This is something I have never shared publicly. In the past I would mention I’ve struggled with an eating disorder but never in detail because of the shame associated with it. But I figured my story might help others so here it is.
During my early college years I decided to go vegan (thanks to some very persuasive vegan documentaries), and from there I wanted to “step up my game” so I went raw vegan. My diet prior to that wasn’t the standard American diet, it was very clean paleo – whole fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, raw nuts and seeds. Switching to vegan didn’t benefit my physiology in any shape or form, it only made me feel good about “saving the planet” which is total BS, vegans do more harm to the planet than anyone else.
Few years of veganism and my bones weakened to a point where I was breaking my ribs by simply carrying a heavier box against my rib-cage. At that point I knew veganism wasn’t healthy, my hair was falling out, my skin had ash tone to it, I was looking anorexic but still felt fat (serious body dysmorphia), my anemia worsened. Despite all those issues I was encouraged by all the vegans to keep going, that I just needed to double down on spirulina and everything would balance. Well, things never balanced. I started craving meat and my cravings would get worse when my mom would grill some juicy steaks. One day I gave in to those cravings and felt so horrified. I was brainwashed into believing that by eating animal flesh I would “absorb” all the horror and emotional trauma the animal went through when it was being slaughtered and that my body would be infested with parasites and what not. I went into panic mode and wanted that meat out of me ASAP so I made myself throw up. From there I went back to “being vegan,” I was told to eat more to diminish cravings so I did. Meals turned into severe binges that made me feel uncomfortable and that led to purging which turned into 6 years of severe bulimia that almost ended my life.
I tried many things to end the vicious cycle of bingeing and purging. Every day I kept telling myself this is the last day but last day would never come. I’ve read many books on the brain and behavior and would try many different approaches. Every book said when you get the ‘urge’ go do something else instead of binging, but I guess none of those authors went through this because when you get that “urge” there’s nothing you can do to turn around, it’s almost like something takes over your brain and dictates to you what to do, while the other you – the rational you – is paralyzed. There was nothing in those books on “HOW NOT TO GET THE URGE” in the first place.
It wasn’t until I came across Dr Jack Kruse and his leptin prescription diet blog, which was basically keto/carnivore way of eating, that I was able to break the habit. It took me two weeks on carnivore to get rid of the “other voice” in my head that let to my binges. After six years of my severe bulimia I was finally free and all thanks to carnivore diet. After about a month of eating that way my eating disorder brain seemed to have fixed so I figured I “needed” vegetables and other plant material to stay healthy plus all the research pointed how unhealthy high protein diets were so I started playing around with the traditional ketogenic diet – lots of green veggies, lots of healthy fats, little fish and meats here and there. Despite all that I would still have binge days, severe binge days, I wouldn’t purge anymore but the binges made me feel really shitty emotionally.
Fast forward to now, what started as a 30 day experiment early this year is now month three on carnivore and I finally feel free, I mean TRULY free! No binges, no counting calories, no portion control, no counting macros or other bs! I eat when I’m hungry and no need for snacking. My bones are getting stronger, my anemia is gone, I finally got my period and libido back, my skin is better than ever, and my gut is finally healing. The longer I go on carnivore the more benefits I’m noticing. The only side effect (as I have mentioned in the past) is that damn high libido and being single 😉 , other than that no complaints.
Thank you Dr Baker for everything you do. All the knowledge you provided made me confident that carnivore diet is the way to go as well as it encouraged me to do more of my own research. Now that I have finally healed my mind and body I’m able to focus on coaching others into health and inspire others through posts on IG. Thank you again, let’s heal this world one steak at a time! 🙂
I’m 27 and I was suffering from so many autoimmune disorders since I was a kid including eczema, horrible rashes that covers my entire body, never-ending itchiness, severe acne on my face, cystic acne on my buttocks, vaginal area, and armpits (Hidradenitis suppurativa), back pain, extreme PMS, bladder inflammation (always feeling like I have to pee), extreme depression, crying, anger, and suicidal attempts (took anti-depressants since I was 15, but didn’t help), constant bloating, weight gain, intense sugar cravings, arthritis in my ankles and wrists, vaginal infections due to candida overgrowth, ovarian cyst, IBS, acid reflux, allergies, early graying of hair, and many more…
All of that is completely gone since I went carnivore. After elimination I found out that I severely react to gluten, dairy, soy, legumes, nuts, eggs, and grains. I tried low carb, but I was never 100% symptom-free until I gone full carnivore. If I eat something bad those symptoms come back. Ever since I fixed my diet I advanced so much in my career and personal life. I never knew it is possible to feel this amazing.
Did I really eat a carnivore diet for over 60 days? No vegetables? No plants?
It’s true. I ate a carnivore diet for 60 days. In fact, I still am. I started this January 2, 2018 and today is March 14 and I’m still going doing it.
Why would I stop eating plants?
I know what people are wondering. Isn’t that weird and dangerous?
I went on a carnivore diet, because I saw others do it with interesting benefits, and I became curious. That’s the heart of it, and… I live by a principle. When new information presents itself, I make changes. No dogma here. I like experimenting with foods and styles of eating. I have for over 20 years, starting back in my bodybuilding days.
People think I’m nutty if I say I’m on a carnivore diet, but not as nutty if I just say Keto or Zero Carb. However, I don’t entertain those people until they’ve done the reading, research, and experimenting that I have. Sure, I’ll answer a few questions, but if you give me the “stink eye” we won’t talk until you’ve done some homework.
I’m drawn to the carnivore diet for a few reasons.
It’s easy. I mean really easy. I only eat two times a day – lunch and dinner (drinking coffee in the morning). The reduced food prep, reduced food shopping, and reduced decision-making fatigue is awesome.
It appears we can get everything we need (in the best format!) from animal products so, no, it’s not harmful. It’s actually extremely nutritious! The common sentiment in the carnivore community is that #MeatHeals and it’s anti-aging. I’m inclined to agree. Animal proteins and fats have super nutrition without any of the possible negative consequences of carbohydrates.
I don’t crave sugar or carbs. THIS SHOCKED AND EXCITED ME! I can follow a carnivore diet without any effort. I only crave delicious ribeye steak. If I could wave a magic wand, it’s all I’d eat (plus some fish on occasion). While remaining frugal, I’ll keep it to ribeyes some of the time, ground beef regularly, cheese occasionally, whipping cream in my coffee occasionally, chicken rarely, turkey twice a year, bacon sometimes, eggs regularly, and fish once a week (could be canned sardines).
It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done to keep in great shape. It’s effortless. When I ate a “clean” diet in the past years, I stayed in good shape but had to put a lot more effort into it.</li
Now I can go from Steak to Swimsuit 🥩 👙 (or cropped top)
I can go from eating over a pound of fatty ribeye steak straight to wearing swimsuit because there’s no bloat. My abdomen stays flat.
I can also workout after eating meat, too. In the past I waited before going to the gym, after eating, usually because I had a “food baby” or I was tired from digestion. Now, I’ve had times where I want to do pull-ups after eating steak.
I was excited about eating a carnivore diet because I knew about the nutrition in meat. I did question, for a while, whether eliminating plants would harm me though. Were there nutrients in plants I needed that I couldn’t get from animals?
Doesn’t look like it. I’ve read interesting information about the excellent nutrition profile of animal foods and the possible lack of nutrients(!) in plants. I didn’t realize that we could thrive without plants.
I was curious enough to try. I wanted to see if I’d feel differently by eliminating plants from my diet and going carnivore. So far, I have no desire for plants other than coffee and tea which I’d like to eliminate and see what that does, too. All in good time.
I wondered about the following if eating a carnivore diet:
Will my hormones improve and PMS improve? (They improved when I ended my vegan diet years ago, and I wonder if they could improve even more?)
Will my occasional headaches improve?
Will my energy improve? It’s not bad pre-carnivore, but as a homeschooling-work-from-home mom I’d love some more energy.
I heard about major improvements in skin from many women by eating a carnivore diet. I’ve experienced it first hand and wondered if it’s a fluke or the real deal. My skin greatly improved after ending vegan, but I was getting occasional PMS breakouts (though not every cycle). I look at my skin now and see such health that I not only love eating a carnivore diet, but I feel it’s the optimal choice for me. The health of someone’s skin says so much. I’m also curious… Will I age slower without any carbs?
What prompted this craziness of not eating plants?
When a friend retweeted him I chuckled at his absurd diet of eating as a carnivore. However, he was an MD professsing awesomeness by being a carnivore and I couldn’t help but do a double take. A medical doctor, orthopedic surgeon no less, well that piqued my interest seeing as most doctors are still touting the outdated idea of watching the consumption of cholesterol.
So, I saw that he was a big dude, like super muscular and in great shape for his age (for any age actually!), which I think was 50 at the time. I saw once that he was eating about 8 plain hamburger patties for a meal. I thought, “Huh. That’s bizarre, interesting, and possibly ridiculous.”
At the time, I didn’t think any more of it other than pure entertainment of watching him and following his tweets on occasion. I had zero interest in doing it personally, after all, I was a polyphenol freak. Hello – Matcha Green Tea? Turmeric? Vegetables? I write and sell books about them! Funny how things work.
Over the months, I saw his meaty meals posted on twitter and saw him retweeting other people trying his carnivorous ways. From those links, I read blog posts from other carnivore-eating people and their fascinating experience. Some having done it for decades! More interestingly, some of those people had great health benefits of being low-carb first, AND then noticed a continued surge in health after eating only carnivore and cutting out plants.
Some of these people had real allergies, they learned, to the very phytonutrients many claim are beneficial. When I think back to my vegetable and fruit eating experiences I have to admit I had problems but who doesn’t eat veggies because of a small tummy ache after? The experts say we’re supposed to eat them for health.
When I looked back on my veggie eating days with the different eyes, I realized important points.
Coconut foods can give me stomach cramps.
Root vegetables can make me nauseous.
Broccoli sometimes repelled me even with butter and salt. I would put on my big-girl pants to eat broccoli because of the “super powers” it supposedly had for health.
Avocado made me crazy tired.
Chocolate can nauseate me.
Nuts can make me break out, feel sick to my stomach.
Bananas can give me a small belly ache but I still ate them.
Citrus can contribute to migraines.
Alcohol I don’t drink because I always feel crappy after just a few sips.
Kombucha gives me a stomach ache and, again, I still drank it. 😔
Dark leafy greens usually bothered me a little bit, but I ignored it, again, and figured I had stomach issues and not a possible allergy to plants.
Green tea, on an empty stomach, makes me nauseous.
I don’t react poorly to all plants – I don’t think. However, I find that having ANY carbs can trigger carb cravings for me, so I want to eat carnivore style and eliminate them (save for the trace amounts in animal products)
Back to Dr. Shawn Baker…
He ended up on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and I eagerly listened since I knew who he was and what he was about. Not surprisingly, I found the interview extra interesting. He addressed issues like pooping when there’s no fiber in the diet, vitamin C and scurvy, and more. Those were things I hadn’t even thought about.
I later read more online about those common questions. I listened to interviews from scientists and researchers talking about how we don’t actually need plants and that we can get all of our micro-nutrients from animals along with the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. I read that carbohydrates aren’t essential. Some experts mentioned these topics and said we should have more research on it, but that there was NOT good science for the constant recommendation to eat more fruits and vegetables either. I was shocked.
You’d think from the way people talk that plants are to be revered to the utmost. We praise kids when they eat their veggies and not their fish or beef. Sure, we like our kids getting good protein, but do we praise them for eating it?
Here are my results that happened immediately in the first week on a carnivore diet:
First thing that happened was I wasn’t super hungry all day. Very satiated. In fact I had to work at eating more because I was full. I remember Shawn Baker, MD saying to eat like it’s your job in the beginning to ensure adequate nutrient and energy intake.
Second thing that happened was that I woke feeling super refreshed and with less sleep on even the first night.
I had/have zero, and I mean ZERO cravings or desire for carbs. That’s never happened before, probably because I was always have some or I was not getting satiated with enough animal proteins and fats. Low-carb past experiences left me wanting carbs. It took eliminating them to be free of them.
I lost weight – probably more than I should have. So, I started eating meat “like it was my job” to gain a couple of pounds back for a strong and lean weight.
After 60 days on a carnivore diet (still early but good data):
Best skin ever in my life.
Wounds heal faster.
Satisfaction and satiety. That is liberating.
Hip pain mostly gone. I’ve had hip pain for years since sleeping on one side for so long while pregnant eight years ago. That started to get a little better before carnivore, but is almost gone on carnivore.
Excellent attitude and mental state!
Increased sex drive! 💗
Beautiful muscle definition.
I also think this must be an amazing diet for dental health. I think a person’s skin and teeth are windows into their body’s health. Excellent dental health has been a passion for the past four years, after my teeth went to hell from eating vegan so long. When I think about this diet, it has to be one of the best ones for building and maintaining healthy teeth. For me, that means including things like sardines (with skin and bones), getting sunshine, and including some quality cheeses/eggs/liver (for vitamin K2, retinol).
I figure that if the many people I’ve read eating only animal foods have survived many years, I can safely handle it for a few months while I experiment.
How do I prepare meat for eating a carnivore diet?
Over time, I found that I want mostly beef, preferably ribeye steak though the price can be limiting. I also like ground beef patties and fish. I’ve found my favorite way to prepare steaks and patties.
Reverse Sear Steaks
This is a brilliant way to ensure perfect cooking of any size steak. It will take a bit longer, but with planning, it’s mostly hands-free.
Baking tray/pan with cooling rack nestled inside
Tongs for flipping steak
Skillet for searing steak
Animal fat for searing
Season steak with sea salt. Place the steak on the rack nestled inside the baking pan.
Turn the oven on to 275 degrees F. Put the steak inside.
For me, because I like a final temperature (after searing) to be 125 degrees I keep the steaks in the oven for these lengths of time depending on thickness of steak: If it’s a thinner steak, cook 20-25 minutes. If it’s a thick ribeye cook 40-45 minutes. Either way, I keep them cooking in the oven until the temperature reaches about 110-115 degrees F.
Heat the skillet to high. Sear steak on each side for about a minute (depending on thickness)
*I like to let my steak sit out for about a half hour (or a bit longer) to get closer to room temperature than coming straight from the fridge.
Broiling Burger Patties
This is the easiest and cleanest way to make burger patties, because I can cook many at a time and clean up is a snap.
Cheese, if desired
Large baking tray, lined with aluminum foil
Create patties from the beef. I do this by rolling them in a ball and then placing them on the aluminum foil- lined tray. I then smash them pretty thinly.
Place the rack in the oven so the burgers will be about 3 to 5 inches from the top. Turn on the broiler to 500 degrees F.
Season the burger patties with sea salt.
Cook them for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until desired temperature is reached. For me, that’s a higher temperature than I eat my steaks because it’s ground and cooking higher is for safety reasons.
If using cheese, place the cheese on top of each patty and return under the broiler for about 30 seconds.
*I like to let my ground beef sit out for about a half hour (or a bit longer) to get closer to room temperature than coming straight from the fridge.
Eating Out: Chipotle
Chipotle Bowl shown above, carnivore style: I asked for 3 servings of steak only.
On a carnivore diet you’ll see people eating cow, chicken, pig, fish, lamb, offal, and some include dairy (full fat like cheese, whipping heavy cream, butter, and ghee). Over time one thing many have in common is that most find themselves gravitating to beef most of the time. It seems the most satisfying.
I’m happy I found this way of eating. I love it. That said, I’m now traveling the world, writing this from Denmark, and I have yet to know if I can sustain it while traveling from the cost of meat, etc. I’ll keep my blog posted. Thanks for reading!
I hope someone reading this will learn from my trials. I will have succeeded if one person takes action. I don’t want anyone to experience the pain and struggles that I have gone through. Since I was 12 years I have been on a perpetual diet. I hit puberty and plumped up. My family had an obsession with being thin and my mom was always on a perpetual diet. At 12 I started that rollercoaster too.
My parents thought they were being helpful when they told me that they didn’t want me to get fat. According to the 80’s nutrition advice that meant I needed to cut the fat from my diet. I took the USDA’s advice and avoided ALL FAT. I have a family history of heart disease, so I avoided red meat and especially saturated fat. I ate cereal in the morning, sandwiches at noon, and pasta at night. I never reached my goal of being thin but I held of being super fat out of sheer will and determination. My whole life I never remember feeling good. I didn’t even know what feeling good felt like.
I stayed on that trajectory through college. I was always watching my weight. I was on a ROTC Scholarship and in the Army National Guard. The thought of of losing my scholarship was terrifying. After my commission I joined the National Guard. I didn’t want to lose the GI Bill that was paying part of my tuition. I stuck to the low fat diet and counted calories.
I met and married my college sweetheart. When I found out I was pregnant I decided to leave the National Guard. I didn’t have to watch my weight. I ended up gaining quite a bit of weight being pregnant. After having my son I never got down to where I was before becoming pregnant. Four years later I had my second son. I was even heavier than after my first child.
When my youngest started school I decided to train for a marathon. I believed that running a marathon would make me thin. Life would be perfect if I could run myself thin. I trained for the marathon and followed the prescribed carb rich diet. I didn’t end up losing any weight during my marathon training.
After the marathon I thought that I needed to do a triathlon, then I would end up thin. Nope, I was still fat. The triathlon training made me realize that I liked riding my bike. I took up cycling. I rode my first century bike ride. I was able to cover the distance but I was still fat.
I enjoyed endurance training. I made many friends and loved training with them. I figured that I needed to ramp up my training. Of course, that must by why I was still fat. I wasn’t training hard enough. I started training for the 70.3 distance triathlons, then I worked up to an Ironman. After the Ironman I was STILL FAT… UGH! WTF!
If the calories in/calories out model worked, I would be super thin. I was training 20 hours a week and eating less than 1500 calories per day. I had mild asthma that soon became chronic and uncontrolled asthma. I felt cold and exhausted all the time. I developed reactive hypoglycemia. On top of all that I still FAT.
It became clear to me that I was doing something wrong. Hours and hours of endurance training and eating a low fat, high carbohydrate diet was not making me thin. I must be doing something wrong. I started reading about Scott Jurek, and ultra-marathon runner and vegan.
I thought that was the answer, I needed to eat a vegan diet and train for ultra-marathons. The vegan diet was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The vegan diet made my health worse. My asthma and allergies were worse. I added to my health issues horrible gas, injuries, and giant boils started erupting on my face. The one thing that stayed the… I was STILL FAT!
At that point, I sought alternative medical help. According to my regular doctor I was completely “normal” and nothing was nothing wrong with me. It is “normal” to have chronic asthma, a poor complexion, chronic injuries, and to be fat after doing an Ironman.
A concerned friend referred me to Naturopathic Doctor (ND). She order a slew of blood tests. I was almost afraid she would say that there was nothing wrong with me. I thought if she said that I was healthy like my primary care doctor, then I must be crazy. I didn’t think it was normal to feel as bad as I did.
The ND didn’t think I was healthy or normal. She measured my hormones, and informed me that I didn’t have any. My hormone levels were so low that they were not readable in the test. I hadn’t had a period in about year, and I thought that was from my birth control. But it was more likely from my poor diet and excessive training.
Thought this process I became obsessed with learning how the body works. I became a ACE Personal Trainer, and read everything I could on health and nutrition.
I gave up on endurance sports and tried Crossfit. That is where I learned about about the Paleo Diet and Robb Wolf. I also learned that Crossfit was doing nothing for my health. My hormones were still a mess. After 18 months I still felt like crap and decided to ditch Crossfit.
I wanted to figure out how to feel better. I started listening to podcast. I found Ben Greenfield’s podcast. He talked following a low carbohydrate diet with endurance training.
I joined Ben Greenfield’s Become Superhuman Coaching program. I took courses and certifications with the C.H.E.K. Institute. The C.H.E.K. Institute and Ben Greenfield’s message was quite a bit different from the USDA advice. I switched to a Paleo Diet, then a low carb Paleo Diet. My body started to heal. My gas subsided, my face cleared up. Over time my allergies went away and then my asthma disappeared. I went from a size 16 to a size 12 with the Paleo diet. I dropped from a size 12 – a 10 following a low carb Paleo diet.
At the Become Superhuman Conference and met Peter Defty from Vespa Power. We soon became great friends because of our obsession with nutrition research. Peter referred me to Esmee La Fleur’s website Zero Carb Zen. I started an on again/off again Zero Carb/Carnivore Diet. I started to feel better and dropped to a size 8.
Even though I had good results with a zero carb diet I had problems sticking to it. I had such a hard time saying ‘NO’ to food in social settings. I felt like I was being rude. It wasn’t until I participated in the Carnivore Study that I felt empowered to say no. I dropped from a size 8 to a size 6 during the 90 day Carnivore Study. I also felt WONDERFUL!!!
I returned to my my love of cycling. I train every year with a group for Tour de Tucson. The bulk of my training this year was during the Carnivore Study. I didn’t want to mess up the study results so I stuck to Zero Carb. I used meat sticks during the longer ride. I added Sports Legs, electrolytes, and salt to combat leg cramps.
The lack of carbohydrates didn’t hurt me. I had a personal record at the last Tour de Tucson. My average pace in 2017 for 54 miles as a Carnivore was 18.45 mph. My average pace while still using carbs in 2012 for 60 miles was 10.06 mph.
Over the holidays I had a relapse. I ate too many chips, salsa and margaritas on a trip to Mexico. My size climbed back to a size 8. But what was most pronounced was how horrible I felt after my trip. I couldn’t believe how fast I went from feeling amazing to feeling like crap.
I am back to a Carnivore/Zero Carb way of eating since January 2nd. Since then I continue to get faster on my bike. My functional threshold power (FTP) when I was low-carb/Paleo was 135, now my FTP is 201. My FTP keeps going up!
The carnivore diet is a miracle for my health. I went from wearing a size 16 to now wearing a size 6. I had no readable hormones and no menstrual cycle to having a regular 28 day cycle. As a high carbohydrate athlete I was spending $80 a month on asthma medications. I am not on any medications now.
I am 48 years old. I don’t have six pack abs… yet. I have never felt better in my life. I still have extra fat to lose and more healing to do. I went from a lifetime of struggling with my health and weight to feeling good each and everyday. Soon, I expect to see those six pack muscles to show up. MEAT HEALS no matter how old you are or where you start.
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.
I’m Amy van Oostende. I’m 43 years old, married with 4 children (4, 13, 21, and 24). I’m a nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP).
Before I became a nutritionist I was a personal trainer. Food and nutrition has been my passion for many years. However, I grew up on the standard American diet. After the birth of my first baby I fell for the “fat free” scam and subsequently became super depressed and gained tons of weight. At which point I got pregnant with baby number 2 and proceeded to gain an additional 67lbs!
I spent the next 6 or 7 years miserable. Counting calories. Trying to starve then binging on food. Laying in bed every night hating myself for screwing up. Vowing “tomorrow would be different!” Exercising the whole time, mind you! Many thousands of hours spent on the elliptical or treadmill!
Years passed. I thought I was “normal” with my daily headaches (there’s a king size bottle of Tylenol at Costco for a reason, right?!), heartburn, knee pain, depression, irritability, PMS, debilitating cramps, awful skin, breakouts, skin tags (eww), gray hairs starting in my 20’s, frequent colds, the flu and an epic string of strep throat (8 times in 15 months! And yes, antibiotics every single time… I shudder at the thought).
I didn’t lose weight in any miraculous or healthy way initially. I tried Metabolife and it certainly worked. I drank coffee all day and starved myself. This went on for awhile, I did give up the Metabolife thank God but kept on counting calories and fat grams and hours at the gym. At 5’5″ I hovered around 140lbs doing this.
Fast forward a few years, I started doing CrossFit and Paleo. I attended a nutrition seminar held by Robb Wolf and committed to “30 days of Paleo”. That was over 8 years ago. And believe me, the early days were full of many mistakes! Cheat days, sugar free popsicles, nasty chemicals, splenda in my coffee, you name it!
Since then I’ve spent most of my years on a keto/paleo template. I did tinker with higher carb paleo for a year. That was awful. I gained about 10 lbs of solid fat. Didn’t feel any better and my strength did not improve one iota!
I really only tried a carnivore diet out of sheer curiosity! (I thought that Baker guy was nuts! Lol) I already felt “pretty good”, or so I thought… however:
I had random gallbladder pain
my hair was falling out!!
my strength was stalled. I hadn’t improved any of my lifts in years (I do powerlifting. For fun, not competitively)
my mood, while better wasn’t great
my joints were a little achy especially if I sat in the same position for a long time. Which I chalked up to normal.
I was still fairly lean but not quite as lean as I had been previously. I’d pretty much lost all visible abs. Which I attributed to a reduction in exercise. And age.
my cycle was ok, although it took takes to “get going” – start, stop, start, stop.
I had adrenal fatigue (low cortisol all day)
I actually love veggies (with loads of fat, of course!) So, I figured I would try the carnivore thing and maybe last a week.
Within 8 days (I think) I got my first pullup EVER. Keep in mind I’ve been training seriously for over 20 years and never gotten a pull up before!
This almost surreal zen feeling came over me… I can’t explain it, but I knew I had no desire to stop! I started losing weight and body fat… my abs came back! At 5’5″ I went from maybe 130lbs to 117-120lbs and 13% body fat.
My heartburn, gone
My gallbladder pain, gone
My hair QUIT FALLING OUT
My mood and energy shot through the roof
Zero joint pain/stiffness
My cycle is perfect! Starts like normal, no cramps or PMS at all!
While I have not tested my cortisol levels again, all my symptoms of adrenal fatigue are gone!
Cooking and shopping is SO EASY! I have a family of four and we all eat basically the same.
After over 6 months I continue to see improvements in the gym. I eat primarily beef, pork, chicken. A little bit of cheese and eggs. I generally eat twice a day. Around 2lbs a day on average. I drink alcohol a few times a month (tequila). I don’t cheat at all. I have no desire.
For a nutritionist, this is a huge paradigm shift! But, all you need is an open mind and a willingness to experiment!
I’m a 24 year old woman who has been eating a carnivorous diet for almost 6 months! I eat mostly beef and pork with some dairy, eggs and bone broth. Prior to adopting a zero carb lifestyle I was eating a TON of vegetables on a low carb Paleo Diet. I even went so far as to only eat natural, pasture raised, grass-fed and free-range meats. I ate that way for a few years. Then my mom told me she was switching from keto to carnivore and felt amazing! I was skeptical but sick of having painful cystic acne and mood swings. I was ready to try absolutely ANYTHING.
Within a DAY of eating zero carb I noticed a difference in my mood. Heaps of energy and euphoria! I didn’t know I was lethargic before, but looking back, I certainly was. I woke up the next day with NO new acne and existing acne already improving! This was plenty to get me hooked on meat. That was in August 2017. I started carnivore at about 115 lbs 5’2″ and I now fluctuate between 107-110 lbs.
I have noticed the following improvements: overall leaner body composition, increased libido, CLEAR SKIN, softer skin, more restful sleep, zero cravings for sugar or alcohol, more energy, hair / nail growth, more visible muscles, increased strength, better stamina, confidence, a feeling of being calm or even zen (I would have described myself as panicky and anxious 6 months ago.) My cycle has regulated itself. Two years ago I was diagnosed with irregular periods! I now have a very predictable cycle with next to zero cramping and much milder mood swings. The list grows.
Grocery shopping is a breeze. Hardly need a list! I went from spending 20+ hours a week meal prepping/cooking for my boyfriend and myself, to maybe 8 hours a week. I can go longer between meals! I eat twice a day on average and I still drink coffee in the morning with heavy cream. When I started carnivore I was still occasionally smoking cigarettes and a few weeks in, my nicotine cravings vanished. I quit cold turkey!! My whole life has improved and I completely attribute it to replacing vegetables with a TON of meat. #meatheals and I have to thank Dr. Baker for his commitment to this movement. Without this way of life I’d be surviving but not thriving the way I am now!!
As per interest and requests I thought I would sit down and talk about my story of approaching and reaching my carnivore diet. Even though I like to never look back or put any focus on my previous ill health, I know that by doing so it may help others. Warning… I’m a number of things, but not a writer. So, read on at your own risk!🤪
I was born March 22, 1973 to an engineer and a physical therapist. My mom’s dad was an M.D. with an emphasis on OB/GYN. He was a great man, but followed the norm of doctoring. He suggested the healthy diet of “cereal and low-fat milk” to snack on in between the standard low fat meals. She was a good little girl and gained just the right amount of weight, ate her “good foods” and prepared for her new baby in a “June Cleaver” kind of way.
I was born quickly without any complications. Things went the way they typically do with hospital births. She nursed me, with the intention of weaning me off breastmilk completely by the 3 month mark so she and my dad could go to FL and leave me with my grandparents. I reacted to every formula and every food they gave me. I guess they ended with the least reactive combination for me.
Growing up, I always had rashes, asthma and allergies. I was allergy tested at 4 after having a scary breathing situation at nursery school. I was sensitive to almost everything. But my diet was never looked at as an option to cure it all. Instead, I got shots for years. I hated every single one. Never got used it. It always seemed wrong to me.
Because I was an only child, my parents wanted me to have opportunities to do things with other kids as much as possible. So, I went to a lot of camps – which I absolutely loved. However, one of the many camp trips is most likely when I was bitten by a deer tick. I remember tick checks every night and removing them with tweezers when found. I don’t remember having a specific rash or period of flu-like symptoms. I had my share of colds, strep and flu every year and would always catch whatever was “going around”, so nothing stood out when I contracted Lyme.
Because my grandpa was a doctor, medications were easy to access and antibiotics were FREELY given to me. I was destined for constant, health failure.
Because of my tendency toward asthma, my parents didn’t enroll me in what I would have loved the most – dance. Instead, homework and optimal grades were pushed (especially by my mom).
And I did succeed in that. I was always top of my class, getting straight A’s and extra credit whenever it was available.
In the meantime, my health kept deteriorating. Beginning at age 8 I developed trichotillomania. Sores on my eyelids and eyebrow lines made me want to rub/pull at the lashes. I had times when I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. My parents saw it as a bad habit that I wasn’t “strong enough” to overcome. This lasted all the way through grade school, middle school, high school, college and my first couple years working.
Whenever I went over to my friends’ houses (everyone had pets), it wasn’t long before my parents would get a call to come and get me because I was wheezing or developing hives.
Once I started to mature around age 13, the acne I developed was cyst-like and extremely ugly and painful. They would look like craters. I had them all over my face, neck, inside my ears, shoulders, back, chest and arms. Between hardly having eyelashes/eyebrows and having this acne, I was very self-conscious. I was not obese as a kid, but I was always heavier than the norm and carried my weight in a weird sort of way in my hips and butt. I remember having cellulite at age 12.
By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped completely. None of the OB/GYN doctors had any answers. My diet was the typical low fat, high complex carbs, high vegetation and low sugar. So, OBVIOUSLY my diet wasn’t causing it.
College days were fun (time away from my parents), but continued my downward health spiral. The extreme fatigue really set in at this point. I started out having a double major of Mathematics (to please my dad) and Studio Art (to please me). My mom didn’t care as long as my grades were as perfect as possible. What kept me from successfully majoring in Mathematics is I could not stay awake in class. I would fall asleep after a couple minutes of class starting and wake up when it was over. I needed naps throughout the day and I would always be the first one to sleep in the dorm by hours. Depression and darkness started overcoming me. I pushed friends away more and more due to my fatigue and depression.
I started working out hoping that would make me feel better about myself (and my floppy physique), but it just made me more tired and angry. I didn’t give up working out until years later. (I even became a PT on the side of my professional job.)
I ended up graduating cum laude with math and psychology minors, and studio art major.
After graduating college, I got a job working in the Industrial Design department at Navistar, which was a dream as an Art major, loving automotive design and working at the same company as my dad, cousin and uncles.
The most dramatic downturn in my health happened next. The stress of working and being around clay modeling, paint spraying and all sorts of chemicals quickly sent me downhill fast. Honestly, at this point life is a blur to me still.
My lifesaver was Joe. Wonderful, talented, funny, interesting, 100% compatible with me, Joe!❤ It’s almost as if I was waiting to meet him before my life which was heading downhill fast would make a turn for the better. But it was going to get worse before getting better.
My list of health conditions grew: eczema all over my hands (to the point of second degree burns), tinnitus, worsening depression, worsening fatigue (fell asleep at work all the time, at meetings, at church, and driving a car), lower back/pelvic and sciatic nerve pain (couldn’t sit at all, worked standing up, constant pain with occasional howling-pain spasms; MRI revealed degenerative disc disease in 3 areas), systemic edema, blurry vision (eyeglasses were worn beginning in high school, worsening every year), paralyzation at times in hands and feet working its way into my torso (Joe had to be called to carry me out of work several times), allergies/sensitivities to all things (food, pollens, chemicals), continued amenhorrea, weight gain (at my heaviest 50 pounds overweight), inability to concentrate (couldn’t understand a sentence spoken to me in time to hear the next in a conversation), diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (treated with cryotherapy), migraines, heart pains, indigestion/reflux, bingeing (and at the end, vomiting – luckily only a few times), muscle twitching (over 100 twitches in 1-minute’s time), lumps in my breasts I was too afraid to have checked out, and one of the last but most difficult for everyone around me was my irritation and rage (a complete reversal of my laid back and sweet nature everyone knew me to have growing up).
I literally could go on, but I don’t want to waste any more time or bleed my heart out anymore than I have.
I went the conventional doctor route, with absolutely NO success. Each one made me sicker, weaker and with more symptoms. Most concluded it was all in my head and I was crazy!
Joe was always interested in body building and happened on Vince Gironda. His way of eating to be as strong and sharp as possible intrigued Joe. Almost as soon as he researched this and similar diets (many authors delving into the low/carb free approach to health long, long ago) he started eating low carb/high fat. Instantly it appealed to me and I tried experimenting with low carb foods and recipes (I loved to cook and bake). It was not an immediate win for me, but certain things instantly started to turn around (allergies and asthma in particular as soon as I removed grains). I also started unmasking the low carb foods (vegetation especially), which would send me into terrible fatigue spells.
When Joe and I married August 8, 1998 (this is part of my love of the number 8), it was one of the best days of my life (other than the days of giving birth to my two sons). It was bittersweet though. I felt bad despite the adrenaline. We were the first ones to leave our own reception, not because we couldn’t wait to be together, but because I was so wiped out from the whole thing.
On with the positive turn!
Soon after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an alternative M.D. At least that gave us something to focus on and be able to look at as reasons behind some of my issues. I decided to quit my job to focus on getting well and reducing my stress level (I was working, taking MBA classes, finished my PT and nutritionist licenses).
More research quickly led us from looking at low carb to virtually no carbs. We experimented so much in such little amount of time that we realized we’d better start journals of everything we ate, how we felt, what worked and what didn’t. All we wanted was consistency.
The fish and oil diet was the first diet I can remember being the first try at a zero carb diet. It relieved a lot of my symptoms, but not all (still had amenhorrea, edema, trichotillomania, acne, eczema and excess weight). We probably spent about a year experimenting beginning with the fish and oil diet, quickly switching to free range eggs and poultry, and occasional lamb and beef.
As SOON as I switched to animal fat as my fat source instead of “healthy” oils, I ovulated and had a period two weeks later. I couldn’t believe it!!! Why in the WORLD didn’t someone tell me years ago about the importance of animal fat?!?😤 I’ve been more regular since then than I ever was as a young teenager. I’ve had two healthy boys (no complications for me; home births too; mid-wife with Charlie and unassisted with George)! ❤😀
We experimented with pork only to find that it activated symptoms. Ground meats, no matter what type also did.
We continued researching and looked at our wins and fails. It led us to Blake Donaldson who suggested a steak and water diet for his patients. That made a lot of sense to Joe and I. We started with pemmican only for some time, introducing steak eventually. Sure enough, as soon as I decided to go all beef, EVERY SINGLE ONE of my symptoms vanished!!! I couldn’t believe it. Whenever I tried to share my success and happiness about this, it was met with more questionable stares, anger, fear, and rolled eyes than you would ever imagine. So, it was our little secret. And that’s how we kept it until we found others with our point of view.
Also, I quickly found the more I ate meat only, my face shape changed and especially my body. I went from needing to work out religiously and strenuously when eating poorly to giving up exercise completely in order to not become too muscular or masculine-looking.
Even when others put our interview out a few years ago, it was met (by some) with so much anger, that we pulled it. It was slated to be run in National Examiner magazine. Boy, would that have been a disaster in many respects.
These days we eat ribeye steak, since it’s the fattiest. And we drink spring water. That’s what we do. We don’t think about it. We don’t really even talk about it. To us it’s like talking about why the sky is blue. Yes, there is scientific reasoning behind it. It’s nice to understand, but it’s beauty is really all it comes down to appreciating!