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.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Michael Frieze

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Michael cooking up some crab legs.

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

I started eating a low carbohydrate diet in 2010. I was aware of the all-meat diet, but I didn’t think I wanted to go that far with it at first. I tried the all-meat diet a few times in 2010, but I failed to stick with it. However, I was still not feeling well on a low carbohydrate diet, so in 2011 I tried the all-meat diet again and have been following it successfully ever since.

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

I did not have much of a weight issue. At one point in my life, I did weigh 180 pounds and that was big for me. I was always able to lose the weight pretty easy. I worked a lot and that kept the weight off of me pretty well I think. What motivated me was my health. I have had to deal with asthma every since I could remember. I would last about 2 days before I had to use an inhaler or take a breathing treatment. Pneumonia was always a big fear for me, because the last time it almost killed me when I was about 14 years old. Allergies was another issue that I always had to deal with. Everyday my eyes would swell up and my nose would run. My head would always hurt and my body just felt bad. I noticed vitamin C helped my asthma, but it was temporary. A low carbohydrate diet made me feel better than I ever felt, but I felt drained on it and still had these issues to some degree. Finally, after some time on an all-meat diet, all of that was no longer a part of my life. It made it real easy to stick to this diet after I made it a few months and noticed how much better my life was. It is like living a completely new life with a new set of lungs. I can run for miles and still breathe properly. My nose rarely runs and I only get a cold a couple of times per year. I never get that sick, and – when I do get sick – it only lasts for a short period of time. I used to always be sick! I noticed that if I eat even 1 cup of vegetables, I will have symptoms of asthma within 1 to 2 days afterwards, so I don’t eat them and don’t ever plan on eating them again.

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

It took me a long time to adapt mentally and physical to this diet. I have always eaten a really bad diet and I think that played a big part in it. I tried to go all-meat a few times before I actually was able to accomplish it. The so called “keto-flu” was hard for me to get through and lasted a couple of weeks. A low carbohydrate diet was much easier for me to get through, but even then it was hard to go from that to all-meat. Every time I tried all-meat, I would feel so run down. I had no energy, I was very nauseated, and my head was pounding. I could barely get out of bed after the 2nd or 3rd day of all-meat. I gave up many times after the 3rd or 4th day and I just kept trying until it worked I suppose. The mental part of it was a little easier for me to deal with than the physical part. The mental struggle just lasted much longer. I remember having dreams where I would “accidentally” eat pizza or ice cream and feel this horrible shame that would wake me out of my sleep. After years of eating this way, its easy now. I could not imagine eating any other way and its delicious.

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Michael prior to adopting a Zero Carb diet.

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

What got me interested at first was a couple of my friends were doing the Atkins diet. I thought it was a little ridiculous, so I started reading about it and came across Owsley “The Bear” Stanley post on a low carb message board. I was already aware of The Bear because I enjoy the music of the Grateful Dead. That sparked my interest a lot more and I read every post he made at least twice. I could not argue with it and I tried. It sounded crazy to me at first and I still did not plan on trying it. However, I was starting to get interested in this way of eating and the culture of the Inuit Eskimo as well. That lead me to reading books written by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, such as “The Fat of the Land.” I think this book convinced a lot of people. One of the things that really made sense to me was the fact that 200 Eskimo skulls were found and they did not show any signs of tooth decay. Also, another 600 (or more) skulls were found from the Icelandic middle-ages that showed no sign of tooth decay and they ate a diet of mostly meat as well. I could go on and on about all the contents of that book, but I will leave that up to the reader to read it for themselves. Another great book is Gary Taubes “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” All of these books are already mentioned by other people interviewed here and that shows how relevant they are.

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

I mostly eat meat, but I do eat eggs a lot too. I eat 7 or 8 eggs in the morning to get me going with a cup of coffee. I add about 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream to my coffee. I don’t eat cheese for the most part. As much as I love cheese, it does not agree with me.

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

My diet is mostly beef. I am not sure of the percentage. I don’t really pay much attention to that. I count enough in my calculus class. I eat fish, chicken, eggs, and even pork sometimes. Mostly, I eat steak. I like ground beef, but my girlfriend Samantha Taylor – who also eats an all-meat diet – has IBS issues with ground beef, so we don’t eat it as much. We buy bulk steak and cut our own steaks off of it. That is mostly what we eat and makes up the majority of our diet. I love boiled fish of all kinds and I use The Bear’s chicken recipe when I make chicken. I use bone-in chicken thighs with the skin still on them for the recipe, instead of an entire chicken. I just like the thighs and the legs a lot. It is probably the best thing I have ever tasted.

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

When I cook beef, I cook it rare. When I first started this diet, I cooked all meat well-done. I could not get myself to eat rare meat. Now, I have to eat it rare. The longer I do this, the more rare I like it. When I cook my steaks, I let them sit out for a couple of hours and get the frying pan really hot. I cook them for a small amount of time on each side and then let them sit in the pan for about 5 minutes or so. It is warm all the way through, but it is still very rare and incredibly delicious. I swear the more I eat it, the better it tastes.

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

I do not add extra fat to anything really. I add a little butter to my eggs and a little cream to my coffee. I find that if I eat too much fat I get nauseated. That tells me I don’t need anymore fat. If I do a lot of physical activity, I will want more fat than usual.

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

I do not limit myself at all. I eat until I am full in the morning, and I eat until I am full at dinner. I am not afraid to throw out a little extra if I cant eat it. I don’t like to eat and not feel satisfied after.

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Michael & Samantha

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

I have eaten liver a couple of times. I do not eat it often at all. It does not taste all that good to me, but its not horrible.

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

I do not consume bone broth.

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

I eat 2 meals per day. In the morning and dinner in the evening. Sometimes, I only eat in the evening if I am really busy. I don’t really get that hungry throughout the day. I eat a lot at dinner.

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

I eat about 2 to 3 pounds of meat per day. Maybe, more.

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

I do not eat grass fed or anything like that. I am a college student and can barely afford to eat as well as I do. I eat regular commercially-produced meat from the grocery store or butcher.

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

I drink coffee in the morning. About one cup per day and I really enjoy it. I buy freshly roasted beans and grind them myself. I use water that has a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit and use an Aero Press. With a little heavy cream, it is a highlight of my day. I drink a lot of water too. I don’t drink tea or anything else.

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Michael pan-frying burgers at an outdoor event — taking his lifestyle with him.

16. Do you use salt?

I do not add salt to anything most of the time. I do eat salt when I eat bacon, however. When we buy bacon, it is low sodium bacon and I usually only eat about 3 or 4 pieces of it. I find that regular bacon is too salty. I don’t like the taste. Sometimes, I will add a little salt to meat, but it is rare. If I eat chicken with cream cheese, it has salt in it.

17. Do you use spices?

I use a spice called “Chimmi-Churri” sometimes. It is mostly used for chicken, but it taste good on lots of things.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take vitamin D sometimes. I live in Michigan, and I am mostly indoors during the school semester. I feel that I should consider the fact that I am not getting enough vitamin D from the sun. I do not know this to be true or not. Honestly, I am not very good at taking it. I mostly forget. I probably remember once or twice a week and take about 2000 to 4000 IU. I do not take any other supplements or medications.

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

Together, my girlfriend and I spend about $400 on food per month. Probably a little more if you include the cost of coffee.

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

My tips for being more affordable would be to eat cheaper meats. Eating steak everyday can add up if your eating until you are full. However, it just makes us feel the best, so we do it. Eating ground beef, pork, chicken, and eggs is a bit cheaper. We used to spend more on a carb-based diet, because of all the extra’s like eating out, pizza, ice cream, and other snacks.

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

I do not exercise regularly. I exercise more often in the summer, but during the winter and fall I am always wrapped up in school work. I feel really good when I exercise and I try to make that a part of my life. I will accomplish that goal next. I just wish I wouldn’t have to run on a treadmill. When I look outside, all I see is ice and its not very motivating.

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.)

In addition to what I mentioned earlier in this interview, I will add that no matter how much steak I eat, I cannot get my weight over 140 lbs. (unless I am actively building muscle). I used to weigh 180 lbs. at one point in my life, and I was always trying to eat less. Now, I eat as much as possible and I stay at a decent weight. It is easy for me to gain weight on a carbohydrate diet. Mental health is another benefit. I do not get a lot of mood swings and it has helped some anxiety issues that I have had to deal with. It just feels good to feel good. I never really had much of a problem with feeling tired, so that did not change much. I can last longer when doing physical activities. Also, once again, breathing is pretty great. I like not being sick all the time.

23. Have you raised children on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what has been their experience? How difficult is it to keep carbs out of their diet in today’s world?

I do not have children, yet. It will be interesting to see how that works out! I see a lot of other Zero Carb-ers raising children and doing very well I must say.

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

What I enjoy most about eating all-meat is not being sick all the time and not having asthma. That is enough for me. All of the other benefits are just extra’s. It also makes life easier. My stops at the grocery store are quick. Cooking and clean-up is always easy and the food is always delicious. I enjoy every part of this diet.

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Michael’s refrigerator stocked with his staples.

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

I know that a lot of people say to just jump right into this diet and get started, but my advice is to take it slow. If you ease into it, it is easier to deal with the changes. Some people can get right into this way of eating and have no problems. For others, it is hard. The point of this diet is really to feel better and spend more time in your life doing other things instead of worrying about what you should be eating. However, you are never going to stop worrying until you do the research yourself. Don’t just take someone’s word for it. I was very skeptical when I first started and that made it hard to continue. But the more I learned, the more I was sure of it. Mostly, it is the experience you have over time that confirms it. Only then, will you stop worrying about whether its something you should or should not do. You have been taught to eat a certain way all of your life, and it is incredibly hard to convince yourself that you have always been wrong. Some are willing to do this and some are not. It wasn’t easy for me. Some people will never even consider this way of eating and its perfectly understandable.

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

I think my friends and family are supportive enough. When I first started, I got a lot of warnings. After years of doing this, I don’t really get any feedback about it now. It is not a topic of conversation for the most part. Every now and then, I try to convince my mother to eat better or someone in my family. However, I have learned to keep it to myself mostly and I think most people are going to live their lives how they want to. If someone is interested in the human diet, they know they can talk to me about it.

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

One thing I would like to share is what it is like to observe other people’s eating habits. When going to the grocery store, you see other people mindlessly pushing around a shopping cart and they have no idea what they want to eat. They seem to be stressed out and confused. It is comical, but at the same time it is disturbing. Also, people always have to snack about every four hours or so. In my college classrooms, people always have a can of pepsi or coke while eating a candy bar or a bag of chips. After eating this way, it is easy to see that the diet of a person is truly based on acculturation. This was mentioned by The Bear and he is definitely right about this fact. Culture is a persons operating system and its not going to be easy to change that. It is much easier to accept things that are packaged properly in a box for you and everyone knows that green leafy vegetables are good for you, right?!

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Michael admiring his new guitar.

Please visit my Interviews page 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.