Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

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Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

It seems like almost every week that a new person who has stumbled into our Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora asks this question. Since it comes up so often, I have decided to take some time to articulate my personal reasons for choosing raw meat over cooked meat.

When I first started a Zero Carb diet 21 months ago on January 1, 2015, I began with a wide variety of animal foods: eggs, cheese, butter, cream, bone broth, chicken, pork, and beef. All of it cooked. I really struggled with Zero Carb in the beginning because I simply did not feel that good no matter what I ate. Removing all plant foods from my diet certainly helped, but I was still experiencing a lot of negative symptoms from the animal foods I was eating. The biggest symptom with the most impact on my quality of life is chronic migraine headaches.

About 6 months into my Zero Carb journey, I finally discovered that I am histamine intolerant. Histamines are in all aged and fermented foods, as well as eggs and any foods that are slow-cooked, and this is why I have continued to struggle with chronic migraine headaches on a Zero Carb diet. One-by-one, I removed everything from my diet except for beef. And even with the beef, I have to make sure that I get it as fresh as possible and use it immediately. The longer beef – or any meat – is aged, the more histamines it will contain. The longer a steak sits on the shelf after being cut off of a main primal piece by the butcher, the more histamines it will contain.

All last winter (2015-2016), I was eating very lightly pan-fried fatty beef chuck roast steaks. And when I say lightly, I mean 30-60 seconds per side, leaving the meat blue-rare inside. This was working to some extent, but I did not feel all that good. In fact, I got a terrible cold virus last winter that came back three separate times! I literally never get viruses, so to have the same one three times in just a few months was both very worrisome and very unpleasant. The last time I had a virus prior to this was in the winter of 1999-2000, when – incidentally – I was also eating a fair amount of cooked meat (one of my earlier attempts to escape veganism, LOL!).

So, I knew I should be eating my meat raw, but the cold, wet winter and the state of my mind at the time, were really making it difficult for me to do this. Once the weather warmed up a bit, however, I decided to give fresh raw ground beef another try. After a few weeks, I got used to it and then the taste of the cooked meat wasn’t all that enticing any more. Nevertheless, I continued to have a cooked meal here and there, very rarely. But each time I did this – I noticed that 1) I did not feel as well after eating the cooked meat as I did after eating the raw meat; 2) I did not digest the cooked meat as well as I digested the raw meat; and 3) I could tolerate much more fat when I ate it raw verses cooked.

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LEM Big Bite #12 All Stainless Steel Meat Grinder

One of the things I have personally found very helpful on my Zero Carb Journey is periodic fasts. I have completed three separate 16-day fasts (each were a combination of water and dry) over the past 21 months. Each of these fasts has helped me quite significantly. Histamines build up in the body over time and fasting is the single most effective method I have discovered to allow my body to eliminate them from “storage.” When the meat I can normally eat without issue begins to give me migraine headaches, then I know my histamine “bucket” is full so-to-speak and it is time for another fast.

I just completed my most recent 16-day fast a week ago. It went really well. But coming off the fast has been both challenging and enlightening. First, I decided to experiment with Fiji water and it gave me a migraine headache and caused me to feel generally crappy. This tells me that the company adds minerals to the Fiji water, which is implied but not directly stated on the label. I am 100% certain of this because I felt exactly the same way as I always feel after taking any supplements of any kind. They all make me very very very sick just like the Fiji water did.

After I recovered from the Fiji water debacle, I decided to try cooking my meat one night. I had broken my fast 6 days earlier and – up to that point – I had eaten only raw ground beef according to my usual custom. Although I am kind of unhappy with myself for choosing to cook my meat this night, I gained an enormous amount of clarity about what my body does and does not like due to this unhappy choice. So, ultimately, the experience was an extremely valuable one because of the new knowledge it brought me.

Needless to say, my body had a very negative response to the cooked meat. I started getting a migraine headache within a few hours of eating it and, 3-days later, I am still suffering the consequences. The next morning, lymph nodes throughout my body were incredibly painful. The effects from eating the cooked meat were so bad, that I actually had to go back on a short dry fast to give my body a chance to work through it. I tried eating my normal fresh raw ground beef the next day, but that just made the migraine headache and lymphatic inflammation worse.

This is one of the reasons I am such a huge advocate for both fasting and doing a bare bones version of the Zero Carb diet if you are new to this way of eating. There are so many potential variables when you eat any and all animal foods that there is really no way to tell how you are responding to them if you include them all indiscriminately. If you start with just fatty beef and water, then you have removed all of the most potentially problematic foods in one fell swoop. After you have eaten only beef and water for 30-days, you can then test other Zero Carb foods one at a time to see how you do with them.

Fasting takes this process one step further by eliminating all food for a period of time. This way when you add back a food, whether from a basic beef and water diet or from a fully fasted state, your body can give you a much clearer response to whatever food you are testing. This is what happened to me with this last fast I did. Being away from any cooked meat for a while prior to the fast, and then doing a long fast, made it considerably easier for my body to let me know that it really really really does not like cooked meat.

Prior to this, I was living in a fantasy world that I could sort of go back and forth between raw and occasional cooked – if and when I felt the desire for it – but this experience has shown me just how utterly delusional that idea was! From here on out, I am no longer seeing cooked meat as an option for myself. This was a very powerful transformative “a-ha” moment for me. I will never again choose to eat meat that has been cooked even the tiniest bit. Cooked meat is now in the same category as plant foods: it is no longer a “food” as far as I am concerned.

While some people might find this realization to be even more restrictive than what most would already perceive to be a very restrictive Zero Carb diet, I personally find it quite liberating to have finally reached a very definitive conclusion on this issue. There is no more doubt about it, and it is one less decision I need to make. It is all raw all the way for me!

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Zero Carb Interview: Reanna Percifield

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

Since mid-July of 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I eat until satisfied.

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

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

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

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

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

I always have one meal per day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. Do you use salt?

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

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, primarily pepper and granulated garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

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

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

$250-$300 per month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Please visit my “Interviews” and “Testimonials” pages linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other short and long term Zero Carb veterans.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group “Principia Carnivora” for support.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Susanne Lucic

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

For exactly one year now. 🙂

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

I was quite obese as you can see from my before picture below, and I felt bad. I had joint pains, mostly in the knees, I quickly got tired, my pulse – even when I was inactive – has always been elevated.

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

Not long, about a month or so. I was motivated because I quickly felt a change for the better. It was not difficult to mainly eat meat because generally I like meat. I had no psychological problems related to following a Zero Carb diet.

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

I learned about the diet by reading a newspaper article about the Andersen family in our newspapers (in Croatia!). I got very interested in the topic and I started researching. First, I found your blog Esmee 🙂 which led me to Principia Carnivora Group on Facebook and then Kelly Williams Hogan’s blog My Zero Carb Life. I read through a lot of helpful group files in Principia Carnivora.

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

I am including one egg per day for breakfast and I am eating quite a bit of hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda. Cheese became a kind of treat for me. I am not so happy about that. I think I could have lost more weight and feel better without the cheese. But I am very happy with my results so far as you can see from my “after” picture below.

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

I eat approximately equal parts of beef, lamb, goat and pork. Less beef than the other meats, as it is very expensive.

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

I’m cooking it something in between rare and medium.

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

Yes, I do, I am mostly cooking with lard and eating butter with my meat.

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

No, I’m not really limiting my meat consumption. I’m eating the biggest part for lunch, between 250 – 400 g.

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

I’m eating horse liver about two times a month.

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

No I don’t. I would be happy if I could, as I read about all the benefits for the body, but the first time I cooked bone broth for more than 24 hours at the beginning of my Zero Carb way of life, I got obviously histamine issues, red and hot skin in the whole face.

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

I am still eating 3 meals a day but if the circumstances don’t allow I have no problem with skipping meals.

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

250-400 gm, plus salami, sausage, pork rinds, eggs and cheese.

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

I’m lucky that a lot of the meat we consume is from animals raised on local farms around here.

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

Yes. I’m drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day. Perhaps some day I will be able to reduce this.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, mainly sea salt and himalayan rock salt.

17. Do you use spices?

Almost nothing, some pepper and garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

At the beginning of Zero Carb, I supplemented with magnesium because I had leg cramps. but now I don’t use any.

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

I can’t tell you. We’re a big family with four children and I don’t know how much my diet costs in comparison with the other food, I don’t think that it is much more expensive than standard diet.

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

Consuming more affordable meat for those who can eat other meats than beef. Me, I have no problem with pork, lamb or goat, so I’m combining all of it.

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

I didn’t exercise at all for the first six months on Zero Carb. Then after the first 45-50 pounds the weight loss slowed down. As I wanted to lose a lot more, I began to exercise at my multigym I have at home and added video cardio and strength exercises. I had to do something for the excess loose skin after losing all the lbs., too:-) I’m working out 3-4 times a week for 60-90 min. It’s not only for the reason of further weight loss, but because I love to move now.

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 have lost a total of 66 lbs. to date. I am convinced that my whole body enjoys this way of eating. I have cravings under control. I don’t crave anything sweet anymore, that’s a great experience. I actually don’t even like the taste of sweet anymore. When I try a little peace of cake that I made for the family – only testing taste purposes – I have to eat something fatty immediately afterwards as I don’t like the taste of sweet in the mouth.

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

I enjoy the simplicity of eating this way. I love that I don’t have to be hungry for having my weight under control. I love the steady level of energy throughout the day without all the ups and downs when eating carbs. I think I’m emotionally more stable and calmer now.

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

I think this woe is a great chance for many people with weight and health issues. It takes time and patience to adapt and see the first results, but it’s absolutely worth a try!

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

My family was and is absolutely supportive. At the beginning they laughed a lot telling me that it is impossible to lose weight eating that amount of fat. But with the time going by they saw that it worked for me and are fully on my side.

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

Perhaps that I have no intention of ever going back to a “normal” diet. I’m going to continue with Zero Carb indefinitely, as I now feel better then ever before.

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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: Tiffany Dalton

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

It has been a year, as of April.

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

Because of my hypoglycemia and inability to lose weight and keep it off. I was already eating a whole foods diet, and had attempted to eliminate processed food, grains, legumes and added sugar (essentially primal/paleo). I was having trouble sticking to it, so I explored a ketogenic version of the paleo diet. What I discovered was that the more I reduced my carbs, the better I felt. Eventually I eliminated all plant matter, and felt better than I ever had.

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

I think the adaptation was slightly easier since I had already been eating ketogenically, but there was still an adaptation period. I would say that the worst of it was over after a month, but my energy surged even more at the three and six months marks.

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

Originally, I learned a lot from Gary Taubes’ writings, the information shared on Zeroing in on Health by Charles Washington and others, the writings of Stefansson and the Bear.

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

I sometimes include eggs and dairy, but overall I find that I do best without them, so I attempt to omit them as much as possible.

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

I eat mainly beef. I would say that it’s generally 75-90% of what I eat. I occasionally eat chicken or seafood, etc.

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

I tend to like it cooked to medium-rare.

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

I do not generally add any extra fat to my meat.

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

I eat intuitively, until satisfied.

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

I enjoy chicken liver occasionally. Sometimes I try a bit of beef tongue, and I love oxtail.

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

I really don’t consume bone broth, no. I did at first, but found it to be unnecessary and too labor intensive.

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

I normally eat twice per day.

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

I generally eat anywhere between 1-2 lbs. a day, depending on hunger and activity level. Sometimes it’s more, but not usually.

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

No, I just eat regular commercially-produced meat. I prefer the taste and price of it. Grass fed is often too lean for me, and I don’t like they gamey taste it can sometimes have.

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

I mostly drink water or mineral water. I sometimes drink herbal infusions and rarely coffee or black tea.

16. Do you use salt?

I feel better without salt, so I do not generally add it to my food. If I am out and happen to eat something salty, I don’t worry about it.

17. Do you use spices?

Not generally. I don’t find them to be necessary.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I do not take any supplements.

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

I probably spend about $400 on my own food per month.

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

I just look for the best prices on the meat I like. I shop at Aldi almost exclusively these days, and I buy a lot of skirt steak and 70/30 hamburger patties. Occasionally I buy ribeye if I can find it a good price. My town is getting a Costco soon, so I am contemplating getting a membership so I can save money by buying meat in uncut slabs.

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

Up until recently I did not exercise regularly, or really at all, beyond occasional gentle walks. I have started to exercise a bit more, as my energy level seems to warrant it. In addition to walking, I do yoga, Pilates, and kettlebell workouts. I also got a road bike recently, so I have started to bicycle a bit.

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 no longer suffer from hypoglycemia, my immune system is strong (I rarely get sick and if I do, I recover very quickly), my digestive system operates more smoothly (no stomach cramps, gas, no need for probiotics, etc.), my body feels strong and toned, I sleep more soundly and fall asleep more easily, my moods are calm and even, my pms is less severe. In general, I just feel much more balanced – mentally, physically, hormonally, metabolically, etc.

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

The thing I love most is the simplicity and the fact that food is no longer something I have to concern myself with really at all. I eat when I am hungry, my food is simple to shop for and prepare, and the rest of the time I really don’t even have to think about food. I love not having to worry about what or when I will eat, for fear of an imminent blood sugar crash.

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

I would say to just keep it very simple and stick to it. Avoid all sweet tastes and plant matter, stay hydrated (but don’t over hydrate), rest as much as possible, and trust your body to develop the right hunger signals as you continue to nourish it well and optimally.

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

Most of my close friends support me, though some at first thought it was a little strange and even possibly dangerous. As they have seen me increase my health and well-being, they are less concerned, and some have even joined me.

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

I can’t think of anything at the moment.

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Please visit my “Interviews” and “Testimonials” pages linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other short and long term Zero Carb veterans.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group “Principia Carnivora” for support.

 

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

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

Health Problems From the Start & Conventional Treatments

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

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

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

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

Alternative Health Options

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

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

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

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

Paleolithic Transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Stephanie Stride


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Stephanie today.

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

Since December 2012

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

Primarily weight. I started on Low Carb (Atkins), then transitioned to ZC within a month.

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

Physically I felt great within a week. The carb detox headaches subsided and I felt better than I ever had. Psychologically I adapted fairly quickly once I went full ZC partly due to loss of appetite. Within a couple weeks I had zero cravings.

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

I did A LOT of reading of various websites, read people’s stories, etc. There was no one specific source…I started out learning by trial and error. It’s definitely not a one size fits all way of eating.

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

I eat meat and eggs. I also allow myself one teaspoon of HWC in my coffee daily. I don’t eat any cheese.

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

Approximately 70% beef.

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

Medium Rare

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

Butter!

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

I eat until I’m comfortably full.

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

No. I tried them but I’m too squeamish!

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

No

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

Usually one meal. I occasionally fast as well (longest fast was ten days, most recent was eight).

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

Anywhere from one-half to one pound. If I eat eggs, I eat 3-4.

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

Grass-fed pasture-raised. I buy a half cow at a time.

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Stephanie with her beloved husband in 2014, part way through her Zeri Cab journey.

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

I drink one cup of coffee per day and occasionally an iced green tea. I also allow myself one diet coke per day, but I typically only drink three per week.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes.

17. Do you use spices?

No. I was very surprised to discover the amounts of hidden carbs in a lot of popular spices. Garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika are some of the higher carb count spices. Occasionally I’ll use one clove of fresh garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No

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

400-450$ (for groceries for two people)

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

Buy in bulk and separate into single portions, hit the meat department when they’re marking down prices, and the best, but not feasible for everyone, buy fresh, locally raised meat in bulk.

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

Not regularly. I used to walk a lot. I keep busy and still walk/jog on my treadmill but not often.

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.)

Huge weight loss (appx. 100 lbs.), skin looks better, teeth appear healthier, and my blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels are all perfect, no more joint pain from a past injury, overall happier feeling, tons of energy.

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

It’s so easy. I never have to figure out what to make for dinner! I take meat out of the freezer and toss it on the grill.

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

Stick with it and measure yourself!! I regret not taking measurements at the very beginning. There are times when my scale doesn’t move but I know I’ve lost inches.

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

In the beginning they were not. They thought if I ate just meat that I would get sick. They constantly tried pushing veggies on me. Once they saw how healthy I was becoming they wanted to be a cavewoman too!

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

Give it a try. Research it. There are SO many health benefits to this WOE. Diabetics no longer being dependant on insulin, stomach issues that disappear, blood pressure lowers, etc. It’s amazing!!

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Stephanie today.

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.

 

Optimal Fat Intake on a Zero Carb Diet

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Sometime back I wrote a two-part article on Optimal Protein intake on a Zero Carb diet. Please click links to read:

Part One https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/09/29/optimal-protein-on-a-zero-carb-diet/

Part Two https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/10/04/optimal-protein-on-a-zero-carb-diet-part-2/

I still feel pretty good about the protein recommendations in those articles, though it does seem that some people do indeed feel better on more protein than I discussed. On average, 100-150 gm of protein seems to be about right for most people, but I know that some do feel better with more like 200 gm a day. So, keep that in mind when you read those posts.

The key thing to understand is that you want to be careful to not eat too little protein on a Zero Carb diet. Since you are not eating any carbohydrates on a Zero Carb diet, you can eat more protein than you can on a Low Carb diet. There is a lot of fear-mongering going on in regards to eating too much protein, and I (and many others in the Low Carb-Zero Carb-Ketogenic community) feel that this advice is very misguided. You want to eat as much protein as your particular metabolic state will accommodate without raising fasting blood glucose. For some who are diabetic or very insulin resistant, that may only be 80 gm of protein per day, but if you have a healthy metabolism, you will likely be able to eat twice that amount without any negative repercussions.

Okay, so with that prelude, the subject I really want to address here is fat. In light of some recent discussions we have been having in our Facebook group Principia Carnivora, the recommendations for fat intake that I made in those posts on protein needs to be revisited, as they are geared more towards weight maintenance levels of fat rather than weight loss. As mentioned in the above articles on protein, Stefansson ate a 2:1 ratio of fat to protein, i.e. 2 gm of fat for every gm of protein or 120 gm of protein to 240 gm of fat on average.

Many people who adopt a Zero Carb diet are obese and have decided to try this way of eating in order to lose unwanted excess body fat. Many also come from the Ketogenic diet world where they have been eating lower protein and higher fat (both in terms of total grams and percentages), and then they try to apply that knowledge and experience to their new Zero Carb diet. But the result is that they often do not lose any of their excess body fat which is, understandably, very frustrating for them.

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The basic advice that has been give by all of the successful long term practioners of a Zero Carb diet is to simply eat fatty meat. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. In other words, don’t try to manipulate your macronutrient ratios to meet the Ketogenic standards you have been following (that were no longer working for you anyways and which is why you ended up deciding to try Zero Carb in the first place!).

What this means is: don’t limit your meat (lean portion) in order to restrict your total protein consumption and add extra fat in the form of butter or whatever to create a “perfect” Ketogenic ratio of protein to fat. You also do not want to drink so-called “fat bombs” like coffee with butter, coconut oil, etc. added to it. All this does is prevent you from burning your own body fat for energy and impede weight loss. You only need to do this sort of thing if you have epilepsy or cancer or some other serious life-threatening illness.

If you have a lot of body fat to lose, you want to encourage endogenous fat-burning. Eating too much dietary fat prevents this. Drs. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek have discussed this in their excellent book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, as well as many of their video lecture presentations widely available on YouTube.

Therefore, the general rule of thumb is to eat about 2.0 gm of protein per 1 kg of lean body mass, and then to add as much fat as you need to provide satiety from your meal. This usually works out to around 30% of calories from protein and 70% of calories from fat. Now, interestingly enough, that is almost exactly what you will find in a piece of fatty beef like chuck roast or ribeye or New York strip or 80/20 ground beef (if all fat that that is cooked out is eaten and not discarded).

This also equals a 1:1 ratio of fat to protein in grams, i.e. one gram of fat to one gram of protein. For example, 100 gm of fat to 100 gm of protein. This is basically perfect for facilitating the loss of excess body fat in someone who is obese. So, the tried and true and very simple recommendations of experienced long term Zero Carb practitioners to eat fatty meat to satiety whenever hungry works for a reason!

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Now, for those of you, like myself, who are not obese and do not need to lose excess body fat, might be wondering what This means for you. If a person starts out on Zero Carb at at a normal healthy body weight, or once a person reaches their ideal body weight after losing their excess fat according to above recommendations, it is then necessary to add more fat to your Zero Carb diet.

This can be done in several ways. Many people add butter to the meat they eat, but you can also eat the fat on your steaks preferentially. Michael Frieze has been doing this for the past 5 years. Read his interview here:

https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/03/07/zero-carb-interview-michael-frieze/

He cooks up a steak and eats the fat first until he feels satiated, then he eats as much of the lean as he feels like eating. If there is not enough fat on the steak to reach his fat satiety level, he will then eat butter straight until he feels like he receives a “stop” signal. He eats an average of 2 lbs of steak per day and weighs 135 lbs. He says that no matter how much he eats, he never gains body fat.

If you are following a Zero Carb diet and are struggling to lose weight, I hope this explanation has helped to shed some light on how you can adjust your current diet to find better success. Finding the right fat to protein ratio is a bit individual, but this is a great place to start. If you do this and find that you are still not losing the unwanted body fat, you may need to lower the fat a little bit more.

We have a few women in our group who have found that a 1:2 ratio of fat to protein was necessary for them to start dropping weight. This would mean eating only one gram of fat for every 2 grams of protein, or say 100 gm of fat to 200 gm of protein. While this is not the norm, I share this story to demonstrate that all bodies are not created equal and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to Zero carb and successful weight loss.

But it is best not to over think it too much and just start with the basic recommendations of those who have been following a Zero Carb diet for many years and start with good ‘ole fatty steaks. Eat when hungry. Eat to satiety. Wait until you get hungry again and repeat. And most of all…Don’t worry. Be happy!

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***Special thanks to all of the long term Zero Carbs peeps for their consistent message and the interviews they have so graciously provided for me to share. Thank you also to Jamie Moskowitz, Jeff Cyr, Raymund Edwards, and Mike Juiluan from the Low Carb Ketogenic world for helping me to grasp this issue at at a deeper level. I think I am finally getting it! And additionally, I wish to thank all of the members of our Facebook group Principia Carnivora for experimenting on themselves in good N=1 fashion and sharing their results with the rest of us, so that we call all learn and profit from them. I love you all.