How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
I stated on January 1, 2016 and, after just 45 days, I feel fantastic! After going low carb/low fat (HCQ) in March of last year 2015, then low carb paleo and keto after that, I have finally found what really works for me: Zero Carb aka All animal foods and zero plant foods.
What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
Health. And curiosity! As I said before, I discovered lowcarb in March last year. I was suffering from many health issues: obesity, extreme fatigue, bouts of depression, allergies, asthma-like symptoms, migraine attacks, panic attacks to name just a few.
I did some research, and soon found out that I was probably pre-diabetic – if not yet type 2 diabetes. I did not dare go to the doctor because I knew he would just give me drugs. Also, food became more and more of a problem. No matter what I ate, I felt miserable afterwards, extremely tired and I’d have the strangest allergic reactions.
At that time I was eating a high carb low fat diet: masses of whole grains, lots of fruit and veggies, no butter, some meat and fish. Coffee with sugar and mostly low-fat snacks to finish. I did not understand it because I thought I was eating a healthy diet. I never thought of questioning my diet choices and I thought it was just me.
At the end of February I was at my deepest point and looked for help. I asked my pharmacist if he could recommend a nutritional expert. He smiled and said, he was just working on something new and asked if I could wait a couple of weeks. I thought, why not? I really trust him because a couple of years before he helped me heal my gut. Back then, we both did not know about the benefits of lowcarb.
Anyway, mid-March 2015 my journey started. First of all, let me be clear about this: I did not expect to lose any weight and weight loss has never been my first goal. I wanted to be fitter and healthier. I never felt really bad about being obese – at least not until I started developing the above mentioned symptoms.
First I did HCQ: 3 weeks of low carb and low fat to reset the body, then 3 weeks of low carb and high fat. The idea of HCQ is that you can return to your normal eating pattern eating after 6 weeks because the body has been reset.
Well, the first 3 days of HCQ were hell. I had such a headache, and I was so nauseous and dizzy I thought I would faint. But I stayed the course and lo and behold: After 3 days I felt like new. Within a week many of my health issues were gone. Just like that! I was energized, had no more brain fog and simply felt fine. I remember waking up one morning and feeling awake and not tired. That was a completely new experience after years of being tired all the time. Also, the weight simply dropped off.
Picture: Before Beginning My Journey and Today
It was soon clear to me that I would not return to my old way of eating. So I started reading books and searching the web. I was so surprised when I saw all the information on low carb. It did not take me long to stumble across paleo and keto. I did a couple of months of low carb paleo. When I re-introduced the so-called safe starches, many of my health issues came back.
At around that time I also discovered your blog for the first time and was really fascinated. But somehow, I did not really go for it and instead went keto. However, on keto I stopped losing weight and I noticed that I was returning to bad eating habits: lots of keto treats and so-called “healthified” keto food (e.g. coconut cookies with sweetener, coconut pancakes with sweetener, etc.).
Also, I started to obsess over food. I was counting macros and weighing my food. And I developed a funny kind of rash and some allergic reactions again (probably because of all the nut flours). So, at the end of December I decided this was getting out of hand and did the full monty: zero carb – all animal and no plants. I have not regretted it one second.
How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
Psychologically: right away. I knew instinctively that this was the right way of eating for me.
Physically: The first 2 weeks I felt a bit weak and had some keto flu symptoms which surprised me because I thought I was keto-adapted. Looking back I now realize I probably was not really adapted yet.
What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
In the beginning of my lowcarb experience I read a lot of books by Dr. Strunz (a German doctor) and a lot of the paleo books.
I liked Chris Kresser’s “The Paleo Cure” a lot, even though I do not agree with all his views (e.g. on safe starches – I think for some people like myself the body is so broken that even safe starches are not an option anymore. In fact, I think there is no such thing as a safe starch). But his 30 day reset really helped me. I did a very strict version of the 30 day reset: lots of meat, fish, good fats and veggies. No fruit, no nuts, no seeds, and other stuff that was allowed. In fact, this 30 day reset was better than the crap I ate afterwards on keto.
Another good source for getting started was Mark Sisson. I know many people do not like him because he is too commercial but his basic ideas are pretty ok: lots of fat, enough meat, some veggies, some fruit and nuts. The thing is, he wants to reach as many people as possible so he is very lenient. But I’m ok with that.
I also read this Zero Carb Zen blog from beginning to end and back again, as well as both of L. Amber O’Hearn’s blogs (Empiri.ca and Ketotic.org), and Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore. Even though I was really fascinated by the zero carb concept I could not yet bring myself to try it. I’d have a couple of zero carb days and then I’d eat a keto treat or lots of veggies again.
Right now I’m reading Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. Next on my reading list is The Fat of the Land by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. I guess I should have started with those, but well, it is a journey and I learn every day.
When I decided to go Zero Carb, I also joined the Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora. This group has been a blessing. The people in this group are the kindest, most helpful and most intelligent people ever! I am learning constantly from them.
Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
I eat porc, beef, chicken, fish, rabbit, eggs, and butter. In the beginning of zero carb I went a bit wild on dairy, esp. heavy cream and cream cheese and also on bacon and ham. After two weeks I cut those out and felt an improvement again.
What percentage of your diet is beef verses other types of meats?
Hmm, I do not really know. I’d say 50% beef, 50% other meat. But I want to eat more beef. I notice that on pure beef days I feel even better.
When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?
Steak is rare to medium. I used to eat ground beef well-done but meanwhile I have tried some raw ground beef and absolutely loved it.
Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
Yes, most of the meat I get is pretty lean, so I slather it in butter. I use the beef fat that I get from my meat broth to cook my steaks and I use lard for porc.
Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?
I eat until satisfied. But it was something I had to learn: to eat enough, not to over-eat and not to stop too early. It is a pity how we forget to listen to the signals our bodies give us.
Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?
Yes, once or twice a week: liver, tongue, heart, lung. I believe in the concept of eating the animal from nose to tail. I find especially beef tongue very nourishing.
Do you consume bone or meat broth? If so, how often?
Yes, once a week I cook a meat/bone broth. I do not drink it that often anymore. I use the fat for cooking steak and my husband uses the broth for cooking his veggies.
Picture: Delicious, healing broth.
How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I’m down to two meals, but my aim is to eat one meal a day. However, I have learned not too hurry anything. On keto I tried to do intermittent fasting but it did not work out (so much for the idea of thinking I was keto-adapted). On Zero Carb it just happened. I’d have breakfast and a late lunch and at dinner time I found out I was not hungry so I did not eat. I notice now that I’m not even really hungry in the morning, but I still have breakfast. I think this is more a psychological thing. But as I said, I’m not hurrying anything. I trust that I’ll know when the time has come 🙂
How much meat do you eat per day on average?
No idea. I do not count any calories, do not weigh any meat, do not worry about macros. I did that on keto and it drove me crazy. I’m no longer occupied with “healthified” treats and carb substitutes. The credo is indeed simple. Eat meat. Drink water. Be happy 🙂
A normal day looks like this: breakfast (at about 6.30 a.m.) is some eggs, and/or some steaks, and a very weak coffee blended with butter. Lunch (at about 2.30 p.m.) is meat with butter, sometimes some extra eggs. I no longer need dinner – I cannot believe this myself.
Picture: Beef is very lean so I slather it in butter.
Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
Both. Porc is mostly from my local butcher, beef is mostly from a local farmer, rabbit and chicken are self-raised. Except for the butter, I do not buy or eat anything with a barcode anymore.
Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I drink one cup of freshly ground coffee blended with lots of butter in the morning. I have not been able to drink coffee for a long time, so I am very happy I can drink this one cup again. I am forever grateful to a good friend who gave me a coffee grinder as a Christmas present.
Do you use salt?
Yes, but less and less.
Do you use spices?
No. I have never liked them.
Do you take any supplements?
I do, but I’m ready to let them go. I take a multi-vitamin, omega 3 and magnesium. But as I said, as soon as I find fattier cuts of beef, I’ll let them go. Again, I trust that I’ll know when the time has come.
How much money do you spend on food each month?
Not as much as when I was eating high carb and low fat.
Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
I do not think this way of eating is expensive at all. I’d say: Buy the fattier cuts, try to buy in bulk. I live in a rural area where I can buy high-quality food at a reasonable price. I am grateful for this every single day.
Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
Yes, 3 to 4 times a week since going zerocarb. Not because I have to but because I want to. Nothing big, but it is fun and I am becoming more muscular. In the beginning of Zero Carb I did not workout because I felt a bit weak but the last couple of days I had so much energy that I started some body weight lifting.
In this respect I noted an interesting development with my blood ketones: when I was on keto and in the beginning of Zero Carb I’d have blood ketones at 1.1 but my FBG would still be at 85 to 90. The last couple of days my blood ketones dropped to 0.6 to 0.9 but my FBG also dropped to 75. I feel much alerter and awake than ever before 🙂
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.)
LowCarb stopped many allergies and gave me more energy and mental clarity, but I still felt bloated and constipated most of the time.
With Zero Carb, I have no more allergies, stronger muscles, no fatigue, absolute mental clarity, and a deep calmness. Oh yes, I sleep wonderfully every night even though I have a lot of stress going on at work. Also, no more bloating and constipation.
What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
The simplicity! And it is so delicious. The few people who know I am eating this way often ask me, if it does not get boring. I can say: No, it does not. I enjoy every meal without obsessing over it beforehand or afterwards. My taste buds get better and better.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
Eat meat. Drink water. Be happy. Be patient. Trust the process. Your body needs time to heal. I’ve been Zero Carb for one month, before that keto for about 2 months and low carb for about 8 months. My body is still healing and sometimes I think I’m still adapting.
Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?
My husband was a bit worried in the beginning, but now he is okay with my choice. My closest relatives and friends are also ok with this. I do not really worry about what others think or say – I never did and I am not going to start doing this now.
If people ask me what I did to lose so much weight, I tell them that I went low carb. Depending on their reaction I might or might not say that I’m completely zero carb. I’m not being militant or anything about this way of eating. Everybody has to find what is correct for them. For some people it is enough to go low carb, for some primal or paleo is the solution, and for some it is zero carb. I did a lot of reading and research, and now even arguments about the moral aspects do not get me off track.
In fact, I think this way of eating is more sustainable for the planet than other diets. Which does not mean that I favor mass meat production, not at all. But I no longer believe that going meatless will save the planet. I recommend Ash Simmonds’ site highsteaks.com, the excellent book The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, or Allan Savory’s project savory.global for more info.
Is there anything you would like to share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?
No, I can only advise to everybody who is having health problems or feeling stuck in lowcarb limbo: Try zero carb for 30 days. I do not regret many things but I do regret that I did not start Zero Carb when I first learned about it which was last August when I discovered this blog. Instead of listening to my gut I listened to the voice of reason which said I would perish if I stopped eating veggies and fruit and that it would be boring to eat only meat. I was so wrong! So from now on, I’ll listen to my healthy gut. Others can eat veggies, I’m happy with meat and water 🙂
Not all of my health issues have been solved yet and I still have some weight to lose but steak by steak and egg by egg I’m getting there. This WOE rocks!
Please visit my “Interviews” and “Testimonials” pages linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other short and long term 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.
Well done and interesting !
Thanks for another great interview. 🙂
Great comprehensive interview. Congrats on your success, Stephany!
Thanks as always to Esmee for posting.
Great interview Stephany,, Love hearing all the great things about ZC,, keep them coming .