Zero Carb Interview: Elaine Anderson

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

About a year and a half.

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

When I went carnivore, I had already been paleo for nearly 5 years, and so I had lost a lot of weight and eliminated a page-long list of health issues. But I started getting concerned because I was putting the belly fat back on again. And I was developing “little” problems – such as, swelling around my ankles. At that point, I eliminated all the high-sugar “paleo-friendly” vegetables, like eggplant, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and based my diet on meat, lower-sugar/low-starch cooked greens (collard, turnip, mustard, lambsquarters), eggs and nuts. (I had already dropped fruit a couple of years into paleo, so that wasn’t part of the problem.) And guess what happened… nothing. The belly fat just had no intention of budging.

Alarmed, I googled: ‘low carb, not losing weight’, and came across a blog called My Zero Carb Life. Ironically, it was Kelly’s post about how she GAINED weight when she first went zero carb, haha. But still, that phrase “eat meat, drink water” really engaged my attention. I started to investigate the online info, and in less than 6 weeks, I made my decision. And guess what. The belly fat is only now starting to come off, and only slowly at that. But my original motivation doesn’t really matter to me anymore. I have an abiding trust now that my body will balance and regulate itself at its own time and its own pace. And you know what else. I have not once– even for a moment– regretted the decision I made to become a carnivore.

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

I didn’t have any noticeable psychological or emotional issues with the transition. From my first day as a “meataritarian”, I knew it was right for me. I loved how calm and natural I felt on the “zero sugar” way of eating. By the third day, l was explaining to friends that I felt “like I finally came home to my own body.” I vaguely missed pecans a little (great big pecan tree in the yard), especially when I would look at them–but I didn’t have any real craving.

Physically, it’s a lot harder to say. The worst part was probably the first month, and that was the frequent diarrhea. But in some respects, I think the adaptation took most of my first year. That may have something to do with my age. Or with, see below…the great coffee debacle.

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

This website.

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

I don’t tolerate dairy well, not even goat’s milk products. But even if I did, I would avoid them because, for me, it’s quite an addictive food.

Eggs, I do sometimes eat, even though I’m not crazy about them, because I can get free-range eggs for $2 or less a dozen direct from the farmer. But I don’t drop my guard with them because a hen egg has a 1/4 gram of sugar.

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

It depends. When I’m in rural north Alabama–my preferred home base–venison dominates during the fall and winter. Otherwise, beef is my mainstay.

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

My staple is raw, frozen hamburger patties. If I eat out, I order my steak, liver, prime rib, etc rare. If I cook beef myself, it usually ends up well done. The truth is, I’m happy with it anywhere along the spectrum from raw to burnt.

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

I use a little duck or beef tallow, or lard, when I cook or reheat meat in the skillet. But, no, I don’t garnish my cooked meat with an extra dollop of fat, if that’s what you’re asking.

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

As much as I want.
Whenever I want.
With gratitude.

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

Yeah. I eat liver, heart, tongue, stomach, fried tripas (known in the south as chit’lins, y’all–pork gut). (And when I’m lucky enough to be in Mexico and have my own cooking capabilities, I also eat rinones de res — beef kidneys. When I was staying in Cd Cuauhtemoc, Chih, I could get them cheap, any day of the week, right there at the supermarket.) And I love marrow; some people count that as organ meat. And chicharrones (fried pig skins). I eat any of the above organ meats whenever I get the inclination, but I don’t keep track of the frequency. I just trust that when I feel the desire to eat any of these foods, it’s a signal that my body needs it at that particular time.

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

Ummm. I do enjoy sipping a cup of hot stock on a chilly morning. So yeah, pretty often in the cooler months.

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

Uh…I don’t really know how to answer that. I’m retired, so I’m on nobody’s schedule but my own. Right now, I live alone, with a cat or two, so I don’t normally sit down to a meal. I just eat when I feel like it–grab a frozen patty in one hand and go on about my business with the other. Next time I think about eating, I’ll grab another patty or two, or fry up a skillet of carne picada (yummy little pieces of beef). I just don’t pay much attention to how much and how often.

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

Not entirely sure. I guess a little under 2 lbs.

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

I like the taste of grassfed hamburger meat and make that as big of a percentage of my total meat as I can. Beyond grass-fed, grain-free, or pastured, though, I would eat only wild meat if it was practical. But it’s not always possible.

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

I once adored coffee: bold, black, bitter coffee. I had been off of it for five years, but my newly meatatarian body was functioning so efficiently…that I got a little too cocky and boldly walked right back into my former addiction. My body went into a tailspin then, and it took me months of floundering around (experimenting with things like intermittent fasting) in my misguided attempts to correct all the residual health problems I had caused myself.

As you may have guessed from my answer to question 2, I have a tendency toward severe non-diabetic insulin resistance. I found out the hard way that coffee triggers insulin resistance, and the less sugar you consume, the greater the impact! Something to think about if you have ever had symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

Look, some people apparently can drink coffee with impunity; I’m not one of them.

Bottom line that I learned from all this: eat meat, drink water, relax. Really, relax. Quit trying to tweak your way out of your mistakes; your meatatarian body is a lot smarter about itself than your intellect is, so just give it meat, get out of its way, and let it figure out the rest by itself.

My ‘coffee substitute’ is artemisia vulgaris (aka – mugwort, sweat lodge tea, river sage, etc). It’s one of the first weeds to come up in the early spring. And it’s bitter enough to keep me happy.

In the summer, I also like to plop a cone or two of staghorn sumac berries into a gallon of cool water, leave it overnight. They turn the water pink and give it a sour, lemony taste.

16. Do you use salt?

As much as I want – usually Himalayan pink.

17. Do you use spices?

Occasionally pepper. And I sometimes like to put rosemary in my meat and bone stocks. But I can take ’em or leave ’em.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No. I understand that some carnivores use mineral supplements to treat leg cramps, so I’d like to share what I learned about that.

When I first went carnivore, the leg cramps that had plagued me the whole time I was paleo…stopped!
The great coffee crash episode brought them back to me.

And I learned to banish them with acupressure. Especially effective is the point in the middle between the nose and the upper lip. Pinch that groove and hold it. The pain will almost always disappear in 30 seconds or less.

For the long term solution, I treated that one point on the face and another one on the foot (just short of where the bone of the big toe and the one beside it meet) with firm pressure for 30-60 seconds, once or twice a day, for a week or so, and the leg cramps quit bothering me.

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

Less than I used to spend on paleo!! About $300-325, I think.

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

I buy my salt in bulk from the San Francisco Salt Co.Great price, free shipping and nice customer service.

If you happen to live in an area where hunting is popular, I recommend that you stop in during the fall at your nearest gamemeat processor. Ask if they keep a list of people who’d like to buy unclaimed and donated game meat, and get your name and contact info on the list. They can legally sell wild meat to you for what it costs them to process it. In north Alabama, I get venison for $2 a pound, and sometimes get stock bones for free or next to it. Also, if you are an organ meat eater, you may be able to get these items there as well.

Now, the rest of this answer below might seem slightly off-topic, or worse, ~radical~ to the ears (eyes) of some readers, and so I won’t be offended if you skip on down to number 21… in case radicality alarms you.

If you don’t already know how, I’d like to suggest trying to learn as much you can about hunting, fishing, and foraging (earthworms, grubs, black soldier fly larvae, sow bugs, etc). Nothing wrong with small and slow. If nothing else, get a book on tracking and go out to the woods and prowl around looking for tracks and sign. Or go to the lake and relax in the shade and watch someone else fish. Start somewhere, anywhere.

Sisters and brothers, this isn’t just about giving your budget a boost. It isn’t just about Survival 101. It is a spiritual lifeline to the wild and all its abundance. Nature’s benevolence intrudes even into the heart of the city, even now. Especially for those of us who’ve made the most environmentally responsible decision anyone can make— that is to walk away from the produce of the cultivated fields, the earth-rape that’s been going on since the rise of civilization. Look around you with your eyes open. The wild gives bountifully.

Look, y’all, I’m no Big Chingon great white hunter. I’m a 65 year-old, female, non-athlete. The sacred connection with the wild is open to all: urban/rural, young/old, male/female, able-bodied or not. Tyr, the ancient Norse spirit of the hunt, was said to be maimed, one-handed; think about that.

No, I’m nobody’s idea of the Big Chigon; I hunt grasshoppers. The act of killing and eating a gentle-eyed little wild being with my own hands is among the most sacred and moving experiences I’ve ever known. It’s the point where grief and gratitude become one feeling–the very Eucharist experience I imagined I was supposed to have as a child, but never quite found it there. Here is my body which is broken so that you may have life….
It’s my personal initiation into the bond of honor between the hunter and the prey: the prey offers up its own precious and well-loved little life so that the hunter may continue to live. The hunter provides for and defends the community that the prey was a part of during its life.
It’s also where I discovered that the identifying attributes of the spirit of Tyr–courage, compassion and self-sacrifice–are shared equally by both hunter and prey.

So be it.

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

Not in the formal sense people usually mean when they say that. I feel great, my energy level is high, my stamina is steady, I love life. What does that equal for me? A lot of time outdoors, both working and playing. I also do a lot of activities by hand (like, wash & wring out my clothes, hang ’em out to dry, haul up to 5-gallon buckets of water by hand, wash dishes in the sink, wield a swing blade, etc) Things that people with a mainstream lifestyle usually do in automated mode. You know, the way I see it, people who feel full of life don’t have to be told to go buy a gym membership… For someone who enjoys gym exercise, or (of course!) for an athlete in training, by all means, let there be gyms! If not, I think a person learning to live healthy should just try to avoid too much uninterrupted sitting–continue to eat meat and drink water–and before they know it, they’ll naturally become active, simply from their abundant energy. But just because the dominant culture says you’re “supposed to” do it is no true Rx for health or happiness or weight loss. That’s my take on it.

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

My lifelong sensitivity to petrochemical fumes (colognes, paints, solvents, carpet glues, gasoline, etc) doesn’t KO me like it used to. And that is one thing paleo didn’t help me with at all.

I feel strong in who I am now in ways that I never did before.

My ‘narrative voice’ in creative writing is not nearly as flowery (sugary, shall we say, my friends?). It has naturally taken on a much more direct style of expression since I became zero carb.

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

Everything.

Others have mentioned the simplicity, the liberation from prior routines, the mental clarity, the more focused ideological perspective. Yes, yes. All of the above.

But I think for me what matters most is the still, quiet pride — the self-respect — that comes from facing life like an alert and calm warrior, without needing any cushion of carbohydrate addiction to soften the blows.

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

There is no authority over your body higher than your body itself. No expert, institution, community, authority figure or goverment has the right to tell you what to put in your mouth if it contradicts the experience of your own body. Find out for yourself what works for you, and be honest with yourself about it. Then relax. Everything will be all right.

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

They are, in general. For one thing, I’m Medicare age, I use no drugs–prescription, over the counter or street. Nor any supplements, and I seldom have any reason to even use herbal weeds to cure anything. I’m strong, I feel great, I look great. There’s not much they can say.
Besides, they really don’t want to get me started talking about how the amount of carbon released into the air from the time of the first plow until the beginning of the industrial age is equal to the amount released from the beginning of the industrial age until the present. Therefore, agriculture alone would have eventually brought our beloved and only home to the brink of utter disaster without the help of modern technology, so why the duck are YOU still complicit in the rape of the earth and the extinction of the wild at a rate of at least 200 species every ducking day? Why aren’t YOU a carnivore? Don’t you care? Do you want your grandchildren — not to speak of your one and only precious body — to bless your decisions? Or to curse them?

But I do sometimes happily engage with non-family and friends about zero carb, so if you find it necessary to do so, I’d suggest arming yourself with Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth. She’s an entertaining writer, and a powerful voice of reason.

If nothing else, you can hold the line with a firm but quiet little stand: “this is my body, and the decision about what goes into or out of my mouth is not for anybody else to make. End of discussion.”
Self-rule, baby, self-rule!

And if you like engaging them– or even if you don’t like it, but feel that you must — just remember, you’ve already taken the high ground. You’re the one with the mental clarity, the physical and psychological stamina and, yes, the emotional strength to have compassion on those who are still trapped where you once stood. But don’t expect anyone else to change just because they have watched your health blossom, or because you can defend your position well.

You are a threat to them. And they will try their best to re-addict you to carbs, lying to themselves that it’s out of “love and concern” for you. Even if you don’t argue with them about zero carb, you are still living proof that a person really can break free from a 10,000-year-old chain of socially-acceptable human addiction. And no matter what direct evidence they see that they too can be free, that they don’t have to continue to endure brain fog, fatigue, depression, anxiety, mental illness and disease, few of them are going to want to accept the responsibility that goes with acknowledging that it truly CAN be done. And that those who do it, thrive. Shrug your shoulders and move on — addictIon is addiction, and their choice to remain addicted is their choice. You are free. It may not be easy, and it may sometimes be lonely, but the way I see it, there is nothing more precious than personal freedom, and all the self-honesty and integrity that it takes to achieve and maintain it.

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

Oh dear….I certainly could go on and on, but I’ve probably written quite enough already. What I have expressed here comes from my own heart, my own passions, my own opinions and my own experience, and I take full responsibility for every word. It does not necessarily reflect the ideology or thoughts of the blogger who interviewed me. It does not express the words of any medical or health professional living or dead and may not be taken as such.

I would just like to add that there’s a lot of wisdom available for everyone through Esmee and the rest of the zero carb online community. As for me, I’m no expert on anything other than my own experience, but I will say that if anyone wants to discuss further anything I’ve mentioned here — or to challenge it — do feel free to contact me at ela95126@gmail.com. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but vegans, you are also welcome to engage; I don’t care if you want to vent your venom against my choices. Rest assured, you will be neither the first nor the last in line.

May all the rest of you enjoy your carnivore adventure and become even more strong and ever more free.
And, Esmee, thank you so much for all you do for all of us.

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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.

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.

 

My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Marcia Kahn-Markley

Marcia Kahn-Markley2

Tomorrow brings me to the completion of my first 30 days on meat and water. I am 63 years young, overweight, and on medications for high blood pressure and gasto-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).

If you can name the diet, I’ve been there. If you can conceive the diet, I’ve done it . Been there, done that! It’s a yo-yo experience that I have done for as long as I can remember. I would lose a little, then I would gain a little, then I would gain a lot, and then – one day – I took my blood sugar and it was 292!  That was a wake up call of sorts.

Up until that point, I didn’t care what I ate. If it tasted good that was basically my only criteria for eating it. But when I hit that number and realized more medications were not going to help me, I decided that – if I wanted to be healthy – I would have to look elsewhere for answers. I was not on any medication or insulin for my diabetes yet, and I really wanted to avoid that. Eventually, I came across information of low carbohydrate diets as an alternative strategy for diabetes.

In February, I started a low carbohydrate diet, and for a short bit it worked. I brought down my blood sugar, but once again – having too many choices and too much to sift through – it was not able to keep my blood sugar consistently low. I was frustrated and discouraged, but through a low carbohydrate forum I was participating in, I found the Zero Carb group Zeroing in on Health on Facebook (started by Charles Washington).

I was intrigued. After reading many posts and asking lots of questions, I decided to give meat and water a try for 30 days. My supportive husband decided to join me on this adventure, so we have been doing it together.

Marcia Kahn-Markley1

We have been eating mostly ground beef, chuck steaks, and pork belly, but sometimes we eat chicken as well… though not very often . We usually only eat one meal per day now, which is amazing in and of itself.

I love eating this way! I love the new me! For the first time in my life, I know how to properly fuel my body for optimal health. I eat meat when I am hungry, and I eat as much as I need to feel satisfied. I drink water when I am thirsty. I have made a few mistakes along the way, but with the help of Charles and other group members, I have been able to make quick course corrections and get back on track.

Some of the benefits I have experienced so far:

1) My fasting blood sugar upon waking in the morning is about 130, which is still higher than I would like, but less than it was when I started.

2) But during the day – after eating – my blood sugar runs between 106-117, which is far and away the best numbers I have had in a long while.

3) I’ve lost a total of 10 lbs over the past 30 days.

4) My moods are better, and I’m not so cranky.

5) I sleep straight through the night, instead of being up every hour.

6) My chronic abdominal bloating is gone.

7) The frequent cramps in my legs I experienced are gone.

8) My ankles and fingers are no longer swollen.

It’s gone. All gone.

Initially, I was worried about all of the non-Zero Carb food that I had in the house, but Charles said that I should just chalk it up to a bad purchase and get rid of it. So, I took his wise advise and did. I gave everything that did not align with a Zero Carb diet away. Then, I bought a cow and a pig and filled my freezer with meat.

Three days ago, I was able to discontinue my water pill. I have an appointment with my doctor in two days to begin the process of decreasing my blood pressure medication as well. I am still on  Nexium for my GERD, but hopefully that won’t be necessary much longer either.

I was feeling really “lost” prior to starting Zero Carb, and that was the worst feeling in the world. But now – with the help of Charles, Caitlin, and other Zero Carb veterans – I am “found.” With their support and knowledge, I have flourished on this diet. I know that I will be eating this way for the rest of my life. By simply giving Zero Carb a chance for a mere 30 days, I have gained a whole new lease on life.

In closing, I want to thank Charles and everyone else in Zeroing in on Health who have patiently answered my questions, listened to my rants, or offered me support in some other way. I salute you all !!! You guys truly are saviors.

I hope that others will be inspired by my small but – to me – very significant health improvements to give meat and water a try for 30 days. If you are suffering from excess body fat, fatigue, pain, or any serious health condition like Type 2 diabetes, you will not regret having given this way of eating an opportunity to work its magic in your body.

I am proof that it is never too late to make positive changes in your health. I hope you will choose to take back your power. Please give yourself the chance for a new and better life.

POST DOCTOR VISIT UPDATE 04-16-15

Good morning all… My doctor has taken me off the Nexium and water pill and halved my blood pressure pills. But the one thing that we haven’t been able to reduce up to now is my morning blood sugar as mentioned above… well … this morning it was 108 … 108… 108… 108!!!  I had to take it three times to be sure it was not a mistake. I’m so excited that I’m jumping up and down like a crazy person. I even woke up the hubby and was shoving my meter in his face … OMG! OMG! OMG! … I hope this is not a dream!!! Thank you ZC for the best 32 days ever !!!!!!!!!

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 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.