Zero Carb Interview: Michaelanthony

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

Since September, 2017.

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

I stumbled into this way of eating during a severe bout of depression. It began in the middle of that month. At age 34, I had been living with major depressive disorder for at least two decades. Then my cat, who had been suffering with tumors, died at age 13.

To me, pets are family. So it was existentially painful to see him in that condition, let alone lose him. He was the first animal I took in myself, and he was a kitten. In a non-supernatural way, he was my familiar. He was and is a part of me.

My depression had been relatively manageable for some time at this point. I wasn’t down on myself, and never really had been. The depression I experienced was more like an Eeyore cloud over my heart, casting its shadow over every thought, every mood, and even every joy.

That period is a blur, but I remember about a week of barely eating. In retrospect, this was accidental fasting, which may have triggered ketosis. Within a couple of weeks, my appetite really started kicking in again. But instead of the usual desire for carbs, I craved fatty foods ― especially meat and cheese. Nothing else was appealing, and I had to eat something to prevent starvation. So I gave in.

At the beginning, I wasn’t following any kind of diet. For maybe another couple of weeks, I ate a lot of processed, but mostly animal-based foods: pepperoni, pasteurized cheddar, beef jerky. At some point, I started to feel a little better. That prompted me to search Google for the answer to something along the lines of, “Will eating fatty foods kill me?”

The first site I remember reading is Zero Carb Zen. Skimming through the information and interviews, I began my journey down this rabbit hole. Suddenly, my natural cravings pointed toward the potential for improved health! This was unexpected, but welcome news, and sparked the motivation that blossomed into my new life as a healthy carnivore.

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

Again, my adaptation period occurred during one of the most distressing periods of my life, so I can’t remember how long it took to transition. But I do know that by Halloween, just two months later, I was looking considerably slimmer and feeling great. By that time, I was on track as a fledgling carnivore.

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

Esmée La Fleur got me started with the concise information and interviews on Zero Carb Zen. This continues to be a valuable resource, especially for comparing experiences with other carnivores. This site helped me to establish a solid foundation of dietary habits.

Then I listened to the audiobook of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz. It blew my mind! Learning about the industry-obfuscated science and scandalous history of nutritional propaganda, I felt everything from excitement to outrage. It awakened my head and heart to the reality of diet and health in today’s dietary climate.

My next book was Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, by Gary Taubes. This fatter, more academic tome augmented my newfound commitment, saturating my brain with enough data to drown out any nagging doubts about my new lifestyle.

Those were the books that inspired my conversion. The two people who influenced me most were L. Amber O’Hearn and Dr. Shawn Baker. They are both highly pragmatic, and have distilled complex information that goes over my head into simple, straightforward messages. Amber has a way of clarifying the scientific nuances, while Dr. Baker reminds me to “Just eat a damn steak!”

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

For the first year and a half, I usually included eggs and dairy. I quickly slowed down with eggs when they began to upset my stomach. Even duck eggs make me nauseous after a couple.

I also enjoyed a lot of heavy cream near the beginning. Pasteurized dairy was less problematic for me as a carnivore, but still made me feel suboptimal.

I now eat grass-fed and raw dairy ― specifically, grass-fed butter and raw-milk cheese. Raw cheese was a revelation, as I’d always assumed I was sensitive to dairy. Turns out I was “allergic” to the unnatural results of pasteurization! Reintroducing cheese in its raw form has been wonderful on every level.

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

My diet is 75% to 90% beef. The rest is mostly seafood, and sometimes other meats like lamb. I rarely eat poultry.

I used to eat a lot of pork. But bacon was another migraine trigger, along with pork rinds. When I cut those out, I stopped eating pork altogether and felt even better.

I think that commercial pork and poultry can be risky, depending on the quality. Ruminant meats are much better for health, in my opinion. Even grain-finished!

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

This has changed a few times over the past couple of years, and depends greatly on the cooking method.

Deep frying was my favorite until Dr. Paul Saladino’s work convinced me to limit the advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formed when meat burns.

Now I seem to be gravitating toward slow-cooking, which has been a past favorite. The “wellness” is less defined in that case, but I try to keep the temperature and duration as low as possible.

At a good restaurant, I’ll order steaks rare.

When I eat grass-fed beef liver, it’s raw!

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

I’ve been adding grass-fed butter. When I was avoiding dairy, I used tallow.

It has become increasingly important to me to choose the highest-quality fats possible, especially when I can’t afford grass-finished meat.

One of my latest experiments has been to pair lean conventional meats with grass-fed fats.

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

I usually eat until satisfied. Fasting was a helpful practice for the first year. Now, I eat a few times a day, with two full-size meals on most days.

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

Every day, I eat up to about 4 ounces of raw, 100% grass-fed liver. In the past, this has been on and off. Now, it’s an essential part of my day.

I also enjoy beef heart, which I try to incorporate every so often.

I’m frequently on the hunt for other organ meats, and enjoy trying new ones. I recently tried tripe, which was good. Back when I was eating eggs, I enjoyed an occasional scramble with pork brains.

My increasing focus on nutrient density keeps me researching, shopping, and cooking my way from nose to tail. I prefer to eat grass-finished beef organs.

And while it’s not an organ, I have to mention salmon roe. If I could find it cheap, I’d eat it by the shovelful!

I think organ meats are essential for optimal health, and that most people who feel fine without them would feel even better with at least some daily liver.

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

I’ve never been a big soup guy, so I sneak bone broth into my meals through slow cooking. The meat is swimming in it! The result is more like a stew, and I get a bit of broth even if I just eat the meat.

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

I usually eat two meals per day. For a long time, it was basically lunch and dinner. More recently, I’ve been experimenting with breakfast. I may continue that and skip lunch instead.

I work overnight, so these meal names are relative!

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

I don’t measure my meals anymore, but probably average 2 to 2 ½ pounds of meat per day. That includes any organ meats and seafood. I rarely eat less, and sometimes eat much more!

I recently quit caffeine, and found that my hitherto suppressed appetite has been readjusting. That’s probably why breakfast is back in the picture!

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

Most of my meat is grain-finished. It fits my budget, and I enjoy the taste. However, I would prefer to support regenerative farming practices. For now, I am thriving on standard meats from supermarkets and butchers.

I have tried one full week of meat and dairy exclusively from grass-fed, pastured beef. I found it fulfilling, but also found my wallet emptying!

Both grass-finished and conventional meats feel healthy to me. However, I consistently include grass-fed fats to support and benefit from healthier farming as much as possible.

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

I only drink water: tap, purified, sparkling, and spring.

Coffee tended to upset my stomach. I used to take a caffeine supplement instead, but decided to remove that final plant toxin from my diet altogether.

I also enjoyed tea, especially oolong. However, it gave me congestion that began as a sniffle and eventually made it difficult to breathe. As a carnivore, it was relatively easy to single out this otherwise unsuspicious element.

I experienced a similar problem years ago and figured it was an environmental allergy. Thanks to experts like Sally Norton and Drs. Georgia Ede and Paul Saladino, I understand that it was probably due to the oxalates and other phytochemicals accumulating in my body.

Within about a day of quitting caffeine entirely, my mind and emotions were already calmer. My energy was almost the same. By day three, I wondered why I ever “needed” it! Caffeine is a plant-based, neurotoxic pesticide, and I’m glad to be done with it.

16. Do you use salt? 

I use and enjoy plenty of sea salt, but avoid table salt.

17. Do you use spices?

For over a year, I did use spices in my carnivorous diet. The last to go were curry and cayenne pepper. Eliminating them was part of a slow recognition of the potential dangers of ingesting any plant material, including spices.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I don’t supplement with anything, but seek out sources of micronutrients in meat, seafood, and spring water. The natural balance of bioavailable vitamins and minerals in actual food is far superior, in my opinion. I would only supplement in a medically-diagnosed emergency, and that has not been necessary!

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

I think I spend about $200 per month on food. It varies, but I find carnivory much more affordable than omnivory!

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

I think it’s already affordable to be a carnivore. People spend way more than they realize on fruits and veggies that spoil, all kinds of snacks, and even coffee! Anyone interested in carnivory can probably afford something healthier than the food they’re buying today. Even if it is more expensive, you’re choosing to pay with either your wallet or your health.

With that said, I do have a few practical tips:

1. Eat the meat that brings you pleasure and health without breaking the bank. If necessary, seek out sales. A great resource is https://www.mygrocerydeals.com/.

2. Organ meats can be an acquired taste, but are often more affordable and nutrient-dense. Eat some liver, save some money, and feel even healthier! Even grass-finished organs are priced lower than the muscle meat, so that’s a good way to sneak in some small-farm goodness on the cheap.

3. Walk around! Meet your local butcher, check the other shops, and talk to people. You may find unlisted bargains, discover new stores, and unlock secret menus. Regardless, you’re getting exercise! You can’t lose.

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

Since I dislike gyms and find long exercise sessions boring, I just try to stay active in daily life. I walk briskly through New York City, taking the sunny side of the street when possible. Almost every day, I walk for at least two hours. At work, I take the stairs most of the time, avoiding the elevators. On my days off, one of my favorite activities is yet more walking! According to my smartwatch, I average well over 10,000 steps per day.

Other than that, I’ll take an occasional spin on my little rowing machine, play with weights or resistance bands, or experiment with other exercises.

I’m interested in heavy weights, and plan to start lifting heavier at home when I can find and afford the right setup. But my current physique suits my needs perfectly. The rest is for experimentation and optimization.

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.)

This could be its own interview! For the sake of brevity, I’ll list as many conditions I’ve overcome as I can remember:

Obesity
Major Depressive Disorder
Pre-Diabetes
High Triglycerides
Hypothyroidism
Knee Pain
Seasonal Allergies
Frequent Colds
Tooth Sensitivity/Decay
Halitosis
Athlete’s Foot
Excessive Sweating

While I can’t prove that carnivory cured all of the above, I have either reversed or kept these conditions from returning by eating meat and avoiding plant foods.

I started this lifestyle at over 230 pounds and a waist over 40 inches wide. My height is about five feet and ten inches. My appearance didn’t bother me much, but I was very heavy and had a huge gut. Now I average just under 160 pounds, and the waist under my unprecedented six-pack is 10 inches smaller! All with nearly no loose skin.

My weight loss was accompanied by an elevated mood and many other improvements that I now attribute to decreased inflammation. From clinical depression to the common cold, I am now free of inflammatory maladies that aren’t usually recognized as such. Along with others that are, such as the knee pain I experienced from my mid-twenties until I healed at 34. Going on 36, I feel younger than I did as a teenager!

Since going carnivore, I haven’t caught a single cold! That’s one of the most surprising benefits for me. It could probably still happen, but hasn’t yet! In the past, I had them all the time, and they tended to last a week or more. What a difference! Now I don’t even worry when someone sneezes nearby.

Carnivory has been very good to me!

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

My favorite aspect of Zero Carb is its roots in ancestral living.

As I continue to learn more, I am increasingly convinced that this diet is healthy precisely because we evolved to eat animals, with the flexibility to resort to plants as backup foods or medicine.

Humans are animals, too, and this lifestyle brings me closer to that truth on every level. Other animals seem to know who they are. It’s time for humans to catch up. I feel the carnivore movement can help to get us there again. Even if we just serve as an example.

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

Enjoy yourself! It can be hard to believe that some of our favorite “naughty” foods are actually healthy. It can be even harder to admit that plant-based foods and beverages, ubiquitous and upheld as the saviors of mankind, may be inherently toxic! But if you really give this a proper try, chances are something good will happen. One symptom will probably clear before you know it. Then another. And another, until you see improvements where you didn’t even know you had a problem! This happens every day to all types of new human carnivores with many different conditions.

My one caveat is that an adaptation phase may be necessary. I was too severely depressed to notice any transitional symptoms, but you might not feel great right away. I have learned that this may be due to oxalate dumping and other processes by which the body eliminates stored plant toxins. If you eat a lot of plant foods, or even drink a lot of tea, you might need to decrease your intake gradually. Otherwise, you might feel terrible at first! Sally Norton explains this best.

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

Friends, family, and co-workers have been very supportive for the most part. At first, their concerns ping-ponged between my rapid weight loss and all that red meat. But I’ve kept the weight off and continued to look and feel healthier. Now the naysayers are silent while others ask me for advice!

Luckily, I haven’t experienced any extreme reactions to my lifestyle. When disagreements arise, I don’t argue or debate. This stuff didn’t make sense to me at first, either!

Everyone has to learn the truth about nutrition at their own pace. Especially in a world that tells us to eat those deceptively toxic veggies for good health, but also to “live a little” with processed junk that provides fleeting entertainment while slowly killing us.

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

I could go on forever, so I’ll stop here. But I will say that sharing our stories is the most important thing we can do as carnivory establishes itself amid this “Beyond Meat” madness.

Zero Carb Zen was central to my transformation and continues to aid my personal research. It feels good to share my story here, and I encourage others to continue doing the same wherever the opportunity arises. One story at a time, we are changing each other’s lives!

You can follow Michaelanthony’s Zero Carb journey via his YouTube channel. In this video, he shares how the diet has profoundly affected his mind for the better:

 

Zero Carb Interview: Jennifer Dodds

Jennifer Before & After her weight loss journey, using both a standard low carb diet and then a zero carb diet.

1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb diet?

Over three years now, I started  April 23, 2015.

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

My entire life I was morbidly obese. I remember being very young at the doctor, maybe kindergarten checkup, my mother was asking about my weight. He told her to watch my portions and I would grow into it. Growing up, we tried everything!  Portion control, Slim Fast while I was still in daycare, Fen-Phen in middle and high school, Atkins, low fat, food pyramid, diabetic, just everything. I saw dietitians multiple times and followed their plans as well but I was never successful and never  was able to stick to anything  very long. 

By the time I was 15, I weighed 350 lbs. I  was a type two diabetic with migraines, PCOS, depression, and social anxiety. I would count every single carb, exercise, take my medications and was on insulin. I did all of this and my blood sugar was still out of control with readings in the 2-300’s sometimes higher. It was bad. After I graduated high school and I was more on my own, I ignored it all together. I also ballooned up to 420+ lbs. I wanted to have gastric bypass but insurance wouldn’t approve and I needed to lose weight for them to even consider me. I’m not exactly sure what happened then, but I just started losing weight without trying. I had my appendix removed and after that I steadily lost, but my blood sugars remained out of control. I did eventually diet again and got myself down to around 250 lbs. by my late 20’s, mostly by watching carbohydrate intake. 

Then an accident that nearly took my life really shook my world. I remember very little of the following years besides highlights, like getting married and buying our house. I slept nearly all the time, ate what was convenient and gained back 75 pounds of what I had lost. Then in January of 2015, weighing in at 325 lbs. after two days of no food and cleaning my bowels out, I had surgery to remove a fibroid from my uterus. It was a rough surgery. I lost a considerable amount of blood and it took a lot longer than anticipated. Afterwards I was just sick. I needed multiple blood transfusions. I had a home health nurse coming in to pack my huge open wound. She was putting a roll and a half of gauze in my abdomen every day! I wasn’t healing at all.  

Then the bad news hit. As I was lying on a trauma table in the local ER, where I had to meet my OB for him to clean my wound, he told me that the pathology had come back from my fibroid. He was wrong, it was a tumor. He explained that it was called a STUMP tumor and that it was very rare. STUMP stands for smooth muscle tumor of uncertain malignant potential. In other words, it is cancer without quite being cancer.  And because it is so rare they haven’t done much research on it. Laying there looking up at those bright lights, after all I had been through I just lost it. He says quit crying  Dodds!  Your going to live!  

A week later my husband and I made the trek to the oncology department two hours away. His news was just as grim. There is no way my OB could have gotten all of the cells from the tumor and I would have to have my uterus removed. I was devastated!   always thought that someday I would be a mother  I called my OB on the way home and he came on the phone and told me that having my uterus removed was my decision to make. That it was ok to ask questions and research before I made a final decision. So that’s exactly what I did!  

My aunt had a friend who had lived decades with cancer. I started researching and I decided that the best thing I could do for myself was to get rid of all sugar. So I started with a low carb high fat diet sometime in February of 15. But I could not get my blood sugars where I wanted them to be. I think it was around this time that I found Esmee’s website Zero Carb Zen and began reading all the information here. I was doing an egg fast when I decided to never go back to carbohydrates. And that’s it. Something clicked. It only took a few days and I knew this was the magic key I had been searching for my whole life! I had never felt satisfied before, and now I was. On a carb-based diet, I was always full, but still hungry! I was morbidly obese, and yet malnourished. 

Jennifer’s mother, little sister, and herself when she was about 6 years old.

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

It was still a serious mental struggle. Overcoming a lifetime of using food as comfort in every situation isn’t easy. I didn’t realize just how much I ate in social situations like family parties. I just ate constantly because of nerves! I remember having a panic attack and wondering what the heck was going on and it was because I wasn’t allowing myself to eat for comfort that evening. The physical adaptation was a lot quicker than the mental, probably 6 months initially although I continue to heal. Mental adaptation took a lot longer, probably a full year. Lifetime mental habits are hard to break. I still look in the fridge whenever I walk into my parent’s house!

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

I remember reading the Anderson Family interview, probably sometime in late 2014. I had already resolved myself to lose weight before I went in for surgery and was already doing some research on how to fix my hormones. I remember thinking, low carb yes, but there is no way that can be healthy! Like what I was doing to myself was healthy! I remember finding Esmee’s website fairly early on in my journey. I also read about Owsley Stanley (a.k.a. “The Bear”) and Vilhjalmur Stefansson. If you’re reading  this with the same skepticism I had, one month isn’t going to hurt you! Give it a try!

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

It has varied over the years. I ditched the eggs fairly early on. I did try and add them back in a couple of times. I even tried fresh from the farm eggs, and yolks only, but my body still reacts. I was eating butter, bacon and occasionally cheese for about a year until I realized they were contributing to my headaches. For the first six months or so, it was all fare game! Then naturally over time, I went to beef only. At first, I was fine with ground beef, even frozen beef patties. Now my husband calls me a “meat snob” because I will only eat fatty, fresh beef. I will eat leftovers if absolutely necessary but they have to be made from super fresh beef and eaten the next day.  If I am going on a day trip, I cook my meat let it cool then vacuum seal it. But only if I’m going to be eating it the next day.

Jennifer as a teenager with her little sister.

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

100%

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

Very rare. I sear my meat then put it in the oven at 270 degrees until warm through, the opposite works too. Lately, I have been eating a bite or two raw. I like it, it tastes very sweet! But I’m not quite ready to eat a full meal like that!

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

Not currently, but I have been toying with the idea of finding a constant source of beef trimmings. The meat around here seems to be getting more and more lean and I have been hungry.

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

I eat until satisfied, but I do realize when I am eating more than I should and then try to see if there is a reason. I typically eat only once a day unless I feel I am truly hungry.

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

No, but I  do enjoy it. There is something in it called tyramine which can cause increase in pressure and the brain and lead to headaches for some people. I realized I was reacting to beef liver as well as cheese and bacon because of the tyramine.

Jennifer and her little sister as young adults.

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

No, I have never liked it.

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

One, sometimes two. I do really well on one meal a day unless my pain is flared up, then I tend to eat more.

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

 I’d say roughly 2 lbs. Some days it’s a lot more, some a lot less.  I eat to hunger.

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

Regular grocery store meat. I am interested to see what locally raised beef would do for me, but that is costly!

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

I only drink water. We purchased a reverse osmosis filtration system for under the sink. I was seeing an oily surface on my drinking water and when you boil it there was a lot of sediment. My husband drinks coffee and I was having to clean the build up on the coffee pot nearly every week. I noticed a difference as soon as I quit drinking the tap water and my husband also noticed a difference! I did have a couple brief flings with coffee that turned out bad for me. If you haven’t tried giving it up yet, I highly suggest it!

Jennifer’s little sister and herself after they had both lost significant weight on a very low carb diet.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, I have several different kinds of salts I use! My favorite is grey Celtic sea salt. I also use pink Hawaiian and have some others.  

17. Do you use spices?

No.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K and small amounts of calcium and vitamin C

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

Roughly $200-$250

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

I managed to find a source of whole New York Strip for $3-4/ lb. That is what I have been eating lately. Otherwise it is the fattiest chuck roast I can find.

My husband eats what I call “Crappy Keto,” so here is what I have found to keep it less expensive. Chicken thighs are $.99 a lb on average. I cut the bone out and fry them skin side down in bacon grease till brown and crispy. They are the best! I always have chicken thighs ready to go in the fridge.

Liver is super cheap and is packed with nutrients.

Chuck roast tends to be the best priced beef with good fat and fries up good in chunks. I buy a couple big roasts and cut it into strips.

Salting beforehand also makes cheaper cuts more tender and flavorful.

If you have an Aldi’s, it is your friend!

Get yourself a vacuum sealer and buy when sales are good. Summer sales are great for doing this! Meat prices tend to go up in January when everyone is trying to “diet.” Then I tend to only find lean meats on sale and what I really prefer is super expensive. That is when the frozen stuff comes in handy.

Make friends with the dairy/deli/meat department!  They will sell you the past date stuff super cheep!  

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

I have physical therapy routines that I have to do in order to keep moving but nothing strenuous. I also do a bit of light yoga. I also walk quite a bit but not as much as I feel I should. 

Jennifer today after a total weight loss of 270 lbs.!

22. What benefits have you experienced since beginning a Zero Carb diet? (i.e. recovery from illness, overall health, body composition, exercise performance, hormonal, mental or psychological, etc.) 

I noticed improvement in the time it takes wounds to heal and I just don’t pick up bacteria and viruses like everyone else. 

I do still occasionally have seasonal allergies but nothing like before.  

After my surgery, I went through three months of little to no improvement and being on constant antibiotics. But within a week of switching to Zero Carb, both my home care nurse and I noticed a huge difference in the healing of my incision. The infection cleared up soon after.  

Zero carb also made my blood sugars steady for the first time and got rid of the estrogen dominance that had plagued me my entire life.  

It took quite a few months for my weight to go down. I even gained back 10 pounds of what I had lost between surgery and my time on a low carb high fat diet.  In fact, it was a good six months before I started to see steady weight loss. But now I am down to 150 lbs. which is 270 lbs. less than my all-time high of 420 lbs. I do, however, still have a fair amount of excess skin to deal with, but I am not surprised since I was so over weight all my life.

I also suspect I have a connective tissue disorder holding me back. After two severe traumas to my head and neck, I have developed some pretty severe symptoms that have continued to increase. I have been diagnosed with Arnold Chiari malformation and told that I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome of the head and neck. But I suspect otherwise and am sending my information to yet another specialist. But I am still trying my best in physical therapy and at home to avoid any serious surgery. 

Before I lost the weight, it was hard to find a doctor who would take my symptoms seriously. I heard from most of them that I simply needed to lose weight and that my MRIs were completely normal — which they weren’t. (Side tip: always ask for the report and a CD of any tests you have done.)  

Well, it’s really sad, but since I have lost the excess body fat, the doctors are taking me and my symptoms more seriously. Ironically, though, some of them are now trying to blame my symptoms on the weight loss itself! As far as I’m concerned, I still don’t have an accurate diagnosis, but I feel we’re closer than ever to figuring it out. I will say that a Zero Carb diet has helped tremendously with chronic pain, by eliminating practically all of the inflammation. If not for this, I don’t know how I would have coped. 

During the year and a half following my surgery, I went through a time of severe anxiety and stress. My Zero Carb way of eating was a constant in my life that I could hold on to. It was a way for me to control at least some part of my body when the rest of it seemed so totally out of control. Even though my physical problems often make it hard to think and remember things, Zero Carb provides a clarity in my mind and spirit, like a fog has been lifted from me. Also, I find it much easier to calm myself when I do start to feel some anxiety. Through Zero Carb, I feel that I have come more fully into who I truly am.

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

The freedom!  All my life I felt trapped, not only by my own body, but by the food I ate. I am no longer constantly hungry. I see food for what it truly is, fuel not entertainment.

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

Prepare your food ahead of time. Have snacks on hand like cooked bacon. The time I spent eating a very low carb diet before I started a Zero Carb diet really helped the transition both mentally and physically. Mentally, I was able to see that even on a very low carb diet I wasn’t able to control my eating, even with such strict rules. Physically, I was able to transition from a standard American diet to a very low carb diet to a Zero Carb diet slowly, in stages, making it  a little less jarring to my system. Find a good support system. Even though I was a lurker for the most part, and rarely posted comments, I was a passive participant in various Zero Carb groups on Facebook that kept me going.

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

I believe so!  They have all seen me struggle my entire life with my weight and health, and now they are really happy for me.

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

Do your best to get off of any medications you are taking. One medication I had been taking for years I finally ditched and lost 30 lbs. very quickly. I continued with another and messed up my stomach and digestion. It is healing now that I have stopped it, but I was making myself miserable in the meantime. If you have any chronic health problems, a Zero Carb diet is an excellent way to help yourself  get a grasp of what is truly going on. It helped me connect to my body and truly understand it in ways I have never experienced before.  

Jennifer and her husband who follows a low carbohydrate diet and has also lost a significant amount of weight.

If you are interested in connecting with other like-minded carnivores, please join us in our Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Jeremy Bryant

Jeremy displaying his physical prowess!

Editor’s note: “Jeremy Bryant” is a pseudonym because the interviewee prefers to remain anonymous.

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

Between 3 and 4 years, I’m not exactly sure of my start date. My current WOE evolved from my early experiments with a ketogenic diet.

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

I was interested in increasing my athletic performance and improving my body composition.

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

It took only about 2 weeks to make the physical adaptations, since I had already been consuming mostly meat on a ketogenic diet for 2 years prior to going zero carb.

Psychological adaptation was similar, once I realized how much better I felt it was easy to stick with it.

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

Book – The Fat of the Land

People – Gary Taubes, The Bear

There are others but I can’t for the life of me remember their names, many informative YouTube presentations.

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

I include eggs, cheese, and heavy cream.

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

Close to 70% beef.

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

Very rare.

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

Yes, whenever possible, usually bacon fat

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

Eat until satisfied, sometimes I’ll go up to 12 hours or so fasted, then eat until full. I eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m satiated.

The remnants of a juicy, rare prime rib steak.

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

I have before, but not many times and not on a regular basis.

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

I love it when it’s around, but do not generally go out of my way to acquire it.

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

1 – 2

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

Usually between 1.5 to 3 lbs

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

Grass fed and finished whenever possible.

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

Decaf coffee, decaf/herbal teas.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, regularly.

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, regularly.

An easy meal of salami and cheese.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No.

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

$400 to $800 dollars, but I go out to eat nearly every day. When I worked less and had time to cook for myself, I was usually sub $500 a month.

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

Buy in bulk and cut steaks yourself, be on the look out for sales.

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

Daily vigorous activity for 1 to 2 hours, as well as a physically demanding job 6 days a week.

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.)

Acne and pimples have greatly diminished.

Body composition has improved significantly, with literally zero change to my level of activity.

Able to go long stretches of fasting with little-to-no hunger.

Reduction in anxiety.

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

I love the simplicity! Makes grocery shopping a breeze.

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

Drink TONS of water. I’ve found that my body seems to require a higher level of hydration to avoid muscle cramps and mood issues/irritability.

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

They aren’t exactly supportive, but they’ve come around. I don’t generally make a point of explaining myself to them. If they don’t like it, tough cookies.

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

Not that I can think of.

Thanks for everything you do for us! Glad I could help with the questionnaire!

One of Jeremy’s favorite go-to meals of stirred beef and chicken.

If you are interested in connecting with other carnivores, please join us in our Facebook group Principia Carnivora.

 

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: Heather Crimson

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

I began Zero Carb May 15th, 2015 after reading articles on your website.

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

I’ve had health issues most of my life, primarily GI, and later weight, hormonal, mood and sleep issues among others. I’ve always been searching for something to help me feel better, but this is the first thing that has actually made a significant difference. I ate the macrobiotic diet from 1992-1996, and I think that’s what really compromised my gut function and set me on a path of problems for many years. I’ve tried so many other “diets,” too, such as Weston A. Price, the Zone, Blood Type, and even raw food vegan… I just kept searching and trying different things and refused to give up and eat the SAD (Standard American Diet).

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

It took me quite a long time–at least a year. It was very rough for me as far as digestion goes. I think because of the dysbiosis/irritable bowel/SIBO issues I’ve had for such a long time, my gut was in transition for months. I had tended towards constipation with the SIBO, and during the transition, I tended the towards the opposite, so that was pretty stressful with work, etc. At this point, my gut is very calm and I don’t worry about bathroom issues any more at all. Psychologically, I am usually fine now, but I do still struggle occasionally at times such as during holidays and I miss going out to eat sometimes, but it is definitely losing its appeal over time.

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

My biggest resource has been your website Esmee website was my number one inspiration, and the Principia Carnivora Facebook group you help to moderate. When I have time, I’d like to read the books recommended on your Resources page here on your website and in the group.

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

I began with meat plus eggs and cheese and sometimes cream. I realized over time, though, that I do not tolerate dairy well (I think I was in denial here, as I suspected this for a while, but dairy is very alluring), so I recently completed 30 days water and beef only, and I really felt even better on this regimen. It’s hard because I like pork and dairy, but I find they are too trigger craving and don’t digest as well as beef.

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

I mostly eat just ground beef and steaks now, so I’d say 90% beef and 10% occasional sausage and bacon and eggs. The exception would be butter for dairy as it doesn’t seem to bother me.

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

I like my beef medium rare. Sometimes I’ll eat raw hamburger if I’m traveling and can’t cook or don’t have time to cook. I don’t mind it at all, but I tend to like the taste of cooked more. Raw steak isn’t as appealing as raw ground beef.

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

Since I buy fattier ground beef (80/20), I don’t usually add butter. I do add butter to steak. I also like to eat extra lightly cooked beef fat along with steak.

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 eat liver about once a month. I prefer chicken liver but I’ll eat beef, too. I recently felt weak and had a strong craving for liver, so I ate a pound of chicken liver and immediately felt much better! I really try to follow my body’s messages.

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

I love bone broth and had made it for over 15 years, but I’ve noticed since becoming ZC that I do not tolerate it well, and I think it’s because of the histamine content, even when cooked in the Instant Pot for under an hour. I keep trying every so often to see if I tolerate it better because I do think it could be helpful for healing my gut.

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

I eat about two meals per day. I am moving towards one per day which I would prefer to give my gut a break and just have less hassle of cooking, but I can’t eat enough in one meal yet to go that long.

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

I typically eat one medium-large hamburger patty and one steak with butter per day.

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

I’d prefer grass-fed, but it’s too expensive for me to eat daily, so I mostly eat “hormone-free” that’s not 100% grass-fed.

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

I drink only water. I don’t tolerate coffee at all–it makes me feel ill! I quit drinking tea altogether because it’s high in fluoride. I was never a big tea or milk drinker anyway.

16. Do you use salt?

I do use salt. I have always had too low of blood pressure, so salt helps me with that.

17. Do you use spices?

I like a little bit of pepper and will use a drop or two of hot sauce a couple times per week.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take different supplements experimentally targeting specific issues. Currently, I’m taking DIM for hormonal issues. I used to take digestive enzymes regularly but now I find I do not need them at all. I plan to try the iodine protocol soon as I sense it will be helpful for me with a number of issues including insomnia, digestion, thyroid function and hormone balance. I don’t eat much seafood at all because it’s very expensive in California to get good quality.

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

Probably around $250.

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

Unfortunately, I don’t! i don’t feel comfortable shopping at certain bargain stores and buying the cheapest meat possible; sometimes I wish I did, but I doubt that will happen unless I fall upon hard times and am forced to. If I had more money, I’d probably just buy half a cow since I have a used stand up freezer.

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

I used to exercise regularly before I got chronic fatigue beginning around 2007. I used to jog and hike and ride a bike, but my energy crashed and I could barely walk up my office stairs without getting winded at the worst point. It was awful and I couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with me. I thought I was just depressed. I tried seeing many different health practitioners, experimented with many different diets (GAPS for 1.5 years; SCD; Ray Peat, etc.). I thought I’d always eaten fairly healthy for so many years, how could I become so debilitated? I believe stress was what contributed to this decline in my health, as I had a lot of challenging experiences over a several year period. The crash led to a 40lb. weight gain, fatigue and weakness, debilitating insomnia, increased hormonal imbalance, and a lot of brain fog, all of which led to even more stress. I had always been quite thin before this, so the weight gain was a major challenge for me physically and psychologically and I never was able to reconcile with it which made me feel even worse!

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.)

It has been a slow healing process for me because even though I didn’t have a major illness like diabetes (yet), my gut was so debilitated that it caused me many different issues and overall ill health. I was usually very bloated for hours after eating, had a lot of pain in my gut at times, gas, constipation, all the typical GI problems. Now, I am never bloated, have hardly any gas at all, and go to the bathroom with ease! It is such a relief to not have to feel so uncomfortable and worry about my gut looking like I’m six months pregnant!

I used to have to take sleep medication or several OTC meds just to sleep until 4-5am, and sometimes even those didn’t work and I’d often be up for two to three hours in the middle of the night. Now, I just take one or two OTC and sleep all night. I hope that by next year, I can sleep through the night with NO meds!

I no longer have chronic muscle pain and soreness in my neck and back. I no longer have joint pain that used to occur often. My skin has improved–the severe flushing from histamine intolerance has disappeared and I have less acne. The chronic nasal drip has greatly decreased. The debilitating dysmenorrhea I had all my life has gone. There are other hormonal issues now because of peri-menopause, but I think they’ll continue to improve now that I’m ZC. The eczema I always had a touch of is completely gone. I also experience less anxiety.

Additionally, I lost 35 lbs. which has been a huge relief for me: I can now walk with ease whereas before I felt very encumbered. I don’t’ have blood sugar imbalance any more and can go for up to eight hours without eating and be totally fine. I can walk a little more vigorously, but more intense exercise will take more time for me.

There’s probably more things that I’ve forgotten since it’s been a while now. All I know is that I am so grateful for these improvements and feeling like when I was younger, that I don’t see myself ever going back to eating carbs. I would just go back to feeling horrible; it doesn’t make sense and is just not worth it.

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

The simplicity and ease, the satiety, and the freedom it gives me to not feel like I’m a slave to cooking.

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

The most important factor for me was patience–it took me over a year to go through the transition due to my severe gut issues. So, you may not know what the positive benefits will be until you give it as much time as your body needs, not how much time you think it needs. I’ve really learned to follow my body’s intuitive sense of what it does and doesn’t need, whereas before I looked more outward for information. It’s all there inside me already!

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

Yes, my husband is very supportive although he’s not interested in it for himself. My friends are very supportive as well. I actually don’t hesitate to tell people at all that I only eat meat as it works best for my digestion. After all I’ve been through and all the suffering of my poor gut, I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore!

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

I am so grateful for your website Esmée! If I’d not come across it, I don’t know where I’d be healthwise right now.

 

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 Interview: Liz Spencer


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Liz after 1 year of Zero Carb.

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

Officially my start date was April 1, 2015 but I had been eating pretty much zero carb for months before I had heard there was a word for that.

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

Both. I had a lot of weight to lose and my health was horrible. I applied for disability due to a long laundry list of health problems.

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

It was a slow process getting to Zero Carb. I started by just cutting out one thing at a time like sugar and bread, and then very slowly lowering my carbs per day so I never had any physical symptoms like Keto Flu. Psychologically it was a bit harder since I live with 5 other adults who are major carb addicts. Every time I walk into the kitchen I have to walk past a whole counter covered with candy, pastries, pies and bread. It was hard at first but once I was zero carb the cravings went away. Now I walk past them with no problem.

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

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes was a really good book, but mostly I read a lot of websites.

My Zero Carb Life
http://myzerocarblife.jamesdhogan.com/wp/

Zero Carb Zen
https://zerocarbzen.com/

Zero Carb Health
http://www.zerocarbhealth.com/

Bad Ass Carnivore
http://badass-carnivore.com/

Empirica
http://www.empiri.ca/

These are all sites I enjoy.

Facebook groups are also great for daily support.

Principia Carnivora https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrincipiaCarnivora/

Zeroing in on Health
https://www.facebook.com/groups/zioh2/

No Carbs LCHF
https://www.facebook.com/groups/NoCarbsLCHF/

Principia Fibromyalgia (for Zero Carbers with Fibromyalgia) https://www.facebook.com/groups/645650578871443/

Liz before beginning her Low to Zero Carb journey.


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

I started with meat, eggs, chicken, fish, butter, cheese, and cream. I had a serious sour cream addiction! Slowly I started eating more meat and less chicken and fish. I cut out the dairy after about 5 months. Now I’m down to meat, eggs and butter.

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

I eat about a pound of beef a day, 4 eggs and about 8 slices of bacon. So about half.

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

I would like to eat it rare but I don’t trust the cheap Walmart ground beef I have to buy due to budget constraints so I cook it well done.

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

Sometimes I’ll add butter if I have an urge, but not often. I do like my eggs dripping in butter though.

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

I eat till I’m full, no limit, though I really can’t eat much at once.

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

I like liver so I’ll sneak it in once a week. I only limit it because one of the people I live with hates the smell of it.

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

Nope, too much trouble to make.

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

I usually eat 3 since I can’t eat much at once. Otherwise I wouldn’t get enough food per day.

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

About pound of beef and about 8 slices of bacon per day.

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

I really wish I could afford to eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat but I’m on a really tight budget so its Walmart Ground beef for me.

Liz before beginning her Low to Zero Carb journey with her parents and sisters. Liz is on the far left in red.

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

I drink a lot of herbal tea and I am slowly weaning myself off coffee, so within a month no coffee.

15. Do you use salt?

Oh yes! It’s my last addiction. I tried to quit salt, but nope, I just can’t right now.

16. Do you use spices?

Pepper on my eggs and some steak seasoning on my ground beef.

17. Do you take any supplements?

Only when I have been exposed to someone sick. I’ll take vit. D, C, K and zinc.

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

Just under $200.

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

I use high fat ground beef instead of steaks, and I eat eggs every day.

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

No. When I started I could hardly walk 1/8 of a mile and I had to use the electric carts in the grocery stores to shop. Even without exercising I’m getting stronger and my stamina is increasing. I am trying to move around more though. Since I’ve lost 50 pounds it has gotten much easier to move my body. I’m pushing myself to do a little more each day.

21. What benefits have you experienced since beginning a Zero Carb diet? (i.e. recovery from illness, overall health, body composition, exercise performance, hormonal, mental or psychological, etc.)

I guess I should tell you I was a complete mess in 2013. I was 100 pounds overweight. I had Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Peripheral edema, Depression and Anxiety, Severe PMS, Migraines, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Irritable bowel syndrome. Basically, I felt like Crap!

I did a long, slow transition from low carb to very low carb to zero carb, so it’s hard to remember exactly what happened when.

I started low carb in early 2013. My focus was just weight loss since I never thought I could heal all my issues. I lost weight pretty quick at first, going from 225 down to 200 in early 2014. (Ya, that’s fast for me.)

Then the weight loss slowed down, but I noticed other things happening like my High Blood Pressure normalized and I was able to go off HBP meds. Additionally, the Migraines, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome slowly Improved and went away.

I freely admit that I fell off the wagon frequently those first couple of years. I was going through a divorce after 28 years of marriage, and I had to move in with my parents. So, I was a tad bit stressed.

Then menopause hit, the weight loss slowed even more, and – oh boy! – the hot flashes, but at least there was no more PMS!

By the beginning 2015 I had transitioned to very low carb. I noticed that I wasn’t as tired as usual, but I was still having problems with Fibromyalgia, Peripheral Edema, Depression and Anxiety.

In Late March of 2015, I found the Facebook group “Zeroing In On Health.” I was pretty much already Zero Carb with rare exceptions, so I decided that I might as well go the whole distance.

I officially started Zero Carb on April 1, 2015. That’s when I really noticed the big changes. Over the first 6 months my Fibromyalgia pain, Depression and Anxiety slowly faded and I was able to move more easily.

In the last 3 months, I have been able to go shopping without using the electric carts that they have in the stores. I feel human again!

In early January of 2016, I didn’t take my HCTZ for my Peripheral Edema for a couple of days, and my feet and ankles didn’t swell up into huge sausages! I’m slowly weaning off of it now too.

I’m currently down to 172 pounds, and I actually feel some muscles under that last 50 pounds of fat I want to lose. I feel so much stronger now and I’m actually looking for a job! I’m have been helping my parents out at their office for free. It’s quite a work out filing and lifting boxes. But I can work!!!!

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

It’s so filling that I never feel hungry. I can also go longer between meals if I have to without feeling hungry and weak.

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

Read everything you can get your hands on about it. Start slow. Don’t give up. If you fall off the wagon, just jump back on. Don’t tell anyone unless you have to. They will just look at you like your crazy then lecture you about health. You can tell people once you have been doing it for a while and have results you can show them.

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

They are now. At first they thought I was crazy, but they can see how much weight I’ve lost and how much healthier I am now. Unfortunately I still have to walk past their junk food constantly.

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

Nope.

Liz today!

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Please visit my “Interviews” page linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other long time 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.