Zero Carb Interview: Dr. Paul Mabry, M.D.

image

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

407 days.

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

My weight loss stalled on a Low Carb High Fat Ketogenic diet, eating a mix of plant foods and animal foods. Then I saw the Andersen Family Interview that you posted here last year, and a light went on in my head.

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

Since I was already very low carb, I didn’t notice much change when I switched to meat only. I did continue to crave many of my old plant foods for up to 6 months, but I don’t get the cravings any more even when around my old favorites.

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

I have to list “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz as my current favorite and I think anybody who is thinking of going on an all meat diet should consider her evidence in the decision. I was really brought to low carb by Gary Taubes’ book “Good Calories, bad Calories” which is of course a classic. Unless a person has a scientific background they might be better served by reading his “follow up” book “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It” which is really a condensation of the first book with a simplification of some of the technical language and a little bit of new information. I also like the work of Dr. Stephen Phinney whose book “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” is a jewel.

As for the meat only side of it I would recommend the 2 videos that I think clearly prove humans to be primarily evolved to eat meat which are first “The Search for the Perfect Human Diet” which I just found out can be watched on Hulu for free at this URL http://www.hulu.com/watch/691639

And a lecture by Dr. Barry Groves available free on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn5zdWucv6I

And finally a wonderful lecture by Georgia Ede MD on “The Risks and Benefits of Eating Plants” available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdRBFiBWQZQ .

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

I eat meat, eggs, aged cheese, and butter. I do not drink any form of milk or cream. Though I think a moderate amount of cream is ok, it does have a carb per ounce and some protein so it can be “overdone” and it’s slight sweet taste could be a problem for some.

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

99% of the meat I eat is beef. It’s cheap available and the highest in fat percentage of the commonly available meats and I tolerate it very well. I occasionally have some pork and once every 2-3 months wind up eating some chicken. Fish is expensive, relatively low in fat and often of dubious origin (farm raised on a high omega-6 diet). Though I feel wild fish are quite healthy if supplemented with enough animal fat like butter or tallow, the logistics of acquiring it would require too much of my time and financial resources and I am doing fine on beef. I am planning to try my had a fishing at some point here in Galveston, TX and eat what I catch but between my new career as a Voice Actor and my RV and Motorcycle touring I just haven’t found the time to get out there.

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

I rarely eat steak, usually only at restaurants when I’m traveling or eating out with friends, but when I do, I prefer it rare. I buy 3 lb chubs of 27% fat hamburger from my local Kroger which fortunately for me regularly puts them on sale for $5.99 to draw customers. I go every day that week and get my 2 allowed chubs and freeze them. I make a casserole with 2 lbs of hamburger mixed with 8 beaten eggs and laid in a casserole dish liberally slathered with butter then I cover it with 4 cups (about 1 lb) of grated Aged Cheddar cheese which I regularly get from Kroger in 2 lb blocks for $7.49 sometimes on sale for $6.49 (I stock up and freeze). I bake this at 325 for 30 minutes and cut into 6 squares. I eat 1 square every day for lunch. For those of you who are interested, this gives me 21 grams of protein in the hamburger, 9 grams of protein in the eggs and 18 grams of protein in the cheese for a total of 48 grams of protein at lunch.

For dinner I almost always eat about 10 ounces of a combination of all beef sausage and hotdogs. Both contain Offal which is “organ meat” which is higher in vitamins and minerals than steak, plus I eat another 3 ounces of Aged Cheddar Cheese. There are 40 grams of protein in the sausage and hot dogs and 21 grams in the cheese for a total of 61 grams of protein in the evening meal and 109 grams of protein for the day. Which is less than 1.5 kg of protein per kg of ideal body weight for me.

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

When I have to go to a restaurant I always carry a small tub of unsalted whipped butter and add ¼ to ¾ teaspoon of it like it was whipped cream to every bite of any steak or other meat or fish I might consume.

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

I have 3 rules: 1) I have 2 meals a day spaced 6 hours apart (usually 2PM and 8PM which works for me but I think any 6 hour or even 8 hour window would be fine); 2) I limit my protein to less than 1.5 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight; and 3) I try to be sure 70-80% of the calories from each meal come primarily from Saturated, monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, avoiding omega-6 fatty acids as much as possible.

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

Regularly in the form of hotdogs and sausage, think “Liverwurst”

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

No, but I think it’s probably fine and quite healthy. Just remember a cup contains 7 grams of protein so someone who is a metabolically damaged as me would not tolerate “going crazy” with it.

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

Twice, spaced 6 hours apart, which gives me a daily Intermittent fast of 18 hours.

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

15 ounces of meat and sausage, 6 ounces of cheese and 1.3 eggs (or 4 ounces of egg)

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

Can’t afford grass-fed, but would eat it if I could. I’m retired on a fixed pension and love to travel and have a large house to maintain along with many hobbies. I choose to spend my money on that. I think the advantage of grass-fed, organic meat is highly over-rated, but someday when we have the data (probably not in my lifetime), I may be proven wrong.

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

I only drink water and carbonated mineral water.

16. Do you use salt?

The only thing I add a touch of salt to is the baking soda I use to brush my teeth. I do not add salt to any food.

17. Do you use spices?

Many of the sausages I eat have spices in them. Otherwise I don’t use them.

18. Do you take any supplements?

None since starting ZC 407 days ago.

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

My lunch casserole costs $1.70 a serving. My 10 ounces hot dogs and sausage in the evening average $2.85 (I can often do better by stocking up. The Nolan Ryan All beef Frankfurters I usually eat are normally $4.99/14 oz but occasionally they go on sale for $1.99 with unlimited quantities, that’s when my freezer fills up). I can regularly find all beef sausage for $4/pound sometimes cheaper on sale. And even at regular price (which I rarely pay), my 3 ounces of Aged cheddar cheese in the evening costs $0.70. I have included the cost of the cheese and eggs in the casserole in the cost of the casserole so my total daily cost is $1.70 for casserole for lunch and $2.85 for my 10 ounces of sausage/hot dogs and $0.70 for the cheese in the evening. For a total daily cost of $5.25 or in a 30 day month $157.50.

When I’m out I almost always eat at McDonalds where I get a triple cheeseburger no bun, just meat and cheese which is 30 grams of protein, and off the breakfast a la carte menu – now served all day – I order a “round egg” (some McDonalds will only serve a “folded egg” after breakfast time), a sausage patty and a slice of white cheddar cheese which comes to 15 grams of protein for a total of 45 grams of protein for the meal which is $4.95 where I live.

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

Stock up when you find meat on sale and throw it in a freezer.

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

I play tennis, both singles and doubles 2-5 times a week. Once a week I lift weights using the “Body by Science” protocol by Dr. Doug McGuff. More on that can be found on my website page here: http://www.borntoeatmeat.com/body-by-science.html

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 think the biggest benefit is the self-respect and self-confidence I’ve gained since returning to my “high school” weight. I was fat for most of my life and that’s kind of like being a leper in our society. Most fat people feel like they have to be “extra nice” and suck up to people or no one would want to be around them. We’re always trying to do that “little extra” like pick up the check or work on that holiday instead of the other guy despite the fact we worked the last 3 holidays. Fat people often become “door mats” to try to get people to like them, I certainly did. This is beginning to fade (though not completely). It’s not that I now want fat people to act like that toward me, though I often detect them doing so, it’s just that I like to demand equal status to anyone I meet now and am very less likely to back down in an argument than when I was fat. I feel good about myself when I walk into a room. You can’t put a price on that.

My highest weight was around 280 lbs, and I am currently now at 180 lbs. You can read the details of the weight loss I have experienced by following first a low carb and now Zero Carb on my website here: http://www.borntoeatmeat.com/i-need-to-lose-100-pounds.html

image

My tennis game has improved. I wasn’t really sick or arthritic when I was fat so nothing to improve there.

I did have a recurring skin condition since childhood called hand eczema (dishidrotic eczema) where 2-3 times a year I would have a terrible itchy, blistering red rash break out on my hands and sometimes my feet and last for 4-6 weeks. I have not had an outbreak since going low carb and grain-free 4 years ago, so I can’t totally attribute it to Zero Carb.

Also there has been a dramatic improvement in my toenails which, since about the age of 30, have been thickened yellow and crumbly, a condition called tenia unguium (fungal toenail infection). This has almost completely cleared up and my toenails though a few still have some thickening which may be from scarring of the growth plates over the years have no yellow color and are not crumbly. You can actually see the pink flesh through them again which totally surprised me. Again the improvement predated Zero Carb, but has continued to improve on Zero Carb.

Also I have multiple aging spots common in people of English/Irish ancestry called Seborrheic Kerratosis which are raised, flat, usually round, moles with a “ground glass” texture that easily scrape off. Mine seem to be regressing in size and I am not developing new ones.

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

The simplicity. It frees me up to do so many other things not having to worry about preparing some fancy, exotic meal. I have begun a career as a voice actor producing Audiobooks in a 5’X7’ studio I built with my own hands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LL3XBSAamWU My first Audiobook “Escape from Aliens”, read under my “stage name” of Somerset Hamilton is now selling well on Audible.com and in the iTunes store. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB9z8Wl0UTg

I had a blast doing the voices of a Navy SEAL and a female USAF Captain who get captured by aliens and encounter 18 other captive aliens and 5 alien captors all of whose voices I had to create. Not to mention the ship computer and 3 starport controllers.

I do the work on my own car and actually have a video I made on Replacing the Camshaft Position Sensor that has had 65,000 views on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3z43830FQQ .

I try to play the piano as much as possible . I did a Music video of my wife and autistic daughter feeding the ducks at our old house in Bayou Vista, TX with our cat having other plans in “Silent Movie” style and did the accompaniment on the piano myself totally improvising the Cole Porter song from memory using no music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7YKkBCM4o8

I’ve restored a 2003 Honda Shadow Motorcycle and have added a 140 dB horn, LED headlight, hard saddle bags with a cigarette lighter plug and 4 port USB charger. Still to come is a hard trunk and I am planning to take it on a 10 day solo motorcycle odyssey to New Mexico and Utah in July staying with friends and using a 1 man tent to camp in National and State parks along the way.

I’m currently planning to start “section hiking” the Appalachian trail next summer. I plan to start in Georgia and do 10 days eating only Pemmican and see how far I get then start there the next time I can find time to do some more hiking.

I was playing a lot of tennis tournament and actually got my ranking in my age group up to #5 in the state but I’ve cut back a lot as they have raised the entry fees to $38 for most tournaments and I just have other things I want to spend my money on like a ultralight 1 man tent and a big drone to fly with and take pictures of the Pelicans here in Galveston for a music video about them I’m thinking about creating. I have been a photographer all my life with my specialty of scenic landscapes.

I know it seems like this has little to do with your question but here is where I feel it fits in. I think the cause of the obesity epidemic in America is due to 4 major problems:

First, poor food choices. I think people choose high carbohydrate, low fat foods which in and of themselves are fattening (ZC solves this problem).

Second is “Addictive Eating”. Sugar and probably wheat and other plants like tobacco, coffee and tea are as addictive as cocaine or heroin. In my opinion these should be eliminated from a person’s diet because the best way to beat addiction to a substance is to give it up completely.

Third, habitual eating due to boredom. I think a lot of Americans are just bored because they are stuck in jobs they don’t like which don’t stimulate their minds or allow them to be creative. I think many people “console themselves” with sugar and big meals they don’t really want due to boredom and the stress of their situation. A Zero Carb diet makes it easier not to do this.

And Fourth, bad eating habits. All grazing animals are fat. Most Americans I know who are fat are “grazers” they have little snacks here and there and always get their 3 meals a day in. I think 1 or 2 meals a day is a much better eating schedule. Tim Noakes MD who I love recently got into trouble for saying the same thing. http://businesstech.co.za/news/lifestyle/123305/if-you-eat-every-three-hours-you-are-addicted-to-food-tim-noakes/

In short if a person wants to avoid boredom they need to find a job or at least a hobby that lets them feel they’re being creative and have some control over their situation. Zero Carb, because it works so well with my twice a day eating schedule, allows me the freedom to do all the things I do without obsessing about food, riding the blood sugar rollercoaster that oftens give carb eaters the morning and mid afternoon drowsies unless they carb up again.

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

One thing I’ve learned in my life is that consistency and discipline are the keys to success. I didn’t get to be a “Full Bird” Colonel in the Army without them. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on, don’t give up. Keep your eye on the goal. Hang a dress or pair of jeans you’d like to get back into where you’ll see it several times daily. Hang out with people on Facebook who are having success with ZC like you and me.

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

Most of my friends and family are strongly addicted to sugar and a few to alcohol. I get the same treatment on the subject as if you were to tell your close college friend who you happen to meet at a reunion and who has become a daily alcohol drinker and is quite happy with it how good you feel because you’ve stopped drinking for a year, a lot of “polite smiles, let’s change the subject”. I think everyone should expect that. Only when they get desperate and see your success will people start asking you questions and become open to advice. You should expect the usual attacking questions when you first begin, “what about your Cholesterol?”, “Where will you get your vitamins”…etc. These fade over time with close family and friends and acceptance has replaced it with most of my close friends and family. I have convinced a few to try low carb, but not Zero Carb.

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

I’ve probably run my mouth too much already. First, I’d like to say to anyone following a Zero Carb diet: I hate seeing my 11 years of college, medical school and Family practice medical residency training wasted. Please feel free to tag me on Facebook in any of the Zero Carb groups if there is a medical issue or other issue you think I can help with.

For those Zero Carb groups that do not recommend limiting protein, I would say that if you have not damaged your liver and pancreas yet with years of carb, sugar or alcohol abuse, I think this approach can work fine and is certainly much healthier than any plant based diet and works very well for many people. I severely damaged my system with 61 years of carbohydrate, sugar (I was addicted to candy bars) and a little alcohol (never really a long term problem for me).

My medical opinion is that if you’re not losing the weight you want, your triglycerides don’t come down under 80 and your Hemoglobin A1c doesn’t come down under 5.5% after 6-12 months on the unlimited protein program you should consider restricting protein as I do and follow the markers I indicated and see if they don’t move in the right direction.

But I don’t claim to be infallible or all knowing and I’m not some kind of power tripper who wants to manage other people’s lives. Whatever your stance on Zero Carb, I will support you. And in forums where this is an issue, I will try to restrict myself addressing the Zero Carb medical question without bringing up the protein issue, as I know what a hot button issue it can become. Both unlimited protein Zero Carb and Keto Zero Carb have so much more in common than differences that I hate to see all the anger this issue can generate.

I hope we will all be able to begin treating each other with respect like we were friends but Methodists and Presbyterians having similar but slightly different dogmas but respecting each other and trying to be considerate about any differences.

image

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.

 

Advertisements

How a High Fat Ketogenic Diet Saved My Life by Jeff Cyr

image

Editor’s note: Jeff is not 100% Zero Carb. He does eat 10-15 grams of carbs per day from cucumber, radish, and spinach. He also consumes coconut oil which most Zero Carb practioners do not do because it it from a plant. Jeff’s diet is 85% fat from meat, butter, and coconut oil. He eats only 75 grams of protein per day. In spite of these differences from a standard Zero Carb diet, I felt his story was too inspiring not to share. May it reach those who most need to hear it.

In Jeff’s words…

I realize some of you here have already seen these pictures of me and have read my story before. My only intend in re-writing this short story on what a ketogenic diet has done for me is to maybe give hope to some of you out there that may think there is no way out of your current situation. To maybe show you that no matter how bleak your situation may seem right now that there is a way out. I realize that following a ketogenic diet may seem a bit extreme to some of you. Some of you may be here to try and find out more information on what exactly is a ketogenic diet and what can it really do for you. Hopefully once you have read this short story some of you may be willing to give this a try. And who knows some of you may even save your own lives the way I have saved mine.

I firmly believe I was born with a pre-disposition to insulin resistance. I was always overweight as a child and at the age of 17 I weighed 345 pounds. We were always taught to eat a high carb based diet and to never eat fat or cholesterol. I went on many diets during a 30 year span I must have lost 100-130 pounds on at least six different occasions always regaining all what I had lost and a little bit more. Those of you that have seen pictures of Butter-Bob Briggs on his website were he has a picture of himself with no shirt on at his biggest size this is also a picture of me. Only difference is I was like that at the age of 17. I wore size 48 waist pants and 3xxl shirts.

image

I am going to start this story back in October of 1997. I was rushed to a hospital in southern Maine where I found out that they had to preform an emergency surgery on my lower back. I was diagnosed with severe lumbar spinal stenosis. The neurosurgeon had to preform what is called a laminectomy and fusion of the lumbar area(low-back) L-3 L-4 L-5 L-6 with titanium rods and screws. I had been in pain from my lower back for a very long time, for the last year before the surgery, I could barely walk but I had to keep on working as I had no health insurance. I found out after that buy waiting so long for the surgery that I had done a lot of permanent nerve damage from the waist down.

Fast forward to May of 2001. From an injury that happened at work I had to have what is called a cervical neck fusion. I had ruptured 3 disks in my neck area C-4 C-5 C-6 so the same neurosurgeon performed a cervical neck fusion with bone marrow in place of the disks and fused with a titanium plate and screws. And then in January of 2004 came the final blow. From another injury at work I needed another back surgery. This time it was the mid-back(thorasic) The same neurosurgeon performed a laminectomy and fusion of T-11 T-12 with titanium rods and screws. After this final surgery I was declared permanently and totally disabled by the Doctors and the workers compensation board. I was 44 years old.

Then in April of 2005 I had to go in for hernia surgery. They had to do routine blood work before the surgery This is when I got the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. I had a fasting blood sugar of 300 and an A1C of 12.0. The doctor put me on metformin and avandia and blood pressure medication and proceeded to tell me “Welcome to the club you’ll probably have to be put on insulin in a few years. And yes he also send me to a diabetes nutritionist who fed me the typical high-carb diet whole grains fruits etc.

After my first back surgery back in 1997 I was put on pain medication. After time I was prescribed more hard core drugs eventually ending up on oral morphine in high doses. Also from all these different surgeries and fusions i was left with not very much mobility. I weighed 330 pounds and pretty much was confined to a lazy boy recliner 24-7. I was not able to lay in a bed to sleep. I had to sleep in my chair. I had to walk with a cane or a walker only very short distances. If I went to any store I had to use the motorized handicap chairs. This was especially humiliating the stares you get from people as you drive buy them in your motorized cart. This pitiful life went on like this for a while but change was coming.

image

In November of 2008 is when when my life started slowly to turn around. I had felt sorry for myself long enough it was time for something different. The first thing I did was to quit smoking cold turkey. I started smoking at the age of 16 and the last 10 years I had been smoking 3 packs a day. After 2 months had gone by I stopped oral Morphine cold turkey without consulting my pain management doctor. The withdrawals you hear people speak of from heroin are the same with oral morphine. These withdrawals lasted 3-4 weeks. Then in April of 2009 I started riding a recumbent stationary bike at the gym. I went on another diet and started slowly losing weight. In the span of 14 months I went from 330# to 167#. Thats a total weight loss of 163 lbs.

You would think I was Healthy now, right? I thought I was my doctor even told me I no longer had diabetes! My A1C was 5.9% and this led my doctor to telling me that I no longer had diabetes. At this point I was still clueless! Still clueless that an A1C of 5.9= an average blood sugar of 133. Clueless as to the level of insulin resistance inside of me. Clueless that by following the standard ADA recommendations I would have constant high blood sugar and high insulin levels floating in my blood stream. And also clueless that a weight of 167 was NOT healthy for me. I had lost body fat but during this weight loss journey I also lost a lot of muscle and bone density. Some of you may be wondering muscle and bone density? The short answer to this is when one is not fat-adapted you are still primarily a sugar burner. Problem is being a type 2 insulin resistant diabetic you can`t use glucose very well so your liver ends up taking amino-acids from your muscle and bone to maintain what is called glucose homeostasis.

Then in November of 2011 everything changed in my life you could say everything came crashing down. After a series of blood work -ultrasound-cat scan and finally a liver biopsy I was diagnosed with an auto-immune fatal liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis. This liver disease attacks the bile ducts of the liver slowly plugging up the bile ducts where bilirubin and bile can no longer get through. This eventually causes cirrhosis of the liver leading to total liver failure. The only cure would be to get a liver transplant. I was told all this by my liver doctor and told that once diagnosed people live on average 8-10 years. Told there was no medicine nothing could be done. I suppose He was expecting me to go home sit down in my lazy boy and wait to die.

This is when I started doing research on line and one thing led to another. I started with auto- immune diseases this somehow led me to Dr. Ron Rosedale. This for me is what got everything started for me as far as educating myself on what you put in your mouth. How changing the macro-nutrient composition can change everything. I read everything I possibly could find watched every video that I could find online. Then I started researching Dr. Steve Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek. I was so intrigued by this ketogenic diet I had to learn everything I possibly could. This led me to a lot of experts on this subject and I soaked everything up like a sponge. I still continue to learn about the ketogenic diet and its many benefits.

image

In my former life of employment, I was a machinist-metal fabricator-welder. So the way my mind works I had to learn all the inner workings of the ketogenic diet. How exactly everything broke down step by step in the body. Most of you will not have the interest to know any of this nor would you need to. But because of my health situation it caused me to really dig deep into this subject. I studied the ketogenic diet for one full year before implementing it into my life.

I have to go for blood work every 6 months for my liver. After 6 months my liver function panel started slowly getting better. After one year even better. The doctor said I don`t know what you`re doing but whatever it is keep on doing it. After 2 years all of my blood work for my liver was totally normal. Today after almost 3 years on the ketogenic diet all of my liver function is totally normal. All of my blood work is totally normal. My doctor says he knows I still have the disease because of the results of my liver biopsy. But he also says that if he just goes by the blood work that I no longer have the disease!

Also there are a few more things that a ketogenic diet has done for me

1-After my initial weight loss of 163# I had lost a lot of muscle and bone and was not healthy. Once I was fat-adapted and using fat as my energy source I regained that lost muscle and bone density. Today I weigh 195# and have maintained this weight for over 2 years now.

2- After having been diagnosed type 2 diabetic in April of 2005 and told I would probably need insulin in the near future. Today my fasting blood sugar is 72-83 My A1C is 4.4 which is an average blood sugar of 79. My fasting insulin is 2.2. This is all with no diabetes meds only diet.

3-My cholesterol and triglycerides before ketogenic Trigs-200 HDL-29 LDL-100 My cholesterol and trigs today Trigs-38 HDL-105 LDL-64

4- My pain that I have from all my surgeries is much more manageable with a ketogenic diet. I am still drug free.

5-I still need a cane or walker to walk but I no longer need a handicap motorized cart in stores.

I am still confined pretty much to my lazy boy chair and still cannot lay in a bed to sleep. But I still ride my stationary bike every morning. I am 55 years old but I can honestly say I feel like I was 30 years old. I am full of energy and have very clear thinking. I now feel good about my life for the first time in a long time. I feel that I have many many more years ahead of me! And I truly believe that this is only possible because of the ketogenic diet!

Thank you to everyone that took the time to read!

image

Is a Zero Carb Diet a Ketogenic Diet?

image

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.

 

Is An All-Meat Diet Really So Extreme?

image

The Zero Carb interview I did with The Andersen Family was recently shared on the popular Facebook page Authority Nutrition. It generated several hundred comments from readers. Some of the comments were sincere and thoughtful, while others were down right ignorant and unkind.

Even though Charlene – the wife and mother of this lovely family – healed her very ill body from Lyme Disease, and then went on to produce two beautiful and very healthy boys, by adopting this diet 17 years ago, they were none-the-less criticized by many for their dietary choice. Apparently, even the hardest evidence is impossible to accept when one’s beliefs are in the way.

As long term Zero Carb carnivore Michael Frieze said in response to the general tenor of these comments, “People like to say what they think without really thinking.” Unfortunately, this observation is all too true, and I was probably guilty of the same kind of unthinking remarks myself at one time – being the former vegan that I was – before I decided to broaden my horizons and read beyond my comfort zone of beliefs.

One of the most frequent comments I heard from the readers of this post was that they felt an all-meat diet was too “extreme” and “unbalanced” and – by implication – therefore somehow “inappropriate” and “wrong.” There is a strong bias toward the idea of “moderation” in all things in our modern Western culture, and this perspective is often applied to the foods we eat.

But, as low carb doctor and scientist Stephen Phinney – author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living – has pointed out, it may be neither wise nor valid for us to apply “moderation” thinking to our diet, especially if we are sensitive or even intolerant to carbohydrates.

For example, when someone has a problem with alcohol, the treatment of choice is the complete elimination of all alcohol from the person’s diet. A moderate intake of alcohol is generally considered to be an incredibly dangerous and unhealthy practice for an alcoholic. Exiling it from one’s life is neither labeled as “extreme” and “unbalanced,” nor seen as an “inappropriate” and “wrong” approach to the problem.

As Dr. Phinney further argues,  “If consuming lots of carbohydrate provided some essential nutrient that would otherwise be lacking, then we might agree that a low carbohydrate diet is unbalanced or even extreme. But that’s clearly not the case. Think of it this way – what if you lived in California and planned a vacation in Hawaii. Would you believe someone who told you going that far was ‘extreme’, and therefore you ought to try flying just half way there instead? In this analogy, practicing this form of moderation would land you in seriously deep water. ‘Moderation’ and ‘balanced’ are meaningless terms when we are talking about ‘islands of safety’. And if your body is carbohydrate intolerant, eating a low carbohydrate diet is your island of dietary safety. Should a person with gluten intolerance consume moderate amounts of gluten so they can have a balanced diet? Of course not. Then why should a person with carbohydrate intolerance consume moderate amounts of carbs to meet some arbitrary criterion of a ‘balanced’ diet?” (p. 43)

So, why is the elimination of all carbohydrate-containing plant foods considered to be “extreme,” “unbalanced,” “inappropriate,” and “wrong” for people who feel less than well after eating them? Especially given the fact that humans evolved on an all-meat diet, as explained by Nora Gedgaudas in her book Primal Body, Primal Mind. (Please see my page on the Original Human Diet for a detailed explanation.)

In fact, examined through this lens, veganism is a lot more “extreme” for humans than an all-meat diet is because no human population in history has ever willingly eschewed all animals foods for any length of time. Many long-term vegans – like myself and Lierre Keith (author of the excellent book The Vegetarian Myth) – are discovering the negative health ramifications that occur as a result of avoiding all animal foods for years.

Another reason I find it odd that an all-meat diet is viewed as “extreme” by so many people is that a significant number of wild animals – that we are all familiar with – rely on a single type of food for their nourishment. For example:

Bison live almost entirely on prairie grasses.

image

 

Koala Bears live almost entirely on Eucalyptus leaves.

image

 

Panda Bears live almost entirely on Bamboo plants.

image

 

Wolves live almost entirely on the flesh of other animals.

image

And none of these animal’s diets are deemed “extreme” or “unbalanced” or “inappropriate” or “wrong.” Instead, it is widely understood that these animals evolved to eat specific foods and that these specific foods provide all of the nutrition required for optimal health in these animals.

Many a zoo keeper has discovered that if these animals do not -in fact – receive the foods they evolved to eat, they will become ill and unable to reproduce. Once the appropriate food is supplied to their captive animals, the animals in their care recover their health and reproductive capacity.

It is truly astonishing that human doctors seem completely incapable of drawing a connection between their patient’s food intake and their patient’s health or lack there of…but that is a different discussion altogether. Suffice it to say that veterinarians are quite a bit more advanced in this understanding.

Why should it be any different for humans who evolved to become the large-brained creatures that we are today precisely because of the very high fat, predominantly all-meat diet that we ate for Millenia? (For an interesting look at how our biological need for fat likely drove us to become the humans we are today see Man: The Fat Hunter by Miki Ben-Dor.)

We even have the example of several modern remnants of our hunter-herder ancestors such as the Arctic Eskimos studied by Stefansson (see The Fat of the Land) and the African Maasai studied by Weston A. Price (see Nutrition and Physical Degeneration) to show us just how healthy an an all-meat and animal foods diet can be.

From an anthropological, archeological, historical, and ecological perspective, an all-meat diet appears to be the most natural nutritional choice in the world for nourishing the human body and mind. The only thing extreme about an all-meat diet – as far as I can tell – is that is allows us to live extremely well.