Zero Carb Interview: Chris Cogswell

Chris on the job as a butcher.

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

I’ve been eating zero carb since Jan 2016, so 18 months.

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

I decided to try ZC after years of researching many diets. I was born with chronic Asthma and Allergies that had me in the ICU multiple times a year. Most years I was in every month, sometimes for weeks at a time. I was actually hooked up to life support at age 8 for a severe attack. For many years the doctor told my mother I wouldn’t live long and may need a heart/lung transplant. I’ve also had digestive issues, abdominal pain, vomiting and loose bowels for many years. In my early teens I had severe migraine, anxiety, anger outburst and multiple leg cramps daily. On top of all of this I had nasal polyps that were removed multiple times through surgery.

For years I followed the doctors advice that didn’t help. Following their orders I went down to 100lbs standing at 5’9. I started paying attention to foods I could tolerate and survived for years on white rice, chicken and frozen veggies. I would spend all of my free time reading and researching, until I found vegetarianism, paleo, then keto/lchf, and then ZC. I’ve tried all of these diets. Some helped and some didn’t. Going low carb Paleo seemed to help the best, but I was still feeling my asthma and had gone up to 165lbs being fat for me (I’m naturally a small guy). So long story short, health was my primary motivation.

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

Physically, it took me 2-3 months. The transition was not fun for me. I felt unwell for weeks and my energy was low for months. Mentally it was easier because I had decided it was for my health and this was going to happen. For the first year…. maybe longer, I was tempted to add in carbs after workouts, because I wanted to get bigger. But I’ve come to realize that bigger isn’t better. Healthier is best!

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

I would have to say, Gary Taubes books; I’ve read all of his nutrition work. And Nina Teicholz’s book The Big Fat Surprise.

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

Now I only eat meat. The first year I would have eggs and some dairy, but noticed that I feel better without them.

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

90% of my diet is beef. I also eat chicken and Duck sometimes.

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

I always have my beef cooked blue rare-rare. The closer to raw the better!!!

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

If I’m eating a leaner cut of meat I will melt butter over it.

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

I always eat until satisfied. I should add that most days, I follow a 16/8 fasting/eating window.

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

I eat beef and lambs liver. Sometimes I eat it raw, straight from the animal. I also eat heart, kidneys, lungs, and sometimes lambs brains. I usually have a small piece of liver every day. Heart once a week, and the others I eat once a month or so.

Chris before adopting an all meat diet.

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

No, I don’t drink broth. I have a hard time with rendered fats.

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

I usually eat 2-3 meals a day during my 8 hour eating window.

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

Lots!!! LoL. On average, I eat 3-4lbs a day. Sometimes more. I am very active though.

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

I eat a mixture of both. Luckily, I’m a butcher for a local farmer, so I have access to both kinds of meat at all times.

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

Yes. I drink water mostly, but have a coffee before a workout for boosted performance. I did drink coffee daily, but have recently stopped that.

16. Do you use salt?

I use salt on everything! I love the stuff! But I make sure it’s Himylayan Pink Salts, or Sea Salt. Never table salt. That stuff is horrible!

17. Do you use spices?

I use a bit of black pepper, but nothing else. The longer I’m ZC, the more I realize what I can and can’t tolerate and spices are a no.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No supplements.

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

don’t spend that much money on meat. Maybe $100 (Canadian) a month. Like I said earlier, I’m a butcher, so I get a weekly allowance of meats….. and I get to eat the miss cuts or ugly steaks!

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

Move to the country and become a butcher! Just joking. Truthfully, shop the sales, and buy the cheaper fatty cuts, or organs. They tend to be least expensive. Some places will give away the fatty trimmings.

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

Yes! I lift weights (full body) 2-3 times a week. I have a heavy labour job that I work 8.5-9 hours daily. Lots of lifting there… Nothing like carrying around a 1/4 beef at 200lbs! I walk 5km to and from work daily, in all weather. And I have three kids ages 6,4, and 1.

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.)

Since going ZC, almost all of my health issues have disappeared. Polyps, bad digestion, bowel pain, headaches, anxiety, muscle cramps, all gone!!! And my asthma is 95% better. I haven’t had to use my rescue inhaler since I started ZC, I’ve been taken off of steroids, and only take my Advair puffer if I get a bad chest cold. My mood has stabilized and I’ve become physically stronger. I’ve also lost 25 lbs. of excess body fat, even though that wasn’t a goal.

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

I get to eat meat all the time! I seriously enjoy every meal, and never get bored of eating the same things Over and over.

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

Just buckle down, find what you like and eat that! At first it may be hard, but it’s worth it. Don’t listen to all of the little tweaks that people use or make it more complicated than it needs to be; listen to your body and be patient.

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

My wife is used to my dietary experiments over the years, so she is ok with it. At first she was a little worried, but after receiving my blood tests… which were perfect, she’s supportive. Other parts of my family aren’t as accepting, but they are all eating SAD and have issues, so I just let them be, and stick to what works for me.

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

Listen to your body! Your body will change, so be aware and be patient. Some foods you can’t eat upfront, but your body might adjust and accept them. It could also go the other way. Don’t force feed what doesn’t work for you. Learn to love yourself and your body. This WOE may change your shape or size, but you’ll become the real (healthy) you, and you’re beautiful!!!

Chris today, enjoying his love of music.

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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 Carbers.

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.

Zero Carb Interview: Elaine Anderson

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

About a year and a half.

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

When I went carnivore, I had already been paleo for nearly 5 years, and so I had lost a lot of weight and eliminated a page-long list of health issues. But I started getting concerned because I was putting the belly fat back on again. And I was developing “little” problems – such as, swelling around my ankles. At that point, I eliminated all the high-sugar “paleo-friendly” vegetables, like eggplant, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and based my diet on meat, lower-sugar/low-starch cooked greens (collard, turnip, mustard, lambsquarters), eggs and nuts. (I had already dropped fruit a couple of years into paleo, so that wasn’t part of the problem.) And guess what happened… nothing. The belly fat just had no intention of budging.

Alarmed, I googled: ‘low carb, not losing weight’, and came across a blog called My Zero Carb Life. Ironically, it was Kelly’s post about how she GAINED weight when she first went zero carb, haha. But still, that phrase “eat meat, drink water” really engaged my attention. I started to investigate the online info, and in less than 6 weeks, I made my decision. And guess what. The belly fat is only now starting to come off, and only slowly at that. But my original motivation doesn’t really matter to me anymore. I have an abiding trust now that my body will balance and regulate itself at its own time and its own pace. And you know what else. I have not once– even for a moment– regretted the decision I made to become a carnivore.

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

I didn’t have any noticeable psychological or emotional issues with the transition. From my first day as a “meataritarian”, I knew it was right for me. I loved how calm and natural I felt on the “zero sugar” way of eating. By the third day, l was explaining to friends that I felt “like I finally came home to my own body.” I vaguely missed pecans a little (great big pecan tree in the yard), especially when I would look at them–but I didn’t have any real craving.

Physically, it’s a lot harder to say. The worst part was probably the first month, and that was the frequent diarrhea. But in some respects, I think the adaptation took most of my first year. That may have something to do with my age. Or with, see below…the great coffee debacle.

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

This website.

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

I don’t tolerate dairy well, not even goat’s milk products. But even if I did, I would avoid them because, for me, it’s quite an addictive food.

Eggs, I do sometimes eat, even though I’m not crazy about them, because I can get free-range eggs for $2 or less a dozen direct from the farmer. But I don’t drop my guard with them because a hen egg has a 1/4 gram of sugar.

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

It depends. When I’m in rural north Alabama–my preferred home base–venison dominates during the fall and winter. Otherwise, beef is my mainstay.

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

My staple is raw, frozen hamburger patties. If I eat out, I order my steak, liver, prime rib, etc rare. If I cook beef myself, it usually ends up well done. The truth is, I’m happy with it anywhere along the spectrum from raw to burnt.

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

I use a little duck or beef tallow, or lard, when I cook or reheat meat in the skillet. But, no, I don’t garnish my cooked meat with an extra dollop of fat, if that’s what you’re asking.

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

As much as I want.
Whenever I want.
With gratitude.

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

Yeah. I eat liver, heart, tongue, stomach, fried tripas (known in the south as chit’lins, y’all–pork gut). (And when I’m lucky enough to be in Mexico and have my own cooking capabilities, I also eat rinones de res — beef kidneys. When I was staying in Cd Cuauhtemoc, Chih, I could get them cheap, any day of the week, right there at the supermarket.) And I love marrow; some people count that as organ meat. And chicharrones (fried pig skins). I eat any of the above organ meats whenever I get the inclination, but I don’t keep track of the frequency. I just trust that when I feel the desire to eat any of these foods, it’s a signal that my body needs it at that particular time.

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

Ummm. I do enjoy sipping a cup of hot stock on a chilly morning. So yeah, pretty often in the cooler months.

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

Uh…I don’t really know how to answer that. I’m retired, so I’m on nobody’s schedule but my own. Right now, I live alone, with a cat or two, so I don’t normally sit down to a meal. I just eat when I feel like it–grab a frozen patty in one hand and go on about my business with the other. Next time I think about eating, I’ll grab another patty or two, or fry up a skillet of carne picada (yummy little pieces of beef). I just don’t pay much attention to how much and how often.

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

Not entirely sure. I guess a little under 2 lbs.

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

I like the taste of grassfed hamburger meat and make that as big of a percentage of my total meat as I can. Beyond grass-fed, grain-free, or pastured, though, I would eat only wild meat if it was practical. But it’s not always possible.

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

I once adored coffee: bold, black, bitter coffee. I had been off of it for five years, but my newly meatatarian body was functioning so efficiently…that I got a little too cocky and boldly walked right back into my former addiction. My body went into a tailspin then, and it took me months of floundering around (experimenting with things like intermittent fasting) in my misguided attempts to correct all the residual health problems I had caused myself.

As you may have guessed from my answer to question 2, I have a tendency toward severe non-diabetic insulin resistance. I found out the hard way that coffee triggers insulin resistance, and the less sugar you consume, the greater the impact! Something to think about if you have ever had symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

Look, some people apparently can drink coffee with impunity; I’m not one of them.

Bottom line that I learned from all this: eat meat, drink water, relax. Really, relax. Quit trying to tweak your way out of your mistakes; your meatatarian body is a lot smarter about itself than your intellect is, so just give it meat, get out of its way, and let it figure out the rest by itself.

My ‘coffee substitute’ is artemisia vulgaris (aka – mugwort, sweat lodge tea, river sage, etc). It’s one of the first weeds to come up in the early spring. And it’s bitter enough to keep me happy.

In the summer, I also like to plop a cone or two of staghorn sumac berries into a gallon of cool water, leave it overnight. They turn the water pink and give it a sour, lemony taste.

16. Do you use salt?

As much as I want – usually Himalayan pink.

17. Do you use spices?

Occasionally pepper. And I sometimes like to put rosemary in my meat and bone stocks. But I can take ’em or leave ’em.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No. I understand that some carnivores use mineral supplements to treat leg cramps, so I’d like to share what I learned about that.

When I first went carnivore, the leg cramps that had plagued me the whole time I was paleo…stopped!
The great coffee crash episode brought them back to me.

And I learned to banish them with acupressure. Especially effective is the point in the middle between the nose and the upper lip. Pinch that groove and hold it. The pain will almost always disappear in 30 seconds or less.

For the long term solution, I treated that one point on the face and another one on the foot (just short of where the bone of the big toe and the one beside it meet) with firm pressure for 30-60 seconds, once or twice a day, for a week or so, and the leg cramps quit bothering me.

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

Less than I used to spend on paleo!! About $300-325, I think.

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

I buy my salt in bulk from the San Francisco Salt Co.Great price, free shipping and nice customer service.

If you happen to live in an area where hunting is popular, I recommend that you stop in during the fall at your nearest gamemeat processor. Ask if they keep a list of people who’d like to buy unclaimed and donated game meat, and get your name and contact info on the list. They can legally sell wild meat to you for what it costs them to process it. In north Alabama, I get venison for $2 a pound, and sometimes get stock bones for free or next to it. Also, if you are an organ meat eater, you may be able to get these items there as well.

Now, the rest of this answer below might seem slightly off-topic, or worse, ~radical~ to the ears (eyes) of some readers, and so I won’t be offended if you skip on down to number 21… in case radicality alarms you.

If you don’t already know how, I’d like to suggest trying to learn as much you can about hunting, fishing, and foraging (earthworms, grubs, black soldier fly larvae, sow bugs, etc). Nothing wrong with small and slow. If nothing else, get a book on tracking and go out to the woods and prowl around looking for tracks and sign. Or go to the lake and relax in the shade and watch someone else fish. Start somewhere, anywhere.

Sisters and brothers, this isn’t just about giving your budget a boost. It isn’t just about Survival 101. It is a spiritual lifeline to the wild and all its abundance. Nature’s benevolence intrudes even into the heart of the city, even now. Especially for those of us who’ve made the most environmentally responsible decision anyone can make— that is to walk away from the produce of the cultivated fields, the earth-rape that’s been going on since the rise of civilization. Look around you with your eyes open. The wild gives bountifully.

Look, y’all, I’m no Big Chingon great white hunter. I’m a 65 year-old, female, non-athlete. The sacred connection with the wild is open to all: urban/rural, young/old, male/female, able-bodied or not. Tyr, the ancient Norse spirit of the hunt, was said to be maimed, one-handed; think about that.

No, I’m nobody’s idea of the Big Chigon; I hunt grasshoppers. The act of killing and eating a gentle-eyed little wild being with my own hands is among the most sacred and moving experiences I’ve ever known. It’s the point where grief and gratitude become one feeling–the very Eucharist experience I imagined I was supposed to have as a child, but never quite found it there. Here is my body which is broken so that you may have life….
It’s my personal initiation into the bond of honor between the hunter and the prey: the prey offers up its own precious and well-loved little life so that the hunter may continue to live. The hunter provides for and defends the community that the prey was a part of during its life.
It’s also where I discovered that the identifying attributes of the spirit of Tyr–courage, compassion and self-sacrifice–are shared equally by both hunter and prey.

So be it.

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

Not in the formal sense people usually mean when they say that. I feel great, my energy level is high, my stamina is steady, I love life. What does that equal for me? A lot of time outdoors, both working and playing. I also do a lot of activities by hand (like, wash & wring out my clothes, hang ’em out to dry, haul up to 5-gallon buckets of water by hand, wash dishes in the sink, wield a swing blade, etc) Things that people with a mainstream lifestyle usually do in automated mode. You know, the way I see it, people who feel full of life don’t have to be told to go buy a gym membership… For someone who enjoys gym exercise, or (of course!) for an athlete in training, by all means, let there be gyms! If not, I think a person learning to live healthy should just try to avoid too much uninterrupted sitting–continue to eat meat and drink water–and before they know it, they’ll naturally become active, simply from their abundant energy. But just because the dominant culture says you’re “supposed to” do it is no true Rx for health or happiness or weight loss. That’s my take on it.

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.)

My lifelong sensitivity to petrochemical fumes (colognes, paints, solvents, carpet glues, gasoline, etc) doesn’t KO me like it used to. And that is one thing paleo didn’t help me with at all.

I feel strong in who I am now in ways that I never did before.

My ‘narrative voice’ in creative writing is not nearly as flowery (sugary, shall we say, my friends?). It has naturally taken on a much more direct style of expression since I became zero carb.

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

Everything.

Others have mentioned the simplicity, the liberation from prior routines, the mental clarity, the more focused ideological perspective. Yes, yes. All of the above.

But I think for me what matters most is the still, quiet pride — the self-respect — that comes from facing life like an alert and calm warrior, without needing any cushion of carbohydrate addiction to soften the blows.

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

There is no authority over your body higher than your body itself. No expert, institution, community, authority figure or goverment has the right to tell you what to put in your mouth if it contradicts the experience of your own body. Find out for yourself what works for you, and be honest with yourself about it. Then relax. Everything will be all right.

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

They are, in general. For one thing, I’m Medicare age, I use no drugs–prescription, over the counter or street. Nor any supplements, and I seldom have any reason to even use herbal weeds to cure anything. I’m strong, I feel great, I look great. There’s not much they can say.
Besides, they really don’t want to get me started talking about how the amount of carbon released into the air from the time of the first plow until the beginning of the industrial age is equal to the amount released from the beginning of the industrial age until the present. Therefore, agriculture alone would have eventually brought our beloved and only home to the brink of utter disaster without the help of modern technology, so why the duck are YOU still complicit in the rape of the earth and the extinction of the wild at a rate of at least 200 species every ducking day? Why aren’t YOU a carnivore? Don’t you care? Do you want your grandchildren — not to speak of your one and only precious body — to bless your decisions? Or to curse them?

But I do sometimes happily engage with non-family and friends about zero carb, so if you find it necessary to do so, I’d suggest arming yourself with Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth. She’s an entertaining writer, and a powerful voice of reason.

If nothing else, you can hold the line with a firm but quiet little stand: “this is my body, and the decision about what goes into or out of my mouth is not for anybody else to make. End of discussion.”
Self-rule, baby, self-rule!

And if you like engaging them– or even if you don’t like it, but feel that you must — just remember, you’ve already taken the high ground. You’re the one with the mental clarity, the physical and psychological stamina and, yes, the emotional strength to have compassion on those who are still trapped where you once stood. But don’t expect anyone else to change just because they have watched your health blossom, or because you can defend your position well.

You are a threat to them. And they will try their best to re-addict you to carbs, lying to themselves that it’s out of “love and concern” for you. Even if you don’t argue with them about zero carb, you are still living proof that a person really can break free from a 10,000-year-old chain of socially-acceptable human addiction. And no matter what direct evidence they see that they too can be free, that they don’t have to continue to endure brain fog, fatigue, depression, anxiety, mental illness and disease, few of them are going to want to accept the responsibility that goes with acknowledging that it truly CAN be done. And that those who do it, thrive. Shrug your shoulders and move on — addictIon is addiction, and their choice to remain addicted is their choice. You are free. It may not be easy, and it may sometimes be lonely, but the way I see it, there is nothing more precious than personal freedom, and all the self-honesty and integrity that it takes to achieve and maintain it.

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

Oh dear….I certainly could go on and on, but I’ve probably written quite enough already. What I have expressed here comes from my own heart, my own passions, my own opinions and my own experience, and I take full responsibility for every word. It does not necessarily reflect the ideology or thoughts of the blogger who interviewed me. It does not express the words of any medical or health professional living or dead and may not be taken as such.

I would just like to add that there’s a lot of wisdom available for everyone through Esmee and the rest of the zero carb online community. As for me, I’m no expert on anything other than my own experience, but I will say that if anyone wants to discuss further anything I’ve mentioned here — or to challenge it — do feel free to contact me at ela95126@gmail.com. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but vegans, you are also welcome to engage; I don’t care if you want to vent your venom against my choices. Rest assured, you will be neither the first nor the last in line.

May all the rest of you enjoy your carnivore adventure and become even more strong and ever more free.
And, Esmee, thank you so much for all you do for all of us.

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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 Carbers.

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.

Zero Carb Testimonial: Peg

Raw Ground Beef & Raw Suet

Hello Esmee,

Reading through the testimonials on your blog helped me a great deal when I decided to take the plunge into zero carb eating and, if you are open to it, I would like to share my experience thus far with your readers as there are some aspects that are quite different from other people’s experience and may help others going through similar issues as me.

I prefer to remain anonymous so no photos. You can call me Peg.

Some background:

I have chronic fatigue, and have been struggling with it for over two years (self-diagnosed; I have never been to a doctor as I didn’t believe they would be able to help me–and I can’t afford it!). It started with a complete digestive system crash and the sudden onset of a lot of food intolerances.

Basically it went like this: In the winter of 2014 I was 220 pounds (I am a 5’8” woman in my late 30s) and decided I needed to improve my health and physical fitness. I cut out sugar, processed foods, caffeine (except green tea), grains and beans and lost 30 pounds throughout the spring. In the summer I started doing bodyweight exercises and moved into weight training by fall. I had dropped 70 pounds total, gained muscle I never had before and basically felt the best I ever had in my life.

After I started seriously weight training I got cocky about my progress and robust health and returned to eating some of the things I had previously given up, telling myself that it was ok, I would just work it off in the gym. It started with ice cream a couple times a week and moved into bread, cookies, pie, cake and other treats. For brevity; over the winter I began to experience more and more fatigue and frequent bouts of constipation and bloating (that became so extreme I looked three months pregnant!). I wrote this all off as the effects of winter, being cold, less sun, etc. and wouldn’t even have noticed a pattern to it all if I hadn’t been journaling my workouts and day-to-day feelings at the time (and even then, I only recognized the pattern when I re-read them months later).

In February, after a family celebration where I said “screw it” and ate whatever I wanted because I was feeling pretty crappy already (bloated, constipated, run-down) my entire digestive system crashed. I will omit the details for brevity sake, but suffice it to say, I was suddenly struck with major food intolerances and had an extremely limited diet for quite a few weeks until I was able to have a somewhat-less-limited diet that has subsequently remained pretty limited these past 2+ years.

I had to sleep early at night and nap during the day. My mind was foggy and unclear most of the time. I lost all the muscle I had build up as any exertion at all exhausted me for days. Over the past couple of years I have gone through waves of improvement and then crashes. I took supplements, herbs, teas and amino acids by the boatload. With all the supplements I wound up feeling good this past winter (it is early May as I write this) and got cocky again and thought I could eat sweets. I crashed badly and set myself all the way back to the beginning, giving me a really bad summer and a difficult winter struggling to pull myself back out of the pit of fatigue and weakness.

In late January I decided I would reset my digestive system by fasting, which turned into a fresh juice fast for 2 weeks (because my body simply couldn’t tolerate having no food at all). It helped considerably and I started feeling better but started to experience some extreme hunger so started eating again. I tried to add food back slowly but soon found myself overeating and consuming around 3000-4000 calories a day. And my digestion was failing again.

By early March I had learned about low carb high fat and started adjusting my diet to cut back on the sugar I was consuming with all the fruit/juice. I ate mostly ground turkey, eggs, cheese (I hadn’t been able to digest beef well for months), chicken fat and skin, bacon and bacon fat, coconut oil and salad greens with occasional small amounts of fruit. I realized the fruit was making me hungrier and causing me to overeat so I did more research and came across some information on zero carb and found Amber O’Hearn’s and Esmee’s blogs, and was especially impressed by the Anderson family (I had to find it using the Wayback Machine!) and Kelly Hogan’s blog. The information I learned in the stories I read struck a chord in me and I knew this is what I needed to do.

Zero carb journey

In the beginning:

When I started a month and a half ago I decided to cut out anything that was not from the animal kingdom (so no more coconut oil). I ate chicken thighs, bacon, rotisserie turkey, ground turkey with chicken or bacon fat pork tenderloin, steak, and a lot of eggs. For fats I ate chicken fat, tallow, bacon fat and ghee. I tried eating cheese for the first couple of days but realized it made me feel more hungry and was screwing with my digestive system and creating mucus (I was so sad!). After about a week I also cut out eggs because I believed they were making me more hungry and giving me a tendency to overeat. I feel better without them (though I miss them sometimes) and I was right; they were making me overeat for some reason.

As time went on I tried to focus on eating more beef. I came to realize that I digest it better when it is not well done and came to enjoy it quite a bit. I was eating mostly cheap steaks and 70% ground beef patties cooked rare and juicy in bacon fat. In fact, after a couple of weeks I started to feel like I was eating the best thing I ever ate every time I had beef! I was still experiencing loose stools and occasional diarrhea but wasn’t too worried about it.

In the beginning I was cooking some of my food in ghee and eating chicken skins fried in chicken fat. After awhile the ghee started to turn me off so I stopped eating it, and I was getting stomach aches and diarrhea whenever I had chicken skin or fat. I would feel really nauseous about an hour or two after eating and have to lay down for a couple of hours. Later on I figured out that seltzer water helped abate this feeling (most of the time) but I didn’t think I should be feeling that way so I eventually cut out poultry.

I then began to realize that any extra fat was giving me stomach aches and diarrhea too.

I was in a conundrum about the fat. On the one hand I knew that I needed to get the majority of calories from fat but on the other hand, too much fat seemed to give me the runs. I can’t afford expensive steaks as I have a budget of about $5 a day (with occasional extras) so i was having to add fat in the form of bacon grease and chicken fat to my food. I came across some information about eating beef raw and fat raw as well so I looked up ideas for raw fat and came across suet.

I got some suet the other night and have been chopping it up and mixing it with raw ground beef (70% mostly) and sea salt and I LOVE IT. I can’t believe I actually like it (the texture takes some getting used to) but my body must be really happy eating that way because it tastes delicious to me. Plus, I’m no longer getting stomach aches an hour or so after eating and I had my first normal bowel movement in weeks this morning!

What I eat now:

After 6 weeks of experimentation I now eat raw beef (cheapest steaks and ground beef), raw suet and low sodium bacon as a treat. I discovered early on that I digested my beef better when it was cooked less and finally got brave enough to try it raw. It changed my life! Raw beef mixed with chopped raw suet makes me feel good, drastically cut down on my stomach aches and regulated my bowels. And–surprise of surprises–I LOVE it. The bacon satisfies my residual desire for snacking but upsets my stomach if I overindulge (regular bacon upsets my system immediately and tastes wretched to me now).

I eat three meals a day, sometimes more if necessary. For all three meals I eat raw ground beef (70 or 80%) or raw chopped/shaved steak with a big chunk of raw suet chopped up and mixed into it, doused with sea salt (I’ve found I can tolerate a LOT more fat now that I’m eating raw suet and it has cut down on my beef consumption, from 2 pounds to about 1.3 pounds). Our grocery store packages ground beef in 1.3 pound packages and, now that I’m adding the suet, it seems to be enough for me for one day. We make low sodium bacon frequently at work, so I snack on this during the day. I’ve been eating anywhere from 2-8 pieces in a day (though today I had 8 and my stomach is a bit upset, so I think I will be cutting back on the bacon). I drink salt water in the morning and at night and sometimes in the afternoon if I feel I need it and regular water throughout the day. If my stomach is upset (or sometimes if I just want the bubbly) I will drink a plain seltzer water. I take 10 mg of astaxanthin a day.

I have had an electrolyte imbalance for quite a while that manifests itself in scary heart palpitations so I put sea salt on everything I eat and drink warm salt water three times a day. I am hoping that as my body acclimates more to this way of eating that things will balance out and I will eventually be able to do away with the salt. I purposefully stopped taking all supplements as my intention and hope is to be able to heal my body enough that it is producing what it needs (the one exception is the recent addition of astaxanthin as it is getting close to summer and it prevents my fair skin from burning in the sun)

Difficulties and things I’ve learned:

I really struggled with the fat ratios. I knew that I needed to eat more fat than I was eating, but every time I tried to add more fat it would nauseate me, give me bad stomach aches hours later and give me diarrhea. I recently realized that it is rendered fat I have an issue with. Once I started adding chopped raw suet to my raw beef all that changed.

Hunger has also been–and still is–an issue. On the one hand I can handle long periods of time without eating much better than I ever could–when it’s necessary. But I still think about eating constantly and partially plan my day around my three meals. I believe this is partially due to craving too much protein as a consequence of eating too little fat. I understand that too much protein can cause a glycemic response and I think that has been my problem as, up until 2 days ago I wasn’t able to tolerate much fat (because it was cooked/rendered). I am hoping that as I go longer eating the way I’m eating now my hunger will even out and I won’t feel the need to eat so much protein in a day. I also haven’t lost any weight since eating this way (in fact, I gained a few pounds, but I think it’s water, or glycogen as it drops off after a bout of diarrhea).

In the beginning I didn’t notice if I suffered any “keto flu” symptoms as I felt pretty crummy already. I had a runny nose up until about 3 weeks ago (that got worse when I ate, for some reason) but got better as I restructured my diet and removed some things. For the first month I was really wondering if this was going to help me because things weren’t getting better as quickly and dramatically as they seemed to for most of the other people who submitted their stories.

The thing that kept me going was that, despite how awful I felt, my mind was becoming clear and focused and it hadn’t been that way for many months so I knew something had to be right. Plus, I kept reminding myself that I was starting over from scratch; no supplements at all, just healing through diet, and had to constantly remind myself that it was likely to take longer for me to feel better as this was something that I had been going through for years.

The other thing that helped me stick to it was that I kept a journal of how I was feeling throughout the day in an app on my phone so I have been able to go back and see subtle improvements I didn’t notice as they were happening. This has been vital to my sticking with it! There are a lot of changes I never would have noticed if I hadn’t recorded them and been able to look back and see the patterns.

The entire process thus far has been figuring out what works for me in conjunction with what I am able to buy. Over the course of about 6 weeks I went from having a semi-varied diet to having a very limited one (raw beef and raw beef fat) but I am surprisingly happy with that! This way of eating feels so good to me and I feel happy every time I eat my bowl of pink-and-white mush!

Things I have noticed have improved:

I have NO cravings for sweets, not even fruit! (this is mind-boggling to me. I could never imagine my life without fruit)

My tastes have changed–I don’t just tolerate raw beef, I really enjoy it!

My sense of smell has changed–I can enjoy the smells of foods I used to love without craving them (that, in and of itself, is nothing short of miraculous to me!).

I can enjoy baking (I work in a bakery!) without even wanting to try anything I’m making

My mind is clear and focused in a way it hasn’t been for many months

I have motivation to do things I didn’t/couldn’t before (like household chores)

The ways of eating that work for healthy people did not work for me and I think this is important for others who are coming from a place of compromised health when they embark on this way of eating. I can’t have any dairy or eggs. Any kind of rendered fat gives me diarrhea if I eat more than a couple of teaspoons of it at a time. Because of my current electrolyte issue I require vast quantities of salt to keep my heart beating normally. Even though I require a lot of salt, I need to eat low sodium bacon instead of regular bacon because it makes me feel ill. Raw beef with raw fat seems to work well for me, even though it’s the cheapest stuff at the store and not the fancy grass-fed stuff (though I would surely eat that if I could afford it!).

I still have the fatigue, but I can see and feel myself getting better (and have proof of it from what I have recorded in my journal). My energy has improved over the past few weeks. I used to nap for 2 hours every day and now I don’t. I used to have to lean on my husband walking to work and home because I was so weak and wobbly and now I can walk unsupported. My mind was so foggy and unclear that I couldn’t do much of anything at home other than watch movies or sleep (after a shortened workday). Now I am back to reading, journaling, studying a language, doing brain-improvement exercises, watching documentaries and even having the motivation and energy to do chores around the house. I have also started to be able to do a bit more physically. I have started practicing Tai Chi again and have even been able to dance with my husband a bit. I am able to interact more with family and pets and friends.

My advice for others starting out on zero carb:

One way of doing things is going to work for every body! Just because the majority of zero carbers eat bacon and steaks and cheese and eggs and lose weight and get strong and feel great two weeks into it does not mean you will. It took me 6 weeks to start feeling noticeably better. It took me almost 5 of those weeks to figure out that my body doesn’t deal well with rendered fat. A lot of things that help other people didn’t help me and I had to pay very close attention to my own body and go against convention sometimes.

Keep a journal of what you’re eating and how you’re feeling every day. You will be surprised at the changes and patterns you don’t notice while they’re happening.
Learn to listen to your body. Just because something works for most people doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Experiment and learn as you go.
Don’t expect immediate improvement. Some people notice dramatic improvement right away. But if you’re coming from a place of compromised health it might take awhile for things to get better. Some things will get worse. Pay attention and readjust accordingly, but don’t give up just because 2 weeks have gone by and you’re not feeling fantastic (this is where keeping a journal REALLY helps).

If you’re committed to improving your health you will find what works for you. Just keep at it!

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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 Carbers.

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.

Zero Carb Interview: Reanna Percifield

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

Since mid-July of 2015.

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

To improve health and fitness. Originally I started out eating low carb high fat, and after almost 2 years of experimenting with that I stumbled upon the idea of zero carb while reading in a health forum. After doing some more research I decided to give it a try, and after the first day my energy levels were better than how I felt most of the time on low carb. Sure, low carb was great, but zero carb made me feel exponentially better from day one, despite some mild adaptation symptoms. I suspect various plant foods were giving me issues that I was previously unaware of.

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

Physically, it took me about 3 months. Thankfully, since I was previously low carb and intermittently fasting, my body already had experience being in a ketogenic state. This made adaptation fairly easy for me. For the first couple of weeks I had some manageable energy fluctuations, and the first 3 months or so I had some digestive issues. However I believe these issues were mainly caused by Candida overgrowth, resulting in leaky gut syndrome (which I had for years, but didn’t realize it at the time – I assumed it was allergies until it finally died off thanks to this diet).

Psychologically, it took me a very short time to adapt… maybe a week or two. I felt so great overall that I was completely happy with eating only animal products. Occasionally I did have mild cravings for treats I ate while on low carb such as dark chocolate. But upon trying them again out of curiosity, I did not like how they made me feel and they did not taste as good as I remembered.

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

Media:
This website and the Facebook group Principia Carnivora of course!
Alan Savory TEDtalk: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change
Barry Groves: Homo Carnivorous What We are Designed to Eat video lecture
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith
Eat Meat and Stop Jogging by Mike Sheridan

People:
Anyone who is long term zero carb really! I recall the first people I learned about when I came across this way of eating were Owsley Stanley and Derek Nance.

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

For the most part, I only eat meat and eggs. On occasion I might have butter/ghee or cheese, although I am no longer a big fan of dairy. However when I first started zero carb, I did include butter and cheese quite regularly.

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

About 90%. It is certainly my main meat, although I also have pork, lamb, chicken, and fish. This may drastically change in the future, as I plan to eventually obtain all of my food from wild game.

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

I prefer it very rare, and have had it raw a few times out of curiosity.

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

When I first started zero carb I did all the time, but now I rarely do because I don’t crave fat as much. Only if I think the meat is too lean will I cook it in extra fat such as lard or ghee. I mainly do this with fish because I tend to get fatty cuts of meat such as ribeye, chuck, and new york steaks.

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

I eat until satisfied.

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

I almost never eat organ meats, but only because they are not very accessible in my area. Otherwise I would certainly include some, although I am not a big fan of liver.

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

I no longer consume bone broth, although I did a few times in the beginning.

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

I always have one meal per day.

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

I eat about 2 pounds a day on average, but my appetite can vary so it is not uncommon for me to eat between 1.5-2.5 pounds.

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

I eat both, but the majority is commercially produced for now.

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

Only water. I used to have tea but no longer desire it. Occasionally I will have plain sparkling mineral water.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, I use as much salt as my palate happens to want at the time.

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, primarily pepper and granulated garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I often take fish oil for Omega 3’s because I don’t get to eat much seafood (often pricey in my area) and Vitamin D3 when I don’t have adequate access to the sun.

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

$250-$300 per month.

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

Keep an eye out for meats on sale/markdown. Get to know a butcher – sometimes you can get less popular cuts or perfectly good meat trimmings for a low price. If needed, most people could probably do just fine on only ground beef and eggs – that would likely make your food bill almost half of what mine is. I just enjoy having steak when I can!

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

Yes, almost every day I do moderate to intense resistance exercises that works most or all of my body to a degree (such as pushups, dips, hanging leg raises, squats, lunges, etc.). I commonly add weight or intensity if it feels too easy because this way of eating gives me a lot of energy. I also walk and hike on a regular basis.

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.)

So far I have not been sick once since I started this diet. My energy levels are fantastic and my overall health is great, close to its optimal state I think. I also healed a pretty tough case of Candida overgrowth. I had it for years thanks to the standard American diet + antibiotics, but didn’t realize it because all of my symptoms were insidious and allergy-like (mainly chronic skin-flare ups and digestive problems). When it started to die off from this diet it became much more obvious what the problem was. Upon completely eliminating dairy (even butter) and restricting eggs for a couple of months, my gut lining was finally able to heal. Although I was never really overweight, there has been quite a big change in my body composition: I started out at about 25% body fat, now I’m around 18% and it still seems to be slowly but surely creeping down. My exercise performance is better than ever and strength is always improving. I don’t require as much sleep as I used to: I usually don’t need more than 6 hours now, when previously I would need 7-9. Zero carb has also greatly improved my mental clarity and overall stability. Gone are the days of my mood and behavior being negatively influenced by what I eat!

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

Definitely the simplicity. And despite the simplicity, I’m not even remotely bored of what I eat! It’s great to truly enjoy something so simple and know you’re doing your body good. I no longer desire non-animal food at all. Saves me plenty of time too.

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

Don’t overcomplicate things. Don’t count calories, the notion of calories-in-calories-out is a proven myth – you’re just stressing yourself out without reason. Don’t track macros unless you have a good reason to (such as if your energy levels are still off after awhile or if you have certain health problems). This isn’t a fancy fad diet, it’s a simple way of life based on human history. Treat it as such!

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

Most of my friends and family actually are not aware. It’s not something I really talk about unless I’m asked about it or I think I might be able to help someone. However, those that are aware tend to be either supportive or apathetic. When it comes to those who are negative, I either try to inform them if they’re genuinely curious, or I pay no mind to them if they clearly have no interest in my view.

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

I just want to emphasize how easy and simple this way of eating really is once you get used to it. No overthinking needed here. I believe too many people are scared away from this diet because it seems so difficult and off-the-wall. But it is very doable and backed by loads of legitimate information. You must have some determination in the beginning, but with time it only becomes easier. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m never going back. Zero carb helped me decide where I want my life to go and what really matters to me.

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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.

Lex Rooker: The Unique Healing Power of an All-Raw Zero Carb Diet

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Editor’s note: This testimonial was originally published on a raw paleo forum website. However, it has since been removed for unknown reasons. I contacted Lex via email and asked him if I could please re-publish it on my blog, and he gave me his permission to do so. As someone who only benefits by eating his meat and other animal foods raw, I feel his story is simply too valuable to get lost in the ethers.

Health Problems From the Start & Conventional Treatments

It seems I’ve always had some sort of health problem. I was born in 1951. My mother had no breast milk so I had to be bottle fed. I was prone to colic and my thymus gland (a baby’s 1st defense against infection), didn’t shrink at the rate the doctors thought it should so they decided to intervene. At that time the doctors thought that radiation would cure everything so they gave radiation treatments to my lower throat area. This did cause the thymus gland to shrink, however, it also caused tumors to grow on my thyroid gland by the time I was age six. The tumors were removed, they were said to be benign so everyone thought that was that. Unfortunately, the tumors returned when I was 10 and they had to be removed again – this time they took half the thyroid too. Problem apparently solved.

By age 15 I had cystic acne, which again was treated with radiation. It did seem to help the acne, but 20 years later I started developing skin cancer lesions on the areas of my face that had been exposed to the radiation. To this day I see a dermatologist every six months to have the lesions frozen off. And I now refuse all forms of “preventive diagnostic radiation” like annual dental X-rays.

I was a heavy milk drinker as I was told by parents and doctors that milk was important for health. The more dairy products I ate the worse my acne and I had constant post nasal drip and phlegm. This got remarkably better when I gave up dairy, but I digress…

As a teenager I started getting migraine headaches. I would get at least 3 headaches a month, and the pain was so bad that at times I just wanted to die. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, and just prescribed heavy duty pain killers. I started reading everything I could find about health at that time in hopes of finding something that would take the headaches away.

Alternative Health Options

I read Sheldon, Bragg, Carrington, Professor Hotima, Victoris Kulvinskas, Norman Walker, Wigmore, Pritikin – you name the guru, I tried the cure. I did a 31 day distilled water fast (Bragg), and went from 180 lbs to about 96 lbs – almost died, but was convinced that it would be worth it if the headaches went away, and they did for almost 2 years. The problem was that I was so weakened by the fast that it took those 2 years to recover, and then the headaches returned.

I juiced carrots, celery, parsley, beats, and turnip greens and drank the juice by the quart until my skin turned orange (Walker). I raised wheat grass and drank 8 oz of wheat grass juice per day (Wigmore). I sprouted soybeans, wheat, millet, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds, and made ‘rejuvilac’ (Kulvinskasv). I made ‘Essene’ bread from sprouted grains and lentils. I ate cherries by the bushel basket when they were in season (Sheldon), and drank a quart of a tonic made from apple cider vinegar and honey every day (Bragg). None of this did any good. My headaches were as bad as ever, and I felt terrible most of the time.

By then we had the vegetarian movement so I went totally vegan from about 1978 until 1989. My health became so bad that it was painful to get up in the morning. My joints hurt and my teeth were losing their enamel. Not only did I have the killer headaches that would send me to bed in the dark with a heating pad over my face, but my muscles would go into hard painful cramps and spasms that would send me to the emergency room for a shot of muscle relaxant and pain killer.

The interesting part is, I was eating large amounts of whole grains and avoided all those bad “fats” like the plague. I tried the fruitarian route and only lasted a couple of weeks before I was so weak that I could hardly move.
About this time I discovered Pritikin, and that probably saved my life. I went back to eating meat in small amounts but held to the low fat theory because of all those “studies” that showed that animal fat was the cause of heart disease and cancer. At least life was somewhat normal and I felt OK (but not great) most of the time. Still had the headaches but they were once a month or so.

Paleolithic Transition

It was in late 1999 that I ran across Ray Audette’s book Neanderthin. This is also about the time that this wonderful world of the Internet really started to become useful. I started researching the Paleo type diets and began to slowly move in that direction. I still cooked everything, but cut out grains, dairy, and the like but was convinced that my diet still needed to be predominately fruits and vegetables with just small amounts of meat – sort of a super Pritikin without the grains, dairy, and potatoes. I would eat large salads (2 gallon bowl) of mixed greens and veggies with about 8 oz of meat at a meal.

Things got considerably better on my interpretation of the Neanderthin diet, but by this time I’m getting older. I hit 50 in 2001. I was still getting the occasion headache but now it was once every couple of months. I have also suffered from Prostatitis (inflamed prostate gland) since about age 25. I’d get flair-ups every couple of years that would send me to the hospital and I’d be on antibiotics for 6 – 8 weeks. One of these bouts hit in 2003 and this is when they discovered that my blood pressure was rising (147/90 at the time), blood sugar was elevated (fasting level 140), and triglycerides were about 500. All of this was attributed by the medical profession to just normal aging. This was also about the time that the dentist determined that I had advanced gum disease would need to see a specialist as both gums and bone holding the teeth were receding.

I was told that I would need to start taking blood pressure medication, diabetic pills, and cholesterol reducing drugs. The doctors said, “Of course there will be side effects like impotence, nausea, headaches, etc., but we should be able to control most of those by rotating through different drugs” As you can imagine, I was not thrilled.

It was back to the Internet where my next revelation was that I got the “hunter/gatherer” thing backwards. Hunter is first and so diet should be mostly meat. Gathering is for lean times when meat is not available. I had been doing almost the exact opposite. So now I moved to eating a large serving of meat or eggs at each meal but was sure to supplement with a salad and fruit to get all those necessary vitamins and minerals that you just couldn’t get from meat (you know, like vitamin C). I still cooked the meat to at least medium well and I just couldn’t eat fat, it would make me gag. I did notice an immediate improvement in digestion with the change to a higher protein way of eating. Much less gas and indigestion.

About this time a friend gave me a book on the Lewis and Clarke expedition where many of their journal entries were reproduced. I found it amazing to read that each man would often eat 9 lbs of meat after a day of heavy labor. Lewis also recounted that when they would kill a large animal, that the Indians would eat the organs raw. There were times when they subsisted on nothing but Pemmican (mostly dried raw meat and fat) yet remained in perfect health. This helped me to better understand just how much meat I really needed to eat as well as the importance of fat.

A year or so ago I ran across Geoff’s Raw Paleo Diet Yahoo! group and read every post with relish. It is this group and the links that Geoff provided that gave me the courage to try eating meat raw and ultimately doing away with fruits and veggies altogether. I figured that if Vilhjalmur Stefansson could do it then I could too. It was not easy but I did do it almost over night. I think the transition took about 3 months total. I’ve recounted some of the milestones of my return to health in that forum. In the beginning I would have killed for a Pepsi or cookie or a piece of fruit. Now I don’t miss the carbs at all, and seldom think about food. I eat once a day, about 2 lbs of mixed raw organ and muscle meat from grass fed beef – that’s it.

At this time my blood pressure is 102/67, my blood sugar stays right around 95 – 100, pulse has dropped from a resting rate of 78 to a resting rate of 60, and the dentist is amazed at the return of bone density and solid pink gums. Pain from arthritis in hands and knees is completely gone. Cancerous lesions on my face have all but disappeared (I used to have at least a dozen every 6 months and last month there were none). Still have prostate issues but I do see improvement there also. I used to get up every 2 hours at night, and after a year on this diet it is every 3 – 4 hours depending on how much water I drink before going to bed. I will be going to the doctor for a physical in a few weeks and will report cholesterol, triglycerides, and anything else of interest to the group when I get the results.

Lex Rooker’s journal is still publically available on-line and may be read here:

htstp://www.rawpaleodietforum.com/journals/lex’s-journal/

 

Zero Carb Interview: Keidren Devas

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

Almost a year now.

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

I remember as a child I was very sensitive and from an early age I had eczema, a plethora of environmental allergies and asthma, all of which I was on multiple medications for. I also had an extremely compromised immune system and always had seasonal bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia; it seemed I was always on antibiotics and at the doctor’s office. When I look back it’s a wonder I survived my childhood at all!

As a teenager I ate the common SAD and suffered from fatigue, weight gain, anxiety and depression…If only I had known at that time what I do now about healing the gut and eliminating carbs and sugar…my life experiences within the world would have been so very different!

Then onto college and the whole fat free trend had just started! So I jumped on that bandwagon, eating all the processed and fat free foods, basically a 100% full-on sugar diet.

Then I transferred out to the west coast, and I quickly realized there was another way to eat other than the SAD diet. I began to read about alternatives, I started eliminating processed foods, started eating whole foods learning about a macro diet and began working at a health store and learning about supplements and alternative ways of healing…this was a very pivotal time in my life and my health did get a little better, way better than it was on a SAD diet!

I started fasting, doing different cleanses, losing weight, etc. My quest in life had begun and that was to feel good, and since I have never felt good I was always seeking to feel better. I then became a vegetarian, then a vegan, with these new ways of eating I suffered from fatigue, feeling cold all the time, depression, anxiety, very low blood sugar, sugar cravings. I ate this way on up to when I had my first child at age 24.

The actual birth was fine, but my body would not produce milk (low serotonin as I know now) and I dealt with postpartum depression, etc. My second birth a year and a half later was the same.

I then became a single mom of two, suffering from stress, severe chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, super low immunity, low blood sugar, low basal body temp, getting a different virus every other week, and an aching body that hurt so bad it was hard for me to function (fibromyalgia). I did somehow function though and no one really knew the inside hell that I was in fact dealing with and feeling.

In my 30’s, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and low adrenals, I began to take thyroid meds for awhile and saw numerous natural doctors and tried so many natural remedies, as well as diving into my own studies, discovering and learning as much as I could about low thyroid, hypothalamus function, adrenal exhaustion, etc.

I then began working for a naturopath who was really into the Raw Food movement, so I decided to try this and ate a raw food diet for almost two years. My ailments did not go away really though, and I can see now that I was just under a constant sugar high, but I felt stuck and did not want to ever go back to the other ways that I had been eating.

I started then to have a lot of digestive issues and pain in my gut in the morning and fatigue after I ate breakfast. So I began researching healing the gut and things like the GAPS diet, etc. I will never forget the day a friend of mine offered me some bone broth, this was such a profound moment in my recovery. With the first sip, I could literally feel the nutrients filling my body from within, warming me and relieving my aches and pains instantly.

I then started researching bone broth and began drinking it daily, and started learning about the Paleo and Primal diets, and began the shift of incorporating some meat and cheese and eliminated grain, and began to eat low carb. I started feeling so much better, my body became warm, my energy increased, joint pain was diminished, my digestion improved, my blood sugar and mood swings improved dramatically. My immune system was still very low though and I still didn’t feel completely at my optimum.

Looking back I was still at this point a sugar addict, having small bits of dark chocolate at night and I was still eating veggies. Into about my ninth month of low carb/Paleo/Keto, my dear friend Sondra Rose who had been coaching me and who also was on the same way of eating, told me she was eliminating all carbs including veggies from her diet and was only eating meat and occasional cheese, and lots of fat.

My first reaction was no way could I do that! How could that even be healthy…but I quickly caught myself remembering that I still wasn’t feeling at my optimum and was just lately pondering what I needed to shift next. So with Sondra’s encouragement, I decided the next day to give it a try. If you want personal one-on-one assistance in making the transition to a Zero Carb diet, you can contact Sondra through her website: http://www.sondrarose.com

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

In the beginning during the adaptation period, I increased my fat intake, sodium and drank bone broth daily and that really helped ease my symptoms of sugar withdrawal. I experienced some mild fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps mostly.

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

A good friend of mine who is a nutritional coach and on this WOE. Also the Facebook group Principia Carnivora and this website Zero Carb Zen.

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

My daily intake consists of mostly ground beef, ribeye, tri tip steak, salmon, lots of eggs, small amounts of cheese/lard/chicken and LOADS of butter and occasionally bacon.

I drink only water, and I will occasionally mix gelatin with hot water to make a warm drink.

I keep it simple with protein and fat consistent.

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

85% Beef

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

Ground Beef I cook well done, but steaks I cook blue rare.

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

Sometimes I add extra butter or lactose free sour cream.

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

Both, I measured my daily intake for a few weeks, and now I just eye ball it.

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

No liver, just don’t like the taste, but I will eat hearts when I can get them fresh and local.

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

No, just Geletin powder now.

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

Three

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

14 to 20 ounces

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

Both

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

Just Gelatin powder in hot water.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, in my ground beef and salted butter.

17. Do you use spices?

Some in my ground beef only. Garlic powder and pepper.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Magnesium at night every other day, 10,000UI of Vit D daily.

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

About $400.

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

Eat your ground beef and shop sales and stock up.

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

My work is physical and also yoga, and plank twice daily

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.)

Literally after only ONE DAY of eliminating ALL veggies and all plant material, my whole being felt better. I was calm, peaceful, strong, and energized. I instantly lost 10 pounds of water retention, all inflammation vanished, and I began to witness my body becoming muscular and strong. My energy is completely even throughout the day and it doesn’t seem like a day goes by that someone doesn’t comment on how I look like I am 25 when in fact I am 41! My Immune system has never been stronger, and my body, mind and spirit have never felt this strong!

The biggest “Ah-Ha!” moment for me was realizing how sensitive I really was to sugar, all carbs, and the plant kingdom in general. I realized that this is what had been aggravating my health all those years. Any amount of plant foods is just too much for my system, plain and simple.

For the first time in my life I feel FREE, ALIVE, and full of LIFE! This way of eating has absolutely by far been a lifesaver and a life regained for me. I have been able to really reflect the last few months on how I used to be and feel, and cannot believe I made it through. I am so thankful to have discovered a Zero Carb, All-Meat Diet.

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

Simplicity and how I feel!

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

Yes, take it slow, trust your body. Increase your water, fat and sodium intake in the beginning. Read and ask questions for support and wisdom from the folks in the Principia Carnivora group.

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

Yes, my kids know to set the table for me always with a steak knife!
26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?

Yes, I have just recently had the opportunity to be of assistance and lend my guidance and wisdom to two beautiful women who were suffering from very similar health ailments from years of eating a plant based diet. They too felt stuck like I had and did not know how to move forward.

It felt so good to share with them all that has healed for myself since shifting my diet to ZC. It also gave me an opportunity to reflect and see how far I have come and remember all the ways I used to feel.

They were in fact the catalysts for helping me realize how important it is to share my health story to help others on their journey to optimal health!

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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.

 

Zero Carb Testimonial: Stephany

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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

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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.

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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.

imageDo 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!

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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.