Zero Carb Interview: Jennifer Dodds

Jennifer Before & After her weight loss journey, using both a standard low carb diet and then a zero carb diet.

1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb diet?

Over three years now, I started  April 23, 2015.

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

My entire life I was morbidly obese. I remember being very young at the doctor, maybe kindergarten checkup, my mother was asking about my weight. He told her to watch my portions and I would grow into it. Growing up, we tried everything!  Portion control, Slim Fast while I was still in daycare, Fen-Phen in middle and high school, Atkins, low fat, food pyramid, diabetic, just everything. I saw dietitians multiple times and followed their plans as well but I was never successful and never  was able to stick to anything  very long. 

By the time I was 15, I weighed 350 lbs. I  was a type two diabetic with migraines, PCOS, depression, and social anxiety. I would count every single carb, exercise, take my medications and was on insulin. I did all of this and my blood sugar was still out of control with readings in the 2-300’s sometimes higher. It was bad. After I graduated high school and I was more on my own, I ignored it all together. I also ballooned up to 420+ lbs. I wanted to have gastric bypass but insurance wouldn’t approve and I needed to lose weight for them to even consider me. I’m not exactly sure what happened then, but I just started losing weight without trying. I had my appendix removed and after that I steadily lost, but my blood sugars remained out of control. I did eventually diet again and got myself down to around 250 lbs. by my late 20’s, mostly by watching carbohydrate intake. 

Then an accident that nearly took my life really shook my world. I remember very little of the following years besides highlights, like getting married and buying our house. I slept nearly all the time, ate what was convenient and gained back 75 pounds of what I had lost. Then in January of 2015, weighing in at 325 lbs. after two days of no food and cleaning my bowels out, I had surgery to remove a fibroid from my uterus. It was a rough surgery. I lost a considerable amount of blood and it took a lot longer than anticipated. Afterwards I was just sick. I needed multiple blood transfusions. I had a home health nurse coming in to pack my huge open wound. She was putting a roll and a half of gauze in my abdomen every day! I wasn’t healing at all.  

Then the bad news hit. As I was lying on a trauma table in the local ER, where I had to meet my OB for him to clean my wound, he told me that the pathology had come back from my fibroid. He was wrong, it was a tumor. He explained that it was called a STUMP tumor and that it was very rare. STUMP stands for smooth muscle tumor of uncertain malignant potential. In other words, it is cancer without quite being cancer.  And because it is so rare they haven’t done much research on it. Laying there looking up at those bright lights, after all I had been through I just lost it. He says quit crying  Dodds!  Your going to live!  

A week later my husband and I made the trek to the oncology department two hours away. His news was just as grim. There is no way my OB could have gotten all of the cells from the tumor and I would have to have my uterus removed. I was devastated!   always thought that someday I would be a mother  I called my OB on the way home and he came on the phone and told me that having my uterus removed was my decision to make. That it was ok to ask questions and research before I made a final decision. So that’s exactly what I did!  

My aunt had a friend who had lived decades with cancer. I started researching and I decided that the best thing I could do for myself was to get rid of all sugar. So I started with a low carb high fat diet sometime in February of 15. But I could not get my blood sugars where I wanted them to be. I think it was around this time that I found Esmee’s website Zero Carb Zen and began reading all the information here. I was doing an egg fast when I decided to never go back to carbohydrates. And that’s it. Something clicked. It only took a few days and I knew this was the magic key I had been searching for my whole life! I had never felt satisfied before, and now I was. On a carb-based diet, I was always full, but still hungry! I was morbidly obese, and yet malnourished. 

Jennifer’s mother, little sister, and herself when she was about 6 years old.

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

It was still a serious mental struggle. Overcoming a lifetime of using food as comfort in every situation isn’t easy. I didn’t realize just how much I ate in social situations like family parties. I just ate constantly because of nerves! I remember having a panic attack and wondering what the heck was going on and it was because I wasn’t allowing myself to eat for comfort that evening. The physical adaptation was a lot quicker than the mental, probably 6 months initially although I continue to heal. Mental adaptation took a lot longer, probably a full year. Lifetime mental habits are hard to break. I still look in the fridge whenever I walk into my parent’s house!

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

I remember reading the Anderson Family interview, probably sometime in late 2014. I had already resolved myself to lose weight before I went in for surgery and was already doing some research on how to fix my hormones. I remember thinking, low carb yes, but there is no way that can be healthy! Like what I was doing to myself was healthy! I remember finding Esmee’s website fairly early on in my journey. I also read about Owsley Stanley (a.k.a. “The Bear”) and Vilhjalmur Stefansson. If you’re reading  this with the same skepticism I had, one month isn’t going to hurt you! Give it a try!

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

It has varied over the years. I ditched the eggs fairly early on. I did try and add them back in a couple of times. I even tried fresh from the farm eggs, and yolks only, but my body still reacts. I was eating butter, bacon and occasionally cheese for about a year until I realized they were contributing to my headaches. For the first six months or so, it was all fare game! Then naturally over time, I went to beef only. At first, I was fine with ground beef, even frozen beef patties. Now my husband calls me a “meat snob” because I will only eat fatty, fresh beef. I will eat leftovers if absolutely necessary but they have to be made from super fresh beef and eaten the next day.  If I am going on a day trip, I cook my meat let it cool then vacuum seal it. But only if I’m going to be eating it the next day.

Jennifer as a teenager with her little sister.

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

100%

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

Very rare. I sear my meat then put it in the oven at 270 degrees until warm through, the opposite works too. Lately, I have been eating a bite or two raw. I like it, it tastes very sweet! But I’m not quite ready to eat a full meal like that!

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

Not currently, but I have been toying with the idea of finding a constant source of beef trimmings. The meat around here seems to be getting more and more lean and I have been hungry.

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

I eat until satisfied, but I do realize when I am eating more than I should and then try to see if there is a reason. I typically eat only once a day unless I feel I am truly hungry.

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

No, but I  do enjoy it. There is something in it called tyramine which can cause increase in pressure and the brain and lead to headaches for some people. I realized I was reacting to beef liver as well as cheese and bacon because of the tyramine.

Jennifer and her little sister as young adults.

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

No, I have never liked it.

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

One, sometimes two. I do really well on one meal a day unless my pain is flared up, then I tend to eat more.

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

 I’d say roughly 2 lbs. Some days it’s a lot more, some a lot less.  I eat to hunger.

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

Regular grocery store meat. I am interested to see what locally raised beef would do for me, but that is costly!

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

I only drink water. We purchased a reverse osmosis filtration system for under the sink. I was seeing an oily surface on my drinking water and when you boil it there was a lot of sediment. My husband drinks coffee and I was having to clean the build up on the coffee pot nearly every week. I noticed a difference as soon as I quit drinking the tap water and my husband also noticed a difference! I did have a couple brief flings with coffee that turned out bad for me. If you haven’t tried giving it up yet, I highly suggest it!

Jennifer’s little sister and herself after they had both lost significant weight on a very low carb diet.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, I have several different kinds of salts I use! My favorite is grey Celtic sea salt. I also use pink Hawaiian and have some others.  

17. Do you use spices?

No.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K and small amounts of calcium and vitamin C

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

Roughly $200-$250

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

I managed to find a source of whole New York Strip for $3-4/ lb. That is what I have been eating lately. Otherwise it is the fattiest chuck roast I can find.

My husband eats what I call “Crappy Keto,” so here is what I have found to keep it less expensive. Chicken thighs are $.99 a lb on average. I cut the bone out and fry them skin side down in bacon grease till brown and crispy. They are the best! I always have chicken thighs ready to go in the fridge.

Liver is super cheap and is packed with nutrients.

Chuck roast tends to be the best priced beef with good fat and fries up good in chunks. I buy a couple big roasts and cut it into strips.

Salting beforehand also makes cheaper cuts more tender and flavorful.

If you have an Aldi’s, it is your friend!

Get yourself a vacuum sealer and buy when sales are good. Summer sales are great for doing this! Meat prices tend to go up in January when everyone is trying to “diet.” Then I tend to only find lean meats on sale and what I really prefer is super expensive. That is when the frozen stuff comes in handy.

Make friends with the dairy/deli/meat department!  They will sell you the past date stuff super cheep!  

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

I have physical therapy routines that I have to do in order to keep moving but nothing strenuous. I also do a bit of light yoga. I also walk quite a bit but not as much as I feel I should. 

Jennifer today after a total weight loss of 270 lbs.!

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 noticed improvement in the time it takes wounds to heal and I just don’t pick up bacteria and viruses like everyone else. 

I do still occasionally have seasonal allergies but nothing like before.  

After my surgery, I went through three months of little to no improvement and being on constant antibiotics. But within a week of switching to Zero Carb, both my home care nurse and I noticed a huge difference in the healing of my incision. The infection cleared up soon after.  

Zero carb also made my blood sugars steady for the first time and got rid of the estrogen dominance that had plagued me my entire life.  

It took quite a few months for my weight to go down. I even gained back 10 pounds of what I had lost between surgery and my time on a low carb high fat diet.  In fact, it was a good six months before I started to see steady weight loss. But now I am down to 150 lbs. which is 270 lbs. less than my all-time high of 420 lbs. I do, however, still have a fair amount of excess skin to deal with, but I am not surprised since I was so over weight all my life.

I also suspect I have a connective tissue disorder holding me back. After two severe traumas to my head and neck, I have developed some pretty severe symptoms that have continued to increase. I have been diagnosed with Arnold Chiari malformation and told that I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome of the head and neck. But I suspect otherwise and am sending my information to yet another specialist. But I am still trying my best in physical therapy and at home to avoid any serious surgery. 

Before I lost the weight, it was hard to find a doctor who would take my symptoms seriously. I heard from most of them that I simply needed to lose weight and that my MRIs were completely normal — which they weren’t. (Side tip: always ask for the report and a CD of any tests you have done.)  

Well, it’s really sad, but since I have lost the excess body fat, the doctors are taking me and my symptoms more seriously. Ironically, though, some of them are now trying to blame my symptoms on the weight loss itself! As far as I’m concerned, I still don’t have an accurate diagnosis, but I feel we’re closer than ever to figuring it out. I will say that a Zero Carb diet has helped tremendously with chronic pain, by eliminating practically all of the inflammation. If not for this, I don’t know how I would have coped. 

During the year and a half following my surgery, I went through a time of severe anxiety and stress. My Zero Carb way of eating was a constant in my life that I could hold on to. It was a way for me to control at least some part of my body when the rest of it seemed so totally out of control. Even though my physical problems often make it hard to think and remember things, Zero Carb provides a clarity in my mind and spirit, like a fog has been lifted from me. Also, I find it much easier to calm myself when I do start to feel some anxiety. Through Zero Carb, I feel that I have come more fully into who I truly am.

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

The freedom!  All my life I felt trapped, not only by my own body, but by the food I ate. I am no longer constantly hungry. I see food for what it truly is, fuel not entertainment.

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

Prepare your food ahead of time. Have snacks on hand like cooked bacon. The time I spent eating a very low carb diet before I started a Zero Carb diet really helped the transition both mentally and physically. Mentally, I was able to see that even on a very low carb diet I wasn’t able to control my eating, even with such strict rules. Physically, I was able to transition from a standard American diet to a very low carb diet to a Zero Carb diet slowly, in stages, making it  a little less jarring to my system. Find a good support system. Even though I was a lurker for the most part, and rarely posted comments, I was a passive participant in various Zero Carb groups on Facebook that kept me going.

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

I believe so!  They have all seen me struggle my entire life with my weight and health, and now they are really happy for me.

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

Do your best to get off of any medications you are taking. One medication I had been taking for years I finally ditched and lost 30 lbs. very quickly. I continued with another and messed up my stomach and digestion. It is healing now that I have stopped it, but I was making myself miserable in the meantime. If you have any chronic health problems, a Zero Carb diet is an excellent way to help yourself  get a grasp of what is truly going on. It helped me connect to my body and truly understand it in ways I have never experienced before.  

Jennifer and her husband who follows a low carbohydrate diet and has also lost a significant amount of weight.

If you are interested in connecting with other like-minded carnivores, please join us in our Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora.

 

Lex Rooker: The Unique Healing Power of an All-Raw Zero Carb Diet

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Editor’s note: This testimonial was originally published on a raw paleo forum website. However, it has since been removed for unknown reasons. I contacted Lex via email and asked him if I could please re-publish it on my blog, and he gave me his permission to do so. As someone who only benefits by eating his meat and other animal foods raw, I feel his story is simply too valuable to get lost in the ethers.

Health Problems From the Start & Conventional Treatments

It seems I’ve always had some sort of health problem. I was born in 1951. My mother had no breast milk so I had to be bottle fed. I was prone to colic and my thymus gland (a baby’s 1st defense against infection), didn’t shrink at the rate the doctors thought it should so they decided to intervene. At that time the doctors thought that radiation would cure everything so they gave radiation treatments to my lower throat area. This did cause the thymus gland to shrink, however, it also caused tumors to grow on my thyroid gland by the time I was age six. The tumors were removed, they were said to be benign so everyone thought that was that. Unfortunately, the tumors returned when I was 10 and they had to be removed again – this time they took half the thyroid too. Problem apparently solved.

By age 15 I had cystic acne, which again was treated with radiation. It did seem to help the acne, but 20 years later I started developing skin cancer lesions on the areas of my face that had been exposed to the radiation. To this day I see a dermatologist every six months to have the lesions frozen off. And I now refuse all forms of “preventive diagnostic radiation” like annual dental X-rays.

I was a heavy milk drinker as I was told by parents and doctors that milk was important for health. The more dairy products I ate the worse my acne and I had constant post nasal drip and phlegm. This got remarkably better when I gave up dairy, but I digress…

As a teenager I started getting migraine headaches. I would get at least 3 headaches a month, and the pain was so bad that at times I just wanted to die. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, and just prescribed heavy duty pain killers. I started reading everything I could find about health at that time in hopes of finding something that would take the headaches away.

Alternative Health Options

I read Sheldon, Bragg, Carrington, Professor Hotima, Victoris Kulvinskas, Norman Walker, Wigmore, Pritikin – you name the guru, I tried the cure. I did a 31 day distilled water fast (Bragg), and went from 180 lbs to about 96 lbs – almost died, but was convinced that it would be worth it if the headaches went away, and they did for almost 2 years. The problem was that I was so weakened by the fast that it took those 2 years to recover, and then the headaches returned.

I juiced carrots, celery, parsley, beats, and turnip greens and drank the juice by the quart until my skin turned orange (Walker). I raised wheat grass and drank 8 oz of wheat grass juice per day (Wigmore). I sprouted soybeans, wheat, millet, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds, and made ‘rejuvilac’ (Kulvinskasv). I made ‘Essene’ bread from sprouted grains and lentils. I ate cherries by the bushel basket when they were in season (Sheldon), and drank a quart of a tonic made from apple cider vinegar and honey every day (Bragg). None of this did any good. My headaches were as bad as ever, and I felt terrible most of the time.

By then we had the vegetarian movement so I went totally vegan from about 1978 until 1989. My health became so bad that it was painful to get up in the morning. My joints hurt and my teeth were losing their enamel. Not only did I have the killer headaches that would send me to bed in the dark with a heating pad over my face, but my muscles would go into hard painful cramps and spasms that would send me to the emergency room for a shot of muscle relaxant and pain killer.

The interesting part is, I was eating large amounts of whole grains and avoided all those bad “fats” like the plague. I tried the fruitarian route and only lasted a couple of weeks before I was so weak that I could hardly move.
About this time I discovered Pritikin, and that probably saved my life. I went back to eating meat in small amounts but held to the low fat theory because of all those “studies” that showed that animal fat was the cause of heart disease and cancer. At least life was somewhat normal and I felt OK (but not great) most of the time. Still had the headaches but they were once a month or so.

Paleolithic Transition

It was in late 1999 that I ran across Ray Audette’s book Neanderthin. This is also about the time that this wonderful world of the Internet really started to become useful. I started researching the Paleo type diets and began to slowly move in that direction. I still cooked everything, but cut out grains, dairy, and the like but was convinced that my diet still needed to be predominately fruits and vegetables with just small amounts of meat – sort of a super Pritikin without the grains, dairy, and potatoes. I would eat large salads (2 gallon bowl) of mixed greens and veggies with about 8 oz of meat at a meal.

Things got considerably better on my interpretation of the Neanderthin diet, but by this time I’m getting older. I hit 50 in 2001. I was still getting the occasion headache but now it was once every couple of months. I have also suffered from Prostatitis (inflamed prostate gland) since about age 25. I’d get flair-ups every couple of years that would send me to the hospital and I’d be on antibiotics for 6 – 8 weeks. One of these bouts hit in 2003 and this is when they discovered that my blood pressure was rising (147/90 at the time), blood sugar was elevated (fasting level 140), and triglycerides were about 500. All of this was attributed by the medical profession to just normal aging. This was also about the time that the dentist determined that I had advanced gum disease would need to see a specialist as both gums and bone holding the teeth were receding.

I was told that I would need to start taking blood pressure medication, diabetic pills, and cholesterol reducing drugs. The doctors said, “Of course there will be side effects like impotence, nausea, headaches, etc., but we should be able to control most of those by rotating through different drugs” As you can imagine, I was not thrilled.

It was back to the Internet where my next revelation was that I got the “hunter/gatherer” thing backwards. Hunter is first and so diet should be mostly meat. Gathering is for lean times when meat is not available. I had been doing almost the exact opposite. So now I moved to eating a large serving of meat or eggs at each meal but was sure to supplement with a salad and fruit to get all those necessary vitamins and minerals that you just couldn’t get from meat (you know, like vitamin C). I still cooked the meat to at least medium well and I just couldn’t eat fat, it would make me gag. I did notice an immediate improvement in digestion with the change to a higher protein way of eating. Much less gas and indigestion.

About this time a friend gave me a book on the Lewis and Clarke expedition where many of their journal entries were reproduced. I found it amazing to read that each man would often eat 9 lbs of meat after a day of heavy labor. Lewis also recounted that when they would kill a large animal, that the Indians would eat the organs raw. There were times when they subsisted on nothing but Pemmican (mostly dried raw meat and fat) yet remained in perfect health. This helped me to better understand just how much meat I really needed to eat as well as the importance of fat.

A year or so ago I ran across Geoff’s Raw Paleo Diet Yahoo! group and read every post with relish. It is this group and the links that Geoff provided that gave me the courage to try eating meat raw and ultimately doing away with fruits and veggies altogether. I figured that if Vilhjalmur Stefansson could do it then I could too. It was not easy but I did do it almost over night. I think the transition took about 3 months total. I’ve recounted some of the milestones of my return to health in that forum. In the beginning I would have killed for a Pepsi or cookie or a piece of fruit. Now I don’t miss the carbs at all, and seldom think about food. I eat once a day, about 2 lbs of mixed raw organ and muscle meat from grass fed beef – that’s it.

At this time my blood pressure is 102/67, my blood sugar stays right around 95 – 100, pulse has dropped from a resting rate of 78 to a resting rate of 60, and the dentist is amazed at the return of bone density and solid pink gums. Pain from arthritis in hands and knees is completely gone. Cancerous lesions on my face have all but disappeared (I used to have at least a dozen every 6 months and last month there were none). Still have prostate issues but I do see improvement there also. I used to get up every 2 hours at night, and after a year on this diet it is every 3 – 4 hours depending on how much water I drink before going to bed. I will be going to the doctor for a physical in a few weeks and will report cholesterol, triglycerides, and anything else of interest to the group when I get the results.

Lex Rooker’s journal is still publically available on-line and may be read here:

htstp://www.rawpaleodietforum.com/journals/lex’s-journal/

 

Zero Carb Testimonial: Stephany

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

I stated on January 1, 2016 and, after just 45 days, I feel fantastic! After going low carb/low fat (HCQ) in March of last year 2015, then low carb paleo and keto after that, I have finally found what really works for me: Zero Carb aka All animal foods and zero plant foods.

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

Health. And curiosity! As I said before, I discovered lowcarb in March last year. I was suffering from many health issues: obesity, extreme fatigue, bouts of depression, allergies, asthma-like symptoms, migraine attacks, panic attacks to name just a few.

I did some research, and soon found out that I was probably pre-diabetic – if not yet type 2 diabetes. I did not dare go to the doctor because I knew he would just give me drugs. Also, food became more and more of a problem. No matter what I ate, I felt miserable afterwards, extremely tired and I’d have the strangest allergic reactions.

At that time I was eating a high carb low fat diet: masses of whole grains, lots of fruit and veggies, no butter, some meat and fish. Coffee with sugar and mostly low-fat snacks to finish. I did not understand it because I thought I was eating a healthy diet. I never thought of questioning my diet choices and I thought it was just me.

At the end of February I was at my deepest point and looked for help. I asked my pharmacist if he could recommend a nutritional expert. He smiled and said, he was just working on something new and asked if I could wait a couple of weeks. I thought, why not? I really trust him because a couple of years before he helped me heal my gut. Back then, we both did not know about the benefits of lowcarb.

Anyway, mid-March 2015 my journey started. First of all, let me be clear about this: I did not expect to lose any weight and weight loss has never been my first goal. I wanted to be fitter and healthier. I never felt really bad about being obese – at least not until I started developing the above mentioned symptoms.

First I did HCQ: 3 weeks of low carb and low fat to reset the body, then 3 weeks of low carb and high fat. The idea of HCQ is that you can return to your normal eating pattern eating after 6 weeks because the body has been reset.

Well, the first 3 days of HCQ were hell. I had such a headache, and I was so nauseous and dizzy I thought I would faint. But I stayed the course and lo and behold: After 3 days I felt like new. Within a week many of my health issues were gone. Just like that! I was energized, had no more brain fog and simply felt fine. I remember waking up one morning and feeling awake and not tired. That was a completely new experience after years of being tired all the time. Also, the weight simply dropped off.

Picture: Before Beginning My Journey and Today

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It was soon clear to me that I would not return to my old way of eating. So I started reading books and searching the web. I was so surprised when I saw all the information on low carb. It did not take me long to stumble across paleo and keto. I did a couple of months of low carb paleo. When I re-introduced the so-called safe starches, many of my health issues came back.

At around that time I also discovered your blog for the first time and was really fascinated. But somehow, I did not really go for it and instead went keto. However, on keto I stopped losing weight and I noticed that I was returning to bad eating habits: lots of keto treats and so-called “healthified” keto food (e.g. coconut cookies with sweetener, coconut pancakes with sweetener, etc.).

Also, I started to obsess over food. I was counting macros and weighing my food. And I developed a funny kind of rash and some allergic reactions again (probably because of all the nut flours). So, at the end of December I decided this was getting out of hand and did the full monty: zero carb – all animal and no plants. I have not regretted it one second.

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

Psychologically: right away. I knew instinctively that this was the right way of eating for me.

Physically: The first 2 weeks I felt a bit weak and had some keto flu symptoms which surprised me because I thought I was keto-adapted. Looking back I now realize I probably was not really adapted yet.

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

In the beginning of my lowcarb experience I read a lot of books by Dr. Strunz (a German doctor) and a lot of the paleo books.

I liked Chris Kresser’s “The Paleo Cure” a lot, even though I do not agree with all his views (e.g. on safe starches – I think for some people like myself the body is so broken that even safe starches are not an option anymore. In fact, I think there is no such thing as a safe starch). But his 30 day reset really helped me. I did a very strict version of the 30 day reset: lots of meat, fish, good fats and veggies. No fruit, no nuts, no seeds, and other stuff that was allowed. In fact, this 30 day reset was better than the crap I ate afterwards on keto.

Another good source for getting started was Mark Sisson. I know many people do not like him because he is too commercial but his basic ideas are pretty ok: lots of fat, enough meat, some veggies, some fruit and nuts. The thing is, he wants to reach as many people as possible so he is very lenient. But I’m ok with that.

I also read this Zero Carb Zen blog from beginning to end and back again, as well as both of L. Amber O’Hearn’s blogs (Empiri.ca and Ketotic.org), and Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore. Even though I was really fascinated by the zero carb concept I could not yet bring myself to try it. I’d have a couple of zero carb days and then I’d eat a keto treat or lots of veggies again.

Right now I’m reading Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. Next on my reading list is The Fat of the Land by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. I guess I should have started with those, but well, it is a journey and I learn every day.

When I decided to go Zero Carb, I also joined the Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora. This group has been a blessing. The people in this group are the kindest, most helpful and most intelligent people ever! I am learning constantly from them.

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

I eat porc, beef, chicken, fish, rabbit, eggs, and butter. In the beginning of zero carb I went a bit wild on dairy, esp. heavy cream and cream cheese and also on bacon and ham. After two weeks I cut those out and felt an improvement again.

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

Hmm, I do not really know. I’d say 50% beef, 50% other meat. But I want to eat more beef. I notice that on pure beef days I feel even better.

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

Steak is rare to medium. I used to eat ground beef well-done but meanwhile I have tried some raw ground beef and absolutely loved it.

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

Yes, most of the meat I get is pretty lean, so I slather it in butter. I use the beef fat that I get from my meat broth to cook my steaks and I use lard for porc.

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

I eat until satisfied. But it was something I had to learn: to eat enough, not to over-eat and not to stop too early. It is a pity how we forget to listen to the signals our bodies give us.

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

Yes, once or twice a week: liver, tongue, heart, lung. I believe in the concept of eating the animal from nose to tail. I find especially beef tongue very nourishing.

Do you consume bone or meat broth? If so, how often?

Yes, once a week I cook a meat/bone broth. I do not drink it that often anymore. I use the fat for cooking steak and my husband uses the broth for cooking his veggies.

Picture: Delicious, healing broth.

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How many meals do you eat per day on average?

I’m down to two meals, but my aim is to eat one meal a day. However, I have learned not too hurry anything. On keto I tried to do intermittent fasting but it did not work out (so much for the idea of thinking I was keto-adapted). On Zero Carb it just happened. I’d have breakfast and a late lunch and at dinner time I found out I was not hungry so I did not eat. I notice now that I’m not even really hungry in the morning, but I still have breakfast. I think this is more a psychological thing. But as I said, I’m not hurrying anything. I trust that I’ll know when the time has come 🙂

How much meat do you eat per day on average?

No idea. I do not count any calories, do not weigh any meat, do not worry about macros. I did that on keto and it drove me crazy. I’m no longer occupied with “healthified” treats and carb substitutes. The credo is indeed simple. Eat meat. Drink water. Be happy 🙂

A normal day looks like this: breakfast (at about 6.30 a.m.) is some eggs, and/or some steaks, and a very weak coffee blended with butter. Lunch (at about 2.30 p.m.) is meat with butter, sometimes some extra eggs. I no longer need dinner – I cannot believe this myself.

Picture: Beef is very lean so I slather it in butter.

imageDo you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?

Both. Porc is mostly from my local butcher, beef is mostly from a local farmer, rabbit and chicken are self-raised. Except for the butter, I do not buy or eat anything with a barcode anymore.

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

I drink one cup of freshly ground coffee blended with lots of butter in the morning. I have not been able to drink coffee for a long time, so I am very happy I can drink this one cup again. I am forever grateful to a good friend who gave me a coffee grinder as a Christmas present.

Do you use salt?

Yes, but less and less.

Do you use spices?

No. I have never liked them.

Do you take any supplements?

I do, but I’m ready to let them go. I take a multi-vitamin, omega 3 and magnesium. But as I said, as soon as I find fattier cuts of beef, I’ll let them go. Again, I trust that I’ll know when the time has come.

How much money do you spend on food each month?

Not as much as when I was eating high carb and low fat.

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

I do not think this way of eating is expensive at all. I’d say: Buy the fattier cuts, try to buy in bulk. I live in a rural area where I can buy high-quality food at a reasonable price. I am grateful for this every single day.

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

Yes, 3 to 4 times a week since going zerocarb. Not because I have to but because I want to. Nothing big, but it is fun and I am becoming more muscular. In the beginning of Zero Carb I did not workout because I felt a bit weak but the last couple of days I had so much energy that I started some body weight lifting.

In this respect I noted an interesting development with my blood ketones: when I was on keto and in the beginning of Zero Carb I’d have blood ketones at 1.1 but my FBG would still be at 85 to 90. The last couple of days my blood ketones dropped to 0.6 to 0.9 but my FBG also dropped to 75. I feel much alerter and awake than ever before 🙂

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.)

LowCarb stopped many allergies and gave me more energy and mental clarity, but I still felt bloated and constipated most of the time.

With Zero Carb, I have no more allergies, stronger muscles, no fatigue, absolute mental clarity, and a deep calmness. Oh yes, I sleep wonderfully every night even though I have a lot of stress going on at work. Also, no more bloating and constipation.

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

The simplicity! And it is so delicious. The few people who know I am eating this way often ask me, if it does not get boring. I can say: No, it does not. I enjoy every meal without obsessing over it beforehand or afterwards. My taste buds get better and better.

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

Eat meat. Drink water. Be happy. Be patient. Trust the process. Your body needs time to heal. I’ve been Zero Carb for one month, before that keto for about 2 months and low carb for about 8 months. My body is still healing and sometimes I think I’m still adapting.

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

My husband was a bit worried in the beginning, but now he is okay with my choice. My closest relatives and friends are also ok with this. I do not really worry about what others think or say – I never did and I am not going to start doing this now.

If people ask me what I did to lose so much weight, I tell them that I went low carb. Depending on their reaction I might or might not say that I’m completely zero carb. I’m not being militant or anything about this way of eating. Everybody has to find what is correct for them. For some people it is enough to go low carb, for some primal or paleo is the solution, and for some it is zero carb. I did a lot of reading and research, and now even arguments about the moral aspects do not get me off track.

In fact, I think this way of eating is more sustainable for the planet than other diets. Which does not mean that I favor mass meat production, not at all. But I no longer believe that going meatless will save the planet. I recommend Ash Simmonds’ site highsteaks.com, the excellent book The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, or Allan Savory’s project savory.global for more info.

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

No, I can only advise to everybody who is having health problems or feeling stuck in lowcarb limbo: Try zero carb for 30 days. I do not regret many things but I do regret that I did not start Zero Carb when I first learned about it which was last August when I discovered this blog. Instead of listening to my gut I listened to the voice of reason which said I would perish if I stopped eating veggies and fruit and that it would be boring to eat only meat. I was so wrong! So from now on, I’ll listen to my healthy gut. Others can eat veggies, I’m happy with meat and water 🙂

Not all of my health issues have been solved yet and I still have some weight to lose but steak by steak and egg by egg I’m getting there. This WOE rocks!

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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.

 

Optimal Protein on a Zero Carb Diet – Part 2

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This article is an addendum to my last post Optimal Protein on a Zero Carb Diet – Part 1. If you have not read that article, please do so before proceeding. I intended to discuss the information below in that post, but I forgot. Special thanks to Raymund Edwards of the Facebook group Optimal Ketogenic Living for bringing it to my attention.

Okay, so I want to be absolutely clear: I am not recommending that anyone practicing a Zero Carb diet should eat only their minimum requirement for protein. Eating too little protein on a Zero Carb diet can be just as detrimental as eating too much protein.

While Dr. Ron Rosedale is a proponent of eating only your minimum daily requirement, it is important to understand that he prescribes a Low Carb High Fat diet, not a Zero Carb diet. This means that his patients can get part of their nutrients from very low carb fruits and vegetables. However, people who eat a Zero Carb diet must get all of their nutrients from meat and other animal products.

There are very few nutrients in the fat portion of meat. While fat does have some fat soluble vitamins, it has no appreciable amount of water soluble B vitamins or minerals. It is the lean portion of the meat that contains most of the nutrients. So, restricting protein too much will also restrict total nutrient intake and, thus, compromise overall health and nutritional status.

This is why children who eat a very High Fat Ketogenic diet to manage their epilepsy are given vitamin and mineral supplements. 90% of their calories come from fat, and it is impossible for them get enough essential nutrients from the other foods they eat to meet their nutritional needs. But, in their case, the benefits of the high fat diet outweigh the nutrient shortfall, so supplements are used to make up the difference.

It is important, therefore, to find a happy medium with your protein intake. Again, I believe that our best examples for optimal protein consumption on a Zero Carb diet was provided by Stefansson and Donaldson. Both of these men ate and recommended a protein intake of between 100-140 gm per day.

During the year long Bellvue study, Stefansson showed no sign of nutritional deficiencies, not even for vitamin C. And Donaldson never once mentions the need to prescribe nutritional supplements to his patients while they followed his dietary program.

So, optimal protein on a Zero Carb diet is not about eating the least amount of protein that your body needs to function because – to reiterate – if you restrict protein too much, you restrict the lean portion of meat; and if you restrict the lean portion of meat too much, you restrict essential nutrients; and if you restrict essential nutrients too much, you risk compromising your total health profile.

But, optimal protein on a Zero Carb diet is also not about eating unlimited quantities of protein. Too much protein is no better than too little. You do not need 200+ grams of protein per day, and eating that much on a regular basis has its own set of potentially negative effects. Like everything else in life, it is about finding balance.

This is why fat consumption is the key to being successful on a Zero Carb diet long term. If 75-80% of your calories come from fat, like it did for Stefansson and Donaldson, it is unlikely that you will eat too much protein. Fat is the macronutrient that provides satiety. If you eat enough fat with your lean, you will not be so inclined to overeat protein.

Just don’t go overboard in the opposite direction either unless you have a really good medical reason such as epilepsy, diabetes, or cancer management. And if you do need to keep your protein at the bare minimum due to a serious medical condition, then it probably would be wise to incorporate nutritional supplements into your program.

If you following a Zero Carb diet and would like support, please join us in Principia Carnivora on Facebook.

 

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.

 

Is a Zero Carb Diet a Ketogenic Diet?

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The answer to this question might surprise you. Many people assume that carbohydrates are the only factor that matters for ketone production, but this is not the case. Too much protein per day, too much protein at one time, and too much protein late in the day can also prevent ketosis. So, no, a Zero Carb diet is not – by default – also a Ketogenic diet.

The Zero Carb community has been quite vociferous about discouraging practitioners from testing themselves for ketones and have even gone so far as to ridicule and make fun of people who chose to do say. They claim that it is neither necessary nor important to test for ketones while practicing a Zero Carb diet. Some even go so far as to say (and apparently believe) that a Zero Carb diet is automatically a ketogenic diet which is absolutely not true.

People new to Zero Carb are generally instructed to eat as much fatty meat as they need to feel satisfied and to eat according to hunger. This advice can work well if the meat actually is fatty, but much of the meat we have available to us today is no where near as fatty as meat was in the past. On the one hand, animals are being preferentially bred for leanness, and on the other hand, butchers have been trained to remove much of the “excess” fat before putting it up for sale. This means that much of the meat we buy to day is quite a bit leaner than what practioners of an all meat diet ate.

For example, in the 1928 Bellevue study with Vilhjalmur Stefansson, author of The Fat of the Land, and his collegue Karsten Andersen, the macronutrient ratios were 20% protein and 80% fat. These two men consumed between 100-140 gm of protein and 200-300 gm of fat each day. Now, it is not possible to achieve this ratio if one eats even the fattiest cuts of beef sold in most supermarkets. Chuck roast and ribeye come the closest, but even the cuts are often below 70% fat by calories.

Many people who practice Zero Carb today rely predominant on ground beef because it is the most affordable option. However, most ground beef is surprisingly lean. Even 70/30 (70% lean and 30% fat by weight) ground beef after cooking is only 60% fat and a whopping 40% protein by calories. So, if a person eats only 70/30 ground beef – assuming they can actually find this ratio – they will be consuming much less fat and much more protein than Stefansson and Andersen did during their year long study.

However, it should be noted that the numbers above are for cooked ground beef. If you include all of the fat that renders out of 70/30 ratio, or if you eat the ground beef raw like me, then you would not necessarily need to add extra to the 70/30 ratio. So, it depends to some extent on your method of cooking and length of cooking time. You can use a program like http://www.cronometer.com to help you figure out exact how much fat you are eating.

Too much protein can raise insulin in the same way that too much carbohydrate can, and this – in turn – will prevent you from making ketones. If you do not get enough fat on a Zero Carb diet, you can easily over eat protein. Two pounds of 70/30 ground beef supplies 230 gm of protein, about 100 gm more than a person needs. When eating ground beef with no added fat, it is very easy to eat 2 lbs a day because it is not very satiating.

I went through a period of eating only lean ground beef and my fasting blood glucose was consistently elevated to between 100-115 mg/dL all the time. Furthermore, my blood ketones were barley registering at 0.3 mmol/L. The minimum level of ketones need for nutritional ketosis is 0.5. However, after I decided to lower my protein and increase my fat, my fasting glucose decreased to between 75-85 mg/dL, and my ketones increased to 0.8 mmol/L in just a few day. Additionally, I FELT MUCH BETTER.

Eating 2 lbs of ground beef a day with no added fat left me feeling bloated, tired, and less able to focus mentally. I also experienced a chronic low grade headachiness and made me edgy and irritable. It also left me physically dissatisfied and craving more food. I was thinking about food constantly and wanting to eat again. Clearly, both my brain and body were not being satisfied by plain ole ground beef. Since I reduced the protein and increased the fat, all of these negative symptoms have disappeared.

Dr. Blake Donaldson, a doctor in the early 1900s, also discovered the merits of a very low carb mostly meat diet for curing his patients of obesity. He based his program largely upon the research of Stefansson and instructed his patients to eat 6 ox of lean and 2 oz of fat 3 times per day. He told his patients they could eat more if they wish, as long as they kept the ratio (3 parts lean to 1 part fat) the same, but they were told to never eat less than this amount. Donaldson felt that 18 ounce of lean, which provides a little over 100 gm of protein, was the amount necessary to replenish and repair vital body tissues and to facilitate the burning of body fat. He says that if his patients ate less than this or skipped meals, their weight loss would slow or come to a complete halt. He apparently has excellent results with this protocol. Please see his book Strong Medicine for more details.

Michael Frieze has been practicing a Zero Carb diet successfully for over 5 years now. However, he will be the first to tell you that his first 6 to 12 months of eating this way was fairly difficult. It took his body a long time to adapt to the diet, and he had to work out some kinks. The three most important things he discovered – from my perspective – was 1) eating enough meat; 2) eating the meat rare; and 3) eating the fat parts of the meat preferentially before eating the lean. Each of these changes improved the way he felt on this diet.

For the purpose of this discussion, the most important of these discoveries by Michael is number 3. As he explains it, he will eat as much of the fat on the meat first until his “fat” hunger is satisfied. If there is not enough fat on the meat to satisfy him, then he will eat butter straight until he feels satiated. Then he will eat as much of the lean part of the meat as he desires. He says that this prevents him from both over eating and under eating fat. Basically, this approach acts as a biological barometer for his fat requirements. Once he has reached his limit, the fat will start to make him feel nauseated and he knows – at this point – that he has had enough.

The problem with ground beef – aside from being generally low in fat – is that the fat and the lean are all mixed together, making it impossible to preferentially eat the fat first. So, there is no way a person’s biological barometer can guide them with ground beef. Therefore, it becomes imperative to do some calculations to figure out how much fat you will likely need to add in order to achieve 80% fat by calories for a meal. If you are lucky enough to find 70/30 ground beef which is 60% fat by calories, you would need to add 1 oz of butter per 3 oz of ground beef to attain close to 80% fat by calories. This is the exact ratio that Dr. Donaldson’s recommends.

So, while a Zero Carb diet can have benefits even if you are not in a state of nutritional ketosis, those who are looked upon as early Zero Carb pioneers (i.e. Stefansson and Donaldson) were definitely eating and recommending macronutrient ratios that would almost guarantee nutritional ketosis. It is my contention that if we were eating the meat they were eating, then our Zero Carb diet would also be a Ketogenic diet. But, the changes in the meat itself, as well as the butchering practices, has removed much of the fat that would naturally be present in the meat we eat.

While some people do just fine eating as much meat as they wish on a Zero Carb diet, others like myself, do not. If you are following a Zero Carb diet and not experiencing the result you desire, then it seems logical to me that one should take a closer look at what our Zero Carb predecessors (i.e. Stefansson and Donaldson) were eating, as well as what our current long term Zero Carb practioners (i.e. Michael Frieze) are actually eating because these are people who have successfully practiced this way of eating for many years.

It is important to understand that I am not advocating any type of restriction here. I am simply suggesting that if you are following a Zero Carb diet and experiencing the benefits you desire, then you may wish to adjust your macronutrient ratios according to what Steffanson and Donaldson practiced and recommended. Donaldson set a minimum intake for his patients, but not a maximum. He told them to eat as much as they needed to satisfy hunger as long as they kept the 3:1 (lean:fat) ratio the same. If you do this, it is unlikely that you will still want to eat a full 2 pounds of ground beef because that would require eating an additional 10 oz of fat along with it.

After much reading and experimentation on my own body, I have come to the conclusion that combining the philosophy of a Zero Carb diet (eat only from the animal kingdom, primarily meat) with the knowledge of a Ketogenic Diet (eat a balance of macronutrients that supports ketosis) is vastly superior to either approach by itself. If you wish to learn more about the benefits of and how to eat ketogenically, I highly recommend Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek.

 

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.

 

Can Bone Broth Be Used as Part of a Zero Carb Diet?

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I have received a lot of flack in the Zero Carb community Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH) from many long time veterans of the Zero Carb diet who run that group. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate much that this group has to offer, I just feel that their vehement opposition to me discussing bone both is a wee bit ridiculous. I mean, it is from the animal kingdom, right? So what exactly is the big deal?

First, it is important to understand that – with one exception – none of these long term Zero Carb vets have ever made and consumed bone broth as part of their Zero Carb way of life. Their main concern is that people new to the Zeroing in on Health group who read glowing reports about bone broth by the likes of me will be misled into thinking that bone broth is necessary for long term health on a Zero Carb diet.

However, if a person takes the time to read my very detailed description of The Zero Carb Diet, or the excellent FAQs document written by the ZIOH administration, then they won’t be the least bit confused. But unfortunately – as much as I would like to – I cannot make people read. Some folks just want 30-second sound bites and there is nothing I can do about that.

I have actually been accused of saying that bone broth has “magical healing properties.” I certainly I have noted that it contains specific properties shown to help heal specific health problems. But I have never called it “magical.” It may have healing properties, but there is nothing magical about them. Rather, it is pure nutritional biochemistry, as you will discover if you decide to learn more about it.

But, one could just as easily be misled into thinking that eggs are a necessary component of a Zero Carb diet since they are extolled almost every day by someone in the group. However, as The Andersen Family has clearly shown, eggs are definitely not necessary for long term health on a Zero Carb diet. They have been eating only ribeye steaks for almost 2 decades and are thriving.

And, as many Zero Carb-ers have discovered through experimentation with their own bodies, eggs do not agree with or benefit everyone who follows a Zero Carb diet. The Andersen’s found that pretty much everything except fatty beef made them feel less than well. The only way that any of us can figure out what works best for our individual bodies is through trial and error. There is no one way or right way to do this diet.

The basic Zero Carb Guidelines are to eat only from the animal kingdom, which is quite broad in certainly would include bone broth. If you wish to reduce the variables, many Zero Carb veterans recommend  eating only meat (preferably beef) and water for the first 30 days. This way you will have a baseline from which to test other animal foods like dairy, eggs, and organ meets. I personally support this advice because people rarely react negatively to meat, especially beef.

So, when a person first embarks upon a Zero Carb way of eating, the less variables the better generally speaking. Bone broth is certainly a variable, and not everyone does well with it. In Nourishing Broth, Kaayla Daniel explains that some people who are sensitive to MSG have trouble with the high level of glutamine present in bone broth because the glutamine gets turned into glutamate and crosses the blood-brain barrier creating unpleasant cognitive symptoms.

Glutamine sensitivity is most often experiences by children with Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, etc. For the majority of people, however, this is not an issue, but it is certainly important to be aware of the possibility. Like anything else, you just have to try it and see how it makes you feel. After reading Daniels book devoted to the subject, I decided the potential benefits were well worth exploring. What I discovered is that I felt better when I included it in my diet. But again, this will not be true for everyone.

I noticed very quickly that on the days I drank bone broth, I did not get leg or foot cramps that night while sleeping or the next day. While on the days that I did not drink it, I did. It was a very cause and effect correlation for me. Many Zero Carb vets have stated that they tried everything (salt, magnesium, bone broth) to try and prevent their muscles from cramping, but that none of these measures had any positive effect.

And, yes, these are the same vets who have also stated that they “never have and never will” make and drink bone broth, so I am not to sure how many of them actually tried bone broth specifically to address the muscle cramps they were experiencing. I am, admittedly, a little confused by their contradictory statements.

And even if they did try bone broth without experiencing any noticeable difference, then I would want to know how much bone broth they drank each day and for how long. If you are deficient in a mineral, it not only takes a certain amount of that mineral, but it often takes more than a day or two for the cells to get it where it needs to go.

Muscle cramps are a very common experience in the initial weeks and months of a Zero Carb diet. One of the main symptoms of a potassium deficiency is muscle cramping. When a person first begins a Zero Carb diet, a lot of excess fluid is flushed from the body and a significant amount of potassium is lost in this process. I have explored this phenomenon more fully in my page on The Adaptation Process.

There is nothing especially dangerous about this because it is self limiting. Once a person’s metabolism and kidneys make the transition from being a sugar burner to being a fat burner, you stop losing excess fluid and your mineral balance is restored. However, the interim period can be somewhat uncomfortable, and bone broth might help to ease the transition.

As it happens, bone broth is an especially good source of potassium, especially if there is some meat attached to the bones. I generally use whole chicken and turkey parts, mostly because that is what is affordable. But any meaty bones can be used: pork , lamb, beef, and even fish. It has certainly made a noticeable difference for me personally. But, I also drink an average of 2 quarts of bone broth every day, so this may be why I found it to be an effective remedy for muscle cramps compared to those who did not.

I also remove the fat from the broth after it has chilled and drink only the potassium-rich liquid. I do this so that the broth will not interfere with my appetite and so that I can drink more of it. It act like an sugar free electrolyte replacement beverage, i.e. Gatorade without the sugar. Interestingly, I have found that I do best drinking it on an empty stomach BEFORE a meal. If I eat it AFTER a meal, it will stop the meat in my stomach from digesting and I will be miserable for hours afterwards. I am not sure how it will affect you, but this is what I have learned about my own body. So you might want to pay attention to when you drink it and see if this makes a difference for you as well.

Many Zero Carb vets have argued that making bone broth is time consuming and difficult, but I have not found this to be the case for me. I put the bones in my crock pot, add water, let cook for 12-48 hours, and then strain. It takes me all of about 15 minutes. This is a lot less time that these vets spent ridiculing bone broth and those of us who drink it in a recent ZIOH post that generated 700 comments and continued on non-stop for almost two days! Really? Yes, really.

Okay, I will admit that the straining process is a bit messy, but that can easily be streamlined with the proper equipment. All in all, it is a small amount of work with a big pay off for me personally. Not only do I like the taste and the way it makes me feel, but the nutritional components present in bone broth are very beneficial for gut health.

With the exception of Joe Andersen’s wife Charlene, none of the Zero Carb veterans I have interviewed had serious gastrointestinal issues like I do. Most came to the Zero Carb way of eating for the purpose of weight loss. Therefore, while I deeply respect their knowledge of this diet, I also recognize that I have health issues with which they have no personal experience. I have problems that they cannot possible understand because they have never lived in my body.

And I know that I am not the only one in the group with these kinds of challenges. Many new people have joined the group and started the Zero Carb diet as a result of reading The Andersen Family interview after it was shared by William Davis on his Wheat Belly page and several other very popular sites. The people this interview has attracted are people with severe health problems like Charlene and myself, not people just looking to lose excess body fat.

While bone broth is certainly not necessary to long term health and success on this diet, it also holds the potential of being very beneficial for some like me. The one veteran who does use bone broth on a semi-regular basis is Ana Teixeira. Ana is an Ultra-marathon runner with unique needs due to her almost superhuman physical activities. We are all different, and we don’t all have the same needs. I believe it is import for this reality to be acknowledged and accepted.

This does not change the basic tenets of a Zero Carb diet: meat and water… meat and water… meat and water… meat and water. That is the most important principle of this way of eating to understand. Meat and water must form the foundation of a Zero Carb diet. Everything else must be seen as complimentary to that. In other words, one broth should not be used in place of meat any more than eggs or cheese should.

Meat is the corner stone; meat is the foundation; meat is the rock upon which everything else must be built. There is absolutely no question about that. For many, meat and water is all they will ever want or need on a Zero Carb diet, and that is perfectly fine. For others like myself, the extra nutrition provided by bone broth and other animal foods like liver are a welcome addition.

I really hope the long time vets of Zeroing in on Health can find it in their hearts to be more supportive of people with unique needs, instead of dismissing and ridiculing us as we walk our Zero Carb path to well-being. It is sad and – quite frankly – bizarre that a group of people dedicated to this way of eating would engage in behavior that is both demeaning to individuals and divisive of the community as a whole.

This way of eating offers promise to many people who have been struggling with serious health issue for many years. But they will not stay in a group – no matter how much it’s veterans have to offer in terms of their experience with this diet – if they are treated unkindly…especially over such a minor issue like bone broth. After all, Vilhjalmur Stefansson – whose work they promote above all others – drank broth throughout his year-long Meat-Only Bellevue Study and it didn’t seem to do him any harm. In fact, is it possible that he may have even benefited from it? Hmmm… I wonder…

If you would like to read about some of the unique nutritional properties present in bone broth, please see my Bone Broth page.

 

The Fat of the Land by Vilhjalmur Stefansson

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This classic work by Vilhjalmur Stefansson is considered to be essential reading for anyone who wishes to eat an All-Meat diet.

To read the free PDF photocopied version, please click the highlighted link below:

The Fat of the Land

 

 

 

Eskimos Prove An All-Meat Diet Provides Excellent Health by Vilhjalmur Stefansson

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Part 1 – Harper’s Monthly – Published November 1935

In 1906 I went to the Arctic with the food tastes and beliefs of the average American. By 1918, after eleven years as an Eskimo among Eskimos, I had learned things which caused me to shed most of those beliefs. Ten years later I began to realize that what I had learned was going to influence materially the sciences of medicine and dietetics. However, what finally impressed the scientists and converted many during the last two or three years, was a series of confirmatory experiments upon myself and a colleague performed at Bellevue Hospital, New York City, under the supervision of a committee representing several universities and other organizations.

Not so long ago the following dietetic beliefs were common: To be healthy you need a varied diet, composed of elements from both the animal and vegetable kingdoms. You got tired of and eventually felt a revulsion against things if you had to eat them often. This latter belief was supported by stories of people who through force of circumstances had been compelled, for instance, to live for two weeks on sardines and crackers and who, according to the stories, had sworn that so long as they lived they never would touch sardines again. The Southerners had it that nobody can eat a quail a day for thirty days.

There were subsidiary dietetic views. It was desirable to eat fruits and vegetables, including nuts and coarse grains. The less meat you ate the better for you. If you ate a good deal of it, you would develop rheumatism, hardening of the arteries, and high blood pressure, with a tendency to breakdown of the kidneys – in short, premature old age. An extreme variant had it that you would live more healthy, happily, and longer if you became a vegetarian.

Specifically it was believed, when our field studies began, that without vegetables in your diet you would develop scurvy. It was a “known fact” that sailors, miners, and explorers frequently died of scurvy “because they did not have vegetables and fruits.” This was long before Vitamin C was publicized.

The addition of salt to food was considered either to promote health or to be necessary for health. This is proved by various yarns, such as that African tribes make war on one another to get salt; that minor campaigns of the American Civil War were focused on salt mines; and that all herbivorous animals are ravenous for salt. I do not remember seeing a critical appendix to any of these views, suggesting for instance, that Negro tribes also make war about things which no one ever said were biological essentials of life; that tobacco was a factor in Civil War campaigns without being a dietetic essential; and that members of the deer family in Maine which never have salt or show desire for it, are as healthy as those in Montana which devour quantities of it and are forever seeking more.

A belief I was destined to find crucial in my Arctic work, making the difference between success and failure, life and death, was the view that man cannot live on meat alone. The few doctors and dietitians who thought you could were considered unorthodox if not charlatans. The arguments ranged from metaphysics to chemistry: Man was not intended to be carnivorous – you knew that from examining his teeth, his stomach, and the account of him in the Bible. As mentioned, he would get scurvy if he had no vegetables in meat. The kidneys would be ruined by overwork. There would be protein poisoning and, in general hell to pay.

With these views in my head and, deplorably, a number of others like them, I resigned my position as assistant instructor in anthropology at Harvard to become anthropologist of a polar expedition. Through circumstances and accidents which are not a part of the story, I found myself that autumn the guest of the Mackenzie River Eskimos.

The Hudson’s Bay Company, whose most northerly post was at Fort McPherson two hundred miles to the south, had had little influence on the Eskimos during more than half a century; for it was only some of them who made annual visits to the trading post; and then they purchased no food but only tea, tobacco, ammunition and things of that sort. But in 1889 the whaling fleet had begun to cultivate these waters and for fifteen years there had been close association with sometimes as many as a dozen ships and four to five hundred men wintering at Herschel Island, just to the west of the delta. During this time a few of the Eskimos had learned some English and perhaps one in ten of them had grown to a certain extent fond of white man’s foods.

But now the whaling fleet was gone because the bottom had dropped out of the whalebone market, and the district faced an old-time winter of fish and water. The game, which might have supplemented the fish some years earlier, had been exterminated or driven away by the intensive hunting that supplied meat to the whaling fleet. There was a little tea, but not nearly enough to see the Eskimos through the winter – this was the only element of the white man’s dietary of which they were really fond and the lack of which would worry them. So I was facing a winter of fish without tea. For the least I could do, an uninvited guest, was to pretend a dislike for it.

The issue of fish and water against fish and tea was, in any case, to me six against a half dozen. For I had had a prejudice against fish all my life. I had nibbled at it perhaps once or twice a year at course dinners, always deciding that it was as bad as I thought. This was pure psychology of course, but I did not realize it.

I was in a measure adopted into an Eskimo family the head of which knew English. He had grown up as a cabin boy on a whaling ship and was called Roxy, though his name was Memoranna. It was early September, we were living in tents, the days were hot but it had begun to freeze during the nights, which were now dark for six to eight hours.

The community of three or four families, fifteen or twenty individuals, was engaged in fishing. With long poles, three or four nets were shoved out from the beach about one hundred yards apart. When the last net was out the first would be pulled in, with anything from dozens to hundreds of fish, mostly ranging in weight from one to three pounds, and including some beautiful salmon trout. From knowledge of other white men the Eskimos consider these to be most suitable for me and would cook them specially, roasting them against the fire. They themselves ate boiled fish.

Trying to develop an appetite, my habit was to get up soon after daylight, say four o’clock, shoulder my rifle, and go off after breakfasts on a hunt south across the rolling prairie, though I scarcely expected to find any game. About the middle of the afternoon I would return to camp. Children at play usually saw me coming and reported to Roxy’s wife, who would then put a fresh salmon trout to roast. When I got home I would nibble at it and write in my diary what a terrible time I was having.

Against my expectation, and almost against my will, I was beginning to like the baked salmon trout when one day of perhaps the second week I arrived home without the children having seen me coming. There was no baked fish ready but the camp was sitting round troughs of boiled fish. I joined them and, to my surprise, liked it better than the baked. There after the special cooking ceased, and I ate boiled fish with the Eskimos.

II

By midwinter I had left my cabin-boy host and, for the purposes of anthropological study, was living with a less sophisticated family at the eastern edge of the Mackenzie delta. Our dwelling was a house of wood and earth, heated and lighted with Eskimo-style lamps. They burned seal or whale oil, mostly white whale from a hunt of the previous spring when the fat had been stored in bags and preserved, although the lean meat had been eaten. Our winter cooking however, was not done over the lamps but on a sheet-iron stove which had been obtained from whalers. There were twenty-three of us living in one room, and there were sometimes as many as ten visitors. The floor was then so completely covered with sleepers that the stove had to be suspended from the ceiling. The temperature at night was round 60 degrees F. The ventilation was excellent through cold air coming up slowly from below by way of a trap door that was never closed and the heated air going out by a ventilator in the roof.

Everyone slept completely naked – no pajama or night shirts. We used cotton or woolen blankets which had been obtained from the whalers and from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In the morning, about seven o’clock, winter-caught fish, frozen so hard that they would break like glass, were brought in to lie on the floor till they began to soften a little. One of the women would pinch them every now and then until, when she found her finger indented them slightly, she would begin preparations for breakfast. First she cut off the head and put them aside to be boiled for the children in the afternoon (Eskimos are fond of children, and heads are considered the best part of the fish). Next best are the tails, which are cut off and saved for the children also. The woman would then slit the skin along the back and also along the belly and getting hold with her teeth, would strip the fish somewhat as we peel a banana, only sideways where we peel bananas, endways.

Thus prepared, the fish were put on dishes and passed around. Each of us took one and gnawed it about as an American does corn on the cob. An American leaves the cob; similarly we ate the flesh from the outside of the fish, not touching the entrails. When we had eaten as much as we chose, we put the rest on a tray for dog feed.

After breakfast all the men and about half the women would go fishing, the rest of the women staying at home to keep house. About eleven o’clock we came back for a second meal of frozen fish just like the breakfast. At about four in the afternoon the working day was over and we came home to a meal of hot boiled fish.

Also we came home to a dwelling so heated by the cooking that the temperature would range from 85 degrees to 100 degrees F. or perhaps even higher – more like our idea of a Turkish bath than a warm room. Streams of perspiration would run down our bodies, and the children were kept busy going back and forth with dippers of cold water of which we naturally drank great quantities.

Just before going to sleep we would have a cold snack of fish that had been left over from dinner. Then we slept seven or eight hours and the routine of the day began once more.

After some three months as a guest of the Eskimos I had acquired most of their food tastes. I had to agree that fish is better boiled than cooked any other way, and that the heads (which we occasionally shared with the children) were the best part of the fish. I no longer desired variety in the cooking, such as occasional baking – I preferred it always boils if it was cooked. I had become as fond of raw fish as if I had been a Japanese. I like fermented (therefore slightly acid) whale oil with my fish as well as ever I liked mixed vinegar and olive oil with a salad. But I still had two reservations against Eskimo practice; I did not eat rotten fish and I longed for salt with my meals.

There were several grades of decayed fish. The August catch had been protected by longs from animals but not from heat and was outright rotten. The September catch was mildly decayed. The October and later catches had been frozen immediately and were fresh. There was less of the August fish than of any other and, for that reason among the rest, it was a delicacy – eaten sometimes as a snack between meals, sometimes as a kind of dessert and always frozen, raw.

In midwinter it occurred to me to philosophize that in our own and foreign lands taste for a mild cheese is somewhat plebeian; it is at least a semi-truth that connoisseurs like their cheeses progressively stronger. The grading applies to meats, as in England where it is common among nobility and gentry to like game and pheasant so high that the average Midwestern American or even Englishman of a lower class, would call them rotten.

I knew of course that, while it is good form to eat decayed milk products and decayed game, it is very bad form to eat decayed fish. I knew also that the view of our populace that there are likely to be “ptomaines” in decaying fish and in the plebeian meats; but it struck me as an improbable extension of the class-consciousness that ptomaines would avoid the gentleman’s food and attack that of a commoner.

These thoughts led to a summarizing query; If it is almost a mark of social distinction to be able to eat strong cheeses with a straight face and smelly birds with relish, why is it necessarily a low taste to be fond of decaying fish? On that basis of philosophy, though with several qualms, I tried the rotten fish one day, and if memory servers, like it better than my first taste of Camembert. During the next weeks I became fond of rotten fish.

About the fourth month of my first Eskimo winter I was looking forward to every meal (rotten or fresh), enjoying them, and feeling comfortable when they were over. Still I kept thinking the boiled fish would taste better if only I had salt. From the beginning of my Eskimo residence I had suffered from this lack. On one of the first few days, with the resourcefulness of a Boy Scout, I had decided to make myself some salt, and had boiled sea water till there was left only a scum of brown powder. If I had remembered as vividly my freshman chemistry as I did the books about shipwrecked adventurers, I should have know in advance that the sea contains a great many chemicals besides sodium chloride, among them iodine. The brown scum tasted bitter rather than salty. A better chemist could no doubt have refined the product. I gave it up, partly through the persuasion of my host, the English-speaking Roxy.

The Mackenzie Eskimos, Roxy told me, believe that what is good for grown people is good for children and enjoyed by them as soon as they get used to it. Accordingly they teach the use of tobacco when a child is very young. It then grows to maturity with the idea that you can’t get along without tobacco. But, said Roxy, the whalers have told that many whites get along without it, and he had himself seen white men who never use it, while the few white women, wives of captains, none used tobacco. (This, remember, was in 1906.)

Now Roxy had heard that white people believe that salt is good for, and even necessary for children, so they begin early to add salt to the child’s food. That child then would grow up with the same attitude toward salt as an Eskimo has toward tobacco. However, said Roxy, since we Eskimos were mistaken in thinking tobacco so necessary, may it be that the white men are mistaken about salt? Pursuing the argument, he concluded that the reason why all Eskimos dislike salted food and all white men like it was not racial but due to custom. You could then, break the salt habit as easily as the tobacco habit and you would suffer no ill result beyond the mental discomfort of the first few days or weeks.

Roxy did not know, but I did as an anthropologist, that in pre-Columbian times salt was unknown or the taste of it disliked and the use of it avoided through much of North and South America. It may possibly be true that the carnivorous Eskimos in whose language the word salty, mamaitok, is synonymous with with evil-tasting, disliked salt more intensely than those Indians who were partly herbivorous. Nevertheless, it is clear that the salt habit spread more slowly through the New World from the Europeans than the tobacco habit through Europe from the Indians. Even today there are considerable areas, for instance in the Amazon basin, where the natives still abhor salt. Not believing that the races differ in their basic natures, I felt inclined to agree with Roxy that the practice of slating food is with us a social inheritance and the belief in its merits a part of our folklore.

Through this philosophizing I was somewhat reconciled to going without salt, but I was nevertheless, overjoyed when one day Ovayuak, my new host in the eastern delta, came indoors to say that a dog team was approaching which he believed to be that of Ilavinirk, a man who had worked with whalers and who possessed a can of salt. Sure enough, it was Ilavinirk, and he was delighted to give me the salt, a half-pound baking-powder can about half full, which he said he had been carrying around for two or three years, hoping sometime to meet someone who would like it for a present. He seemed almost as pleased to find that I wanted the salt as I was to get it. I sprinkled some on my boiled fish, enjoyed it tremendously, and wrote in my diary that it was the best meal I had had all winter. Then I put the can under my pillow, in the Eskimo way of keeping small and treasured things. But at the next meal I had almost finished eating before I remembered the salt. Apparently then my longing for it had been what you might call imaginary. I finished without salt, tried it at one or two meals during the next few days and thereafter left it untouched. When we moved camp the salt remained behind.

After the return of the sun I made a journey of several hundred miles to the ship Narwhal which, contrary to our expectations of the late summer, had really come in and wintered at Herschel Island. The captain was George P. Leavitt, of Portland, Maine. For the few days of my visit I enjoyed the excellent New England cooking, but when I left Herschel Island I returned without reluctance to the Eskimo meals of fish and cold water. It seemed to me that, mentally and physically, I had never been in better health in my life.

III

During the first few months of my first year in the Arctic, I acquired, though I did not at the time fully realize it, the munitions of fact and experience which have within my own mind defeated those views of dietetics reviewed at the beginning of this article. I could be healthy on a diet of fish and water. The longer I followed it the better I liked it, which meant, at least inferentially and provisionally, that you never become tired of your food if you have only one thing to eat. I did not get scurvy on the fish diet nor learn that any of my fish-eating friends ever had it. Nor was the freedom from scurvy due to the fish being eaten raw – we proved that later. (What it was due to we shall deal with in the second article of this series.) There were certainly no signs of hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure, of breakdown of the kidneys or of rheumatism.

These months on fish were the beginning of several years during which I lived on an exclusive meat diet. For I count in fish when I speak of living on meat, using “meat” and “meat diet” more as a professor of anthropology than as the editor of a housekeeping magazine. The term in this article and in like scientific discussions refers to a diet from which all things of the vegetable kingdom are absent.

To the best of my estimate then, I have lived in the Arctic for more than five years exclusively on meat and water. (This was not, of course, one five-year stretch, but an aggregate of that much time during ten years.) One member of my expeditions, Storker Storkersen, lived on an exclusive meat diet for about the same length of time while there are several who have lived on it from one to three years. These have been of many nationalities and of three races – ordinary European whites; natives of the Cape Verde Islands, who had a large percentage of Negro blood; and natives of the South Sea Islands. Neither from experience with my own men nor from what I have heard of similar cases do I find any racial difference. There are marked individual differences.

The typical method of breaking a party into a meat diet is that three of five of us leave in midwinter a base camp which has nearly or quite the best type of European mixed diet that money and forethought can provide. The novices have been told that it is possible to live on meat alone. We warn them that it is hard to get used to for the first few weeks, but assure them that eventually they will grow to like it and that any difficulties in changing diets will be due to their imagination.

These assertions the men will believe to a varying degree. I have a feeling that in the course of breaking in something like twenty individuals; two or three young men believed me completely, and that this belief collaborated strongly with their youth and adaptability in making them take readily to the meat.

Usually I think, the men believe that what I tell of myself is true for me personally, but that I am peculiar, a freak – that a normal person will not react similarly, and that they are going to be normal and have an awful time. Their past experience seems to tell them that if you eat one thing every day you are bound to tire of it. In the back of their minds there is also what they have read and heard about the necessity for a varied diet. They have specific fears of developing the ailments which they have heard of as caused by meat or prevented by vegetables.

We secure our food in the Arctic by hunting and in midwinter there is not enough good hunting light. Accordingly we carry with us from the base camp provisions for several weeks, enough to take us into the long days. During this time, as we travel away from shore, we occasionally kill a seal or a polar bear and eat their meat along with our groceries. Our men like these as an element of a mixed diet as well as you do beef or mutton.

We are not on rations. We eat all we want, and we feed the dogs what we think is good for them. When the traveling conditions are right we usually have two big meals a day, morning and evening, but when we are storm bound or delayed by open water, we eat several meals to pass the time away. At the end of four, six or eight weeks at sea, we have used up all our food. We do not try to save a few delicacies to eat with the seal and bear, for experience has proved that such things are only tantalizing.

Suddenly, then we are on nothing but seal. For while our food at sea averages ten percent polar bear, there may be months in which we don’t see a bear. The men go at the seal loyally; they are volunteers and whatever the suffering, they have bargained for it and intend to grin and bear it. For a day or two they eat square meals. Then the appetite begins to flag and they discover as they had more than half expected, that for them personally it is going to be a hard pull or a failure. Some own up that they can’t eat, while others pretend to have good appetites, enlisting the surreptitious help of a dog to dispose of their share. In extreme cases, which are usually those of the middle-aged and conservative they go two or three days practically or entirely without eating. We had no weighing apparatus; but I take it that some have lost anything from ten to twenty pounds, what with the hard work on empty stomachs. They become gloomy and grouchy and, as I once wrote, “They begin to say to each other, and sometimes to me, things about their judgment in joining a polar expedition that I cannot quote.”

But after a few days even the conservatives begin to nibble at the seal meat, after a few more they are eating a good deal of it, rather under protest and at the end of three or four weeks they are eating square meals, though still talking about their willingness to give a soul or right arm for this or that. Amusingly, or perhaps instructively, they often long for ham and eggs or corned beef when, according to theory, they ought to be longing for vegetables and fruits. Some of them do hanker particularly for things like sauerkraut or orange juice; but more usually it is for hot cakes and syrup or bread and butter.

There are two ways in which to look at an abrupt change of diet – how difficult it is to get used to what you have to eat and how hard it is to be deprived of things you are used to and like. From the second angle, I take it to be physiologically significant that we have found our people, when deprived, to long equally for things which have been considered necessities of health, such as salt; for things where a drug addiction is considered to be involved, such as tobacco; and for items of that class of so-called staple foods, such as bread.

It has happened on several trips, and with an aggregate of perhaps twenty men, that they have had to break at one time their salt, tobacco, and bread habits. I have frequently tried the experiment of asking which they would prefer; salt for their meal, bread with it, or tobacco for an after-dinner smoke. In nearly every case the men have stopped to consider, nor do I recall that they were ever unanimous.

When we are returning to the ship after several months on meat and water, I usually say that the steward will have orders to cook separately for each member of the party all he wants of whatever he wants. Especially during the last two or three days, there is a great deal of talk among the novices in the part about what the choices are to be. One man wants a big dish of mashed potatoes and gravy; another a gallon of coffee and bread and butter; a third perhaps wants a stack of hot cakes with syrup and butter.

On reaching the ship each does get all he wants of what he wants. The food tastes good, although not quite so superlative as they had imagined. They have said they are going to eat a lot and they do. Then they get indigestion, headache, feel miserable, and within a week, in nine cases out of ten of those who have been on meat six months or over, they are willing to go back to meat again. If a man does not want to take part in a second sledge journey it is usually for a reason other than the dislike of meat.

Still, as just implied, the verdict depends on how long you have been on the diet. If at the end of the first ten days our men could have been miraculously rescued from the seal and brought back to their varied foods, most of them would have sworn forever after that they were about to die when rescued, and they would have vowed never to taste seal again – vows which would have been easy to keep for no doubt in such cases the thought of seal, even years later, would have been accompanied by a feeling of revulsion. If a man has been on meat exclusively for only three or four months he may or may not be reluctant to go back to it again. But if the period has been six months or over, I remember no one who was unwilling to go back to meat. Moreover, those who have gone without vegetables for an aggregate of several years usually thereafter eat a larger percentage of meat than your average citizen, if they can afford it.

Part 2 – Harper’s Monthly – Published December 1935

Now that the experiments in diet which Karsen Anderson and I undertook at Bellevue Hospital have been accepted by the medical world, it is difficult to realize that there could have been such a storm of excitement about the announcement of the plan, such a violent clash of opinions, such near unanimity to the prediction of dire results.

The feeling that decisive controlled test were needed began to spread after I told one of the scientific heads of the Food Administration in 1918 that I had lived for an aggregate of more than five years with enjoyment on just meat and water. A turning point came in 1920 when I had an hour for explaining a meat regimen to the physicians and staff at the Mayo Clinic. The concluding phase began in 1928 when Mr. Anderson and myself entered Bellevue Hospital to give science the first chance in its history to observe human subjects while they lived through the chill of winter and the heat of summer, for twelve months, on an exclusive meat diet. We were to do it under conditions of ordinary city life.

At the beginning of our northern work in 1906 it was the accepted view among doctors and dietitians that man cannot live on meat alone. They believed specifically that a group of serious diseases were either caused directly by meat or preventable only by vegetables. Those views were still being held when the autumn of 1918, an old friend, Frederic C. Walcott (later Senator from Connecticut), decided that my experiences and the resulting opinions were revolutionary in certain fields, and introduced me to Professor Raymond Pearl of John Hopkins, who was then with the U.S. Food Administration in Washington. Pearl considered several of the things I told him upsetting to views then held; he questioned me before a stenographer, and sent the mimeographed results to a number of dietitians. Their replies varied from concurrence with him (and me) to agreement with David Hume that you are likelier to meet a thousand liars than one miracle.

Pearl was convinced that neither fibs nor miracles were involved and proposed that we write a book on dietetics. I agreed. But cares intervened and things dragged.

In 1920 I had the above-mentioned chance to speak at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. One of the Mayo brothers suggested that I spend two or three weeks there to have a check-over and see whether they could not find evidences of the supposed bad effects of meat. I wanted to do this but commitments in New York prevented.

Then one day while talking with the gastroenterologist Dr. Clarence W. Lieb, I told him of my regret that I had not been able to take advantage of the Mayo check-over. Lieb said there were good doctors in New York, too, and volunteered to gather a committee of specialists who would put me through and examination as rigid as anything I could get from the Mayos.

The committee was organized, I went through the mill, and Dr. Lieb reported the findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association for July 3, 1926, “The Effects of an Exclusive Long-Continued Meat Diet.” The committee had failed to discover any trace of even one of the supposed harmful effects.

With this publication the Lieb and Pearl events merge. For when the Institute of American Meat Packers wrote asking permission to reprint a large number of copies for distribution to the medical profession and to dietitians, Lieb, Pearl and I went into a huddle. The result was a letter to the Institute saying that we refused permission to reprint, but suggesting that they might get something much better worth publishing, and with right to publish it, if they gave a fund to a research institution for a series of experiments designed to check, under conditions of average city life, the problems which had arisen out of my experiences and views. For it was contended by many that an all-meat diet might work in a cold climate though not in a warm, and under the strenuous conditions of the frontier though not in common American (sedentary) business life.

We gave the meat packers warning that, if anything, the institution chosen would lean backward to make sure that nothing in the results could even be suspected of having been influenced by the source of the money.

After much negotiating, the Institute agreed to furnish the money. The organization selected was the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology. The committee in charge was to consist of leaders in the most important sciences that appeared related to the problem, and represented seven institutions:

American Museum of Natural History: Dr. Clark Wissler. Cornell University Medical College: Dr. Walter L. Niles. Harvard University: Drs. Lawrence J. Henderson, Earnest A. Hooton, and Percy Howe. Institute of American Meat Packers: Dr. C. Robert Moulton. John Hopkins University: Drs. William G. McCallum and Raymond Pearl. Russell Sage Institute of Pathology: Drs. Eugene F. DuBois and Graham Lusk. University of Chicago: Dr. Edwin O. Jordan. Unattached: Dr. Clarence W. Lieb, private practice, and Vilhjalmur Stefansson.

The Chairman of the committee was Dr. Pearl. The main research work of the experiment was headed by Dr. DuBois, who is now Physician-in-Chief of the New York Hospital and was then as he still is, Medical Director of the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology. Among his collaborators were Dr. Walter S. McClellan, Dr. Henry B. Richardson, Mr. V. R. Rupp, Mr. G. F. Soderstrom, Dr. Henry J. Spencer, Dr. Edward Tolstoi, Dr. John C. Torrey and Mr. Vincent Toscani. The clinical supervision was in charge of Dr. Lieb.

After meetings of the supervising committee, the election of a smaller executive committee and much discussion, it was decided that, while the experiment would be directed at strictly scientific problems, there might be side glances now and then toward common folk beliefs and the propaganda of certain groups. For instance, our definition of a meat diet as “a diet from which all vegetable elements are excluded” would permit us to use milk and eggs, for they are not vegetables. But some vegetarians are illogical enough to allow milk and eggs; we agreed to be correspondingly illogical and exclude them. This forestalled the possible cry that we were saved from the ill effects of a vegetable-less diet by the eggs and the milk.

The aim of the project was not, as the press claimed at the time, to “prove” something or other. We were not trying to prove or disprove anything; we merely wanted to get at the facts. Every aspect of the results would be studied, but special attention would be paid to certain common views, such as that scurvy will result from the absence of vegetable elements, that other deficiency diseases may be produced, that the effect will be bad on the circulatory system and on the kidneys, that certain harmful micro-organisms will flourish in the intestinal tract, and that there will be insufficient calcium. The broad question was, of the supervising doctors and by the testimony of the subjects themselves.

The test was originally planned on me alone, but I might be struck by lightening before conclusions were reached, or I might get run over by a truck, and that would be construed, by mixed-dieters and vegetarians, as showing impairment of mental alertness and bodily vigor through the monotony and poison of meat. It was difficult to find a colleague, for you cannot make this sort of experiment on just anybody that appears if you consider two elementary cases.

Assume the news of a stock market crash that ruins them is conveyed to a number of people after they have eaten a good meal. Digestion may stop almost at the point of the mental shock. Obviously the sickness which follows that meal is not caused by the food, as such.

Or ask some impressionable friend to lunch. Serve them veal, of good quality and well cooked. When dinner is over you inquire about the veal; they will answer with the usual compliments. Then you say that your case has been proved. Rover died and they have eaten him. If your stage setting and acting have been at all adequate, a few at least of your company will make a dive from the room. What sickens them is not the meat of a dog but the idea that they have eaten dog.

The Russell Sage experiment then could not be made upon anybody controlled by any strong dietetic belief, such as that meat is harmful, that abstinence from vegetables brings trouble, that you tire of a food if you have to eat the same thing often. But almost everyone holds these or similar beliefs. So we were practically compelled to secure subjects from members of one of my expeditions; they were the only living Europeans we knew who had used meat long enough to eliminate completely the mental hazards.

One man fortunately was available. He was Karsten Anderson, a young Dane who had been a member of my third expedition. During that time he had lived an aggregate of more than a year on strictly meat and water, suffering no ill result and, in fact being on one occasion cured by meat from scurvy which he had contracted on a mixed diet. Moreover, he knew from experience of a dozen members of the expedition that his healthful enjoyment of the diet was not peculiar to himself but common to all those who had tried it, including members of three races – ordinary whites, Cape Verde Islanders with a strain of Negro blood, and South Sea Islanders.

But there were other things which made Anderson almost incredibility suitable for our test. For several years he had been working on his own in Florida spending most of practically every day outdoors, lightly clad and enjoying the benefits (such as they are) of a sub-tropical sunlight. In that mental and physical environment he had naturally been on a diet heavy in vegetable elements, and had suffered constantly from head colds, his hair was thinning steadily; and he had developed a condition involving intestinal toxemia such as would ordinarily cause a doctor to look serious and pronounce: “You must go light on meat.” or “I am afraid you’ll have to cut out meat entirely.”

We could find no one but Anderson whose mind would leave his body unhandicapped. So, in January 1928, the test began with the two of us. It was under the direct charge of Dr. DuBois and his staff in the dietetic ward of Bellevue Hospital, New York City.

A storm of protests from friends broke upon us when the press announced that we were entering Bellevue. These were based mainly upon the report that we were going to eat our meat raw and the belief that we were using lean meat exclusively. The first was just a false rumor; the trouble under the second head was linguistic.

Eating meat raw, our friends chorused, would make us social outcasts. It is proper to serve oysters raw, and clams, in the United States; herring raw in Norway; several kinds of fish raw in Japan; and beef raw almost anywhere in the world if only you change the name and call it rare. The fashion of giving raw meat to infants was spreading, but we were babes neither in years nor in stature and could not take advantage of that dispensation.

The answer to the raw meat scare was to explain a basic procedure of our experiments – Anderson and I were to select our food by palate (so long as it was meat). It proved that in most of our meals for a year he leaned to medium cooking and I to well done.

The linguistic trouble came from a recent change of American usage. In Elizabethan English meat was any kind of food, as in the expression “meat and drink.” In modern England this has narrowed down to what is implied by the rhyme about Jack Sprat eating no fat and his wife no lean, although they both ate meat. In the United States meat, in the last few years has become a synonym for lean. The meaning can become even narrower, as when somebody, usually a woman, tells you that she is strictly forbidden by her physician to touch meat, but that she is permitted all the chicken she wants, with an occasional lamb chop. To that woman meat signifies lean beef.

In the linguistic sense, then we pacified our friends by reference to Mr. and Mrs. Sprat. Our diet would be of meat in the English sense. We were just going to live under modern conditions on the food of our more or less remote ancestors; the food, too, of certain contemporary “primitive hunters.”

II

During our first three weeks in Bellevue Hospital we were fed measured quantities of what might be called a standard mixed diet; fruits, cereals, bacon and eggs, that sort of thing for breakfast; meats, vegetables including fruits for lunch and dinner. During this time various specialists examined us from practically every angle that seemed pertinent.

Most tedious, and let us hope correspondingly valuable, were the calorimeter studies. With no food since the evening before, we would go in the late morning to the calorimeter room and sit quite for an hour to get over the physiological effect of having perhaps walked up a single flight of stairs. Then as effortlessly as we could, we slid into calorimeters which were like big coffins with glass sides, and everybody waited about an hour or so until we had got over the disturbance of having slid in. The box was now closed up, and for three hours we lay there as nearly motionless as we could well be while a corps of scientists visible through the glass puttered about and studied our chemical and other physiological processes. We were not permitted to read and cautioned even against thinking about anything particularly pleasant or particularly disagreeable, for thoughts and feelings heat or cool you, speed things up or slow them down, play hob generally with “normal” processes.

(Dr. DuBois told of a calorimeter test ruined by mental disturbance. A nervous Romanian had developed an intense dislike for a fellow-patient named Kelly. During the second hour of an experiment that had been going very well, Max caught a glimpse of the hated Kelly through the window. This raised his metabolism ten percent during that whole hour.)

With the air we breathed and the rest of our intakes and excretions carefully analyzed, with our blood chemistry determined and a check on such things as the billions of living organisms which inhabit the human intestinal tract, we were ready for the meat.

During the three weeks of mixed diet and preliminary check-up, we had been free to come and go. Now we were placed under lock and key. Neither of us was permitted at any time, day or night to be out of sight of a doctor or nurse. This was in part the ordinary rigidity of a controlled scientific experiment, but it was in some part a bow to the skepticism of the mixed diet advocates and to the emotional storms which were sweeping the vegetarian realms.

Not was the skepticism and excitement all newspaper talk. One of the leading European authorities, most orthodox and belonging to no particular school, was touring the United States. He called on us during the preliminary three weeks and assured the presiding physicians most solemnly that we should be unable to go more than four or five days on meat. He had tried it out himself on experimental human subjects who usually broke down in about three days. These breakdowns, I thought, were of psychological antecedents; but our European authority instituted they were strictly physiological – quite independent of emotions.

The experiment started smoothly with Andersen, who was permitted to eat in such quantity as he liked such things as he liked, provided only that they came under our definition of meat – steaks, chops, brains fried in bacon fat, boiled short-ribs, chicken, fish, liver and bacon. In my case there was a hitch, in a way foreseen.

For I had published in 1913, on pages 140-142 of My Life with the Eskimo, an account of how some natives and I became ill when we had to go two or three weeks on lean meat, caribou so skinny that there was no appreciable fat behind the eyes or in the marrow. So when Dr. DuBois suggest that I start the meat period by eating as large quantities as I possibly could of chopped fatless muscle, I predicted trouble. But he countered by citing my own experience where illness had not come until after two or three weeks, and he now proposed lean for only two or three days. So I gave in.

The chief purpose of placing me abruptly on exclusively lean was that there would be a sharp contrast with Andersen who was going to be on a normal meat diet, consisting of such proportions of lean and fat as his own taste determined.

As said, in the Arctic we had become ill during the second or third fatless week. I now became ill on the second fatless day. The time difference between Bellevue and the Arctic was due no doubt mainly to the existence of a little fat, here and there in our northern caribou – we had eaten the tissue from behind the eyes, we had broken the bones for marrow, and in doing everything we could to get fat we had evidently secured more than we realized. At Bellevue the meat, carefully scrutinized, had been as lean as such muscle tissue can be. Then, in the Arctic we had eaten tendons and other indigestible matter, we had chewed the soft ends of bones, getting a deal of bulk that way when we were trying to secure fat. What we ate at Bellevue contained no bulk material, so that my stomach could be compelled to hold a much larger amount of lean.

The symptoms brought on at Bellevue by an incomplete meat diet (lean without fat) were exactly the same as in the Arctic, except that they came on faster – diarrhea and a feeling of general baffling discomfort.

Up north the Eskimos and I had been cured immediately when we got some fat. Dr. DuBois now cured me the same way, by giving me fat sirloin steaks, brains fried in bacon fat, and things of that sort. In two or three days I was all right, but I had lost considerable weight.

III

For the first three weeks I was watched day and night by the Institute staff. My exercise was supposed to be about that of an average business man. I went out for walks, but always under guard. If I telephoned, the attendant stood at the door of the booth; if I went into a shop, he was never more than a few feet away; and he was always vigilant. As Dr. DuBois explained, and as I well knew in advance, this was not because the supervising staff were suspicious of me but rather because they wanted to be able to say that they knew of their own knowledge my complete abstinence from all solids and liquids, except those which I received in Bellevue and which I ate and drank under the watch of attendants.

But my affairs unfortunately demanded that I travel widely through the United States and Canada. This was an added reason why Andersen had been secured for the experiment. When after three weeks, they had to put me on parole, so to speak, they retained him under lock and key for a total of something over 90 days.

Those who believed that a meat diet would lead to death had set at anything from four to fifteen days the point where Dr. Lieb, as clinical supervisor, would have to call a halt in view of danger to the subjects. Those who expected a slower breakdown had placed the appearance of the dread symptoms long before 90 days. In any case, Andersen reported back to the hospital constantly after he left it and I whenever I was in town.

After my three weeks and Andersen’s thirteen, and with the constant analyses of excretions and blood when we came back to the hospital for check-ups, the doctors felt certain they would catch us if we broke diet. Moreover, long before the thirteen weeks ended they had satisfied themselves that Andersen had no longing for fruits or other vegetable materials and therefore, no motive for breach of contract.

Toward the end of the covenanted year Andersen and I returned to Bellevue for final intensive studies of some weeks on the meat diet, and then our first three weeks on a mixed diet. At this end of the experiment all went smoothly with me, but not so with Andersen.

My trouble, it will be remembered, had been that at the outset they stuffed me with lean, permitting no fat. His difficulty, or at least annoyance, began on the second day after he completed a year on the meat (January 25, 1929) when they asked him to eat all the fat he could, to the nausea limit, permitting only a tiny bit of lean, about 45 grams per day. There they kept him on the verge of nausea for a week. The second week they added his first taste of vegetables in a year, thrice-cooked cabbage netting about 35 grams of carbohydrate per day. The third week they omitted the cabbage but retained the high proportion of fat to lean.

These three weeks, Andersen says, were the only difficult part of the experiment. Looking back at it now, he thinks if it were possible to separate the nausea from the other unpleasantness there would have been a good deal left over – that he wasn’t, properly speaking, well at the end of the third week. However, that is speculation if not imagination.

Returning to facts, we have the ominous one that pneumonia epidemic was sweeping New York. The hospital was crowded with patients; some of the staff got the disease, and with them Andersen. It was Type II pneumonia in his case, and the physicians were gravely worried, for this type was proving deadly in that epidemic, carrying off fifty percent of its Bellevue victims. Andersen, however, reacted quickly to treatment, ran an unusually short course, and convalesced rapidly.

IV

The broad results of the experiment were, so far as Andersen and I could tell, and so far as the supervising physicians could tell, that we were in at least as good average health during the year as we had been during the three mixed-diet weeks at the start. We thought our health had been a little better than average. We enjoyed and prospered as well on the meat in midsummer as in midwinter, and felt no more discomfort from the heat than our fellow New Yorkers did.

In view of beliefs that are strangely current it is worth emphasizing that we liked our meat as fat in July as in January. This ought not to surprise Americans (though it usually does) for they know or have heard that fat pork is a staple and relished food of the Negro in Mississippi. Our Negro literature is rich with the praise of opossum fat, nor did Negroes develop the taste for fats in our Southern States for Carl Akerly relates from tropical Africa such yarns of fat gorging as have not yet been surpassed from the Arctic. A frequent complaint of travelers in Spain is against foods that swim in oil and there are similar complaints when we visit Latin America. We find, when we stop to think that many if not most tropical people love greasy food.

Then there is the parallel belief that the largest meat consumption is in cold countries. True, the hundred-percent centers are way up north, the Eskimos, Samoyeds, Chukchis. But the heaviest meat eaters who speak English are the Australians, tropical and sub-tropical., while the nearest you come to an exclusive meat among people of European stock is in tropical Argentina where the cowboys live on beef. They like their meat fat and (so an Argentinian New Yorker tells me) will threaten to quit work, or at least did twenty years ago, if you attempt to feed them in any considerable part on cereal, greens, and fruits.

It appears that, excepting as tastes are controlled by propaganda and fashion, the longing for fat, summer or winter, depends on what else you eat. If yours is a meat diet then you simply must have fat with your lean; other wise you would sicken and die. But since fats, sugars, and starches are in most practical respects dietetically equivalent, you eat more of any one of them on a mixed diet if you decrease the combined amount of the other two.

Sir Hubert Wilkins, when we were living in the Arctic together, both living exclusively on meats, told me what remains my best single instance of how fats are crowded out by commerce, fashion and expense. The expense is frequently not the least fat, which is only about twice as nourishing as sugar, costs, as I write at my neighborhood grocery 50 cents per pound (bacon) or 35 cents a pound (butter) while sugar is only 5 1/2.

Sir Hubert’s father, the first white child born in South Australia, told that when he was young the herdsman, who were the majority of the population, lived practically exclusively on mutton (sometimes on beef) and tea. At all times of year they killed the fattest sheep for their own use and when in the open, which was frequently, they roasted the fattest parts against a fire with a dripping pan underneath, later dipping the meat into the drippings as they ate. But then gradually commerce developed, breads and pastries began to be used, jams and jellies were imported or manufactured, and with the advance of starches and sugars, the use of fat decreased. Now, except that the Australians eat rather more meat per year than people do in the British Isles, the proportion of fat to the rest of the diet is probably about the same in Australia as elsewhere within the Empire.

A conclusion of our experiment which the medical profession seemingly find difficult to assimilate, but which at the same time is one of our clearest results, is that a normal meat diet is not a high protein diet. We averaged about a pound and a third of lean per day and half a pound of fat (this is about like eating a two pound broiled sirloin with the fat such a steak usually has on it). That seems like eating mostly lean; but grow technical and you find, in energy units, that we were really getting three-quarters of our calories from the fat. That is what the scientists meant when they said at the end of our diet had proved to be not so very high in protein.

That meat, as some have contended is a particularly stimulating food I verified during our New York experiment to the extent that it seems to me I was more optimistic and energetic than ordinarily. I looked forward with more anticipation to the next day or the next job and was more likely to expect pleasure or success. This may have a bearing on the common report that the uncivilized Eskimos are the happiest people in the world. There have been many explanations – that a hunter’s life is pleasant, and that the poor wretches just don’t know how badly off they are. We now add the suggestion that the optimism may be directly caused by what they eat.

Some additional fairly precise things can be said of how we fared during the year on meat. For instance, with Dr. DuBois as a pacemaker, we used every few weeks to run around the reservoir in Central Park and thence to his house, going up the stairs two or three at a time, plumping down on cots and having scientific attendants register our breathing, pulse rate, and other crude reactions. These tests appear to show that our stamina increased with the lengthening of the meat period.

Andersen, who had had one head cold after another when working nearly stripped outdoors in his Florida orange grow, suffered only two or three attacks during the meat year in New York, and those light. He did not regain his hair but he reported that there had been a marked decrease in the shedding. As said, according to the reports of the doctors, Andersen was troubled when he came from Florida with certain toxin-producing intestinal micro-organisms in relation to which physicians at that time ordinarily prescribed elimination of meat from the diet. This condition did not make trouble for him while on the meat.

A phase of our experiment has a relation to slimming, slenderizing, reducing, the treatment of obesity. I was “about ten pounds overweight” at the beginning of the meat diet and lost all of it. This reminds me to say that Eskimos, when still on their native meats, are never corpulent – at least I have seen none. They may be well fleshed. Some especially women, are notably heavier in middle age than when young. But they are not corpulent in our sense.

When you see Eskimos in their native garments you do get the impression of fat round faces on fat round bodies, but the roundness of face is a racial peculiarity and the rest of the effect is produced by loose and puffy garments. See them stripped and you do not find the abdominal protuberances and folds which are numerous at Coney Island beaches and so persuasive in arguments against nudism.

There is no racial immunity among Eskimos to corpulence. You prove that by how quickly they get fat and how fat they grow on European diets.

Only one serious fear of the experiments was realized – our diet for the year turned out low in calcium. This was not demonstrated by any tests upon Andersen or me, and certainly you could not have proved it by asking us or looking at us, for we felt better and looked healthier than our average for the years immediately previous. The calcium deficiency appeared solely through the food analysis of the chemists.

Part of our routine was to give the chemists for analysis pieces of meat as nearly as possible identical with those we ate. For instance, lamb would be split down through the middle of the spine and we had the chops from one side cooked for us, while they got the chops from the other side to analyze. When the diet was sirloin steaks, they received ones matching ours. The only way in which the diet was not identical with the food analyzed was that Andersen and I followed the Eskimo custom of eating fish bones and chewing the rib ends; from these sources we no doubt obtained a certain amount of calcium.

Toward the latter part of the test it became startlingly clear, on paper that we were not getting enough calcium for health. But we were healthy. The escape from that dilemma was assume that a calcium deficiency which did not hurt us in our one year might destroy us in ten or twenty.

You study bones when you look for a calcium deficiency. The thing to do then, was to examine the skeletons of people who had died at a reasonably high age after living from infancy upon an exclusive meat diet. Such skeletons are those of Eskimos who are known to have died before the European influences came in. The Institute of American Meat Packers were induced to make a subsidiary appropriation to the Peabody Museum of Harvard University where Dr. Earnest A. Hooton, Professor of Physical Anthropology, under took a through going study with regard to the calcium problem in the relation to the Museum’s collection of the skeletons of meat eaters. Dr. Hooton reported no signs of calcium deficiency. On the contrary, there was every indication that the meat eaters had been liberally, or at least adequately, supplied. The had suffered no more in a lifetime from calcium deficiency than we had in our short year (really short, by the way for we enjoyed it).

Part 3 – Harper’s Monthly – Published January 1936

Scurvy has been the great enemy of explorers. When Magellan sailed around the world four hundred years ago many of his crew died from it and most of the others were at times so weakened that they could barely handle the ships. When Scott’s party of four went to the South Pole twenty three years ago their strength was sapped by scurvy; they were unable to maintain their travel schedule and died. Nor has scurvy been the nemesis of explorers only. Twenty years ago the British Army in the Near East was seriously handicapped, and last October an American doctor reported a hundred Ethiopian soldiers per day dying of scurvy. The disease worked havoc during the Alaska and Yukon gold rushes following 1896. Scores of miners died and hundred suffered.

Medical profession and laity equally believed for more than a hundred years that they knew exactly how to prevent and cure the disease, yet the method always failed on severe test.

The premise from which the doctors started was that vegetables, particularly fruits, prevent and cure scurvy. Since diet consists of animals and plants, the statement came to take the form that scurvy is cause by meat and cured by vegetables. Finally the doctors standardized on lime juice as the best of preventatives and cures. They name it a sure cure, a specific. Lawmakers followed the doctors. It is on the statute books of many countries that on long voyages the crews are to be supplied with lime juice and induced or compelled to take it.

Obtained from officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and from sourdoughs, I have in my diaries and notes many a case of suffering and death caused by scurvy in the Alaska and Yukon gold rushes. The miner generally began to sicken toward the end of winter. He had been living on beans and bacon, on biscuits, rice, oatmeal, sugar, dried fruits and dried vegetables. When he recognized his trouble as scurvy he made such efforts as were possible to get the things which he believed would cure him. Apparently the miners had the strongest faith in raw potatoes. These had to be brought from afar, and there are heroic tales of men who struggled through the wilderness to succor a comrade with a few pounds of them. There were similar beliefs in the virtues of onions and some other vegetables. Curiously, there was either no belief in those vegetables which were obtainable, or else there was a belief that they should be treated in a way which. we now understand, destroys their value. For instance a man might have been cured or at least helped with a salad of leaves or even bark of trees. If they had fresh meat they boiled it to shreds and drank the broth. Death frequently occurred in two to four months from recognized onset of the disease.

Ignoring the decimation of armies, and the burden of this disease in many walks of civil life through past ages, we turn to the explorers, the class most widely publicized as suffering from and dying of scurvy.

It is unusual to rank James Cook of a hundred and fifty years ago with the foremost explorers of all time. Part of his fame may be attributed to his having discovered how to prevent and cure scurvy. Medical books name him as pioneer in the field, saying that we owe to him the conquest of a dread disease. For he demonstrated that with vegetables (again particularly fruits) scurvy could be prevented on the longest voyages. By statement or inference these books assert that from this developed the knowledge according to which we extract and bottle the juice of the lime, stock ships with it, prevent and cure scurvy.

As show above intimated, however, the good physicians, with their faith in lime juice as a specific, overlooked its constant failure upon severe test.

How stoutly the faith was kept is shown by the British polar expedition of Sir George Nares. When he returned to England in 1876 after a year and a half, he reported much illness from scurvy, some deaths, and a partial failure of his program as a result. In his view fresh meat could have saved his men. But the doctors, as we shall see when we consider how they later advised Scott, soon forgot whatever impression was made by Nares. They seem to have scared themselves with the old doctrines by a series of assumptions: that the lime juice on the Nares expedition might have been deficient in acid content; that some of the victims did not takes as much of it as needed; and that perhaps it was too much to expect of even the marvelous juice to cope with all the things which tended to bring on scurvy – absence of sunlight, bad ventilation, lack of amusement and exercise, insufficient cleanliness.

Particularly because Nares medical court of inquiry had closed on a note of cleanliness and “modern sanitation,” you would think the medical world might have felt a severe jolt when they read how Nansen and Johansen had wintered in the Franz Josef Islands, (now Nansen Land) in 1895-96. They had lived in a hut of stones and walrus leather. The ventilation was bad, to conserve fuel; the fire smoked, so that the air was additionally bad; there was not a ray of daylight for months; during this time they practically hibernated, seldom going outdoors at all and taking as little exercise as appears humanly possible. Yet their health was perfect all winter and they came out of their hibernation in as good physical condition as any men ever did out of any kind of Arctic wintering. Their food had been lean and the fat of walrus.

Tens, if not hundreds of thousand of scientists in medicine and the related branches must have seen this account, for Nansen’s books were bestsellers in practically every language and newspapers were full of the story. Yet the effect was negligible. The doctors and dietitians still continued to pontificate on meat producing scurvy and on the contributory bad effects of what they called insufficience of ventilation, cleanliness, sunlight and exercise. They still prescribed lime juice and put their whole dependence on it and other vegetable products.

Excuses for lime juice have persisted to our day. It was for instance, demonstrated with triumph recently that the meaning of “lime” had changed during the last hundred years, explaining the claim that it worked better in the eighteenth than in the nineteenth century – then the juice was made from lemons called limes; now it is made from limes called limes.

The antiscorbutic value of lemons may be far greater than that of limes per ounce, but that does not go to the root of the matter. For proof of this consider how Nansen’s experience was re-enforced and interpreted by four expeditions during two decades, two of them commanded by Robert Falcon Scott, one by Ernest Henry Shackleton, one by me.

II

Scott, in 1900, sought the most orthodox scientific counsel when outfitting his first expedition. He followed advice by carrying lime juice and by picking up quantities of fruits and vegetable things as he passed New Zealand on his way to the Antarctic. He saw to it that the diet was “wholesome,” that the men took exercise, that they bathed and had plenty of fresh air. Yet scurvy broke out and the subsequently famous Shackleton was crippled by it on a journey. They were pulling their own sledges at the time so they must of had enough exercise. There was plenty of light with the sun beating on them, and there was plenty of fresh air. To believers in the catch words and slogans of their day, to believers in the virtues of lime juice, the onset of the scurvy was a baffling mystery.

That is was Shackleton’s scurvy which most interfered with the success of the first Scott expedition was particularly unfortunate, if you think of the jealousies it aroused, the enmities it caused. Scurvy, as disease go, is really one of the cleanest and least obnoxious; but in English the name of it is a term of opprobrium – “a scurvy fellow,” “a scurvy trick.” Shackleton may have smarted as much under that word-association as he did under the charge that his weakness had been Scott’s main handicap. The passion to clear his name, in every sense, drove him to the organization of an expedition, which many in Britain considered unethical – a subordinate, with indecent haste and insistence, crowding forward to eclipse his commander.

The crucial element in the first Shackleton expedition, to the students of scurvy, is the fact that Shackelton was an Elizabethan throwback in the time of Edward VII. He was a Hawkins or a Drake, a buccaneer in spirit and method. He talked louder and more than is good form in modern England. He approached near to brag and swagger. He caused frictions, aroused and fanned jealousies, and won the breathless admiration of youngsters who would have followed Dampier and Frobisher with equal enthusiasm in their piracies and in their explorations.

The organization, and the rest of the first Shackleton expedition, went with a hurrah. They were as careless as Scott had been careful; they did not have Scott’s type of backing, scientific or financial. They arrived helter skelter on the shores of the Antarctic Continent, pitched camp, and discovered that they did not have enough food for the winter, nor had they taken such painstaking care as Scott to provide themselves with fruits or other antiscorbutics in New Zealand. Compared with Scott’s, their routine was slipshod as to cleanliness, exercise, and several of the ordinary hygienic prescriptions.

What signifies is that Scott’s men, with unlimited quantities of jams and marmalades, cereals and fruits, grains, curries, and potted meats, had been little inclined to add seals and penguins to their dietary. With Shackleton it was neither wisdom or acceptance of good advise but dire necessity which drove to such use of penguin and seal that Dr. Alister Forbes Mackay, physician from Edinburgh, who was a member of that Shackleton expedition and later physician of my ship the Karluk, told me he estimated half the food during their stay in the Antarctic was fresh meat.

In spite of the lack of care, (indeed, as we now see it, because of their lack), Shackleton had better average health than Scott. There was never a sign of scurvy; every man retained his full strength; and they accomplished that spring what most authorities still consider the greatest physical achievement ever made in the southern polar regions. With men dragging the sledge a considerable part of the way, they got to latitude 88° 23 S., practically within sight of the Pole.

Scott began his second venture as he had begun the first, by asking the medical profession of Britain for protection from scurvy and by receiving from them once more the good old advice about lime juice, fruits, and the rest. In winter quarters he again placed reliance on that advice and on constant medical supervision, on a planned and carefully varied diet, on numerous scientific tests to determine the condition of the men, on exercise, fresh air, sanitation in all its standard forms. The men lived on the foods of the United Kingdom, supplemented by the fruit and garden produce of New Zealand. Because they had so much which they were used to, they ate little of what they had never learned to like, the penguins and seals.

Once more they started their sledge travel after a winter of sanitation. The results had previously be disappointing; now they were tragic. While scurvy did not prevent them from reaching the South Pole, it began to weaken them on the return and progressed so rapidly that the growing weakness prevented them, if only by ten miles, from being able to get back to the final provision depot.

Those who have ignored the scurvy have sometimes claimed that if Scott had reached the depot he would have been able to reach the base camp eventually. This becomes more than doubtful when you realize that the progressive decrease of vigor, both mental and bodily, was not going to be helped by even the largest meals, if those meals were of food lacking antiscorbutic value.

The story of Scott and his companions, especially through the last few weeks, is among the boldest in any language; through it they became national heroes and world heroes. But in the speech of their countrymen (though not in many another European tongue), scurvy sounds unclean. It appeared necessary to Scott’s surviving comrades, and to those in Britain who knew the truth, to take care that the tabooed word should not sully a glorious deed.

To suppress the association of a disease with the beauty and heroism of Scott’s death may have been worth while at the time; but it can scarcely be deplored by anyone – and must be praised by scientists – that Commander Edward G. R. Evans, now Admiral, Scott’s second-in-command, after a time gave out the scurvy information, including the statement that he himself had been ill.

It is irrational, at least now that emotions have calmed, to blame Scott. No one was to blame, for they all acted according to the light of their day. If anybody was to blame it was primarily those who gave medical advice to the expedition before it sailed; secondarily, it was the chief medical officer, rather than the commanding officer, of the expedition.

It seems strange, now, that a comparison of the Scott and Shackleton experiences did not fully enlighten the doctors on the true inwardness of scurvy; but of course part of the explanation is that the Scott medical information was suppressed. Therefore, it remained for my own expedition to demonstrate, so far as polar expeditions are concerned, and for the Russell Sage experiments to call to the attention of the medical profession, the most practical and only simple way of curing scurvy. For no matter how good the juice of limes (or lemons), it is difficult to carry, it deteriorates, and you may lose it, as by a shipwreck. The thing to do is to find you antiscorbutics where you are, pick them up as you go.

On my third expedition it happened as circumstantially related in a book called “The Friendly Arctic,” that three men came down with scurvy though disobeying the instructions of the commander and living without his knowledge for two or three months chiefly on European foods when they were supposed to be living chiefly on meat.

It seems to take from one to three months for even a bad diet to produce recognizable scurvy, but there after developments are rapid through the next few weeks. In the case of my men it was about three weeks (as they later thought) after they noticed the trouble and about ten days after they complained of it to me, when one of them was so weak we had to carry him on a sledge, while the other was barely able to stagger along, holding on behind. By then every joint pained, their gums were as soft as “American” cheese, their teeth so loose that they came out with almost the gentlest of pulls.

We were 60 or 80 miles from land on drifting sea ice when the trouble stared, and we hastened ashore to get a stable camp for the invalids. It would have been no fun, with sick men on your hands, if the site of your camp started disintegrating under pressure and tumbling about.

We reached an island (about 900 miles north of the Arctic Circle) the coast of which was known although the interior had never been explored. We traveled a few miles inland, established a camp, hunted caribou (there were two of us well, out of four) and began the all-meat cure. Fuel was pretty scarce, so we cooked only one meal a day; besides, I thought raw food might work better. We cooked the breakfast in a lot of water. The patients finished the boiled meat while it was hot and kept the broth to drink during the rest of the day. For their other meals they ate slightly frozen raw meat, with normal digestion and good appetite. We divided up the caribou Eskimo style, so the dogs got organs and entrails, hams, shoulders, and tenderloin, while the invalids, and we hunters got heads, briskets, ribs, pelvis and the marrow from the bones.

On this diet all pain disappeared from every joint within four days and the gloom was replaced by optimism. Inside a week both men said that they had no realization of being ill as long as they lay still in bed. In two weeks they were able to begin traveling, at first riding on the sledges and walking alternately. At the end of a month they felt as if they had never been ill. No signs of the scurvy remained except that the gums, which had receded from the teeth, only partly regained their position.

By comparing notes later with Dr. Alfred Hess, the leading New York authority on scurvy, I found that when I was getting these results with a diet from which all vegetable elements were absent, he was getting the same results in the same length of time through a diet where the main reliance was upon grated raw vegetables and fruits and upon fresh fruit juices.

There is no doubt, as the quantitative studies have shown, that the percentage of Vitamin C, the scurvy preventing factor, is higher in certain vegetable elements than in any meats. But it is equally true that the human body needs only such a tiny bit of Vitamin C that if you have some fresh meat in your diet every day, and don’t over cook it, there will be enough C from that source alone to prevent scurvy. If you live exclusively on meat you get from it enough vitamins not only to prevent scurvy but as said in a previous article, to prevent all other deficiency diseases.

Closing the subject of vitamins in relation to long expeditions, we had better emphasize that there has recently been such progress in the extraction, concentration and storage of Vitamin C that it is now possible to carry with you enough to last several years and of such quality that it will not deteriorate to the point of uselessness. But why carry coals to Newcastle? if you are in the tropics, pick a fruit, or eat a green; if you are at sea, throw a line outboard and catch a fish; if you are in the Antarctic, use seals and penguins; if in the Arctic, hunt polar bears, and seals, caribou and the rest of the numerous game. True enough, if you make a journey inland into the Antarctic Continent or toward the center of Greenland, where there is no game because the land is permanently snow-covered, you have to carry food with you. In that case you might as well take lemon juice. It is one of the most portable sources and they know now how to make and pack it so that its qualities as well as quantities will last you.

III

A bulletin conspicuous in the subways co-operated some time ago with the New York Commissioner of Health by displaying this notice:

FOR SOUND TEETH BALANCED DIET with VEGETABLES : FRUIT : MILK BRUSH TEETH VISIT DENTIST REGULARLY

Shirley W. Wynne, M.D. Commissioner of Health

During the same time the ether was full and the magazine pages were crowded with advertising which told you that mouth chemistry is altered by a paste, a powder, or a gargle so as to prevent decay, that a clean tooth never decays, that a special kind of toothbrush reaches all the crevices, that a particular brand of fruit, milk or bread is rich in elements for tooth health. There were toothbrush drills in the schools. Mothers throughout the land were scolding, coaxing, and bribing to get children to use the preparations, eat the foods, and follow the rules that insured perfect oral hygiene.

Meantime there appeared a statement from Dr. Adelbert Fernald, Curator of the Museum of Dental School, Harvard University, that he had been collecting mouth casts of living Americans, from the most northerly Eskimos south to the Yucatan. The best teeth and the healthiest mouths were found among people who never drank milk since they had ceased to be suckling babes and who never in their lives tasted any of the other things recommended for sound teeth by the New York Commissioner of Health. These people, Eskimos, never use tooth paste, tooth powder, tooth brushes, mouth wash, or gargle. They never take any pains to cleanse their teeth or mouths. They do not visit their dentist twice a year or even once in a lifetime. Their food is exclusively meat. Meat, be it noted, was not mentioned in the advertisement issued by Dr. Wayne.

Teeth superior on the average to those of the presidents of our largest tooth-paste companies are found in the world to-day, and have existed during past ages, among people who violate every precept of current dentifrice advertising. Not all of them have lived exclusively on meat; but so far as an extensive correspondence with authorities has yet been able to show me, a complete absence of tooth decay from entire communities has never existed in the past, and does not exist now, except among people in whose diet meat is either exclusive or heavily predominant.

Our Bellevue experiments threw a light on tooth decay, but the key to the situation lies more in the broad science of anthropology. I now give, by sample and by summary, things personally known to me from anthropological field work.

My first anthropological commission was from the Peabody Museum of Harvard University when they sent John W. Hasting and me to Iceland in 1905. We found in one place a medieval graveyard that was being cut away by the sea. Skulls were rolling about in the water at high tide, at low tide we gathered them and picked up scattered teeth here and there. As wind and water shifted the sands we found more and more teeth until there was a handful. Later we got permission to excavate the cemetery, and eventually we brought with us to Harvard a miscellaneous lot of bone which included 80 skulls, and as said, a great many loose teeth.

The collection has been studied by dentists and physical anthropologists without the discovery of a single cavity in even one tooth.

The skulls in the Hastings-Stefansson collection represent persons of ordinary Icelandic blood. There were no aborigines in that island when the Irish discovered it some time before 700 A. D. When the Norsemen got there in 860 they found no people except the Irish. It is now variously estimated that in origin the Icelanders are from 10 percent to 30 percent Irish, 40 percent to 50 percent Norwegian, the remainder, perhaps 10 percent, from Scotland, England, Sweden, and Denmark.

None of the people whose blood went into the Icelandic stock are racially immune to tooth decay, nor are the modern Icelanders. Then why were the Icelanders of the Middle Ages immune?

An analysis of the various factors make it pretty clear that their food protected the teeth of the medieval Icelanders. The chief elements were fish, mutton, milk and milk products. There was a certain amount of beef and there may have been a little horse flesh, particularly in the earliest period of the graveyard. Cereals were little important and might be used for beer rather than porridge. Bread was negligible and so were all other elements from the vegetable kingdom, native or imported.

My mother, who as born on the north coast of Iceland, remembered from the middle of the nineteenth century a period when bread still was as rare as caviar is in New York today – she tasted bread only three or four times a year and then only small pieces when she went with her mother visiting. So far as bread existed at her own house, it was used as a treat for visiting children. The diet was still substantially that of the Middle Ages, though the use of porridge was increasing. She did not remember hearing of toothache in her early youth but did remember accounts of it as a painful rarity about the time when she left for America in 1876. Soon after arrival in the United States (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota,) and in Canada (Nova Scotia, Manitoba) the Icelandic colonists became thoroughly familiar with the ravages of caries. They probably had teeth as bad as those of the average American long before 1900.

There is then at least one case of a north-European people whose immunity from caries (to judge from the Hastings-Stefansson collection and common report) approached 100 percent for a thousand years, down to approximately the time of the American Civil War. The diet was mainly from the animal kingdom. Now that it has become, both in America and Iceland approximately the same as the average for the United States or Europe, Icelandic teeth show a high percentage of decay.

I began to learn about another formerly toothacheless people when I joined the Mackenzie River Eskimos in 1906. Some of them had been eating European foods in considerable amount since 1889, and toothache and tooth decay were appearing, but only in the mouths of those who affected the new foods secured from the Yankee whalers. The Mackenzie people agreed that toothache and cavities had been unknown in the childhood of those then approaching middle age while there were many of all ages still untouched, the ones who kept mainly or wholly to the Eskimo diet. Here and in many other places, this is somewhere between 98 and 100 percent from animal sources. There are districts, like parts of Labrador and of western and southwestern Alaska, where even before the coming of Europeans there was considerable use of native vegetable elements nowhere furnished as much as 5 percent of the average yearly caloric intake of the primitive Eskimos, even in south-western Alaska.

Dr. Alex Hirdlicka, Curator of Anthropology in the National Museum, Washington, writes me that he knows of no case of tooth decay among Eskimos of the present or past who were uninfluenced by European habits. Dr. S. G. Ritchie, of Dalhousie University, wrote after studying the skeletal collection gathered by Mr. Diamond Jenness on my third expedition: “In all the teeth examined there is not the slightest trace of caries.”

I brought about 100 skulls of Eskimos, who had died before Europeans came in, to the American Museum of Natural History, New York. These have been examined by many students, but no sign of tooth decay has yet been discovered.

Dr. M. A. Pleasure examined at the American Museum of Natural History 283 skulls said to be Eskimo of pre-European date. He found a small cavity in one tooth; but when the records where check it turned out that the collector, Rev. J. W. Chapman of the Episcopal Board of Missions, who now lives in New York City, had sent that skull to the Museum as one of an Athabasca Indian, not of an Eskimo.

The slate is, therefore, clean to date. Not a sign of tooth decay has yet been discovered among that one of all peoples which most completely avoids the foods, the precepts, and the practices favored for dental health by the New York Commissioner of Health, the average dentist, the toothbrush drillmasters of the schools, and the dentifrice publicists.

IV

When addressing conventions and societies of medical men, I usually state the oral hygiene case somewhat as above but in more detail. If there is rebuttal from the floor, it invariably takes the form of contending that the tooth health of primitive people is due to their chewing a lot and eating coarse food. The advantage of that argument to the dentist, whose best efforts have failed to save your teeth is obvious. It gives him an excuse. He can from the doctrine make a case that not all your care, even when support by his skill and science, can preserve teeth in a generation of soft foods, that give no exercise to the teeth and no friction to the gums.

But it is deplorably hard to square anthropology with this comfortable excuse of the dentist. Among the best teeth of a mixed-diet world are those of a few South Sea Islanders who as yet largely keep to their native diets. Similar or better tooth condition is described, for instance, from the Hawaiian Islands by the earliest visitors. But can you think of a case less fortunate for the chewing-and-coarse-food advocates? The animal food of these people was chiefly fish, and fish is soft to the teeth, whether boiled or raw. Among the chief vegetable elements was poi, a kind of soup or paste. Then they used sweet potatoes.

It would be difficult to find a New Yorker or Parisian who does not chew more, and use coarser food, than the South Sea Islanders did on the native diets which gave them in at least some cases 97 percent freedom from caries, a record no block on Park Avenue can approach.

Nor do Eskimos chew much, as compared with us. So far as their meat is raw it can be chewed like a raw oyster – slips down similarly. When perfectly fresh meat is cooked, two main causes determine toughness: the age of the beast and the manner of cooking. The chief food animal of inland Eskimos is the caribou. A young caribou is as fleet as a heifer; an old one is as slow as a cow. Therefore the wolves get the clumsy old which drop behind when the band flees, and the Eskimos seldom have a chance to secure an animal that is more than three or four. Such young caribou are not tough, no matter how cooked.

I do not know a corresponding logical demonstration for seals, but I can testify from helping to eat thousands that their meat is never tough – at least not in comparison with the beefsteaks you sometimes get in New York chophouses.

Then there are Eskimos who live practically exclusively on fish. As said, you can’t chew them when they are raw; there is not much chewing when they are eaten boiled. the only condition under which fish become tough, or rather hard, is when they are dried. Some Eskimos use dried fish; others do not.

There is for separated districts a wide difference in the amount of Eskimo chewing, but no one has reported that health of the teeth is better among heavy chewers. How could it be when as yet no caries has been found either among the lightest or heaviest masticators?

It is used as a second line of defense by the mastication advocates that even if Eskimos perhaps don’t chew their food so very much they do chew skins a great deal. Their chewing of leather is far less than you might believe from what has been said by a particular kind of writer and pictured in certain movies. In any case, skin chewing is mainly by the women, and it is not easy to bring under the conditions of modern scientific thought the idea that the wife’s chewing preserves her husband’s teeth.

Once at a talk to a medical group I encountered a further argument. Is it not true that Eskimo men use the teeth a great deal in their crafts? Do they not bite wood, ivory, or metal to hold, pull out, twist, and so one? The best I could think of was to agree that Eskimos pull nails with their teeth because they have good teeth than that they have good teeth because they pull nails.

There are several reasons why the teeth of many Eskimos wear down rapidly. They usually meet edge to edge, where ours frequently overlap, and that tends to cause wear. Some Eskimos wind-dry fish or meat, sand gets in, and to an extent makes them like sandpaper. Both sexes, but especially men, use their teeth for biting on hard materials. Both sexes, but especially the women, use their teeth for softening skins. A wearing toward the pulp may, therefore, take place in early middle-life. What then happens is stated by Dr. Richie (whom we have already quoted) with relation to the Coronation Gulf Eskimos:

“Coincident with this extreme wear of the teeth the dental pulps have taken on their original function with conspicuous success. Sufficient new dentine of fine quality has been formed to obliterate the pulp chambers and in some cases even the root canals of the teeth. This new growth of tissue is found in every case where access to the pulp chambers has been threatened. There has therefore been no destruction of the pulps through infection and consequently alveolar abscesses are apparently unknown.”

Total absence of caries from those who live wholly on meat is then definite. Cessation of decay when you transfer from a mixed to a meat diet happens usually, perhaps always. The rest of the picture is not so clear.

Caries has been found in the teeth of mummies in Egypt, Peru, and in our own Southwest. These ancient people were mixed-diet eaters, depending in considerable part on cereals. Their teeth were better than ours, though not so good as the Eskimos. If you want a dental law, you can approximate it by saying that the most primitive people usually have the best teeth. You can add that in some cases a highly vegetarian people while not attaining the 100 percent perfection of meat eaters, do nevertheless, have very good teeth as compared with ours.

It is contended by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association Health Research Project that the shift from good to execrable teeth among the mixed diet Polynesians there has been due to years of cereals. I have seen no comment of theirs upon the (I should think) great increase of sugar consumption that has been synchronic with the deterioration of Hawaiian teeth.

On the view that diet is the greatest factor in saving teeth, the anthropologists have been getting support from experiments conducted by institutions and by scattered students. Some dentists are here contributing nobly to a research, and to a campaign of education, that seems bound to deplete their income. My probing has not revealed thus far corresponding unselfishness among the dentifrice manufacturers.

A serious mouth disease, next after caries, is pyorrhea. He who runs cannot read the marks so readily on human skeletons; but it seems at least probable that the medieval Icelanders, the Eskimos, and others who have left teeth free from cavities, were also free from, or at least not severely afflicted by, pyorrhea. Similarly, the modern investigators have found Eskimos who are still living on their native foods to have an unusually good average condition of general oral health, therewith absence of pyorrhea.

One of the things we noticed in the general well-being of our New York year on meat and similar years in the Arctic was the absence of headaches. I used to have them frequently before going north and have them occasionally whenever I am on a mixed diet. The whys and wherefores are not clear and what we say on this point is more tentative than any other part of this statement.

It was noticed in the X-ray pictures during our New York meat year that we had far less gas in the intestinal tract when on meat than when on a mixed diet – practically no gas. The work of Dr. John C. Torrey showed that neither did digestion and elimination produce those offensive smells which are found in vegetarianism and on a mixed diet But whether the freedom from a certain kind of intestinal food decomposition was what led to the freedom from headache is no more than a working hypothesis.

The prevention of headache by abstaining from vegetables has been recorded in books. An outstanding case is that of Francis Parkman, the historian, who suffered with headaches all his life except, as he states, during one period when he was living with an Indian tribe chiefly or exclusively on meat. This testimony, though by an eminent man widely read, and though a fair sample of the testimony of meat eaters, commanded little attention for the physicians. It should be said in their defense, however, that Parkman himself does not proclaim the experience as a triumphant discovery. He rather puts it the other way about, that in spite of being compelled to live on meat, he was free from the headaches that plagued him the rest of his days.

Professor Raymond Pearl, nearly twenty years ago, while he was at the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station, proved that chickens know more than professors about what is good for chickens to eat. Now several experiments appear in a good way to establish that children, if given complete freedom to choose among foods undisguised by sauces and artificial flavors will select better for their own health and strength than the mother or child specialist. One of the things frequently noticed about these children is that they eat large quantities of a single item which they happen to like. Our living for years on a single item which we liked was from the point of view no more than carrying forward a childhood tendency.

V

More than twenty-five years have passed since the completion of my first twelve months on meat and more than six years since the completion in New York of my sixth full meat year. All the rest of my life I have been a heavy meat eater, and I am now fifty-six. That should be long enough to bring out the effects. Dr. Clarence W. Lieb will report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology that I still run well above my age average on those points where meat has been supposed to cause deterioration. The same is the verdict of my own feelings. Rheumatism, for instance, has yet to give me its first twinge.

The broadest conclusion to be drawn from our comfort, enjoyment, and long-range well-being on meat is that the human body is a sounder and more competent job than we give it credit for. Apparently you can eat healthy on meat without vegetables, on vegetables without meat, or on a mixed diet.

Two stories summarize one of the most interesting sides of the case, the dental. In 1903 I heard the dean of the dental school of the University of Pennsylvania say in a lecture that he thought dentists to that year had done more harm than good, but would thereafter be doing more good than harm. In 1928 when I told this to Dr. Percy Howe, Director of the Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children, he said he thought the good dean had been premature by at least twenty years. As I understand Dr. Howe, much good was done in particular cases by dentists long ago, but it is only within the past ten years or so that the average for good has overbalanced the harm by any very heavy proportion.

While meat eaters seem to average well in heath, we must in our conclusion draw a caution from the most complete modern example of them the Eskimos of Coronation Gulf, when he was anthropologist on my third expedition, that the two chief causes of death were accidents and old age. This puts in a different form my saying that these survivors of the stone age were the healthiest people I have ever lived among. I would say the community, from infancy to old age, may have had on the average the health of an equal number of men about twenty, say college students.

The danger is that you may reason from this good health to a great longevity. But meat eaters do not appear to live long. So far as we can tell, the Eskimos, before the white men upset their physiological as well as their economic balance, lived on the average at least ten years less than we. Now their lives average still shorter; but that is partly from communicated diseases.

It has been said in a previous article that I found the exclusive meat diet in New York to be stimulating – I felt energetic and optimistic both winter and summer. Perhaps it may be considered that meat is, overall, a stimulating diet, in the sense that metabolic processes are speeded up. You are then living at a faster rate, which means you would grow up rapidly and get old soon. This is perhaps confirmed by that early maturing of Eskimo women which I have heretofore supposed to be mainly due to their almost complete protection from chill – they live in warm dwellings and dress warmly so that the body is seldom under stress to maintain by physiological processes a temperature balance. It may be that meat as a speeder-up of metabolism explains in part both that Eskimo women are sometimes grandmothers before the age of twenty-three, and that they usually seem as old at sixty as our women do at eighty.

Editor’s Note: Even before Dr. Stefansson wrote these articles, the Journal of Biological Chemistry reported on the experiments performed on him and a colleague at New York’s Bellevue Hospital in this article, “Prolonged Meat Diets with a Study of Kidney Function and Ketosis” by Walter S. McClellan and Eugene F. Du Bois (J. Biol. Chem. 87: 651-668, July 1930).

Additionally, anyone who is interested in eating an All-Meat, Zero Carb diet is encouraged to read Stefansson’s classic work The Fat of the Land.