Zero Carb Interview: Ultra-Marathoner Ana Teixeira

Ana Teixeira

A Happy Healthy Ana Teixeira!

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

I have been eating a Zero Carb – No Plant Foods – diet for 5 years now.

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

My motivation was for both health and endurance. I am an Ultra-marathoner, and I wanted to improve my performance, and a Zero Carb diet is the best way I have found to achieve this. I run 4 ultras a year. Two of them are 100 km and the other two are 215 km each. My personal best time for the 100 km is 9 hours and 30 minutes.

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

I took several months for me to transition to a fully adapted state. I started eating a low carbohydrate diet 3 years earlier (which included fruits, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products), but it did not give me the results I was seeking. I wanted more independence and freedom from food. I wanted to be able to go for hours without eating. I was still hungry too often on just a Low Carb diet. It takes mental strength to make the transition to Zero Carb, but with determination and discipline everyone can do it. And the benefits are awesome.

Ana Teixeira

Ana Warming Up For a Long Training Run.

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

The person who influenced me the most was Charles Washington from the Zeroing in on Health internet forum. He – and other group members – shared many references, articles, links, etc. that I read which convinced me that this way of eating was definitely worth trying. Also, I’ve a biochemistry degree and read a lot papers on this subject, especially those of Dr. Robert Lustig. (He is the author of the book Fat Chance and a lecture he gave titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth – about the dangers of fructose – went viral on YouTube a few years ago.)

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

I eat only meat. I consume mostly beef and pork, choosing the fattiest cuts, but I also like chicken wings. The meat and fat from pork head is one of my favorites, but I do not eating brain. I do not eat turkey or duck or rabbit meat because I find it to be too lean. I need lots of fat to fuel my body and provide the energy necessary for my long runs. I enjoy bacon, too, but it is difficult to find it without sugar.

News paper article about Ana Teixeira

A Newspaper Article Written About Ana in the Portuguese Publication “Imediato”

(Please note: An English translation of this article is provided at the end of this interview.)

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

About 50% of my diet is fresh beef, and the others 50% is pork and chicken wings.

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

I prefer my meat cooked medium.

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

If I feel I need extra fat, I will add ghee (lactose-free butter) which is easy to find where I live.

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

I do not limit the quantity of meat I eat. I eat until I feel my needs have been fulfilled. I eat two meals a day. I have my first meal about mid-day after my morning run, and my second meal in the evening. That’s enough for me.

Ana Teixeira

Ana During One of Her Long Runs.

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

No, no organ meats at all.

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

I do not drink bone broth on a daily basis, but I do use it during a competition. During the ultra-marathons, we must carry our own food, so that’s when the bone broth is good for me. Sometimes during ultras that last for several days, my support car will give it to me to drink. This is really helpful because then I don’t have to carry it, and I can continue to run while drinking it.

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

I generally eat 2 meals per day, but I listen to my body and sometimes I don’t need that much and will only eat one. I let my hunger dictate.

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

I eat 750 – 1000 gms. of chicken wings and then 500 gms. of other meat on average per day. (or between 2 – 3 lbs.)

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

I live in a big city and buy most of my meat from the large supermarkets. However, I recently found a smaller shop that sells nice pieces of grass-fed beef and I will buy from them on occasion.

Ana Teixeira

Ana Competing in an Ultra-Marathon Race.

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

I drink mostly water, but I will sometimes have a cup of coffee with ghee (lactose-free butter) in it.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, because of the long distance running, I find that my body requires more sodium than the meat alone provides. If I do not use it, I will experience electrolyte imbalances. I add extra salt to both my water and my food. I have about 5 gms. (1 tsp.) on average per day.

17. Do you use spices?

I do not use any spices.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I do not take any supplements besides the salt.

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

I spend about 250 Euros (equivalent to $275 USD).

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

I recommend trying to find a place where you can become a regular customer. In my place, they know me and offer me special discounts for shopping there on a regular basis. I cook all of my own food and I never eat out. If I have to be away from home for a meal, I prepare it ahead of time and take it with me. Always.

Ana Teixeira

Ana Visiting with a Nun at the Convento do Clarissas Do Desagravo Louriçal.

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

I am a high school biology teacher. I have loved to run since my youth, and I decided to start participating in ultra-marathons for several years ago. I’m 49 years old now and I have done several ultra-marathons around Europe. I began running marathons in 2009, and ultra-marathons in 2012. I run 150 km (93 miles) a week when I am training for a competition.

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

The biggest benefits for me are related to my running performance and recover. I have excellent endurance and I have never experienced and injury. Carbohydrates are the primary cause inflammation, and – since I do not eat them – my muscles recover quickly and are never sore. This diet also gives me a very stable heart rate while running. Once you are fully adapted to a Zero Carb diet and burning fat for energy instead of glucose, you do not need to eat much during a long run because your body has access to an abundance of fat for fuel. (Dr. Stephen Phinney, author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, has stated that even most thin people have at least 20,000 calories of fat stored in their cells to tap into once they have become keto-adapted.)

Ana Teixeira

Ana with Her Running Gear, Ready to Role.

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

No, I was not aware of Zero Carb when I conceived and gave birth to my two sons. I was a carbohydrate addict back then, unfortunately.

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

I do all of the cooking for my family daily. I have three men to feed, my husband and two sons. I also have 5 cats and a dog. I am the only one eating a Zero Carb diet, but I keep their meals fairly low in carbohydrates. I continue to encourage them to eat Zero Carb, but so far they have not joined me. I allow them to choose for themselves, it is an individual choice and one must want to do it. They observe me and can see how happy I am with this way of eating. I am hopeful that – with my own consistency – I can inspire them to choose this path. Cats and dog are already eating a Zero Carb diet like me.

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

The taste of the food. The feeling of freedom. The calmness of my mind. The knowledge of what my body needs. The deeper understanding of who I am as a member of the Homo sapiens species.

Ana Teixeira

Ana After Finishing a Long Training Run.

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

Consistency and determination are needed to succeed. It takes time for the body to adapt. Do not give up. Be patient. Once you are adapted, you will experiences lots of energy and you will feel great both physically and mentally. Your memory will improve, your skin will improve, your physique will improve. You will grow younger. I am 49, but all of my students tell me I look like I am in my mid-30s.

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

I receive totally respect and support from my family. Not so much support from colleagues and students at the school where I work. But with my example, they are beginning to think and contemplate this way of eating more seriously. I have far too many obese students in my classes. And some of my solidarity competitions is for the purpose of raising money for poor students. That also makes them reflect more on what I am doing. To follow this path, it is important to have a knowledge and understanding of it, but it is also important to see others who are living it successfully. I try to be the best example I can be for others.

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

It is truly an honor for me to be able to share my experience in this way with all of you. Any additional questions are most welcome.

Ana Teixeira

Ana Relaxed and in the Zone During a Long Run.

Here is an English translation of the Portuguese language newspaper article about her. It was translated by Bing, and I had to do some guess work editing to make it flow. I am sure it is not totally accurate, but hopefully it is close enough to the original meaning…

Original Article Written by Monica Feirrera

Ana Cristina Teixeira is a biology teacher in Penafiel. And a runner. And a woman of faith. She kicks off a race this Saturday morning at the port, running to get to Fatima before the Sundayfinish. But the expectation is not the performance, time, challenge, or accomplishment. The expectation of Ana – a woman of faith – is to bring awareness about the reality behind the rosy faces of students who attend the school Joaquim de Araújo.

Many live in conditions of “extreme poverty,” she told us earlier. Ana wants to be able to help them with scholarships that prevent them from having to quit school and will allow them to continue with their educational studies. So, this race will run 215 km and will help to raise money for this cause through donations. It is the second time this particular race has been organized and run for this purpose.

In May 2012, another race to Fatima managed to raise EUR 1700 delivered to students in need of scholarships for school, but it also provided funds to help with vision and dental care. Now, with the support of the Rotary Club of Penafiel and the city of Penafiel (in Portugal), another 1500 EUR has already been raised this year. This money will go to the students with the most need.

Ana Cristina Teixeira is a 48 year old life-long athlete. The race starts at 5 AM and will follow the coast. She will be accompanied by her husband Arthur who will drive near her in in a car and provide support such as hydration and changes of clothes. She will stop only 9 times throughout the entire race, and will likely eat during only 1 or two of these stops. Last year, Ana completed the race in 48 hours, with only one 3-hour stop to rest.

Please note: You can find Ana under the Facebook page Corrida Peregrina, the name of her Ultra Running organization dedicated to raising money for students in need.

Please visit my Interviews page to read the stories of other long time Zero Carb veterans.

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