Migraines, Mood, and a High Fat Ketogenic Diet

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Since I know many of my readers are not on Facebook and, therefore, do not participate in our Zero Carb group Principia Carnivora, I wanted to share something I posted there that I have recently discovered for myself on this Zero Carb path…

When I first began a Zero Carb diet a year and a half ago, I ate a LOT of fat. But as time went on, I came to the conclusion that ALL of the fats I was using to achieve these high levels were not compatible with my body. I tried butter, ghee, tallow, lard, heavy whipping cream, and coconut oil. All dairy fats give me migraines. Coconut oil is high in salicylates and cause severe low blood pressure and other negative symptoms. All rendered fats make me extremely nauseated. Even eating too much cooked fat attached to a steak will make me nauseated. But if I eat the beef fat raw, I can eat much more without experiencing this horrible nausea. This is the main reason I am currently eating all of my meat completely raw (as homemade ground beef). In spite of the nausea from the cooked and rendered fats that was eating in my early Zero Carb days, however, I did experience a noticeable decrease in my chronic migraines headaches (as long as I avoided all dairy).

At the beginning of April (2016), I did a 16-day water fast. This was the second long water fast I have done since beginning my Zero Carb journey. The first one was about 8 months ago and it made a noticeable improvement in my tolerance for histamines. I was finally able to eat conventional beef sold in Costco or Safeway, as long as I bought if fresh and ate it that day. After this second 16-day water fast I did a month and a half ago, I found that I could tolerate even more raw fat in my ground beef than I could before the fast. But the quality of the fat must be very good. It cannot be outer skin fat which is oxidized and rancid. This kind of fat makes me very sick. Rather, it must be the good thick internal fat like that attached to Ribeye or New York Strip Loin.

It has been a challenge to source enough good quality beef fat to meet my needs. I am still trying to figure this out. If I could buy my meat in bulk without having to worry at all about histamines forming as I work my way through it, then I would be able to buy whole packages of New York Strip Loin from Costco which very affordable are extremely fatty (more fatty and better quality that their Ribeye in my experience). But I cannot go through all the meat fast enough to keep the histamines low enough fir me to tolerate. I need more money and pack of dogs to share it with so that we can plough our way through it in just a few days. 😂

Anyways, the main thing I wanted to share in this post is that since my recent 16-day water fast in April, I have been able to increase the percentage of fat in my diet from about 70% to 80% or more without experiencing any of that horrible nausea. It is hard to calculate exactly, but thevground beef I make for myself is about 2/3 lean to 1/3 fat or what would be called 65/35 by a butcher. So say… 12 oz of lean to 6 oz of fat. It might be a little more protein and a little less fat, but this give you the idea.

Since doing this, I have noticed two very important benefits. I am not as prone to migraines as I was when eating more protein and less fat, and my mood is much more stable now than it was on less fat. I am far less irritable and impatient with more fat in my diet. I feel both physically and mentally calmer. My conclusion is that more fat is definitely better for my brain. I am not saying this is ideal for others, and I am really not an advocate of eating too little protein on a Zero Carb diet. And if you are trying to lose weight, too much fat might prevent this from happening.

But, as my own experience is showing, some people might need to eat more fat for therapeutic reasons, even for conditions that are not life threatening like brain tumors or epilepsy. One woman in our Facebook group has stated that it was the high levels of saturated animal fat in her own Zero Carb diet that killed the off the tenacious Lyme bacteria in her body. The more fat she ate, the better she felt; though it still took time to eliminate the Lyme bacteria from her body completely. She, too, eats 80% or more of her calories from fat. 18 years later, she continues to thrive.

My point in sharing this story is to, once again, demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all Zero Carb diet. It has taken me a long time and lots of experimenting to figure out what truly works for me and for my body to become a cooperative component in the process. So, if you are having trouble figuring out what percentage of protein to fat is best for you, or what types of meats and other animal foods and fats are best for you, please don’t give up! I know someone who feels great at only 55-60% fat. We are all a bit different and unique in our needs. Just keep experimenting until you find something that feels good and works for you.

~Esmée La Fleur

For help and support, please join us in the Zero Carb Facebook group “Principia Carnivora.”

Zero Carb Interview: Susanne Lucic

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1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?

For exactly one year now. 🙂

2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?

I was quite obese as you can see from my before picture below, and I felt bad. I had joint pains, mostly in the knees, I quickly got tired, my pulse – even when I was inactive – has always been elevated.

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3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?

Not long, about a month or so. I was motivated because I quickly felt a change for the better. It was not difficult to mainly eat meat because generally I like meat. I had no psychological problems related to following a Zero Carb diet.

4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?

I learned about the diet by reading a newspaper article about the Andersen family in our newspapers (in Croatia!). I got very interested in the topic and I started researching. First, I found your blog Esmee 🙂 which led me to Principia Carnivora Group on Facebook and then Kelly Williams Hogan’s blog My Zero Carb Life. I read through a lot of helpful group files in Principia Carnivora.

5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?

I am including one egg per day for breakfast and I am eating quite a bit of hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda. Cheese became a kind of treat for me. I am not so happy about that. I think I could have lost more weight and feel better without the cheese. But I am very happy with my results so far as you can see from my “after” picture below.

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6. What percentage of your diet is beef versus other types of meats?

I eat approximately equal parts of beef, lamb, goat and pork. Less beef than the other meats, as it is very expensive.

7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?

I’m cooking it something in between rare and medium.

8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)

Yes, I do, I am mostly cooking with lard and eating butter with my meat.

9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?

No, I’m not really limiting my meat consumption. I’m eating the biggest part for lunch, between 250 – 400 g.

10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?

I’m eating horse liver about two times a month.

11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?

No I don’t. I would be happy if I could, as I read about all the benefits for the body, but the first time I cooked bone broth for more than 24 hours at the beginning of my Zero Carb way of life, I got obviously histamine issues, red and hot skin in the whole face.

12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?

I am still eating 3 meals a day but if the circumstances don’t allow I have no problem with skipping meals.

13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?

250-400 gm, plus salami, sausage, pork rinds, eggs and cheese.

14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?

I’m lucky that a lot of the meat we consume is from animals raised on local farms around here.

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15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)

Yes. I’m drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day. Perhaps some day I will be able to reduce this.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, mainly sea salt and himalayan rock salt.

17. Do you use spices?

Almost nothing, some pepper and garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

At the beginning of Zero Carb, I supplemented with magnesium because I had leg cramps. but now I don’t use any.

19. How much money do you spend on food each month?

I can’t tell you. We’re a big family with four children and I don’t know how much my diet costs in comparison with the other food, I don’t think that it is much more expensive than standard diet.

20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?

Consuming more affordable meat for those who can eat other meats than beef. Me, I have no problem with pork, lamb or goat, so I’m combining all of it.

21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?

I didn’t exercise at all for the first six months on Zero Carb. Then after the first 45-50 pounds the weight loss slowed down. As I wanted to lose a lot more, I began to exercise at my multigym I have at home and added video cardio and strength exercises. I had to do something for the excess loose skin after losing all the lbs., too:-) I’m working out 3-4 times a week for 60-90 min. It’s not only for the reason of further weight loss, but because I love to move now.

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 lost a total of 66 lbs. to date. I am convinced that my whole body enjoys this way of eating. I have cravings under control. I don’t crave anything sweet anymore, that’s a great experience. I actually don’t even like the taste of sweet anymore. When I try a little peace of cake that I made for the family – only testing taste purposes – I have to eat something fatty immediately afterwards as I don’t like the taste of sweet in the mouth.

23. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?

I enjoy the simplicity of eating this way. I love that I don’t have to be hungry for having my weight under control. I love the steady level of energy throughout the day without all the ups and downs when eating carbs. I think I’m emotionally more stable and calmer now.

24. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?

I think this woe is a great chance for many people with weight and health issues. It takes time and patience to adapt and see the first results, but it’s absolutely worth a try!

25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?

My family was and is absolutely supportive. At the beginning they laughed a lot telling me that it is impossible to lose weight eating that amount of fat. But with the time going by they saw that it worked for me and are fully on my side.

26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?

Perhaps that I have no intention of ever going back to a “normal” diet. I’m going to continue with Zero Carb indefinitely, as I now feel better then ever before.

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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.