Zero Carb Interview: Amy Menke

image

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

I started on April 1, 2015, so it has been a full year now.

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

I had eliminated (real) sugar from my diet by going LCHF in January, 2015. I also eliminated all caffeine during that same time. Two months later I transitioned to keto. At this point I had all sugar out of my diet, but I was now addicted to artificial sweeteners! I knew I had to do something to get past that addiction. I was already down to eating very few vegetables (no fruit), so giving them up was not a big deal. It was giving up the faux baked goods and fat bombs that was more difficult, because those were what provided my sweet fix on a daily basis. On April 1, 2015, I ran across Kelly Hogan’s blog, “My Zero Carb Life,” and then Esmée’s blog “Eat Meat Drink Water.” From there I found a couple of different Facebook groups dedicated to zero carb eating. I spent about 8 hours reading and researching that day, and by dinner time that night I had nothing but meat on my plate. I’ve eaten that way ever since that meal a year ago. The sweet addiction is gone!

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

From a psychological perspective, I adapted to a zero carb diet immediately. I’ve always loved meat and eggs, so I had no problems adjusting to eating nothing but that. Physically speaking, it was a different story. Coming from LCHF/keto, I had already gone through an excruciating “keto flu” in Jan. 2015 and I was already in nutritional ketosis. I started ZC at a normal healthy weight of 131 pounds. I gained 10-12 pounds between my second and fourth months of zero carb. Around July I decided to try decreasing my protein grams (to around 20% of calories) and increasing my fat grams (to about 80% by calories) to see if that would lead to taking off the weight I had gained in the beginning. My weight remained the same, but my clothes continued getting tighter. I also had severe problems with fat digestion and horrible nausea as a result. By October, I was done with the high fat experiment. I increased my protein grams back to around 120-130 grams and decreased fat grams back to around 100 grams. (I’m now currently eating an average of 140g protein per day). The digestive issues and nausea were gone overnight.

image

When I was 9 months into ZC, I had a full physical including a complete blood workup. My HDL cholesterol was 85, Triglycerides were 55, fasting blood glucose was 85, and all of my vitamin/mineral levels were normal. My LDL cholesterol was elevated, which I expected, but I demanded an LDL particle test for follow up. The results were: NO SMALL DENSE (harmful) particles detected! I have ALL LARGE FLUFFY (benign/good) particles! So no concerns there. A couple of my liver functions were slightly elevated, but I believe that was due to my body trying to continue to detox and adapt to processing fat. To assist my liver, I started drinking decaf green tea, rooibos, and some herbal teas (like dandelion), and I also add fennel, ginger, cayenne, and turmeric to most of my teas as well as a vitamin C and selenium supplement. I also added a daily serving of fish (for omega 3), liver (for choline and folate), and eggs (for choline) to my meals. It was also at this point that I started only wanting one meal a day instead of two.

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

By far, Esmée and the Facebook group Principia Carnivora, which she started with Michael Frieze, have been the most influential resources in my journey. I also do a LOT of reading and researching, but the book “Keto Clarity” by Dr. Eric Westman and Jimmy Moore was a very helpful read when I first transitioned to a ketogenic diet. I love reading new articles and studies as they emerge. I love to learn and expand my knowledge.

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

I eat only meat and eggs. I attempted to add cheese back to my diet in March, and I had no issues with it, but I found it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I can take it or leave it. So cheese is back out. No dairy. I also do not eat processed or cured meats, only fresh.

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

I eat only about 40% beef (this includes beef liver and heart). Every meal I eat includes 3-6 oz. fish (salmon, oysters, mussels, sardines, herring, cod, or mackerel), 3-5 oz. beef or chicken liver, 2 eggs, and coconut oil. From there, I also usually add 4-6 oz. beef of some kind and 4-6 oz. of chicken OR pork.

image

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

I eat all of my ground beef raw, never cooked. I cook steaks only 30 seconds on each side leaving the middle raw and cold. I like the flavor of slow cooked beef, like chuck roast and ribs, but the well cooked meat and fat do not digest well for me. If I eat well cooked meat, I must limit my portion to no more than 4 oz., or it will make me very nauseous.

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

Anything I cook gets fried in a skillet with about 2 T. of coconut oil. I add no other fat to my meals. (Editor’s note: strictly speaking, coconut oil is not considered to be a “zero carb” food even though it has zero carbs because it comes from a plant. Some people, like Amy, do really well with it, while others, like myself, do not. If you are sensitive to salicylates, it will not be a good addition to your zero carb diet because it is very high in salicylates.)

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

I have found that I feel best if I eat only a certain amount. (See question 13 for further details)

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

I eat beef or chicken liver every single day. I eat about one beef heart per month. I would eat kidney, brains, and other organs if I had access to them.

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

I only consume bone broth when I have cooked a roast or chicken in the crock pot and there is a good portion of resulting liquid left in the pot. This occurs maybe once every 3 months. So, not often.

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

I eat only one meal per day, and I do 1:23 intermittent fasting (eat 1 hour per day and fast for the remaining 23 hours. I usually eat no later than 4 pm, and often much earlier in the day because I sleep better without food in my stomach.

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

I eat 20-23 oz. of meat and eggs per day. If I eat anything less than 18 oz., I’ll want to eat again before bed. If I eat more than 24 oz., I am uncomfortably full and very sluggish. 20-23 oz. of food satisfies my body just perfectly.

image

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

I eat only commercial, conventional, grain fed, Walmart meats purchased on markdown. Liver and fish are the only thing I’ll pay full price for, because it’s already inexpensive enough.

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

I drink decaf green and rooibos teas on eating days. I have just started do some short 3-4 day fasts for the health benefits, and I drink only water when I do those.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, I use salt very liberally. I prefer pink Himalayan salt, but Celtic grey runs a close second. I have chronically low blood pressure and I really seem to need it. If I feel tired, that is usually a sign that I need more sodium.

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, but only pure spices without fillers, non-caking agents, or preservatives. I use curry, cayenne, turmeric, garlic, pepper, and fresh ginger (in my tea only).

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take magnesium, potassium, and sodium (salt) due to long-time low blood pressure (as mentioned above) and leg/foot cramp issues. I also take vitamin D3 during the winter. I am currently taking vitamin C and selenium just for liver support, but I will be eliminating those if my liver functions come back normal after follow up blood work is done.

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

I spend about $100-150 per month to feed myself.

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

Buy your fresh meats on MARKDOWN. Otherwise, look for SALES each week.


image21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?

The only exercise I get is 45-60 minutes of walking 5 or 6 days a week.

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 am no longer cold all the time (unless I’m fasting). I sleep much better and more soundly. I am much more mentally alert and more focused. I am no longer enslaved to needing sweets. In fact, I don’t even think about them or consider them to be “food” anymore. I don’t think about food all day anymore. And those 10-12 pounds I gained in the beginning?…..…I lost all those, too.

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

I love that I only feel a desire to eat once a day. It is so simple! I also love that I can fast for several days without much difficulty. And, of course, I LOVE eating meat!!

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

Eat the meats you like, and don’t “force” yourself to eat meats you don’t yet enjoy. Eventually, you’ll WANT to branch out to eating other things. And go very slow with increasing fat in your diet!!!

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

My friends and family are all very supportive, although none of them eat this way.

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

Yes, this way of eating takes a huge amount of determination and resolve in the beginning, particularly if you get hit with issues right off the bat. Keto flu and digestive issues are the two biggest culprits that can discourage people from continuing a zero carb diet. It takes most people a long time (months for some) to adapt to this way of eating. And for some, like me, it takes a lot of experimenting and tweaking until you find the right balance of foods, amounts of foods, fat, and protein that work the best for YOUR body. Everyone is different. Be patient and don’t give up!

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

Zero Carb Interview: Keidren Devas

image

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

Almost a year now.

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

I remember as a child I was very sensitive and from an early age I had eczema, a plethora of environmental allergies and asthma, all of which I was on multiple medications for. I also had an extremely compromised immune system and always had seasonal bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia; it seemed I was always on antibiotics and at the doctor’s office. When I look back it’s a wonder I survived my childhood at all!

As a teenager I ate the common SAD and suffered from fatigue, weight gain, anxiety and depression…If only I had known at that time what I do now about healing the gut and eliminating carbs and sugar…my life experiences within the world would have been so very different!

Then onto college and the whole fat free trend had just started! So I jumped on that bandwagon, eating all the processed and fat free foods, basically a 100% full-on sugar diet.

Then I transferred out to the west coast, and I quickly realized there was another way to eat other than the SAD diet. I began to read about alternatives, I started eliminating processed foods, started eating whole foods learning about a macro diet and began working at a health store and learning about supplements and alternative ways of healing…this was a very pivotal time in my life and my health did get a little better, way better than it was on a SAD diet!

I started fasting, doing different cleanses, losing weight, etc. My quest in life had begun and that was to feel good, and since I have never felt good I was always seeking to feel better. I then became a vegetarian, then a vegan, with these new ways of eating I suffered from fatigue, feeling cold all the time, depression, anxiety, very low blood sugar, sugar cravings. I ate this way on up to when I had my first child at age 24.

The actual birth was fine, but my body would not produce milk (low serotonin as I know now) and I dealt with postpartum depression, etc. My second birth a year and a half later was the same.

I then became a single mom of two, suffering from stress, severe chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, super low immunity, low blood sugar, low basal body temp, getting a different virus every other week, and an aching body that hurt so bad it was hard for me to function (fibromyalgia). I did somehow function though and no one really knew the inside hell that I was in fact dealing with and feeling.

In my 30’s, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and low adrenals, I began to take thyroid meds for awhile and saw numerous natural doctors and tried so many natural remedies, as well as diving into my own studies, discovering and learning as much as I could about low thyroid, hypothalamus function, adrenal exhaustion, etc.

I then began working for a naturopath who was really into the Raw Food movement, so I decided to try this and ate a raw food diet for almost two years. My ailments did not go away really though, and I can see now that I was just under a constant sugar high, but I felt stuck and did not want to ever go back to the other ways that I had been eating.

I started then to have a lot of digestive issues and pain in my gut in the morning and fatigue after I ate breakfast. So I began researching healing the gut and things like the GAPS diet, etc. I will never forget the day a friend of mine offered me some bone broth, this was such a profound moment in my recovery. With the first sip, I could literally feel the nutrients filling my body from within, warming me and relieving my aches and pains instantly.

I then started researching bone broth and began drinking it daily, and started learning about the Paleo and Primal diets, and began the shift of incorporating some meat and cheese and eliminated grain, and began to eat low carb. I started feeling so much better, my body became warm, my energy increased, joint pain was diminished, my digestion improved, my blood sugar and mood swings improved dramatically. My immune system was still very low though and I still didn’t feel completely at my optimum.

Looking back I was still at this point a sugar addict, having small bits of dark chocolate at night and I was still eating veggies. Into about my ninth month of low carb/Paleo/Keto, my dear friend Sondra Rose who had been coaching me and who also was on the same way of eating, told me she was eliminating all carbs including veggies from her diet and was only eating meat and occasional cheese, and lots of fat.

My first reaction was no way could I do that! How could that even be healthy…but I quickly caught myself remembering that I still wasn’t feeling at my optimum and was just lately pondering what I needed to shift next. So with Sondra’s encouragement, I decided the next day to give it a try. If you want personal one-on-one assistance in making the transition to a Zero Carb diet, you can contact Sondra through her website: http://www.sondrarose.com

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

In the beginning during the adaptation period, I increased my fat intake, sodium and drank bone broth daily and that really helped ease my symptoms of sugar withdrawal. I experienced some mild fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps mostly.

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

A good friend of mine who is a nutritional coach and on this WOE. Also the Facebook group Principia Carnivora and this website Zero Carb Zen.

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

My daily intake consists of mostly ground beef, ribeye, tri tip steak, salmon, lots of eggs, small amounts of cheese/lard/chicken and LOADS of butter and occasionally bacon.

I drink only water, and I will occasionally mix gelatin with hot water to make a warm drink.

I keep it simple with protein and fat consistent.

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

85% Beef

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

Ground Beef I cook well done, but steaks I cook blue rare.

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

Sometimes I add extra butter or lactose free sour cream.

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

Both, I measured my daily intake for a few weeks, and now I just eye ball it.

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

No liver, just don’t like the taste, but I will eat hearts when I can get them fresh and local.

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

No, just Geletin powder now.

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

Three

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

14 to 20 ounces

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

Both

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

Just Gelatin powder in hot water.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, in my ground beef and salted butter.

17. Do you use spices?

Some in my ground beef only. Garlic powder and pepper.

18. Do you take any supplements?

Magnesium at night every other day, 10,000UI of Vit D daily.

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

About $400.

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

Eat your ground beef and shop sales and stock up.

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

My work is physical and also yoga, and plank twice daily

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.)

Literally after only ONE DAY of eliminating ALL veggies and all plant material, my whole being felt better. I was calm, peaceful, strong, and energized. I instantly lost 10 pounds of water retention, all inflammation vanished, and I began to witness my body becoming muscular and strong. My energy is completely even throughout the day and it doesn’t seem like a day goes by that someone doesn’t comment on how I look like I am 25 when in fact I am 41! My Immune system has never been stronger, and my body, mind and spirit have never felt this strong!

The biggest “Ah-Ha!” moment for me was realizing how sensitive I really was to sugar, all carbs, and the plant kingdom in general. I realized that this is what had been aggravating my health all those years. Any amount of plant foods is just too much for my system, plain and simple.

For the first time in my life I feel FREE, ALIVE, and full of LIFE! This way of eating has absolutely by far been a lifesaver and a life regained for me. I have been able to really reflect the last few months on how I used to be and feel, and cannot believe I made it through. I am so thankful to have discovered a Zero Carb, All-Meat Diet.

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

Simplicity and how I feel!

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

Yes, take it slow, trust your body. Increase your water, fat and sodium intake in the beginning. Read and ask questions for support and wisdom from the folks in the Principia Carnivora group.

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

Yes, my kids know to set the table for me always with a steak knife!
26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?

Yes, I have just recently had the opportunity to be of assistance and lend my guidance and wisdom to two beautiful women who were suffering from very similar health ailments from years of eating a plant based diet. They too felt stuck like I had and did not know how to move forward.

It felt so good to share with them all that has healed for myself since shifting my diet to ZC. It also gave me an opportunity to reflect and see how far I have come and remember all the ways I used to feel.

They were in fact the catalysts for helping me realize how important it is to share my health story to help others on their journey to optimal health!

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.