Let’s start with the stats. August 1, 2017: 54 yr old female, runner, 5’4”, 122 lbs – no weight to lose, no outward health problems.
My name is Alexandre Bernier,
I love the carnivore way of life. I ate a decent amount of meat before and despised the massive waste of time involved in vegetable preparation.
I average 2 feeds daily, one large feast in the morning and another when I get hungry. The simplicity of this lifestyle is an asset.
The first thing I noticed was a significant reduction of flatulence. I always annoyed my girlfriend with loud stinky farts before bed. They are gone. My digestion is smooth. I never feel bloated.
My workouts are better than ever. I experienced a decline in my squat and deadlift strength over the last few years, some part due to lack of motivation which I attributed to not giving shit after decades spent in the gym. My stats are climbing up to where I was at my peak.
I feel like an animal. Erections are solid. My skin smooth, free of acne which still popped up even though I am almost thirty years old.
Muscle feels denser. Lower body fat percentage.
I was born on March 21, 1973, in Germany. Based on my parents’ accounts of my early years, I had skin issues, constant bloating and digestive problems, constipation in particular, pretty much from the start. By the age of four, I was diagnosed with severe seasonal allergies. From then on, antihistamines, wearing gloves to stop me from scratching, having my arms wrapped up in bandages because my continued scratching led to infections, and not being able to go outside to play during the spring became the new normal. I fell asleep in school because the daily dose of antihistamines knocked me out. Topical steroids in mega strength became the go-to methods of dealing with my constantly itching skin. In high school I was made fun of because my neck looked like that of an old woman.
When I was in my early 20s, I saw an alternative practitioner who told me to avoid wheat and dairy. So I went on my first elimination diet, which did not do anything but aggravate my symptoms. Lacking information and consequently not being strict enough, I was frustrated with this approach and considered her a charlatan. In retrospect, she was the first person who actually had hit the nail on the head with her diagnosis. A dermatologist scoffed at this alternative “crap”, recommended to eat whatever I wanted, and to apply more cortisone to help with the inflammation and itching. I would follow his advice for many years, almost ruining my skin in the process.
I do not recall when I first knew that I was experiencing every month is premenstrual syndrome. For a while, I just assumed it is normal to turn into this vicious hulk without any control over my temper. Breast pain, forgetfulness and mind fog, pimple outbreaks, worsened eczema, water retention, constipation, sugar cravings from hell, and mood swings comprised the collection of my symptoms. Pretty much ten days of each of my cycles were spent like this, every single month, for more than 30 years. Another hint at a serious hormone imbalance was the way I used to store body fat. I have always been lean, but whatever fat I had I predominantly stored around my hips, butt, and thighs. I could train as hard as I wanted – I was an avid step aerobics and dance aerobics instructor – and it would not shift my body composition.
In 2006, I moved from Germany to Los Angeles for my postdoctoral studies, met my husband, and stayed here. I still shudder when I think about all the crap I used to eat after I got here: cookies, fast food, soda; free food was always available on campus and it still is. Over the years, I had times where I paid a bit more attention to my eating habits, but mostly, I just did what everybody else did, until the fall of 2013. Around that time a friend of mine told me about LCHF and her success with it, which led me to start the classic journey from the standard American diet via low carb and keto to eventually zero carb. Over the course of this almost 5-year dietary experiment, I cut out the usual suspects like flour, grains, sugar, and in conjunction seed oils. I of course baked all sorts of low carb bread, cookies, cakes, and other sweet goods and used dairy, coconut oil and low carb sweeteners in abundance.
Over time, I had been able to weed out serious offenders, while still clinging to almond and coconut flour, sweeteners, and dairy. After reading that dairy could be a culprit for chronic coughs, runny nose, and weepy eyes, I performed a dairy elimination experiment. After an entire month of dairy abstinence, I started coughing immediately upon reintroduction. My runny nose and weepy eyes returned as well, putting the nail in the coffin for diary. The following year, I experienced my first spring without seasonal allergies!
With dairy gone and my base line much lower, it was easier to track my skin condition and bloating. Over the course of another 1.5 years, I learned that sweeteners, coconut flour or any kind of coconut products, and almond flour either bloated me or made my skin itch like hell. I also learned that PMS causes eczema flares, especially around my eyes. The next natural step was to eat meat and veggies. At this point, I suspected as much but still did not want to face the fact that all the yummy low carb veggies I liked hated my guts, literally.
When I came across Shawn’s tweets about eating only meat I was at the same time intrigued and disturbed, but mostly intrigued. Following him on Twitter was probably the best thing I could do. Not only was he documenting his progress, but other people who tried it out chimed in with their successes and improvements. Rationally, it all made sense to me. Taking the leap and trying it for myself took until the first 90-day carnivore challenge with Nequalsmany. I knew I did not want to compromise my data collection, so the challenge was a good incentive to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Coincidentally, my period started on Aug 15, 2017, the first day of the challenge. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to observe how my PMS issues would behave. I was blown away with the almost complete lack of any symptoms during the first cycle. Barely noticeable breast tenderness and some eczema around my eyes were the remainder of my symptoms. My hope for reproducibility was not disappointed. Now, six months into zero carb, I have zero PMS. Zero! In addition, I can observe my body composition changing; my thighs are getting more defined, my quads getting visible, and my hips and bum are getting slimmer. I hypothesize that my hormone imbalance has been resolved.
Bloating after eating is a thing of the past, as is chronic constipation. I seem to be more resilient toward colds. In the past, I used to catch everything that was going around. I am observing no sunburns (in SoCal) and easy and quick tanning, just like when I was a kid. My mood has been even keel; zero carb serenity is truly a thing and keeps the hulk in check. I get less or not sore at all after workouts. My training is more intense. I have explosive speed for kickboxing despite the lack of carbs. My eyesight has been improving recently. I had to start using my previous pair of glasses (-3/-3) because my most current one had become too strong (-3.5/-3.25).
The most recent success is the remission of eczema. As of today, I have no visible signs anymore after 44 years of constant itchiness and severe discomfort. Even my scarred neck is healing, something I had thought not possible (see attached picture, no make-up, no photoshop, no moisturizers). It took about six months to get to this point, with sometimes going one step forward, two steps back. This feels new and fragile. I am fully aware that any kind of missteps, may it be food (chicken is a suspect) or the fabric of new clothes, can trigger a flare; however, I now have the opportunity to really figure out all my triggers and to fight habitual scratching.
Thinking back how I had, unknowingly, mistreated my body over the years, I realize a couple of things that might be of help for others who are at the cusp of starting their journey. First off, I wish I had taken the alternative practitioner seriously. I was out for instant gratification, but that is not how resolving decades of health issues works unfortunately, in most cases anyway. Secondly, the human body is an amazing machine that can withstand a lot of dietary abuse, for a while at least. It has incredible repair capabilities if one lets it and gives it time to do what is has been evolved to do with the right nourishment. I am looking forward to discovering what other health benefits this way of eating will bring.
My name is Rob. I am a 35 year old Paramedic in upstate New York. I am a father to an amazing 8 year old son. I also suffer from Lupus, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Rheumatoid arthritis. Up until January I was a mess. I could barely move. I was depressed. I was medicated for my diseases. Honestly I had given up on life and was going just going through the motions. Life became just about getting through each day with the least amount of pain and suffering both mentally and physically. My job became increasingly difficult and I actually was at a point where I was unsure if I was going to be able to continue. The doctor even talked about putting me on disability. The biggest problem I was going through was because I was so depressed and basically given up… I turned to alcohol. I drank everyday and sometimes made very poor decisions.
Then just after Christmas I began reading up on Dr. Shawn Baker and the Bell brothers who have been doing this crazy ass diet that was all meat! I was super skeptical but after a few days I said, “Screw it, why not!” I mean I didn’t really have much to lose. So January 1st I took the leap. How hard is meat and water I would say to myself.
The first three days were awesome. I was eating steak and eggs and drinking water. Then day 4 hit. The cravings, the headaches, the nausea. I joined the facebook group and immediately reached out for help. The group was amazing and convinced me to the stay the course. I met so much resistance and hate from people in my life but I powered through.
Then week 1 ended and suddenly I felt good. Like is this real life? I had energy. I could move. My mind was clear and I suddenly realized I went a full week without a drink. I powered through and kept going. Days turned into weeks. Suddenly I had no pain. I slept through the night. I wasn’t anxious and depressed. I also realized that because I felt so good I hadn’t taken any of my medications… for anything. The shot I usually took every month for my disease… screw it, I feel great.
Fast forward to today. I have lost 14 pounds. I wear a size smaller pants. I have set PR’s in squat, bench press, overhead press, rows, and deadlifts. I have definitions! Whats that? I can run again. Adding miles every week. The best is that today I saw my doctor. My blood work was amazing. According to him I am the healthiest I have been in a decade. I no longer take any medications. This way of eating saved my life. It gave me my life back. I will continue and now I am focusing on weight loss but also want to keep getting stronger! I am proof positive that meat heals!
I am 57 years old. On July 17, 2017, I was weighing 270 lbs. I am 5’10”. I started on a ketogenic diet on that day. I started on my carnivore diet on January 1, 2018. At that time I was 223 lbs. During the 6 weeks I have been eating carnivore I have lost an additional 18 lbs and have lost 4 inches off my waist, which is equal to the 4 inches I lost in my 5 months of the Keto diet.
Also I have osteoarthritis in my left hip. It had been painful to get up from a chair and I have not been able to put on my left sock for the last three years. The pain when I get up is gone. I still can’t put on my sock but pull my sock up once I get it over my heal. I’m hoping soon I will be able to put on my sock.
I upped my exercise level when I started keto but felt tired after my workouts. I know workout 3 times a day and have much more energy.
I have been an insomniac for at least 15 years. I haven’t slept a full night in my bed for years. Almost immediately after I started my carnivore diet I have been sleeping all night on my bed. I had been waking up 3 to 4 times a night to urinate. The last 3 nights I have not got up to urinate once. I wake up full of energy and immediately start my morning workout. I usually sleep 5 to 6 hours a night now. I have a Fitbit that records my sleep before carnivore I was sleeping maybe 3 hours a night.
On January 6, 2018 my father died unexpectedly, during this period I did not fall back into stress eating, which had been my habit in the past.
My normal eating is coffee with butter and heavy cream before morning workout at 4:30am. At 9:00am, I usually have about a pound of some type of beef. At about 5:00pm, I will have between 10 oz to 1 lb of beef. Early on I was having pork for dinner about every 3 days it was not filling so I now am almost exclusively beef for dinner. Saturday morning I usually have 3 to 4 eggs and about 3/4 lb of bacon. My intake is constantly changing I eat until full some days I eat more than others.
My name is Chris Donohue. I am 44 years old, a Licensed Massage Therapist and Herbalist, and the healthiest I have been in decades since adopting a carnivorous diet. I am down around 120 lbs (and counting), and have had many health issues COMPLETELY clear up since going carnivore. I have tried every diet under the sun (was a vegetarian for a year and a half, low-fat, low-carb, keto, ate only cereal, even ate baby food for a few months, etc) and Meat-Only is the only diet that has really worked for me and healed my health problems.
Following a Standard Ketogenic Diet last year took me part of the way, and I was able to lose some weight. But it seemed I was always losing and gaining the same 50 lbs, had long stalls, and frequently gave in to my cravings. Cheat meals sometimes turned into cheat weeks. I was helping to coach some of my clients and friends with Keto but was not having the results I was after. Since going fully carnivore the end of 2017 I have consistently been losing 2-4 lbs a week, with some even bigger week losses! I have ZERO cravings and ZERO hunger. I eat meat when hungry and drink water when thirsty, and I don’t restrict either. My friends and coworkers are amazed my fat is melting away eating ribeye steaks, bacon cheeseburgers, and chicken wings!
Besides the weight loss the health gains have been amazing in so short at time! A Meat-Only diet has cleared up several conditions that persisted even on a standard ketogenic diet. These include:
CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH: My blood pressure is lower, shortness of breath is gone (used to huff and puff just walking short distances like across the house), and serious leg swelling (edema from venous insufficiency) for which I had to wear compression stockings is GONE!
DIGESTION: Meat-Only cleared up my diverticulitis! I would get frequent serious intestinal infections requiring antibiotics and was once hospitalized for a perforated colon. Doctors said I would one day require surgery to remove part of my colon. I now know that the recommended high-fiber diet I was following was CAUSING the inflammation, gas, bloating, and increased colonic pressure that caused the bulging and subsequent infections. All of that went away when i removed all plants from my diet. Meat is almost completely digested in the small intestine so the large intestine can heal. This is INVALUABLE for people with diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, IBS, etc.
FITNESS: Able to walk longer distances, workout often, and engage in many activities I used to not be able to do or enjoy.
MOOD/MENTAL HEALTH: My mood is greatly improved and more stable. My depression is largely gone.
RESPIRATORY: Shortness of breath gone, chronic cough and congestion gone.
SKIN: The serious rashes and infections (sometimes requiring ER visits and antibiotics) that accompanied my leg swelling is gone, as is frequent boils, athletes foot, some lipomas and skin tags.
WEIGHT LOSS: Losing 2-4 a week, down 120 lbs and counting!
UNCATEGORIZED/OTHER: Pre-diabetes gone, blood sugars normal and stable, prostate issues (pressure, urgency, etc) cleared up, and lifelong anemia resolved.
Truly… MEAT HEALS!
If anyone has any questions, or I can help in any way, please feel free to reach out to me. My passion is to share the benefits of a Carnivore Keto diet with people, especially with those struggling to lose weight. You can find me at:
I participated in the 90 day nequalsmany carnivore experiment and want to share my experience. My 90 days ends today, but I will be continuing with this way of eating, because the results have been so positive. There were a number of positive changes I experienced, including ones that were unexpected. Here is a short list:
- My body has been extremely responsive to training (I mostly do high intensity weight lifting), with minimal muscle soreness in the days after a workout. I’ve gained about 8-10 lbs of muscle mass in the last 3 months and I am much stronger. My motivation to work out is very high.
- I have never had a problem with weight, but I used to be “skinny fat”. I had major addiction to breads, starches, and sugars that I suspect would have been very destructive to my health in the long run. I now have no desire for these types of foods and my relationship with food is completely different. I usually have a couple of large meals a day, I never get “hangry”. When I go out with friends or to parties, I am not compelled in the slightest to eat these foods.
- I had previously had what I suspect were mild hypothyroid symptoms. Intolerant to cold, uncontrollable shivering, low energy levels at times. This winter the cold is not even a problem for me (I live in Michigan). I never feel tired at the end of a day anymore and I make plans to do things almost every night.
- Better libido and sexual function. This year (just turned 30), I became concerned that my desire and performance were really decreasing fast. After about two months of carnivore, things began to really pick back up and seem to be getting better now with every passing week.
- My physique, and I feel in some ways even my personality, have become more definitively masculine. I am more decisive, focused, and intense in my work and personal life. I suspect this is due to better hormonal health and higher testosterone.
I feel like this way of eating is conducive to the type of lifestyle I would like to live and the high level of function I want to get out of my body, both physically and mentally!
Some background: 52 year old male, business owner with an advanced degree, married with two teenage daughters, no health problems, always considered myself fit and health conscious, avid cyclist (around 4,000 miles per year mostly road and some mountain biking, resistance training off and on during the year, mostly body weight over the last several years. Diet-wise I would eat standard stuff, tried to stay away from french fries, eat my greens, etc. but nothing special. Since I ride a lot, I would do things like down a frozen pizza late at night after a hard ride. I have been a beer drinker from the word go so that often went hand in hand with post ride nutrition. Overall, too much alcohol over the last year or two with work related stress. With all that I did pretty well and my weight has always been around 170 lbs with decent body composition, maybe down to 160 lbs once or twice 8 years ago when riding a lot and training to race.
I first heard about Dr. Baker in October 2017 somewhere on the web, maybe referenced in an email from one of many subscriptions, regarding a powerful athlete that only consumed meat and water. This intrigued me and I did a quick search and found a podcast interview that he’d done. After that, I had to try it for myself so the first week of November I pretty much dove in to what was essentially low to zero carb with mostly meat. I also adopted the 100 push ups and cold shower protocols at that time. I started the squats protocol a few weeks later.
The results blew me away from the start. I’m estimating my weight before starting was around 167 and I had been riding a ton – 42 straight days in fact which was a long streak for me. I wasn’t trying to lose any weight on this protocol, but I dropped to about 155 in a week or so – probably some water weight I guess. I measure weight on occasion just for fun, but I believe that all anyone needs is a full length mirror – and after about 10 days I looked as good or better than I ever have, including years ago when I lifted weights for fitness. Anyway, I’ve settled out at around 151 lbs. and 15% body fat according to my home scale, but aiming to add muscle weight from there.
Athletically, there was an adaptation period with some brain fog (pretty sure I wasn’t eating enough) and I would be sort of fatigued on fast group rides but I still hung in there and did okay. Since winter arrived I’m riding less and can’t really determine how this will affect my cycling until spring. I was skeptical about my doing the 100 push ups per day since I thought I would get too sore. Not the case. Overall I cannot believe how rapidly I recover after exercising. There have been many days where I will do the push ups and squats in the morning and then hit the fitness center after work for a full body weight circuit (around 20 minutes) with around 240 total reps of various movements – and feel like I could keep going. For the protocol I’m now adding a weighted backpack, raising my feet for push ups, etc. I don’t believe I could have done that much work that often in the past without breaking down too much physically.
More significantly, my mood, sleep, ability to handle stress, and overall outlook on life have all improved enormously. My work is highly stressful – I’m a business owner and over the past few years I’ve faced a lot of difficulty in the business. I’ve essentially coped by riding my bike and probably drinking too much. Since starting these protocols, my emotional ups and downs have smoothed out, I have a much more positive outlook, and I have embarked on a personal improvement mission.
I am devouring podcasts about health, nutrition, business, etc. I am continuously going to the library to check out the latest book recommendation and have two to three going at any one time. Instead of sleeping until the last possible minute like I usually did, I am getting up much earlier as I have so much I want to do each day. Diet-wise, as Dr. Baker has indicated, I am gravitating toward exclusively toward beef and am finding other foods don’t quite do it for me. Also, alcohol is much less appealing to me. It used to be that one beer tasted like “more” and I might have 2, 3 or 4. Now I can envision myself cutting it our or going to just an occasional light beer or wine/spirit rather than at least 2-3 beers every day. That alone is shocking.
I can’t say enough good things about this WOE. I am sure that the exercise and cold shower protocols are extremely helpful (I will probably continue all of them indefinitely), but for me it all starts with the diet. I truly believe that the carbs, among other things, just messed up my brain and made it difficult to deal with daily life issues and move myself forward like I should. I wish I had found this much earlier, but I’m not looking back. My wife pointed out that one of the likely benefits is that I feel control over this aspect of my life. That, along with the other mental and physical benefits, is an incredibly powerful combination.
My goals for this year are to stick with the program (full carnivore in January) and see how I perform athletically (enter a bike race or two this spring) and just maintain my forward progress overall. Dr. Baker is the perfect person to promote this way of life using an intelligent and measured approach and exhibiting a lot of patience with the same questions over and over. Plus, he’s my age so I seem to identify with him well. I will follow along closely and encourage others as well.
There’s probably a lot more that I could say, but its time for some push ups and squats.
I found you on Twitter because Amy Berger (@TuitNutrition) mentioned you. I had just been insulted by two friends within 24 hours, both of whom said I was fat.
In addition, I had been told by basketball officiating observers that if I wanted big games and tournament assignments, I needed to lose weight.
One of the big problems for me was the head-spinning, confusing ways of going about it. Paleo and most LCHF diets require an encyclopedic-like recipe book. I HATE that. I want simplicity.
So, I was at a bad point. I was paralyzed into inaction by the complex recipes, going to the grocery to buy a thousand ingredients, but I was also very angry that I not only allowed myself to get so out of shape and wasn’t doing anything about it. Vicious cycle.
Then, I started following you on Twitter. It was a blessing from God, man. So simplistic to eat all meat (in my case eggs, too), yet it seemed it might be effective. I decided to give it a genuine shot. No cheating. No “kind of” doing it. I was all the way IN.
At first, it was weird eating steak for breakfast. But I followed what I saw you saying to others.
That was 20 weeks ago. In 20 weeks, I have…
- Lost 49 pounds *
- 38-40″ waist to 34″
- Increased my energy (I used to want to take a nap at about 2:00 every afternoon. Now I feel energy throughout the day.)
- Better sleep (Used to wake up at about 3:00 AM, and now sleep 7-8 hours straight)
- Increased my cognitive sharpness (recall, analysis, etc.)
- Improved my emotional state (Things that used to easily get me down now don’t)
- Eliminated plantar fasciitis, which had bothered me for two years
- Eliminated almost all of my knee pain
- Increased my weight lifting numbers
- Increased my desire to do work throughout the day
My diet every day is as follows:
- Breakfast – 4-5 scrambled eggs and as many strips of bacon as I want, water
- Dinner – 16-ounce steak OR 3 1/3-pound chuck burgers (occasional cheese added) OR 1 pound of roast beef OR a whole chicken from Costco or Boston Market with no sides, water (occasional ICE brand flavored water)
I don’t have to go to the store and buy a lot of things. I don’t have to look up recipes. I turn on the stove top or the grill.
I have no intention of stopping, as I enjoy every meal.
I can’t wait until the “friends” who insulted me see me again. Let’s see if those a**holes are as quick to compliment me as they were to rip me. Same with the basketball officiating observers.
Thank God I found you, Shawn. I appreciate your insight, effort and encouragement to all of us trying to get better.
* Update: This post was written in mid-December 2017. Since then, Thom is now down a total of 57 pounds from his original weight.
I have 6 children – 6 thru 42 – and the one joke I hear all the time is about my ‘diet’: ‘So what are you eating now, dad??’ All my life, I’ve been curious to try different foods and regimens, to see what works for me and doesn’t. I’d be embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent reading and researching over the years; even now, at 65, it continues all the time. Fact is, there wound up being an overall direction to it (if a bit meandering), and it doesn’t change quite as frequently as perceived, but they do have a legitimate critique.
I’ve been through lots of ‘phases’: when I was in my teens I followed some of the early Atkins ideas, then in my late 20’s, early 30’s, I followed a strict vegan regimen: used to make my own bread with organic stone ground wheat. tofu and sprout sandwiches, supplemented carefully with spirulina, brewer’s yeast, etc. After (as near as I can remember) a year or so, I had some trouble with fatigue when I was 30 – I was running 5+ miles every day, and I finally started to add in some dairy. Not sure that was the issue, but things did get better, and then I followed a pretty strict vegetarian diet for several years. One of my children, born during that time, is still vegetarian.
I had struggled with seasonal, then year round allergies since I was 19, and chronic (worsening) headaches in my 30’s, and 40’s. Additionally, my weight fluctuated: I would ‘buckle down’, count calories, or restrict types of food; over those years my weight ranged between about 165 and 220. And I had bad sugar cravings: chocolate, sweets, a genetic predisposition for sure, but I would work so hard to cut it out, and then one evening, I would implode and clean out every sugary treat, every half-opened, age-whitened chocolate bar, or frosted over long-forgotten reduced-to-goo ice cream from the back of the freezer. Why? I always felt helpless, and made up my mind again, till the next binge.
With a lot of reservations (shifting from years of veggie to red meat?!) , I tried the re-packaged version of the Atkins diet that was popular in the late 90’s – I was well into my late 40’s. It defied everything I had believed for decades, but sure enough, I lost weight, felt better. I shifted to South Beach (a bit hipper version with lean meats, and more ‘correct’ foods), and had the same results. I couldn’t keep my results, though – I would drift back into the weight roller coaster, gird up, lose some weight, then stumble and start again. But I noticed that on the ‘induction phase’ of both these diets – when I was eating NO grains, I always felt conspicuously better. After those initial couple of weeks, as I added back in the brown rice, whole wheat (NEVER processed), that good feeling dissipated.
A few years ago, my wife mentioned a conversation she had about the Paleo diet: no grains, no processed food. I jumped into that, researched everything I could. Dropping the grains was a positive move – can’t speak for one other person on Earth – but for me there was a palpable difference. I generally felt better, much less stomach and gut goings-on, and I was better able to control my weight and my diet. For a couple years, I was doing well.
But I continued to read and explore: I came across more and more about the ‘keto’ diet. As usual, I first thought it was ‘too radical’, and I was just plain afraid to try something that out of the norm. But I was piqued, and in September 2016, I jumped in and followed a rigorous keto diet, no more than 25-30 net carbs per day, huge leafy green salads, and of course no processed foods, no grains, no sugars, etc. I recorded my weight and every ounce of my food every day.
This was the first time, I think, that I was finally able to control my sugar cravings – I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘cheat’ meal since then. I had started mountain biking with a friend a few years earlier, and I use an app that records every ride, my heart rate, etc. (I’m ridiculously fastidious about recording things.) My buddy is a really strong, experienced mountain biker, and 15 years younger, so I can never keep up completely, but it paces me and I managed to improve. I had started at 200/210 lbs., and with the keto diet, careful calorie counting, and meticulous supplementation (electrolytes, vitamins, etc. – about a dozen pills a night, plus electrolyte powders and regular fiber supplements), I managed to methodically drop my weight into the mid 150s by December 2017 – less than I’ve weighed since before puberty. My biking got stronger, and I also got to the gym when I could, so my upper body strength didn’t drop off too dramatically with the weight loss. Along the way I implemented intermittent fasting, which, again, improved my stamina riding, and my health, mood, etc., got better again.
But I had read about ‘zero carb’ – at first it just had a morbid fascination: here again I was looking at something that defied everything I thought I knew. This created more fear: what about scurvy, would I be painfully constipated, somehow permanently ‘ruined’? I toyed with it, looked into it, but never seriously considered taking that leap.
When I happened to watch Shawn (Dr. Baker) on the December Joe Rogan podcast, it suddenly felt down to earth, not so scary. I made up my mind to try it and started December 11, 2017. I wanted to be very clinical about it, and not confound my results, so I determined to drop, on that day, all my vitamins, supplements, psyllium husk (i.e. fiber supplement), and I also decided to drop my long time nasal spray, which I had taken for decades to address my chronic headaches (I have NEVER been able to stop that without vengeful headache repercussions). The only things I continued, at first, were my morning coffee, and my Claritin. I’d taken the Claritin for decades, year round – for headaches and allergies, and had never been able to stop it. A few days without it in the past caused severe itching all over my body, and I just assumed I’d take it till I died.
I continued and participated in the January study on Track-Well.com, and then just kept going. I tapered the coffee completely, as well as the Claritin. As of today (2/19/2018), I have been free of the Claritin for about 4 weeks. I tentatively planned to go back to my keto diet – I still have fat bombs and low carb, homemade bread patiently waiting for me in the freezer (which my family probably won’t eat) – but as of now I have no plans to stop the carnivore WOE (way of eating).
I eat mostly beef, occasional pork, a little chicken, eggs every few days, occasional cheese, but I’ve felt better when I drop the cheese entirely. Aside from that: water. I eat when hungry, surprisingly never get tired of the steak (or hamburger for economy), and it usually happens about twice a day.
I realized that, generally speaking, as I cut out carbs at every ‘phase’, I just felt better. Suddenly it didn’t seem unreasonable to cut them out entirely, and just see what might happen. Of the three ‘macros’ (carbohydrate, protein and fat), only protein and fat are ‘necessary’. Hey – tomorrow I may decide on a different route, but as long as it goes this well, I’m staying on track.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
- Weight: my weight dropped in the first couple weeks from 153 to 147, but since then it’s slowly built back up to 162. Most is muscle weight, not fat – my waist, etc., hasn’t really changed.
- Joints: I’ve had some chronic problems with neck/shoulder pains since my 40’s, but those really disappeared almost immediately after I started keto. I’ve had occasional twinges in knees and joints since, nothing to complain about, but since starting carnivore, these are rare and temporary.
- Headaches: these diminished pretty quickly, and the minor ones I’ve had seem now to be associated with dairy, especially cheese. This is a kind of ‘elimination diet’, and as such, it becomes easy to isolate ‘trouble’ foods. (I’ve had multiple MRI’s and CAT scans, as well as several types of doctors working on this issue for me over the years. If this diet eliminates that lifetime issue, it’s really huge for me. Allergy season could be an issue, but I’m going into this spring sans meds and willing to see what happens.)
- Stamina/strength: Within the first few days, my energy jumped considerably, even over the keto diet – I just wanted to go work out. When I could make the time I was sometimes working out in the gym, followed by a pretty strenuous kettlebell or rowing workout, and then, in the evening, a couple hard hours of mountain biking. Since then the energy has settled somewhat, and I realized I was doing TOO much for an old man, but I still feel as good as ever, and my biking and workouts are all improved. I track all my weights in the gym, and they’ve steadily improved since I started, and much faster than any time since college. My recovery time seems shorter as well. In terms of cardio shape and stamina, I can climb familiar hills, gulleys, etc., that I sometimes couldn’t climb before. ‘Burst’ (anaerobic) energy is just as good or better, not just aerobic exertions.
- Intestinal: whereas I had been supplementing with psyllium husk to get a consistent 30 grams of fiber a day and a daily bowel movement, I suddenly cut this out entirely. Now I am very regular, though less frequent, and the bloating, rumbling, and gas I always had before is pretty much gone. I never feel constipated – I’m never aware of my digestive track at all, really. It just works. I spend a fraction of the time I used to in the bathroom (stopped even bringing my phone in…. 🙁 ).
- Coffee: In the past I had given up coffee for stretches, but I had to taper over a few weeks because I’m very sensitive to caffeine withdrawal. It seemed much easier on this diet, and just took a few days.
- Skin: I notice I usually don’t need deodorant now (could change as summer approaches, I’m open to friendly feedback), and I also notice my skin is generally just a little better hydrated. I rarely use (or need) soap on my skin anymore. I have always had some chronic skin breakouts on my chest and back, dermatologists had tried to address over the years, but early on I noticed this was entirely gone. Some things happen that you aren’t expecting, and it’s a pleasant surprise.
- Mood: I noticed that I generally had become a good bit calmer and less reactive (my family’s observations may vary..), even on the keto diet, and that continued on the zero carb regimen.
I’ve learned, over the years, that ‘conventional wisdom’ is often 99% convention, and 1% wisdom. The money and resources spent these days on persuasion, the stakes being high as they are – it’s more important than ever to avoid confirmation bias and the emotional sort of ‘cult’ identification (‘I’m a CARNIVORE!’ ‘I’m a VEGAN!’). I try to avoid ‘us-against-them’, whether it’s carnivory, or veganism, or any labeling that artificially divides us by point of view, or way of eating, etc. And there is SO much conflicting ‘research’: I can support any view now by simply Googling the results I want, and the ‘debate’ is endless. I don’t have the time to spend or interest in researching why that’s so (I have theories ;-), but I responsibility for my own personal health rests with me, and I’m reluctant to cede that authority blindly to another person or institution. When possible, I test for myself; I prefer ‘evidence-based’ knowledge over authoritarian-certified dogma. Trust, but verify – rather than trust alone. If one option makes sense, but the other is based on a ‘study’ I opt for the one that makes sense – and when possible, test. I trust implicitly the true scientific method, but I don’t automatically trust every claim paraded noisily about as ‘science’. Sadly, I know so many people who could possibly be helped by changes in diet – with joint issues or autoimmune conditions, but who are intimidated by the shrill, alarmist voices out there, scaring them off. There’s a treasure chest of good information supporting the carnivorous and LCHF diets out there now, enough to help a reasonable person ask good questions, if they have a true interest in open minded learning.
Thanks to Shawn and Matt and everyone else who’s made this interesting, and a bit humorous at times, but mostly for giving people confidence – without arm-twisting – to experiment for themselves and share. It’s all fun to try new things, and learn.