Zero Carb Testimonial: Peg

Raw Ground Beef & Raw Suet

Hello Esmee,

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

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

Some background:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero carb journey

In the beginning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I eat now:

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

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

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

Difficulties and things I’ve learned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I have noticed have improved:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My advice for others starting out on zero carb:

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

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Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

It seems like almost every week that a new person who has stumbled into our Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora asks this question. Since it comes up so often, I have decided to take some time to articulate my personal reasons for choosing raw meat over cooked meat.

When I first started a Zero Carb diet 21 months ago on January 1, 2015, I began with a wide variety of animal foods: eggs, cheese, butter, cream, bone broth, chicken, pork, and beef. All of it cooked. I really struggled with Zero Carb in the beginning because I simply did not feel that good no matter what I ate. Removing all plant foods from my diet certainly helped, but I was still experiencing a lot of negative symptoms from the animal foods I was eating. The biggest symptom with the most impact on my quality of life is chronic migraine headaches.

About 6 months into my Zero Carb journey, I finally discovered that I am histamine intolerant. Histamines are in all aged and fermented foods, as well as eggs and any foods that are slow-cooked, and this is why I have continued to struggle with chronic migraine headaches on a Zero Carb diet. One-by-one, I removed everything from my diet except for beef. And even with the beef, I have to make sure that I get it as fresh as possible and use it immediately. The longer beef – or any meat – is aged, the more histamines it will contain. The longer a steak sits on the shelf after being cut off of a main primal piece by the butcher, the more histamines it will contain.

All last winter (2015-2016), I was eating very lightly pan-fried fatty beef chuck roast steaks. And when I say lightly, I mean 30-60 seconds per side, leaving the meat blue-rare inside. This was working to some extent, but I did not feel all that good. In fact, I got a terrible cold virus last winter that came back three separate times! I literally never get viruses, so to have the same one three times in just a few months was both very worrisome and very unpleasant. The last time I had a virus prior to this was in the winter of 1999-2000, when – incidentally – I was also eating a fair amount of cooked meat (one of my earlier attempts to escape veganism, LOL!).

So, I knew I should be eating my meat raw, but the cold, wet winter and the state of my mind at the time, were really making it difficult for me to do this. Once the weather warmed up a bit, however, I decided to give fresh raw ground beef another try. After a few weeks, I got used to it and then the taste of the cooked meat wasn’t all that enticing any more. Nevertheless, I continued to have a cooked meal here and there, very rarely. But each time I did this – I noticed that 1) I did not feel as well after eating the cooked meat as I did after eating the raw meat; 2) I did not digest the cooked meat as well as I digested the raw meat; and 3) I could tolerate much more fat when I ate it raw verses cooked.

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LEM Big Bite #12 All Stainless Steel Meat Grinder

One of the things I have personally found very helpful on my Zero Carb Journey is periodic fasts. I have completed three separate 16-day fasts (each were a combination of water and dry) over the past 21 months. Each of these fasts has helped me quite significantly. Histamines build up in the body over time and fasting is the single most effective method I have discovered to allow my body to eliminate them from “storage.” When the meat I can normally eat without issue begins to give me migraine headaches, then I know my histamine “bucket” is full so-to-speak and it is time for another fast.

I just completed my most recent 16-day fast a week ago. It went really well. But coming off the fast has been both challenging and enlightening. First, I decided to experiment with Fiji water and it gave me a migraine headache and caused me to feel generally crappy. This tells me that the company adds minerals to the Fiji water, which is implied but not directly stated on the label. I am 100% certain of this because I felt exactly the same way as I always feel after taking any supplements of any kind. They all make me very very very sick just like the Fiji water did.

After I recovered from the Fiji water debacle, I decided to try cooking my meat one night. I had broken my fast 6 days earlier and – up to that point – I had eaten only raw ground beef according to my usual custom. Although I am kind of unhappy with myself for choosing to cook my meat this night, I gained an enormous amount of clarity about what my body does and does not like due to this unhappy choice. So, ultimately, the experience was an extremely valuable one because of the new knowledge it brought me.

Needless to say, my body had a very negative response to the cooked meat. I started getting a migraine headache within a few hours of eating it and, 3-days later, I am still suffering the consequences. The next morning, lymph nodes throughout my body were incredibly painful. The effects from eating the cooked meat were so bad, that I actually had to go back on a short dry fast to give my body a chance to work through it. I tried eating my normal fresh raw ground beef the next day, but that just made the migraine headache and lymphatic inflammation worse.

This is one of the reasons I am such a huge advocate for both fasting and doing a bare bones version of the Zero Carb diet if you are new to this way of eating. There are so many potential variables when you eat any and all animal foods that there is really no way to tell how you are responding to them if you include them all indiscriminately. If you start with just fatty beef and water, then you have removed all of the most potentially problematic foods in one fell swoop. After you have eaten only beef and water for 30-days, you can then test other Zero Carb foods one at a time to see how you do with them.

Fasting takes this process one step further by eliminating all food for a period of time. This way when you add back a food, whether from a basic beef and water diet or from a fully fasted state, your body can give you a much clearer response to whatever food you are testing. This is what happened to me with this last fast I did. Being away from any cooked meat for a while prior to the fast, and then doing a long fast, made it considerably easier for my body to let me know that it really really really does not like cooked meat.

Prior to this, I was living in a fantasy world that I could sort of go back and forth between raw and occasional cooked – if and when I felt the desire for it – but this experience has shown me just how utterly delusional that idea was! From here on out, I am no longer seeing cooked meat as an option for myself. This was a very powerful transformative “a-ha” moment for me. I will never again choose to eat meat that has been cooked even the tiniest bit. Cooked meat is now in the same category as plant foods: it is no longer a “food” as far as I am concerned.

While some people might find this realization to be even more restrictive than what most would already perceive to be a very restrictive Zero Carb diet, I personally find it quite liberating to have finally reached a very definitive conclusion on this issue. There is no more doubt about it, and it is one less decision I need to make. It is all raw all the way for me!

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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.”

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?

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

 

Dr. H. L. Newbold on Ground Meat

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I consider Dr. H. L. Newbold to be one of the great medical mind of the last century. To learn more about him, please read my page H. L. Newbold.

This is an excerpt from the above pictured book. I do not recommend buying this book, as it was a precursor to his later and better volume The Type A / Type B Weight Loss Diet.  Nevertheless, he does share some interesting ideas and observations in this older book, as quoted below.

Dr. H. L. Newbold:

Do not eat ground meat. I know hamburgers are right up there with motherhood, milk, and the American flag, but we must face facts. Patients in my practice to not feel good after eating ground meat. Off-hand, it does not make sense that patients seem able to eat steak and not react to it, but have a reaction to ground beef. Still, I have checked my observations on hundreds of patients and must stand firm on what I have seen.

I don’t know why, but…my theory deals with rapidity of absorption. If you eat foods that still are relatively bulky, even after chewing (like steak), then the digestive enzymes must work on them a long time before they are broken down enough to pass through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream.

On the other hand, ground meat is rapidly digested and rapidly enters the bloodstream. We know that if you have a mild allergy to food, you will get a much stronger allergic reaction if that food is quickly digested and passed on into the system. Some people who have a mild allergy to beef do not react to steak (slow absorption), but do react to the ground beef (quick absorption). Patients are also more likely to react to other forms of commercially-ground meats, such as lamb, for example.

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I do not think this is an issue for everyone, but it is certainly good to be aware of the possibility. Most long term practitioners of Zero Carb appear to do just fine with ground beef. However, Samantha Taylor – who has followed an all meat diet for over 5 years now – has reported experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) every time she eats ground beef. So, as always, the best thing to do is experiment and see if you notice any difference in the way your own body responds to whole meat verses ground meat and then do whatever feels best to you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for people with histamine intolerance, ground meat is much higher in histamines. Once meat is ground, histamines form much more quickly. So, if you do have histamine issues, it is important to have the meat ground fresh and then get it into the freezer as quickly as possible to stop histamine formation.

My First Four Months on Zero Carb by Esmée La Fleur

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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.