Zero Carb Interview: Rustik Johnson

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

A little less than 2 years.

Prior to discovering the all-meat Zero Carb, I tried the Gerson Therapy (juices and coffee enemas) and Orthomolecular Therapy (high dose vitamins and minerals), Fecal Transplant (I was desperate!), Chelation Therapy. I tried many different food therapies and diets, in addition to many other alternative therapies like Reiki and Crystals, but none of them healed me.

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

Health. I started having weird symptoms around age 21. At the age of 26, I was finally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis through MRI which showed demyelination of my nerves. I am now 32 and, thanks to eating a Zero Carb diet and doing alternate day dry fasting, I am like a whole new person.

Prior to getting sick, I used to drink 6 cups of coffee, 8 Red Bull, 8 liters of diet soda, 40 cigarettes, lots of Jack Daniels, and many different steroids from the age of 18. I would stay up for 3 days in a row, I was with a different girl every night, I felt like the King of the World!

I am so clean now that if I have even one cup of coffee, it will keep me awake for two days straight!

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

About 2 months for Zero Carb and fasting together.

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

I read many authors and books: Rob Woff, Loren Cordain, The Walhs Protocol, GAPS, Primal Blue Print, etc. I developed an eczema on my right foot and by reading zero carb forums I learned that vegetables had toxins and antinutrients in them and so I figured out that this is what was causing the eczema. I also discovered that certain plant foods caused my pain to flare up and come back.

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

Only meat. The whole animal: brain, heart, intestines, liver, kidney, everything. It is is my medicine. No dairy. No eggs.

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

I try to eat 100% lamb because I know for sure that is grass feed. When I eat meat from animals fed grains, I don’t feel good at all.

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

My preference is well done. I like my meat roasted.
I believe this is the way our ancestors cooked it over a fire. I did try raw meat and fermented meat in the beginning, but I did not feel good eating my meat that way.

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

No, I eat only the fat that comes with the meat. I don’t eat any of the liquid fat that melts out of the meat because I think this fat has been damaged by oxidation.

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

I let my appetite guide me and eat until satisfied.

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

When I kill a lamb the first two meals are just the organ meats, then I only have the muscle meat.

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

No, I don’t consume it. I think that our ancestors didn’t consume it… but i bought a pressure cooker and so I may try it. I bought it because i am a compulsive buyer! Jajajaja

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

I eat one meal every two days and I dry fast in between. So, I eat and drink to satiety during a 4 hour window, then I dry fast for 44 hours and then drink water and eat again during another 4 hour window. This is called alternate day fasting and it has been shown to reduce inflammation.

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

3 kg (6.5 lbs) – weight includes bones – or so for each meal, once every other day. For reference, I am 6’2” and weigh 165 lbs today.

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

Only Grassfed! When I eat meat from grain fed animals, I do not feel well at all.

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

No, only water. I drink about 4-5 liters during my 4 hour eating/drinking window every other day.

16. Do you use salt?

No, because I don’t believe our ancestors ate it.

17. Do you use spices?

No, again, because I don’t believe our ancestors ate them.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No. I took a ton of supplements as part of some of the other therapies I tried, but I could feel no discernible benefits from any of them really.

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

I eat 3 lambs per months which totals $200.

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

Yeah… live like our ancestors! I think that they ate only once every 2-3 days…. and rested in between…. but a person can’t do that so easily today, so you must adapt our life in this time period to mimic how we used to eat.

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

10 km every shining day: a combination of sprint, run, walk, and 15 min weight training.

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.)

Zero carbs and dry fasting together have put the Multiple Sclerosis into complete remission… it has given me extreme health, like being a kid again. I haven’t needed to return to my neurologist for any reason. And I never get sick with viruses since I started eating this way. Also, I have lost over 100 lbs since my diagnosis and changing my diet.

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

The food! That is my greatest joy… and extreme health too obviously.

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

Yeah that don’t let the adaptation process scare you. At first, you may experience unpleasant and weird symptoms like fatigue, constipation, tremors, fever, and a lot of other things. This is normal. Don’t worry; you will be okay. It took my body about 2 months to fully adapt to this way of eating. Now I feel fantastic!

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

I don’t care! Jajajaja

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

This eating and fasting regimen is very difficult to do at first, but it gets easier and the end results are so worth it. It has given me my life back!

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You can read more about Rustik’s healing journey on his new blog: Healing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally

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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.

 

Zero Carb Interview: James Cordes

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James with his fiancée Lauren

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

Since April 10, 2009. Coming up on 8 years.

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

When I first started restricting carbs my motivation was weight loss. Going zero carb was more about mastering cravings, though. I knew low carb worked great for losing weight, but my cravings still got the best of me from time to time. When I heard about ZC in April 2009 and how some people completely mastered their cravings, I gave it a shot. After 30 days my cravings were completely gone and I knew I was going to be ZC for life.

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

About 30 days, I think. It’s been a long time since I started. I remember gaining weight at first. I think I started ZC at 222 and jumped up to 228 before I started losing again. In any case, I was told there might be some weight gain at the start and it didn’t worry me. My energy was great. Psychologically, I was loving how my cravings were melting away. I’ve always liked the feeling of having control over my urges and impulses. ZC made me feel like I was a complete master of my domain when it came to food.

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

I delivered newspapers back when I was in college so that meant being up by 4 AM to get on the road. Anyway, I kept some pretty weird hours back in those days and PBS was the only TV station that carried good programming overnight. I ended up getting pulled in by an episode of Frontline called “Diet Wars” that featured Gary Taubes. I didn’t know anything about dietary science or carb restriction, but Gary came off so intelligently in that episode. He just struck me as a guy who knew what he was talking about.

Fast forward 3-4 years: I’ve graduated college, I’ve put on 40 lbs, I’m unhappy about my weight. I know I need to do something about it, but I don’t know what. Then I remember that smart guy from Frontline. I do a little bit of googling and find out Gary wrote a book: Good Calories, Bad Calories. Perfect.

This is probably early 2009 or so. Anyway, I start reading GCBC and researching low carb info online. My weight drops from 265 to 225 or so. I still fall off the wagon a couple times a month, which is discouraging, but at least I know low carb works and that it is healthy. I’m no longer fearful of saturated fat or high cholesterol or any of the high-fat fear mongering that was still somewhat prevalent, even in 2009. The paradigm was starting to shift, but we weren’t close to a tipping point just yet.

I’m droning on now, but to get back to the question at hand: Gary Taubes was my first big influence and he led me to Charles Washington and the ZIOH forum, which was my second big influence.

I found ZIOH when I was googling some references in the back of Good Calories, Bad Calories. I read around the forum a bit and saw people who had mastered their cravings on ZC (Charles among them). I gave it a shot and the rest is history.

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

The first 3 years or so I only ate unseasoned beef and water. At the time, the hardcore people on ZIOH were beef and water only and I wanted to feel hardcore too. Besides, it truly did work. My cravings were 100% gone. There were other people on ZIOH eating a more diverse diet (other meat, dairy, cured meats, etc). Some of them weren’t having cravings, but others were struggling. I figured I’d play it safe and just eat beef and drink water.

I opened up a bit after I met my fiancee. She went low carb when we got serious and is ZC most days, but she needs a bit more variety to be content. Now my diet includes chicken, pork, some occasional cured meats, some occasional cheeses or heavy whipping cream.

My weight did go up a bit when I added those items back to my diet. I was always around 185-195 lbs on just beef and water. Now I range from 200 to 210. I’m 6’6″ tall, by the way, so the extra weight isn’t all that visible and my clothes fit just the same as before.

I’ve made this answer needlessly long again, but I think I will go back to beef and water mostly in the future, when I can get my fiancee on board. Within the confines of ZC, I do experience cravings for dairy and cured meats when I’m eating the more diverse menu. I don’t crave carbs at all, but I do crave those “ZC snack foods” from time to time. That’s not the case when I’m just beef and water.


img_14286. What percentage of your diet is beef versus other types of meats?

Right now I’d say I’m 65% beef and 35% other meats and dairy. I’d like to get that back to about 90% beef and 10% other.

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

Usually medium rare, but sometimes I get the urge for something a little more cooked and I’ll go up to medium.

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

Only if I’m eating a very lean meat like chicken breasts or my home made jerky (which is nothing more than dehydrated round roast).

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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 full or until the hunger is gone. I usually eat once or twice a day. I don’t track portions or count calories or do anything like that.

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

I don’t. It never sounded tasty to me so I never looked in to it. I know some people do it for extra nutrients or something like that, but I’ve just never looked into it because it didn’t seem that appealing to eat. I’ve also never felt like I was deficient in anything. My energy has always been pretty good. Who knows though, maybe I’m missing out on some extra boost and I just don’t know it!

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

I’ve never tried it. Maybe this is another extra boost I’m missing out on! I’ve just never looked into it.

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

Usually 1 or 2. On very rare occasion, maybe 3.

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

I probably average 2 lbs of meat a day. Just depends on the day. Some days I’m sure I break 3 lbs. Some days I probably only eat a pound. Generally I’m eating about 2 lbs though.

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Stocking up on ground beef!

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

Mostly commercially produced meat. Your normal grocery store fare. I do have a big bucket of grass-fed tallow I use for my pemmican. I might have a few grass fed steaks/burgers a year if they are marked down for quick sale.

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

Mostly just flat water. I’ll have plain canned selzer water once in a while if I want some bubbles.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes. Pink Himalayan salt or the Celtic Sea salt or Real Salt puts out a nice salt with a bunch of other minerals and stuff in it. I’m usually using one of those salts. Meat + Salt = Tasty

17. Do you use spices?

I’ll put pepper on my steaks sometimes. My fiancee likes garlic powder and montreal steak seasoning on her steaks so I’ll have some of that once in a while if she doesn’t finish her steak.

18. Do you take any supplements?

No

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

About $400 for two people. We could eat much cheaper, but we like to eat a lot of steaks. If we switched to cheap cuts of pork, ground beef, chicken thighs and eggs I’m sure we could eat heartily for less than $200 per month.

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

Eggs. Whole Chickens, chicken thighs, chicken legs, chicken wings. Cheap cuts of pork. Ground beef. Get a deep freezer. Look for sales. Look for items that have been reduced for quick sale. Stock up, pack your freezer.

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

I don’t really exercise. I play disc golf, which means a lot of walking during the spring/summer/fall months. That’s about it.

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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.)

Lost cravings for all carby foods. Lost excess body fat. My energy is much better. In the beginning of ZC, my focus was much better. It’s not as good now, but I blame my social media addiction for that, haha! I get sick much less often. When I do get sick, it is very mild and I recover much quicker.

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

The control and flexibility it gives me.

I’m no longer a slave to my hunger or my cravings. If I have to go a full day without eating, it’s really not a big deal. My body will just eat some of its fat reserves.

My moods are even. I don’t get cranky when I haven’t eaten. Life is just smoother; there are no big ups and downs any more.

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

Commit to doing ZC for a couple months before you assess whether to tweak it or discard it. The human mind can rationalize all number of things on a day to day basis. Commit to giving yourself a big enough sample size of data so that you can fairly assess whether or not ZC will work for you.

I’d also recommend going straight to beef and water because you’ll find out what you’re really made of and
you’ll save a bunch of time trying to find out what you are and aren’t sensitive to; instead of juggling cheese and cured meats and chicken and trying to figure which variable is affecting your progress the most. Simplify the equation. Remove as many variables as possible.

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

Yes, they are supportive. My fiancée eats ZC most days and she knows it’s the healthiest path. My parents know it is healthy too.

I’ve met a lot of people that question my way of eating, but you can’t be scared to own ZC. I’ve never felt embarrassed or ashamed to eat this way. I know it’s healthy. I know it’s right for me. I think people sense that when they talk to me so I’ve never really gotten any grief about it.

Also, the paradigm has shifted a lot more in our favor. Paleo diets, keto diets, etc. These things are much more widely accepted now and ZC isn’t nearly as fringe as it once was.

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

Nothing comes to mind. Let me know if you have any further questions in the future!

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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.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Heather Crimson

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

I began Zero Carb May 15th, 2015 after reading articles on your website.

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

I’ve had health issues most of my life, primarily GI, and later weight, hormonal, mood and sleep issues among others. I’ve always been searching for something to help me feel better, but this is the first thing that has actually made a significant difference. I ate the macrobiotic diet from 1992-1996, and I think that’s what really compromised my gut function and set me on a path of problems for many years. I’ve tried so many other “diets,” too, such as Weston A. Price, the Zone, Blood Type, and even raw food vegan… I just kept searching and trying different things and refused to give up and eat the SAD (Standard American Diet).

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

It took me quite a long time–at least a year. It was very rough for me as far as digestion goes. I think because of the dysbiosis/irritable bowel/SIBO issues I’ve had for such a long time, my gut was in transition for months. I had tended towards constipation with the SIBO, and during the transition, I tended the towards the opposite, so that was pretty stressful with work, etc. At this point, my gut is very calm and I don’t worry about bathroom issues any more at all. Psychologically, I am usually fine now, but I do still struggle occasionally at times such as during holidays and I miss going out to eat sometimes, but it is definitely losing its appeal over time.

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

My biggest resource has been your website Esmee website was my number one inspiration, and the Principia Carnivora Facebook group you help to moderate. When I have time, I’d like to read the books recommended on your Resources page here on your website and in the group.

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

I began with meat plus eggs and cheese and sometimes cream. I realized over time, though, that I do not tolerate dairy well (I think I was in denial here, as I suspected this for a while, but dairy is very alluring), so I recently completed 30 days water and beef only, and I really felt even better on this regimen. It’s hard because I like pork and dairy, but I find they are too trigger craving and don’t digest as well as beef.

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

I mostly eat just ground beef and steaks now, so I’d say 90% beef and 10% occasional sausage and bacon and eggs. The exception would be butter for dairy as it doesn’t seem to bother me.

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

I like my beef medium rare. Sometimes I’ll eat raw hamburger if I’m traveling and can’t cook or don’t have time to cook. I don’t mind it at all, but I tend to like the taste of cooked more. Raw steak isn’t as appealing as raw ground beef.

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

Since I buy fattier ground beef (80/20), I don’t usually add butter. I do add butter to steak. I also like to eat extra lightly cooked beef fat along with steak.

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

I eat until satisfied.

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

I eat liver about once a month. I prefer chicken liver but I’ll eat beef, too. I recently felt weak and had a strong craving for liver, so I ate a pound of chicken liver and immediately felt much better! I really try to follow my body’s messages.

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

I love bone broth and had made it for over 15 years, but I’ve noticed since becoming ZC that I do not tolerate it well, and I think it’s because of the histamine content, even when cooked in the Instant Pot for under an hour. I keep trying every so often to see if I tolerate it better because I do think it could be helpful for healing my gut.

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

I eat about two meals per day. I am moving towards one per day which I would prefer to give my gut a break and just have less hassle of cooking, but I can’t eat enough in one meal yet to go that long.

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

I typically eat one medium-large hamburger patty and one steak with butter per day.

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

I’d prefer grass-fed, but it’s too expensive for me to eat daily, so I mostly eat “hormone-free” that’s not 100% grass-fed.

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

I drink only water. I don’t tolerate coffee at all–it makes me feel ill! I quit drinking tea altogether because it’s high in fluoride. I was never a big tea or milk drinker anyway.

16. Do you use salt?

I do use salt. I have always had too low of blood pressure, so salt helps me with that.

17. Do you use spices?

I like a little bit of pepper and will use a drop or two of hot sauce a couple times per week.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take different supplements experimentally targeting specific issues. Currently, I’m taking DIM for hormonal issues. I used to take digestive enzymes regularly but now I find I do not need them at all. I plan to try the iodine protocol soon as I sense it will be helpful for me with a number of issues including insomnia, digestion, thyroid function and hormone balance. I don’t eat much seafood at all because it’s very expensive in California to get good quality.

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

Probably around $250.

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

Unfortunately, I don’t! i don’t feel comfortable shopping at certain bargain stores and buying the cheapest meat possible; sometimes I wish I did, but I doubt that will happen unless I fall upon hard times and am forced to. If I had more money, I’d probably just buy half a cow since I have a used stand up freezer.

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

I used to exercise regularly before I got chronic fatigue beginning around 2007. I used to jog and hike and ride a bike, but my energy crashed and I could barely walk up my office stairs without getting winded at the worst point. It was awful and I couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with me. I thought I was just depressed. I tried seeing many different health practitioners, experimented with many different diets (GAPS for 1.5 years; SCD; Ray Peat, etc.). I thought I’d always eaten fairly healthy for so many years, how could I become so debilitated? I believe stress was what contributed to this decline in my health, as I had a lot of challenging experiences over a several year period. The crash led to a 40lb. weight gain, fatigue and weakness, debilitating insomnia, increased hormonal imbalance, and a lot of brain fog, all of which led to even more stress. I had always been quite thin before this, so the weight gain was a major challenge for me physically and psychologically and I never was able to reconcile with it which made me feel even worse!

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.)

It has been a slow healing process for me because even though I didn’t have a major illness like diabetes (yet), my gut was so debilitated that it caused me many different issues and overall ill health. I was usually very bloated for hours after eating, had a lot of pain in my gut at times, gas, constipation, all the typical GI problems. Now, I am never bloated, have hardly any gas at all, and go to the bathroom with ease! It is such a relief to not have to feel so uncomfortable and worry about my gut looking like I’m six months pregnant!

I used to have to take sleep medication or several OTC meds just to sleep until 4-5am, and sometimes even those didn’t work and I’d often be up for two to three hours in the middle of the night. Now, I just take one or two OTC and sleep all night. I hope that by next year, I can sleep through the night with NO meds!

I no longer have chronic muscle pain and soreness in my neck and back. I no longer have joint pain that used to occur often. My skin has improved–the severe flushing from histamine intolerance has disappeared and I have less acne. The chronic nasal drip has greatly decreased. The debilitating dysmenorrhea I had all my life has gone. There are other hormonal issues now because of peri-menopause, but I think they’ll continue to improve now that I’m ZC. The eczema I always had a touch of is completely gone. I also experience less anxiety.

Additionally, I lost 35 lbs. which has been a huge relief for me: I can now walk with ease whereas before I felt very encumbered. I don’t’ have blood sugar imbalance any more and can go for up to eight hours without eating and be totally fine. I can walk a little more vigorously, but more intense exercise will take more time for me.

There’s probably more things that I’ve forgotten since it’s been a while now. All I know is that I am so grateful for these improvements and feeling like when I was younger, that I don’t see myself ever going back to eating carbs. I would just go back to feeling horrible; it doesn’t make sense and is just not worth it.

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

The simplicity and ease, the satiety, and the freedom it gives me to not feel like I’m a slave to cooking.

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

The most important factor for me was patience–it took me over a year to go through the transition due to my severe gut issues. So, you may not know what the positive benefits will be until you give it as much time as your body needs, not how much time you think it needs. I’ve really learned to follow my body’s intuitive sense of what it does and doesn’t need, whereas before I looked more outward for information. It’s all there inside me already!

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

Yes, my husband is very supportive although he’s not interested in it for himself. My friends are very supportive as well. I actually don’t hesitate to tell people at all that I only eat meat as it works best for my digestion. After all I’ve been through and all the suffering of my poor gut, I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore!

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

I am so grateful for your website Esmée! If I’d not come across it, I don’t know where I’d be healthwise right now.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Amber O’Hearn

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

I’ve been eating an essentially plant-free diet for almost 7 years, starting in November of 2009.

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

My original reason for trying a meat-only diet was for fat loss. I was at my wit’s end, because my very low carb, but plant heavy diet, even though it had helped me get to into great shape in the past, wasn’t as effective anymore and I was slowly getting fatter and fatter.

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

It’s funny. It took me way longer to adapt to the diet mentally than physically. I spent three weeks planning and giving myself pep talks, and even then, I only felt able to commit to it with the promise to myself that it was going to be of very limited duration. Once I started, though, I felt comfortable within a mere few days.

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

The only guidance I had toward this diet at that time was the Zero Carb forum run primarily by Charles Washington, and the inspiring stories there. I also had read Owsley Stanley’s (aka The Bear) essays on the subject.

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

I eat mostly just meat, but I will eat occasional eggs and dairy. I find that dairy increases my appetite significantly and I have an addiction-like response to fermented dairy in particular, so I’m wary of that.

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

I eat from all the food groups: ruminants (e.g. beef and lamb), poultry, pork, and fish and shellfish, but beef is the base of my food pyramid.

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

I prefer my beef steaks rare, but other cuts I treat individually. To my taste, short ribs are divine roasted for several hours, but ground chuck is best raw or lightly seared.

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

I often eat butter, lard, or tallow either on or with my meat, depending on how lean it is.

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

I have played around with fasting, but my usual mode of operation is to eat once or twice a day when I get hungry, until I feel satiated. Then I stop.

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

Of organ meats, I mostly eat liver, only because that’s what I have easiest access to. I tend to get a craving for it every few weeks. I’ll eat a lot of it for a few days and then I don’t want it again for a while. I’m not very systematic about it.

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

I like bone broth. Just like with the organs I tend to drink it in phases; every day for a few days and then not again for a few weeks. I enjoy bone marrow also.

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

I mostly eat two meals a day, at lunch time and again at supper. I often feel better if my first meal is a little later than traditional lunch, but lunch is a social activity at my workplace, and it’s a trade-off.

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

I eat about 1.5 to 2 pounds of meat a day.

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

I want to support sustainable and humane farming, but the health benefits I’ve received don’t depend on it, so I often eat conventional meat for financial reasons.

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

I do drink coffee and occasionally herbal tea. It’s my plant vice.

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Amber enjoying cold leftovers for lunch.

16. Do you use salt?

I do sometimes use salt, but during my transition to this diet I used none, and so I’m acclimated to the taste of meat without it, and find I often don’t want it.

17. Do you use spices?

When I’m out, or a guest, I will usually not refuse meat that has up to a moderate amount of spice, but I almost never use it in my own cooking.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I have played around with a variety of supplements, but the only ones I take with any consistency are: turmeric and citrus bioflavonoids, to reduce symptoms of endometriosis; and magnesium, just because I think our whole food chain is deficient in it.

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

This is difficult to estimate, because I have children with me part time. Overall, the cost is certainly higher than if I ate grains, but fruits and vegetables are expensive by calorie. I’m probably spending less than I used to.

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Amber’s son enjoying a stick of butter by itself.

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

Buying cheaper cuts and mixing in pork, poultry, and eggs helps keep cost down. Don’t forget that ill health is a major expense. I’ve never missed work due to illness and have seen my doctor only for labs and preventive care.

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

I do a slow-burn style weight-lifting once a week, and walk, run or bike now and then if I feel like it.

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 lost over 60 pounds eating this way, but the most important benefit was that my Type II Bipolar Disorder, which mainly manifested as severe suicidal depression, is in complete remission. I’ve been off all psychiatric drugs since I started eating a carnivorous diet, and the only times I’ve had symptoms are when I have done experiments with plant foods, supplements, or had excessive alcohol consumption.

23. Have you conceived, given birth, or breastfed while on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what was your experience?

My third child was conceived when I started this diet the first time, and I didn’t stay Zero Carb during the first two trimesters, due to severe nausea and carb cravings. By the third trimester I ate very low carb with some carnivorous days. I’ve been essentially plant free since the birth, so that included his entire breastfeeding period. I had better milk supply and better mood and stamina than with the previous two children.

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?

My youngest child ate almost no plants for the first few years of his life. Now he has just few plants in his diet, mainly carrots and bell peppers. The others have eaten lower carb and even zero carb in the past, but eat high carb out in the world. It is a difficult social navigation for them, even though they understand the benefits.

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

It’s hard to think of anything better about carnivorous eating than the freedom from living with Type II Bipolar Disorder and suicidal depression. However, one thing I love about my diet is that I trust my appetite completely now. My body stays in a range of about five pounds no matter what I do. That’s freeing. I also love that I’m especially resistant to disease now. I never worry about the latest viruses going around. I feel robust.

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

My advice to a beginner is to commit to going into it as completely as possible for at least three weeks. You want to eliminate as many confounding factors as possible and stay at it long enough to start seeing changes. Please see my and Zooko’s blog post “Eat Meat. Not Too Little. Mostly Fat.” for our full advice on starting.

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

Not that I can think of.

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Please visit my “Interviews” and “Testimonials” pages linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other short and long term Zero Carb veterans.

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

This interview has been translated into Hebrew by Tomer Aviad and may be read here:

ראיון אפס פחמימות עם אמבר הואירן

Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

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Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

It seems like almost every week that a new person who has stumbled into our Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora asks this question. Since it comes up so often, I have decided to take some time to articulate my personal reasons for choosing raw meat over cooked meat.

When I first started a Zero Carb diet 21 months ago on January 1, 2015, I began with a wide variety of animal foods: eggs, cheese, butter, cream, bone broth, chicken, pork, and beef. All of it cooked. I really struggled with Zero Carb in the beginning because I simply did not feel that good no matter what I ate. Removing all plant foods from my diet certainly helped, but I was still experiencing a lot of negative symptoms from the animal foods I was eating. The biggest symptom with the most impact on my quality of life is chronic migraine headaches.

About 6 months into my Zero Carb journey, I finally discovered that I am histamine intolerant. Histamines are in all aged and fermented foods, as well as eggs and any foods that are slow-cooked, and this is why I have continued to struggle with chronic migraine headaches on a Zero Carb diet. One-by-one, I removed everything from my diet except for beef. And even with the beef, I have to make sure that I get it as fresh as possible and use it immediately. The longer beef – or any meat – is aged, the more histamines it will contain. The longer a steak sits on the shelf after being cut off of a main primal piece by the butcher, the more histamines it will contain.

All last winter (2015-2016), I was eating very lightly pan-fried fatty beef chuck roast steaks. And when I say lightly, I mean 30-60 seconds per side, leaving the meat blue-rare inside. This was working to some extent, but I did not feel all that good. In fact, I got a terrible cold virus last winter that came back three separate times! I literally never get viruses, so to have the same one three times in just a few months was both very worrisome and very unpleasant. The last time I had a virus prior to this was in the winter of 1999-2000, when – incidentally – I was also eating a fair amount of cooked meat (one of my earlier attempts to escape veganism, LOL!).

So, I knew I should be eating my meat raw, but the cold, wet winter and the state of my mind at the time, were really making it difficult for me to do this. Once the weather warmed up a bit, however, I decided to give fresh raw ground beef another try. After a few weeks, I got used to it and then the taste of the cooked meat wasn’t all that enticing any more. Nevertheless, I continued to have a cooked meal here and there, very rarely. But each time I did this – I noticed that 1) I did not feel as well after eating the cooked meat as I did after eating the raw meat; 2) I did not digest the cooked meat as well as I digested the raw meat; and 3) I could tolerate much more fat when I ate it raw verses cooked.

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LEM Big Bite #12 All Stainless Steel Meat Grinder

One of the things I have personally found very helpful on my Zero Carb Journey is periodic fasts. I have completed three separate 16-day fasts (each were a combination of water and dry) over the past 21 months. Each of these fasts has helped me quite significantly. Histamines build up in the body over time and fasting is the single most effective method I have discovered to allow my body to eliminate them from “storage.” When the meat I can normally eat without issue begins to give me migraine headaches, then I know my histamine “bucket” is full so-to-speak and it is time for another fast.

I just completed my most recent 16-day fast a week ago. It went really well. But coming off the fast has been both challenging and enlightening. First, I decided to experiment with Fiji water and it gave me a migraine headache and caused me to feel generally crappy. This tells me that the company adds minerals to the Fiji water, which is implied but not directly stated on the label. I am 100% certain of this because I felt exactly the same way as I always feel after taking any supplements of any kind. They all make me very very very sick just like the Fiji water did.

After I recovered from the Fiji water debacle, I decided to try cooking my meat one night. I had broken my fast 6 days earlier and – up to that point – I had eaten only raw ground beef according to my usual custom. Although I am kind of unhappy with myself for choosing to cook my meat this night, I gained an enormous amount of clarity about what my body does and does not like due to this unhappy choice. So, ultimately, the experience was an extremely valuable one because of the new knowledge it brought me.

Needless to say, my body had a very negative response to the cooked meat. I started getting a migraine headache within a few hours of eating it and, 3-days later, I am still suffering the consequences. The next morning, lymph nodes throughout my body were incredibly painful. The effects from eating the cooked meat were so bad, that I actually had to go back on a short dry fast to give my body a chance to work through it. I tried eating my normal fresh raw ground beef the next day, but that just made the migraine headache and lymphatic inflammation worse.

This is one of the reasons I am such a huge advocate for both fasting and doing a bare bones version of the Zero Carb diet if you are new to this way of eating. There are so many potential variables when you eat any and all animal foods that there is really no way to tell how you are responding to them if you include them all indiscriminately. If you start with just fatty beef and water, then you have removed all of the most potentially problematic foods in one fell swoop. After you have eaten only beef and water for 30-days, you can then test other Zero Carb foods one at a time to see how you do with them.

Fasting takes this process one step further by eliminating all food for a period of time. This way when you add back a food, whether from a basic beef and water diet or from a fully fasted state, your body can give you a much clearer response to whatever food you are testing. This is what happened to me with this last fast I did. Being away from any cooked meat for a while prior to the fast, and then doing a long fast, made it considerably easier for my body to let me know that it really really really does not like cooked meat.

Prior to this, I was living in a fantasy world that I could sort of go back and forth between raw and occasional cooked – if and when I felt the desire for it – but this experience has shown me just how utterly delusional that idea was! From here on out, I am no longer seeing cooked meat as an option for myself. This was a very powerful transformative “a-ha” moment for me. I will never again choose to eat meat that has been cooked even the tiniest bit. Cooked meat is now in the same category as plant foods: it is no longer a “food” as far as I am concerned.

While some people might find this realization to be even more restrictive than what most would already perceive to be a very restrictive Zero Carb diet, I personally find it quite liberating to have finally reached a very definitive conclusion on this issue. There is no more doubt about it, and it is one less decision I need to make. It is all raw all the way for me!

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Migraines, Mood, and a High Fat Ketogenic Diet

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Since I know many of my readers are not on Facebook and, therefore, do not participate in our Zero Carb group Principia Carnivora, I wanted to share something I posted there that I have recently discovered for myself on this Zero Carb path…

When I first began a Zero Carb diet a year and a half ago, I ate a LOT of fat. But as time went on, I came to the conclusion that ALL of the fats I was using to achieve these high levels were not compatible with my body. I tried butter, ghee, tallow, lard, heavy whipping cream, and coconut oil. All dairy fats give me migraines. Coconut oil is high in salicylates and cause severe low blood pressure and other negative symptoms. All rendered fats make me extremely nauseated. Even eating too much cooked fat attached to a steak will make me nauseated. But if I eat the beef fat raw, I can eat much more without experiencing this horrible nausea. This is the main reason I am currently eating all of my meat completely raw (as homemade ground beef). In spite of the nausea from the cooked and rendered fats that was eating in my early Zero Carb days, however, I did experience a noticeable decrease in my chronic migraines headaches (as long as I avoided all dairy).

At the beginning of April (2016), I did a 16-day water fast. This was the second long water fast I have done since beginning my Zero Carb journey. The first one was about 8 months ago and it made a noticeable improvement in my tolerance for histamines. I was finally able to eat conventional beef sold in Costco or Safeway, as long as I bought if fresh and ate it that day. After this second 16-day water fast I did a month and a half ago, I found that I could tolerate even more raw fat in my ground beef than I could before the fast. But the quality of the fat must be very good. It cannot be outer skin fat which is oxidized and rancid. This kind of fat makes me very sick. Rather, it must be the good thick internal fat like that attached to Ribeye or New York Strip Loin.

It has been a challenge to source enough good quality beef fat to meet my needs. I am still trying to figure this out. If I could buy my meat in bulk without having to worry at all about histamines forming as I work my way through it, then I would be able to buy whole packages of New York Strip Loin from Costco which very affordable are extremely fatty (more fatty and better quality that their Ribeye in my experience). But I cannot go through all the meat fast enough to keep the histamines low enough fir me to tolerate. I need more money and pack of dogs to share it with so that we can plough our way through it in just a few days. 😂

Anyways, the main thing I wanted to share in this post is that since my recent 16-day water fast in April, I have been able to increase the percentage of fat in my diet from about 70% to 80% or more without experiencing any of that horrible nausea. It is hard to calculate exactly, but thevground beef I make for myself is about 2/3 lean to 1/3 fat or what would be called 65/35 by a butcher. So say… 12 oz of lean to 6 oz of fat. It might be a little more protein and a little less fat, but this give you the idea.

Since doing this, I have noticed two very important benefits. I am not as prone to migraines as I was when eating more protein and less fat, and my mood is much more stable now than it was on less fat. I am far less irritable and impatient with more fat in my diet. I feel both physically and mentally calmer. My conclusion is that more fat is definitely better for my brain. I am not saying this is ideal for others, and I am really not an advocate of eating too little protein on a Zero Carb diet. And if you are trying to lose weight, too much fat might prevent this from happening.

But, as my own experience is showing, some people might need to eat more fat for therapeutic reasons, even for conditions that are not life threatening like brain tumors or epilepsy. One woman in our Facebook group has stated that it was the high levels of saturated animal fat in her own Zero Carb diet that killed the off the tenacious Lyme bacteria in her body. The more fat she ate, the better she felt; though it still took time to eliminate the Lyme bacteria from her body completely. She, too, eats 80% or more of her calories from fat. 18 years later, she continues to thrive.

My point in sharing this story is to, once again, demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all Zero Carb diet. It has taken me a long time and lots of experimenting to figure out what truly works for me and for my body to become a cooperative component in the process. So, if you are having trouble figuring out what percentage of protein to fat is best for you, or what types of meats and other animal foods and fats are best for you, please don’t give up! I know someone who feels great at only 55-60% fat. We are all a bit different and unique in our needs. Just keep experimenting until you find something that feels good and works for you.

~Esmée La Fleur

For help and support, please join us in the Zero Carb Facebook group “Principia Carnivora.”

Zero Carb Interview: Susanne Lucic

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

For exactly one year now. 🙂

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

I was quite obese as you can see from my before picture below, and I felt bad. I had joint pains, mostly in the knees, I quickly got tired, my pulse – even when I was inactive – has always been elevated.

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

Not long, about a month or so. I was motivated because I quickly felt a change for the better. It was not difficult to mainly eat meat because generally I like meat. I had no psychological problems related to following a Zero Carb diet.

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

I learned about the diet by reading a newspaper article about the Andersen family in our newspapers (in Croatia!). I got very interested in the topic and I started researching. First, I found your blog Esmee 🙂 which led me to Principia Carnivora Group on Facebook and then Kelly Williams Hogan’s blog My Zero Carb Life. I read through a lot of helpful group files in Principia Carnivora.

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

I am including one egg per day for breakfast and I am eating quite a bit of hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda. Cheese became a kind of treat for me. I am not so happy about that. I think I could have lost more weight and feel better without the cheese. But I am very happy with my results so far as you can see from my “after” picture below.

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

I eat approximately equal parts of beef, lamb, goat and pork. Less beef than the other meats, as it is very expensive.

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

I’m cooking it something in between rare and medium.

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

Yes, I do, I am mostly cooking with lard and eating butter with my meat.

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

No, I’m not really limiting my meat consumption. I’m eating the biggest part for lunch, between 250 – 400 g.

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

I’m eating horse liver about two times a month.

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

No I don’t. I would be happy if I could, as I read about all the benefits for the body, but the first time I cooked bone broth for more than 24 hours at the beginning of my Zero Carb way of life, I got obviously histamine issues, red and hot skin in the whole face.

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

I am still eating 3 meals a day but if the circumstances don’t allow I have no problem with skipping meals.

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

250-400 gm, plus salami, sausage, pork rinds, eggs and cheese.

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

I’m lucky that a lot of the meat we consume is from animals raised on local farms around here.

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

Yes. I’m drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day. Perhaps some day I will be able to reduce this.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, mainly sea salt and himalayan rock salt.

17. Do you use spices?

Almost nothing, some pepper and garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

At the beginning of Zero Carb, I supplemented with magnesium because I had leg cramps. but now I don’t use any.

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

I can’t tell you. We’re a big family with four children and I don’t know how much my diet costs in comparison with the other food, I don’t think that it is much more expensive than standard diet.

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

Consuming more affordable meat for those who can eat other meats than beef. Me, I have no problem with pork, lamb or goat, so I’m combining all of it.

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

I didn’t exercise at all for the first six months on Zero Carb. Then after the first 45-50 pounds the weight loss slowed down. As I wanted to lose a lot more, I began to exercise at my multigym I have at home and added video cardio and strength exercises. I had to do something for the excess loose skin after losing all the lbs., too:-) I’m working out 3-4 times a week for 60-90 min. It’s not only for the reason of further weight loss, but because I love to move now.

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 lost a total of 66 lbs. to date. I am convinced that my whole body enjoys this way of eating. I have cravings under control. I don’t crave anything sweet anymore, that’s a great experience. I actually don’t even like the taste of sweet anymore. When I try a little peace of cake that I made for the family – only testing taste purposes – I have to eat something fatty immediately afterwards as I don’t like the taste of sweet in the mouth.

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

I enjoy the simplicity of eating this way. I love that I don’t have to be hungry for having my weight under control. I love the steady level of energy throughout the day without all the ups and downs when eating carbs. I think I’m emotionally more stable and calmer now.

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

I think this woe is a great chance for many people with weight and health issues. It takes time and patience to adapt and see the first results, but it’s absolutely worth a try!

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

My family was and is absolutely supportive. At the beginning they laughed a lot telling me that it is impossible to lose weight eating that amount of fat. But with the time going by they saw that it worked for me and are fully on my side.

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

Perhaps that I have no intention of ever going back to a “normal” diet. I’m going to continue with Zero Carb indefinitely, as I now feel better then ever before.

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Please visit my “Interviews” and “Testimonials” pages linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other short and long term Zero Carb veterans.

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