Should salt be included in a Zero Carb diet?

The subject of salt is a bit complex.

On the one hand, Owsley “The Bear” Stanley – who ate a Zero Carb diet for over 50 years – felt that salt should be avoided. Here are some of his comments regarding salt that he posted on a now-defunct low carbhydrate internet forum he participated in during 2006:

“I don’t use salt.”

“Salt is not good for a fat burner.”

“Salt is not good in your food, it is a chemical and will damage your skin and your kidneys over time. It also interferes with fat metabolism.”

“When I was a dancer, I used no salt in anything. I drank huge amounts of plain water during class and never had a bit of problem, whereas the other dancers scarfed salt tablets like candy and still had problems.”

“I sometimes sweat so proficiently that I need to drink 3 or four liters of water in less than an hour. I have no effects of low salt, and my sweat is never salty. I used to watch the other kids in ballet class scarfing slat tabs, while I just drank water. My shirt was very wet, but dried out normal, while theirs were rimed with a heavy white salt crust – indicating that the massive excess of alt was simply being dumped. If they did not eat the salt tabs when drinking water, they fainted.”

“Adding salt to food is not good. If you eat nothing but steaks you will never have any deficiencies.”

“It only takes about one ounce of any meat/day to supply all the sodium your body requires for normal saline balance.”

“Salt is an addiction. It is culturally induced by the need to add some salt for flavor in vegetables.”

“When I gave up salt, the only food that I ate which seemed to need salt was eggs, but after a few years this passed. Unsalted butter made the difference – without that added fat eggs are definitely very bland.”

“Take care to only buy and use unsalted butter. Salt in butter is there as a preservative, thus the level is very high. Unsalted butter is a bit more expensive because only very fresh cream can be used to make it, whereas soured cream – neutralized with soda – is used to make regular butter that is then preserved with salt.”

“Taking in more salt than you body needs is very, very bad for you. If your sweat tastes salty, you have too much intake. Both the skin and the kidneys dump salt, but cannot ‘change gears’ quickly. Both organs are affected by passing salt. The salt content of sweat and urine can go down to a few parts per million, to conserve the saline balance of the bodies tissues.”

“If addicted to salt – just like with any other addiction – when you stop using, you will experience side effects, such as everything suddenly seeming tasteless and bland. If you persist, salt becomes vile-tasting, and food without salt very tasty. It takes several days for your body to stop dumping salt through the skin and kidneys and begin conserving it, so when quitting, be aware of your salt balance. You may experience light headedness and the other classic signs of low sodium, if necessary take a tiny pinch, but try to stop all salt as quickly as you can tolerate it. I consider it a chemical poison.”

“Human commerce in salt began with the use of vegetation as a major item of human food. Only herbivorous animals will seek out and consume salt – because sodium is lacking in all terrestrial plant tissues. Carnivores do not need any salt. Your taste for salt on meat is learned behavior only.”

“Chemical salt should always be avoided, it interferes with fat metabolism when the body carries an excess. If you are getting too much, your sweat will taste salty. It takes about a week for the body to stop spilling salt in the urine and sweat.”

It should be observed, however, that in spite of Mr. Owsley’s strong anti-salt stance, he did eat a few ounces of salt-containing cheese almost every day (based on the comments he made in the above mentioned forum). Therefore, it is questionable whether his own personal experience can actually be taken as an example of practicing a Zero Carb diet with Zero Salt.

Nevertheless, many of the long-time practitioners of Zero Carb eating -whom I have met through the Facebook group Zeroing in on Health – have stated that they also do not consume any salt. This is not universally true, but it is the case for a significant percentage of them. The health and well-being of those who do not add salt to their food does not seem to be negatively affected by the absence of salt in their diet. Likewise, the health and well-being of those who have continued to include salt in their Zero Carb diet also does not seem to have been negatively affected. Some have even stated that they can take it or leave it with out ill effect.

On the other hand, Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek have argued that eating a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet increases an individual’s need for sodium. Here are two excerpts from their seminal books which explain the science supporting their recommendations:

“Whole books have been written about the history of salt. Wars were fought over access to salt. Roman soldiers were often paid with a measure of salt, hence the origin of the English word ‘salary’. Hunters and their prey, herders and their cattle, all shaped their actions and habits around access to salt. The reason, of course, is that salt (sodium) is necessary for life.”

“Humans did not need to know chemistry to understand the value of salt. Salt deprivation leads to lightheadedness, fatigue, headache, and malaise. Aboriginal cultures could figure out that if they drank from one spring, they began to feel lousy, but if they drank from that other one, they’d feel OK. The Inuit knew which ice to melt for water to boil their meat. Sea ice loses its salt content with age. Fresh ice had too much salt, fresh snow had none, whereas older sea ice was just right.”

“Inland hunters followed their prey to salt licks and salt springs. These waters were prized for cooking, and some cultures learned to dry these waters to make dry salt. But the universal dependable source of salt for inland hunters and herders alike was blood. Blood was collected from freshly killed animals using the emptied stomach as a container, whether from a bison on the Great Plains or from caribou or muskox on the tundra. A liter of whole blood contains about 2 grams of sodium, so 500 ml per day would ward off acute symptoms of salt depletion.”

“Among the Masai living in hot inland Kenya, the consumption of blood was a staple of their culture (along with meat and milk). Even in the 1920’s, long after British trade had provided them access to dry salt, the Masai still bled their cattle to provide each hunter with a token 50 ml of blood per day[6]. Given another century of perspective, perhaps the pejorative phrase misrepresenting many aboriginal cultures as ‘bloodthirsty savages’ might better be replaced by the phrase ‘bloodthirsty savants’.”

“The amount of carbohydrate in our diet changes our need for salt. High carbohydrate diets make the kidneys retain salt, whereas a low carbohydrate intake increases sodium excretion by the kidney (called ‘the natriuresis of fasting’). Hunting cultures seemed to understand this, and thus their highly evolved practices of finding sodium and consuming enough of it to maintain health and well-being…”

“…all carbohydrate-restricted diets, even ones providing 50-60 grams of carbohydrate like Dr. Hoffer’s mixed diet, are natriuretic – they make the kidneys dump sodium. Now, if you are bloated, edematous, or hypertensive, ‘dumping sodium’ is a good thing. But if you do not (or no longer) have these fluid-excess symptoms, then over-excretion of sodium results in the above list of symptoms.”

“And more worrisome, it can have negative health effects as well. Sodium is the positively charged ion that the body uses in its circulating fluid (serum and extracellular fluid) to balance the concentration of positive charges from potassium that is concentrated inside cells. The membrane enzyme sodium-potassium ATPase is the ion pump that keeps both of these cations separated and in the right place”.

“For nerves, muscles, and other cellular functions to work right, neither of these ion concentrations can deviate much from that of the other. With severe sodium restriction (like 1.3 grams per day, combined with the natriuretic effects of carbohydrate restriction), the body responds first by mobilizing any excess extracellular fluid (which is why bloating disappears) and then by contracting its circulating volume. It is this contracted circulating volume that causes dizziness, headache, and ease of fatigue.”

“At some point, when confronted with this low sodium intake plus carbohydrate restriction, most people’s defense mechanisms can’t maintain normal mineral balances. So the body’s next level of defense is for the adrenal gland to secrete the hormone aldosterone, which makes kidney tubular cells excrete potassium in order to conserve sodium. That is, the body wastes some of its intracellular potassium in order to cling to whatever sodium it can. However unless there is copious potassium coming in from the diet, this excess urinary potassium comes from the body’s potassium pool inside cells.”

“Two things then happen. First, nerve and muscle cells don’t work well, leading to cardiac dysrhythmias and muscle cramps. Second, because potassium is an obligate component of lean tissue, the body starts losing muscle even if there’s plenty of protein in the diet. Clearly none of these effects of sodium restriction are desirable, particularly when one is trying to lose body fat while retaining as much lean tissue as possible. Luckily, if in the context of a low carbohydrate diet you give the subject/patient a total of 5 grams of sodium per day (for example 2-3 grams on their food and 2 grams as broth/bouillon), none of these bad things happen.”

From: The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

“Most athletes sweat, and sweat contains salt. Both sweat and blood taste ‘salty’, because both contain an appreciable amount sodium. The only place inside your body where you find much sodium is in the blood, so if you run short of it, there’s not much ‘on reserve’ elsewhere in the body. Thus, if you don’t have enough sodium, your circulation (aka circulating blood volume) has to shrink. Sweat too much and your body runs short of sodium, and this forces it to shrink your blood volume to keep serum sodium concentration in the normal range. Shrink your circulating volume too much and you pass out.”

“Thus salt is a critically important nutrient for athletes, and this is especially true on a low carbohydrate diet. When carbohydrates are restricted the body changes from retaining both water and salt to discarding them. Because of this fundamental shift in mineral management, it’s not uncommon for people to lose 4-5 pounds of water weight during the first week of a low carbohydrate diet. Typically, only half of that first week’s weight loss is from fat and the other half is due to salt loss along with its associated water. If some of that salt is not replaced, however, blood flow may be impaired and the body over-reacts in its quest for salt. This primarily happens in the kidneys, which try to compensate by wasting potassium (i.e., kidney cells give up potassium in exchange for retaining sodium), leading to a negative potassium balance.”

“When carbohydrates are restricted, the body changes from retaining both water and salt to discarding them. Because of this fundamental shift in mineral management, it’s not uncommon for people to lose 4-5 pounds of water weight during the first week of a low carbohydrate diet. Typically, only half of that first week’s weight loss is from fat and the other half is due to salt loss along with its associated water. If some of that salt is not replaced, however, blood flow may be impaired and the body over-reacts in its quest for salt. This primarily happens in the kidneys, which try to compensate by wasting potassium (i.e., kidney cells give up potassium in exchange for retaining sodium), leading to a negative potassium balance.”

“What does all this mean? The loss of water and salt can reduce plasma volume and make you feel sluggish and compromise your ability to perform outdoors in the heat or in the weight room. As a result, some people get headaches and feel faint. This state of salt depletion causes a compensatory loss of potassium, which has a negative impact on muscle mass since potassium is a necessary co-factor in building and maintaining skeletal muscle. The easy solution is to routinely take 1-2 grams of sodium per day in the form of 2 bouillon cubes (or home-made broth).”

From: The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance

When a person first begins a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet the body dumps a lot of sodium which can make the transition from a carbohydrate-based diet to a fat-based diet very unpleasant (sometimes referred to as the “keto-flu”) if you do not consume enough salt during this process. It can take a few weeks to enter a state of Nutritional Ketosis and become an efficient fat-burner. This is also known as being Keto-Adapted or Fat-Adapted. This adaption period can take several weeks. Once it is complete, however, it it possible that extra salt is not necessary. This learn more about this process please read my article on Adaptation.

Interestingly, there is a case history in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance of David Dreyfuss – a long-distance runner – who does not consume any extra salt during cold-weather runs and has not experienced any problems with his athletic performance as a result. He says,

“In hot weather I did take some salt, but I do not even use salt in cold weather… Dr. Phinney believes that increased sodium intake may be necessary during a low carb diet. My own experience has been that I can pretty much ignore the issue. I grew up in a low-salt household and still use added salt very sparingly. Outside of exercise and in cool weather, I use no electrolyte supplements. In very hot weather, I have a simple trick which seems to reduce my need for salt replacement: about half the water I use is dumped directly on my clothes. It’s a lot more efficient to use it directly for evaporative cooling than to consume it and then sweat it out again. I follow the usual guidelines of drinking to thirst. I also generally keep track of urine output (i.e., that there is some every few hours) to double check that I’m not dehydrating excessively. Surprisingly, I’ve generally found that my total water consumption (again, anecdotally and not quantitatively) is significantly less now than it used to be. Just training? Nutrition? I don’t know. I have no cramping and no stomach issues. As long as my muscles have adequate reserves, I just don’t experience any problems.”

However, the long term effects on muscle maintenance may become an issue for him as Phinney and Volek have described above. The jury on this still seems to be out and is definitely a worthy area for further research in my opinion.

I personally went for years without eating salt. But after reading Dr. Batmanghelidj’s fascinating book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, I decided to reintroduce it. Dr. B argues that the body’s cells need sodium in order to maintain proper hydration. In one of his other books, he gives a number of case histories of individuals who had been consuming plenty of water, yet were still dehydrated because they were following a salt-free diet. After adding salt back into their diets, these individuals experienced dramatic health improvements. Therefore, Dr. B recommend adding about 1/8 of a tsp. of sea salt to every quart of water.

I decided tofollow Dr. B’s recommendation and discovered that I also felt better once I started consuming salt again. This may be due to the fact that I have severe Histamine Intolerance. Excess histamines cause low blood pressure, and salt helps to raise blood pressure. At the time I reintroduced salt into my diet, I did not know that I was Histamine Intolerant, so I was still consuming a a lot of high-histamine foods. It is certainly possible that if I can maintain a low-histamine diet for a while, I may reach a point where I do not feel the need for added salt in my diet. It is something I may experiment with in the future.

I personal prefer Celtic sea salt over Himalayan rock salt because it tastes better to me. I never use commercial iodized salt because – not only does it taste terrible – but the type of iodine it contains is not the best form of this mineral. Iodine is very important for over all health, so if you feel you may be deficient it would be better to use a product like Lugol’s solution (and read Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas for more information about iodine and proper thyroid function).


It is highly probably that humans have been seeking out sodium rich foods and salt deposits for as long as we have been human. Many anthropologist feel that humans evolved along coastal areas where sea salt, seaweed, and seafood would have been regularly consumed. There are lots of convincing reasons in support of this perspective and it is the one that I personally find most compelling. If you are interested in exploring this subject further, I recommend the book Nutrition and Evolution by Michael Crawford and David Marsh. This perspective also supports the idea that higher omega 3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA – in the diet where one of the factors that lead to our large brains.

Finally, it has be shown that wild animals – including other primates – seek out food and water sources that are naturally high in sodium. For example, Decaying Wood is a Sodium Source for Mountain Gorillas:

“Like several other non-human primates, mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda consume decaying wood, an interesting but puzzling behaviour. This wood has little obvious nutritional value; it is low in protein and sugar, and high in lignin compared to other foods. We collected pieces of wood eaten and avoided by gorillas, and other foods consumed by gorillas, and measured their sodium content. Wood was substantially higher in sodium than other dietary items, and wood pieces from stumps eaten contained more sodium than those that were avoided. Wood represented only 3.9% of the wet weight food intake of gorillas, but contributed over 95% of dietary sodium, leading us to conclude that decaying wood is an important sodium source for Bwindi gorillas. Because sodium has been leached from the weathered soils characteristic of the subhumid and humid tropics, and because terrestrial plants generally do not require sodium, tropical herbivores, including gorillas, often encounter problems locating the sodium essential for their well-being. Decaying wood is an unexpected sodium source.”

As I stated at the beginning of this article, the issue of sodium is a bit complex. I have tried to examine it from a variety of directions, so that you will have a more complete understanding from which to make a decision. Knowledge is power. The best approach would be to simply experiment for yourself, as the only thing that really matters – after all is said and done – is how YOU personally feel.


184 thoughts on “Salt

    • Wild salmon and possibility other wild fish and seafood like shellfish are high in iodine, as are egg yolks. I know this because they cause me to break out with Dermatitis Herpetiformis, the Celiac skin rash triggered by both gluten and iodine (oddly enough). Beyond this, you might need to find a reputable supplement. However, the Andersen Family have been eating only ribeyes for 20+ years and have never had any symptoms of iodine deficiency. The same goes for Michael Frieze and his girlfriend. They have been eating pretty much exclusively beef for over 10 years with no symptoms of iodine deficiency. I know there is a big push now for more iodine in the diet, so you’ll need to do your research and try different things and see if it makes a difference in how you feel. More iodine is not a good thing for me personally. My thyroid always tests in the normal range in spite of all my crazy health problems, Lol. I tried Lugol’s solution a few different times in my life and it caused outbreaks of DH and worsened my histamine issues (which it’s also known to do).


      • I’d used Celtic Salt for 27 years prior to reading the Bear’s Words of Wisdom and i’d say he was right.
        Hard as it is to believe, after a while the salt craving goes away and it’s not missed.


  1. Thank you very much Esme, your website saves me again. I’m ZC ~6 months, I cut salt about a week ago and have started getting lower leg cramps; toes, arches, ankles and calves. It’s getting a little worse each day until last night it woke me up four times.

    I’ve been trying magnesium oil because I’ve read that can help with the adaptation process, but it doesn’t seem to be helping very much (or I’m using it wrong).

    Anyway, your comment below sounds very reasonable. I think I’ll just try and taper off rather than go cold turkey and hopefully that will keep it manageable.

    “And when you reduce salt/sodium intake, it takes a few weeks for the body to adjust, so reduce it slowly if you want few symptoms. When I eliminated salt completely, it took my body a full month to adapt. My mouth was very dry, I was tired, hypotensive, and had tachycardia. You can also experience muscle cramps temporarily. But these symptoms went away after about 4 weeks and I felt totally fine.”


  2. Adam, here is my 2 cents:
    I cut salt about a week ago
    Why? Did you have a good reason to do that? Not saying you didn’t, just asking. I too reduced salt to see what it’s like & because I heard Owsley & other long term ZCarbers did so. In retrospect, it was not a wise move for me for all kinds of reasons , cramps being just one & the cramps were pretty bad & were with me for years (I’m ZC since 2017)

    I cut salt about a week ago and have started getting lower leg cramps; toes, arches, ankles and calves. It’s getting a little worse each day until last night it woke me up four times.
    Yea , not fun, and unless you are one of the lucky few who can adapt to no or very low salt, those cramps will stay with you, along with a bunch of other not so fun things, mood, sleep, etc . If you have some great reason to go low or no salt- fine, but if you are doing it to see how you do or because of what you read that others are doing, I see no reason to lower salt. Read the book The Salt Fix by James DiNicoloantonio. Be aware there are quite a few of us ZCarbers out here that do WAY better when our sodium (not salt) intake is in the 6-10g/day range- that is a huge amount of sodium. Both Angela Stanton & Paul Salandino have podcasts discussing electrolytes, salt, hydration, and they include discussions for ZeroCarbers. All this stuff is part of your educating yourself in the ZC LowCarb world.

    I’ve been trying magnesium oil because I’ve read that can help with the adaptation process, but it doesn’t seem to be helping very much (or I’m using it wrong).
    All these minerals (sodium, Mg, potassium, chloride, etc) all interact, but most agree that sodium is the MAIN DRIVER . Their absolute amounts may not be as important as their ratio to one another. Tinkering around with anything other than salt (sodium) gets really complicated. Some people can adjust to low or no salt. I am not one. I would think most ZCarbers are also not “salt free”. A ZeroCarber would likely need more not less salt than a non-ZeroCarber .

    I agree with you & Esme to ” reduce slowly” any time you tinker with these minerals. And the same can be said when you want to increase them.


    • Hi J – I am curious to know how long you went without salt completely and any other mineral supplements at the same time. It took my body a full month to adapt to no salt. Interestingly enough, magnesium spray caused horrendous leg cramps for me.


      • Sorry about my name “J”, it is me Lou who commented elsewhere in this thread.
        I did go totally salt free for probably 2-3 months or more (?) but I was supplementing with potassium & Mg at various levels during that time. I did gradually reduce salt over 1-2 months so it wasn’t abrupt.
        I was trying to mimic the 4:1 ratio mentioned, it didn’t work out for me, but I was fiddling with Mg & potassium too so confounders. Way too complicated for me & my job won’t tolerate cramps. I’m doing very well now ingesting 6-10g of sodium/d total ( that is a lot), supplementing with 150mg Mg/d (eating ~ 1.75lb of meat& eggs), no potassium supplement (only dietary).
        As always, thanks for the great website.


  3. Didn’t “Bear” eat a lot of organ meats? And isn’t organ meat higher in sodium than just lean muscle meats such as lean hamburger? Thoughts??


  4. Hi Esmée La Fleur. Your website is one of the few I come back to, again and again, for reference and learning about the carnivore diet. Sorry for the long comment, I didn’t find an “email me” link, around.

    Before carnivore, I was on SHD (“Supposedly Healthy Diet”) for around 10 years, consisting of only whole foods such as poultry, fish, eggs (25% of the diet) and grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, dairy and olive oil (the other 75%). No red meat and it was high carb, low fat and low sodium intake (around 1500-3000mg/day).

    I’ve been strict carnivore since 2020, for nearly 15 months now, with 2 exceptions out of ignorance and learning, at 4 and 8 months respectively, of eating honey, ginger and lemon juice to try and fix digestive issues.

    I went on carnivore, not because of obesity (I’m a lean, hard gainer ectomorph with some muscle gained by mandatory weight lifting exercise since I was 18), but because of a million of auto-immune diseases, some externally, most self diagnosed, ranging from IgA Nephropathy (around 8 years old), Vitiligo (around 14 years old), Alopecia (around 22 years old), Piles (as far as I remember, 18 years old), Pilonidal Cyst (around my thirties), OCD (since a little kid), Alcoholism/Depression (2 rehabs at 27 and 33 years old), Suicide Headaches, Allergic Rhinitis and probably some more shit I don’t remember. I don’t hide behind my diseases, I don’t feel I’m special or need sympathy and I don’t go to doctors or take any medicine since my last rehab (I’m 45 now). Screw diseases. I’m a resilient bastard and I don’t appreciate human mediocrity.

    Anyway, lemon juice cravings in the first few months, were actually just blue/rare lean meat cravings. The “freshness” and “acidity/sourness” of rare lean meat fixed all my lemon juice cravings, while honey and ginger proved not actually bringing anything other than a placebo feeling of healing (or very small benefits, compared to meat, water and fasting).

    I also learned was that digestive issues are fixed by 1. searing the outside of meat on smoking hot heat and then maintain or cook it on medium or low, to kill bad bacteria, 2. eating a mix of fatty and lean meats without adding additional fat and worrying about silly ratios, and 3. default to lean meat or fast for a couple of days, until you feel better.

    Digestive issues, in this context, range from explosive diarrhea (liquid), normal diarrhea (muddy), bloating, acid reflux, burping, gas, indigestion, undigested food in the stomach (feeling it heavily and moving around when turning around when lying down), undigested food in the stool, quick dumping feeling of liquid matter from the stomach/lower intestine directly to the colon.

    All this to say that I found a 4th cause (and solution) to digestive issues which is salt.
    I started salting heavily when I started carnivore, because my body demanded it and went with high coarse sea salt, for at least the first 12 months. Suddenly, I started noticing stomach aches, bloating and returning piles (hemorrhoids) with small signs of blood when wiping (total absence of fiber and casein was the advice that the media, governments, doctors, teachers and parents never gave me, to achieve absolute relief from the suffering of idiopathic constipation), as well as the usual excessive thirst, headaches, urine sodium dumping every sunday night (every week, like clockwork) or whole body tingling/itching, from time to time. As a side note, I also noticed that carbonated water also causes piles (it might be useful info for people on carnivore prone to this disease).

    So, I started to wean off my salt intake (and from coarse to finer ground sea salt), reducing it substantially over 1 month (to avoid hard cramps and headaches – tip: if you’re lying down, you can fix calve muscle cramps just by standing up), and noticed a huge improvement in everything of the aforementioned. Then I investigated more and came to the conclusion that humans only started to seek out salt deposits after the agriculture revolution and that meat, in itself, even without the blood of a freshly hunted animal, should have the right ratio of potassium and sodium. I also understood that salt has an addictive quality to it and I wanted to kill my last addiction after alcohol, sugar, caffeine and nicotine.

    Well, I’m my own guinea pig and I always experimented a lot, even before carnivore. I suffer a great deal and I learn a lot with it. It’s my method. So I cut out salt completely, after 1 month of weaning off. However, I only made it 3, almost 4 weeks on no added salt. It was not cravings, it was not cramps or headaches, those were absolutely solved and I felt “more stable”, with a much more manageable thirst satiety.
    The issue is that my digestion suffered immensely. it’s like my body stopped producing hydrochloric acid on its own and needed salt for it. For nearly 1 month I had nausea, stomach aches, feeling food in the stomach for hours on end and dumping it all in the morning.
    I decided to reintroduce my low intake of finely ground sea salt and, within 1 day, I digested everything perfectly.

    This is sort of a defeat because I find that salt is like carbs: it’s hard to manage. I have to keep the “daily dose” somewhat consistent to avoid going back to headaches and body tingling and I wish it was one more thing not to worry about.
    Also, curiously, I didn’t get weak, dizzy, fatigued or had any sign of sodium deficiency (I eat OMAD and work at a desk standing, not sitting, most of the day) and my taste for it remained unchanged. I didn’t go like the “ego crew” who says “I completely lost the taste for salt in 1 month, now I find it disgusting”. Bullshit. I believe tribes who never tasted salt for generations (not just 1 generation) might find it offensive but our genetics are already salt and sugar trained. I haven’t eaten white sugar in more than a decade but if I eat it now, I’m sure I’ll only find it too sweet, but still pleasurable, not “disgusting”. I don’t deceive myself.

    I’m still at loss if 1. I’m not ready yet for going off salt and let my body tell me over the years on carnivore (let’s be realistic, I just barely completed 1 year and I felt it was all adaptation and healing so, in reality, I’m starting carnivore now), 2. I have to endure indigestion longer than 1 month for it to fix itself or 3. I have a genetic mutation/defect that makes my body absorb sodium in a poorly fashion and I need to supplement, even on a meat only diet.
    I also have sort of a divided opinion on whether salt is addictive like the other substances I mentioned above, or if it’s a natural biological call of the body to tell us we need it. Or at least to some people who don’t absorb sodium correctly, like me, I don’t know.
    I know some long-time carnivores don’t add salt and do fine but I also know most people are afraid/ashamed to report their illnesses around the internet, even carnivores, so I don’t know if they achieved “fine” after a lot of suffering or if they’re even fine after so many years, since posts are not updated.

    I can’t find other reports of people who stopped adding salt and suffered to the point of not being able to eat. Do you know anyone with a similar experience?


    • Thank you very much for taking the time to share your detailed experiences and experiments thus far. I do believe we are not all the same, and some people will need to consume extra sodium in the form of salt on a carnivore diet. I think some people are better at conserving both sodium and potassium and others are worse, depending on their genetic background. I also think that autoimmune illness is a real game-changer on how our body responds to food in general, as food (even carnivore food) seems to be the biggest trigger of symptoms. This is certainly true for myself. I have been carnivore for most of the past 6 years, but I was completely unable to eat any meat for an entire year after I experienced an intestinal flu virus in July three years ago. I survived on only quinoa for 6 months, and only goat’s milk yogurt for another 6 months. Then I could only eat chicken cooked slowly in water for the next year. Now I can finally eat raw ground beef again, but it still causes symptoms (e.g. connective tissue pain, GI bloating). Everything I put in my mouth causes some negative symptom. I am like you, and probably could benefit from a bit more sodium (just a bit), but all the salts I have tried give me migraines. In fact, I recently tried Real Salt from Utah again (my last trial was about 4 years ago). I took 1/8 of a tsp in water and the next day I had a migraine that last 5 days. The exact same thing happen with Celtic grey sea salt. I even react to most waters. Earlier this year, I tired reverse osmosis water (because it’s less expensive than the bottled water I normally drink) from the dispenser at a local health food store, and it put my GI tract into such a bad flare that I was unable to eat anything for over a month. Fasting (on compatible water) is the only thing that has ever helped me with these kinds of reactions. My gastroenterologist, who has experience with patients who have autoimmune illnesses, told me that I have GI Dysmotility due to the autoimmune illness and that there is no effective medical treatment for it. After 30 years of suffering and trying every diet under the sun and many supplements and natural gut health programs and not getting any benefit, I was actually relieved to hear this! Autoimmune illness cannot be cured, only managed. For me the carnivore diet and fasting are the best management tools I have ever found. There are several Facebook groups where the people with autoimmune illnesses do discuss the ups and downs of their experiences with the carnivore diet. Principia Carnivora (which I helped start) and Carnivore for Autoimmune are the two that I participate in. You might want to share your experience in these groups as well. God bless you on your continued journey.


      • That’s why I relate to you and your experience, you’re super resilient and I love that.

        I actually think that the meaning of life is to continuously better ourselves, being the best possible person we can be to ourselves and others, in spite of all the psychological and physical suffering and pain we experience in our lifetime.

        Thank you for your insight. God bless you too, my flower.


      • Esmée, finally I was able to remove salt from my diet without any problem, after almost a year from my initial post, and 2 years of carnivory.

        Not being able to remove salt under the risk of having loose stool with signs of undigested food or not being able to handle high fat meat like ribeyes or picanha for multiple days, under the risk of having intense bouts of nausea and explosive diarrhea, suddenly vanished when I completed 2 years.

        I can now eat high fat (and even drink water after my OMAD) as well as live without a salt shaker with no GI distress at all.
        From my observations and findings, I conclude I had a bacterial/parasitic infection, E. coli or Giardia or something like that, and that I was finally able to eradicate it just by being persistent and sticking to the diet.

        My theory is that you can even have one of these in your gut, for years, on an omnivore diet, but since we’re feeding it carbs and fiber, they live in harmony with us. Once we remove carbs, starve them and wash them away with bile (highly anti-bacterial “detergent”) from the increased animal fat intake, the bacterial/parasitic die-off can have some consequences on the host.

        To anyone reading this, patience and persistency pays off. I could have gone to the doctor and screw up my health even more with antibiotics and other man-made medicine. Or I can just live it up and wait for it to resolve itself. Healing and adaptation to carnivore can take years and I’m here for the fight.



  5. I too have gone back and forth with “more/lots versus less/none” salt, to help with my digestion. And it does help, but only if I screw up these two other things that bother my digestion.

    1) water – A] distilled is better than spring or reverse-osmoses B] the plastic it comes in should never get “hot”, not sit around above 75 degrees for a long time C] but drinking it at room-temperature is better than super-cold – D] and I have to be careful not to drink too much, especially when not eating salt, or my electrolytes get out-of-balance (yes I want some yellow in my urine)

    2) beef {aka hamburger/ground-beef} – A] my first choice is organic, grass-finished (the winter-alfalfa can be organic or non-gmo); second choice is non-gmo, grain-finished (grains can be organic or non-gmo); but it has to be “certified” organic or non-gmo, not just say grasslands and pasture raised or natural – everything else (aka normal beef) gives me flu-like symptoms for weeks after just one meal – B] lots of places grind fresh, vacuum-seal in 1# packages, and freeze within 24 hours; then shipped by the case on dry-ice to my home. Yay!


  6. It’s so true that are bodies are all so different! – And I don’t know if the “vacuum-sealed & frozen within 24 hours” is “dry hung” first or not; that’d be good to find out.


    • Vacuum sealed is an alternative to freezing, so it’s one or the other but doing both is pointless.
      Meat is usually hung overnight after slaughter and deboned the following day.
      If slaughter occurred on a friday, then it may hang until monday, that’s 3 days.
      Beef hung for 20 days in 2 degrees celsius will improve in taste, but will also lose a percentage of weight every day as moisture, so the butcher will only do that if the meat is paid for beforehand, otherwise it’s a losing business proposition.


  7. I’ve seen websites that are die-hard “beef-only” diets (though they say “yes” to salt too). Because of your website esmeelafleur, I keep trying no-salt but was struggling until I figured out that my electrolytes were out of balance. So now I make sure 1) I do [not] drink too much water, and 2) I’ve added different types of wild-caught fish to my organic grass-finished beef, but no-salt diet. (You suggested in an above comment: “wild salmon and possibility other wild fish”.) This does seem to balance out my magnesium and potassium ratio. – I feel way more satisfied, and I don’t crave carbs, especially when I eat both beef and fish for each meal, or at least both every day. [I pretty much cannot eat any other animal products for other allergy reasons, just beef and fish.]


  8. For 2 years I wanted to cut out salt, but could not.
    Then I started drinking water like a fish, got many major benefits and was able to cut out salt only while maintaining a high intake of water. Eliminatig added salt improved things evem more.


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