Zero Carb Interview: Sebastien Fortier

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

I started my ketogenic diet on December 17 2013, at the age of 36. I did about 6 months of no carbs, then i tried to re-introduce some carbs. I tried many forms of carbs from veggies, fruits, grains, and even certain kinds of sugar like dextrose, but after about another 6 months of experimentation, I realized that i was reacting negatively to all types of carbs. So i decided to give them up completely at the end of last year. So, now I have been completely zero carb again for over a year.

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

Health. I started to realize that there was something going on with my overall health in 2005. I had noticed that i was constantly tired. At that time, I was doing weight training every day. But I was not sleeping a lot, so it was normal for me to feel tired.

However, I felt that there was sometime more than just tiredness going on because I started to develop some skin rashes and some foods intolerances. After many eliminations diets, i discovered that all my skin rashes were food related. I began my real “diet journey” in 2009 and my goal was to find the perfect diet for me. So, from 2009 to 2013, i tried all the available diets. Sometime i tested two different diets at the same time by using the foods allowed from one diet that were also allowed in another diet.

During all that time, my health condition was getting worse. So i decided in the beginning of 2013 to try the “healthiest diet in the world” (at least according to some), and I adopted a completely vegan diet with absolutely no animal products. It was also a very low fat, low protein, high carb diet.

For the first 3 months I ate only fruit, a regimen highly promoted by Dr. Robert Morse. i bought his herbs and i follow his protocol. Big mistake! My blood work was horrible, my teeth were rotting from the inside out. It caused some sort of mineral deficiency or overwhelmed my body with too much sugar. And i was constantly hungry. I had to eat every 2 hours and i was hungry again 30 minutes after eating even if my stomach was still full.

Then, I switched to Dr. John Mcdougall’s high starch diet, a bit of veggies and rice, my teeth stopped rotting after about 1 week and started to heal on this diet. But I was bloated all the time. Half of my food intake was cooked (mostly grains like quinoa and amaranth), and half of it was raw.

At the end of 2013, I was 30 lbs underweight at only 140 lbs. (I am 5′ 8”), severely anemic, almost bed ridden. My bathroom is located on the first floor, and it was too physically demanding to climb 1 set of stair to go to the bathroom. So, i was peeing in a bucket that i kept in my bedroom. I’ve never been in such bad shape in my entire life. You can’t imagine that kind of weakness until you experience it. “Healthiest diet in the world” my ass…!

In the current picture of me at the top, I weigh 170 lbs. In the picture below, I weigh 154 lbs. I don’t have any pictures of myself when I was at my lowest point of 140 lbs. Prior to becoming ill, I actually weighed 195 lbs. and I was solid muscle.

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Then there was only one diet left on my list: Low Carb High Fat Ketogenic diet. Since i’ve been brainwashed all my life that fats were bad, fats make you fat, etc. i wasn’t expecting too much from this diet. But I had reached a point where I literally had nothing to lose. I was dying anyway. The ketogenic diet not only stopped my downward spiral, it began to reverse my condition. After about 2 months of eating a LCHF/Keto diet, my blood work was much better, my energy was increasing, and i was gaining some weight. That’s when I realized that i was on the right path.

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

It’s hard to put a number on this because i feel like my body in constantly adapting. When I first started my ketogenic diet, I ate no carbs at all and about 50 gm of proteins with about 280 gm of fat. With this macronutrient ratio, I was able to have a blood ketone level of about 1 to 1.5 mmol/dL upon first waking up in the morning. When I tried increasing my protein intake to 80 gm, my blood ketone level was greatly affected. My ketones would drop. But now fast forward to today, my fats intake is 240 gm and my protein intake is 200 gm and I still maintain a blood ketone level of about 1 to 1.5 mmol/dL in the morning. Because I was already so weak and sick to begin with, I didn’t really notice the “keto flu” as many healthier people might when first transitioning to a LC or ZC diet.

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

I didn’t read any books. I just did some research on the web and experimented along the way.

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

A zero carbs diet is already quite restrictive. Mine is even worse. I always had quite bad digestion and because of that i’ve hard time eating any kind of muscle meat. So, i very rarely eat steak, chicken, or bacon. My primary food sources are chicken liver, egg yolk, and whey protein powder. I have an intolerance to most milk products. I even react to organic Ghee. But for some reason, i’ve been able to find one brand of whey protein powder that give me no problem at all.

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

I rarely eat beef due to severe digestive problems.

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

I do not eat beef, but I cook my chicken livers very lightly. I have the heat setting on medium and then I continually stir the purée to cook it evenly for only about 5 minutes. It is hard to tell from the pictures below, but it is still pink.

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

My liver and my yolks have a total of about 45 gm of fats, and i need about 240 gm of fats per day so i do add a lots of fat. I mostly use lard, tallow, MCT oil, coconut oil, and macadamia nut oil.

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

Since my diet is so restricted, I basically eat the very same meals everyday. Four meals per day. I am a kind of freak in this department LOL. I weigh all my foods very precisely and i know exactly how much fat, protein, total calories, etc. that I consume every day. I know that at 3400 calories per day I start to gain body fat, at 3000 calories per day I will lose body fat, and to maintain my weight, i need about 3200 calories per day. I don’t eat until I am satisfied. I could probably eat twice as much food without any problems, but that would give me 6000 calories per day and would make me fat. But I do not feel hungry am not really hungry, and I have stopped thinking about food constantly since I started eating a high fat ketogenic diet.

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

Yes, i eat chicken liver everyday.

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

I did a lot of experimentation with the bone broth and unfortunately for me, all bone broth gives me a skin rash.

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

I always have 4 small meals per day. Each of my meals weigh 125 gm and fill about a half of a cup. I blend everything in my Vitamix to help my body digest it better.

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

I have 200 gm of chicken liver per day and 6 egg yolks.

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

All of my chicken livers and eggs are organic.

Here is a step-by-step photo journal of how I prepare my liver, egg yolk, whey, and fat Zero Carb “smoothie.”

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

I react to so much that i decide to stick to water only.

16. Do you use salt?

From what i’ve read, you are supposed to increase your intake of salt on a ketogenic diet, so i am currently adding about 4gr of sodium per day from sea salt.

17. Do you use spices?

Again, because of my multiple reactivity to things, I prefer to not use any.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I do take general multi-vitamins, vitamin D, various amino acids and whey protein powder.

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

Probably around $300 (Candian)

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

Unfortunately, not really.

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

I do weight training 6 days per week, and i try to keep the intensity to the max.

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 have more energy, I am way less bloated, I can control my body fats % much more easily, and I am much less sick than before.

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

The simplicity.

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

Don’t be afraid to experiment, don’t trust everything you read, give it a try and see how it’s working for you.

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

Everybody seem to think that I am a weirdo by eating this way, but i don’t much care. I do what i can with what i have in order to get better. In the end, you have to listen your own body.

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Please visit my “Interviews” page linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other long time Zero Carb veterans.

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

 

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My First Two Months on Zero Carb by Sura

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Sura’s precious kitty.

Well, my name is Sura and today is the 58th day of my Zero Carb journey. Sorry for not posting any before/after photos, or more personal information about myself, but – for now – I’d like to keep my new way of eating a secret. But I’d love to share my story with you because you understand me, because – if you’re already reading this amazing blog – I know you won’t criticize my choice to eat this way. However, some of you do know me from the secret Zero Carb group on Facebook called ZIOH 2 (an off-shoot of the public Zero Carb group on Facebook called Zeroing in on Health).

I’m 23 years old, and I’ve always had some extra body fat on me. When I was a child, I never liked candies, cakes, or cookies, and I really didn’t have a sweet tooth. My favorite foods were chicken, salty fish, beef, sausage, etc. I was in a good shape for my age, and I was healthy. But when I was 15 years old, I made the worst decision of my life, and I became a vegetarian. I love animals, and I thought that it was not fair to kill them for food.

I also thought that being a vegetarian would help me to be skinnier like the Victoria Secret models. Well, I forced myself to eat and love vegetables (I hated them before), and I also started eating a lot of baked foods and sweets. Each year, I gained more weight and reached to my maximum of 72 kilos (or 158 lbs.). It was a nightmare for me, and – during those 7 years – I tried a lot of stupid diets in order to lose weight. I tried to eat nothing but steamed rice during one month, then only potato, yogurt, cabbage…etc. But after each of these crazy diets, I just weighed more and more.

Finally, in November of 2013, I started following the ‘recommended’ and ‘healthy’ low fat high carb diet, plus working out, which I did for 3 months until February 2014. Did I lose weight? YES. I lost 2 whole kilos!!! 2!!! (or 4.4 lbs.) But – mysteriously – I looked bigger. Then I discovered counting calories and downloaded 20 different apps to my phone to count them. I spent 2 hours at the gym, EVERYDAY! I was exhausted. But, I started losing weight and this caused me to restrict my calories even more.

I developed an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa. My worst nightmare. I started eating only 400-500 calories daily – just from steamed vegetables and fruits. My period stopped, I was always cold, I lost a lot of weight and was now 49 kilos (or 108 lbs.) at 165 cm (or 5′ 5″). I looked sick, my hair started falling out, my skin was dry, I was starving all the time, I was fainting everywhere I went because of hunger, I couldn’t sleep at night because of my heart pain, I became anti-social, and lost all my friends.

Then my father died and this made everything worse. I was sure that I was very sick, and I that would also die very soon. But I promised myself to keep it in secret because I did not want to make my mum to worry or be sad. Because…I’d rather die than be fat! See how smart I was?

In November 2014, I learned about the ketogenic diet, and all the problems associated with eating too many carbohydrates. I read and listened to every single piece of information I could find in books, articles, videos, etc. about ketogenic eating, and it made so much sense to me. So, I decided to quit my long coveted vegetarianism, and I started eating chicken and fish again.

But the fear of fat made me eat only lean chicken breasts, lean tuna, and low-fat cottage cheese. I knew that I needed to eat high fat, moderate protein, and 20 gms. of carbs daily but I had a hard time making myself do it. Anyways, I was still counting calories, and counting my macro-nutrients (i.e. protein/fat), and spending a lot of time thinking about food, and craving carbohydrates constantly. I was even thinking about what to eat for a snack while I was still eating my dinner!

I also forced myself to do intermittent fasting (IF) while I was hungry. Yes, I was maintaining my weight at 53 kilos (or 116 lbs.), but I was also maintained my ‘zombie look.’ I work as a diplomatic representative, and my career was almost over because I couldn’t concentrate on my work.

The positive side was: I stopped exercising all the time and could still maintain my lower weight. But nothing else. I was tired and wanted to sleep all the time. I was not happy and was – in fact – very depressed. Plus, I was spending a lot of money on taxis from work to home (the way is only a 10 minutes walk on foot) because I felt so weak.

One day, in February 2015, while asking some questions about chia seeds on the Internet forum ‘Reddit,’ I saw a post about Kelly Williams Hogan‘s blog My Zero Carb Life. I clicked it and started reading her blog. I read it again…and again…and again. I’ve literally read each article she has written at least 50 times! While reading her story, I was amazed and shocked at the same time. I could so relate to her experience and struggles with food and weight. So, I decided to give the Zero Carb diet a try.

Well, it has been almost 2 months now that I’m eating only from animal kingdom: beef, chicken, fish, eggs, bacon, pork, lamb, butter, ghee, and tallow. I’m not counting calories or macro-nutrients, or anything else. Can you believe it? I still can’t believe it. It is like a dream. This is the first time in years that I am able to allow myself to eat until I am completely satisfied.

But at the beginning of eating this way, I felt like something was wrong. I was eating a lot of meat and fat. It seemed that I could not eat enough. At first this terrified me, but Kelly calmed my fears by explaining that she was also insatiably hungry during her first 6 months on Zero Carb and did gain some unwanted pounds. (Yes, she saved my life again!) Then, her appetite went down, she needed less food to feel satisfied, and the extra body fat easily melted away. (Please see Kelly’s post When Lowering Carbs Causes Weight Gain where she explains this in detail.) So, I trusted her and kept going.

The interesting part is that although I did gain weight initially, I actually felt skinnier. I now understand that I was losing inches and gaining firm muscles, while simultaneous losing body fat. My body is more lean and strong now. Finally, I am skinnier like Victoria Secret models, but I don’t really care anymore. Why should I look like them? I’m better just being me : )

The main benefits I have experienced so far…

  • I’m not excessively hungry anymore. I eat meat and drink water until satiety. Some days I eat a lot, some days I eat less. Sometimes I crave meat even after just eating a good sized meal. And so I eat it more.
  • At first, I thought…one day I’ll get sick of eating just meat, but – to my surprise – each time I feel hungry and eat, I enjoy it more.
  • I no longer feel cold anymore, and I have no more heart pain. I’m full of energy all the time.
  • My hair is thicker, my skin is so clear and soft, my nails are stronger, even my eyes are brighter.
  • Mentally and psychologically, I feel so confident and healthy.
  • I don’t lose time counting my macro-nutrients or looking for different recipes, so I can concentrate on my work better. And, amazingly, I got a big raise on my salary 10 days ago. YAY!
  • I am around my relatives and coworkers who have flu and cold all the time, but I never get infected.

I eat twice a day because I stay satisfied for a long time after eating. Breakfast and dinner are enough for me. I don’t drink coffee or use coconut oil (because they are not from animals), and I don’t eat dairy (because it always makes me crave more dairy and I easily overeat it). When I first started Zero Carb, I was using a lot of spices on my food, but now I don’t like them anymore. I use salt and pepper.

Another interesting thing is that I now prefer eating beef and lamb to other animals. Chicken and fish just don’t satisfy me anymore. I cook with tallow or ghee, and I add some butter just for taste. I’m not an experienced chef – because I never cooked meat before in my life – but I’m practicing and learning.

My butcher helps me to choose the best meat and my mum helps me with recipes. She is so happy that I am eating meat again. My fridge looks like a horror movie for my vegetarian friends, but fortunately I live alone with my cat. I’ve also turned my cat’s diet to Zero Carb and she is very happy about this!

My period is still missing (it has been almost a year), but I trust she will come in good time. I don’t want to go to my doctor, because they never understand me. Last time my doctor tried to make me eat a high carb low fat diet and gave me a lot of medicines to use. I threw them all away.

My bowel movements are okay. I only go once a week, but – somehow – I don’t feel bad about it. I’m not bloated, constipated, or in pain. It comes and goes naturally.

I don’t work out, but my muscles are very strong. I sit mostly at my office, but I do try to walk whenever possible. Additionally, I do yoga, just because I like it. I’m not mixing cardio with yoga anymore. That was making me feel too stressful, not relaxed.

Finally I want to say that when I decided to start this diet, I didn’t ask anything (I don’t say that asking is bad). I just read Kelly’s blog and started. All I can say is that this is the simplest way of eating ever. Eat meat, drink water, live your life! The rest is up to you.

Coffee, coconut oil, dairy… If they don’t create problems for you, then you can keep them. I’m not a coffee addict, I don’t like coconut oil, and dairy creates problems for me. So, I left them all behind. I simply embraced Zero Carb as ‘eating just from animal kingdom, nothing else.’ But, I do drink herbal teas because they warm me. I don’t worry about the calories or the macro-nutrient ratios anymore; I just let my body to decide it how much food it wants. If I am hungry, I eat.

If you are already healthy, and your metabolism has not been damaged too much by excess carbohydrate consumption, you really cannot overeat and gain weight on Zero Carb. But, if your past is dark and full of terrors – as was mine – then, in the beginning, your body might ask for a little bit more food to fix itself. Respect your body and feed it whenever it asks.

After some time, your body will fix itself, and you will lose that wild hunger and any extra body fat you may have gained. I sometimes wondered, what would happen if I had gained more weight in the beginning of Zero Carb? Today, after only 2 months of eating this way, I can confidently say that I would definitely keep going anyway because it saved my life and the benefits extend far beyond weight issues.

Yes, sometimes I still feel bad for eating animals, sometimes I keep my new way of eating a secret from others (like now), sometimes I have to eat before going to invited dinners, sometimes I have to pretend that I have allergies just to avoid eating birthday cake at a party… But, I now realize that this is how we should eat. It is the natural, ancient, and – I hope – future way of eating.

I am so happy to have discovered Zero Carb, thank you Kelly, thank you all of the other Zero Carb for your support and advice. Thank you, Esmee, for this blog. I enjoy being one of you. You are… we are… creating a new era. Thanks for reading!

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Sura’ very happy and contented Zero Carb kitty.

Sura posted an update on April 20th:

I always have terrible allergies during spring time. I had allergies to everything! Trees. Flowers. Air. Dust. Sunlight. My sensitivity to sunlight was the worst. Even 5 minutes of direct exposure to my skin would ruin my whole day. I could never go to the seaside. I have had to live like a vampire and stay inside all day or wear long sleeves when I go outside. But now, I am not reacting to the sunlight at all. Today, I spent 2 hours outside in the sun with my cat, and nothing happened. I am totally fine. I finally get to enjoy sunlight. I can’t believe this. This is a miracle for me!

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

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