Zero Carb Interview: Daniel Fredenthal


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

For a year, graduated from living Keto/LCHF for two years.

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

A little bit of weight. To start, I have always been a very active kid growing up, I had so much energy I could sell extra. I might have invented ADHD, so to keep my focus, I have always been involved in martial arts, gymnastics, weight-lifting, professional dance, and chasing women (haha!). After high school I began searching for the perfect diet, blindly reading flex and muscle magazines and trying to be the know-it-all in fitness. At one point, I almost enrolled in science and nutrition. I have naturally always wanted to know the answer and help ANYONE who needed dietary advice on how to be healthy or how to look sexy. As I got older, I found that eating oatmeal in the morning, counting calories, and shoving chicken breast down my throat stopped working, and I was really sick of it.

I finally admitted to myself that I HATE “eating clean.” I announced to myself that I will not leave the bookstore until I find out how the body works. I searched books on medicine, sports-medicine, Arnold lore of weight training, and nutrition-science, yet nothing made sense. I remember passing by some lonely red spine paperback book over and over, and I finally grabbed it and read the title, “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.” I read the back of the book and it looked promising and convincing. After I took it home and spent some time reading it, I’ll be honest, I almost threw it out the window in rage. The information went against EVERYTHING I had learned up to that point and thought I knew. However, I kept reading and eventually was enthralled and hooked. I was glued, in fact, and did not put the book down till it was finished that very day. As I put the book down, I felt like I was floating in the air, as if I had just woke up from the MATRIX.

That evening I cut the Standard American Diet cold turkey and never looked back. I ended up losing 27 pounds in first three months, 37 in 6 months. Last year I found the Facebook forum Principia Carnivora, this website Zero Carb Zen, read all about Stanley Owsley (aka The Bear), and all the amazing interviews you have shared. After learning vegetables are absolutely useless, I fell in love with this way of eating and living. Think about it – It’s so much easier and less confusing. I never have to think of another meal plan or recipe, I just EAT MEAT. POW!

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

One day because was already fat adapted from being Keto/LCHF. Even when I first went Keto, it only took me 24 hours to adapt physically. I felt like crap for one day only. I found the diet very easy to adapt to psychologically as well.I am much happier eating this way.

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, “Keto Clarity” by Jimmy Moore and all the rest of the low carb keto top sellers, plus reading the writings of The Bear took me the rest of the way.

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

I eat eggs and cheese at work for convenience, but not at home. I don’t mess with cream.

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

90%, it’s mostly beef and BACON, I don’t bother with chicken or fish.

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

Rare, but someday I would like to try it raw.

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

Butter, I’d pour it all over my body if I could (hehe!).

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

I always eat until satisfied. Whatever I don’t finish, I save for the next meal. I am on a budget and cannot afford to waste food.

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

Ewww! Nope.

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

Not yet, sounds like a lot of work.

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

Two or three. I hold off as long as I can for the first meal which is past 10 A.M and that often carries me until evening.

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

2 pounds.

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

I eat commercially produced, but I have plans to raise my own cows to eat after they deliciously ripen.

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

Water and coffee. That’s it.

16. Do you use salt?

Only on eggs.

17. Do you use spices?

Only on steaks and ground beef.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No, I used to. After I weaned off, I did not feel any different. So I guess they were useless to my needs.

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

$300 between the wife and I.

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

I start by saying, all diets are EXPENSIVE, whether it’s veggie, vegan, gluten-free, organic, doesn’t matter what it is because you are no longer buying college food and cheap grains like you did on SAD. It all boils down to buying cleaner more wholesome products which inevitably cost more. I put it in this perspective: with ZC the food choices will be higher in price, but you eat less often and stay fuller longer, so your food bill should not be significantly higher. It sort of evens out in my experience.

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

I run 3 miles 5 times a week, and do push-ups and sit-ups to stay above physical fitness standards in the Military. My workouts take about 1 hour. Oh, and I practice my gymnastics in the backyard when bored.

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.)

The main benefit I gained is the loss of the extra 37 pounds I didn’t need. Also, I used to have acne in my chest and back and went away with ZC. Additionally, I no longer have migraines. My fingernails look cleaner too. However, I did not start ZC to fix anything; I just wanted to find the healthiest diet.

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

Eating everything the world is afraid of and knowing that I am in top notch health because of it. I feel like I have discovered the Holy Grail.

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

Read books stupid! The only way to keep yourself on track is to understand why you are eating this way. This will give you the motivation to persevere if you hit a rough patch during your adaptation to the diet. It takes a special kind of person to stick to this on his or her own.

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

Most of my friends bust me on this all the time with no mercy. My family though is absolutely supportive, but too afraid to embark. My wife is supportive and knows this lifestyle works and has seen it work on others that I have coached. While my wife is not yet ZC, she has reduced the carbs and sugar dramatically in her own diet. I have managed to convert one family member to ZC and she had lost over 50 pounds. AMAZING! Hopefully, this will be motivation for them to stick with it. But most people, even when they know that what they are eating is not working for them, they still do not want to let go of their favorite foods. Sad, but true.

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

This is the only dietary life-style that will allow you to control your weight or lose excess fat and keep it off, especially if you are insulin resistant as so many of us are today. This is true even for people who are physically incapacitated due to some type of injury and cannot exercise. Exercise is not necessary to maintain a healthy body weight because this diet addresses the hormonal imbalance that is at the root of our current obesity epidemic.

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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.

 

Is a Zero Carb Diet a Ketogenic Diet?

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The answer to this question might surprise you. Many people assume that carbohydrates are the only factor that matters for ketone production, but this is not the case. Too much protein per day, too much protein at one time, and too much protein late in the day can also prevent ketosis. So, no, a Zero Carb diet is not – by default – also a Ketogenic diet.

The Zero Carb community has been quite vociferous about discouraging practitioners from testing themselves for ketones and have even gone so far as to ridicule and make fun of people who chose to do say. They claim that it is neither necessary nor important to test for ketones while practicing a Zero Carb diet. Some even go so far as to say (and apparently believe) that a Zero Carb diet is automatically a ketogenic diet which is absolutely not true.

People new to Zero Carb are generally instructed to eat as much fatty meat as they need to feel satisfied and to eat according to hunger. This advice can work well if the meat actually is fatty, but much of the meat we have available to us today is no where near as fatty as meat was in the past. On the one hand, animals are being preferentially bred for leanness, and on the other hand, butchers have been trained to remove much of the “excess” fat before putting it up for sale. This means that much of the meat we buy to day is quite a bit leaner than what practioners of an all meat diet ate.

For example, in the 1928 Bellevue study with Vilhjalmur Stefansson, author of The Fat of the Land, and his collegue Karsten Andersen, the macronutrient ratios were 20% protein and 80% fat. These two men consumed between 100-140 gm of protein and 200-300 gm of fat each day. Now, it is not possible to achieve this ratio if one eats even the fattiest cuts of beef sold in most supermarkets. Chuck roast and ribeye come the closest, but even the cuts are often below 70% fat by calories.

Many people who practice Zero Carb today rely predominant on ground beef because it is the most affordable option. However, most ground beef is surprisingly lean. Even 70/30 (70% lean and 30% fat by weight) ground beef after cooking is only 60% fat and a whopping 40% protein by calories. So, if a person eats only 70/30 ground beef – assuming they can actually find this ratio – they will be consuming much less fat and much more protein than Stefansson and Andersen did during their year long study.

However, it should be noted that the numbers above are for cooked ground beef. If you include all of the fat that renders out of 70/30 ratio, or if you eat the ground beef raw like me, then you would not necessarily need to add extra to the 70/30 ratio. So, it depends to some extent on your method of cooking and length of cooking time. You can use a program like http://www.cronometer.com to help you figure out exact how much fat you are eating.

Too much protein can raise insulin in the same way that too much carbohydrate can, and this – in turn – will prevent you from making ketones. If you do not get enough fat on a Zero Carb diet, you can easily over eat protein. Two pounds of 70/30 ground beef supplies 230 gm of protein, about 100 gm more than a person needs. When eating ground beef with no added fat, it is very easy to eat 2 lbs a day because it is not very satiating.

I went through a period of eating only lean ground beef and my fasting blood glucose was consistently elevated to between 100-115 mg/dL all the time. Furthermore, my blood ketones were barley registering at 0.3 mmol/L. The minimum level of ketones need for nutritional ketosis is 0.5. However, after I decided to lower my protein and increase my fat, my fasting glucose decreased to between 75-85 mg/dL, and my ketones increased to 0.8 mmol/L in just a few day. Additionally, I FELT MUCH BETTER.

Eating 2 lbs of ground beef a day with no added fat left me feeling bloated, tired, and less able to focus mentally. I also experienced a chronic low grade headachiness and made me edgy and irritable. It also left me physically dissatisfied and craving more food. I was thinking about food constantly and wanting to eat again. Clearly, both my brain and body were not being satisfied by plain ole ground beef. Since I reduced the protein and increased the fat, all of these negative symptoms have disappeared.

Dr. Blake Donaldson, a doctor in the early 1900s, also discovered the merits of a very low carb mostly meat diet for curing his patients of obesity. He based his program largely upon the research of Stefansson and instructed his patients to eat 6 ox of lean and 2 oz of fat 3 times per day. He told his patients they could eat more if they wish, as long as they kept the ratio (3 parts lean to 1 part fat) the same, but they were told to never eat less than this amount. Donaldson felt that 18 ounce of lean, which provides a little over 100 gm of protein, was the amount necessary to replenish and repair vital body tissues and to facilitate the burning of body fat. He says that if his patients ate less than this or skipped meals, their weight loss would slow or come to a complete halt. He apparently has excellent results with this protocol. Please see his book Strong Medicine for more details.

Michael Frieze has been practicing a Zero Carb diet successfully for over 5 years now. However, he will be the first to tell you that his first 6 to 12 months of eating this way was fairly difficult. It took his body a long time to adapt to the diet, and he had to work out some kinks. The three most important things he discovered – from my perspective – was 1) eating enough meat; 2) eating the meat rare; and 3) eating the fat parts of the meat preferentially before eating the lean. Each of these changes improved the way he felt on this diet.

For the purpose of this discussion, the most important of these discoveries by Michael is number 3. As he explains it, he will eat as much of the fat on the meat first until his “fat” hunger is satisfied. If there is not enough fat on the meat to satisfy him, then he will eat butter straight until he feels satiated. Then he will eat as much of the lean part of the meat as he desires. He says that this prevents him from both over eating and under eating fat. Basically, this approach acts as a biological barometer for his fat requirements. Once he has reached his limit, the fat will start to make him feel nauseated and he knows – at this point – that he has had enough.

The problem with ground beef – aside from being generally low in fat – is that the fat and the lean are all mixed together, making it impossible to preferentially eat the fat first. So, there is no way a person’s biological barometer can guide them with ground beef. Therefore, it becomes imperative to do some calculations to figure out how much fat you will likely need to add in order to achieve 80% fat by calories for a meal. If you are lucky enough to find 70/30 ground beef which is 60% fat by calories, you would need to add 1 oz of butter per 3 oz of ground beef to attain close to 80% fat by calories. This is the exact ratio that Dr. Donaldson’s recommends.

So, while a Zero Carb diet can have benefits even if you are not in a state of nutritional ketosis, those who are looked upon as early Zero Carb pioneers (i.e. Stefansson and Donaldson) were definitely eating and recommending macronutrient ratios that would almost guarantee nutritional ketosis. It is my contention that if we were eating the meat they were eating, then our Zero Carb diet would also be a Ketogenic diet. But, the changes in the meat itself, as well as the butchering practices, has removed much of the fat that would naturally be present in the meat we eat.

While some people do just fine eating as much meat as they wish on a Zero Carb diet, others like myself, do not. If you are following a Zero Carb diet and not experiencing the result you desire, then it seems logical to me that one should take a closer look at what our Zero Carb predecessors (i.e. Stefansson and Donaldson) were eating, as well as what our current long term Zero Carb practioners (i.e. Michael Frieze) are actually eating because these are people who have successfully practiced this way of eating for many years.

It is important to understand that I am not advocating any type of restriction here. I am simply suggesting that if you are following a Zero Carb diet and experiencing the benefits you desire, then you may wish to adjust your macronutrient ratios according to what Steffanson and Donaldson practiced and recommended. Donaldson set a minimum intake for his patients, but not a maximum. He told them to eat as much as they needed to satisfy hunger as long as they kept the 3:1 (lean:fat) ratio the same. If you do this, it is unlikely that you will still want to eat a full 2 pounds of ground beef because that would require eating an additional 10 oz of fat along with it.

After much reading and experimentation on my own body, I have come to the conclusion that combining the philosophy of a Zero Carb diet (eat only from the animal kingdom, primarily meat) with the knowledge of a Ketogenic Diet (eat a balance of macronutrients that supports ketosis) is vastly superior to either approach by itself. If you wish to learn more about the benefits of and how to eat ketogenically, I highly recommend Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Kevin Fenderson

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Kevin today.

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

I’ve been eating zero carb for a little over a year now. Although, I was trying to eat zero carb for about six months before I finally committed to it. I probably could count all the way back, as some people consider those times we fail as still zero carb as long as we learn from them. Others are super-strict and say you need to restart your count any time you step outside the zero carb path. Three years in and you have a stick of celery? You’re now back on day one! I take a more moderate view. As long as you’re consistently on the right path, a rare misstep isn’t cause to restart. My original six months had far too many missteps for me to claim any sort of consistency though.

All that to just say, a little over a year.

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

Honestly? It was probably just curiosity and fascination. There might have been a little health improvement thrown in, but that really just pointed me in the right direction. I discovered that fiber caused me more problems than it helped. That eventually led me to reading more on it. I think Ash Simmonds posted something in the reddit keto group about fiber being bad. I didn’t know much about him at the time. I read his post on fiber and the links.

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled on The Fat of the Land by Stefansson on Ash’s website. That book remains my strongest influence. When I have a question, I usually find that it’s answered somewhere in there. I kept thinking to myself, “I want to do that.” That is going a whole year eating just meat.

When I first found out about it, I was still losing weight. But, weight loss didn’t play a role. I figured that I had weight loss solved with keto. This wouldn’t interfere with keto, but it wasn’t like I needed this for weight loss. I also felt better than I had in years, because of the weight I had already lost, so I didn’t think I had any health issues that needed curing. Nope, it was just fascination and my love for trying new things out on myself.

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Kevin prior to beginnging his low carbohydrate journey.

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

I adapted physically really quickly, but that is probably because I had already been eating a very low carb diet. The mental transition was hardest for me, especially because I didn’t know other people who were doing it when I started trying it out. I had read that it could be done. Then I would stay awake at night worrying that I would end up getting scurvy or something and everyone would know how stupid I had been. I would last a week or more and then eat some vegetables, just in case. That is probably why it took me six months of failing before it stuck. Then, I saw Amber O’Hearn’s 30-day guide and decided that other people were out there who had done at least a month and survived. Up until this point, I was still set on going a whole year because I wanted to replicate the experiment Stefansson had done for myself. That was too much to mentally commit to. It’s probably part of why I kept failing. So, I decided I would do a month. A month is a lot more doable. I could do a month.

There was only one problem. She said no artificial sweeteners (AS). And, I started looking into that. That’s also when I found Zeroing In On Health and their forum. I read through there and they were all doing meat only. But, they were also very against artificial sweeteners. I thought that was stupid. I didn’t have any problems with them. I had lost weight just fine with artificial sweeteners. I decided the first thing I would test would be their theory on AS. I don’t know why this took priority. Maybe it was a last ditch effort, mentally, to find an excuse to not just give up plants for 30 days.

I was at my goal weight already and losing more while eating as much as I wanted (on a ketogenic plan) and not counting/restricting calories. I decided that I would give the month of June as an initial 30 day challenge. I would eat 1 or more artificially sweetened things each day. I would ensure I stayed below my carb goal, but every single day I would eat something sweet. I would also continue to eat as much as I wanted. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to state that June was a total train-wreck for me. I gained weight way beyond even what the increased calories suggested I should. I started to realize how I the sweeteners caused cravings for me and how I ended up eating more because of them. I had only had sweet things every once in a while, up to this point, and their impact had been minimal compared to the weight loss from keto. They clearly were not good for me. Then again, maybe this was all the power of suggestion? Maybe I believed I craved more because I had been reading that they caused cravings? I don’t know. I do know that the 500 or so calories a day I was eating didn’t explain why I went from losing over a pound a week to gaining over a pound a week.

After that, I decided I would do it “their” way for 30 days. I would just do meat, coffee, some cheese, and avoid all the sweeteners. I would also stop taking any supplements except my daily allergy medicine. Naturally, you would assume that I started on July 1st. No, I kept putting it off. I don’t know exactly why. It wasn’t until the middle of July that I actually started.

When I started, I lurked on the old forums every day, read through The Bear’s megathread, and read everything else I could find. I think knowing it had been done before by lots of people helped me. In two to three weeks, I was already sure that I wouldn’t be stopping when the 30 days were over. I was already feeling better than I had in my whole life. When I started, I would have argued that I was in good health. I didn’t know how bad I felt all the time because it was what I thought was normal.

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Kevin prior to beginning his low carbohydrate journey.

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

Without a doubt The Fat of the Land remains the most important book for me. That would be followed by Bear’s megathread, which could be a book in itself. Then I have to give credit to Ash Simmonds whose research and website – High Steaks: Meat is Life – helped point me in this direction. Amber, like I said, is the one who made it bite-sized for me and that encouraged me enough to actually do it. And, of course, all the other zero-carbers out there. Back then, they were all congregated on the ZIOH forums. Now they’re spread over several facebook groups.

With all that said, I think The Fat of the Land should be required reading for those considering eating this way.

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

I include eggs and dairy in my diet. I am currently trying a period without any dairy, but it’s not having any dramatic impact on things. I will probably go back to the occasional slice of cheese with my burger. I don’t use a lot of cream (sour or heavy), but I have used some of the past year. I don’t worry too much about dairy. I do know I’ll gain a little weight and retain it for a while after eating a bunch of dairy. It’s nothing extreme (a kg or so) and it does go away, but dairy is a good way to get my weight up.

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A whole chuck roast purchased in bulk.

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

I eat mostly beef. When it comes to percentages, it would be at least 90%. Some weeks it’s 100%. I also like lamb, bacon, ribs, and chicken wings. If I could find cheaper lamb or mutton, that would make up a large portion of my diet. The problem is that lamb is easily twice as expensive as beef where I am. If they were the same price, it would be 50/50 beef and lamb. As it is, I probably eat more pork than lamb because it’s cheaper.

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The chuck roast cut into steaks and ready to freeze for the week.

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

It depends on what I feel like. When it comes to ground beef, I’ll do medium to medium well. Steaks and other cuts I like as rare as I can get them.

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A meal of rare steak and eggs.

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

Almost never. I will sometimes add grease when cooking, but I don’t intentionally add it to already cooked meat. That said, if the meat is really lean or dry, I am probably going to add some fat to make it palatable.

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Chuck roast steaks on the grill.

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

I don’t limit myself at all. I eat until I’m not interested in any more or I’ve run out of food. I try and cook enough so that I always end up with leftovers.

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Big grilled chuck roast steak ready to eat.

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

I have had some liverwurst and sweetbreads in the last year. They’re not a big part of my diet. Maybe once every 3-4 months. I happen to like them. I also roast and eat bone marrow on a semi-regular basis. Maybe once every couple of months.

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

Nope. I’m just too lazy to make things that far in advance.

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

Usually two meals a day, sometimes three. I have rare days where I eat only once and other rare days where I eat four or more times. I don’t restrict myself to a certain number of meals. I do try to avoid snacking. If I am going to eat, I am going to eat enough to be a full meal.

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

To be completely honest, I have no idea. I don’t measure it in any way and I prepare as much as looks good to me. It’s certainly more than a pound and probably less than three. I figure my purchases around a little over two pounds a day. Sometimes it lasts longer than I expect and others it’s gone sooner. It’s hard to really say for sure, because I don’t really track it in any detailed manner. When the meat gets low, I go and buy around 30 pounds (13-14 kg) with the expectation that it will last another two weeks.

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

I buy the regular commercially produced meat. I’ve bought the other stuff, but didn’t find any significant difference in how it made me feel or even how it tasted. I realize that some people claim to be able to taste the difference, I didn’t taste anything better or special about it.

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Kevin treating himself to some ribeyes.

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

Coffee is my main beverage. I’ve switched to mostly decaf and I pour it over ice and drink it watered down and cold most of the day. I also drink a lot of sparkling water and plain old tap water.

16. Do you use salt?

I love salt. I don’t always use it. I have had days where I didn’t want or use it. But, I just like it a lot. I don’t believe it’s a necessity. It’s a habit and a taste that I have kept. I do salt most of my food.

17. Do you use spices?

I will use spices with my meat. I have a couple steak mixes that I like. I also have a rib rub that I use. It’s my brother-in-law’s rub and he made me a big batch without the usual sugar. I don’t use any rub with sugar in it.

The majority of the time, it’s just salt and maybe a little pepper though. It’s simple, but that’s what I like.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No. I decided to stop taking supplements when I decided to test this out. I figured that if I needed to take supplements, there was something missing from this way of eating.

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

I spend about $200 a month just on myself. I could probably get it lower than that, and I could easily get it higher than that. But, that is a comfortable place I’ve found between economy and taste preference.

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

Buy in bulk and buy uncut hunks of beef or use a lot of ground beef. Really, it’s not more expensive than I was eating before. It might even be less expensive because vegetables and fruit are very expensive on a per calorie basis.

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

Define regularly. I exercise when I feel like it and to the degree I feel like. I would probably say no to it being regular and most of it is low intensity.

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Kevin participating in a recent race.

22. What benefits have you experienced since beginning a Zero Carb diet? (i.e. recovery from illness, overall health, body composition)

This is the hardest question for me to answer. It’s not that I have received no benefits. It’s just that I’ve ranted about them all before and I don’t like repeating myself. I’ll go over them and try and add ones that came later.

One of the biggest benefits is unseen by everyone. I am no longer at war with my own body. I trust it now and we’re on the same team. I used to fight against what my body wanted, because when I gave it what it wanted I got fatter and more miserable. Because of that, I was monitoring and controlling everything. These days, I count and monitor almost nothing. I weigh myself daily, although I don’t care if it goes up or down, and I keep an eye on the level of meat in the fridge. I don’t want it to get too low. I have one shelf just for me, I prefer to keep it looking like this.

There’s about six pounds of ground beef, 15 pounds of ribeye, and some leftover roasted leg of lamb (in the container at the front left). You can’t see the second five-pound tube of ground beef, it’s under the container in the back. That one has a chuck steak. This is the only thing I worry about when it comes to food. If that shelf gets bare, I need to go to the deep freeze or get to the store.

I don’t worry about how much I eat. I go out of my way to not measure it. I trust my body to let me know when it’s had enough. I trust that, when it does, I’m not going to get fat again.

I have lost all desire for breads, starches, and sweets. That’s major for me. I used to bake bread, bagels, and rolls weekly. I lived on bread and rice. I couldn’t imagine life without it. Now, I can’t even remember why I liked it so much.

My digestion (the whole process from eating to elimination) is massively better. I burp less, I fart less, I have no more of those stinky tonsil stones, I don’t “gurgle” as I digest, I don’t get cramps, I don’t get plugged up. Hell, I don’t even think about it. I didn’t realize how messed up my gut was until it wasn’t messed up any more. I remember an ex-girlfriend who could tell, over the phone, if I had eaten pizza because she could hear my gut complaining. I no longer have issues with hemorrhoids.

I haven’t had a migraine since going keto, which has continued through zero carb. This is huge. I would get a few a year. They had decreased from when I started getting them, but they never went away. The migraines would be debilitating. I would just write the whole day off as a waste. None. I haven’t had one in what will soon be two years. Unless you suffer from migraines, you can never know how awesome that is.

Around the 6-8 month mark, my allergies stopped bothering me. I don’t know exactly when. I know I tried to get off the allergy medicine before the six month mark, but I couldn’t do it. I forgot to take it a few days around the eight month mark, and realized I was fine. I never resumed taking it and the allergies never returned.

Overall, I have never felt better physically or mentally in my entire life. I just feel good all the time.

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

Not from lack of trying. [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] I’m a guy, so I can’t actually do any of those things, and my wife and I aren’t trying for a child at this time.

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?

I wish, but I am the only person in my household who eats this way. My [step]son is very observant and will often comment on how I eat. He is acutely aware of how much sugar is in everything. He will never be zero carb though. When he’s at his dad’s house, he drinks green juices and other stuff like that. His dad and I have almost the opposite idea of ideal nutrition.

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

Well, the food is great and it makes me feel great. I get to eat all the foods that I like, and I don’t feel horrible all the time anymore.

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

Aside from reading The Fat of the Land? Sure. It would be to trust the process and give it six months, at a minimum. Maybe break it down into a 30 day trial, but six months is a major turning point. It’s hard at first. It gets easier and easier.

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

This area has improved dramatically, but not everyone is on board. My wife used to hate this way of eating. It was annoying/embarrassing when she wanted to go out to eat. I was probably slowly killing myself. I spend too much on meat. Although, I will reiterate that the amount I spend on meat is less than the total I was spending on a mixed diet before. She begged me to “eat normally” for our honeymoon, just so she wouldn’t be worried or stressed about me eating while we were on vacation. Stupidly, I agreed. Well, all my issues (gas, cramping, lethargy, etc.) returned with a vengeance as soon as I started eating crap. It was day two or three when she came to me and said, “You can go back to eating just meat again. I like it a lot better when you eat that way. You don’t fart and you’re a lot happier.” Ever since then, she’s never questioned it again. She won’t do it herself, but she knows it’s right for me.

I have a couple close work friends. They are fine with it. They ended up accepting it without too much question. I get a lot of comments from family, especially some members who are in an MLM-scheme that pushes vitamins and supplements. But, everyone who is close enough to know about this is also close enough to know that I’m going to do things my way, so they just don’t fight it.

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

Nope. I think I have pretty much covered it.

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Kevin enjoying life with his beautiful wife.

Please visit my Interviews page 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 Charles Washington in his Facebook group Zeroing in on Health or Michael Frieze in his Facebook group Principia Carnivora for guidance and support. These two groups use different approaches, so if you find that one does not suit you, please check out the other one.

 

Healing Brain Cancer with a Zero Carb Ketogenic Diet by Andrew Scarborough

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May 2015

Two and a half years ago, at the age of 27, I was working as a personal trainer and was physically very active. However, I was forced to stop working towards the end of 2012 because I was experiencing debilitating fatigue and severe migraine headaches. The doctors I consulted told me that my symptoms were most likely due to excessive stress.

At that time, I was eating a high carbohydrate, high protein, low fat diet, and I had a very low percentage of body fat. I ran and lifted weights, and for all intents and purposes appeared to be in great shape. I felt like I was doing everything right for good health based on what I had studied while working on my undergraduate degree in Sports Nutrition a few years earlier. But looking back, I probably wasn’t all that healthy internally.

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November 2011

After quitting my job, I decided to study for a Master’s degree in Nutritional Therapy. As I got deeper into my course work,I was shocked to discover that everything I had learned during my undergraduate studies was either false, misleading, or outdated information.

However, the new information was fascinating and I was enjoying it. This is where I first learned about the Ketogenic diet to manage drug resistant epilepsy and potentially cancer. My lecturer at the time told me that she followed a Paleo diet and I was intrigued and a little skeptical at the same time.

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Andrew with his nephew – October 2012

Five months later in February 2013, following a workout at the gym, I had what I now know was a partial seizure. I became very confused, had a metallic taste on my tongue, was very unsteady, stared blankly into space, and lost the ability to speak. It was scary and confusing, but – as my speech came back a few minutes later – I ignored it and carried on with my day.

There was also a particularly nasty strain of flu going around at the time, and I thought perhaps my weird symptoms were somehow related to that. Additionally, I was traveling around London which was stressful, but – being the stubborn person that I am – I simply soldiered on.

In the weeks that followed, I gradually became more and more fatigued, my balance was getting worse, my ability to concentrate was declining, and I was struggling to find words. I was also starting to get crushing headaches, but I assumed they were just one of the symptoms of this terrible strain of flu!

I finally started taking pain medication for headaches which was a big decision for me because I hate taking drugs. I was also experiencing some weakness around my right eye, so I decided that maybe I need glasses. I went for an exam and a prescription, but – after getting the glasses – the headaches continued unabated and were becoming more and more debilitating. Then, after suffering from serious dizzy spells all day, I rushed to get a train ride home from London.

As I sat down, the crushing headache was becoming unbearable. I felt nauseous and extremely dizzy. I began to have a pins-and-needles sensation in my mouth and on the right side of my face, along with that weird metallic taste I had experienced before, so I quickly scampered to the less busy side of the train clutching my face in agony.

My head felt like it was burning on one side and my right hand started to shake. I made strange yelping noises that I couldn’t control, and my whole body started to convulse. I felt like my head was being crushed until – suddenly – it felt like someone hit me as hard as they could on the side of my head with a hammer. Then, it felt like someone was turning a water tap on inside of my head, and I fell unconscious on the train.

When I finally came around, I was extremely confused and had a lot of injuries. I was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital. Eventually, the doctors determined that I had suffered a brain hemorrhage caused by a highly vascular malignant brain tumor located between the speech and movement areas of my brain. I was misdiagnosed a few times before I received the actual pathology report because there was just so much blood in my brain.

Six weeks after my operation on May 15th, I was told I had an Anaplastic Astrocytoma. It was treatable, but not curable. In other words, they could slow the progress, but ultimately it would prove to be terminal. I reluctantly went ahead with the standard radiotherapy and chemotherapy that my doctors recommended, but I felt extremely depressed.

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May 2013

Based on my previous studies regarding the Ketogenic diet, I began to gradually reduce my carbohydrate intake while simultaneously increasing fat. I read as much information about the Ketogenic diet as my current condition would allow. I was still having seizures on a regular basis, some of which were horrendous and quite traumatic, and I was on a number of strong pain and anti-convulsant medications.

The side effects of these medications were horrible. I asked my oncologist if a Ketogenic diet could help reduce the need for these medications, but I was told that diet would have little-to-no effect. He also stated in a very matter-of-fact way that it would not be a good idea to remove carbohydrates from my diet while undergoing conventional medical treatment because the brain needed glucose to function.

I stopped the chemotherapy and radiation treatments after a few months because they were making me too sick and were not helping to eliminate the cancer. (Sadly, everyone I know who continued with the conventional treatments for this type of cancer is no longer alive.) After all the research I had done, I decided that a ketogenic diet was crucial to slowing the progression of this cancer and was my best hope. Therefore, I adopted a very high fat, very low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. It included low sugar fruits and vegetables, lots of heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and oil, nuts, cheese, avocados, etc. All the typical high fat, keto-friendly foods.

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November 2013

I was getting decent numbers on my glucose/ketone meter, but I felt absolutely awful. My migraines and seizure activity got so bad that I was bed bound for months and I became very depressed. Eventually, I went to see my General Practitioner, and he prescribed steroids because my arteries had become severely inflamed. I never took the steroids (prednisolone), but decided to start keeping track of exactly when the symptoms became worse.

I decided to lower my carbohydrate intake further and the vascular inflammation improved without drugs. Esmee had read one of my blog posts about my symptoms and suggested that I might be reacting to the salicylates present in coconut, avocado, nuts, and other plant foods I was eating. So, I decided to eliminate them as a trial and see how I felt. The difference was astonishing. The headaches and seizure activity reduced almost immediately. The saddened me because these foods were the primary staples of my Ketogenic diet and I wasn’t yet sure how to replace them.

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July 2014

After cutting these foods out, however, and utilizing more animal fats like butter and tallow instead, I was able to gradually reduce the anti-convulsant and pain medications I was taking. Meanwhile, my brain scans continued to show improvement which both surprised and encouraged me.

I began to read more academic journals, text books about nutrition, and studied Neurology (because my neurologists were unhelpful) in more depth. I scrutinized my diet some more and realized I could get all the nutrients I needed strictly from the animal kingdom if I included bone broth and organ meats. I then took things to a whole new level by adding insects to my diet.

The diet I designed for myself – based on everything I had read and learned – made a lot of sense nutritionally, and I was amazed at how well it worked on a practical level. I was able to completely eliminate my medications, and I started to feel better and better.

I do take some supplemental vitamin D3 (I have photo-sensitivity and cannot be in the sun for long), and a good quality natural sea or rock salt. I also use some MCT oil which – unlike coconut milk and oil – does not cause migraines or seizures in my brain. I suspect that the salicylates are removed during processing, and this is why it does not bother me.

Of all the different Ketogenic diets I have tried over the past two years, the Zero Carb “Carnivorous” Ketogenic diet is the only one that has given me near complete symptom relief. I am doing things in an unorthodox way, but I firmly believe that this type of Ketogenic diet is the most efficacious for brain cancer management and improved seizure control. Except for some mild fatigue, I feel better than I have felt since this whole experience began.

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May 2015

My current diet is 85% fat, 15% protein. I have 70-75 gms of protein per day, and over 200 gms of fat. The only real difference between the recommended Ketogenic diet and what am doing is that I am eating only foods that come from the Animal Kingdom. I do not include any plant foods or the oils derived from plant foods. I am still very careful about my macronutrient ratios (protein/fat), but counting carbohydrates is no longer an issue for me since I eliminated all plant foods. The only beverage I drink is water or bone broth.

Each day, I eat 2-4 eggs, liver, lambs brain (from a local sheep rancher who raises his animals with care) or sardines/mackerel, bone broth, crickets or other insects like wax worms (either whole or as a flour) mixed with eggs, herbs and animal fat cooked in a frying pan or in the oven, and bacon or red meat with cheddar cheese. I also rotate in a variety of other organ meats like sweet breads. Sometimes I drink heavy whipping cream on its own if I’m on holiday because it’s an easy way to get the fat, but it tends to make me sleepy so I don’t do that very often! Basically, I’m experimenting with new foods all the time and continually learning and expanding my options.

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Sheep’s Brain

 

I have also been doing regular short intermittent fasts over the past 2 years, but – now that I am off all of the medications – I feel even more benefit from these fasts. The euphoria and energy I experience is incredible on my fasting days.

I consistently aim for 3-5 mmol/L of blood ketones, 3-4 mmol/L for of blood glucose. Without much effort both my blood ketones and glucose numbers are consistently in the optimal therapeutic range. I can improve both numbers even more with mild exercise, which I am once again able to do and is – in itself – an incredible thing for me.

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May 2015

My most recent brain scans taken earlier this month (May 2015) show no disease and even the scar tissue is healing. I have a new oncologist – Dr. Kevin O’Neil – that I found through a Ketogenic diet conference last year who is completely supportive of the approach I am taking to treat my cancer and rebuild my health. He is one of the few oncologists who supports metabolic diet therapy for cancer management, and I am blessed to have him on my team.

In fact, he is so impressed with my results that he has offered me an opportunity to work and study at Charing Cross Hospital and Imperial College London to push forward the research on this type of metabolic diet therapy.

I would like to express my deep and sincere appreciation to Thomas Seyfried, Dominic D’Agostino, Adrienne Scheck, and many other scientific pioneers who are conducting studies and carrying out research on the therapeutic benefits of a Ketogenic diet, as well as to the Non-Profits groups The Charlie Foundation and Matthew’s Friends. I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet with these amazing people and organizations in person, and they have all been enormously helpful to me on my journey back to Well-Being.

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December 2015

To read an update and watch an interview with Andrew, please go to Dr. Jeffry Gerber’s page:

http://denversdietdoctor.com/ancestral-ketogenic-diets-and-brain-cancer-the-scarborough-protocol/

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

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

 

My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Kim Knoch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kim with her supportive husband and daughters.

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

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

 

My First Four Months on Zero Carb by Esmée La Fleur

Sasha & Me

Me & My German Shepherd Dog “Sasha”

I have explained a lot of the following details on my About Me page, but I feel it is important to include some of them here as well so that readers unfamiliar with my history may better understand just how much appreciation I have for discovering the Zero Carb, or All-Meat way of eating…

As some of you already know, my reasons for trying an All-meat diet have nothing to do with weight. I have been very sick for a very long time and most of my issues revolve around extreme food intolerance. Pretty much everything I put in my mouth makes me sick, and has done so for the better part of the last 20 years. I believe these troubles resulted from a combination of a gastrointestinal infection I acquired in India when I was 16 and the vegan diet (high in wheat) I chose to follow shortly there after. Both of these factors damaged the villi of my small intestine and lead to the manifestation of celiac disease, specifically the skin version known as dermatitis herpetiformis (a very itchy rash experienced by approximately 20% of those diagnosed with celiac disease).

Because I was ideologically committed to a vegan diet, the high fiber foods I ate (even after wheat was removed from my diet) continued to assault the already severely compromised condition of my small intestine. I gradually became sensitive to everything I ate and was miserable all of the time. I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome based on the constellation of bizarre symptoms I experienced, and the fact that I was so tired most of the time that getting out of bed to take a shower took extreme effort.

I reached a low point in 2001, weighing only 87 lbs., and was sure that I was going to die from starvation. Out of desperation, I had tried adding animal foods back into my diet beginning several years earlier, but I was still eating lots of plant foods which continued to irritate my gut. But I was brain washed into believing that plant foods were necessary for health, so I persevered in my consumption of them.

I finally found a goat milk yogurt that did not make me feel horrible after eating it, and I ended up living on a mono diet of only goat milk yogurt and raspberries for 2 years straight. It saved my life. I then was able to move over to a diet of raw ground beef, olive oil, and leafy greens. I was still convinced that plant foods were essential to good long term health. This way of eating worked fairly well for another two year period. However, I started experiencing negative symptom from it more and more as time went on. I now know that this was due to an increasing intolerance to both salicylates (olive oil and greens) and histamines (aged beef).

I then went off on a crazy tangent of low fat vegan fruitarianism promoted by Doug Graham known as the 80/10/10 diet. I did this for another two years, but continued to feel even worse. I was continually in a state of sugar highs and lows, which made me irritable and angry a lot of the time. I was having trouble thinking straight, and I was painfully bloated all the time. Fortunately, this was around the time Dr. Robert Lustig gave his excellent presentation on fructose metabolism, explaining in detail why too much fructose is not a good thing. Please see his YouTube video SUGAR: THE BITTER TRUTH for the complete explanation.

So, my next dietary experiment was a low carb high fat (LCHF) raw vegan diet heavy on avocados and green leafy vegetables. This stabilized my blood sugar and kept my energy pretty steady. But I was still bloated all the time and experiencing other unpleasant symptoms from the food I was eating. Then, I was severely bit by a dog, and – between the antibiotics and the energy needed for healing – my digestive issues just got worse. The avocado salads just weren’t working anymore after that.

I eventually returned to goat milk yogurt and raspberries because I had no idea what else to do at this point. However, even the yogurt and raspberries didn’t work as well as they had in the past. Again, I now know that this was due to my increasing sensitivity to both salicylates (raspberries) and histamines (yogurt). Nevertheless, I remained on yogurt and raspberries exclusively for another full year. I experimented with rice before and after that, but all of it made me feel bad. While doing a 63 day green juice fast (using the only two vegetables low in salicylates: celery and lettuce) – which felt good, but was certainly not sustainable – I stumbled upon Jimmy Moore’s book Keto Clarity.

I had read about the Ketogenic diet many years earlier and knew that it was used to control seizures in epileptic children. I was intrigued at the time and even experimented with Atkins’ approach, but I was always including plant foods in my dietary trials, which I now realize was the reason I did not experience the benefits so many others did with this type of diet. As it turns out, I am not only sensitive to carbohydrates, I am also sensitive to salicylates which are present in almost ALL plant foods. As long as they were in the mix, any diet I tried was doomed to failure. The time I spent on goat milk yogurt and raw beef was the closest I came to removing most plant foods from my diet, but it still wasn’t enough. Please read my page on Salicylates for more information.

Jimmy Moore’s book re-kindled my interest in the Ketogenic diet and I proceeded to devour all of the podcast interviews he has done with Ketogenic diet scientists and doctors over the past 8 years.  What a wealth of information he provides for free! I know many people in the Zero Carb community are off-put by Jimmy’s promotion of Keto “junk” or “Frankenfoods” as they like to call them. But for me, Jimmy Moore’s audio and video library was a lighthouse beacon of hope. I had no idea how much information was now available on the Ketogentic diet compared to when I first encountered it 20 years ago. For those who are interested, I have links to many of his best interviews on my Resources page.

Somehow, someway, through a path that can no long remember exactly, I found my way to Amber Wilcox-O’Hearn’s website on The Ketogenic Diet for Health, and then to her personal blog Empirica where she delineates her experience of eating a totally carnivorous diet for over 5 years. I was fascinated! I had no idea that was even possible. Yes, I knew about the traditional diets of the Inuit and Masai tribes, but their diets utilized many parts of the animals they raised or harvested from the wild. Amber was simply eating muscle meat without much in the way of organ meats, bone broth, etc. I wanted to know more, that was for sure.

Some anonymous person added me to the Facebook group Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH) started by long time Zero Carb veteran Charles Washington. I suddenly entered a whole community of people eating this way, many for over five years. Naturally, I had a few concerns about eating this way which were quickly answered and put my mind at ease. I had been on a Ketogenic diet for three weeks (started on December 7, 2014), but I was still eating some low carb plant foods like sauerkraut, leafy greens, etc. I was also eating animal foods like cheese and eggs, chicken and turkey, and sour cream. Even though I was in “ketosis” and feeling some benefits from this – mostly related to blood sugar stability – I was still having negative reactions to ALL of these foods.

Eventually, thanks again to Amber Wilcox-O’Hearn, I finally figured out that I was sensitive to histamines in the same way that I was sensitive to salicylates. Histamines are present in all aged foods. Ironically, most of the Keto-friendly foods I was eating were either fermented or aged and – therefore – high in histamines. Egg white are also high in histamines. So now I was ingesting both salicylates and histamines.

Every time I ate, I experienced severe GI bloating, hours of burping, a migraine headache, a racing heart rate, and low blood pressure that made standing upright for even short periods quite difficult. So, in spite of eating a Ketogenic diet, I was feeling quite miserable. Therefore, an All-Meat diet seemed like the next logical step to explore. I figured that if others have not just survived, but thrived, on Zero Carb for five or more years, then a 30-day trial certainly would not kill me. So, I began my carnivorous adventure on January 1, 2015.

However, what I soon discovered is that ALL meats sold in U.S. supermarkets are aged to some extent, either intentionally or by default, and – consequently – are high in histamines. Every type of meat I tried made me sick with all the symptoms described above. The only animal foods I could safely eat were raw egg yolks and heavy whipping cream, so I ate 2 dozen egg yolks and 16 oz of heavy whipping cream every night for the first month and a half while I worked to find a source of histamine-free meat. This felt like my only hope, and I was not going to give up.

I finally located some unaged fresh-frozen grassfed veal that produced no negative reactions. The difference in how I felt after eating it was truly remarkable. I almost felt like a normal person. Most people eat and feel good, but – for over two decades – my experience has been to eat and feel utterly bad (and when I say bad, I mean so bad that I often just wished I was dead). So, I knew I was on to something. I finally understood what the problem had been all these years, and this knowledge has moved me from a place of hopelessness to one of great hope. I finally have direction and know what I need to do.

After a month and a half, my source of veal ran out and I had to go back to the eggs and cream for a week or so until I located another source of histamine-free meat. I eventually found some local humanely-raised pork that could be processed within two days of being slaughtered. The company that sold this pork – The Meat Shop in Phoenix, AZ – also had beef that was only aged for 10 days (most beef is aged for a minimum of 21 and usually much longer by the time it reaches the retail shelf). I tried their beef, but – sadly – it still contained to many histamines for me to eat. Everyone’s tolerance for histamines is different, and mine appears to be zero, at least for now. Maybe, as the villi in my gut heals, I will regain my ability to properly metabolize histamines. That would be truly awesome and that is the vision that I hold for myself.

The pork, however, has been working pretty well. As soon as the animal clears inspection, the butcher processes it for me and freezes it immediately in order to stop the histamine formation as quickly as possible. I have been eating 1 lb. of ground pork with 4 oz. of butter once a day for the past month. Right now, I find that if I eat more than 1 lb. of meat at a time, or if I eat more than one time per day, I feel tired and inflamed. I am hoping that as my digestive system heals, I will be able to eat more meat and less added fat. Time will tell. Most women on this diet consume about 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. of fatty meat per day. But, for now, what I am doing is working pretty well.

The Zero Carb veterans generally discourage people from adding extra fat to their meat – unless it is super lean – because there are more nutrients in the meat than in the added fat, and too much added fat can cause some folks to gain unwanted body fat. Many people who come to Zero Carb from a Keto background often make the mistake of adding a lot of extra fat to their meat and then wonder why they are gaining weight. Since I was underweight to begin with, I was not overly concerned about this problem for myself.

In addition to the pork and butter, I also make and drink bone broth. I have personally found bone broth to be a very beneficial part of my transition to this diet. I believe it prevented some of the more severe symptoms that can occur during the initial period of metabolic Adaptation to a Zero Carb diet. None of the Zero Carb veterans that I have interviewed include bone broth in their diet, so it is clearly not necessary for long term health.

However, I strongly feel – based on my own experience, as well as the experience of others who are following a Zero Carb diet for complex health issues like me – that bone broth can be a real asset. My position on this subject, and my insistence on sharing my experience with others who are newly trying this diet, actually got me ex-communicated from the ZIOH fold. (Really? Yes, really!)

It is a long story and too complicated to try an explain here, but basically the Admins of that group did not like me promoting the benefits I have experienced from bone broth because they felt that I was somehow confusing people into thinking that it was an essential part of the diet, rather than just an optional addition. Perhaps I just have more faith and trust in the intelligence of individuals, and expect them to be able to read information and determine what the best course of action is for themselves, without needing others to make the decision for them.

Those of us who have chosen to include bone broth as part of our Zero Carb diet are at a complete loss to understand the ZIOH stance, especially since bone broth is clearly a food from the “animal kingdom.” I mean, it is not like we were singing the praises of Coke Zero or something, for heaven’s sake. I think the misunderstanding arises from the fact that none of the ZIOH Admins have ever suffered with the severe gastrointestinal issues or complex health problems that result from this. The only long term Zero Carb-er I have interviewed who had similar issues with food intolerances and might possibly be able to understand and relate was Charlene Andersen. But, she is not an active member of ZIOH. To read why I think bone broth can be beneficial for some people, please see my article Can Bone Broth Be Used as Part of a Zero Carb Diet?

After The Andersen Family interview went viral and was shared on William Davis’s Wheat Belly Facebook page and several other pages, ZIOH experienced an influx of many new members with Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and similar very severe illnesses. This was a completely different crowd than ZIOH had formerly attracted. Most people who get interested in Zero Carb do so for weight loss reasons. But that was not the case for many of the new people – arriving via The Andersen Family interview – checking out this unique way of eating.

It has been my experience that it is virtually impossible for someone who has not experienced these types of complex health and GI problems to understand even remotely what it is like. And to forbid us to talk about bone broth – which has been shown to be so helpful for people with these kinds of issues – in the group is not only totally ridiculous, but terribly short-sighted in my opinion. What is the point of being part of a group if we are not allowed to share information and experiences? They pushed a lot of people away from learning more about a diet that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of so many very, very sick people.

Fortunately, however, this is a mostly free internet world, and we (with the support of 5-year Zero Carb practitioner Michael Frieze) simply created a new group called Principia Carnivora for ourselves where everyone is free to openly discuss any and all ideas that we feel may be beneficial to us on our journeys back to well-being. We had almost 400 new members requests in just 4 days, so I guess that says a lot about the need for a group like this with a more relaxed and free-thinking environment. If this sounds like your kind of group, please come join us and check it out. Our main objective is to have fun while supporting one another.

So, I will just end by saying that while I personally enjoy bone broth and feel better when I drink it, this may or may not be true for you. Like eggs and dairy, bone broth is secondary in importance to meat on a Zero Carb diet. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone reacts to it the same way. A small percentage of people who are sensitive to MSG can turn the glutamine in bone broth into glutamate and experience all the same symptoms they do from MSG. This is most often seen in children with Autism, but it can happen in anyone with gut issues. The only way to know how it will affect you personally is to try it.

I drink 1-2 quarts of bone broth per day. I remove the fat so that it does not interfere with my natural appetite and hunger signals. Essentially, it is the Zero Carb version of an electrolyte replacement beverage. Many people find it really helps to prevent the muscle cramping that can occur during the Adaptation phase of beginning this way of eating. For more information, please see my page on Bone Broth.

The most significant benefits I have experienced so far include…

  • Food Reactions – I no longer experience unpleasant symptoms after eating.
  • Bloating – I no longer look and feel 6 months pregnant after eating.
  • Blood Sugar – I no longer experience daily hypoglycemic episodes.
  • Energy – My energy is now stable and steady.
  • Teeth – My teeth are no longer sensitive.
  • Hunger – I eat once a day and am rarely hungry in between meals.
  • Cravings – I experience no carbohydrate or other cravings.
  • Mental Clarity – I have greater mental clarity and focus.
  • Mood –  I am no longer irritable all the time.
  • Outlook – I feel much more optimistic about life.
  • Hemorrhoids – I no longer experience pain or irritation.
  • Weight – I was underweight (95 lb) and am now at a healthier weight (120 lb).
  • Blood Pressure – It has increased from 85/50 to 105/95.
  • Skin – My skin has stopped breaking out with pimples.
  • Nails – My nails are much stronger.
  • Hormones – I no longer have menstrual cramps during my period.
  • Headaches – I no longer have migraine headaches as long as I avoid salicylates and histamines.
  • Shingles – The scar I have from this no longer tingles or itches.
  • Sleep – My sleep quality has improved and I need less total sleep.
  • Mornings – I no longer wake up feeling like I have a hangover.

As you can see, I have experienced quite a few positive changes in just 4 short months. The key for me in making this diet a success is to have a continual supply of histamine-free meat. I want to see if I can makes some histamine-free pemmican to serve as a back-up resource, as well as for travelling or day trips. I also plan to explore some therapeutic modalities, like DAO enzymes, which have been shown to assist the break down of histamines that are present in food. I am definitely happy with my progress thus far, and – as long as things keep moving in a positive direction – I fully expect to continue this way of eating indefinitely.

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

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

 

The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Kieth

vegmyth cover third reviewThis book is by far one of the most powerful and important books I have every read in my entire life. It is my opinion that it should be required reading for everyone before they are allowed to graduate from high school. Everyone who eats food needs to read this book.

 

Here is the link to the free PDF version.

The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith

 

If you need more convincing, please read:

Dr. Michael Eades Book Review