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.

Lamb is My New Best Friend

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So, as I wrote in my previous post – My First 4 Months on Zero Carb – I have been eating a diet of only pork for almost 2 months. The reason is because it was the only meat I could find that was both affordable and low in histamines. However, a friend (thank you, you know who you are!) recently sent me a Precision Xtra Ketone and Blood Glucose Meter, so I could start testing myself and see how the Zero Carb diet was affecting me.

When I started testing my blood sugar, I was very surprised to discover that my fasting glucose level was running between 120-140, with a few post-prandial readings as high as 150! Optimum for people eating a carb-based diet is between 70-90. However, for people on a low-to-no carb diet, levels can be a little higher like 100-110 without it posing any threat to one’s health. In fact, this phenomenon is so common among Low and Zero Carb practitioners that Dr. Petro Dobromylskyj wrote a blog post explaining it titled Physiological Insulin Resistance.

Several others in the Zero Carb group I participate in Principia Carnivora who are Type 2 diabetics also noticed that pork seemed to cause their blood sugars to rise beyond the healthy range, between 150-200. Understandably, these kinds of numbers were making them a bit uncomfortable. One woman decided to do an elimination diet by eating only one kind of meat each day. This is how she pinpointed pork as the primary culprit in her higher than normal glucose readings. Chicken also raised her blood sugar someone higher, but nowhere near as high as pork. Beef seemed to be the best of all the meats she tested.

Because of its unusual effect on blood sugar, I decided to take a closer look at pork to see if I figure out why it might be doing this. I ended finding an interesting study done by the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) which showed that fresh pork in particular – as opposed to marinated or aged pork – caused the red blood blood cells of the person who ate it to agglutinate and stack together in an abnormal fashion.

I also learned from Dr. Peter D’Adamo that pork contains a lectin which is a known panhemaglutinan and will agglutinate all blood types on contact. This may account for the observations made in the WAPF study. I wrote a whole post explaining this in more detail titled Pork.

Interestingly, Dr. H. L. Newbold and Dr. James Salisbury – who both prescribed all-meat diets to their sick patients – found that pork was a less than optimal choice. Newbold reports that his patients simply felt less than well after eating pork, but he does not give much detail beyond this.

Salisbury, on the other hand, says that if one tries to live off of only pork for too long, they will develop what he called “meat dyspepsia.” As far as I can understand, meat dyspepsia involves a sort of reverse peristalsis, in which the meat would try to come up rather than go down like it was supposed to. Today, we might call this gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) or simply indigestion.

Salisbury’s understanding of this came from personal experience and clinic observation. He hired a group of young healthy men to eat only one food at a time with him for periods of up to 2 months in order to determine how it would affect the body. What he found was that all meats – except for beef and lamb – would eventually result in this meat dyspepsia if eaten exclusively for too long. He says,

Good fresh beef and mutton stand at the head of all the ailments as foods promotive of human health. Eggs, fish, pork, veal, chickens, turkeys, and game come merely as side dishes: they may be subsisted upon singly for a limited time without bad results. All of these, however, if subsisted upon alone for too long a time… may eventually produce meat dyspepsia… in meat dyspepsia there is more or less distress… about the stomach…

I found this extremely interesting because I seemed to be experiencing more digestive issues with pork the longer I ate it. I did not seem to have much trouble during the first few weeks, but then I started to have increasing trouble with nausea and burping beginning about 2 hours after eating. Because of my histamine sensitivity, I was thinking that my digestive issues were histamine-related.

The pork I was getting was being processed within three day of slaughter, but I was wondering if maybe that was still too many days. I also wondered if perhaps too many histamines were being formed in the meat after I put it in the freezer or while I was thawing it out before cooking. I was feeling confused and a bit overwhelmed by the whole situation to be quite honest.

But after reading the above excerpt from Salisbury’s book The Relation of Alimentation and Disease, I decided to to see if my awesome butchers at The Meat Shop could get me some lamb for comparison. Well, they came through for me once again and got me some fresh lamb that was processed and frozen within 3 days of being slaughtered. This was perfect because now I would be able to test whether or not my reaction to the pork was a histamine issue, or just an issue with the pork itself.

Well, you can imagine my delight when – several hours after eating the lamb – I felt no nausea or digestive distress whatsoever! WOOO-HOOO!!! I cannot tell you what a profoundly negative effect bad digestion can have on one’s mood and mental outlook. Okay, so now that I have clarified this – which is HUGE – I just need to figure out how to create the money I need to be able to afford the lamb on a regular basis.

I was equally delighted to find that after only 2 days of eating lamb, instead of pork, my fasting blood glucose levels have dropped to between 96-113 which is a significant improvement. My post-prandial blood sugar reading last night was was 117.

Based on what Drs. Newbold and Salisbury similarly observed with both themselves and their patients, I imagine that beef would work just as well as lamb for me… if I could find some that was processed within only a few days of being slaughtered and was low in histamines. While I have not yet located a source that fits this criteria, I am sure it is out there somewhere (Ask, and It is Given!), and it is something that I am definitely looking forward to enjoying in the future.

P.S. If you want to learn more about Dr. Salisbury and his Beef and Hot Water diet, I recommend reading Elma Stuart’s book What Must I Do to Get Well? It is a far better presentation of his diet and how to apply it in one’s life than Salisbury’s own laboriously scientific work.