Joe Anderson asked me to remove his Family’s interview from my website. We are both sorry that this became necessary, but he was receiving many nasty messages through Social Media – and even one to his personal mailbox – because of the diet he and his family choose to eat. As unhappy as I am that their story will no longer be available to inspire others, his children must come first. Thanks for your understanding.
This is an “Ode to Meat” and I am sharing it just for fun.
The Health-Food Diner
by Maya Angelou
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).
Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I’m dreaming of a roast).
Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).
No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run
Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).
Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.
Reprinted from “Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?” (1983)
Thank you Sondra Rose for bringing this delightful poem to my attention.
I have received a lot of flack in the Zero Carb community Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH) from many long time veterans of the Zero Carb diet who run that group. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate much that this group has to offer, I just feel that their vehement opposition to me discussing bone both is a wee bit ridiculous. I mean, it is from the animal kingdom, right? So what exactly is the big deal?
First, it is important to understand that – with one exception – none of these long term Zero Carb vets have ever made and consumed bone broth as part of their Zero Carb way of life. Their main concern is that people new to the Zeroing in on Health group who read glowing reports about bone broth by the likes of me will be misled into thinking that bone broth is necessary for long term health on a Zero Carb diet.
However, if a person takes the time to read my very detailed description of The Zero Carb Diet, or the excellent FAQs document written by the ZIOH administration, then they won’t be the least bit confused. But unfortunately – as much as I would like to – I cannot make people read. Some folks just want 30-second sound bites and there is nothing I can do about that.
I have actually been accused of saying that bone broth has “magical healing properties.” I certainly I have noted that it contains specific properties shown to help heal specific health problems. But I have never called it “magical.” It may have healing properties, but there is nothing magical about them. Rather, it is pure nutritional biochemistry, as you will discover if you decide to learn more about it.
But, one could just as easily be misled into thinking that eggs are a necessary component of a Zero Carb diet since they are extolled almost every day by someone in the group. However, as The Andersen Family has clearly shown, eggs are definitely not necessary for long term health on a Zero Carb diet. They have been eating only ribeye steaks for almost 2 decades and are thriving.
And, as many Zero Carb-ers have discovered through experimentation with their own bodies, eggs do not agree with or benefit everyone who follows a Zero Carb diet. The Andersen’s found that pretty much everything except fatty beef made them feel less than well. The only way that any of us can figure out what works best for our individual bodies is through trial and error. There is no one way or right way to do this diet.
The basic Zero Carb Guidelines are to eat only from the animal kingdom, which is quite broad in certainly would include bone broth. If you wish to reduce the variables, many Zero Carb veterans recommend eating only meat (preferably beef) and water for the first 30 days. This way you will have a baseline from which to test other animal foods like dairy, eggs, and organ meets. I personally support this advice because people rarely react negatively to meat, especially beef.
So, when a person first embarks upon a Zero Carb way of eating, the less variables the better generally speaking. Bone broth is certainly a variable, and not everyone does well with it. In Nourishing Broth, Kaayla Daniel explains that some people who are sensitive to MSG have trouble with the high level of glutamine present in bone broth because the glutamine gets turned into glutamate and crosses the blood-brain barrier creating unpleasant cognitive symptoms.
Glutamine sensitivity is most often experiences by children with Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, etc. For the majority of people, however, this is not an issue, but it is certainly important to be aware of the possibility. Like anything else, you just have to try it and see how it makes you feel. After reading Daniels book devoted to the subject, I decided the potential benefits were well worth exploring. What I discovered is that I felt better when I included it in my diet. But again, this will not be true for everyone.
I noticed very quickly that on the days I drank bone broth, I did not get leg or foot cramps that night while sleeping or the next day. While on the days that I did not drink it, I did. It was a very cause and effect correlation for me. Many Zero Carb vets have stated that they tried everything (salt, magnesium, bone broth) to try and prevent their muscles from cramping, but that none of these measures had any positive effect.
And, yes, these are the same vets who have also stated that they “never have and never will” make and drink bone broth, so I am not to sure how many of them actually tried bone broth specifically to address the muscle cramps they were experiencing. I am, admittedly, a little confused by their contradictory statements.
And even if they did try bone broth without experiencing any noticeable difference, then I would want to know how much bone broth they drank each day and for how long. If you are deficient in a mineral, it not only takes a certain amount of that mineral, but it often takes more than a day or two for the cells to get it where it needs to go.
Muscle cramps are a very common experience in the initial weeks and months of a Zero Carb diet. One of the main symptoms of a potassium deficiency is muscle cramping. When a person first begins a Zero Carb diet, a lot of excess fluid is flushed from the body and a significant amount of potassium is lost in this process. I have explored this phenomenon more fully in my page on The Adaptation Process.
There is nothing especially dangerous about this because it is self limiting. Once a person’s metabolism and kidneys make the transition from being a sugar burner to being a fat burner, you stop losing excess fluid and your mineral balance is restored. However, the interim period can be somewhat uncomfortable, and bone broth might help to ease the transition.
As it happens, bone broth is an especially good source of potassium, especially if there is some meat attached to the bones. I generally use whole chicken and turkey parts, mostly because that is what is affordable. But any meaty bones can be used: pork , lamb, beef, and even fish. It has certainly made a noticeable difference for me personally. But, I also drink an average of 2 quarts of bone broth every day, so this may be why I found it to be an effective remedy for muscle cramps compared to those who did not.
I also remove the fat from the broth after it has chilled and drink only the potassium-rich liquid. I do this so that the broth will not interfere with my appetite and so that I can drink more of it. It act like an sugar free electrolyte replacement beverage, i.e. Gatorade without the sugar. Interestingly, I have found that I do best drinking it on an empty stomach BEFORE a meal. If I eat it AFTER a meal, it will stop the meat in my stomach from digesting and I will be miserable for hours afterwards. I am not sure how it will affect you, but this is what I have learned about my own body. So you might want to pay attention to when you drink it and see if this makes a difference for you as well.
Many Zero Carb vets have argued that making bone broth is time consuming and difficult, but I have not found this to be the case for me. I put the bones in my crock pot, add water, let cook for 12-48 hours, and then strain. It takes me all of about 15 minutes. This is a lot less time that these vets spent ridiculing bone broth and those of us who drink it in a recent ZIOH post that generated 700 comments and continued on non-stop for almost two days! Really? Yes, really.
Okay, I will admit that the straining process is a bit messy, but that can easily be streamlined with the proper equipment. All in all, it is a small amount of work with a big pay off for me personally. Not only do I like the taste and the way it makes me feel, but the nutritional components present in bone broth are very beneficial for gut health.
With the exception of Joe Andersen’s wife Charlene, none of the Zero Carb veterans I have interviewed had serious gastrointestinal issues like I do. Most came to the Zero Carb way of eating for the purpose of weight loss. Therefore, while I deeply respect their knowledge of this diet, I also recognize that I have health issues with which they have no personal experience. I have problems that they cannot possible understand because they have never lived in my body.
And I know that I am not the only one in the group with these kinds of challenges. Many new people have joined the group and started the Zero Carb diet as a result of reading The Andersen Family interview after it was shared by William Davis on his Wheat Belly page and several other very popular sites. The people this interview has attracted are people with severe health problems like Charlene and myself, not people just looking to lose excess body fat.
While bone broth is certainly not necessary to long term health and success on this diet, it also holds the potential of being very beneficial for some like me. The one veteran who does use bone broth on a semi-regular basis is Ana Teixeira. Ana is an Ultra-marathon runner with unique needs due to her almost superhuman physical activities. We are all different, and we don’t all have the same needs. I believe it is import for this reality to be acknowledged and accepted.
This does not change the basic tenets of a Zero Carb diet: meat and water… meat and water… meat and water… meat and water. That is the most important principle of this way of eating to understand. Meat and water must form the foundation of a Zero Carb diet. Everything else must be seen as complimentary to that. In other words, one broth should not be used in place of meat any more than eggs or cheese should.
Meat is the corner stone; meat is the foundation; meat is the rock upon which everything else must be built. There is absolutely no question about that. For many, meat and water is all they will ever want or need on a Zero Carb diet, and that is perfectly fine. For others like myself, the extra nutrition provided by bone broth and other animal foods like liver are a welcome addition.
I really hope the long time vets of Zeroing in on Health can find it in their hearts to be more supportive of people with unique needs, instead of dismissing and ridiculing us as we walk our Zero Carb path to well-being. It is sad and – quite frankly – bizarre that a group of people dedicated to this way of eating would engage in behavior that is both demeaning to individuals and divisive of the community as a whole.
This way of eating offers promise to many people who have been struggling with serious health issue for many years. But they will not stay in a group – no matter how much it’s veterans have to offer in terms of their experience with this diet – if they are treated unkindly…especially over such a minor issue like bone broth. After all, Vilhjalmur Stefansson – whose work they promote above all others – drank broth throughout his year-long Meat-Only Bellevue Study and it didn’t seem to do him any harm. In fact, is it possible that he may have even benefited from it? Hmmm… I wonder…
If you would like to read about some of the unique nutritional properties present in bone broth, please see my Bone Broth page.
The Zero Carb interview I did with The Andersen Family was recently shared on the popular Facebook page Authority Nutrition. It generated several hundred comments from readers. Some of the comments were sincere and thoughtful, while others were down right ignorant and unkind.
Even though Charlene – the wife and mother of this lovely family – healed her very ill body from Lyme Disease, and then went on to produce two beautiful and very healthy boys, by adopting this diet 17 years ago, they were none-the-less criticized by many for their dietary choice. Apparently, even the hardest evidence is impossible to accept when one’s beliefs are in the way.
As long term Zero Carb carnivore Michael Frieze said in response to the general tenor of these comments, “People like to say what they think without really thinking.” Unfortunately, this observation is all too true, and I was probably guilty of the same kind of unthinking remarks myself at one time – being the former vegan that I was – before I decided to broaden my horizons and read beyond my comfort zone of beliefs.
One of the most frequent comments I heard from the readers of this post was that they felt an all-meat diet was too “extreme” and “unbalanced” and – by implication – therefore somehow “inappropriate” and “wrong.” There is a strong bias toward the idea of “moderation” in all things in our modern Western culture, and this perspective is often applied to the foods we eat.
But, as low carb doctor and scientist Stephen Phinney – author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living – has pointed out, it may be neither wise nor valid for us to apply “moderation” thinking to our diet, especially if we are sensitive or even intolerant to carbohydrates.
For example, when someone has a problem with alcohol, the treatment of choice is the complete elimination of all alcohol from the person’s diet. A moderate intake of alcohol is generally considered to be an incredibly dangerous and unhealthy practice for an alcoholic. Exiling it from one’s life is neither labeled as “extreme” and “unbalanced,” nor seen as an “inappropriate” and “wrong” approach to the problem.
As Dr. Phinney further argues, “If consuming lots of carbohydrate provided some essential nutrient that would otherwise be lacking, then we might agree that a low carbohydrate diet is unbalanced or even extreme. But that’s clearly not the case. Think of it this way – what if you lived in California and planned a vacation in Hawaii. Would you believe someone who told you going that far was ‘extreme’, and therefore you ought to try flying just half way there instead? In this analogy, practicing this form of moderation would land you in seriously deep water. ‘Moderation’ and ‘balanced’ are meaningless terms when we are talking about ‘islands of safety’. And if your body is carbohydrate intolerant, eating a low carbohydrate diet is your island of dietary safety. Should a person with gluten intolerance consume moderate amounts of gluten so they can have a balanced diet? Of course not. Then why should a person with carbohydrate intolerance consume moderate amounts of carbs to meet some arbitrary criterion of a ‘balanced’ diet?” (p. 43)
So, why is the elimination of all carbohydrate-containing plant foods considered to be “extreme,” “unbalanced,” “inappropriate,” and “wrong” for people who feel less than well after eating them? Especially given the fact that humans evolved on an all-meat diet, as explained by Nora Gedgaudas in her book Primal Body, Primal Mind. (Please see my page on the Original Human Diet for a detailed explanation.)
In fact, examined through this lens, veganism is a lot more “extreme” for humans than an all-meat diet is because no human population in history has ever willingly eschewed all animals foods for any length of time. Many long-term vegans – like myself and Lierre Keith (author of the excellent book The Vegetarian Myth) – are discovering the negative health ramifications that occur as a result of avoiding all animal foods for years.
Another reason I find it odd that an all-meat diet is viewed as “extreme” by so many people is that a significant number of wild animals – that we are all familiar with – rely on a single type of food for their nourishment. For example:
Bison live almost entirely on prairie grasses.
Koala Bears live almost entirely on Eucalyptus leaves.
Panda Bears live almost entirely on Bamboo plants.
Wolves live almost entirely on the flesh of other animals.
And none of these animal’s diets are deemed “extreme” or “unbalanced” or “inappropriate” or “wrong.” Instead, it is widely understood that these animals evolved to eat specific foods and that these specific foods provide all of the nutrition required for optimal health in these animals.
Many a zoo keeper has discovered that if these animals do not -in fact – receive the foods they evolved to eat, they will become ill and unable to reproduce. Once the appropriate food is supplied to their captive animals, the animals in their care recover their health and reproductive capacity.
It is truly astonishing that human doctors seem completely incapable of drawing a connection between their patient’s food intake and their patient’s health or lack there of…but that is a different discussion altogether. Suffice it to say that veterinarians are quite a bit more advanced in this understanding.
Why should it be any different for humans who evolved to become the large-brained creatures that we are today precisely because of the very high fat, predominantly all-meat diet that we ate for Millenia? (For an interesting look at how our biological need for fat likely drove us to become the humans we are today see Man: The Fat Hunter by Miki Ben-Dor.)
We even have the example of several modern remnants of our hunter-herder ancestors such as the Arctic Eskimos studied by Stefansson (see The Fat of the Land) and the African Maasai studied by Weston A. Price (see Nutrition and Physical Degeneration) to show us just how healthy an an all-meat and animal foods diet can be.
From an anthropological, archeological, historical, and ecological perspective, an all-meat diet appears to be the most natural nutritional choice in the world for nourishing the human body and mind. The only thing extreme about an all-meat diet – as far as I can tell – is that is allows us to live extremely well.
What was my diet like before Zero Carb?
A whole food Very Low Carb, Ketogenic (20g of carbs per day) diet. I consumed no frankenfoods with the exception of a packet or two of splenda in my coffee and coke zero.
What I am eating on Zero Carb?
Eggs, Bacon, Butter, Coffee, Heavy Whipping Cream, Beef, Organ Meats, Goat, Chicken, and African Giant Snails.
What I am I drinking on Zero Carb?
How much did I workout on Zero Carb?
Not a single second.
Day 1 – 10:
I experienced common symptoms of adaptation and transition such as lethargy, headaches, etc. I went from working out 5-6 times a week to zero workouts. My mood was up and down, but cravings were minimal. The adaptation and transition symptoms were identical to when I went from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a Ketogenic diet.Because I was only consuming 20 gms or less of carbohydrates per day on Keto, I thought the transition would not be a big deal. I was wrong. There is a big difference between ANY grams of Carbs and ZERO Carbs.
Day 11 – 21:
I began ti experience a Zen Like Mood and my energy returned. I had no more cravings and began to experience a natural high 24/7.
Day 22 – 30:
I decided to give up coffee and heavy whipping cream and went through adaptation and transition symptoms a second time. The symptoms were almost identical to my first week of Zero Carb. The reason I quit coffee was because I was using it to suppress my appetite in order to eat only one meal a day. It was a holdover from my Keto (Bullet Proof Coffee) days and I wasn’t truly giving Zero Carb an honest effort because of it. Once I stopped drinking coffee, my appetite returned and I started eating like a piglet. I ate myself into a stupor for a couple of days before my body had enough and my appetite started regulating itself. I began eating less and less, and now I’m at the point where I just eat when I’m hungry. It’s coming down to about twice a day a present, but I can easily see it going back to once a day with time…or maybe not. I don’t really care.
What I learnt?
If YOU want change, YOU have to change. I strongly encourage newbies to listen to the Zero Carb veterans who have been eating this way for years in order to prevent needless suffering for yourself. Based on my 30 day experience, what they say is true and is the only relevant thing that people need to listen to.
I had to go through the 5 stages of grief (anger, denial, bargaining, depression and then, finally, acceptance) with some of the things these veterans (like Charles, Caitlin, and Dana) were saying, but it was for my own good. For newbies like me, getting to the acceptance stage of true Zero Carb as quickly as your acculturation will allow is critical for success. Suffer now (temporarily) and live the rest of your life in complete freedom and great health.
How much Weight & Inches did I lose?
Though I initially gained a few pounds, I ended up losing a total of 11.2 pounds over these first 30 days. I didn’t take measurements when I started, but I’ve gone down one or two notches on my belt. I also look much smaller than what 11 pounds could ever really depict, so I have probably gained some lean body mass as well.
It’s so much easier to just eat meat, drink water, and live my life. No worrying about macros, no counting calories, no trickery to suppress appetite. Just meat and water.
Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.
If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join Charles Washington in his Facebook group Zeroing in on Health or Michael Frieze in his Facebook group Principia Carnivora for guidance and support. These two groups use different approaches, so if you find that one does not suit you, please check out the other one.