Zero Carb Interview: Michaelanthony

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

Since September, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I work overnight, so these meal names are relative!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. Do you use salt? 

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

17. Do you use spices?

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

18. Do you take any supplements?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carnivory has been very good to me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Zero Carb Interview: Charlie Lyon

Please note: “Charlie Lyon” is a pseudonym, as the interviewee prefers to remain anonymous.

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

Eight years, went full on with it in 2010 and for the first three years ate only fatty ground beef and the occasional ribeye. Sometime in year four I started branching out and testing other meats, incorporating them into my daily supply to see what happened. It was fine.  

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

In 2007 I had a massive coronary event that killed me (yes yes, they brought me back so as Miracle Max said, I was only mostly dead) At the time I was also pre-diabetic, weighed over 210 pounds (I’m 5’9″), had severe IBS, severe arthritis, had lost most of my teeth (no idea I was unable to metabolize plant-sourced calcium) and had chronic GERD and chronic tendonitis, among other less obvious health issues. 

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

Couple different points on this – I had been a strict vegetarian for over 40 years. Others might call me vegan but I never thought of myself in that way. And when I say vegetarian I wasn’t merely plant-based, I was very knowledgeable about it. I worked in health food stores for years, read nutrition books, did the math for complete proteins, avoided fat, watched calories, avoided sugar as an ingredient, ate only whole grains and lots of raw fresh fruits and veggies and so on. I wasn’t a junk food junkie at all. Vegans have often tried to tell me I must have been “doing it wrong…” I have to agree – I was eating plants instead of meat and that is NOT the response they were looking for. oops… 

For me the vegetarianism was a byproduct of a meditation path that had an ethical and moral objection to the killing of animals. Psychologically it was very very difficult for me to take that first bite of meat. It was bacon from a neighbor’s farm, and given our friendship it was probably a pig whose name I knew, that I had fed on occasion, and petted. I hadn’t cooked, smelled, or eaten bacon since I was in my late teens. Let me tell you, I felt like one of Pavlov’s dogs at the bell – that first bite was an amazing experience. I licked it and there was a deluge of saliva in my mouth – I took one bite and – CLICK/THUMP – the plate was empty. A half pound of bacon devoured faster than I could blink, and then I sat on the couch in a state of post-prandial bliss that was as good as any sex I’ve ever had. I had no idea how starved my body was for those nutrients. That experience – the complex ecstatic sensations throughout my entire body and the impact on my attention and awareness – was utterly astonishing, especially since I had expected to get sick from my first exposure to meat. That experience immediately demonstrated to me the error of my ways: in fact, and contrary to 40 years of belief in an ideology, meat and fat are very good for the body.

So part one in answer to that question, after the first bite of meat I knew what the reality was and have never had trouble eating it since, regardless of the particular source – beef, pork, lamb, goat, any of the birds, seafood, and so on. Without exception meat always tastes amazingly delicious to me, and the fattier the better. A big thick chunk of pure pork belly fat properly cooked tastes better than candy to me.

Part two in answer to that question is more complicated – I was extremely insulin resistant, and looking back I would say I was actually diabetic instead of only pre-diabetic, although I didn’t have those distinctions at the time. It took me nearly three months of seriously difficult body issues before I converted. I was tired all the time, really exhausted, full of muscle cramps, my bowels were giving me no end of grief, I had headaches, I wasn’t sleeping well and so on. 

On the other side, my chronic GERD vanished within 3 days of starting to eat only meat and drinking only water. I had been on and off meds for that for 10 years. Within 3 weeks my chronic arthritis really got small and it was completely gone within 6 weeks. I started losing lots of weight but I didn’t really notice that specifically other than that I kept having to tighten the belt on my pants. I wasn’t doing this to lose weight anyway so I paid little attention to that. My heart arrhythmias vanished. My blood pressure dropped significantly. My blood glucose normalized. 

Right around the start of the fourth month I was done with feeling lousy, and was just about to give zero carb up as an unworkable solution. I went to bed one night, zonked out completely in the best night’s sleep I’d had in months, and woke up the next morning feeling great. The odd thing was that I didn’t notice immediately how good I felt. I just got up, started my day, and was halfway through a mid-morning session with a client when it suddenly dawned on me that nothing was wrong. In fact, I felt flat out terrific. I was wide awake at 10 AM still – didn’t need a nap. Didn’t feel like resting or distracting. Nothing hurt, I was full of energy. I felt fully alive physically for the first time in decades. That was another watereshed moment much like the first time I ate bacon. Everything was suddenly really different. Later I realized my metabolism had shifted to the new regime. I had fully adapted to the meat-only diet and my body LOVED it. 

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

First off was Lierre Keith’s marvelous book, “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability”. I’ve told her directly that she literally saved my life. I didn’t recognize that at the time, but it’s clear from this perspective now.  She was the first awakening for me after the heart attack – another person who shared my experience of a plant-based diet being catastrophic for human health. Then I read Dr. Mary Enig’s great book, “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” which killed off the lipid hypothesis for me. That was one of the most difficult aspects of this for me – realizing that there is no correlation between cholesterol in the diet, serum lipid levels, and cardiovascular disease. None. Zip. Zero. The Weston Price Foundation was helpful but they were a transition stage for me on the way to the all-meat diet. Certainly Charles Washington and his group ZIOH on Facebook, but we connected long before that group got so crowded and crazy. Eventually I encountered folks like Nora Gedgaudas and Esmée. 

It took me about 3 years of reading, talking, researching and testing foods through inclusion and exclusion to discover the effect on my body and health – from the cardiac event to full metabolic conversion. I love warm fuzzies, but at heart I’m a science guy – show me the data – what’s the evidence for your assertions? I’m not going to just believe something because you say so. Prove it to me in the real world.

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

I eat anything from an animal. I’d love to eat more cheese and dairy if I could but it doesn’t agree with me. My partner does. We eat tons of eggs we get from a neighbor who has chickens – four to six eggs per day each. I do eat butter. We also eat seafood. We live in a state with a huge commercial fishery so we eat lobster, scallops, fresh fish, clams, crab. These are mostly easy to catch or easy to forage. Clams, crabs, striped bass, bluefish and so on, all free for the taking with a little time and effort. Smelts in the spring, venison, wild turkey, goose, bass, trout and so on. I have some friends who have fishing boats or lobster boats so I can get those direct and fresh off the boat for a reasonable price. We consider these fairly expensive purchased seafoods to be treats and only have them occasionally.

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

I don’t really keep track of percentages, but we do eat lots of beef, probably mostly beef. When we have the money we will buy half a cow (or a steer). We also buy whole chickens, half a pig. We have a couple freezers that we keep rotating. 

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

Rare – seared well on the outside and bloody in the middle. Beef is far and away the most filling, satisfying and nutritious food we eat. It is always tasty and always filling. When I eat a ribeye for instance, I won’t get hungry again for a long time. 

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

Yes, frequently – especially if we’ve got a very lean animal. Unfortunately lots of growers believe the low-fat nonsense so calves born in March or April get butchered sometime in Oct/Nov. Nine months is not sufficient a lifespan for an animal to build healthy fat reserves. We prefer very fatty, marbled meat but too many times we see extremely lean, young beef. We would rather buy fatty grocery store meat than too-lean grass-fed. The ideal is slaughter somewhere between 24 and 48 months. That gives the animal a reasonable experience of life and provides exceptional fatty meat on grass. We often add either butter, tallow or bacon fat when we are cooking. All eggs are cooked in bacon fat, or if they are poached, then they are drowned in butter. 

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

Just like The Lady says (winkwink) When hungry, eat meat until full. When thirsty, drink water. Rinse and repeat. 

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

If they are included when we buy half a cow or steer yes, beef heart, liver, tongue and etc. but we don’t seek them out. 

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

Not usually. We have some frozen but I suspect it’s been in there a couple years. I prefer water. 

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

Usually two, but occasionally three. It usually depends on physical activity. If I’m doing a lot of work, say cutting, splitting and stacking 6 cords of firewood for the winter then I may get hungry in the evenings. I just listen to my body. If it wants more I give it more. 

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

I eat about 2 pounds, maybe a little less. My partner typically eats about a third more than I do per day, but she has a high-burn metabolism. We find this both interesting and amusing. I’m in my late 60s and she is in her mid-50s. I out-mass her by maybe 3 inches and 20 pounds and I do a ton more physical labor than she does. She’s a writer, so that bizzy brain of hers is shredding calories far more efficiently than my big ole manly muscles are. LOL

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

We prefer to buy locally sourced whole animals (in either halfs or quarters) from farmers we know. Most of our meat is raised within about 20 miles from our house, and much of it within 5 miles. However if we run short we will absolutely buy grocery meat. Our complaint isn’t so much about grass-fed or not, it’s about oil for transport and the damage to animals and environment from CAFOs. 

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

She drinks lots of teas and tons of water. I drink nearly all water except for one cup of black coffee in the morning. If I could tolerate it I would gladly drink a couple quarts of raw whole milk per day but it raises hell with my GI system. 

16. Do you use salt? 

Yes, to taste. Sometimes that’s not very much, other times lots. I tend to use more when working outside in hot weather. Here again I trust my body.

17. Do you use spices?

Occasionally – very occasionally – maybe only a few times a year, but they are all things grown here at the house – thyme, rosemary, dill, basil. I view plants as either medicines or garnish, and only useful in very small amounts. 

18. Do you take any supplements?

I don’t take dietary supplements but she does – magnesium. I do take cannabis tincture occasionally at night to help with sleep. I have a medical card for PTSD. I grow my own plants and make my own tinctures. I use MCT oil as the carrier. 

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

I haven’t done the math and I don’t really keep track. Half a cow is about $1,500, and we buy maybe 3 a year. Eggs are 4 bucks a dozen and we go through 6 dozen a week between us, but we often trade eggs and some cheeses for her for work. I’m guessing an approximate average is between $220 and $250 a month each, but that can vary year to year. Bulk beef can run between 3.75 a pound and 4.25 a pound. Pork in bulk is similar. 

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

No idea. If you buy grocery meat then watch for sales and buy in bulk then and freeze it. Ground beef is usually less if you get them to add more fat. For instance we do a 2 to 1 ratio at our butcher’s place. 15 pounds of ground beef made from 10 pounds meat to 5 pounds fat trimmings – offcuts from other meat they sell to the low-fat customers, added in and mixed well. That’s often as low as $3.45 a pound. If you buy from farmer folks you know then barter is a real lifesaver. But if you know farmers personally then you know how hard they work. They deserve to be well paid for what they do. Be fair. 

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

Yes, I try to walk at least 45 minutes every day. This is in the country, so it’s uphill and over dale. I practice Irish Stick fighting with a heavy bag (and other close-infighting combat skills) at least 4 times a week – 1 hour sessions. I literally chop wood, carry water, mow lawns (often with a scythe which I flat out love), shovel driveways and 4 times a week lift free weights. My partner does Tai Chi four times a week, lifts free weights, is a part-time lifeguard at a rehab pool so she swims several times a week, and we try to do our daily walks together whenever our schedules match. 

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.)

Yeah, all that and more. I haven’t been this healthy since I was in my late teens and early 20s. Mentally and physically I feel unbelievably great all the time. Mood is good, mind is clear, lots of physical energy. On those rare occasions when I injure myself I heal very quickly. It’s so sad how for most of my life I had no idea that one could feel such physical joy day-to-day and be in a body this way. 

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

Never having to waste time or energy thinking about what to eat. It’s simple and direct. Takes 10 minutes to prep and maybe another 10 to eat and – done. Unless I’m doing a roast or something, but even that, do maybe 15 minutes of prep, into the oven, out, let it rest – carve and eat. It always tastes amazingly delicious and I never get bored. 

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

Your body is the lab – do your homework, do the reading and research, do the science and figure out what works best for you, but when you finally do commit – just do it. Listen to your body, not your mind. You cannot do this by halves. Go thirty days and see how you feel. Then another thirty. And so on. Before you know it two years will have slipped by and you will feel great. 

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

Pretty much, I guess. I’m not particularly plugged into the opinions of others. If folks ask I explain. If they are resistant I shut up. If they are curious I will explain more and point them to other resources. 

To add to that, I’m a fairly public figure, so I’m doing this questionnaire as an anonymous contributor. The reason is that I’m too visible and I have no interest in fielding a ton of crap from radical vegans. It’s just a waste of my time, attention, and energy. I don’t really care what others eat unless it’s damaging ecosystems. Most people have no idea that holistic managment of grazers on grass sequesters more carbon in the soil faster than any other technology we know, even more than replanting entire forests. You wanna fix climate change, increase ecosystem resilience and species diversity? We cannot accomplish that without millions of grazers on grass. I do what I can, but you know, I’m mortal and I’ve got work to do. I want to get as much done as possible before I’m gone. What’s the old joke? Lead, follow, or get out of my way. 

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

Yeah, couple other pieces that I think are relevant. I live in a particular place with it’s own local ecosystem. Many things grow wild on this land including micro-life. There are wild strawberries, wild raspberries, wild blueberries, wild grapes, and many kinds of edible mushrooms. In season I will eat several handfulls of each of those. Wild foraged foods are nothing like what we buy in a store – for starters they have very little sugar and are usually tart enough to pucker your mouth. However I eat these things with specific intent. 

The surfaces of these local plants living on my place are covered with wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria that are specific to this ecosystem – just like me. I want those wee beasties living in my gut as part of my natural microbiome. With the berries, I usually only get a handfull or two before the berry eaters like the cedar waxwings show up and gobble them all down. The strawberries are insanely tiny, very tart and amazingly flavored. Two of them are about the size of my pinkie fingernail. One day this summer I was walking down to the river when I noticed they were ripe and I had about 20 of them. Before I got back from the canoe ride a large flock of waxwings had come and eaten every one. Never saw another berry there this year. LOL 

I also will gather and eat mushrooms. The interesting thing about those is that they are not plants, but are their own separate kingdom – one of the five great kingdoms of life – bacteria, protoctists, plants, animals, and fungi. I suspect they are the symbiotic ancestors of all complex life on land. I know many of them have psychotropic and entheogenic value, but I also suspect all edible species have medicinal qualities just as they are. Nothing on the planet is quite as delicious to me as sliced mushrooms sauteed in butter on a perfectly cooked ribeye. I only get them in season, only from my own land, and only a few times a year. Some years there are none to be found. 

Those are my only exceptions and I consider them not as food, but as good medicine. If you are a purist and wanna argue then please feel free to take that up with Gaia herself. I don’t mind, and I’m not suggesting that you do what I do. Figure out what works best for you and do that more. LOL!

Best to you all. Thanks for listening. 

Live Long and Prosper.

 🙂

Thus sayeth me… 

Zero Carb Interview: Jennifer Dodds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer as a teenager with her little sister.

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

100%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer and her little sister as young adults.

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

No, I have never liked it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. Do you use salt?

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

17. Do you use spices?

No.

18. Do you take any supplements?

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

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

Roughly $200-$250

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

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

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

Liver is super cheap and is packed with nutrients.

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

Salting beforehand also makes cheaper cuts more tender and flavorful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Malaena Medford

You can see the dramatic change in Malaena’s body composition over the course of her journey from how she looked before starting a Ketogenic diet with a weight of 256 lbs., then after several years on a Ketogenic diet with a weight of 179 lbs., and finally today after 15 months on a Zero Carb diet with a weight of 130 lbs. An incredible transformation!

Editor’s Note: You will notice that Malaena has a beard in her most recent photos. This is not because she is undergoing a sex changing and taking male hormones. The hair growth on her face is caused by a condition called hypertrichosis or hirsutism, also known as “werewolf syndrome.” She is a female and capable of procreating like one, and the hair on her face is not caused by a hormonal imbalance; it’s a genetic mutation.

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

I’ve been Carnivore for around fifteen months, a bit over a year now.

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

When I was 25, I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian of 2 years, and I was horrifically ill; I suffered from hair loss, weight gain despite following guidelines for it, my eyes were sunken in with dark circles around them, I always woke up feeling as if I had been poisoned, severe peripheral neuropathy, I was suffering symptoms of early-onset dementia, severe arthritis, hand tremors made it hard for me to draw, chronic fatigue, heart arrhythmia, and other symptoms. Then one day, I had such a severe attack that my intestines ruptured and I nearly bled out. I was on my deathbed.

I came to the conclusion that this was not working, and therefore it must be wrong or it would be fixing my health. I began looking for information online, and it was so very hard to wade through the junk and the good things. Then, I ran into people on YouTube who were praising Paleo and the health benefits. I looked at it with a wary eye, having been duped by the other “diet.” I was shocked at the amount of animal fat I was being told to eat, and some groups even ate raw meat, something I actually enjoy. I went into it, but kept my “healthy whole grains” because I thought I “needed” them. I was still overweight. 

I later began to attend Purdue University in Nutrition and Human Health for a Bachelor of Science degree, and it changed my life. I learned that grains and legumes were clearly poisonous, and sugar was the cause of disease—this is hard scientific fact. Plant foods, not animal foods, cause the chronic diseases of modern peoples (and ancient—Egypt was vegetarian and horrifically ill). I found Tom Naughton, who taught me how to identify bunk science and to be skeptical about everything. I also discovered Georgia Ede, who taught me how to pick apart a study with a fine-toothed comb, as well as Konstantin Monastyrsky, who taught me that fiber is terrible.

With their guidance and having learned basic biology, physiology, and biochemistry, I formulated a diet which would help me. It worked. Then I found out I was practicing the Ketogenic lifestyle. Over a period of five years, I had dropped down to 179 lbs (81 kg) from the 256+ lbs (116 kg or more) I started at (at 5’6″ in height), but I still had a bit more excess body fat I needed to shed off. However, it simply wouldn’t go away. While perusing around Facebook, I found groups labeled “Zero Carb” and thought: “That can’t be healthy!” But, after some research and thorough investigation, I realized that the reality was quite the opposite. I decided to give it a go and some of my illnesses became better.

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

Psychologically, it took me a week to get into it, because I’m a scientist and it took me that long to find all the science to show only benefits and no detriments. This website, Zero Carb Zen, helped a lot when I found it and read all the very useful information it provides on this way of eating. Physically, it was easy, because I was already Ketogenic and close to Carnivore to begin with, and I don’t actually like plants much anyways.

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

I mentioned the three who showed me how to analyze science and were active on social media (Tom Naughton, Dr. Georgia Ede and Mr. Konstantin Monastyrsky), From them, I quickly learned how beneficial an all-meat diet was for the body and mind. Other books I read were Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe, Know Your Fats and other works by Mary Enig, I watched the documentary, Fat Head, by Tom Naughton, and I joined several Zero Carb Carnivore Facebook groups, like Principia Carnivora, where I found the writings of Vilhjalmur Stefansson and others. 

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

I include all of the items listed, mostly as a garnish or treat, but I do not eat egg whites because I’m allergic.

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

I’d say beef and other ruminants is roughly 93% of what I eat and everything else is just a garnish. I’m not a fan of poultry except for the skin and I like the bones for various purposes, and I don’t do well with pork but I can have bacon as a treat on occasion; I do enjoy lard. However, pork and chicken both give me headaches if not eaten sparingly and in tiny amounts. I also eat lots of seafood, especially fatty kinds. Elk and bison are my favorite meats.

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

I mostly eat it entirely raw.

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

Sometimes, depending on if I’m craving it or not, and if it’s a lean cut. It’s actually a traditional method to spread fat on lean, and it makes sense to me from a nutritional standpoint.

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

I eat as much as I wish, but because I have a tiny stomach now, my meals tend to extend out over a two hour period. From the outside, it probably looks like I’m just snacking. Once I am satisfied, I won’t eat again for a while.

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

Yes, organ meats comprise up 90% of my food intake. I eat liver about every two to three days.

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

Haven’t tried it, but it looks interesting. I eat the soft part of bones and chew on the hard bits of cartilage. The bones themselves have good calcium which is mostly bioavailable.

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

Usually I eat 2-3 times per day unless I am having one of my ravenous days, then I seem to snack all day on cheese and raw meat. Only happens once a month.

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

It really depends, to be honest. I would say about 2 lbs. (0.9 kg) unless I can’t afford it.

A typical meal for Malaena of beef, bacon, and raw beef heart.

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

I cannot afford the luxury of the more nutrient-packed grass-fed, so I raise chickens for eggs and eat the commercial beef. I have elk and bison on occasion which is free from the meat storage for hunters, and it’s superior in flavor to anything I’ve ever tasted in my life.

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

I make a tonic of raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, pink salt, and water based on the medicinal aspects of each ingredient. This aids with digestion, helps the gut biome, aids with fat metabolism, and the salt helps with one of my chronic conditions, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). It’s not essential to existence, it’s just something I do. The only time I drink tea is when not feeling well, and it’s just plain mint.

16. Do you use salt? 

Yes, as stated above, for medical reasons. I only consume salt directly until it begins to taste bad, which I take as my body having had its fill. When things taste too salty, I know I do not need salt at all. I listen to this and use it to aid in my disability.

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, but few and only on occasion or for medicinal purposes; I’m a naturopathic botanical practitioner.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Vitamin D3 due to having porphyria which causes a violent sensitivity to light.

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

Only $120 because that’s all I get for food, but my mother knows how to get great deals and organs are inexpensive.

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

Look for sales, don’t pooh-pooh organ meats because they are meat and can be made delicious, don’t be afraid of day-old bin sales—you can find some pretty great deals there, and to be honest, this diet is way more affordable than a carb-based one because I don’t eat massive amounts like when I had my carb addiction out of control.

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

I am 90% bed-ridden but I never stop moving and don’t know why. Regular exercise includes resistance bands and yoga, along with heavy weights, but I cannot do anything rigorous because the POTS doesn’t allow it. My blood pools in my legs and won’t go to my brain, and my heartbeat goes in the range of 150 beats per minute which can be life-threatening. Rigorous exercise isn’t necessary so I’m not all that worried about it. I can run if I need, but I shouldn’t do it just because of the POTS.

Looking at my most recent photo which I took for this interview, I must say that I feel a bit self-conscious about those twigs attached to my hips, and the general atrophy of my musculature. Don’t judge me, please. This is progress so far. As I’m sure you can imagine, I have severe image issues and taking these pictures was hard. My mom cracked jokes to make me smile.

When I was 14, I was benching 200 lbs (91 kg) with my arms and could lift 600 lbs (272 kg) with my legs. Now, at the age of 31, my muscles look really horrible because I’m permanently crippled due to the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the hyper-mobility type, so my leg joints slide around and my shoulders constantly pop in and out of their sockets. This is painful and it makes resistance training a real challenge. I walk with forearm crutches, which is why my arms are bigger than my legs. My goal weight is 150 lbs. with increased muscle and bone mass, but unfortunately my legs won’t change much.

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 lost weight and my areas of pudge are gone. 

My neuropathy pains vanished once I completely removed carbohydrates from my diet. 

My gastrointestinal problems went away entirely once I found my balance of meat to fat. 

I don’t like variety. Autism has this thing where we just hate change and flavor/texture is a major part of that. On a mixed diet, I felt compelled to force variety in my diet for nutritional purposes. Now, on a purely Carnivore diet, I am finally free of this stress because there is no need for variety! I love being able to eat only a few foods and know that I am getting all of the vitamins and minerals I need for optimum health.

My cognitive capability has increased and my mental clarity is back. 

I’m no longer angry all the time like I was as a vegetarian. 

I hardly get sick at all. 

My muscles are getting big again and exercise is easier. 

My hormones are balanced and all my hormone-based functions are now regular. 

My hair and nails aren’t so brittle anymore.

My blood panels are fantastic, and I feel great in comparison to how I felt before. 

Basically, everything about my health has improved significantly.

Editor’s Note: I asked Malaena if the Zero Carb diet had any positive effect on her POTS, and so she explained a bit more about the complexity of her medical issues…

POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is a sub-disorder connected to both my Porphyria and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. My main disorders are porphyria (acute-symptoms match hereditary coproporphyria but tests are expensive); Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, hypermobility type with POTS as a symptom attached to both of those two; hypertrichosis or hirsutism, also known as “werewolf syndrome,” which is excessive hair growth, with mine being male-pattern but not influenced by hormones; and Asperger’s Autism with savant trait.
These are all genetic disorders; I was born with them.
Zero Carb has definitely had an impact in helping the negative symptoms of the Porphyria and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and has made my cognitive function (affected by the Asperger’s Autism) improve, but did nothing about the hypertrichosis because it’s just a defect in my gene code and not caused by diet.
My form of POTS is extreme and severe, and even plant avoidance does nothing to control it, but it’s definitely more manageable. I attempted a 3-month hamburger and butter fast which made me feel fantastic, but it did nothing for the POTS. I still have to take salt, and I am bed-bound 90% of the time. This is because my POTS is not diet-induced, it’s a genetic coding flaw. I was born without the ability to control proper blood flow and this is caused by those two genetic disorders, so diet cannot do anything for it.

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

The simplicity of the diet and the sense of security I feel knowing that I have dramatically reduced my susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and so many other modern illnesses.

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

You can do it! — just wash away everything you think you know about healthy eating. Eat simply and don’t fret about nonsensical things. Look for good deals and, if you can afford it, get meats from local ranchers instead of supporting the big commercial corporations. The more we buy local, pasture-raised meat, the cheaper meat will become and the more affordable it will be for everyone.

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

Yes, they are, with the exception of my cousin’s family. They are stuck on the government guidelines and think everything the authorities say is absolutely true and based on science. My cousin chastises me and torments me, saying how bad it is for me to eat this way and then offers me some soy product because he’s convinced there’s nothing wrong with it. For the most part though, whenever someone questions me about my unusual diet, I simply open my mouth and scientific and medical jargon flies out, LOL. Then they usually want to know more and ask how they, too, can become healthier. Not all the time, but it’s often the case.

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

This way of eating would be a fantastic community thing for areas which allow livestock. The group efforts of caring for the animals, the preparation of the meat, using animal hides for things, and other such practices would reduce our global impact. Plant cropping, plastics, and fossil fuels have a huge and negative impact on our planet, and one of the things which could help is restorative grazing, which gives us more meat while simultaneously restoring the land to lush forests and meadows. This is not currently part of the Carnivore-lifestyle, but many of the popular practitioners and promoters of a Low/No Carb diet, like Tim Noakes, are pointing out the environmental advantages of a diet based on meat from ruminants that are allowed to graze on the land naturally.

Gregg Sheehan, a member of our Zero Carb community, has made a page on his website devoted to collecting Malaena’s wisdom regarding a Zero Carb diet into one place.

Diet Shack – Malaena Medford

Malaena is also creating her own website on the benefits of a Carnivore diet.

Grove of Wisdom

If you wish you learn more about a Zero Carb, All-Meat diet, please join us in our Facebook group Principia Carnivora.

 

Zero Carb Testimonial: Peg

Raw Ground Beef & Raw Suet

Hello Esmee,

Reading through the testimonials on your blog helped me a great deal when I decided to take the plunge into zero carb eating and, if you are open to it, I would like to share my experience thus far with your readers as there are some aspects that are quite different from other people’s experience and may help others going through similar issues as me.

I prefer to remain anonymous so no photos. You can call me Peg.

Some background:

I have chronic fatigue, and have been struggling with it for over two years (self-diagnosed; I have never been to a doctor as I didn’t believe they would be able to help me–and I can’t afford it!). It started with a complete digestive system crash and the sudden onset of a lot of food intolerances.

Basically it went like this: In the winter of 2014 I was 220 pounds (I am a 5’8” woman in my late 30s) and decided I needed to improve my health and physical fitness. I cut out sugar, processed foods, caffeine (except green tea), grains and beans and lost 30 pounds throughout the spring. In the summer I started doing bodyweight exercises and moved into weight training by fall. I had dropped 70 pounds total, gained muscle I never had before and basically felt the best I ever had in my life.

After I started seriously weight training I got cocky about my progress and robust health and returned to eating some of the things I had previously given up, telling myself that it was ok, I would just work it off in the gym. It started with ice cream a couple times a week and moved into bread, cookies, pie, cake and other treats. For brevity; over the winter I began to experience more and more fatigue and frequent bouts of constipation and bloating (that became so extreme I looked three months pregnant!). I wrote this all off as the effects of winter, being cold, less sun, etc. and wouldn’t even have noticed a pattern to it all if I hadn’t been journaling my workouts and day-to-day feelings at the time (and even then, I only recognized the pattern when I re-read them months later).

In February, after a family celebration where I said “screw it” and ate whatever I wanted because I was feeling pretty crappy already (bloated, constipated, run-down) my entire digestive system crashed. I will omit the details for brevity sake, but suffice it to say, I was suddenly struck with major food intolerances and had an extremely limited diet for quite a few weeks until I was able to have a somewhat-less-limited diet that has subsequently remained pretty limited these past 2+ years.

I had to sleep early at night and nap during the day. My mind was foggy and unclear most of the time. I lost all the muscle I had build up as any exertion at all exhausted me for days. Over the past couple of years I have gone through waves of improvement and then crashes. I took supplements, herbs, teas and amino acids by the boatload. With all the supplements I wound up feeling good this past winter (it is early May as I write this) and got cocky again and thought I could eat sweets. I crashed badly and set myself all the way back to the beginning, giving me a really bad summer and a difficult winter struggling to pull myself back out of the pit of fatigue and weakness.

In late January I decided I would reset my digestive system by fasting, which turned into a fresh juice fast for 2 weeks (because my body simply couldn’t tolerate having no food at all). It helped considerably and I started feeling better but started to experience some extreme hunger so started eating again. I tried to add food back slowly but soon found myself overeating and consuming around 3000-4000 calories a day. And my digestion was failing again.

By early March I had learned about low carb high fat and started adjusting my diet to cut back on the sugar I was consuming with all the fruit/juice. I ate mostly ground turkey, eggs, cheese (I hadn’t been able to digest beef well for months), chicken fat and skin, bacon and bacon fat, coconut oil and salad greens with occasional small amounts of fruit. I realized the fruit was making me hungrier and causing me to overeat so I did more research and came across some information on zero carb and found Amber O’Hearn’s and Esmee’s blogs, and was especially impressed by the Anderson family (I had to find it using the Wayback Machine!) and Kelly Hogan’s blog. The information I learned in the stories I read struck a chord in me and I knew this is what I needed to do.

Zero carb journey

In the beginning:

When I started a month and a half ago I decided to cut out anything that was not from the animal kingdom (so no more coconut oil). I ate chicken thighs, bacon, rotisserie turkey, ground turkey with chicken or bacon fat pork tenderloin, steak, and a lot of eggs. For fats I ate chicken fat, tallow, bacon fat and ghee. I tried eating cheese for the first couple of days but realized it made me feel more hungry and was screwing with my digestive system and creating mucus (I was so sad!). After about a week I also cut out eggs because I believed they were making me more hungry and giving me a tendency to overeat. I feel better without them (though I miss them sometimes) and I was right; they were making me overeat for some reason.

As time went on I tried to focus on eating more beef. I came to realize that I digest it better when it is not well done and came to enjoy it quite a bit. I was eating mostly cheap steaks and 70% ground beef patties cooked rare and juicy in bacon fat. In fact, after a couple of weeks I started to feel like I was eating the best thing I ever ate every time I had beef! I was still experiencing loose stools and occasional diarrhea but wasn’t too worried about it.

In the beginning I was cooking some of my food in ghee and eating chicken skins fried in chicken fat. After awhile the ghee started to turn me off so I stopped eating it, and I was getting stomach aches and diarrhea whenever I had chicken skin or fat. I would feel really nauseous about an hour or two after eating and have to lay down for a couple of hours. Later on I figured out that seltzer water helped abate this feeling (most of the time) but I didn’t think I should be feeling that way so I eventually cut out poultry.

I then began to realize that any extra fat was giving me stomach aches and diarrhea too.

I was in a conundrum about the fat. On the one hand I knew that I needed to get the majority of calories from fat but on the other hand, too much fat seemed to give me the runs. I can’t afford expensive steaks as I have a budget of about $5 a day (with occasional extras) so i was having to add fat in the form of bacon grease and chicken fat to my food. I came across some information about eating beef raw and fat raw as well so I looked up ideas for raw fat and came across suet.

I got some suet the other night and have been chopping it up and mixing it with raw ground beef (70% mostly) and sea salt and I LOVE IT. I can’t believe I actually like it (the texture takes some getting used to) but my body must be really happy eating that way because it tastes delicious to me. Plus, I’m no longer getting stomach aches an hour or so after eating and I had my first normal bowel movement in weeks this morning!

What I eat now:

After 6 weeks of experimentation I now eat raw beef (cheapest steaks and ground beef), raw suet and low sodium bacon as a treat. I discovered early on that I digested my beef better when it was cooked less and finally got brave enough to try it raw. It changed my life! Raw beef mixed with chopped raw suet makes me feel good, drastically cut down on my stomach aches and regulated my bowels. And–surprise of surprises–I LOVE it. The bacon satisfies my residual desire for snacking but upsets my stomach if I overindulge (regular bacon upsets my system immediately and tastes wretched to me now).

I eat three meals a day, sometimes more if necessary. For all three meals I eat raw ground beef (70 or 80%) or raw chopped/shaved steak with a big chunk of raw suet chopped up and mixed into it, doused with sea salt (I’ve found I can tolerate a LOT more fat now that I’m eating raw suet and it has cut down on my beef consumption, from 2 pounds to about 1.3 pounds). Our grocery store packages ground beef in 1.3 pound packages and, now that I’m adding the suet, it seems to be enough for me for one day. We make low sodium bacon frequently at work, so I snack on this during the day. I’ve been eating anywhere from 2-8 pieces in a day (though today I had 8 and my stomach is a bit upset, so I think I will be cutting back on the bacon). I drink salt water in the morning and at night and sometimes in the afternoon if I feel I need it and regular water throughout the day. If my stomach is upset (or sometimes if I just want the bubbly) I will drink a plain seltzer water. I take 10 mg of astaxanthin a day.

I have had an electrolyte imbalance for quite a while that manifests itself in scary heart palpitations so I put sea salt on everything I eat and drink warm salt water three times a day. I am hoping that as my body acclimates more to this way of eating that things will balance out and I will eventually be able to do away with the salt. I purposefully stopped taking all supplements as my intention and hope is to be able to heal my body enough that it is producing what it needs (the one exception is the recent addition of astaxanthin as it is getting close to summer and it prevents my fair skin from burning in the sun)

Difficulties and things I’ve learned:

I really struggled with the fat ratios. I knew that I needed to eat more fat than I was eating, but every time I tried to add more fat it would nauseate me, give me bad stomach aches hours later and give me diarrhea. I recently realized that it is rendered fat I have an issue with. Once I started adding chopped raw suet to my raw beef all that changed.

Hunger has also been–and still is–an issue. On the one hand I can handle long periods of time without eating much better than I ever could–when it’s necessary. But I still think about eating constantly and partially plan my day around my three meals. I believe this is partially due to craving too much protein as a consequence of eating too little fat. I understand that too much protein can cause a glycemic response and I think that has been my problem as, up until 2 days ago I wasn’t able to tolerate much fat (because it was cooked/rendered). I am hoping that as I go longer eating the way I’m eating now my hunger will even out and I won’t feel the need to eat so much protein in a day. I also haven’t lost any weight since eating this way (in fact, I gained a few pounds, but I think it’s water, or glycogen as it drops off after a bout of diarrhea).

In the beginning I didn’t notice if I suffered any “keto flu” symptoms as I felt pretty crummy already. I had a runny nose up until about 3 weeks ago (that got worse when I ate, for some reason) but got better as I restructured my diet and removed some things. For the first month I was really wondering if this was going to help me because things weren’t getting better as quickly and dramatically as they seemed to for most of the other people who submitted their stories.

The thing that kept me going was that, despite how awful I felt, my mind was becoming clear and focused and it hadn’t been that way for many months so I knew something had to be right. Plus, I kept reminding myself that I was starting over from scratch; no supplements at all, just healing through diet, and had to constantly remind myself that it was likely to take longer for me to feel better as this was something that I had been going through for years.

The other thing that helped me stick to it was that I kept a journal of how I was feeling throughout the day in an app on my phone so I have been able to go back and see subtle improvements I didn’t notice as they were happening. This has been vital to my sticking with it! There are a lot of changes I never would have noticed if I hadn’t recorded them and been able to look back and see the patterns.

The entire process thus far has been figuring out what works for me in conjunction with what I am able to buy. Over the course of about 6 weeks I went from having a semi-varied diet to having a very limited one (raw beef and raw beef fat) but I am surprisingly happy with that! This way of eating feels so good to me and I feel happy every time I eat my bowl of pink-and-white mush!

Things I have noticed have improved:

I have NO cravings for sweets, not even fruit! (this is mind-boggling to me. I could never imagine my life without fruit)

My tastes have changed–I don’t just tolerate raw beef, I really enjoy it!

My sense of smell has changed–I can enjoy the smells of foods I used to love without craving them (that, in and of itself, is nothing short of miraculous to me!).

I can enjoy baking (I work in a bakery!) without even wanting to try anything I’m making

My mind is clear and focused in a way it hasn’t been for many months

I have motivation to do things I didn’t/couldn’t before (like household chores)

The ways of eating that work for healthy people did not work for me and I think this is important for others who are coming from a place of compromised health when they embark on this way of eating. I can’t have any dairy or eggs. Any kind of rendered fat gives me diarrhea if I eat more than a couple of teaspoons of it at a time. Because of my current electrolyte issue I require vast quantities of salt to keep my heart beating normally. Even though I require a lot of salt, I need to eat low sodium bacon instead of regular bacon because it makes me feel ill. Raw beef with raw fat seems to work well for me, even though it’s the cheapest stuff at the store and not the fancy grass-fed stuff (though I would surely eat that if I could afford it!).

I still have the fatigue, but I can see and feel myself getting better (and have proof of it from what I have recorded in my journal). My energy has improved over the past few weeks. I used to nap for 2 hours every day and now I don’t. I used to have to lean on my husband walking to work and home because I was so weak and wobbly and now I can walk unsupported. My mind was so foggy and unclear that I couldn’t do much of anything at home other than watch movies or sleep (after a shortened workday). Now I am back to reading, journaling, studying a language, doing brain-improvement exercises, watching documentaries and even having the motivation and energy to do chores around the house. I have also started to be able to do a bit more physically. I have started practicing Tai Chi again and have even been able to dance with my husband a bit. I am able to interact more with family and pets and friends.

My advice for others starting out on zero carb:

One way of doing things is going to work for every body! Just because the majority of zero carbers eat bacon and steaks and cheese and eggs and lose weight and get strong and feel great two weeks into it does not mean you will. It took me 6 weeks to start feeling noticeably better. It took me almost 5 of those weeks to figure out that my body doesn’t deal well with rendered fat. A lot of things that help other people didn’t help me and I had to pay very close attention to my own body and go against convention sometimes.

Keep a journal of what you’re eating and how you’re feeling every day. You will be surprised at the changes and patterns you don’t notice while they’re happening.
Learn to listen to your body. Just because something works for most people doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Experiment and learn as you go.
Don’t expect immediate improvement. Some people notice dramatic improvement right away. But if you’re coming from a place of compromised health it might take awhile for things to get better. Some things will get worse. Pay attention and readjust accordingly, but don’t give up just because 2 weeks have gone by and you’re not feeling fantastic (this is where keeping a journal REALLY helps).

If you’re committed to improving your health you will find what works for you. Just keep at it!

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Rustik Johnson

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

A little less than 2 years.

Prior to discovering the all-meat Zero Carb, I tried the Gerson Therapy (juices and coffee enemas) and Orthomolecular Therapy (high dose vitamins and minerals), Fecal Transplant (I was desperate!), Chelation Therapy. I tried many different food therapies and diets, in addition to many other alternative therapies like Reiki and Crystals, but none of them healed me.

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

Health. I started having weird symptoms around age 21. At the age of 26, I was finally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis through MRI which showed demyelination of my nerves. I am now 32 and, thanks to eating a Zero Carb diet and doing alternate day dry fasting, I am like a whole new person.

Prior to getting sick, I used to drink 6 cups of coffee, 8 Red Bull, 8 liters of diet soda, 40 cigarettes, lots of Jack Daniels, and many different steroids from the age of 18. I would stay up for 3 days in a row, I was with a different girl every night, I felt like the King of the World!

I am so clean now that if I have even one cup of coffee, it will keep me awake for two days straight!

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

About 2 months for Zero Carb and fasting together.

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

I read many authors and books: Rob Woff, Loren Cordain, The Walhs Protocol, GAPS, Primal Blue Print, etc. I developed an eczema on my right foot and by reading zero carb forums I learned that vegetables had toxins and antinutrients in them and so I figured out that this is what was causing the eczema. I also discovered that certain plant foods caused my pain to flare up and come back.

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

Only meat. The whole animal: brain, heart, intestines, liver, kidney, everything. It is is my medicine. No dairy. No eggs.

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

I try to eat 100% lamb because I know for sure that is grass feed. When I eat meat from animals fed grains, I don’t feel good at all.

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

My preference is well done. I like my meat roasted.
I believe this is the way our ancestors cooked it over a fire. I did try raw meat and fermented meat in the beginning, but I did not feel good eating my meat that way.

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

No, I eat only the fat that comes with the meat. I don’t eat any of the liquid fat that melts out of the meat because I think this fat has been damaged by oxidation.

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

I let my appetite guide me and eat until satisfied.

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

When I kill a lamb the first two meals are just the organ meats, then I only have the muscle meat.

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

No, I don’t consume it. I think that our ancestors didn’t consume it… but i bought a pressure cooker and so I may try it. I bought it because i am a compulsive buyer! Jajajaja

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

I eat one meal every two days and I dry fast in between. So, I eat and drink to satiety during a 4 hour window, then I dry fast for 44 hours and then drink water and eat again during another 4 hour window. This is called alternate day fasting and it has been shown to reduce inflammation.

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

3 kg (6.5 lbs) – weight includes bones – or so for each meal, once every other day. For reference, I am 6’2” and weigh 165 lbs today.

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

Only Grassfed! When I eat meat from grain fed animals, I do not feel well at all.

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

No, only water. I drink about 4-5 liters during my 4 hour eating/drinking window every other day.

16. Do you use salt?

No, because I don’t believe our ancestors ate it.

17. Do you use spices?

No, again, because I don’t believe our ancestors ate them.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No. I took a ton of supplements as part of some of the other therapies I tried, but I could feel no discernible benefits from any of them really.

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

I eat 3 lambs per months which totals $200.

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

Yeah… live like our ancestors! I think that they ate only once every 2-3 days…. and rested in between…. but a person can’t do that so easily today, so you must adapt our life in this time period to mimic how we used to eat.

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

10 km every shining day: a combination of sprint, run, walk, and 15 min weight training.

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.)

Zero carbs and dry fasting together have put the Multiple Sclerosis into complete remission… it has given me extreme health, like being a kid again. I haven’t needed to return to my neurologist for any reason. And I never get sick with viruses since I started eating this way. Also, I have lost over 100 lbs since my diagnosis and changing my diet.

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

The food! That is my greatest joy… and extreme health too obviously.

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

Yeah that don’t let the adaptation process scare you. At first, you may experience unpleasant and weird symptoms like fatigue, constipation, tremors, fever, and a lot of other things. This is normal. Don’t worry; you will be okay. It took my body about 2 months to fully adapt to this way of eating. Now I feel fantastic!

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

I don’t care! Jajajaja

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

This eating and fasting regimen is very difficult to do at first, but it gets easier and the end results are so worth it. It has given me my life back!

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You can read more about Rustik’s healing journey on his new blog: Healing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Amber O’Hearn

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

I’ve been eating an essentially plant-free diet for almost 7 years, starting in November of 2009.

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

My original reason for trying a meat-only diet was for fat loss. I was at my wit’s end, because my very low carb, but plant heavy diet, even though it had helped me get to into great shape in the past, wasn’t as effective anymore and I was slowly getting fatter and fatter.

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

It’s funny. It took me way longer to adapt to the diet mentally than physically. I spent three weeks planning and giving myself pep talks, and even then, I only felt able to commit to it with the promise to myself that it was going to be of very limited duration. Once I started, though, I felt comfortable within a mere few days.

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

The only guidance I had toward this diet at that time was the Zero Carb forum run primarily by Charles Washington, and the inspiring stories there. I also had read Owsley Stanley’s (aka The Bear) essays on the subject.

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

I eat mostly just meat, but I will eat occasional eggs and dairy. I find that dairy increases my appetite significantly and I have an addiction-like response to fermented dairy in particular, so I’m wary of that.

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

I eat from all the food groups: ruminants (e.g. beef and lamb), poultry, pork, and fish and shellfish, but beef is the base of my food pyramid.

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

I prefer my beef steaks rare, but other cuts I treat individually. To my taste, short ribs are divine roasted for several hours, but ground chuck is best raw or lightly seared.

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

I often eat butter, lard, or tallow either on or with my meat, depending on how lean it is.

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

I have played around with fasting, but my usual mode of operation is to eat once or twice a day when I get hungry, until I feel satiated. Then I stop.

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

Of organ meats, I mostly eat liver, only because that’s what I have easiest access to. I tend to get a craving for it every few weeks. I’ll eat a lot of it for a few days and then I don’t want it again for a while. I’m not very systematic about it.

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

I like bone broth. Just like with the organs I tend to drink it in phases; every day for a few days and then not again for a few weeks. I enjoy bone marrow also.

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

I mostly eat two meals a day, at lunch time and again at supper. I often feel better if my first meal is a little later than traditional lunch, but lunch is a social activity at my workplace, and it’s a trade-off.

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

I eat about 1.5 to 2 pounds of meat a day.

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

I want to support sustainable and humane farming, but the health benefits I’ve received don’t depend on it, so I often eat conventional meat for financial reasons.

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

I do drink coffee and occasionally herbal tea. It’s my plant vice.

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Amber enjoying cold leftovers for lunch.

16. Do you use salt?

I do sometimes use salt, but during my transition to this diet I used none, and so I’m acclimated to the taste of meat without it, and find I often don’t want it.

17. Do you use spices?

When I’m out, or a guest, I will usually not refuse meat that has up to a moderate amount of spice, but I almost never use it in my own cooking.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I have played around with a variety of supplements, but the only ones I take with any consistency are: turmeric and citrus bioflavonoids, to reduce symptoms of endometriosis; and magnesium, just because I think our whole food chain is deficient in it.

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

This is difficult to estimate, because I have children with me part time. Overall, the cost is certainly higher than if I ate grains, but fruits and vegetables are expensive by calorie. I’m probably spending less than I used to.

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Amber’s son enjoying a stick of butter by itself.

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

Buying cheaper cuts and mixing in pork, poultry, and eggs helps keep cost down. Don’t forget that ill health is a major expense. I’ve never missed work due to illness and have seen my doctor only for labs and preventive care.

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

I do a slow-burn style weight-lifting once a week, and walk, run or bike now and then if I feel like it.

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 lost over 60 pounds eating this way, but the most important benefit was that my Type II Bipolar Disorder, which mainly manifested as severe suicidal depression, is in complete remission. I’ve been off all psychiatric drugs since I started eating a carnivorous diet, and the only times I’ve had symptoms are when I have done experiments with plant foods, supplements, or had excessive alcohol consumption.

23. Have you conceived, given birth, or breastfed while on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what was your experience?

My third child was conceived when I started this diet the first time, and I didn’t stay Zero Carb during the first two trimesters, due to severe nausea and carb cravings. By the third trimester I ate very low carb with some carnivorous days. I’ve been essentially plant free since the birth, so that included his entire breastfeeding period. I had better milk supply and better mood and stamina than with the previous two children.

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

My youngest child ate almost no plants for the first few years of his life. Now he has just few plants in his diet, mainly carrots and bell peppers. The others have eaten lower carb and even zero carb in the past, but eat high carb out in the world. It is a difficult social navigation for them, even though they understand the benefits.

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

It’s hard to think of anything better about carnivorous eating than the freedom from living with Type II Bipolar Disorder and suicidal depression. However, one thing I love about my diet is that I trust my appetite completely now. My body stays in a range of about five pounds no matter what I do. That’s freeing. I also love that I’m especially resistant to disease now. I never worry about the latest viruses going around. I feel robust.

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

My advice to a beginner is to commit to going into it as completely as possible for at least three weeks. You want to eliminate as many confounding factors as possible and stay at it long enough to start seeing changes. Please see my and Zooko’s blog post “Eat Meat. Not Too Little. Mostly Fat.” for our full advice on starting.

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

Not that I can think of.

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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.

This interview has been translated into Hebrew by Tomer Aviad and may be read here:

ראיון אפס פחמימות עם אמבר הואירן