My First 2 Months on Zero Carb by Anne Engel

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Anne on Day 1 verses Day 60 of Zero Carb.

My story began in 2007. I was massively obese that time – over 500 lbs at 30 years old – and with no hope for change. I have been following the the standard diet suggested for weight loss: the whole grains, low fat, and no fun diet. I started to research other options and discovered low carb. I followed a low carb diet for 5 years, until 2012. Then, I decided to try a ketogenic diet which was higher in fat and even lower in carbs.

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Anne pre-low carb weighing about 500 lbs.

For most of the year, the only carbs I consumed came from leafy greens. However, during the summer, I included strawberries and tiny amounts of pumpkin, peppers and few other relatively low carb plant foods which did not normally eat on keto. I remained on a ketogenic diet for another 3 years, from 2012 until April of 2015. During the past 8 years of low carb and ketogenic eating combined, I successfully lost half of my body weight, or 250 lbs.

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Anne pre-low carb weighing about 500 lbs.

In the beginning of this year, I became very frustrated though, as I was working my ass of at the gym, eating really healthy food, and sticking to my diet… but I could not seem to lose anymore body fat. My weight would fluctuate two pounds down and then five pounds up, even though I was watching my macronutrient ratios, total calories, ketones levels, blood sugar numbers, etc. It was making me me completely crazy!

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Zero Carb Meal: Lamb chops, egg yolks, bacon, and water.

My feeling of frustration was so deep that I enlisted for a gastric bypass at the end of this year. Then, one day, I came across Kelly Williams Hogan‘s blog and read her story. This was my first introduction to a Zero Carb diet, and I was intrigued the moment I read about it. I spent a few days for researching it and was eager to try it for one reason in particular: when I was a kid I hated everything veggie and my mom had to push them on me. (To read all of the details of Anne’s Zero Carb journey, I recommend starting with her first post.)

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Zero Carb Meal: Steak cooked medium rare.

I always loved and wanted meat, but was often deprived of it. As a fat kid in the 1980s during the middle of the low fat craze, I lived with the pressure to lose weight and guess what? I was fed healthy whole grains with no limit and was only allowed tiny portions of meat. So reading about a way of eating that allows me to only eat what I really was extremely tempting.

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Zero Carb Meal: Raw pork and raw egg yolks.

I decided to jump in with both feet and started my Zero Carb journey two months ago. My transition to this lifestyle was pretty smooth. For the first few days, I suffered minor headaches and was tired – but nothing major to complain about. When I switched from moderate low carb to a ketogenic diet back in 2012, the adaptation phase was much, much worse and took me a lot longer to adjust.

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Zero Carb Meal: Pre-cooked beef for the office.

The hardest part of the transition, for me, was the social aspect. When people tell me I looks so healthy now and ask what I have done to lose weight, I have learned that It is best not to explain how I eat. For some strange reason, it always ends up in weird side effects, like people pushing cake on me with the lame excuse that it contains essential nutrients. (See Anne’s blog post: The Odd Case of “Vitamin Cake” Deficiency for more details on this bizarre phenomenon.)

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Anne’s loose skin shrunk from 3.6 cm to 2.8 cm over a two week period.

Socially, I am still in a bit of a fight with this situation that my so beloved and relaxing carnivorous lifestyle is a taboo and ends up in stupid ethical discussions. Or in discussions about how I am going to become deficient in vitamin C. Most people are too lazy or set in their ways to read and educate themselves about the advantages of eating this way. However, the great benefits of this diet make it worthwhile to go through the social transition as well.

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Anne on Day 1 verses Day 60 of Zero Carb

Here are the major improvements I have noticed so far: First, I lost almost 8 lbs. of fat in the first 30 days of Zero Carb. I had a DEXA, so I know exactly that it was in fact fat that I lost and not just water. In fact, My percentage of water actually increased. So that was exactly the thing I wanted to see… Zero Carb has restarted my weight loss. And with ease! In 10 days, I have another DEXA and cannot wait to get the results. I am certain I have lost more body fat during the second month, as my clothes fit better and I look trimmer.

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Anne on Day 1 verses Day 60 of Zero Carb

Another benefit is the wonderful sleep I now experience. I love lifting heavy weights at the gym, with emphasis on heavy. I always wanted to sleep more for better regeneration and results. I made time for more sleep, but I just could not sleep more that about 6-7 hours. Now I sleep 10-12 hours on some nights and that is really wonderful because It has improved my performance in the gym.

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Anne on Day 1 varses Day 60 of Zero Carb

My skin glows and I look very healthy. A lot of people have noticed this recently and have commented on it.

Also, I have had knee pain for years – the only effective remedy was to swallow 24 capsules of fish oil per day. Not only was that expensive, it was also disgusting. I stopped that routine a while ago because it just grossed me out and the knee pain returned in full force. On Zero Carb, the pain in my knee got worse for a few days and then suddenly disappeared completely, it is truly amazing.

Additionally, I just had my second period on Zero Carb, and it was both painless and quick. I don’t remember ever having a pain-free period. It is absolutely remarkable and makes life so much better.

And best of all, my thyroid blood test came back great for the first time in years. I have a normal, very good T3 reading now, yay! Before Zero Carb, it was close to the bottom of the normal range, and now it is close to the top. This way of eating seems to be healing my metabolism as well.

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Zero Carb Meal: Raw beef, raw pork, whole egg, coffee with heavy whipping cream.

I usually eat two meals a day. I have beef with every meal and combine it with other meats or eggs when I want some variation. I have better energy levels on beef than on any other meat or animal food, so I need it at least once a day to be happy and stay fit.

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Zero Carb Meal: Steak cooked medium rare.

The amounts of meat depend on my appetite. Some days, I will have almost a pound in one sitting, but on other days I can barely eat half a pound. I eat eggs occasionally and have some cheese in small amounts when I feel like it. I drink coffee with a spoonful of heavy whipping cream after breakfast just for the taste.

In the beginning of Zero Carb, I worried a lot about eating the right amount for weight loss, but after my first DEXA I trust my body to tell me how much to eat. That is one of the biggest benefits of Zero Carb in my experience. I feel calm and deeply relaxed about my food. I don`t have to stress out about weighing food, calculating calories, macronutrient ratios, or even measure my blood for ketones or glucose. It is such a relief to be free of all that and still be able to feel so healthy and vital AND finally lose weight again.

To continue following Anne’s Zero Carb journey, please see her blog Bad Ass Carnivore.

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Typical Fatty steaks and ground beef that Anne eats.

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.

 

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My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Kim Knoch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kim with her supportive husband and daughters.

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

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