My one year experiment with the carnivore diet started May 22, 2018.
NOTE: I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist or a dietitian. This blog is written solely about my own experiences through nutrition experimentation over the last year. Read my disclosure here.
Having struggled with my own personal health issues including weight, eczema, adult acne, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), chronic lichen planus, depression and more, I needed a change as I entered life into my late 30’s.
Beginning of Carnivore
With so many diets and so-called quick fixes aimed at women to shed those last 10 lbs, to get amazing abs, to look like x, y, or z celebrity, it’s no wonder women are at the receiving end of a massive image complex.
I am no exception.
After living my life based on the principles passed down to me from my own mother on diet and nutrition, I became a vegetarian at the age of 16. This was not because she herself was a vegetarian but because I was a teenager looking to find myself.
Being a teenager meant I didn’t understand shit, just thought I had everything figured out and I was right and the world was all wrong.
However, I also smoked and drank heavily. But I didn’t eat meat so I was saving the animals and my health!
As a matter of fact, I truly didn’t do it for the love of animals as much as pride. I was raised on game meat as my father was an avid hunter. Moose steaks were my favourite growing up.
So how did I end up a vegetarian? A dare. It’s as simple as that. Although it carried on for 6 years, long after I had unknowingly already done massive damage to my health.
As a result I continued down a path of very unhealthy food habits for years. You can read all about that in my fat journey here.
Before beginning my one year experiment with the carnivore diet I read everything I could from the veterans in the zero carb community. Listened to podcasts, joined facebook groups, read nutrition literature. Approaching this lifestyle with support was also critical to my long term success.
So what did I consume on daily basis for the past year? I kept a few vices as I transitioned over from NSNG (No Sugar No Grains) to ZC (Zero Carb). I was what was knows as a “dirty carnivore”. There are many variations to adopting a carnivore diet and you simply have to find what works for you.
Keto Carnivore :
This focus’ on the animal kingdom but also allows for slight variations in adding non-animal oils such as olive oils, MCT oil, as well as avocados and sweeteners. Carbs are still limited with Keto Carnivore but allows for more flexibility with spices as well.
Zero Carb :
All animal based products but mainly red meat, some include coffee and dairy depending on sensitivity. Some also include deli meats, bacon and high fat raw yogurt. Less flexibility with Zero Carb.
Ancestral Carnivore :
Also referred to as “Nose to Tail Carnivore”. This is all animal products which include bone marrow, organ meat, bone broth, fish roe, etc. No dairy or coffee/tea. Much more restriction with less flexibility.
Strict Red Meat Carnivore :
Only red meat and water. No spices, no dairy, more restriction and what you might call the most extreme of the carnivore. This is the ultimate elimination diet.
First, my goals as I moved into carnivore were to heal my body. I wanted to see if I could achieve optimal health versus just looking healthy. I had already accomplished the weight loss through Keto then NSNG so losing any further weight was not a factor for me. Getting healthy internally was my reason for going ZC.
As a matter of fact, what better way to see if you can heal yourself than by eliminating everything you eat and going back to basics? History shows us through human biology that humans evolved by eating meat and fat. So where do the carbs come in to play?
Daily Carnivore Intake
In case you didn’t know, I love bacon and eggs. For the last 365 days I have consumed eggs and bacon for breakfast almost religiously. Roughly 6 eggs and half a package of bacon, every damn day. Should you be asking yourself “How many calories is that?” Or ” OMG the cholesterol!”
One egg is 70-80 calories, contains 372 mg of cholesterol and is a 0 on the glycemic index. In one day I consumed 888 calories, 2,232 mg of cholesterol and 0 sugars. What about the bacon? 690 calories, 105 mg of cholesterol and 0 sugars. Those are some scary numbers to a lot of people. Consuming 1,578 calories just for breakfast! I must be out to lunch.
Speaking of lunch, I don’t actually need lunch. I am fully satiated from breakfast and being fat adapted allows me to stay fuller for longer all while keeping my hunger signals in their right place. This one year carnivore diet experiment has created a monster! No lunch, no tracking calories, or macros!? No 6 small meals in a day? What am I, a cow?
Unless I plan on spending my days chewing and grazing like a ruminant animal I prefer to eat when hungry, stop when I’m full and carry on about my day. Humans are meant to move. How can you move when all you’re doing is eating? And shitting? Believe you me, I have better things to do then plan my meals, shop for my meals, cook my meals, clean up after my meals, shit after my meals and then do the whole song and dance again the next day.
To sum up, my daily intake is roughly 1600-2000 calories. This equates to 1.5-2 lbs of meat which is broken down to 70% fat and 30% protein and zero carbs, as well as zero fucks given. I do not count my macros but this is an estimation of my daily intake. So what’s for dinner? Most nights, you guessed it, steak.
As much as I tried to stay away from meat when I was younger and even desperately tried to convince myself that tofu was a tasty alternative to meat, there is no greater satisfaction than a nice juicy steak. Man, I’m getting hungry just thinking about my dinner…
Carnivore Diet Benefits
As I have mentioned before the one year carnivore diet experiment was meant to improve my overall health. I have not lost any weight with the carnivore diet but I have maintained my weight loss from Keto and NSNG therefore the notion that fat makes you fat is a bogus claim. Not to mention flawed physiology.
This is not to say that the carnivore diet won’t work for weight loss as it has for many people. However, based on my own personal experience I have gained more from this way of eating than just weight control. These are called NSV (non-scale victories). My most improved health benefits are thus:
- Cleared up adult acne – because who wants to have pimples in their 30’s and 40’s?
- Cleared up keratosis pilaris – those goosebumps that aren’t really goosebumps on the upper arms aren’t there for any other reason besides hormonal instability.
- Decreased varicose veins – after having kids I ended up with really bad varicose veins and had to get sclerotherapy on them a few years back, this also includes visits every 6 months to keep them “fresh” but since going carnivore, those pesky spider veins aren’t coming back!
- Better sleep – sleep like a teenager because babies don’t actually sleep.
- Mental clarity – this has affected my work as a hands on soft tissue master manipulator (aka massage therapist) in ways I never thought possible. Having always been a visual learner my mental state at work has amplified and I can concentrate for longer and:
- Work longer hours without fatigue – this a huge NSV. The ability to work longer hours and not feel tired or exhausted after a full day of hands on clinical work.
The list goes on :
- Less time grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning – this is a huge benefit for those who have more than 2 mouths to feed.
- Less time spent on the toilet – the topic of pooping is a huge one for most people because we have been trained to believe that we are cows and need to shit 3 days a day to stay healthy. According to science, we poop to excrete waste. So if my body uses everything I eat I don’t need to poop. But if you’re pooping like a madman (or woman) then what you’re eating isn’t exactly what your body needs.
- Decreased chronic lichen planus outbreaks – threw out inflammatory skin cream a year ago which I was using almost daily for my skin inflammation, saved a few hundred bucks on that alone!
- Cured body dysmorphia and depression – no pills and no magic potions here. Feel better going into my 40’s than I did in my 20’s.
What comes next?
This N=1 carnivore diet experiment isn’t over. Not everyone will understand why someone could be so restrictive in their diet and simply get rid of an entire macronutrient but science and history do show it is possible. The Inuit of the North, the Masai of Africa and the Natives of North America are just a few. It wasn’t until the colonization of North America that heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer became apparent in the Native culture. So are we really that naive to believe that meat is to blame for all modern day diseases and the rise in the obesity epidemic?
All things considered, eat a damn steak or two and save the planet and your health. Have you tried this way of eating? Have you noticed any changes in your own life?
meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective) word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be