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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

My First Four Months on Zero Carb by Ginny Walker

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Prior to finding the Zero Carb diet, I was eating very unhealthy. I was eating a lot of sugar and a lot of starchy carbs. I did not limit the amount of foods I ate. I ate without thinking about what I was putting into my body. I ate when I was hungry, bored, sad, depressed, etc. Food was more of an emotional crutch instead of a fuel for the body.

I have always had an unhealthy relationship with food. In my teens and early 20’s, I suffered from binge eating and bulimia. Through out my adult life I have tried numerous diets only to fail repeatedly and return to food, especially sugar, as my addiction. Eventually, my weight reached 278 lbs. This was the highest it had ever been in my life, and I was miserable.

In August of 2014, I was diagnosed with polyostotic fibrous dysplasia. I have benign bone tumors in 7 ribs, my entire pelvis bone, my femur, my skull, and my right facial bones. I had been in severe dilating pain for a couple of years and was on prescription pain medication that made me feel like a zombie.

This bone disease has no known cure and pain management is the only medical approach. I knew my weight was contributing to the pain and that I needed to make some changes to help myself. I did some research and came across this website. The information and stories inspired me and I started this way of eating on March 6, 2015. That was the beginning of my new life.

My transition to a Zero Carb diet was moderately easy. I really liked how simple it was to understand this way of eating. There is not a lot you have to learn in order to put it into practice. Eat meat, drink water. It is a mindset. Once you decide to do it, you just do it. I really want to live a better life and have better health, so I have decided I will do this to improve my life. I also want to be a better example for my children.

I did experience a few symptoms in the beginning. I had some mild headaches. I believe this was from sugar withdrawals. I also experienced some weird itching and tingling sensations on my skin that lasted a couple of weeks. That was mildly annoying and a bit alarming. I believe my body was detoxing in some form. After a month or so of Zero Carb eating, I experienced no more itching or tingling and my skin is now clear and refreshed looking.

My daily food intake: I average at least one and a half lbs. of beef a day and some days 2 lbs. I eat until I am full and satisfied. I usually consume one meal a day on average, but occasionally I will have two. I eat a lot of ground beef. I have two strips of bacon with every meal.

Sometimes I add cheese, but I try not to eat too much dairy due to weight loss plateaus it has caused in the past. I cook every meal in pure butter and drink water. I will have the occasional cup of black coffee with nothing added.

The biggest benefit I have experienced so far:

A 60 lb. weight loss in just over four months. I still have several lbs. to go, but this is huge for me!

Equally significant is that I no longer have bone pain from the bone tumors, and I am off all of my pain medications.

Although I am now 43, I have the energy of a 20 yr old.

I have been able to discontinued the medications I was taking for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

My skin looks amazing.

I no longer have insomnia, and I have normal sleeping habits for the first time in 6 years.

Additionally, my overall emotional health has improved tremendously.

I am looking forward to seeing what other benefits Zero Carb has in store for me in the future!

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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.

 

My First 2 Months on Zero Carb by Anne Engel

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Anne on Day 1 verses Day 60 of Zero Carb.

My story began in 2007. I was massively obese that time – over 500 lbs at 30 years old – and with no hope for change. I have been following the the standard diet suggested for weight loss: the whole grains, low fat, and no fun diet. I started to research other options and discovered low carb. I followed a low carb diet for 5 years, until 2012. Then, I decided to try a ketogenic diet which was higher in fat and even lower in carbs.

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Anne pre-low carb weighing about 500 lbs.

For most of the year, the only carbs I consumed came from leafy greens. However, during the summer, I included strawberries and tiny amounts of pumpkin, peppers and few other relatively low carb plant foods which did not normally eat on keto. I remained on a ketogenic diet for another 3 years, from 2012 until April of 2015. During the past 8 years of low carb and ketogenic eating combined, I successfully lost half of my body weight, or 250 lbs.

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Anne pre-low carb weighing about 500 lbs.

In the beginning of this year, I became very frustrated though, as I was working my ass of at the gym, eating really healthy food, and sticking to my diet… but I could not seem to lose anymore body fat. My weight would fluctuate two pounds down and then five pounds up, even though I was watching my macronutrient ratios, total calories, ketones levels, blood sugar numbers, etc. It was making me me completely crazy!

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Zero Carb Meal: Lamb chops, egg yolks, bacon, and water.

My feeling of frustration was so deep that I enlisted for a gastric bypass at the end of this year. Then, one day, I came across Kelly Williams Hogan‘s blog and read her story. This was my first introduction to a Zero Carb diet, and I was intrigued the moment I read about it. I spent a few days for researching it and was eager to try it for one reason in particular: when I was a kid I hated everything veggie and my mom had to push them on me. (To read all of the details of Anne’s Zero Carb journey, I recommend starting with her first post.)

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Zero Carb Meal: Steak cooked medium rare.

I always loved and wanted meat, but was often deprived of it. As a fat kid in the 1980s during the middle of the low fat craze, I lived with the pressure to lose weight and guess what? I was fed healthy whole grains with no limit and was only allowed tiny portions of meat. So reading about a way of eating that allows me to only eat what I really was extremely tempting.

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Zero Carb Meal: Raw pork and raw egg yolks.

I decided to jump in with both feet and started my Zero Carb journey two months ago. My transition to this lifestyle was pretty smooth. For the first few days, I suffered minor headaches and was tired – but nothing major to complain about. When I switched from moderate low carb to a ketogenic diet back in 2012, the adaptation phase was much, much worse and took me a lot longer to adjust.

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Zero Carb Meal: Pre-cooked beef for the office.

The hardest part of the transition, for me, was the social aspect. When people tell me I looks so healthy now and ask what I have done to lose weight, I have learned that It is best not to explain how I eat. For some strange reason, it always ends up in weird side effects, like people pushing cake on me with the lame excuse that it contains essential nutrients. (See Anne’s blog post: The Odd Case of “Vitamin Cake” Deficiency for more details on this bizarre phenomenon.)

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Anne’s loose skin shrunk from 3.6 cm to 2.8 cm over a two week period.

Socially, I am still in a bit of a fight with this situation that my so beloved and relaxing carnivorous lifestyle is a taboo and ends up in stupid ethical discussions. Or in discussions about how I am going to become deficient in vitamin C. Most people are too lazy or set in their ways to read and educate themselves about the advantages of eating this way. However, the great benefits of this diet make it worthwhile to go through the social transition as well.

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Anne on Day 1 verses Day 60 of Zero Carb

Here are the major improvements I have noticed so far: First, I lost almost 8 lbs. of fat in the first 30 days of Zero Carb. I had a DEXA, so I know exactly that it was in fact fat that I lost and not just water. In fact, My percentage of water actually increased. So that was exactly the thing I wanted to see… Zero Carb has restarted my weight loss. And with ease! In 10 days, I have another DEXA and cannot wait to get the results. I am certain I have lost more body fat during the second month, as my clothes fit better and I look trimmer.

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Anne on Day 1 verses Day 60 of Zero Carb

Another benefit is the wonderful sleep I now experience. I love lifting heavy weights at the gym, with emphasis on heavy. I always wanted to sleep more for better regeneration and results. I made time for more sleep, but I just could not sleep more that about 6-7 hours. Now I sleep 10-12 hours on some nights and that is really wonderful because It has improved my performance in the gym.

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Anne on Day 1 varses Day 60 of Zero Carb

My skin glows and I look very healthy. A lot of people have noticed this recently and have commented on it.

Also, I have had knee pain for years – the only effective remedy was to swallow 24 capsules of fish oil per day. Not only was that expensive, it was also disgusting. I stopped that routine a while ago because it just grossed me out and the knee pain returned in full force. On Zero Carb, the pain in my knee got worse for a few days and then suddenly disappeared completely, it is truly amazing.

Additionally, I just had my second period on Zero Carb, and it was both painless and quick. I don’t remember ever having a pain-free period. It is absolutely remarkable and makes life so much better.

And best of all, my thyroid blood test came back great for the first time in years. I have a normal, very good T3 reading now, yay! Before Zero Carb, it was close to the bottom of the normal range, and now it is close to the top. This way of eating seems to be healing my metabolism as well.

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Zero Carb Meal: Raw beef, raw pork, whole egg, coffee with heavy whipping cream.

I usually eat two meals a day. I have beef with every meal and combine it with other meats or eggs when I want some variation. I have better energy levels on beef than on any other meat or animal food, so I need it at least once a day to be happy and stay fit.

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Zero Carb Meal: Steak cooked medium rare.

The amounts of meat depend on my appetite. Some days, I will have almost a pound in one sitting, but on other days I can barely eat half a pound. I eat eggs occasionally and have some cheese in small amounts when I feel like it. I drink coffee with a spoonful of heavy whipping cream after breakfast just for the taste.

In the beginning of Zero Carb, I worried a lot about eating the right amount for weight loss, but after my first DEXA I trust my body to tell me how much to eat. That is one of the biggest benefits of Zero Carb in my experience. I feel calm and deeply relaxed about my food. I don`t have to stress out about weighing food, calculating calories, macronutrient ratios, or even measure my blood for ketones or glucose. It is such a relief to be free of all that and still be able to feel so healthy and vital AND finally lose weight again.

To continue following Anne’s Zero Carb journey, please see her blog Bad Ass Carnivore.

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Typical Fatty steaks and ground beef that Anne eats.

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.

 

My First 5 Weeks on Zero Carb by Teresa Dutton

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Teresa and her husband Dan

1) What kind of diet were you following before ZC?

Which year? LOL! I have been over weight since having my first son 23 years ago. In the last 23 years, I have tried almost every diet out there at least twice: Very Low Carb, Weight Watchers, Atkins, HCG, and too many diet pills to list (over the counter and Rx). I never stuck to anything for very long, usually because it was too restrictive and I would give up. In the summer of 2014, I did low calorie diet and lost about 45 pounds. But over the last 6 months, I started gaining it back. So, before I started ZC five weeks ago, I was on your typical SAD diet.

2) Why did you decide to try ZC?

To be totally honest….I am going to Cancun, Mexico in December of this year (2015). It is a trip of a lifetime for me, and I don’t want to be overweight when I go. I also am just sick and tired of not having the body I want, and I am really not happy with myself. I have known for a long time that carbohydrates don’t agree with me. Even on my low calorie SAD diet I didn’t eat a lot, but my diet was mainly carbs. I am almost 42 and I feel like it is way past time for me to make a change and “get it together, so – when I heard about Zero Carb – I was in the place where I was ready for it

3) What was your transition to ZC like? Easy or hard? Symptoms?

My first two weeks on Zero Carb was very easy. I had no cravings, my energy was excellent, and I felt really wonderful over all. However, the second two weeks were really hard. I tons of cravings, no energy, no motivation, and I felt really horrible overall. I also experienced allergy-like symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion. I thought of quitting every 10 mins. Literally. By the beginning of week five I started to feel a lot better. The cravings vanished and my energy returned. My skin has become noticeably oilier on this diet as well.

4) What benefits have you noticed so far?

Unlike so many others doing Zero Carb, I have no major health problems. My primary issue was simply excess body fat, and I have already lost 20 lbs since beginning this way of eating. My starting weight was 188 lbs and today – five weeks into Zero Carb – it is 168 lbs. I still have about 30 more lbs to go, but I see myself getting there with no problem. Additionally, my moods are much more stable, and I am almost always in a good mood now. After being on sleeping medication for years, I am finally off of them. I discontinue them by the end of the second week, and it is possible that many of the negative symptoms I experienced in weeks 3-4 were do to me stopping this drug. I now wake up at 5:30 AM every morning ready to go, no more dragging. Also, my hands and feet are rarely swollen anymore.

5) What does your daily food intake look like?

As far as my personal Zero Carb food choices go, I follow what my body tells me it wants. Before Zero Carb, I was a chicken addict, but now all want is beef addict. I usually only eat 2 meal a day. Around 8:00 AM I will have 10 pieces of bacon and then at 2:00 PM I will have 1-1.5 lbs of steak (usually top sirloin) with a couple tablespoons of butter or lard. I am still drinking coffee with a small amount of heavy whipping cream each day. Sometimes I feel like having chicken or shrimp, but not very often. I don’t eat grass-fed, I just buy whatever is least expensive.

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Teresa when she began a Zero Carb diet and again after 5 weeks into it.

When you start ZC, you will get frustrated, it will be hard, you will feel bad, it will be awkward, you will think about quitting at times. But it does get easier, you will begin to feel better and get healthier. If you want this, don’t let anyone derail you! Everyone’s journey if different, try not to compare yourself to anyone. This is for you, so just do you and let yourself do you and you will succeed!

I love how easy it is to eat Zero Carb. No counting, no calculating, no recipes. When I am hungry, I walk into the kitchen, throw a steak in the skillet, and 5 mins later I am eating that steak. It is so easy. I have had amazing results in just 5 weeks. I can hardly believe it myself. I don’t work out, and I don’t stress over not working out. I have not had a problem with social events or eating out. I am just doing what I need to do for me and not worrying about what anyone else thinks or does. I still have a ways to go before I am at a normal healthy weight, but in the mean time I am eating my meat, enjoying my progress, and being happy about life in general. I love Zero Carb!

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.

 

My First 3 Months on Zero Carb by Isabel

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Isabel’s Chihuahua Pup Portia.

I was on a LCHF diet for a year before I started a Zero Carb way of eating. I was eating lots of fatty cuts of meat, cheese, and fats from butter. I was also eating plenty of vegetables, especially greens and raw salads. I lost a great deal of weight over that year, about 90lbs!

However, I was still experiencing irritable bowel syndrome side effects. I experienced bloating, cramping, and abdominal pain from inflammation and irritation of my gastrointestinal tract (as explained by my doctor).

My Primary Care Physician prescribed probiotics, anti-depressants (in case it was stress causing my IBS), stomach acid pump inhibitors, and antispasmodic medications… all with little improvement.

I heard about the Zero Carb diet and I wanted to see if eating only those foods from the animal kingdom – like beef, chicken, pork and eggs – and drinking only water, would make a difference in my IBS symptoms. So, I decided to give it a whirl, and I was not disappointed.

Within 72 hours of beginning a Zero Carb diet, I quickly noticed my bloating was gone. After just 3 weeks, I was no longer experiencing any abdominal cramping and pain. By week 5, I was having regular bowel movements without bleeding. I had formerly suffered from severe constipation. I have now been on a Zero Carb diet for 12 weeks, and I have been totally off any IBS medications for a full 3 weeks. I also have lost an additional 27 lbs!

I eat all animal meats and eggs on the occasion. I usually will eat the same thing for a week, and switch it up. Maybe I’ll have beef burgers for my meals one week, then chicken or pork the next week, just to give the illusion of variety. I eat no dairy products. I also do use kosher sea salt, as well as black pepper, and once in a while I add some cajun spices on my meat.

I cannot imagine going back to my former way of eating. This is the only “therapy” I have tried that has ever worked so completely on my GI track to calm the IBS. It’s either this diet or gut wrenching pain. That makes the diet easy for me to follow. I still need to lose about 40 lbs more anyways, so i’m excited to continue on my weight loss journey as well.

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Isabel’s Pomeranian Pup Chanel

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.