Zero Carb Interview: Jennifer Dodds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer as a teenager with her little sister.

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

100%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer and her little sister as young adults.

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

No, I have never liked it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. Do you use salt?

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

17. Do you use spices?

No.

18. Do you take any supplements?

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

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

Roughly $200-$250

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

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

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

Liver is super cheap and is packed with nutrients.

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

Salting beforehand also makes cheaper cuts more tender and flavorful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have benefited from the information offered on this website, and you would like to express your appreciation in a tangible way, you can make a donation directly to PayPal via my email: esmeelafleur@gmail.com.

Advertisements

Zero Carb Interview: Stephanie Stride


image

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.

image

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!!

image

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.

If you have benefited from the information offered on this website, and you would like to express your appreciation in a tangible way, you can make a donation directly to PayPal via my email: esmeelafleur@gmail.com.

Zero Carb Testimonial: Reza Wahyu Ismail

image

Hi, My name is Reza and I am from Indonesia (South East Asia), I used to eat every meal with rice. Breakfast with rice porridge, coconut milk steamed rice, rice cake, lunch and dinner with rice as a staple food beside fish, meat, chicken, eggs, and vegetables. I would eat fruit occasionally. I was skinny in my childhood and teenage years. Then I gain weight after I started working and got married. I ate snack foods a lot and drank so many sweet sodas. My highest weight was 105 kilograms (230 lbs.), and my triglyceride level was at 279. I knew I had to do something because my late mom died from kidney failure due to her decades long struggle with diabetes. Our family had also has a history of heart attack and strokes.

I know I must take care of my health as a family man for my wife, my son, and my parents in law. I live with them and must be healthy enough to take care of them. And I don’t want to end up like my mom and my grandparents, suffering from strokes and diabetes. So I read a lot and tried many diets, from high protein, vegetarian, juice fasting, etc. Actually, I gained weight when I was vegetarian, and I hate fasting with raw vegetable juice. I thrive whenever I eat steak.

Once, I was successfully losing weight by doing water fasting for a few days in a row periodically. But sometimes I felt nauseous and had a thumping headache. Then I heard about dry fasting. As a Moslem, we dry fasting from dawn until dusk for a month every year during Ramadan, but I did not know it had therapeutic value for one’s physical health. I find dry fasting to be much easier than water fasting because I am less cold and I don’t get dizzy during the fasting period. Then I try to search about dry fasting and I found Esmée’s Zero Carb Zen blog. This is how I discovered the “Eat Meat Drink Water” way of eating, and so I decide too give it a try. I had already heard of low carb eating and was practicing that, but zero carb or all meat was a new concept for me. I had also been doing one day fasts here and there.

My transition to Zero Carb was wonderful, as I enjoy eating meat and steak everyday. Sometimes I eat chicken, eggs, and fish, but mostly it is beef. What I don’t like about it is whenever I try to explain this way of eating to my colleagues, they are not that receptive even ridiculed me a lot. Luckily my family and close friends try to be more understanding and some want to hear about this Zero Carb thing.

Now I have had tremendous results from Zero Carb in a very short period of time. My blood test showed improvement and my triglyceride are back to normal. I had been following a low carb diet, along with occasional intermittent fasts, for about a year or so, and I had lost about 8 kilograms doing that. But since I started the Zero Carb diet 2.5 months ago, I have lost an additional 10 kilograms of weight and 10 centimeters off my waistline. I also notice the I have not been sick, felt bad, or gotten a headache during this time. Usually I have headache every two weeks or so. I don’t know why, but it probably has something to do with the carbs I was consuming, even on a low carb diet, before I went to a total Zero Carb way of eating.

Everyday I eat steak (I seared the steak on my iron skillet or dining in at the restaurant). I also make meat soup with my slow cooker. I eat beef, chicken, fish, oxtail, and liver. I don’t eat vegetables at all anymore, but I do use butter and sometimes milk or heavy cream whenever I feel it has been a long time to squat in the toilet 😉

For Zero Carb newbies like me, I strongly recommend trying Zero Carb for a full 30 days. Even better…try everyday, choose to be Zero Carb for this hour to the next hour, every single day decide to go Zero Carb. If you stumble and fail (I’ve been there), just get up and get back to Zero Carb. I hope I can be Zero Carb moment-by-moment, and someday when I look back, I will find that I have been Zero Carb for years and eventually for the rest of my life (I hope).

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.

If you have benefited from the information offered on this website, and you would like to express your appreciation in a tangible way, you can make a donation directly to PayPal via my email: esmeelafleur@gmail.com.

Zero Carb Testimonial: Stephany

image

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

I stated on January 1, 2016 and, after just 45 days, I feel fantastic! After going low carb/low fat (HCQ) in March of last year 2015, then low carb paleo and keto after that, I have finally found what really works for me: Zero Carb aka All animal foods and zero plant foods.

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

Health. And curiosity! As I said before, I discovered lowcarb in March last year. I was suffering from many health issues: obesity, extreme fatigue, bouts of depression, allergies, asthma-like symptoms, migraine attacks, panic attacks to name just a few.

I did some research, and soon found out that I was probably pre-diabetic – if not yet type 2 diabetes. I did not dare go to the doctor because I knew he would just give me drugs. Also, food became more and more of a problem. No matter what I ate, I felt miserable afterwards, extremely tired and I’d have the strangest allergic reactions.

At that time I was eating a high carb low fat diet: masses of whole grains, lots of fruit and veggies, no butter, some meat and fish. Coffee with sugar and mostly low-fat snacks to finish. I did not understand it because I thought I was eating a healthy diet. I never thought of questioning my diet choices and I thought it was just me.

At the end of February I was at my deepest point and looked for help. I asked my pharmacist if he could recommend a nutritional expert. He smiled and said, he was just working on something new and asked if I could wait a couple of weeks. I thought, why not? I really trust him because a couple of years before he helped me heal my gut. Back then, we both did not know about the benefits of lowcarb.

Anyway, mid-March 2015 my journey started. First of all, let me be clear about this: I did not expect to lose any weight and weight loss has never been my first goal. I wanted to be fitter and healthier. I never felt really bad about being obese – at least not until I started developing the above mentioned symptoms.

First I did HCQ: 3 weeks of low carb and low fat to reset the body, then 3 weeks of low carb and high fat. The idea of HCQ is that you can return to your normal eating pattern eating after 6 weeks because the body has been reset.

Well, the first 3 days of HCQ were hell. I had such a headache, and I was so nauseous and dizzy I thought I would faint. But I stayed the course and lo and behold: After 3 days I felt like new. Within a week many of my health issues were gone. Just like that! I was energized, had no more brain fog and simply felt fine. I remember waking up one morning and feeling awake and not tired. That was a completely new experience after years of being tired all the time. Also, the weight simply dropped off.

Picture: Before Beginning My Journey and Today

image

It was soon clear to me that I would not return to my old way of eating. So I started reading books and searching the web. I was so surprised when I saw all the information on low carb. It did not take me long to stumble across paleo and keto. I did a couple of months of low carb paleo. When I re-introduced the so-called safe starches, many of my health issues came back.

At around that time I also discovered your blog for the first time and was really fascinated. But somehow, I did not really go for it and instead went keto. However, on keto I stopped losing weight and I noticed that I was returning to bad eating habits: lots of keto treats and so-called “healthified” keto food (e.g. coconut cookies with sweetener, coconut pancakes with sweetener, etc.).

Also, I started to obsess over food. I was counting macros and weighing my food. And I developed a funny kind of rash and some allergic reactions again (probably because of all the nut flours). So, at the end of December I decided this was getting out of hand and did the full monty: zero carb – all animal and no plants. I have not regretted it one second.

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

Psychologically: right away. I knew instinctively that this was the right way of eating for me.

Physically: The first 2 weeks I felt a bit weak and had some keto flu symptoms which surprised me because I thought I was keto-adapted. Looking back I now realize I probably was not really adapted yet.

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

In the beginning of my lowcarb experience I read a lot of books by Dr. Strunz (a German doctor) and a lot of the paleo books.

I liked Chris Kresser’s “The Paleo Cure” a lot, even though I do not agree with all his views (e.g. on safe starches – I think for some people like myself the body is so broken that even safe starches are not an option anymore. In fact, I think there is no such thing as a safe starch). But his 30 day reset really helped me. I did a very strict version of the 30 day reset: lots of meat, fish, good fats and veggies. No fruit, no nuts, no seeds, and other stuff that was allowed. In fact, this 30 day reset was better than the crap I ate afterwards on keto.

Another good source for getting started was Mark Sisson. I know many people do not like him because he is too commercial but his basic ideas are pretty ok: lots of fat, enough meat, some veggies, some fruit and nuts. The thing is, he wants to reach as many people as possible so he is very lenient. But I’m ok with that.

I also read this Zero Carb Zen blog from beginning to end and back again, as well as both of L. Amber O’Hearn’s blogs (Empiri.ca and Ketotic.org), and Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore. Even though I was really fascinated by the zero carb concept I could not yet bring myself to try it. I’d have a couple of zero carb days and then I’d eat a keto treat or lots of veggies again.

Right now I’m reading Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. Next on my reading list is The Fat of the Land by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. I guess I should have started with those, but well, it is a journey and I learn every day.

When I decided to go Zero Carb, I also joined the Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora. This group has been a blessing. The people in this group are the kindest, most helpful and most intelligent people ever! I am learning constantly from them.

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

I eat porc, beef, chicken, fish, rabbit, eggs, and butter. In the beginning of zero carb I went a bit wild on dairy, esp. heavy cream and cream cheese and also on bacon and ham. After two weeks I cut those out and felt an improvement again.

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

Hmm, I do not really know. I’d say 50% beef, 50% other meat. But I want to eat more beef. I notice that on pure beef days I feel even better.

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

Steak is rare to medium. I used to eat ground beef well-done but meanwhile I have tried some raw ground beef and absolutely loved it.

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

Yes, most of the meat I get is pretty lean, so I slather it in butter. I use the beef fat that I get from my meat broth to cook my steaks and I use lard for porc.

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

I eat until satisfied. But it was something I had to learn: to eat enough, not to over-eat and not to stop too early. It is a pity how we forget to listen to the signals our bodies give us.

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

Yes, once or twice a week: liver, tongue, heart, lung. I believe in the concept of eating the animal from nose to tail. I find especially beef tongue very nourishing.

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

Yes, once a week I cook a meat/bone broth. I do not drink it that often anymore. I use the fat for cooking steak and my husband uses the broth for cooking his veggies.

Picture: Delicious, healing broth.

image

How many meals do you eat per day on average?

I’m down to two meals, but my aim is to eat one meal a day. However, I have learned not too hurry anything. On keto I tried to do intermittent fasting but it did not work out (so much for the idea of thinking I was keto-adapted). On Zero Carb it just happened. I’d have breakfast and a late lunch and at dinner time I found out I was not hungry so I did not eat. I notice now that I’m not even really hungry in the morning, but I still have breakfast. I think this is more a psychological thing. But as I said, I’m not hurrying anything. I trust that I’ll know when the time has come 🙂

How much meat do you eat per day on average?

No idea. I do not count any calories, do not weigh any meat, do not worry about macros. I did that on keto and it drove me crazy. I’m no longer occupied with “healthified” treats and carb substitutes. The credo is indeed simple. Eat meat. Drink water. Be happy 🙂

A normal day looks like this: breakfast (at about 6.30 a.m.) is some eggs, and/or some steaks, and a very weak coffee blended with butter. Lunch (at about 2.30 p.m.) is meat with butter, sometimes some extra eggs. I no longer need dinner – I cannot believe this myself.

Picture: Beef is very lean so I slather it in butter.

imageDo you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?

Both. Porc is mostly from my local butcher, beef is mostly from a local farmer, rabbit and chicken are self-raised. Except for the butter, I do not buy or eat anything with a barcode anymore.

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

I drink one cup of freshly ground coffee blended with lots of butter in the morning. I have not been able to drink coffee for a long time, so I am very happy I can drink this one cup again. I am forever grateful to a good friend who gave me a coffee grinder as a Christmas present.

Do you use salt?

Yes, but less and less.

Do you use spices?

No. I have never liked them.

Do you take any supplements?

I do, but I’m ready to let them go. I take a multi-vitamin, omega 3 and magnesium. But as I said, as soon as I find fattier cuts of beef, I’ll let them go. Again, I trust that I’ll know when the time has come.

How much money do you spend on food each month?

Not as much as when I was eating high carb and low fat.

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

I do not think this way of eating is expensive at all. I’d say: Buy the fattier cuts, try to buy in bulk. I live in a rural area where I can buy high-quality food at a reasonable price. I am grateful for this every single day.

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

Yes, 3 to 4 times a week since going zerocarb. Not because I have to but because I want to. Nothing big, but it is fun and I am becoming more muscular. In the beginning of Zero Carb I did not workout because I felt a bit weak but the last couple of days I had so much energy that I started some body weight lifting.

In this respect I noted an interesting development with my blood ketones: when I was on keto and in the beginning of Zero Carb I’d have blood ketones at 1.1 but my FBG would still be at 85 to 90. The last couple of days my blood ketones dropped to 0.6 to 0.9 but my FBG also dropped to 75. I feel much alerter and awake than ever before 🙂

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

LowCarb stopped many allergies and gave me more energy and mental clarity, but I still felt bloated and constipated most of the time.

With Zero Carb, I have no more allergies, stronger muscles, no fatigue, absolute mental clarity, and a deep calmness. Oh yes, I sleep wonderfully every night even though I have a lot of stress going on at work. Also, no more bloating and constipation.

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

The simplicity! And it is so delicious. The few people who know I am eating this way often ask me, if it does not get boring. I can say: No, it does not. I enjoy every meal without obsessing over it beforehand or afterwards. My taste buds get better and better.

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

Eat meat. Drink water. Be happy. Be patient. Trust the process. Your body needs time to heal. I’ve been Zero Carb for one month, before that keto for about 2 months and low carb for about 8 months. My body is still healing and sometimes I think I’m still adapting.

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

My husband was a bit worried in the beginning, but now he is okay with my choice. My closest relatives and friends are also ok with this. I do not really worry about what others think or say – I never did and I am not going to start doing this now.

If people ask me what I did to lose so much weight, I tell them that I went low carb. Depending on their reaction I might or might not say that I’m completely zero carb. I’m not being militant or anything about this way of eating. Everybody has to find what is correct for them. For some people it is enough to go low carb, for some primal or paleo is the solution, and for some it is zero carb. I did a lot of reading and research, and now even arguments about the moral aspects do not get me off track.

In fact, I think this way of eating is more sustainable for the planet than other diets. Which does not mean that I favor mass meat production, not at all. But I no longer believe that going meatless will save the planet. I recommend Ash Simmonds’ site highsteaks.com, the excellent book The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, or Allan Savory’s project savory.global for more info.

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

No, I can only advise to everybody who is having health problems or feeling stuck in lowcarb limbo: Try zero carb for 30 days. I do not regret many things but I do regret that I did not start Zero Carb when I first learned about it which was last August when I discovered this blog. Instead of listening to my gut I listened to the voice of reason which said I would perish if I stopped eating veggies and fruit and that it would be boring to eat only meat. I was so wrong! So from now on, I’ll listen to my healthy gut. Others can eat veggies, I’m happy with meat and water 🙂

Not all of my health issues have been solved yet and I still have some weight to lose but steak by steak and egg by egg I’m getting there. This WOE rocks!

image

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.

If you have benefited from the information offered on this website, and you would like to express your appreciation in a tangible way, you can make a donation directly to PayPal via my email: esmeelafleur@gmail.com.

Optimal Protein on a Zero Carb Diet – Part 2

image

This article is an addendum to my last post Optimal Protein on a Zero Carb Diet – Part 1. If you have not read that article, please do so before proceeding. I intended to discuss the information below in that post, but I forgot. Special thanks to Raymund Edwards of the Facebook group Optimal Ketogenic Living for bringing it to my attention.

Okay, so I want to be absolutely clear: I am not recommending that anyone practicing a Zero Carb diet should eat only their minimum requirement for protein. Eating too little protein on a Zero Carb diet can be just as detrimental as eating too much protein.

While Dr. Ron Rosedale is a proponent of eating only your minimum daily requirement, it is important to understand that he prescribes a Low Carb High Fat diet, not a Zero Carb diet. This means that his patients can get part of their nutrients from very low carb fruits and vegetables. However, people who eat a Zero Carb diet must get all of their nutrients from meat and other animal products.

There are very few nutrients in the fat portion of meat. While fat does have some fat soluble vitamins, it has no appreciable amount of water soluble B vitamins or minerals. It is the lean portion of the meat that contains most of the nutrients. So, restricting protein too much will also restrict total nutrient intake and, thus, compromise overall health and nutritional status.

This is why children who eat a very High Fat Ketogenic diet to manage their epilepsy are given vitamin and mineral supplements. 90% of their calories come from fat, and it is impossible for them get enough essential nutrients from the other foods they eat to meet their nutritional needs. But, in their case, the benefits of the high fat diet outweigh the nutrient shortfall, so supplements are used to make up the difference.

It is important, therefore, to find a happy medium with your protein intake. Again, I believe that our best examples for optimal protein consumption on a Zero Carb diet was provided by Stefansson and Donaldson. Both of these men ate and recommended a protein intake of between 100-140 gm per day.

During the year long Bellvue study, Stefansson showed no sign of nutritional deficiencies, not even for vitamin C. And Donaldson never once mentions the need to prescribe nutritional supplements to his patients while they followed his dietary program.

So, optimal protein on a Zero Carb diet is not about eating the least amount of protein that your body needs to function because – to reiterate – if you restrict protein too much, you restrict the lean portion of meat; and if you restrict the lean portion of meat too much, you restrict essential nutrients; and if you restrict essential nutrients too much, you risk compromising your total health profile.

But, optimal protein on a Zero Carb diet is also not about eating unlimited quantities of protein. Too much protein is no better than too little. You do not need 200+ grams of protein per day, and eating that much on a regular basis has its own set of potentially negative effects. Like everything else in life, it is about finding balance.

This is why fat consumption is the key to being successful on a Zero Carb diet long term. If 75-80% of your calories come from fat, like it did for Stefansson and Donaldson, it is unlikely that you will eat too much protein. Fat is the macronutrient that provides satiety. If you eat enough fat with your lean, you will not be so inclined to overeat protein.

Just don’t go overboard in the opposite direction either unless you have a really good medical reason such as epilepsy, diabetes, or cancer management. And if you do need to keep your protein at the bare minimum due to a serious medical condition, then it probably would be wise to incorporate nutritional supplements into your program.

If you following a Zero Carb diet and would like support, please join us in Principia Carnivora on Facebook.

If you have benefited from the information offered on this website, and you would like to express your appreciation in a tangible way, you can make a donation directly to PayPal via my email: esmeelafleur@gmail.com.

My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Kim Knoch

kim1

Prior to discovering the Zero Carb way of eating, I had been following a Ketogenic diet for about two years. I experienced good results with the ketogenic diet and so I started a blog about my experience of eating that way called Eat Fat Lose Fat. I also wrote an eBook about how to implement a Ketogenic diet called Kick the Weight with Keto. As you can see, I was a big fan of of the Ketogenic diet.

But then one day, I came across The Andersen Family interview that was published through this website and was introduced to the concept of Zero Carb for the first time. When I read their interview, I was like WHAT? THAT’S CRAZY! Who can eat only meat for 17 years?! But then I read the personal blogs of Amber Wilcox O’Hearn and Kelly Williams Hogan. Both of these women had eat an all-meat diet for over 5 years. After that, I was interested enough to check out the Facebook groups Zeroing in on Health and Principia Carnivora as well as the Reddit Zero Carb subforum. The more I read, the less bizarre this way of eating sounded, and I finally decided that I had nothing to lose by giving it a try.

The reason that I was interested in trying a Zero Carb diet is because I was still experiencing significant cravings for carbohydrates and I found myself letting more and more carbs creep back into my diet. I was really into creating and sharing recipes for Ketogenic “fun” foods, which only served to keep my sweet-tooth alive. This caused me to eat more than I wanted to and regain some of the weight I initially lost. Prior to adopting a Ketogenic diet, I weighed 400 lbs and opted to have bariatric surgery. I lost 190 lbs. as a result of the surgery, but then I gained back 50 lbs.

By the time I discovered and started the Ketogenic diet, I weighed 260 lbs. I was able to lose the 50 lbs I had regained after a year and a half of following the Ketogenic diet. The weight came off, but the process was painstakingly slow. Then, as the carbohydrate cravings started to get the best of me, I regained 20 lbs. which was really frustrating. So, when The Andersen Family interview came through my Facebook feed, I was definitely open to exploring new ideas. On April 6, 2015, I introduced the Zero Carb diet to my blog readers and embarked upon this unique dietary adventure. I have written a total of 5 posts for my own blog about my first 30 days: 1) Beginning, 2) Days 1 – 4, 3) Days 5 – 9, 4) Days 10 – 22, 5) Days 23- 30.

Even though I had been eating a very low carbohydrate diet for 2 years, I still experienced a fairly rough transition to Zero Carb. I felt really lousy for the first 5 days, but it took about 2 full weeks before I started to feel normal again. To learn more about this, please read the page on this website which explains The Adaptation Process.

When I first began Zero Carb, I included meat, eggs, and full fat dairy products. However, by the end of my second week, I discontinued all dairy products and began limiting my egg consumption because they caused my blood sugar to rise. When I eat them, my fasting blood glucose level will increase by 20 points the next morning.

After a full month on Zero Carb, I have settled into a diet comprised of about 60% beef, 20% fish/seafood, 15% chicken, and 5% lamb. However, I am planning to do less chicken and more lamb into the future. I am experimenting with organ meats, like heart and liver, but I am not sure yet how often I will be including them. I also eat some bacon.

I used to need 3 meals and 2 snacks every day because I was always hungry. Now, I am usually only hungry for two meals a day. I no longer have any desire to snack after my evening meal which is practically a miracle. I eat when I am hungry, and I eat until I am completely and utterly satisfied. I consume between 1 – 2 lbs of meat each day. I cook my beef medium rare, but I am also experimenting with raw steak tartare. I eat as much fat as I want from my meat and only rarely add extra.

One of my favorite aspects of Zero Carb is the incredible freedom from food! I just don’t think about food nearly as often. I love the simplicity of this way of eating. I am free from constant thoughts of eating for the first time in my life. Being someone who likes to cook, I must admit that this is a bit weird for me. I’m used to spending time with the planning, shopping, preparing, eating cycle of my food. Obviously, the health benefits are very important too, but the freedom from food I think is the foundation of the benefits for me.

I love bone broth! When I moved away from home for the first time in my early 20s, my dad showed me how to make bone broth. I have been making it ever since. I find it funny that it has now become a sort of “fad.” I do not consider it a necessary part of my Zero Carb diet, but I enjoy it and will make it whenever I have an upset stomach or just feel a desire for it. I did find it particularly helpful during the the first two weeks while I was adapting to this way of eating. I like to add broth to my meat while it is cooking also, as it seems to help my digestion.

The ground beef I buy is grass-fed and grass-finished, but the rest of the meat I currently purchase is grain-finished. I do add salt to my meat, either Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt. I used a lot of salt during the first two weeks of Adaptation, but then my desire lessened somewhat. I just use as much as I want according to taste. I still enjoy being creative with my food, so I have continued to experiment with different spices. I often use the Montreal steak seasoning, as well as a variety of different Penzey brand mixtures that do not have sugar.

As far as nutritional supplements are concerned, I am not currently taking any. I am planning to go for new blood work after completing my first 60 days. If anything shows deficient, I will consider adding supplements. But, if everything looks good, then I will continue on with just real food.

I know a lot of people are concerned about the cost of eating this way, and I estimate that my monthly food expenses for me alone are around $500 a month. I am sure it can be done for less money, but I consider my health to be important and am willing to spend a little extra to purchase the meats I prefer. Interestingly, I am now spending less per month on food than I was during my last two years on a Ketogenic diet. This discovery surprised me, but with and all-meat diet there is little-to-no waste. I am no longer buying fake Keto “specialty” foods which are actually quite expensive and not very healthy in the long run.

I also use some strategies to keep costs down. For example, I purchase all my ground beef directly from a local rancher, and I watch for sales on meat and then buy it and freeze it for future use. Additionally, I have a Costco membership and I belong to a local buying co-operative that allows me to purchase certain meats in bulk. Costco has excellent prices on certain seasonal items like Copper River Salmon, as well as regular items like beef roasts.

On the subject of exercise, I have always hated “working out” and never got into the gym environment. I always felt judged and very out of place. Plus, when I was at my sickest I just didn’t feel good while exercising, and it didn’t make me feel good afterward as well. Right now, I do better with walking and general activity – cooking, working around the house and yard, taking a brisk walk at work when I feel good and I need a break.

I feel society has been very punitive against heavy people always telling them to “eat less and exercise more” – which for me turned out to be the worst advice ever. My goals in this area are many though. I used to do Volks-walking, which are 5 – 10k arranged walks that take in local scenery and are all over the world. I also want to get strong enough to do some backpacking. One goal of mine is to hike the length of Oregon on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail).

I’ve had a lot of improvements in just 30 days!

  • Lost 17 pounds (it took me 4 months of keto to lose this same amount).
  • Lost 3.7% of my body fat.
  • Lost 3.5 inches off of my waist (sadly, I didn’t take any other measurements).
  • Cravings are non-existent, however I’m still sensitive to pictures of foods and the mention of certain foods. I can see that this sensitivity will gradually disappear the longer I’m on Zero Carb.
  • Reduced thyroid medications from 120 mg Armour to 60 mg (at day 15).
  • Fasting blood sugar down to 90 consistently (it was 100-120 before).
  • My joint and muscle pain has reduced by 90%. I was always at a pain level of 2-3 before and took 6 Advil at least 3 times/week. I only took Advil twice since beginning Zero Carb and they were both in the first two weeks.
  • I relied on caffeine for mental clarity before, but now I barely need any caffeine
  • My digestion was very bad before (diarrhea and malabsorption of food) – this area has improved by 50%. Also I used to have bad gas, now I hardly have any! My family loves this benefit, haha!
  • I used to be fatigued most of the time, but now my energy levels are stable, I can wake up in the morning and get up right away, and I don’t take naps any more.
  • Sleep – I used to sleep 9-10 hours a night, now I only sleep 7-8.
  • Depression – I had bouts of depression before, but these have been reduced by half, and they don’t last nearly as long when I do have them.
  • Headaches – I used to get what I call headaches but were like shoulder/neck/head throbbing tension. They completely knock me out until the next day. I had only two occurrences of this in 30 days (75% reduction), and I recovered from them quicker than before.
  • Allergies – it’s an early spring here, everyone has allergies even when they’re taking medications. Most of the time I don’t even need medications, but when I do feel a need for them, they work really well.
  • Physically – I’m more energetic, able to move around more without getting tired. Getting a lot of stuff done at home without procrastinating.
  • Eyesight – night blindness and evening vision has improved by 20%. I don’t wear glasses currently and am trying to avoid having to wear them.

My family and friends are very supportive. My husband said on the celebratory evening of my 30th day of this WOE (while we were eating prime rib) – “It’s like you finally found the way you should have been eating your whole life!” With the health results I’ve had, how could anyone close to me argue? They see the changes. With other people in my life, I’m not as open in talking about it yet, but I imagine that will change in the future as people notice my weight loss. I’m sure I’ll be blogging on this topic as I figure things out. Right now I just say I’m eating low carb if anyone comments on me just eating meat only.

Just commit to it for 30 days. If you don’t think you can do just meat and water at first, don’t worry, just start with meat, full fat dairy (sprinkles of it, not hunks) and eggs and your body will lead you in the right direction. Your abilities will surprise you! Be prepared for your life to change – and not just in the physical sense. My brain has changed too. During these 30 days I was grieving for food. I wasn’t having any physical cravings, but it’s like muscle memory – I wanted to eat at certain times (like in the evening) for comfort. You’re going to have to live with your feelings and not have a way to comfort yourself. But it’s worth it – the bad feelings do not last long. If I can do this, so can you!!

kim3

Kim with her supportive husband and daughters.

Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.

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.

If you have benefited from the information offered on this website, and you would like to express your appreciation in a tangible way, you can make a donation directly to PayPal via my email: esmeelafleur@gmail.com.

Letter on Corpulence by William Banting

Letter on Corpulence by William Banting3

 

This is a classic piece of low carbohydrate diet literature. To read the free PDF, please click the link below:

Letter on Corpulence by William Banting