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.

 

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Zero Carb Interview: Debra Caldwell

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Debra today.

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

I first began Zero Carb around 5-6 years ago. I had good weight loss success on Very Low Carb following the original Atkins Induction phase of his diet, only I stayed on the Induction. I mostly ate meat and an occasional salad, no fruit. I did get hooked on some Low Carb Franken Foods. LOTS of cravings once I started the Franken Foods.

While visiting a Low Carb forum, I came across a Low Carb member that was saying her goodbyes, as she was leaving the Low Carb forum to join a Zero Carb forum called Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH), as she felt that was the way for her to go. She was not losing weight, had cravings, had a hard time keeping weight off, didn’t feel energized, etc.…EXACTLY what I was experiencing! I immediately emailed her and asked for the Zero Carb web address and joined that very day.

I was committed for almost a year, then for whatever dumb reasons, I started eating carbs again and began gaining weight. I was so mad at myself! I lost that good Zen feeling of Zero Carb and all the excellent support and friendship of my Zero Carb  family, because I was too ashamed of myself to go back to ZIOH and tell them that I had slipped big time.

Thank goodness I came to my senses! I have been back for almost 2.5 years. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE!!

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

I guess I kinda covered some of that above, but my main motivation at first was for weight loss. Now the older I get and I see the devastating effects of a lifetime of SAD on the elderly – my mom has horrible RA and my husband’s dad just died recently from Alzhemier’s – my health is as important to me as my weight, yes I am VAIN!

The Low Carb member that inspired me to make the jump was named Sharon I think; she was a chef for a restaurant in England at the time. Many of the Zero Carb forum members may remember her. She worked with food all day and I was and still am a cake decorator. We both had to face tempting foods/baked goods, all day while being Zero Carb.

During the couple of years before I went back to Zero Carb, I gained and lost many times, always craving carbs. I KNEW in my heart the way to go was Zero Carb, so I finally went back home to ZIOH, where I was welcomed back with open arms. Charles, Caitlin, Kelly, Dana, Lise, and MANY more have been so inspirational and motivating.

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

My first time around I was coming from Very Low Carb, so not too much adjustment. I did have several weeks of queasiness from the fatty ground beef, but it did go away. I do remember my primary focus at that time was for weight loss. I got a firm, but gentle reminder from ZIOH Veterans (Iron Fists in Velvet Gloves) that it is about HEALTH first; the loss of weight is a bonus. Boy, did I need that reminder! I was Zero Carb for about 6-8 months, maybe a year. Can’t remember for sure.

Then I was “gone” for about 2 years riding the “carb on, carb off” roller coaster, gaining and gaining, sometimes losing, but always overwhelmed with the cravings. I knew Zero Carb was the answer and would go Zero Carb for a couple of weeks, then back to my bad carby crap. I think now if I had rejoined ZIOH during that time I might have stayed Zero Carb.

Finally I got off the rollercoaster and got serious. My weight was high for me, pushing 155-160 for my 5’3” medium frame. My blood pressure had gone up and I had never had high blood pressure before. That scared me. I went very low carb, practically zero carb and lost about 20 pounds. By the time I hit 135 or so I was eating zero carb. I rejoined ZIOH and continued my Zero Carb journey. There have been a few blips along the way, but very few. I am now 117-120 and feel fantastic. My blood pressure is normal. At 62, I run circles around folks half my age. My hormones must be good now or I would not have been able to lose the weight and keep it off.

Menopause was mostly hot flashes for me. I did not take any hormone supplements or medications for menopause. I might have been extra moody, as I was eating carbs during part of my menopause, but I never felt like killing anyone or have crying fits.

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

Atkins original book was my bible for years. I lost lots of weight on his induction phase and loved all the fatty meat, butter and cream.

Good Calorie Bad Calorie – though more scientific than I can digest – is great!

The Bear, which I have read several times, is just amazing!

Charles, Caitlin, Kelly, Margo, Dana, Lise, Dave, Margo and MANY other Zero Carb Veterans from the ZIOH forum have been/are the BEST! The enthusiastic new folks now joining our Facebook Zero Carb (also called Zeroing in on Health) group also continually motivate me.

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

I eat mostly 73/27 ground beef. I eat eggs every now and then. My husband eats about 6 -8 eggs every day along with his ground beef. I also eat rib eye and T-bone on occasion. If I am lucky enough to spot Chuck Eye steaks, I will grab several packages. I do not eat cheese, too salty, bloats me and causes weight gain. I love cream, but it loves me too much! I go from a couple of teaspoons to ½ cup, so I ditched it. Post nasal drip and constant clearing of my throat went away after I ditched it.

I do not eat pork, not because I dislike it, but for some reason it always tastes salty and my weight will shoot up 2 or 3 pounds. On occasion I will eat bacon, but again, really too salty, and I am talking about the low sodium version!

I also eat beef spareribs, love them, and CHICKEN WINGS, LOVE THEM THE MOST!! I bake them to almost chicken jerky and will devour them all, hot or cold. SO, I only eat chicken wings once a month or so. I do not eat fish.

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Debra before adopting a Zero Carb diet.

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

Easily 95%.

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

Medium, sometimes medium rare. I used to eat it well done. Now I like it with just a little bit of pink.

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

In the beginning, I added fat – usually butter or beef fat. Now I just eat whatever is in/on my meat. 73/27 produces a lot of yummy fat drippings and I pour a small amount over my burger patty to dip my bites of burger into. Sometimes I will fry eggs in bacon grease, but usually I fry them in beef fat. Delicious!

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

I eat until satisfied. Some days I may eat 2-3 pounds, but most days around 2 pounds.

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

NO and NEVER.

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

I made bone broth once. It was ok. I probably won’t make it again.

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

I eat an hour after I get up and an hour after I get home from work, so twice a day. Yesterday I ate 3 times. Most days it is 2 times a day.

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

I eat around 2 pounds, sometimes 2.5 pounds. Now steak, I will eat until it is gone, be it 1 pound or 2! I will also eat an entire family size package of chicken wings in one sitting!

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

I eat regular commercially produced meat.

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

I now drink just water. I have been off coffee for over a month and do not miss it. Believe me, I was a coffee addict! I LOVED my coffee, drank it all day. I feel coffee was not good for me, it disguised my hunger, over stimulated my bladder, I kept clearing my throat all the time and honestly did not feel any more energized drinking it. For me, it was a good thing to eliminate it from my diet.

I found both caffinated and decaf coffee suppresses my appetite. I did not know that the coffee was suppressing my appetite until I quit drinking it. I initially ate more meat for several weeks, gained a couple pounds, then found myself not very hungry anymore and now I easily eating one meal a day. I have also dropped the 2 pounds I gained.

16. Do you use salt?

No. I prefer the natural taste of meat.

17. Do you use spices?

No. I prefer the natural taste of meat.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No.

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

My husband does the meat shopping and a 10 pound chub of 73/27 ground beef has been running around $32.00. We go through about 2 – 2.5 chubs a week. I easily eat over 10 pounds myself and my husband uses a 1 roll for his meals. I don’t know what eggs are running, but we get about three to four 18 count cartons a week. Then there are the occasional chicken wings, beef spareribs, and steak. My Hubs is still drinking coffee, he wants to finish the can. So after the can is gone, no more buying coffee. I don’t think he knows that yet!

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Debra’s Zero Carb husband.

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

My husband and I eat ground beef almost exclusively. My husband does eat lots of eggs as well. I eat eggs maybe a couple times a month. I find ground beef the cheapest and most satisfying. If I find markdown meat on sale, I will sometimes splurge and get some sale packages.

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

Many years ago I was a competitive body builder. I was an exercise maniac! In preparation for body building competitions I would do 3 hours a day of aerobics plus my lifting, all while on a low fat diet. Talk about HUNGRY and the CRAVINGS!! UGH! So glad I am off that hamster wheel!

Now a days, my job requires me to be on my feet and moving about to accomplish my work. In the Summer, Spring and Fall I ride my horses. I do not do any formal exercise.

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

My doctor told me several years ago that I had low thyroid. I knew NOTHING about thyroid at the time. He described some of the physical symptoms of low thyroid, none of which I had, but nonetheless, he prescribed meds for me to take. I took them. I did have a brief spurt of energy at the beginning, but then I couldn’t tell any difference. I detest taking meds and after being on ZC for a while, I dropped them all together. That has been over 2 years ago and I feel great.

I am Post Menopausal and frequently read that women say they cannot lose weight after menopause. With Very Low Carb and then Zero Carb, I had no problem losing weight and keeping it off.

I hardly ever get sick. Several weeks ago I got a touch of the flu. It was gone in less than 2 days. Before that, I cannot remember when I was last sick.

I feel more mentally sharp and don’t fly off the handle like I used to. I still have a temper, but it takes more to set me off and my degree of anger isn’t as deep as it once was.

My nails are actually hard now, in fact, too hard! I can’t bite them any more!

This may sound weird, but the other day I thought my vision was actually better, more sharp.

I speak my mind, sometimes in a very blunt manner. Not rude, just blunt. Before I would beat around the bush, try to phrase things just so, but now I just say it. With a smile!

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Debra after adopting a Zero Carb diet.

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

No. I wish I had known about ZC way back then. Hopefully someday my daughter will give it a try. The health benefits are so great!

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?

No. My daughter is now an adult. Hopefully she will give this a try one day.

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

The simplicity of it all! I feel that I am ahead of the aging game by eating ZC and look forward to being vital and active in my senior years, which is still a LONG way off.

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

KEEP IT SIMPLE. GIVE IT TIME. If I can do it, ANYONE can. Read and learn from the ZC veterans, they have much to offer. Find meat that your enjoy, guzzle down your water and live your life free from food hang-ups.

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

My family and friends are used to me eating “weird”! They know I eat only meat and “its just how Debbie eats”. It is no big deal to go to family functions and not eat or to show up with my own food. I have one very dear friend that knows I eat totally Zero Carb and she doesn’t say yay or nay about it. People at work, those than know from many years ago, think I am still Very Low Carb and always comment on how “Debbie never eats anything, she is so good”! Good has nothing to do with it! I do not hide how I eat, nor to do I preach about how I eat. If anyone is interested, I will share information with them.

I had one coworker/friend that announced that she was going to go “ZERO CARB like Debbie”. At lunch time (for her, I do not eat lunch), she said she was going to have some roast beef from the deli, a carton of yogurt (sweetened) and I believe a fruit or veggie, can’t remember. I told her the beef might be ok, but did she know that yogurt was full of carbs, same with her veggie/fruit? I said Zero Carb meant Zero Carb. I suggested she go around the store and read some labels on a variety of foods that she felt would fall under her definition of Zero Carb. She came back a better carb-educated woman! “Everything has carbs!” she said. Sorry to say, she only lasted maybe a week…. Oh well, maybe someday she will try again.

Men are amused that I eat only meat, never any problems eating just meat in public with men around. They actually find it cool. As stated above, I have no problem carrying my own food with me to a function or dinner. I have sneeked food into restaurants and if it is not condoned by the establishment, I excuse myself and eat in the restroom. Doesn’t bother me in the least. When someone comments on me eating JUST meat, I respond with a big smile and say: “A Vegetarian eats veggies, a Carnivore eats meat! Got it?”. They seem to get it then.

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

When I mentioned above that anyone can do this if I can, here is why: I work in a bakery, yes a CARB FACTORY! I am a 5 star Cake Decorator. I am CONSTANTLY inhaling, touching, making cakes, cookies, etc. I have been in bakery work for 30+ years. With ZC I view what I do as art, which it is, and artists don’t eat their mediums! HAHA! I honestly do not want to eat any of the items made in the bakery. I do like the smells and aromas and that is about it. Sometimes I do get tempted, but it goes away quickly. And I really love my job!

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Debra with her beloved horse and grandson.

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.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Michael Frieze

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Michael cooking up some crab legs.

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

I started eating a low carbohydrate diet in 2010. I was aware of the all-meat diet, but I didn’t think I wanted to go that far with it at first. I tried the all-meat diet a few times in 2010, but I failed to stick with it. However, I was still not feeling well on a low carbohydrate diet, so in 2011 I tried the all-meat diet again and have been following it successfully ever since.

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

I did not have much of a weight issue. At one point in my life, I did weigh 180 pounds and that was big for me. I was always able to lose the weight pretty easy. I worked a lot and that kept the weight off of me pretty well I think. What motivated me was my health. I have had to deal with asthma every since I could remember. I would last about 2 days before I had to use an inhaler or take a breathing treatment. Pneumonia was always a big fear for me, because the last time it almost killed me when I was about 14 years old. Allergies was another issue that I always had to deal with. Everyday my eyes would swell up and my nose would run. My head would always hurt and my body just felt bad. I noticed vitamin C helped my asthma, but it was temporary. A low carbohydrate diet made me feel better than I ever felt, but I felt drained on it and still had these issues to some degree. Finally, after some time on an all-meat diet, all of that was no longer a part of my life. It made it real easy to stick to this diet after I made it a few months and noticed how much better my life was. It is like living a completely new life with a new set of lungs. I can run for miles and still breathe properly. My nose rarely runs and I only get a cold a couple of times per year. I never get that sick, and – when I do get sick – it only lasts for a short period of time. I used to always be sick! I noticed that if I eat even 1 cup of vegetables, I will have symptoms of asthma within 1 to 2 days afterwards, so I don’t eat them and don’t ever plan on eating them again.

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

It took me a long time to adapt mentally and physical to this diet. I have always eaten a really bad diet and I think that played a big part in it. I tried to go all-meat a few times before I actually was able to accomplish it. The so called “keto-flu” was hard for me to get through and lasted a couple of weeks. A low carbohydrate diet was much easier for me to get through, but even then it was hard to go from that to all-meat. Every time I tried all-meat, I would feel so run down. I had no energy, I was very nauseated, and my head was pounding. I could barely get out of bed after the 2nd or 3rd day of all-meat. I gave up many times after the 3rd or 4th day and I just kept trying until it worked I suppose. The mental part of it was a little easier for me to deal with than the physical part. The mental struggle just lasted much longer. I remember having dreams where I would “accidentally” eat pizza or ice cream and feel this horrible shame that would wake me out of my sleep. After years of eating this way, its easy now. I could not imagine eating any other way and its delicious.

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Michael prior to adopting a Zero Carb diet.

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

What got me interested at first was a couple of my friends were doing the Atkins diet. I thought it was a little ridiculous, so I started reading about it and came across Owsley “The Bear” Stanley post on a low carb message board. I was already aware of The Bear because I enjoy the music of the Grateful Dead. That sparked my interest a lot more and I read every post he made at least twice. I could not argue with it and I tried. It sounded crazy to me at first and I still did not plan on trying it. However, I was starting to get interested in this way of eating and the culture of the Inuit Eskimo as well. That lead me to reading books written by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, such as “The Fat of the Land.” I think this book convinced a lot of people. One of the things that really made sense to me was the fact that 200 Eskimo skulls were found and they did not show any signs of tooth decay. Also, another 600 (or more) skulls were found from the Icelandic middle-ages that showed no sign of tooth decay and they ate a diet of mostly meat as well. I could go on and on about all the contents of that book, but I will leave that up to the reader to read it for themselves. Another great book is Gary Taubes “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” All of these books are already mentioned by other people interviewed here and that shows how relevant they are.

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

I mostly eat meat, but I do eat eggs a lot too. I eat 7 or 8 eggs in the morning to get me going with a cup of coffee. I add about 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream to my coffee. I don’t eat cheese for the most part. As much as I love cheese, it does not agree with me.

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

My diet is mostly beef. I am not sure of the percentage. I don’t really pay much attention to that. I count enough in my calculus class. I eat fish, chicken, eggs, and even pork sometimes. Mostly, I eat steak. I like ground beef, but my girlfriend Samantha Taylor – who also eats an all-meat diet – has IBS issues with ground beef, so we don’t eat it as much. We buy bulk steak and cut our own steaks off of it. That is mostly what we eat and makes up the majority of our diet. I love boiled fish of all kinds and I use The Bear’s chicken recipe when I make chicken. I use bone-in chicken thighs with the skin still on them for the recipe, instead of an entire chicken. I just like the thighs and the legs a lot. It is probably the best thing I have ever tasted.

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

When I cook beef, I cook it rare. When I first started this diet, I cooked all meat well-done. I could not get myself to eat rare meat. Now, I have to eat it rare. The longer I do this, the more rare I like it. When I cook my steaks, I let them sit out for a couple of hours and get the frying pan really hot. I cook them for a small amount of time on each side and then let them sit in the pan for about 5 minutes or so. It is warm all the way through, but it is still very rare and incredibly delicious. I swear the more I eat it, the better it tastes.

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

I do not add extra fat to anything really. I add a little butter to my eggs and a little cream to my coffee. I find that if I eat too much fat I get nauseated. That tells me I don’t need anymore fat. If I do a lot of physical activity, I will want more fat than usual.

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

I do not limit myself at all. I eat until I am full in the morning, and I eat until I am full at dinner. I am not afraid to throw out a little extra if I cant eat it. I don’t like to eat and not feel satisfied after.

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Michael & Samantha

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

I have eaten liver a couple of times. I do not eat it often at all. It does not taste all that good to me, but its not horrible.

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

I do not consume bone broth.

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

I eat 2 meals per day. In the morning and dinner in the evening. Sometimes, I only eat in the evening if I am really busy. I don’t really get that hungry throughout the day. I eat a lot at dinner.

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

I eat about 2 to 3 pounds of meat per day. Maybe, more.

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

I do not eat grass fed or anything like that. I am a college student and can barely afford to eat as well as I do. I eat regular commercially-produced meat from the grocery store or butcher.

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

I drink coffee in the morning. About one cup per day and I really enjoy it. I buy freshly roasted beans and grind them myself. I use water that has a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit and use an Aero Press. With a little heavy cream, it is a highlight of my day. I drink a lot of water too. I don’t drink tea or anything else.

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Michael pan-frying burgers at an outdoor event — taking his lifestyle with him.

16. Do you use salt?

I do not add salt to anything most of the time. I do eat salt when I eat bacon, however. When we buy bacon, it is low sodium bacon and I usually only eat about 3 or 4 pieces of it. I find that regular bacon is too salty. I don’t like the taste. Sometimes, I will add a little salt to meat, but it is rare. If I eat chicken with cream cheese, it has salt in it.

17. Do you use spices?

I use a spice called “Chimmi-Churri” sometimes. It is mostly used for chicken, but it taste good on lots of things.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take vitamin D sometimes. I live in Michigan, and I am mostly indoors during the school semester. I feel that I should consider the fact that I am not getting enough vitamin D from the sun. I do not know this to be true or not. Honestly, I am not very good at taking it. I mostly forget. I probably remember once or twice a week and take about 2000 to 4000 IU. I do not take any other supplements or medications.

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

Together, my girlfriend and I spend about $400 on food per month. Probably a little more if you include the cost of coffee.

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

My tips for being more affordable would be to eat cheaper meats. Eating steak everyday can add up if your eating until you are full. However, it just makes us feel the best, so we do it. Eating ground beef, pork, chicken, and eggs is a bit cheaper. We used to spend more on a carb-based diet, because of all the extra’s like eating out, pizza, ice cream, and other snacks.

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

I do not exercise regularly. I exercise more often in the summer, but during the winter and fall I am always wrapped up in school work. I feel really good when I exercise and I try to make that a part of my life. I will accomplish that goal next. I just wish I wouldn’t have to run on a treadmill. When I look outside, all I see is ice and its not very motivating.

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.)

In addition to what I mentioned earlier in this interview, I will add that no matter how much steak I eat, I cannot get my weight over 140 lbs. (unless I am actively building muscle). I used to weigh 180 lbs. at one point in my life, and I was always trying to eat less. Now, I eat as much as possible and I stay at a decent weight. It is easy for me to gain weight on a carbohydrate diet. Mental health is another benefit. I do not get a lot of mood swings and it has helped some anxiety issues that I have had to deal with. It just feels good to feel good. I never really had much of a problem with feeling tired, so that did not change much. I can last longer when doing physical activities. Also, once again, breathing is pretty great. I like not being sick all the time.

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

I do not have children, yet. It will be interesting to see how that works out! I see a lot of other Zero Carb-ers raising children and doing very well I must say.

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

What I enjoy most about eating all-meat is not being sick all the time and not having asthma. That is enough for me. All of the other benefits are just extra’s. It also makes life easier. My stops at the grocery store are quick. Cooking and clean-up is always easy and the food is always delicious. I enjoy every part of this diet.

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Michael’s refrigerator stocked with his staples.

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

I know that a lot of people say to just jump right into this diet and get started, but my advice is to take it slow. If you ease into it, it is easier to deal with the changes. Some people can get right into this way of eating and have no problems. For others, it is hard. The point of this diet is really to feel better and spend more time in your life doing other things instead of worrying about what you should be eating. However, you are never going to stop worrying until you do the research yourself. Don’t just take someone’s word for it. I was very skeptical when I first started and that made it hard to continue. But the more I learned, the more I was sure of it. Mostly, it is the experience you have over time that confirms it. Only then, will you stop worrying about whether its something you should or should not do. You have been taught to eat a certain way all of your life, and it is incredibly hard to convince yourself that you have always been wrong. Some are willing to do this and some are not. It wasn’t easy for me. Some people will never even consider this way of eating and its perfectly understandable.

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

I think my friends and family are supportive enough. When I first started, I got a lot of warnings. After years of doing this, I don’t really get any feedback about it now. It is not a topic of conversation for the most part. Every now and then, I try to convince my mother to eat better or someone in my family. However, I have learned to keep it to myself mostly and I think most people are going to live their lives how they want to. If someone is interested in the human diet, they know they can talk to me about it.

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

One thing I would like to share is what it is like to observe other people’s eating habits. When going to the grocery store, you see other people mindlessly pushing around a shopping cart and they have no idea what they want to eat. They seem to be stressed out and confused. It is comical, but at the same time it is disturbing. Also, people always have to snack about every four hours or so. In my college classrooms, people always have a can of pepsi or coke while eating a candy bar or a bag of chips. After eating this way, it is easy to see that the diet of a person is truly based on acculturation. This was mentioned by The Bear and he is definitely right about this fact. Culture is a persons operating system and its not going to be easy to change that. It is much easier to accept things that are packaged properly in a box for you and everyone knows that green leafy vegetables are good for you, right?!

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Michael admiring his new guitar.

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

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

 

Zero Carb Interview: Rose Nunez Smith

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Rose in 2013 glowing with health.

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

I took two runs at Zero-Carb eating. The first was in 2008, when I was stalled at around 190 pounds after a year on Protein Power (by Drs. Mary Dan Eades and Michael Eades). I came across the huge thread started by the Bear about his “Zero-Carb” diet on the Active Low-Carb-ers’ (ALC) forum. At first I thought he was out of his ever-loving mind, but as I kept reading I couldn’t help but feel drawn to its evolutionary logic, and its simplicity.

I figured a month without broccoli wouldn’t kill me, so I tried it. It was great – so great I did it for two months instead of one, and lost about 15 pounds while feeling wonderful.
But without any support, I really didn’t know how to approach eating this way; I was still doing diet tricks like using artificial sweeteners and skipping meals when I was hungry. After a couple of months I slid back into regular low-carb eating, and was back at 190 pounds in no time.

A year later I was desperate. I had tried every low-carb tweak I could find, from protein shakes to increasing carbs (disastrous!) to going extremely strict paleo, but I was stuck on the scale, and my health wasn’t improving either.

I knew I had to get back to Zero-Carb, so I looked around for a forum similar to ALC or Protein Power, but geared toward Zero-Carb. I found Charles Washington and Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH), and finally learned from the experience of Zero-Carb veterans how to eat meat, drink water, and relax and live life. The weight melted off, and to my great surprise, I lost my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms almost completely, too.
So the real answer is seriously Zero Carb since September 2009, with only a couple of small wobbles since then.

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

I’ll be honest and cop to the weight, even though my health improved even more than my figure. I’d always somehow known I was destined to be morbidly obese, and as I found out more about my birth family (I’m adopted), it became clear that my intuition was accurate. Four generations of women in my maternal line have been obese, and they’ve all had cancer, too.

The couple of times I’ve deviated from my optimal Zero-Carb diet I’ve gained weight at an alarming rate, and my joint pain skyrocketed, too. I’m not talking about pizza and cupcakes here, but things like Brussel sprouts at the holidays, or a handful of almonds or some dark chocolate – foods eagerly embraced by most low-carb-ers and paleo dieters.

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

Physically almost no time at all. I never had the so-called low-carb flu, and I enjoy meat enough that I don’t miss other foods, as some people do. But I still have to remind myself occasionally that Zero-Carb is about letting my body heal in its own way, in its own time, and to stop trying to micromanage my health through dietary interventions beyond Zero-Carb (for example, by striving to hit a certain number on a ketone meter, or imposing restrictions beyond my normal Zero-Carb foods).

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

First and foremost “The Bear” Owsley Stanley. His epic thread on ALC – and his largely unappreciated generosity in sharing his discoveries – set everything in motion for me.
And after him, of course, is Charles Washington and his ZIOH forum. That group functioned as a sort of Zero Carb boot camp, keeping me focused and less stupid during my critical first months of eating this way. I’m eternally grateful to Charles and the ZIOH veterans for teaching me how to do this right.

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Rose in 2006, weighing 220 lbs., prior to beginning her low carb journey.

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

I have eaten meat and eggs only for months at a time, and at other times I’ve included dairy products. Dairy products keep an extra few pounds on me, and are also hell on my digestion. Unfortunately, once I start with a little bit of dairy, it takes some time and effort to wean myself back off. Butter is the one exception; it doesn’t seem to wreak havoc on my gut, or put extra body fat on me.

I also feel better if I eat fewer egg whites, so I avoid scrambled eggs and omelets. Instead, I’ll fry eggs and cut off the cooked whites, or, if I’m feeling really ambitious on a Saturday morning, I’ll make an all-yolk scramble.

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

I’ve never calculated the percentage, but I probably eat beef three or four times a week for lunch, and about two or three times a week for dinner. The rest of my dinners are roast chicken, pork chops, pork ribs, fish, and a fairly wide variety of game meats, since my husband is a hunter.

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Rose in 2008, weighing 190 lbs., after following Drs. Mary & Michael Eades Protein Power book. She remained stuck at this weight for 2 years.

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

I tend to cook it medium rare, although today I ordered a sirloin cooked rare for lunch and it arrived surprisingly bloody for a restaurant steak. It was delicious; the rarer the beef, the more tender it is.

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

If it’s too lean for my taste, or overcooked and dry, I might put some butter on it; otherwise, no.

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

I eat until satisfied, although I’ve never had the prodigious appetite that some Zero-Carb-ers boast. The last time I recorded my calories (a couple years ago), I was clocking around 1,800/day. I hear of many Zero-Carb-ers who eat closer to 3,000.

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Rose in 2009, weighing 180 lbs., after 2 weeks on Zero Carb.

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

I’ll eat chicken livers now and then, usually in an egg yolk scramble. I’ve tried kidneys and hated them.

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

I like a bone broth in the winter, but I only make two or three crockpots of it a year. I like it, but I’m not in love with it.

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

I usually eat twice: lunch and dinner. On weekends I’ll generally eat a big breakfast – it’s family time – and skip lunch because I’m not hungry. But if I’m hungry, I eat; I don’t worry about a schedule. Once in a while that turns out to be three meals a day.

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

Probably a half pound at lunch, and another half to three-quarters of a pound at dinner.

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

I don’t go out of my way to buy 100% grass-fed meat; it’s expensive, and I’m skeptical of the grandiose health claims made for it. But I do eat the wild venison and elk that my husband brings home from his hunts. This meat certainly is closer to the omega 3:6 profile that everyone thinks is so great about fully grass-fed or pasture-raised meat. I do like pastured eggs, though, and will spend money on those. The richer flavor is worth it to me.

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Rose in 2009, weighing 150 lbs. after 3 months on Zero Carb.

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

Black coffee every day. Occasionally some hard clear spirits (vodka, tequila) or red wine, mixed with mineral water if I can get it.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, to season my meat.

17. Do you use spices?

When I cook for myself, I just use salt and black pepper. When I’m cooking for me and my husband, which is more usual, I use Montreal Steak Seasoning.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day. I started that in 2011, when I found out about my birth family’s history of cancer. I was looking for protocols in addition to Zero-Carb that would be protective against cancer, and the research overwhelmingly suggested that living closer to equator – that is, getting more sunshine – was the most protective thing you could do. In lieu of moving away from Oregon, I started taking D3 supplements.

To my great surprise, within days, I noticed that I had no trouble breathing. Asthma was the last health issue troubling me, and no amount of dietary tweaking seemed to make any difference; I was still using my inhaler multiple times a day.

I’m positive about the correlation, too. When I was in Mexico for ten days many years ago, I didn’t need my inhaler once. At the time I was puzzled, and thought maybe it was the sea air, or the nightly tequila (not really!), but now I realize it was the huge daily dose of sunshine I was getting from lying on the beach.

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Rose in 2010, weighing 150 lbs. after 1 year on Zero Carb.

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

Hard to say. Our meat diet is quite varied, from burgers to ribeyes to game that my husband’s put in the freezer. And we eat out a few times a month; there’s a great barbecue place that’ll serve me pork ribs without sauce. We also go out for sushi (well, I go out for sashimi). So it’s hard to put a dollar amount on it. We could definitely eat just as well on less money, by being just a little more diligent about buying meat.

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

Ground beef is a great meat; nothing wrong with that. If you love ribeyes, get a huge ribeye roast for about $6/pound (instead of individual steaks at over $11/pound), and carve your meals off of it for a week or so.

And I often eat lunch at Jack in the Box: I just order three plain hamburger patties in a bowl. The first time you order it you they might think it’s for your dog, so make sure you ask for a fork.

I’m never afraid to shop the bargain meat bin; meat that’s close to “expired” is just fine, and being ZC has made me much less picky about what I feel like eating. I usually feel like eating meat!

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

Since going Zero-Carb, I don’t work out at all. I keep intending to get back to the gym, but I just don’t have time. And honestly, although I’ve worked out for most of my adult life – yes, even when I was fat – I never really enjoyed the gym. I’d much rather go hiking instead.
The closest thing I get to exercise is walking my dogs. In the summer, the walks can be several miles, but in the winter, they’re short and fast.

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.)

Huge benefits. The most obvious is the weight loss. The first 30 pounds I lost on low-carb, the next 40 were on Zero Carb, for a total of 70 pounds of body fat gone forever. But the less obvious benefits are maybe more important.

First, I have to say that just regular grain-free low-carb resolved my depression, and I was able to wean myself off the combination of anti-depressant and anti-seizure medications I’d been prescribed and had been taking for many years (Celexa and Depakote, for the curious). So I’m very thankful for that.

The real miracle that Zero-Carb worked, however, was on my joints. I’m pretty autoimmune (allergies, asthma, joint pain, chronically high CRP, elevated ANA, positive for rheumatoid factor, and finally, according to 23andMe, genetically predisposed to several Auto-Immune diseases). I was seeing a rheumatologist for the worsening pain in my shoulders and hips – I could barely sleep at night – and it was excruciating to get up from a sitting position and to get out of bed.

The doctor was about to start the serious testing that would help him diagnose me with a specific Auto-Immune disease (probably Rheumatoid Arthritis, but as my pain was atypically located, there were other possibilities), and that would therefore let him prescribe heavy steroid medications that would slow the disease’s progress, but also put an incredible burden on my liver.

Within days of going Zero-Carb, I felt a huge reduction in my pain, along with a huge increase in mobility. I’d been worried that I was heading for life in a wheelchair, but now I know that  – as long as I stay Zero-Carb – I’ll never need to worry about joint pain again (the few wobbles I’ve had on this diet sent my joint pain through the roof, so I know it’s the all-meat diet keeping everything happy).

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Buster, Rose’s 8 year old Zero Carb Dog.

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

I was 45 when I started ZC, so a bit late for that.

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 don’t have children, but I do have dogs. I feed them a raw meat diet, and the 8-year-old is one of the healthiest dogs I’ve ever seen. The 4-year-old is a recent addition to the family, and he’s adjusting to his new way of eating just fine.

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Spike, Rose’s 4 year old Zero Carb Dog.

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

I love that I hardly ever think about food anymore. It amazes me when I remember how much time I spent obsessing over my next meal – what I “felt like” eating, what to cook, how to fit in the shopping. And no more hunger and guilt! Before Zero-Carb, I always tried to under eat, and then – when I did eat a decent-sized meal – I wasted a lot of time feeling guilty afterwards.

All of that nonsense is done. I eat when I’m hungry and get on with my life.

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

It’s easy to over-think Zero-Carb. We’re all trained to micromanage our diets, and it’s hard to believe you don’t have to do that anymore. New people always want to weigh, measure, count, calculate the fat-to-protein ratio, all of that.

But it really is dead simple: Eat meat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. Go do something else until you’re hungry again, then rinse and repeat.

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

Just that the hardest part of maintaining this way of eating, if it can be said to be hard at all, is dealing with the social aspects of being a pure carnivore. Family and friends will be concerned–this diet flies directly in the face of conventional wisdom–and some people will be offended that you’re not eating some recipe they’re proud of, or that you’re not eating a celebratory dessert with them. To avoid becoming a hermit, I’ve worked on some warm and accepting ways of dealing with such responses. The most important point for me is to not get offended myself, and to not be defensive. I remind myself that they think exactly the way I did ten years ago, and I’m no smarter or better now than I was then–I’m just experienced. And then I find a way to share their special moment (if it’s birthday cake, say) by having a cup of coffee, or I praise the way their recipe came out, and tell them I’m sorry that I can only admire it from a distance.

And I’m still learning to not get preachy when someone I care about complains about their health, and I’m convinced I know the answer to their problems. Someday it’ll sink in that they’ll have to find the right path themselves, just as I did. All I can do is try to be an example, like the ZCers who inspired me.

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Rose, maintaining a weight of 150 lbs., after years of living the Zero Carb Lifestyle.

Rose recently (04/10/15) posted this recap of her health history in Zeroing in on Health and I thought it was worth posting ere in her interview for reference as well…

Here’s the complete sad medical history for y’all:
1. Seizures in infancy and througout childhood (“idiopathic”), taking phenobarbital until 15yo.
2. Had asthma throughout childhood (no inhalers back in the day)
3. Got fat at puberty.
4. Got depressed at puberty.
5. Multiple suicide attempts throughout adolescence.
6. Drug use (speed) and cigarette smoking throughout adolescence (13yo – 18yo)
7. Prescribed steroid inhalers at age 27 for chronic asthma
8. Prescribed anti-depressants at age 30 (I hate them, but they saved my life)
9. Clinically obese at age 33 (up from chubby)
10. Seeing rheumatologist at age 35 for joint pain (no diagnosis)
11. Prescribed Depakote at age 39
12. Start low-carb eating at 43, lose 30 pounds, ditch anti-depressant (yay!)
13. Seeing rheumatologist again at age 45 for now-crippling joint pain

And then:

1. Start zero carb eating at age 45.
2. Instant remission of joint pain (within days, people–days!)
3. Lose another 40 pounds within four months
4. Stop all inhaler usage except in multi-cat rooms (vit D helps with that, too)
5. Live life fully, enjoying every moment (that’s the big one–never did that before)

So, to recap, after two years of low carb, and six years of zero carb, I’m in the best shape of my life — my entire life! No depression, no joint pain, no breathing problems, no obesity.

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.