1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
I was overweight, but it was the better health that I really wanted. I was getting arthritis, I was tired all the time, I had gallbladder stones, I was having a hard time getting pregnant.
3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
It took between 2-3 weeks for me to get through the adaptation phase: headaches, bad moods, nausea, spacey feeling, typical adaptation symptoms.
4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
I read Eat Fat, Look Thin first by Bruce Fife many years ago, then Gary Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories; then right before this diet I read Wheat Belly. I was LCHF from 2008-2011 and grain free since 2008.
I did LCHF for many years, but after becoming a Mom, I had a hard time keeping to the diet. Before, when I had more time, I would make many LC sweets to eat. But once I had a baby to care for, I had less time and energy to make these special treats for myself. So my sweet tooth would get the best of me and I would stray from the diet. Going ZC completely cured me of the cravings, and and I found it much easier to stick to. I became interested in it after reading the articles about the Andersen family, as well as Kelly Hogan’s story. I saw their children, and the fact that their children had been ZC their whole lives. They clearly had the Weston Price markers of true health: wide faces, straight white teeth, etc. That is what truly convinced me, along with their miraculous stories.
5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
I eat all meats, seafood, eggs, dairy.
Rachel in one of her Opera costumes pre-Zero Carb…
6. What percentage of your diet is beef versus other types of meats?
I eat mostly beef. It is what makes me feel the best.
7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?
Rare for steaks, medium rare for ground.
8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
Yes, I buy fatty cuts, and I eat burger meat with cheese and bacon grease. I usually add eggs to everything.
9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?
I eat the fat first, then the protein until satisfied.
10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?
No, I hate them, and I just found I am allergic to livers, so I am over it. 🙂
11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?
Yes, whenever I remember, or get into the mood.
A side-by-side before and after comparison of Rachel…
12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I eat three.
13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?
I eat 2 eggs and 3 pieces of bacon for breakfast, lunch will be maybe 0.75 lb of ground beef or similar weight leftover dinner meat, and about the same weight for dinner.
Since I eat the fat first, it fills me up a lot. Sometimes I eat more, sometimes I eat less. I don’t measure, I just eat.
14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
I have eaten grass-fed/pastured meat for about 10 years; but I have not been able to find beef that is grass-fed that I can tolerate. The grass-fed beef is too lean, which causes me cravings. So, I buy grain-finished local hormone-free beef, but the rest of what I buy, like eggs, is pastured/organic.
15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I drink coffee, wine, perrier, raw milk, water.
16. Do you use salt?
Yes, sea salt.
17. Do you use spices?
I mainly use just sea salt and pepper. In doing this diet, I found nightshades (paprika, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, etc.) cause me terrible problems, so I avoid them completely. So, that makes spices hard. Occasionally, I will use thyme, rosemary, or sage, but usually, I just enjoy salt and pepper.
18. Do you take any supplements?
Yes. My thyroid is badly damaged, so I am taking medicine for it until I can heal it. I take magnesium on occasion, and I take B vitamins because I need them (Pyroluria), iodine, Vitamin D3 & K2. I take a supplement for my liver, called Livaplex by Standard Process, which my naturopath suggested I take permanently, even though my gallstones are gone now.
19. How much money do you spend on food each month?
This is hard to say. I have two other family members who are not ZC. I used to spend a LOT more on nuts, almond flour, expensive paleo food in general. I calculate that I spend about $250 a month on myself on food (not beverages), but it could be as much as $400.
20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
Buy meat, eggs, and dairy from farmers you know and trust, you will have a better safer product for less. Buy in bulk. Eat fat first, and you will eat a lot less total meat. Fat is also lighter and cheaper than the meat itself.
21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
No, but I do chase after a 4 year old a bit. I have plans to get into yoga or pilates again one day.
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.)
Before ZC, I was about a size 14-16. In the past 6 months, I have lost 45 lbs. and now wear a size 6. The first week of ZC, my wedding ring finally fit again. I must have been bloated for the past 5 years when it wouldn’t fit. Within a few weeks, the arthritis that had started in my hands had disappeared. I had more energy and felt better over all.
I did have gallbladder stones, so I had some problem with increasing fat in the beginning. So, this is what I did to fix that:
I knew that by reducing my fat intake in order to stop the gallbladder pain, I was actually making the gallbladder condition worse. It’s definitely a use it or lose it problem; and I did not want surgery.
I took HCL (Standard Process Zypan) at every meal, and also tried some ox bile supplements to help digest the fat and keep the pain away. I also took enzymes.
Then, I tried this method of dissolving the gallstones that I adapted from this page: http://www.karenhurd.com/pages/healthtopics/specifichealthconcerns/ht-shc-gallbladderdisease.html instead of eating the recommended beans (which are clearly not ZC!), I substituted psyllium husk powder pills (which someone else had reported good results with). Every time I felt pain, which was about 6-10 times a day, I would take a few capsules.
I did this until the pain stopped, and eventually I discovered that I didn’t need the ox bile anymore. I slowly reduced the HCL – it is easy to find HCL doses because too much causes burning in the stomach. So, I followed my body’s cues for reducing it and now I find no problems, the stones are gone.
23. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
It is so easy. It takes almost no time to make something delicious. I don’t feel guilty anymore about not eating my vegetables. Who knew that most of them were making me more sick anyway!? I feel great without the extra weight I was carrying around. I have more energy, and just feel calmer in general. I have less cravings, it is so much easier to stick to than LCHF. I don’t obsess about food all the time anymore.
24. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
Just try it for 30 days and see how you feel. Don’t focus on how much you weigh. According to my BMI, I am overweight by 5 pounds, which is ridiculous. I am 5’6” and a size 6. Now, I have more muscle and probably bone mass than I did before. Don’t weigh yourself. I don’t even own a scale. I measured my inches every week (at the time it was because I was trying to order a dress to fit me and was losing weight so fast). It was very encouraging to do it that way. The Principia Carnivora Facebook page is an excellent non-judgmental group that helps with questions you may have and troubleshooting if you find the diet isn’t working as well for you.
25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?
My immediate family is ok with it. They know I research everything to death, and don’t do things lightly. But, people aren’t, on the whole, supportive. They don’t understand the science behind it, and are convinced I will get scurvy or something, which is kinda funny actually. Usually, when people ask me how I lost so much weight, I just tell them I eat low carb and I don’t eat anything sweet. I will tell a few people, occasionally, but really I am not trying to convince anyone to eat the way I do. I do it for myself, and honestly I don’t feel like the long discussion it always prompts to tell people I am Zero Carb and don’t eat plants except for medicine.
26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?
This way of eating is totally and completely freeing. I was a complete foodie and totally obsessed about food, what I would eat next, what I could make (even low carb – I have a low carb food blog). Now I just eat when I am hungry and it takes 2 minutes to cook myself something. I can go for long periods without being hungry. I like the way it makes me feel.
I intend to eat this way for the rest of my life.
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.
Rachel, you look great! Thanks for your story.
Also, thanks Esmee, for posting these interviews. It is a very helpful resource to those of us who choose not to be on Facebook, and therefore can’t take advantage of the conversations on Principia Carnivora.
please do more interviews! This is an awesome format!
I am hoping to! You can read more under “Interviews” and “Testimonials” linked at the top.
please more interviews and testimonials !!
Dairy products are zero carb? They are neither LCHF ….
Please read the link describing a ZC diet:
Interesting interview. A question for you – how were you diagnosed with pyroluria? I was just reading about it; the symptoms seem broad and I wonder if more people that suffer from it are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as having depression/anxiety/bipolar…
can you ask Rachel for some photos of the fat that she eats and what part of an animal body it is.
Thank you for your work.
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