hypothyroid when i’ve start the zero carbs diet but i got much worse.
When i’ve start the zero carbs diet i was on 120mg of of natural desiccated thyroid hormone,when i’ve decide to stop the diet,i was on 240mg of natural desiccated thyroid hormone + 100mcg of T3,since i’ve restart the carbs,i no longer use the T3 and my natural desiccated thyroid hormone dosage have been cut in half.Note that i am training six times per week so doing that kind of high demanding activity might not be the best thing to do for the thyroid function under a zero carbs diet.
Now what i’ve notice since i’ve restart the carbs:
(1) – Like i’ve mention above,my hypothyroid condition got much better
(2) -My overall strength in the gym have increase by about 25% to 35%
(3) – My body weight have also increase,on the interview picture i was at 170lbs (lean) and that’s the highest lean body weight that i’ve been able to achieve while on zero carbs,am now at 190lbs but am a tiny bit less lean.
(4) – I ‘ve notice that it’s much harder to keep a lean body mass with the carbs even on the same amount of calories
(5) – The craving are way more present and much harder to control.
To finish,about the supplement that am using,i use Whey protein powder and creatine powder,some single amino acid like arginine,lysine,glycine,proline,magnesium ascorbate and a B-complex.
I still eat about 200gm(raw) of cooked chicken liver every day,am no longer eating egg yolks cause i think i’ve develop a reaction to them after eating them everyday for all those years but maybe i was reacting to them from the start and never really notice it.
I still keep my daily calories to about 3200 to 3300,just like when i was on the zero carbs diet.
That pretty much resume my overall last few years.
How much water did you drink per day throughout your 4 years of zero carb? High levels of ketones, which I suspect you had, create very acidic urine. Acidic urine can result in kidney stones. For this reason, the urine must be either diluted with more water intake, or alkalinized with potassium citrate, in children following a therapeutic ketogenic diet.
Thanks for your detailed response and update.
My first 2 kidney stone was most probably related to my water intakes who was quite low in my first years of zero carbs diet,i did “make the link” and i’ve increase my water intake after that.I think my kidney stones # 3 & 4 were more salt/sodium related cause i was trying to up my sodium intake to the recommendation of Stephen Phinney/Jeff Volek which is way to high for me.
But i got my last kidney stone on October 2017,i was not zero carbs/ketogenic anymore,i had restart the carbs on January 2017 and my water intake was about 4 quarts per day and my sodium intake was quite low.For the first time,i had to have that kidney stone #5 surgically remove and they have keep a sample for analyze.
It turns out that there was something very rare in that kidney stone,i don’t know what it was but the doctor ask for 4 24 hours urine collections.I’ve complete the last 24hrs urine collection last week so i won’t know anything until my next appointment but it might have to do with my whole health problem ( sluggish digestion,food reaction ).
I think i got some sorta of severe yeast infection,i did a urine Acid Organic Test in June 2017 and my Arabinose level was high,this suppose to be a high yeast/fungal metabolite so that could explain why i react to every carbs/sugar food source.
One thing is sure,my last kidney was not related to ketone level,lack of hydration,there is something else going on and the urine collection results should answer that question.
Wow… very very interesting. Please give us an update here if you learn more from your test results.
I will but don’t “hold your breath”,everything is going very slow,i got my appointment with the Urology doctor 7 months after my last kidney stone so i don’t expect the result before a least another 2 months.
I’ll let know!!
I understand. Thank you!
Thanks for the detailed response Sebastian, sounds like your methodical approach is helping you improve your health.
Have you experimented with fasting? I’ve heard dry fasting particularly is helpful for some folks’ digestion, and know that it is an approach used by some powerlifters doing demanding workouts, though low carb not zero carb from what I’ve heard. Cole Robinson who does the “Snake Diet” system does weight training and incorporates fasting into his routines while using exercise to failure on weights. I think he says some baking soda in water can help neutralize acidity in the kidneys, so maybe that prevents kidney stones? I’m only just learning about it, so not sure myself.
Congratulations on your results, given you have a hard time with some aspects of your health you also seem very fit. I’ll keep your examples in mind as I try to improve my own health.
I’ve never try dry fasting cause am already dealing with a kidney stones problems so am really not comfortable going many days without any fluid but i did 3 long water fast with electrolites during my 4 years of zero carbs ,2 of one week long and one of almost two weeks long ( 13 days ).
Overall,i don’t think they were very helpful,i was always starting to get very tired after the third day and each time i’ve lost a lot of weight,mostly muscle mass cause am usually always pretty lean.It never seem to help my digestion and i’ve always had quite hard time to “recover” from the fast so i don’t know,maybe it’s all link to my other underlying health problems but i did give it honest try.
Interesting — Esmee will know better than I do, but I wonder if you didn’t have enough electrolytes in your fast based on your fatigue, and whether you used baking soda? Evidently the kidneys can become acidic while fasting and supplementing baking soda neutralizes that and helps out the kidneys.
The aforementioned Cole Robinson experimented with fasting workouts and found 2 litres water with 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp potassium chloride, 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt gave him good performance in the gym. He manages to make muscle gains with his fasting protocols. I am only just learning so don’t have much personal experience to draw on, except that when I drank water without electrolytes breaking a short 36 hr dry fast it wiped me out, based on monitoring my heart rate during a walk. Where I was normally about 90 bpm, I was 120 bpm. So I’m personally still learning and experimenting. With his ratios I’ve been ok.
Apparently baking soda is also used to dissolve kidney stones as a natural remedy through the same mechanism, though when combined with oxalates (as in spinach) can lead to kidney stones so needs to be taken separately from foods: https://diyremedies.org/baking-soda-for-kidney-stones/
Hope you get some good insight from your lab results!