Migraines, Mood, and a High Fat Ketogenic Diet

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Since I know many of my readers are not on Facebook and, therefore, do not participate in our Zero Carb group Principia Carnivora, I wanted to share something I posted there that I have recently discovered for myself on this Zero Carb path…

When I first began a Zero Carb diet a year and a half ago, I ate a LOT of fat. But as time went on, I came to the conclusion that ALL of the fats I was using to achieve these high levels were not compatible with my body. I tried butter, ghee, tallow, lard, heavy whipping cream, and coconut oil. All dairy fats give me migraines. Coconut oil is high in salicylates and cause severe low blood pressure and other negative symptoms. All rendered fats make me extremely nauseated. Even eating too much cooked fat attached to a steak will make me nauseated. But if I eat the beef fat raw, I can eat much more without experiencing this horrible nausea. This is the main reason I am currently eating all of my meat completely raw (as homemade ground beef). In spite of the nausea from the cooked and rendered fats that was eating in my early Zero Carb days, however, I did experience a noticeable decrease in my chronic migraines headaches (as long as I avoided all dairy).

At the beginning of April (2016), I did a 16-day water fast. This was the second long water fast I have done since beginning my Zero Carb journey. The first one was about 8 months ago and it made a noticeable improvement in my tolerance for histamines. I was finally able to eat conventional beef sold in Costco or Safeway, as long as I bought if fresh and ate it that day. After this second 16-day water fast I did a month and a half ago, I found that I could tolerate even more raw fat in my ground beef than I could before the fast. But the quality of the fat must be very good. It cannot be outer skin fat which is oxidized and rancid. This kind of fat makes me very sick. Rather, it must be the good thick internal fat like that attached to Ribeye or New York Strip Loin.

It has been a challenge to source enough good quality beef fat to meet my needs. I am still trying to figure this out. If I could buy my meat in bulk without having to worry at all about histamines forming as I work my way through it, then I would be able to buy whole packages of New York Strip Loin from Costco which very affordable are extremely fatty (more fatty and better quality that their Ribeye in my experience). But I cannot go through all the meat fast enough to keep the histamines low enough fir me to tolerate. I need more money and pack of dogs to share it with so that we can plough our way through it in just a few days. 😂

Anyways, the main thing I wanted to share in this post is that since my recent 16-day water fast in April, I have been able to increase the percentage of fat in my diet from about 70% to 80% or more without experiencing any of that horrible nausea. It is hard to calculate exactly, but thevground beef I make for myself is about 2/3 lean to 1/3 fat or what would be called 65/35 by a butcher. So say… 12 oz of lean to 6 oz of fat. It might be a little more protein and a little less fat, but this give you the idea.

Since doing this, I have noticed two very important benefits. I am not as prone to migraines as I was when eating more protein and less fat, and my mood is much more stable now than it was on less fat. I am far less irritable and impatient with more fat in my diet. I feel both physically and mentally calmer. My conclusion is that more fat is definitely better for my brain. I am not saying this is ideal for others, and I am really not an advocate of eating too little protein on a Zero Carb diet. And if you are trying to lose weight, too much fat might prevent this from happening.

But, as my own experience is showing, some people might need to eat more fat for therapeutic reasons, even for conditions that are not life threatening like brain tumors or epilepsy. One woman in our Facebook group has stated that it was the high levels of saturated animal fat in her own Zero Carb diet that killed the off the tenacious Lyme bacteria in her body. The more fat she ate, the better she felt; though it still took time to eliminate the Lyme bacteria from her body completely. She, too, eats 80% or more of her calories from fat. 18 years later, she continues to thrive.

My point in sharing this story is to, once again, demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all Zero Carb diet. It has taken me a long time and lots of experimenting to figure out what truly works for me and for my body to become a cooperative component in the process. So, if you are having trouble figuring out what percentage of protein to fat is best for you, or what types of meats and other animal foods and fats are best for you, please don’t give up! I know someone who feels great at only 55-60% fat. We are all a bit different and unique in our needs. Just keep experimenting until you find something that feels good and works for you.

~Esmée La Fleur

For help and support, please join us in the Zero Carb Facebook group “Principia Carnivora.”

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

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

Health Problems From the Start & Conventional Treatments

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

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

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

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

Alternative Health Options

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

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

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

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

Paleolithic Transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Keidren Devas

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

Almost a year now.

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

I remember as a child I was very sensitive and from an early age I had eczema, a plethora of environmental allergies and asthma, all of which I was on multiple medications for. I also had an extremely compromised immune system and always had seasonal bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia; it seemed I was always on antibiotics and at the doctor’s office. When I look back it’s a wonder I survived my childhood at all!

As a teenager I ate the common SAD and suffered from fatigue, weight gain, anxiety and depression…If only I had known at that time what I do now about healing the gut and eliminating carbs and sugar…my life experiences within the world would have been so very different!

Then onto college and the whole fat free trend had just started! So I jumped on that bandwagon, eating all the processed and fat free foods, basically a 100% full-on sugar diet.

Then I transferred out to the west coast, and I quickly realized there was another way to eat other than the SAD diet. I began to read about alternatives, I started eliminating processed foods, started eating whole foods learning about a macro diet and began working at a health store and learning about supplements and alternative ways of healing…this was a very pivotal time in my life and my health did get a little better, way better than it was on a SAD diet!

I started fasting, doing different cleanses, losing weight, etc. My quest in life had begun and that was to feel good, and since I have never felt good I was always seeking to feel better. I then became a vegetarian, then a vegan, with these new ways of eating I suffered from fatigue, feeling cold all the time, depression, anxiety, very low blood sugar, sugar cravings. I ate this way on up to when I had my first child at age 24.

The actual birth was fine, but my body would not produce milk (low serotonin as I know now) and I dealt with postpartum depression, etc. My second birth a year and a half later was the same.

I then became a single mom of two, suffering from stress, severe chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, super low immunity, low blood sugar, low basal body temp, getting a different virus every other week, and an aching body that hurt so bad it was hard for me to function (fibromyalgia). I did somehow function though and no one really knew the inside hell that I was in fact dealing with and feeling.

In my 30’s, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and low adrenals, I began to take thyroid meds for awhile and saw numerous natural doctors and tried so many natural remedies, as well as diving into my own studies, discovering and learning as much as I could about low thyroid, hypothalamus function, adrenal exhaustion, etc.

I then began working for a naturopath who was really into the Raw Food movement, so I decided to try this and ate a raw food diet for almost two years. My ailments did not go away really though, and I can see now that I was just under a constant sugar high, but I felt stuck and did not want to ever go back to the other ways that I had been eating.

I started then to have a lot of digestive issues and pain in my gut in the morning and fatigue after I ate breakfast. So I began researching healing the gut and things like the GAPS diet, etc. I will never forget the day a friend of mine offered me some bone broth, this was such a profound moment in my recovery. With the first sip, I could literally feel the nutrients filling my body from within, warming me and relieving my aches and pains instantly.

I then started researching bone broth and began drinking it daily, and started learning about the Paleo and Primal diets, and began the shift of incorporating some meat and cheese and eliminated grain, and began to eat low carb. I started feeling so much better, my body became warm, my energy increased, joint pain was diminished, my digestion improved, my blood sugar and mood swings improved dramatically. My immune system was still very low though and I still didn’t feel completely at my optimum.

Looking back I was still at this point a sugar addict, having small bits of dark chocolate at night and I was still eating veggies. Into about my ninth month of low carb/Paleo/Keto, my dear friend Sondra Rose who had been coaching me and who also was on the same way of eating, told me she was eliminating all carbs including veggies from her diet and was only eating meat and occasional cheese, and lots of fat.

My first reaction was no way could I do that! How could that even be healthy…but I quickly caught myself remembering that I still wasn’t feeling at my optimum and was just lately pondering what I needed to shift next. So with Sondra’s encouragement, I decided the next day to give it a try. If you want personal one-on-one assistance in making the transition to a Zero Carb diet, you can contact Sondra through her website: http://www.sondrarose.com

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

In the beginning during the adaptation period, I increased my fat intake, sodium and drank bone broth daily and that really helped ease my symptoms of sugar withdrawal. I experienced some mild fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps mostly.

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

A good friend of mine who is a nutritional coach and on this WOE. Also the Facebook group Principia Carnivora and this website Zero Carb Zen.

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

My daily intake consists of mostly ground beef, ribeye, tri tip steak, salmon, lots of eggs, small amounts of cheese/lard/chicken and LOADS of butter and occasionally bacon.

I drink only water, and I will occasionally mix gelatin with hot water to make a warm drink.

I keep it simple with protein and fat consistent.

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

85% Beef

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

Ground Beef I cook well done, but steaks I cook blue rare.

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

Sometimes I add extra butter or lactose free sour cream.

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

Both, I measured my daily intake for a few weeks, and now I just eye ball it.

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

No liver, just don’t like the taste, but I will eat hearts when I can get them fresh and local.

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

No, just Geletin powder now.

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

Three

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

14 to 20 ounces

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

Both

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

Just Gelatin powder in hot water.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, in my ground beef and salted butter.

17. Do you use spices?

Some in my ground beef only. Garlic powder and pepper.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Magnesium at night every other day, 10,000UI of Vit D daily.

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

About $400.

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

Eat your ground beef and shop sales and stock up.

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

My work is physical and also yoga, and plank twice daily

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

Literally after only ONE DAY of eliminating ALL veggies and all plant material, my whole being felt better. I was calm, peaceful, strong, and energized. I instantly lost 10 pounds of water retention, all inflammation vanished, and I began to witness my body becoming muscular and strong. My energy is completely even throughout the day and it doesn’t seem like a day goes by that someone doesn’t comment on how I look like I am 25 when in fact I am 41! My Immune system has never been stronger, and my body, mind and spirit have never felt this strong!

The biggest “Ah-Ha!” moment for me was realizing how sensitive I really was to sugar, all carbs, and the plant kingdom in general. I realized that this is what had been aggravating my health all those years. Any amount of plant foods is just too much for my system, plain and simple.

For the first time in my life I feel FREE, ALIVE, and full of LIFE! This way of eating has absolutely by far been a lifesaver and a life regained for me. I have been able to really reflect the last few months on how I used to be and feel, and cannot believe I made it through. I am so thankful to have discovered a Zero Carb, All-Meat Diet.

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

Simplicity and how I feel!

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

Yes, take it slow, trust your body. Increase your water, fat and sodium intake in the beginning. Read and ask questions for support and wisdom from the folks in the Principia Carnivora group.

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

Yes, my kids know to set the table for me always with a steak knife!
26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?

Yes, I have just recently had the opportunity to be of assistance and lend my guidance and wisdom to two beautiful women who were suffering from very similar health ailments from years of eating a plant based diet. They too felt stuck like I had and did not know how to move forward.

It felt so good to share with them all that has healed for myself since shifting my diet to ZC. It also gave me an opportunity to reflect and see how far I have come and remember all the ways I used to feel.

They were in fact the catalysts for helping me realize how important it is to share my health story to help others on their journey to optimal health!

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

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

 

Zero Carb Testimonial: Stephany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: Before Beginning My Journey and Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: Delicious, healing broth.

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How many meals do you eat per day on average?

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

How much meat do you eat per day on average?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you use salt?

Yes, but less and less.

Do you use spices?

No. I have never liked them.

Do you take any supplements?

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

How much money do you spend on food each month?
Not as much as when I was eating high carb and low fat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Liz Spencer


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Liz after 1 year of Zero Carb.

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

Officially my start date was April 1, 2015 but I had been eating pretty much zero carb for months before I had heard there was a word for that.

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

Both. I had a lot of weight to lose and my health was horrible. I applied for disability due to a long laundry list of health problems.

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

It was a slow process getting to Zero Carb. I started by just cutting out one thing at a time like sugar and bread, and then very slowly lowering my carbs per day so I never had any physical symptoms like Keto Flu. Psychologically it was a bit harder since I live with 5 other adults who are major carb addicts. Every time I walk into the kitchen I have to walk past a whole counter covered with candy, pastries, pies and bread. It was hard at first but once I was zero carb the cravings went away. Now I walk past them with no problem.

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

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes was a really good book, but mostly I read a lot of websites.

My Zero Carb Life
http://myzerocarblife.jamesdhogan.com/wp/

Zero Carb Zen
https://zerocarbzen.com/

Zero Carb Health
http://www.zerocarbhealth.com/

Bad Ass Carnivore
http://badass-carnivore.com/

Empirica
http://www.empiri.ca/

These are all sites I enjoy.

Facebook groups are also great for daily support.

Principia Carnivora https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrincipiaCarnivora/

Zeroing in on Health
https://www.facebook.com/groups/zioh2/

No Carbs LCHF
https://www.facebook.com/groups/NoCarbsLCHF/

Principia Fibromyalgia (for Zero Carbers with Fibromyalgia) https://www.facebook.com/groups/645650578871443/

Liz before beginning her Low to Zero Carb journey.


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

I started with meat, eggs, chicken, fish, butter, cheese, and cream. I had a serious sour cream addiction! Slowly I started eating more meat and less chicken and fish. I cut out the dairy after about 5 months. Now I’m down to meat, eggs and butter.

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

I eat about a pound of beef a day, 4 eggs and about 8 slices of bacon. So about half.

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

I would like to eat it rare but I don’t trust the cheap Walmart ground beef I have to buy due to budget constraints so I cook it well done.

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

Sometimes I’ll add butter if I have an urge, but not often. I do like my eggs dripping in butter though.

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

I eat till I’m full, no limit, though I really can’t eat much at once.

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

I like liver so I’ll sneak it in once a week. I only limit it because one of the people I live with hates the smell of it.

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

Nope, too much trouble to make.

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

I usually eat 3 since I can’t eat much at once. Otherwise I wouldn’t get enough food per day.

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

About pound of beef and about 8 slices of bacon per day.

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

I really wish I could afford to eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat but I’m on a really tight budget so its Walmart Ground beef for me.

Liz before beginning her Low to Zero Carb journey with her parents and sisters. Liz is on the far left in red.

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

I drink a lot of herbal tea and I am slowly weaning myself off coffee, so within a month no coffee.

15. Do you use salt?

Oh yes! It’s my last addiction. I tried to quit salt, but nope, I just can’t right now.

16. Do you use spices?

Pepper on my eggs and some steak seasoning on my ground beef.

17. Do you take any supplements?

Only when I have been exposed to someone sick. I’ll take vit. D, C, K and zinc.

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

Just under $200.

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

I use high fat ground beef instead of steaks, and I eat eggs every day.

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

No. When I started I could hardly walk 1/8 of a mile and I had to use the electric carts in the grocery stores to shop. Even without exercising I’m getting stronger and my stamina is increasing. I am trying to move around more though. Since I’ve lost 50 pounds it has gotten much easier to move my body. I’m pushing myself to do a little more each day.

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

I guess I should tell you I was a complete mess in 2013. I was 100 pounds overweight. I had Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Peripheral edema, Depression and Anxiety, Severe PMS, Migraines, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Irritable bowel syndrome. Basically, I felt like Crap!

I did a long, slow transition from low carb to very low carb to zero carb, so it’s hard to remember exactly what happened when.

I started low carb in early 2013. My focus was just weight loss since I never thought I could heal all my issues. I lost weight pretty quick at first, going from 225 down to 200 in early 2014. (Ya, that’s fast for me.)

Then the weight loss slowed down, but I noticed other things happening like my High Blood Pressure normalized and I was able to go off HBP meds. Additionally, the Migraines, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome slowly Improved and went away.

I freely admit that I fell off the wagon frequently those first couple of years. I was going through a divorce after 28 years of marriage, and I had to move in with my parents. So, I was a tad bit stressed.

Then menopause hit, the weight loss slowed even more, and – oh boy! – the hot flashes, but at least there was no more PMS!

By the beginning 2015 I had transitioned to very low carb. I noticed that I wasn’t as tired as usual, but I was still having problems with Fibromyalgia, Peripheral Edema, Depression and Anxiety.

In Late March of 2015, I found the Facebook group “Zeroing In On Health.” I was pretty much already Zero Carb with rare exceptions, so I decided that I might as well go the whole distance.

I officially started Zero Carb on April 1, 2015. That’s when I really noticed the big changes. Over the first 6 months my Fibromyalgia pain, Depression and Anxiety slowly faded and I was able to move more easily.

In the last 3 months, I have been able to go shopping without using the electric carts that they have in the stores. I feel human again!

In early January of 2016, I didn’t take my HCTZ for my Peripheral Edema for a couple of days, and my feet and ankles didn’t swell up into huge sausages! I’m slowly weaning off of it now too.

I’m currently down to 172 pounds, and I actually feel some muscles under that last 50 pounds of fat I want to lose. I feel so much stronger now and I’m actually looking for a job! I’m have been helping my parents out at their office for free. It’s quite a work out filing and lifting boxes. But I can work!!!!

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

It’s so filling that I never feel hungry. I can also go longer between meals if I have to without feeling hungry and weak.

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

Read everything you can get your hands on about it. Start slow. Don’t give up. If you fall off the wagon, just jump back on. Don’t tell anyone unless you have to. They will just look at you like your crazy then lecture you about health. You can tell people once you have been doing it for a while and have results you can show them.

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

They are now. At first they thought I was crazy, but they can see how much weight I’ve lost and how much healthier I am now. Unfortunately I still have to walk past their junk food constantly.

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

Nope.

Liz today!

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Sebastien Fortier

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

I started my ketogenic diet on December 17 2013, at the age of 36. I did about 6 months of no carbs, then i tried to re-introduce some carbs. I tried many forms of carbs from veggies, fruits, grains, and even certain kinds of sugar like dextrose, but after about another 6 months of experimentation, I realized that i was reacting negatively to all types of carbs. So i decided to give them up completely at the end of last year. So, now I have been completely zero carb again for over a year.

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

Health. I started to realize that there was something going on with my overall health in 2005. I had noticed that i was constantly tired. At that time, I was doing weight training every day. But I was not sleeping a lot, so it was normal for me to feel tired.

However, I felt that there was sometime more than just tiredness going on because I started to develop some skin rashes and some foods intolerances. After many eliminations diets, i discovered that all my skin rashes were food related. I began my real “diet journey” in 2009 and my goal was to find the perfect diet for me. So, from 2009 to 2013, i tried all the available diets. Sometime i tested two different diets at the same time by using the foods allowed from one diet that were also allowed in another diet.

During all that time, my health condition was getting worse. So i decided in the beginning of 2013 to try the “healthiest diet in the world” (at least according to some), and I adopted a completely vegan diet with absolutely no animal products. It was also a very low fat, low protein, high carb diet.

For the first 3 months I ate only fruit, a regimen highly promoted by Dr. Robert Morse. i bought his herbs and i follow his protocol. Big mistake! My blood work was horrible, my teeth were rotting from the inside out. It caused some sort of mineral deficiency or overwhelmed my body with too much sugar. And i was constantly hungry. I had to eat every 2 hours and i was hungry again 30 minutes after eating even if my stomach was still full.

Then, I switched to Dr. John Mcdougall’s high starch diet, a bit of veggies and rice, my teeth stopped rotting after about 1 week and started to heal on this diet. But I was bloated all the time. Half of my food intake was cooked (mostly grains like quinoa and amaranth), and half of it was raw.

At the end of 2013, I was 30 lbs underweight at only 140 lbs. (I am 5′ 8”), severely anemic, almost bed ridden. My bathroom is located on the first floor, and it was too physically demanding to climb 1 set of stair to go to the bathroom. So, i was peeing in a bucket that i kept in my bedroom. I’ve never been in such bad shape in my entire life. You can’t imagine that kind of weakness until you experience it. “Healthiest diet in the world” my ass…!

In the current picture of me at the top, I weigh 170 lbs. In the picture below, I weigh 154 lbs. I don’t have any pictures of myself when I was at my lowest point of 140 lbs. Prior to becoming ill, I actually weighed 195 lbs. and I was solid muscle.

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Then there was only one diet left on my list: Low Carb High Fat Ketogenic diet. Since i’ve been brainwashed all my life that fats were bad, fats make you fat, etc. i wasn’t expecting too much from this diet. But I had reached a point where I literally had nothing to lose. I was dying anyway. The ketogenic diet not only stopped my downward spiral, it began to reverse my condition. After about 2 months of eating a LCHF/Keto diet, my blood work was much better, my energy was increasing, and i was gaining some weight. That’s when I realized that i was on the right path.

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

It’s hard to put a number on this because i feel like my body in constantly adapting. When I first started my ketogenic diet, I ate no carbs at all and about 50 gm of proteins with about 280 gm of fat. With this macronutrient ratio, I was able to have a blood ketone level of about 1 to 1.5 mmol/dL upon first waking up in the morning. When I tried increasing my protein intake to 80 gm, my blood ketone level was greatly affected. My ketones would drop. But now fast forward to today, my fats intake is 240 gm and my protein intake is 200 gm and I still maintain a blood ketone level of about 1 to 1.5 mmol/dL in the morning. Because I was already so weak and sick to begin with, I didn’t really notice the “keto flu” as many healthier people might when first transitioning to a LC or ZC diet.

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

I didn’t read any books. I just did some research on the web and experimented along the way.

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

A zero carbs diet is already quite restrictive. Mine is even worse. I always had quite bad digestion and because of that i’ve hard time eating any kind of muscle meat. So, i very rarely eat steak, chicken, or bacon. My primary food sources are chicken liver, egg yolk, and whey protein powder. I have an intolerance to most milk products. I even react to organic Ghee. But for some reason, i’ve been able to find one brand of whey protein powder that give me no problem at all.

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

I rarely eat beef due to severe digestive problems.

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

I do not eat beef, but I cook my chicken livers very lightly. I have the heat setting on medium and then I continually stir the purée to cook it evenly for only about 5 minutes. It is hard to tell from the pictures below, but it is still pink.

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

My liver and my yolks have a total of about 45 gm of fats, and i need about 240 gm of fats per day so i do add a lots of fat. I mostly use lard, tallow, MCT oil, coconut oil, and macadamia nut oil.

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

Since my diet is so restricted, I basically eat the very same meals everyday. Four meals per day. I am a kind of freak in this department LOL. I weigh all my foods very precisely and i know exactly how much fat, protein, total calories, etc. that I consume every day. I know that at 3400 calories per day I start to gain body fat, at 3000 calories per day I will lose body fat, and to maintain my weight, i need about 3200 calories per day. I don’t eat until I am satisfied. I could probably eat twice as much food without any problems, but that would give me 6000 calories per day and would make me fat. But I do not feel hungry am not really hungry, and I have stopped thinking about food constantly since I started eating a high fat ketogenic diet.

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

Yes, i eat chicken liver everyday.

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

I did a lot of experimentation with the bone broth and unfortunately for me, all bone broth gives me a skin rash.

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

I always have 4 small meals per day. Each of my meals weigh 125 gm and fill about a half of a cup. I blend everything in my Vitamix to help my body digest it better.

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

I have 200 gm of chicken liver per day and 6 egg yolks.

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

All of my chicken livers and eggs are organic.

Here is a step-by-step photo journal of how I prepare my liver, egg yolk, whey, and fat Zero Carb “smoothie.”

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

I react to so much that i decide to stick to water only.

16. Do you use salt?

From what i’ve read, you are supposed to increase your intake of salt on a ketogenic diet, so i am currently adding about 4gr of sodium per day from sea salt.

17. Do you use spices?

Again, because of my multiple reactivity to things, I prefer to not use any.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I do take general multi-vitamins, vitamin D, various amino acids and whey protein powder.

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

Probably around $300 (Candian)

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

Unfortunately, not really.

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

I do weight training 6 days per week, and i try to keep the intensity to the max.

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

I have more energy, I am way less bloated, I can control my body fats % much more easily, and I am much less sick than before.

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

The simplicity.

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

Don’t be afraid to experiment, don’t trust everything you read, give it a try and see how it’s working for you.

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

Everybody seem to think that I am a weirdo by eating this way, but i don’t much care. I do what i can with what i have in order to get better. In the end, you have to listen your own body.

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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.

 

Optimal Protein on a Zero Carb Diet – Part 1


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Many long time practitioners of a Zero Carb diet have shied away from discussions on macronutrient amounts and ratios in an effort to keep things simple. The general recommendation is to eat as much fatty meat as you want whenever you feel hungry. I understand the pull of this advice. We all want things to be as uncomplicated as possible, and having to the calculate protein and fat content of one’s diet can put some people into a mathematical tailspin. While this basic advice works well for some people, it does not work well for everyone. Therefore, I am going to dive headfirst into this subject and try to explain why this might be the case.

I have been practicing a Zero Carb diet now for 9 months. Not as long as some have, certainly, but long enough to know how this diet affects my body. I have made it through the initial adaptation process that occurs when one eliminates all plant foods and carbohydrates from their diet, and so any unpleasant symptoms I may be experiencing from the diet now are probably not due to that.

I had many challenges when first starting this diet due to histamine intolerance, and it was difficult for me to even find a meat that was low enough in histamines that I could eat without getting a migraine and feeling generally awful. I had only one source of beef that was not aged very long and was low in histamines, but it was from grassfed cows and was also low in fat. When I tried to add other fats to it, I did not feel well. Any rendered fat (such as tallow, lard, or butter) caused serious digestive problems (like hours of nausea and burping).

However, I was experiencing enough benefits from this way of eating that I continued on with the leaner grassfed meat because I could not figure out what else to do. But the longer I ate it, the worse I felt. It did not satisfy my hunger even after eating 2 lbs of it, and I was constantly thinking about eating again. It also made me very tired and lethargic, as well as extremely thirsty. I really didn’t know what else to do.

Then, I decided to do a water fast with my dog to help with some of his health problems, and we ended up going for 16 days. After the fast was over, I found that my histamine tolerance was much improved. I tested steaks from both Costco and Sprouts and found that I could eat them without developing a migraine afterwards. This was a welcome surprise. Now I could eat meat with more fat on it, and I found that I felt so much better. The fat that is part of the meat itself did not create the same kind of digestive upset that rendered fats did.

Throughout all of this, I finally decided to read two classic works by individuals who were very knowledgeable and experienced with eating and recommending an all-meat diet: The Fat of the Land by Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Strong Medicine by Blake Donaldson. Both of these books should – in my opinion – be required reading for anyone who is interesting in trying a Zero Carb diet.

Stefansson was an anthropologist who spent 10 years off and on living with the Arctic Natives and eating their diet. He experienced their way of life first hand and wrote about it in many books. When he returned to civilization, however, his academic colleagues did not believe he was telling the truth about the Native diet, so Stefansson agreed to allow a group of doctors to supervise him for one full year while eating an all-meat diet. The details of this unique study performed at Bellevue Hospital in New York can be read here: “Prolonged Meat Diets with a Study of Kidney Function and Ketosis.”

The upshot of that study was that neither Stefansson nor his colleague Karsten Andersen, who also participated, showed any signs of nutritional deficiencies or other health problems as a result of eating an all-meat diet for an entire year. The most interesting part of this study for me was the macronutrient profile of their diet. These two men both ate an average of 100-140 gm of protein and 200-300 gm of fat, totally 2100-3000 calories per day. That amount of protein equals about 14-20 oz of meat (lean portion) per day. All of the rest of their calories came from fat. There diet derived 75-80% of all calories from fat. Clearly, their meat was much fattier in 1929 than most of the meat we have available to us in supermarkets today.

Stefansson also explains that when one first starts a high fat diet, they have to go through an adaptation period (in the same way that you do when you refuse or remove carbohydrates from your diet). It takes about 3-4 weeks for the digestive system to adjust, and one may experience nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. He was surprisingly prescient in his understanding of why this occurred and states that the gut bacteria have to undergo significant alteration before we can effectively utilize the higher level of fat in the diet. In other words, he was talking about the GUT BIOME!

So, it is important for people new to a Zero Carb diet, or new to increasing the fat in their current Zero Carb diet, to understand this and be patient with their body. Lex Rooker, a long time raw meat eater, was very nauseated when he decided to up his fat from 65% to 80%. It took his body a while to adjust to the new level, but once it did, he felt much better over all. If you increase your fat percentage slowly over a period of days or weeks, you will experience less negative symptoms. It can be very helpful initially to eat 2-4 smaller meals, rather than one bigger meal, and reduce the amount of fat your digestive system must process at one time. When Stefansson lived with the Arctic Natives, they ate 4 meals per day; and during the Bellevue study, Stefansson and Andersen ate 3 times a day. They never ate all of their food for the day at one sitting.

Donaldson was a physician who practiced medicine from approximately 1900-1960. He stumbled upon the all-meat diet at some point during his career and began prescribing it to all of his sick and obese patients. He recommended 6 oz of meat (lean portion) and 2 oz of fat eaten 3 times per day, for a total of 3000 calories per day. This macronutrient profile is uncannily similar to what Stefansson and Andersen both ate during the Bellevue study. Fat provides about 75-80% of total calories with his recommended ratio of lean to fat. Donaldson said that if his patients ate less than this amount of meat, or skipped meals, their weight loss actually slowed down. He felt that a certain amount of protein was necessary to stoke the metabolic fire needed to burn body fat. He claims to have had a very high success rate with his patients. But since there is no study documenting his results, we can only take his word for it.

Another very interesting doctor who prescribed a mostly all-meat diet for his sick and obese patients was Dr. H.L. Newbold who practiced orthomolecular medicine from approximately 1940-1990. He had the good fortune to work with a brilliant doctor named Theron Randolph who taught Newbold how food allergies can cause serious mental and physical health problems. After many years of practice, Newbold wrote a little known, but very interesting, book called The Type A – Type B Weight Loss Diet. Like Donaldson, he recommended about 16-24 oz of very fatty meat per day, according to appetite. He found that his patients responded best to bone-in ribeye steaks.

Joe and Charlene Andersen have followed a Zero Carb diet for almost 2 decades now and have eaten very fatty ribeyes almost exclusively throughout this time. They also ate a lot of pemmican in the beginning of their journey, and that too is very high in fat. Here is a picture of the ribeyes they buy and eat on a regular basis.

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So, what does all this mean for modern day Zero Carb practitioners who want to thrive on this diet?

It is my opinion, based on what I have read from the above authors, as well as my own experience of eating this diet for 9 months now, that recommending people eat as much fatty meat as they want according to hunger will only be successful if the meat they are eating is actually fatty, and their cooking method preserves the fat. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but there are others – like myself – who have been consuming large amounts (2 or more lbs. per day) of lean-ish meat on a regular basis for many months. The result is that some of them have gained weight, failed to lose weight, are still experiencing inflammation, and feel generally blasé. In short, they are not experiencing the “Zen” of Zero Carb.

I believe the main reason they are not experiencing the results they are wanting and expecting is because – in some cases – they are eating too much protein. Too much protein can raise insulin and prevent weight loss, as I describe in my post “Insulin, Glucagon, and Fat Metabolism.” Chronically elevated insulin can also lead to all kinds of health problems. Amy Berger has explored some of the many illnesses that seem to be a direct result of high insulin levels in her terrific blog post “It’s the Insulin Stupid – Part 2.”

When I was eating 2 lbs of lean-ish ground beef, my total protein intake was close to 250 grams a day. Not only is that amount of protein not necessary, it can even be detrimental over the long term. When protein is broken down during digestion, toxic by-products like ammonia are created. These toxins must be eliminated through the kidneys, and the kidneys need water to do their job. This explains why I was so unbelievably thirsty while eating 2 lbs of lean-ish meat per day. As soon as I reduced my protein to 100 gm (16 oz of meat) and increased my fat to almost 200 gm per day, the fierce thirst vanished almost overnight. So, if someone is eating an all-meat diet and they have already made it through the adaptation period (first 4-6 weeks) and they are still incredibly thirsty, I think they would be wise to take a look at how much protein versus fat they are eating.

For economic reasons, many people use ground beef as a staple food on their Zero Carb diet, and it is not always as fatty as they think. When raw, 80/20 ground beef is 70% fat, but after cooking, the fat percentage drops to less than 60%. If you pour all the fat from the pan back over your ground beef, you will be getting close to percentage of fat recommended by Stefansson, Donaldson, and Newbold. But if you do not add the fat back to your ground beef, then you will fall short. You can also lose a lot of fat from a fatty steak if you barbecue it and the fat drips off the meat during the cooking process. This, not only is the original fat content of the meat important, but so is the cooking method. If you lose a lot of fat during cooking, then you will need to add extra fat to your meal to make up the deficit.

How much protein does a person need for health? This is a very controversial subject. Dr. Ron Rosedale comes down on the side that less is better. He recommends 1 gm of protein per kilogram of lean body mass. You figure that out, you take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 and then subtract 10%. I weigh 115 lb —> divided by 2.2 —> 52 kg —> minus 10% —> 46 gm of protein per day to meet absolute needs. For a thorough look at the potential downside of eating TOO MUCH protein, read Rosedale’s post “Protein: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

Now, it is important to understand that Rosedale is an endocrinologist who treats patients with severe metabolic derangement. The more insulin resistant you are, the less protein you can eat without it converting into glucose. Though many of us today do suffer from insulin resistance to one degree or another, as explained in Amy Berger’s excellent post “It’s the Insulin Stupid – Part 1,” it is unlikely that we all need to limit our protein intake to that low of a level.

In fact, low carb dietitian Franzka Spritzler argues that limiting protein too much could both prevent weight loss and compromise overall health. She has done an outstanding job of laying out the research in her post “In Defense of High Protein, Low Carb Diets.” Interestingly, her recommendations -based on the research she sites – fall somewhere between 100-120 gm of protein per day for most people, and this coincides almost perfectly with the practical experience of Stefansson, Donaldson, and Newbold.

If you simply follow these basic guidelines laid out by these three early Zero Carb pioneers, you will likely do just fine. But if you are very insulin resistant and want to gauge your upper limit for protein more specifically, you can do so by testing your morning blood glucose after a 12 hour overnight fast. If your glucose is higher than 90 mg/dL (5.0 mmol/L), then you are likely eating too much protein for your particular metabolism. You can inch your protein down 10 gm at a time until your glucose comes down to below 90 mg/dL (5.0 mmol/L). This process will help you identify your personal protein limit and tailor a Zero Carb diet in a way that will serve you best.

Many people on a Zero Carb diet are discouraged from calculating their macronutrient ratios. I feel this is a mistake. If one wishes to be successful eating an all-meat diet for the long term, I think it is imperative to have a basic understanding of how much protein and fat you are eating. This is not something that needs to become an all consuming obsession with every single meal calculated and tracked. The joy of a Zero Carb diet is – for many – the freedom it provides in that regard compared to the more complicated Low Carb Ketogenic diets they may have tried previously. But if you do not have epilepsy or cancer or some other potentially fatal illness that you are using a Zero Carb diet to treat, then there is no need to be that specific.

Once you have a concept of how much meat equals 100 gm, and how much fat needs to be added to that meat to achieve a ratio of 70-80% calories as fat, then it becomes very easy. After you do it a few times, you will develop a sixth sense for how much of each you need by the way it looks on your plate and how you feel after eating it. Michael Frieze – who has practiced a Zero Carb diet for over 5 years now – developed an intuitive approach that has worked very well for him. He simple eats all of the fat on his meat first until he is maxed out on fat. Only then does he begin to eat the lean portion of his meat. If there is not enough fat on the meat, he will eat butter straight until he has satisfied his fat hunger before proceeding on to the lean portion of his meat. He says he learned this from The Bear (aka Owsley Stanley) who practiced a Zero Carb diet successfully for 50 years.

Neither Michael nor Joe and Charlene ever track anything with their food. They just eat really fatty meat and place a high priority on the fat, and all three of them are thriving on this diet. So clearly tracking is not necessary if you have access to really fatty meat and can afford to eat it on a regular basis. However, if you are a bit of a nerd like me and enjoy tracking and calculating things, and you find it fun and interesting (rather than complicated and stressful), then of course you are free to do so. I personally use the free online program Cronometer.

In conclusion, while it is important not to eat too much protein, it is also important to eat enough. Based on the above discussion, 100 gm of protein (16 oz of meat) per day is a good place to start, and then you can fine tune – up or down – from there, depending on your personal needs. If you find yourself hungry after eating this amount of meat, then you may not be eating enough fat. Stefansson and Andersen ate 2 gm of fat for every gm of protein. So, if you eat 25 gm of protein (4 oz of meat) be sure to eat 50 gm of fat with it (as part of the meat itself or added extra to make up the difference). There is no hard and fast rule that will be perfect for everyone, but this is the formula recommended and practiced by people who were and are very experienced with this diet.

Related articles:

Optimal Protein on a Zero Carb Diet – Part 2

Is a Zero Carb Diet a Ketogenic Diet?

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