Zero Carb Interview: Amber O’Hearn

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

I’ve been eating an essentially plant-free diet for almost 7 years, starting in November of 2009.

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

My original reason for trying a meat-only diet was for fat loss. I was at my wit’s end, because my very low carb, but plant heavy diet, even though it had helped me get to into great shape in the past, wasn’t as effective anymore and I was slowly getting fatter and fatter.

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

It’s funny. It took me way longer to adapt to the diet mentally than physically. I spent three weeks planning and giving myself pep talks, and even then, I only felt able to commit to it with the promise to myself that it was going to be of very limited duration. Once I started, though, I felt comfortable within a mere few days.

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

The only guidance I had toward this diet at that time was the Zero Carb forum run primarily by Charles Washington, and the inspiring stories there. I also had read Owsley Stanley’s (aka The Bear) essays on the subject.

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

I eat mostly just meat, but I will eat occasional eggs and dairy. I find that dairy increases my appetite significantly and I have an addiction-like response to fermented dairy in particular, so I’m wary of that.

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

I eat from all the food groups: ruminants (e.g. beef and lamb), poultry, pork, and fish and shellfish, but beef is the base of my food pyramid.

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

I prefer my beef steaks rare, but other cuts I treat individually. To my taste, short ribs are divine roasted for several hours, but ground chuck is best raw or lightly seared.

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

I often eat butter, lard, or tallow either on or with my meat, depending on how lean it is.

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

I have played around with fasting, but my usual mode of operation is to eat once or twice a day when I get hungry, until I feel satiated. Then I stop.

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

Of organ meats, I mostly eat liver, only because that’s what I have easiest access to. I tend to get a craving for it every few weeks. I’ll eat a lot of it for a few days and then I don’t want it again for a while. I’m not very systematic about it.

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

I like bone broth. Just like with the organs I tend to drink it in phases; every day for a few days and then not again for a few weeks. I enjoy bone marrow also.

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

I mostly eat two meals a day, at lunch time and again at supper. I often feel better if my first meal is a little later than traditional lunch, but lunch is a social activity at my workplace, and it’s a trade-off.

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

I eat about 1.5 to 2 pounds of meat a day.

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

I want to support sustainable and humane farming, but the health benefits I’ve received don’t depend on it, so I often eat conventional meat for financial reasons.

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

I do drink coffee and occasionally herbal tea. It’s my plant vice.

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Amber enjoying cold leftovers for lunch.

16. Do you use salt?

I do sometimes use salt, but during my transition to this diet I used none, and so I’m acclimated to the taste of meat without it, and find I often don’t want it.

17. Do you use spices?

When I’m out, or a guest, I will usually not refuse meat that has up to a moderate amount of spice, but I almost never use it in my own cooking.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I have played around with a variety of supplements, but the only ones I take with any consistency are: turmeric and citrus bioflavonoids, to reduce symptoms of endometriosis; and magnesium, just because I think our whole food chain is deficient in it.

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

This is difficult to estimate, because I have children with me part time. Overall, the cost is certainly higher than if I ate grains, but fruits and vegetables are expensive by calorie. I’m probably spending less than I used to.

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Amber’s son enjoying a stick of butter by itself.

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

Buying cheaper cuts and mixing in pork, poultry, and eggs helps keep cost down. Don’t forget that ill health is a major expense. I’ve never missed work due to illness and have seen my doctor only for labs and preventive care.

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

I do a slow-burn style weight-lifting once a week, and walk, run or bike now and then if I feel like 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)

I lost over 60 pounds eating this way, but the most important benefit was that my Type II Bipolar Disorder, which mainly manifested as severe suicidal depression, is in complete remission. I’ve been off all psychiatric drugs since I started eating a carnivorous diet, and the only times I’ve had symptoms are when I have done experiments with plant foods, supplements, or had excessive alcohol consumption.

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

My third child was conceived when I started this diet the first time, and I didn’t stay Zero Carb during the first two trimesters, due to severe nausea and carb cravings. By the third trimester I ate very low carb with some carnivorous days. I’ve been essentially plant free since the birth, so that included his entire breastfeeding period. I had better milk supply and better mood and stamina than with the previous two children.

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?

My youngest child ate almost no plants for the first few years of his life. Now he has just few plants in his diet, mainly carrots and bell peppers. The others have eaten lower carb and even zero carb in the past, but eat high carb out in the world. It is a difficult social navigation for them, even though they understand the benefits.

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

It’s hard to think of anything better about carnivorous eating than the freedom from living with Type II Bipolar Disorder and suicidal depression. However, one thing I love about my diet is that I trust my appetite completely now. My body stays in a range of about five pounds no matter what I do. That’s freeing. I also love that I’m especially resistant to disease now. I never worry about the latest viruses going around. I feel robust.

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

My advice to a beginner is to commit to going into it as completely as possible for at least three weeks. You want to eliminate as many confounding factors as possible and stay at it long enough to start seeing changes. Please see my and Zooko’s blog post “Eat Meat. Not Too Little. Mostly Fat.” for our full advice on starting.

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

Not that I can think of.

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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 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.

This interview has been translated into Hebrew by Tomer Aviad and may be read here:

ראיון אפס פחמימות עם אמבר הואירן

Zero Carb Interview: Reanna Percifield

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

Since mid-July of 2015.

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

To improve health and fitness. Originally I started out eating low carb high fat, and after almost 2 years of experimenting with that I stumbled upon the idea of zero carb while reading in a health forum. After doing some more research I decided to give it a try, and after the first day my energy levels were better than how I felt most of the time on low carb. Sure, low carb was great, but zero carb made me feel exponentially better from day one, despite some mild adaptation symptoms. I suspect various plant foods were giving me issues that I was previously unaware of.

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

Physically, it took me about 3 months. Thankfully, since I was previously low carb and intermittently fasting, my body already had experience being in a ketogenic state. This made adaptation fairly easy for me. For the first couple of weeks I had some manageable energy fluctuations, and the first 3 months or so I had some digestive issues. However I believe these issues were mainly caused by Candida overgrowth, resulting in leaky gut syndrome (which I had for years, but didn’t realize it at the time – I assumed it was allergies until it finally died off thanks to this diet).

Psychologically, it took me a very short time to adapt… maybe a week or two. I felt so great overall that I was completely happy with eating only animal products. Occasionally I did have mild cravings for treats I ate while on low carb such as dark chocolate. But upon trying them again out of curiosity, I did not like how they made me feel and they did not taste as good as I remembered.

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

Media:
This website and the Facebook group Principia Carnivora of course!
Alan Savory TEDtalk: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change
Barry Groves: Homo Carnivorous What We are Designed to Eat video lecture
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith
Eat Meat and Stop Jogging by Mike Sheridan

People:
Anyone who is long term zero carb really! I recall the first people I learned about when I came across this way of eating were Owsley Stanley and Derek Nance.

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

For the most part, I only eat meat and eggs. On occasion I might have butter/ghee or cheese, although I am no longer a big fan of dairy. However when I first started zero carb, I did include butter and cheese quite regularly.

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

About 90%. It is certainly my main meat, although I also have pork, lamb, chicken, and fish. This may drastically change in the future, as I plan to eventually obtain all of my food from wild game.

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

I prefer it very rare, and have had it raw a few times out of curiosity.

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

When I first started zero carb I did all the time, but now I rarely do because I don’t crave fat as much. Only if I think the meat is too lean will I cook it in extra fat such as lard or ghee. I mainly do this with fish because I tend to get fatty cuts of meat such as ribeye, chuck, and new york steaks.

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

I eat until satisfied.

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

I almost never eat organ meats, but only because they are not very accessible in my area. Otherwise I would certainly include some, although I am not a big fan of liver.

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

I no longer consume bone broth, although I did a few times in the beginning.

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

I always have one meal per day.

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

I eat about 2 pounds a day on average, but my appetite can vary so it is not uncommon for me to eat between 1.5-2.5 pounds.

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

I eat both, but the majority is commercially produced for now.

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

Only water. I used to have tea but no longer desire it. Occasionally I will have plain sparkling mineral water.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, I use as much salt as my palate happens to want at the time.

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, primarily pepper and granulated garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I often take fish oil for Omega 3’s because I don’t get to eat much seafood (often pricey in my area) and Vitamin D3 when I don’t have adequate access to the sun.

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

$250-$300 per month.

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

Keep an eye out for meats on sale/markdown. Get to know a butcher – sometimes you can get less popular cuts or perfectly good meat trimmings for a low price. If needed, most people could probably do just fine on only ground beef and eggs – that would likely make your food bill almost half of what mine is. I just enjoy having steak when I can!

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

Yes, almost every day I do moderate to intense resistance exercises that works most or all of my body to a degree (such as pushups, dips, hanging leg raises, squats, lunges, etc.). I commonly add weight or intensity if it feels too easy because this way of eating gives me a lot of energy. I also walk and hike on a regular basis.

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.)

So far I have not been sick once since I started this diet. My energy levels are fantastic and my overall health is great, close to its optimal state I think. I also healed a pretty tough case of Candida overgrowth. I had it for years thanks to the standard American diet + antibiotics, but didn’t realize it because all of my symptoms were insidious and allergy-like (mainly chronic skin-flare ups and digestive problems). When it started to die off from this diet it became much more obvious what the problem was. Upon completely eliminating dairy (even butter) and restricting eggs for a couple of months, my gut lining was finally able to heal. Although I was never really overweight, there has been quite a big change in my body composition: I started out at about 25% body fat, now I’m around 18% and it still seems to be slowly but surely creeping down. My exercise performance is better than ever and strength is always improving. I don’t require as much sleep as I used to: I usually don’t need more than 6 hours now, when previously I would need 7-9. Zero carb has also greatly improved my mental clarity and overall stability. Gone are the days of my mood and behavior being negatively influenced by what I eat!

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

Definitely the simplicity. And despite the simplicity, I’m not even remotely bored of what I eat! It’s great to truly enjoy something so simple and know you’re doing your body good. I no longer desire non-animal food at all. Saves me plenty of time too.

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

Don’t overcomplicate things. Don’t count calories, the notion of calories-in-calories-out is a proven myth – you’re just stressing yourself out without reason. Don’t track macros unless you have a good reason to (such as if your energy levels are still off after awhile or if you have certain health problems). This isn’t a fancy fad diet, it’s a simple way of life based on human history. Treat it as such!

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

Most of my friends and family actually are not aware. It’s not something I really talk about unless I’m asked about it or I think I might be able to help someone. However, those that are aware tend to be either supportive or apathetic. When it comes to those who are negative, I either try to inform them if they’re genuinely curious, or I pay no mind to them if they clearly have no interest in my view.

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

I just want to emphasize how easy and simple this way of eating really is once you get used to it. No overthinking needed here. I believe too many people are scared away from this diet because it seems so difficult and off-the-wall. But it is very doable and backed by loads of legitimate information. You must have some determination in the beginning, but with time it only becomes easier. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m never going back. Zero carb helped me decide where I want my life to go and what really matters to me.

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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 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.

Zero Carb Interview: Daniel Fredenthal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes, “Keto Clarity” by Jimmy Moore and all the rest of the low carb keto top sellers, plus reading the writings of The Bear took me the rest of the way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ewww! Nope.

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

Not yet, sounds like a lot of work.

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

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

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

2 pounds.

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

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

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

Water and coffee. That’s it.

16. Do you use salt?

Only on eggs.

17. Do you use spices?

Only on steaks and ground beef.

18. Do you take any supplements?

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

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

$300 between the wife and I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Please visit my “Interviews” page linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other long time Zero Carb veterans.

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Matt Shepherd

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

I started absolute zero carb in June 2009, which makes it a little over 6 1/2 years at the time of this writing. Since then, I have not eaten anything from the plant kingdom, although I have occasionally had animal food with a small amount of spices.

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

My decision to go ZC was purely for health reasons. I did not have any issues with my health, but I knew that many people come down with various illnesses when they become older. I looked around and saw that people grew increasingly overweight and sick as they aged, especially those over the age of 50. I figured, why not find out how to stay healthy as I grow older instead of doing the usual thing of visiting doctors in my old age for remedies. That thought started me on doing intense research. I did not start out thinking that carbohydrates were bad for me. In fact, I had no idea. However, I let my research lead me without filtering of my preconceived notions of what is healthy. That is how I eventually discovered Zero Carb.

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

I would say that it took me two months to physically adapt to a high-fat zero carb way of eating. In the early stages, my body was not accustomed to the high fat. My liver and gall bladder needed time to adjust. During those early months, the number one issue that I had was loose bowel movements because my body could not handle the digestion of the increased fat. Once my body adjusted, however, it was clear sailing. As for the psychology of it, I adjusted immediately because I absolutely loved all the fatty foods that I was eating. It was amazing to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast without feeling any guilt or remorse. My whole outlook on food changed. I no longer felt that I was harming myself when eating foods that I always loved.

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

I started this journey to zero carb by first reading about the supposed benefits of drinking raw milk. Although I no longer consume dairy products, other than butter, it was my first step toward transitioning to a high-fat, low carb way of eating. I discovered Weston Price and tried eating that way for a couple of months, but gave it up when I became severely constipated. The casein in the milk was not doing me any good.

I didn’t give up and kept reading. I came upon Gary Taubes’s book Good Calories, Bad Calories. That was an eye-opener about the dangers of carbohydrates. I never new that “healthy” grains and other plant matter were bad. I kept reading.

The big breakthrough for me was coming upon Bear’s thread on one of the low-carb forums. Here was a man who was essentially zero carb for 50 years and he was sharing his extraordinary knowledge with anyone who had an open mind and wanted to understand what he was saying. Amazing!

I would categorize the above as the research that led me to the decision to try zero carb. As for the implementation of zero carb, I give credit to Charles Washington and all the people on the former ZIOH website. I joined ZIOH in June 2009, which was toward its early days. It was an exciting time because there were several people on the website posting their daily experiences with their transition to ZC. There were veterans on that site who had been ZC for many years. I learned a lot about the ZC way of eating from all those people. And as “icing” on the ribeye, it was a lot of fun meeting fellow zero-carbers when we would get together for “meat-ups”.

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

I eat meat and eggs mostly, but I will include some butter when having sautéed shrimp or scallops. That’s it. I do not eat cheese, cream, or other dairy products. I’ve literally been eating ribeye steaks and burgers every day for the past 6 1/2 years, with minor exceptions of eating pemmican when I was traveling and could not get fresh meat.

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

I would say that beef is 95% of my meat consumption. Occasionally, I will eat chicken wings or pork and I eat shrimp or scallops frequently, but my mainstay is beef. The chicken wings, shrimp, and scallops are side dishes that do not account for much of my daily consumption. Sometimes I will eat pork in place of a ribeye steak, but I am never satisfied when I do so.

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

I always cook it medium-rare. Having made about 2000 steaks since starting zero carb, I’ve gotten very good at cooking ribeyes exactly to my liking, which is medium-rare. I prefer using a cast iron skillet on the stovetop to grilling when making steaks. I prefer grilling for burgers.

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

I only add butter to my side dishes, such as shrimp and scallops.

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

I basically eat until I’m satisfied, but on average that means one pound of 73/27 burgers and about 3/4 pound of ribeye steak for dinner. For breakfast, I eat two poached eggs in broth.

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

I very rarely eat organ meats. The only time that I eat liver and heart is when I bake a whole chicken. Liver, heart, and gizzards usually come with the whole chicken, so that’s when I eat it. I do not bake whole chickens often, so this is a rare occurrence.

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

For the past year, I consumed about one cup of homemade bone broth with my poached eggs every day. I made the broth with bones and cow’s feet. Recently, after reading your post about glutamine causing some people to fall out of ketosis, I’ve adjusted the way I make broth. I no longer use cow’s feet, so my broth no longer gels up. In any case, I’m still consuming about one cup of broth a day with my eggs.

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

I eat twice a day. My main meal is in the late-afternoon. That’s when I eat the ribeyes and burgers. Breakfast is more of a snack, even though I never feel hunger or the need to eat more than once a day. For a few years, I ate just once a day, but I added the breakfast more because I enjoy eating a snack in the morning. I especially like the bone broth and eggs on cold winter mornings.

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

About 1 3/4 pounds.

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

I eat meat that I buy at BJ’s Wholesale club. I buy 18 pound ribeye slabs and dry-age them in my refrigerator. I use a small USB fan in the fridge to maintain airflow over the slab. I also buy 73/27 ground beef at BJ’s. I have never bought grass-finished meat.

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

I occasionally drink decaf coffee. I often drink non-caffeinated tea, such as robois and a Japanese tea called mugi cha (i.e., roasted barley tea, which is made by placing roasted barley husks that are in a tea bag in hot water). That’s it. I do not drink any alcohol.

16. Do you use salt?

I never add salt to my food.

17. Do you use spices?

Very rarely. At one time, I would make curry shrimp, but now I’m concerned that spices may be doing me harm because they contain many anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid and salicylates.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Generally, none at all. However, on the recommendation of my doctor, I occasionally take vitamin D. When I say occasionally, I mean once or twice a year. Other than that, I have not ingested any supplements over the past 6 1/2 years.

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

My wife is also zero carb. Between the two of us, I would say that we’re spending about $500 a month, which includes ribeye steaks, burgers, and shrimp or scallops every day.

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

If I were on my own and not having to think about another’s preferences, I would eat 73/27 burgers everyday. 73/27 ground beef costs about $2.80 a pound, which means that I could eat two pounds each day for $5.60 or $168 per month. Sometimes it is possible to get ground beef on sale. To my amazement, BJ’s just yesterday had a one-day sale of 73/27 ground beef for just $2 a pound. At that price, I would be able to eat for a whole month for just $120, but such sales are rare (I’ve only seen it this one time). They must have been clearing out stock that was going to expire soon. Keep your eyes open for “manager’s specials” in the meat section. Meat that will soon hit its sell-by date is often marked down.

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

No, not regularly aside from doing a set of push-ups and abdominal planks in the morning. I do not do any regular aerobic exercise, but I do walk a lot and use my bike for local errands.

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 list of benefits include: easy bowel movements, steady energy level, no hunger during the day, clearer skin, a sense of well-being and calmness (i.e., better temperament), high level of alertness, leaner body with muscle definition, much improved lipid profile (e.g., my HDL went from 59 pre-ZC to 114 now; triglyceride went from 113 to 34), much fewer common illnesses (e.g., I have not had a common cold in the last 6 years).

I would add one other major benefit that is not directly related to the physiological or psychological benefits of zero carb: a different perspective about the world around me. Zero carb goes against everything that I was taught as a child. Like most kids, my parents encouraged me to eat vegetables and fruit. In school I learned about the supposed benefits of whole grains. From the government, I heard that I should eat according to the food pyramid, which now has morphed into an equally ridiculous “my plate.” I heard from “respected” nutritionists that I should avoid saturated fats, substitute animal fats with polyunsaturated oils, and try to approximate the ways of vegans.

From years of such indoctrination, I was convinced that anyone eating a fatty steak was headed for coronary hell. Despite the indoctrination, I broke through and found out for myself that it is all a big lie, whether intentional or not on the part of the indoctrinators. Now, I know with 100% certainty that zero carb is the true human way of eating. I know it not just from reading information about the appropriate way for humans to eat, but primarily because of my own personal experience.

As I mentioned, ZC gave me a different perspective on the world and one that I experienced first hand. This has led me to question other things about our culture and society that I have taken for granted in the past. For example, I have re-examined my understanding of politics, economics, and even history. It is amazing how much garbage is fed to us humans, both in terms of food and ideology. I credit zero carb for helping me to see other things more clearly.

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

I love the taste of the food and I love the simplicity of it. My wife and I do not have to think at all about what we are going to eat. There is no wasted time in preparing or shopping for food. Plus, I save a lot of money because I rarely eat out anymore.

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

Do not give up right away if it does not seem to be working for you. It takes time for your body to adjust to a new way of eating. For example, your gall bladder may now be close to dormant if you’re eating very low fat and high carbohydrate. A fully functioning gall bladder is important for the digestion of fat, so give it time to re-establish. I’m sure there are other organs that also need time to adjust. Be patient. Although you would have to take my word for it, which is not as good as experiencing it for yourself, eating zero carb is a life-changing thing in the best way. Your future self will thank you for chucking the carbohydrates.

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

My wife is supportive and is herself eating zero carb. At first, she resisted my decision, but she soon followed me down this path when she saw the great results. My friends are accustomed to my way of eating. They are neither supportive or opposed. I guess they have found a steady state of accepting that I will no longer dine with them on carbohydrates.

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

I think that I’ve covered it all above. For me, zero carb entailed positive developments in three areas: physiological, psychological, and ideological. All three are important, but I would say that the last of the three is the most unexpected.

***Please Note: Matt Shepherd is a pseudonym, as the subject of this interview prefers to remain anonymous.

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.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Kevin Fenderson

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Kevin today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kevin prior to beginnging his low carbohydrate journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kevin prior to beginning his low carbohydrate journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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A whole chuck roast purchased in bulk.

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

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

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

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

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

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A meal of rare steak and eggs.

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

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

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Chuck roast steaks on the grill.

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

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

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Big grilled chuck roast steak ready to eat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kevin treating himself to some ribeyes.

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

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

16. Do you use salt?

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

17. Do you use spices?

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

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

18. Do you take any supplements?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kevin participating in a recent race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nope. I think I have pretty much covered it.

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Kevin enjoying life with his beautiful wife.

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

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join Charles Washington in his Facebook group Zeroing in on Health or Michael Frieze in his Facebook group Principia Carnivora for guidance and support. These two groups use different approaches, so if you find that one does not suit you, please check out the other one.

 

My First Three Months on Zero Carb By Michael Brown

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Michael today.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

~Jiddu Krishnamurti

Well, I think it only fair to warn the prospective reader that the following testimonial about my Zero Carb diet – although briefly mentioning boxing – has no inspiring ‘Rocky’ moment. In fact, compared to such heavy-hitting Zero Carb stories by the likes of Kelly Hogan et al, I’m afraid my story would be barely able to punch itself out of a carbohydrate induced brain-fog. Still, I’ve managed to include enough sex, murder, and political espionage to keep any reader reasonably interested (note: if any such stories are omitted from the final draft – blame the editor).

Ok, me. I’m a 50 year old Welsh/Australian currently living in Japan. I box regularly and recently quit full-contact karate (Kyokushin) after sustaining a knee injury which makes kicking difficult. In boxing, I was a Welsh school boy champion (1982) and army light-heavyweight champion (1985). In Kyokushin, I represented Australia at the international level. I also played rugby from the age of 9 until I finished in 1999 (representing University of Western Australia).

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Michael in the boxing ring.

The reason I state these facts is to convey the idea that sport, health and fitness are, and always have been, a major part of my life. I’ve never been over weight, nor have I had any negative issues with food. So why the hell would anyone be interested in my “conversion” to Zero Carb? Well, I like to think that I might be an example of how the path to optimal health and fitness inevitably leads to a Zero Carb way of eating.

The genesis of my Zero Carb way of eating began in earnest about a year ago (previous to that I ate the usual athlete’s high carb diet, although I never ate to excess and rarely had high calorie “treats”). First, I read about intermittent fasting (IF) and decided to try it. The results were pretty good. I lost some excess body fat and didn’t really find the 20 hours (it was a 20/4 protocol) of fasting each day too difficult to maintain.

However, limiting the eating window to only 4 hour eating window means a lot of calories have to be digested in a short space of time to maintain nutritional and energy requirements. Unfortunately, this often lead me to eat high fat-high sugar junk food and other less than optimal high calorie foods, which – in turn – lead to gastrointestinal bloating, tiredness, etc. Then I discovered Gary Taubes and my life hasn’t been the same since!

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Michael pre-Low Carb/Zero Carb (taken 1 year ago).

I began a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) Ketogenic diet about 9 months ago. I mostly stayed around the 20-40g of carbohydrates a day range, but would frequently break this by drinking beer and eating rice dishes (hey, I live in Japan after all!). And this, I believe, is the problem of a LCHF diet: the continual ingestion of carbs means you never truly break free from the addictions and cravings they (carbs) induce. My gut feeling (excuse the pun) told me this constant yo-yo-ing in and out of ketosis wasn’t healthy for my metabolism and the need for something more sustainable lead me to do some research on the subject.

After reading as much Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories), Dr. Phinney and Dr Volek (The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living), and Dr. Lustig (Fat Chance). as I could, I began my Low Carb diet in mid-2014. Then, on New Years Day 2015, I found and read The Bear’s writings, and then Stefansson’s book The Fat of the Land, and decided I liked the simplicity of it. I’m very lazy in the kitchen and the supermarket, so it just seemed so perfectly “me.” I stumbled into The Zero Carb Facebook group Zeroing in on Health about a month later after reading someone’s comments in a Low Carb Ketogenic forum called Ketogains (I think) and decided to see what it was all about. It felt like “coming home” at last.

At first, my performances in the gym and boxing ring suffered. During weight training, the weight had to be lowered in order to perform the same number of repetitions; the number of rounds spent skipping (jump rope) fell; stair climbing/running was a nightmare, and I could only manage about 2/3 of what I could do when eating carbs; ring stamina and breathing during sparring declined as well; Basically, everything was worse. But luckily I had read that this was to be expected and so I stuck with it.

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Michael several months into Low Carb.

Then the magic happened! About 3 or 4 weeks into Zero Carb everything began creeping back up to previous levels and just a little while after, it actually SURPASSED previous levels. I’m now lighter on my feet, breathing between rounds (boxing) isn’t as laboured, I can jump rope longer before breaking sweat, stamina on the heavy bag is better and I feel like I’m punching harder. I’m not lifting heavier weights, but my body composition looks as though I am (well, I think so anyway!).

And there are plenty of other benefits for the athlete. Shopping on ZC is a synch. I now go straight to the meat (or occasionally the fish) counter and completely bypass the processed food, fruit and veg aisles. In fact, eating veggies is as about appealing now as eating a stalk of bamboo or grass from my lawn. And that nagging feeling (craving) that one continually feels a need for carbs disappears when not stoking that particular engine with 20 gms a day (on a typical LCHF Ketogenic diet).

Also, I have much more energy I have in day to day affairs. For example, on LCHF, I would get tired around 7 pm (I teach English from 2 pm  – 9 pm) to the point that I would have to jab my hand with a pen just to keep my eyes open. Now I can concentrate fully until 9 pm AND have the energy to look forward to boxing after I finish teaching! I also sleep much better now. Whereas I would often wake up around 6 am or 7 am for only 5-6 hours sleep and not be able to go back to sleep, now I can sleep until 9  am or 10 am if I need to for a total of 8-9 hours of sleep.

I usually eat my first meal around 1pm. I’m simply just not hungry when I wake up. So,this “breakfast” is usually ground beef (300g) and 4 or 5 eggs mixed in. Then, I have a “bullet proof” coffee (BPC) with butter and coconut oil around 6 pm to tide me over until after my night-time boxing workout.

I know it is generally not recommended by Zero Carb veterans to use coffee as an appetite suppressant, but – with my current employment and exercise schedule – this is what I have found works best for me. I box at 9 pm (after I get off work), and I don’t want any food in my stomach during sparring. The BPC also gives me an energy boost for training. It works well for me.

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Michael during a recent boxing workout.

After boxing I usually eat a steak (450 gms) cooked in butter and lightly salted (I sweat a lot during boxing). I also eat chicken thighs and pork sometimes. My total meat intake per day averages 2 lbs. I don’t eat any organ meats. I don’t eat any dairy except for butter. I’ve stopped taking all supplements after receiving sound advice on Zeroing in on Health. I only drink water and 1 BPC per day.

I’ve also practically cut out all alcohol. On LCHF, I found myself drinking way too often. I actually don’t miss it at all now, and I rarely imbibe because I don’t want to jeopardise the natural “high” I feel from this way of eating.

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Michael straying from his LCHF diet prior to Zero Carb.

I guess the whole point I am trying to convey in my story is that Zero Carb is beneficial even for someone with no weight loss goals and who already has a good level of fitness. The changes are quite subtle compared to people who have always struggled with weight and food issues. I was worried that my story wouldn’t have the same (visual) impact as some of the others shared here on Esmée’s blog.

But then again, I am – of course – quite stunning to look at… ✨😉✨ …especially with a monkey on my shoulder!

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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.