From a health perspective, the very best choice for keeping your body hydrated is plain water. It is probably wise to invest in a home filtration system, or buy bottled water that you trust. However, do not buy water in soft plastic bottles due to the xeno-estrogens leached from the container into the water.
If you need to convince yourself about the importance of drinking water, I highly recommend Your Body’s Many Cries for Water and other books by Dr. Batmanghelidj. You can also visit his website Water Cure. He offers many wonderful case histories of people who have experienced significant health improvements simply by increasing their consumption of water. Water is the only beverage that our ancient human ancestors would have consumed.
The long term veterans of Zero Carb recommend drinking water according to thirst, just as they recommend eating meat according to hunger. If you are thirsty, drink water. If you are hungry, eat meat. If you have a desire to drink something other than water, or eat something other than meat, then you may not actually be either thirsty or hungry. In Fiber Menace, the author Konstantin Monastyrsky also cautions against drinking too much water, noting that it can actually deplete minerals when consumed beyond physiological need.
If you are drinking plain water, it is much easier to distinguish true thirst, than if you are consuming artificially-sweetened or flavored beverages. Although artificial sweeteners contain Zero Carbs, they have been shown to negatively impact insulin and glucose levels in the blood. Furthermore, many Zero Carb-ers have reported that artificial sweeteners kept their desire for sweet tasting foods alive and caused them to experience cravings. Therefore, Zero Carb sweeteners, even natural ones like Stevia, are not recommended. Dana – who has been Zero Carb for almost a decade – explains,
“Diet sodas are more addicting than cocaine. We have seen diet drinks completely derail many people from this diet. People will give up nuts and cookies, but that diet soda (or artificial sweeteners) is the #1 reason most people can’t / won’t adapt to this diet. The reason ZC works, is not so much about no carbs, it is more about keeping insulin levels stable. Artificial sweeteners raise insulin levels just like real sugar. Your body does not know this man made chemical, that tastes like sugar, is not really sugar. So just because something says 0 carbs, does not mean it is safe. If it tastes sweet to you, it is raising insulin levels = cravings.”
Dr. H.L. Newbold, an early proponent of an All-Meat diet, writes, “No patient attempting to lose weight should be given any source of sweets…over-weight patients need to forget about the taste of sweetness. Unless they do, they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of torture and probably ultimate failure in maintaining a normal body weight. If you avoid sweets altogether for a long enough time, you forget about them.”
I personally find it best to drink water 30-60 minutes before a meal and to wait at least 4 hours after a meal before drinking more water. This is because drinking water too near a meal seems to dilute the hydrochloric acid in my stomach and interferes with proper digestion of the food I have eaten.
Bone Broth is also an excellent choice for keeping your body sufficiently hydrated. Bone broth has been called the “The World’s First Comfort Food” by Brodo founder Marco Canora, as well as a “Super Food” by Dr. Mercola. Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of Nourishing Broth – in a recent interview – describes bones broth as “soothing for the body, mind, and soul.”
Not only does bone broth contains an wide variety of nutrients which have been shown to benefit both gut and bone health, but it is also an excellent electrolyte replenishment drink. It is deeply warming and seems to literally penetrate to the very marrow of our bones. For more information on this unique liquid elixir, please read my page on Bone Broth.
The beverage most people new to Zero Carb ask about is coffee. Coffee is a very individual matter. Some long term practitioners of Zero Carb have consumed coffee with out apparent ill consequences. However, it is important to keep in mind that Zero Carb is not so much about excluding carbohydrates from the diet as it is about excluding plant foods (which happen to be the primary source of carbohydrates in the modern diet). Some people are sensitive to ALL plant foods, and coffee definitely comes from a plant.
I personally react very badly to coffee. The immediate effect of coffee on my body is that it causes my blood sugar to spike and then subsequently crash which – in turn – has a deleterious effect on my mood and energy. In the longer term, drinking coffee wreaks havoc with my hormonal system and leads to the development of fibrocystic breast tumors and the discomfort that entails.
One Zero Carb woman told me that coffee turned out to be THE cause of her severe PMS. She had suffered with this for years, never realizing that coffee was the culprit until she finally removed it from her diet. It is impossible to know exactly how something is affecting you until you stop consuming it completely for at least a few months. Coffee is addictive – as well as emotionally comforting – to many people, but the potential health benefits of removing it from your diet may far out weigh any momentary pleasure it provides.
People trying to lose body fat have a tendency to use coffee as an appetite suppressant, and this is something that concerns 8-year Zero Carb veteran Charles Washington more than anything. In a recent post in the Facebook group Zeroing in on Health, Charles explained,
“Obesity is about internal starvation. Your goal is to get nutrition into your cells. Anything that interferes with that process undermines your efforts at successfully reducing excess body fat. Coffee tends to blunt the appetite and, therefore, you skip a meal because of it… You need to eat on Zero Carb in order to reduce excess body fat. You have to increase the flow of fuel into the cells, not decrease it. Using coffee to suppress natural hunger can work against you because it make your body think it is starving.”
Some studies have claimed antioxidant benefits of consuming coffee, and many people use this evidence to support their continued practice of imbibing the extract of this bean. But, it is important to remember that the need for anti-oxidants goes way down when one adopts a Zero Carb Diet. According to Dr. Stephen Phinney, author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, the primary cause of oxidative stress and damage in the human body comes from the excessive consumption of carbohydrates in the modern diet. Removing plant foods from your diet is likely far more effective at reducing cellular oxidation than any anti-oxidants present in coffee or other plant foods.
If you need to convince yourself that you might be better off without your morning cuppa Joe, I highly recommend reading Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske.
In conclusion, if you wish to get a clear picture of how a meat-only diet affects your body, it would be best to limit your beverage choices to water and bone broth. However, if this in not doable for some reason, it is still better for you to eat meat and drink coffee, than it is to not do Zero Carb at all. But continuing to include Zero Carb sweeteners, whether natural or artificial, is likely to be extremely counter-productive. Breaking any addiction can be quite challenging, but – once the sweet taste has been permanently removed from your experience – cravings for sweet foods will quickly become a thing of the past.
For a discussion on the pros and cons of drinking Alcoholic beverages on a Zero Carb diet, please see my page devoted to this topic: Alcohol