Interview with Don
My name is Don Matesz. I am 57 years old and have been fitness and health oriented for more than 40 years. I have Master’s degrees in philosophy and Oriental medicine and a nutritionist certification from the American Academy of Nutrition. I practice acupuncture, herbal medicine and nutrition counselling in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was one of the presenters at the first Ancestral Health Symposium in August 2011.
How did you eat before carnivore?
Over 40 years of experimenting with diet, I have eaten many variations of plant based diets, including lacto-ovo vegetarian, whole foods omnivore, macrobiotic, paleo, and strictly whole foods vegan. In 2011 I adopted a whole foods plant-based vegan diet and continued that for more than 5.5 years, during which my health and vitality declined along with my serum cholesterol. In late 2016, while still on that diet, I had a blood test which showed I had low globulin, a sign of protein deficiency, and low phosphorus, indicating dietary phosphorus and vitamin D deficiency. I started adding small amounts of animal products back to my diet in March of 2017. I continued eating a whole foods plant based diet, but with some animal products added, until May of 2017, when I adopted a hypercarnivore diet.
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Why did you try carnivore to begin with?
Almost all of my dietary experimentation was aimed at reducing, reversing and recovering from seasonal allergies, dermatitis and psoriasis, which I have had in some form for as long as I can remember. So long as I ate plant based diets, the conditions did not improve or got worse, unless I used medication (either pharmaceutical or herbal). During the last year or so of the 5+ years that I ate a whole foods plant based vegan diet my psoriasis and dermatitis got markedly worse and started spreading. In Spring of 2017 I read a post on ZeroCarbZen.com by Candi Leftwich, who reported obtaining almost complete relief from Crohn’s disease and psoriasis by eating only meat, fat and water for 3 months. At that point I realized that I had tried to heal my condition by restricting amounts or types of animal foods and eating whole plant foods for long periods many time over nearly 40 years, but I had never tried severely restricting plant foods for any length of time. Even when “paleo” I had eaten a “produce dominant diet” with plenty of fruits and vegetables. So I decided I needed to try a highly carnivorous diet to heal my skin.
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How do you personally approach the Carnivore Diet?
In biology and general language, the word “carnivore” means meat-eater, but does not specify how much meat is eaten. Biologists distinguish three main types of carnivores: hypocarnivores, which obtain less than 30% of their food from meat; mesocarnivores, which obtain 50-70% of their food from meat; and hypercarnivores, which obtain more than 70% – i.e. 71-100% – of their food from meat. In Nature, most hypercarnivores eat some minor amounts of plants.
I eat a hypercarnivore diet. I eat meat, eggs and dairy products, including milk and yogurt. I eat 1-2 pounds of meat daily, usually 4 or more eggs, 1-2 quarts of whole milk or whole milk yogurt, some cheese, butter, and cream, bone broth and eggshell powder. I have experimented with excluding dairy products, but I have gotten the best results in healing my skin by including whole milk yogurt and whole milk, generally 1-2 quarts per day, along with bone broth and eggshell powder to obtain a calcium intake ranging from 1500-2500 mg daily. I use salt and also supplement with magnesium because my water supply is low in magnesium. I generally avoid plants – especially all nuts, seeds, beans and grains – but I drink tea and coffee and sometimes eat some small amount of low sugar fruit (like berries or melon), cooking herbs or cooked or fermented vegetables that I know I tolerate.
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What benefits have you seen since starting the Carnivore Diet?
- No more bloating, flatulence, or loose, explosive stools. Although it took almost 6 months for my bowels to adapt to the elimination of fiber, now my bowel function is better than ever; so far as I can remember.
- Healing of psoriasis. This has been a gradual process over more than a year, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the 40 years during which I have had this disease.
- Healing of a knee injury that would not fully heal when plant based.
- Improved overall skin quality (better moisture without needing to apply lotion). For example, for as long as I can remember before carnviore my elbows were always dry and rough. Now they are smooth and soft.
- Reduced fat mass. Reduced my waist circumference to what it was when I was in high school. This had been impossible on every plant based diet I tried.
- Improved muscle mass and strength compared to highly plant based diets.
- Far more satisfied with meals. No longer looking for “something” after stuffing myself full of plants.
- Greater tolerance for heavy labor/training and quicker recovery.
- Greater libido.
- Less frequent need to eat. Almost never need to eat more than two meals in a day, and some days can eat just one large meal a day and be done.
- Meal preparation is easier and less time consuming.
- Shopping for food is easier and less time consuming.
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What negative have you found with the Carnivore Diet?
- Muscle cramps. Due to the drop in insulin levels, one loses more salts in the urine than if eating a plant-based carbohydrate-rich diet. Presently I live in Arizona so I lose a lot of fluids and salts in sweating. If I don’t get enough salt I get cramps. I have had to learn to use more salt on my food than I did when plant-based. I also take salt in water when cramps occur, or before, during and after heavy sweating.
- If you are vocal on social media, you will be attacked by vegans.
- Sometimes hard to get other people to understand why I eat almost exclusively meat, eggs and dairy. So many people believe these are the most toxic foods.
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Do you exercise on the Carnivore Diet, if so how do you find it and what do you do?
I do strength training including bodyweight training and gymnastic strength training. I had immediate improvements in training when I adopted the hypercarnivore diet. Only have a drop of energy or stamina if I neglect my salt intake.
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What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in trying this diet, but hasn’t taken the leap yet?
- Be patient. The carnivore diet is about eating the most nutrient dense foods in alignment with your biology. Realize that if you have been eating any form of plant-based or plant-rich diet for many years, it will take some weeks or even months to fully adapt to an animal based diet.
- Focus on health, not weight loss. This diet is for restoring health, and a healthy body composition is a side effect of establishing health by eating a nutrient-dense diet.
- Focus on eating enough meat, eggs, and dairy to feel satisfied. If you focus on eating enough meat and fat to reach satisfaction, rather than focusing on restricting other foods, your body will experience what it feels like to be properly nourished, and you will gradually lose your desire for what doesn’t really satisfy your nutritional needs.
- Focus on whole foods, not added fats, and don’t fear protein.
The point is that this diet is not about controlling your food intake with your will power according to ideas and beliefs you have about what is good or not good to eat. It is about properly satisfying your body’s nutritional requirements with the most nutrient dense foods – animal products. When you achieve this proper nourishment, the desire or need to eat lower quality foods will diminish and eventually disappear.
I think most people are best served by these steps:
- Start by increasing your intake of red meat, eggs and, if you tolerate them, fermented dairy products, aiming for at least 70% of your diet from those foods. Eat as much as you enjoy, to satisfaction. Don’t limit your portion size by ideology.
- Eliminate starches (bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, etc.), nuts and seeds, and all plant-based oils. If you are hungry, eat more meat, eggs or dairy products.
- Continue to eat any low-sugar fresh fruits and cooked vegetables you enjoy.
From there, let your senses of hunger, taste and satisfaction determine what and how much of any fruits or vegetables you want to eat in addition to eating animal products. When in doubt, increase the nutrient density.
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Do you think Carnivore will ever be accepted as a mainstream diet?
No, not in our current culture. Too many special interests depend on sales and consumption of plant products for profit. Most likely those interests will do their best to demonize this “unbalanced” diet.
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Anything you would like to add, and where can people follow your journey
I wrote a book on my experience and the science that supports this way of eating. It is titled The Hypercarnivore Diet and is available on Amazon.
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Thanks for reading, Steven
If you enjoyed this blog post and want to dive deeper into the carnivore diet, don’t hesitate to check out my other media, sites, and affiliate links for more insights, success stories, and support. Remember, I’m not a doctor, so always consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes:
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