My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Kim Knoch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kim with her supportive husband and daughters.

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

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

 

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My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Sarah Muma

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I came across this way of eating quite randomly. While perusing Facebook, a friend recommended a friend to me, and – while checking out his profile – I saw that he had recently joined a group named Zeroing in on Health. The cover photo for the group is a huge bloody slab of beef, needless to say, I was intrigued and started reading through the board. Within minutes I was sold. It was an easy sell, let me explain.

After getting into health and researching various things, I came across all the information pertaining to the benefits of plant-based diets. On the surface it seemed to be the healthiest diet, I mean, everyone was saying anyway. So, after removing pretty much all processed foods from our family’s diet, we started leaning towards a plant-based diet. We spent a few years on the fence, cutting back our meat consumption drastically and upping the starch and vegetable intake.

My husband and I felt good at first. I lost the weight I had gained during my third pregnancy and my husband lost a bunch of weight too. But then things started to take a turn for the worse. The green smoothies that we were eating for breakfast and lunch were no longer satiating, no matter how much protein or fat we added to them. We started having sugar highs and lows quite noticeably and here I will mention that the cravings for sweets were ever present. Needless to say we started adding back in some animal products, like eggs and raw milk, eating meat in about 2-3 dinners per week. My husband gained back a little weight, I stayed the same, and then I found out we were expecting our fourth child.

I hired a midwife and planned for (and ultimately had) a successful home birth. The first few months of my pregnancy I craved fruit (let’s be honest, sugar) and I felt good eating all that fruit and nice hefty salads, thinking I was giving my baby the best nutrition. My body, however, started to tell me otherwise. Towards the end of  my second trimester my belly almost completely stopped growing. I was measuring 5 weeks behind where I should have been and the midwife was getting concerned. She advised that I should up my protein intake to at least 100 grams a day and handed me a reference sheet to follow listing foods and their protein content.

I was blown away when the reality of what this meant finally hit home. If I was ever going to meet those requirements for the sake of my baby’s health, I was going to have to eat a LOT of animal products. You can get protein from plant foods, but you have to consume significantly more plant foods compared to animal foods to get the same amount of protein. So, I started eating tacos with cheese, ground beef, and sour cream. I had very little room for anything else, and I was actually a bit concerned about not being able to fit in any fruits or veggies. “Surely,” I thought, “this can’t be good for me or my baby, can it?” But I trusted my midwife and followed through with her experienced recommendation.

After the first month of eating this way my tummy gained 4 centimeters and after the second month 5 centimeters, essentially catching me up to where I needed to be. This growth continued for the remainder of my pregnancy. I felt great and I consider it to be the healthiest of all my pregnancies. I walked 1-2 miles a day up until one month before I gave birth, had no migraines during this time, and had loads of energy. I also felt very confident and strong during birthing, and I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl in the comfort of my own home.

I found this all to be perplexing and started looking into the downside of plant-based diets and I found a lot of the claims about them were false and unsubstantiated. I was also in the midst of studying biochemistry for my studies to become a certified traditional Naturopath. As we came to realize that humans suffer a lot of deficiencies when they remove animal products from their diet, we started eating more meat.

However, our diet was still quite rich in carbohydrates from grains, vegetables, and fruits. While I now understood that removing animal products from our diet was a bad idea, I was not yet aware that whole plant foods might not be all that good for us. After giving birth, I also returned to my sugar addiction and was eating chocolate almost every day.

I did manage to lose the weight I had gained during my fourth pregnancy, but I was still carrying extra body fat which I could not seem to lose no matter what my activity level. Since the birth of my third child 4 years ago, I had been plagued with migraines on a monthly basis. They went away during my fourth pregnancy, but then returned soon after I gave birth.

I also started developing joint pain in my legs which extended from my hips all the way down to my shins. Some mornings I felt like I was 80 years old as I struggled to get out of bed. And since I was only 32 years old at the time, I knew that this state of affairs wasn’t normal. Admittedly, I was a huge sugar addict, and while cutting down on my total consumption did help, it didn’t eliminate the issues.

So, as I said, I came across the group Zeroing in on Health and was stunned by the information I found. I spent hours sifting through the posts, links, and files concerning this way of eating, but my intuition immediately said, “This is it!” Every question I could think of had an answer and all the answers made sense based on what I had come to learn. Despite having two weeks worth of produce for the entire family in our refrigerator, we decided to start a Zero Carb diet immediately.

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Sarah and her husband Tony.

We have been eating two big meals a day. One at brunch time and another in the late evening. Sometimes we snack lightly in between depending on what’s going on, but by the end of our first 30 days our need to snack had lessened quite a bit. When we began, we included regular green tea, but after the first week had no real desire for it. I also lost my desire for the decaf green tea I was in the habit of drinking. Honestly, water has never tasted so good; it is the only beverage that feels truly satisfying.

We eat predominantly beef (ground and steak), but we also include chicken, pork, bacon, sausage, pork rinds, eggs, hard cheese, string cheese and cottage cheese (for our children), sour cream, and butter. We have bone broth on occasion, and we use some basic seasonings like salt and pepper. During the first week I ate quite a bit of cheese, but now I only eat it on beef patties.

I did have some small cravings in the beginning and we did slip up once during our first 30 days. It was my son’s birthday 2 weeks in and we had promised that – despite the drastic shift in our diet – we would still do what we planned for his birthday party. This meant cake and ice cream. We each had about four bites of cake and ice cream. We were curious to see how our bodies would respond. As soon as that sugar hit our systems, we were utterly miserable for the next 24 hours. Bloated, crampy, fatigued, and just overall horrible. Needless to say, I’m no longer a sugar addict. Even my children voiced regrets the next day, and my 4 year old – who had been asking for cookies the entire week before – stopping asking for sweets.

The changes we have experienced from this way of eating were immediately apparent. On the very first day, we noticed that we could eat to satiety without feeling lethargic and bloated. On the morning of the second day, both my husband and I noticed that our bellies were already slimmer. I did suffer some “keto-flu” symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and a migraine. I was pretty miserable on days 3 and 4. In contrast, my husband’s transition was relatively painless.

After that, I went through a week or two of extremely ravenous hunger. I couldn’t believe the amount of food I was putting away at each meal! My appetite has calmed down now, though I am still hungrier on some days than on others. I always eat to satiety.

I’m currently breastfeeding my 15 month old, and I noticed that within the first week my milk supply had increased significantly. I no longer needed all the milk-promoting herbal tea I had been consuming to help my body keep up with her appetite. I have observed that eating fatty steak seems to increase my milk supply more than another other type of meat or Zero Carb foods like eggs and cheese. She is also much less fussy because she no longer suffers from gas pains and colic.

My husband has very sensitive teeth and, within a week of eating just meat and drinking only water, he noticed that they no longer hurt. He’s also struggled with his feet for quite awhile. He use to work 10+ hours a day, 7 days a week, on his feet, wearing steel toe boots. His feet were covered in dry skin, corns, and he had cracked heels. After 30 days of eating this way, the bottoms of his feet are almost entirely pink. The dry skin is practically falling off. They’re healing and this is really exciting because we’ve tried everything we could think of over the past 10 years with no success.

My oldest daughter has had eczema since she was a baby, and it has completely cleared up. Additionally, both of my teenagers have a much calmer disposition. They have taken to this way of eating really well and have stated that they are enjoying it. My 4 year old daughter was the biggest carbohydrate addict of our four children, and she really struggled at first. But, we made a big effort to provide whatever Zero Carb foods she desired, and she made it through the difficult transition period and is now doing well.

The joint pain I used to experience during the night is gone and I am able to spring out of bed once again. I have less trouble getting to sleep, I sleep more soundly, and I need less sleep to feel good. Overall, I have more energy than before.

I use to suffer from food boredom, always looking for the next new recipe to try. I hated eating the same thing night after night. To my pleasant surprise, this way of eating has entirely conquered that issue. I have no qualms about eating beef – and only beef – every night of the week. No more extensive meal planning or grocery shopping. It’s all so incredibly simple.

Not only are we feeling great and experiencing these many improvements in our health, we’re also losing body fat. Eating only from the animal kingdom, drinking only water, and watching Netflix is causing our bodies to undergo a rather fascinating transformation. We live in Michigan and the temperatures are just recently coming up above freezing (in mid-April). My husband and I both work from home, and we live in a small town on a tight budget. Needless to say, we have not had much exercise at all during this past month.

In 30 days, I lost a total of 2 pounds. I know this does not sound like much, but I lost 5% of my body fat, 4 inches off of my waist, and 2 inches off of my hips. Clearly, the scale does not tell the whole story. Below is a picture of me “before” starting Zero Carb and then me 30 days “after” starting Zero Carb.

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My husband actually gained 5 pounds, but he lost almost 6% of his body fat, as well as 2 inches off of his waist.

The most important aspect though is that there is healing going on. We can see it and we can feel it. My husband and I have been so impressed with the changes we have experienced during our 30-day Zero Carb “trial” that we have no intention of ever going back. It has become a way of life for us and our children.

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.