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I have been low carb since January 2016. I started with the Ketogenic Diet, and I have been on the Contemporary Carnivore Diet (eBook) since October 2017. I love this way of eating but there are only so many times I can blog about how great I feel. So I decided to get other people to tell you how great they feel instead!
That said this is my 3 year low carb anniversary. So I have answered my own questions.
If you have a Carnivore Diet success story you would like to share. Please get in touch with me.
1) Introduce Yourself.
I am 38, and I have been running this blog for 3 years. I am forging my own path into nutrition and exercise. I am not concerned about being an elite athlete, my time for that has passed. However, I also believe that as I approach my 40’s the alleged inevitable decline due to age is more mental than physical. I believe humans are extraordinary, we have powers of healing and athletic daring within us. Unfortunately, I believe the modern western diet and lifestyle is limiting this and is the root cause of the chronic diseases we are suffering. I believe if we feed the body in the correct manner, which logically has to be foods we evolved eating. Then we give the body the best chance to do what it does best, which is to thrive.
2) How did you eat before Carnivore.
Up until January 2016, I just ate a normal Standard Western Diet. In fact, I would say I was above average in how I ate. I enjoyed cooking. The wife and I would mainly cook from scratch. I loved pizza’s but I never regularly relied on them or ready meals for nutrition. I would always choose wholemeal pasta and bread, pretty close to the ridiculous food plates and pyramids actually.
However, the middle-aged spread was starting to rear its ugly head. It seemed like every year I had to eat less and drink less, to maintain the shape I was in. Anyway one day I weighed myself and I was 15 stone 2 pounds (212 pounds / 95.5kg). Also, 36-inch trousers were getting a little tight on me, and I was normally always a 34 (I now wear 32’s and actually require a belt for them too. I am probably close to a 30).
So I just said to myself, this is only going one way and I am not prepared to let that happen. I had already tried the Tim Ferris slow carb diet previously and had some success with it. So I instinctively knew reducing carbs was a way of manipulating weight, but was it sustainable?
I then experienced some synchronicity. I got it into my head that dementia ran in the family, and it freaked me out. So I started researching into how to prevent it. This led me to find out about the Ketogenic Diet, which has been proven to help brain health. It also happened to be low carb.
So I started the Ketogenic Diet in January 2016.
I found great success on the Ketogenic Diet, and I would recommend it to anyone. I easily lost weight and maintained the weight loss effortlessly. I enjoyed the food and was more than happy to eat Keto for the rest of my life.
I also found that needing carbs for exercise was a myth, as I trained successfully for my first Marathon and ran it in October 2017.
3) Why did you try Carnivore to begin with.
Curiosity more than anything. I was very happy on Keto and saw it as a lifelong way of eating. Even though I was in a keto groove, I was always researching and listening to podcasts. The change was was down to a Shawn Baker podcast, but not the infamous Joe Rogan one. It was a couple months before that. It was the Corporate Warrior podcast, with the big man. I then searched for more podcasts. There weren’t many Shawn Baker ones at the time, but there were a few Amber O’Hearn ones. So I listened to them
Again synchronicity came into this because I stumbled across the podcasts just after I had finished my marathon. So I had a month of rest ahead of me, where I had nothing planned. So I had a bit of free time to experiment before I decided on what next to train for.
So the plan was to do 30 days of Carnivore, then back to Keto…… That was October 2017 and I have never gone back.
4) How do you personally approach the Carnivore Diet.
I have been Carnivore since October 2017. I am not a strict beef and water guy. I follow what I call the Contemporary Carnivore Diet. I see this as a modern way to eat Ancient food. I do not have metabolic issues or diseases that I am managing. So I do not believe I have to follow a strict Zero Carb approach. However, I do so for the majority of the time because I believe that it is the best way to maintain a long healthspan. I believe healthspan to be more important than lifespan. Who wants to live to 100, if you spend the last 40 of them years jacked up on medication and shuffling around a nursing home. I will go out climbing a fell or kayaking a lake.
So what is the Contemporary Carnivore Diet, well I don’t cheat for broccoli that is for sure. I am strict Carnivore when I am at work and home. However, if I go out with friends for a meal, I will just eat what is on the menu. I will always pick a meal with a good portion of meat, but if it comes with some side veg and starch then I will eat them. Plus I will not turn down a dessert. So I will eat strict Carnivore for weeks on end, and will only deviate for social occasions. I have no desire to add an avocado to my daily meals, or dream of bananas, or have nightmares about giant Haribo’s chasing me down the street. I have lost all desire to eat fruit and vegetables. I only eat them because I refuse to pay for a meal out and be left hungry because I cannot afford to say I want 3 of your biggest steaks and nothing else.
I would say 80% of my meals are beef, mainly just cheap mince from the supermarket. 10% lamb and pork, mainly bacon. The remainder eggs, cheese, and milk.
I do drink coffee, which is a plant, and I do drink booze. Mainly red wine and whiskey. I am ditching coffee, cheese, and milk for World Carnivore Month (January 2019), as an experiment though.
When you think about what humans need, and I mean actually NEED aka what is essential to thrive. You have to think, what is our digestive system designed to digest and what food likely caused that design. Humans are actually pretty poor at digesting plants, and we are excellent at digesting meat. We are the best hunters on the planet and have been hunting or scavenging meat for over 2 million years. We have only been regularly eating plants for around 15,000 years worldwide, however, more like 2000 years here in the UK. 15,000 years is a drop in the ocean when considering evolution, very little changes in that space of time. So it makes ancestral sense to say we would still thrive on meat, and plants could be a problem in large doses. I have found this to be true, for myself anyway.
When you apply what I like to call the “ancestral sniff test”, everything becomes simpler. “You need heart-healthy wholegrains, you need this superfood powder from the jungle, or you need this amount of this nutrient for this chemical pathway”… well, what food in nature do they come in, and was that food available through the entire world for the last 2 million years? If not, then it is unlikely we need it ….. isn’t it!!!
5) What benefits have you seen since starting the Carnivore Diet.
The Carnivore Diet is ridiculous, it sounds too good to be true. Firstly it is stupidly easy to follow. You walk into a supermarket, go to the meat aisle, go to the eggs aisle, pay and walk out. So quick.
Then cooking the food, is quick and easy. If you buy a steak, you cook that and eat it. 5 minutes and done. I have always eaten steak, but I would also have had to cook a jacket potato or chips, steam some veg or whatever. This was the “normal” way to do things. Now I see that I was just filling up on food that was less nutritionally dense than the steak. I do not crave or miss any “normal” foods, this is because my body is thanking me for feeding it what it needs. Even when I go out for a meal, as I have mentioned. I will look for the meal that has the most beef in it, I will not order a pizza or lasagna just because I have the opportunity to eat them. This is one of the things that leads me to believe this diet is sustainable, the more meat I eat, the more I only want to eat meat. My body and mind are not seeking variation.
Keto was good for weight loss, but Carnivore is next level. It is incredible. I believe it is a human appropriate diet. As such when you eat in this way, you end up naturally and quickly dropping to whatever your natural weight is. The general consensus of this is the weight you were if you were a healthy 21 year old. I hover around 173 pounds (12 stone 5 pounds). This is 2 pounds heavier than when I was 21, however, I am carrying more muscle than I was then. If I factored that in, I would probably be the weight I was when I was 18.
The vanity side of Carnivore is very important. It seems like it is a silly thing to chase. However, vanity breeds confidence and confidence bleeds into the rest of your life. Life is too short to try and mix and match your clothes to try and hide your body shape. When you get out of the way of your own body, feed it the essential amino acids and fats it needs, the body responds extremely quickly, it is truly amazing.
The biggest thing that happened was 10 years worth of mild arthritis in my ankles disappeared in 2 weeks on Carnivore. That blew my mind. Keto didn’t have any impact on this. So my arthritis has something to do with the plants I was eating. That is undeniable.
Loads of other odd things have happened. For example, I didn’t have a cold, flu, virus or bug in the 3 years I have been Keto & Carnivore. This streak was only just broken. I had a very mild cold for 4 days which started on Christmas Eve. I didn’t feel bad or sick, I just had a combination of runny and blocked nose over that time. It was definitely a cold though.
My skin is great, I don’t need to use any moisturizers or anything like that. I have actually stopped using things like shower gel. I just wash in the shower with water in the morning, and I don’t even bother washing my face before bed. I do still sweat but it doesn’t smell like it used too, it is very mild. I can smell a sweaty t-shirt the next day from the laundry pile and it barely smells at all. I do still use deodorant and aftershave.
My digestion has improved on Keto over the SWD, and improved again on Carnivore over Keto. I fart less, have less bloating and my poops smell less. This all makes a mockery of the meat rots in your colon urban legend. Meat doesn’t even digest in the colon, another case of a silly myth probably started by PETA. You are also told you require Fiber for good digestion, this is another myth. Fiber is indigestible plant matter. This is only needed to push out other indigestible plant matter. If you don’t eat plants you don’t need Fiber to aid digestion, and you certainly don’t need it to help satiety and blood glucose control. If you like eating sawdust, go ahead but don’t kid yourself it’s a health food.
Probably the weirdest and hardest thing to experiment with was sun exposure. I have become more tolerant of the sun. I can stay much longer in the sun without cream, I do still go red but it takes much longer. Yet it doesn’t then hurt or get sore, and by the time I have woken up in the morning, I have turned brown. This is all without aftersun. It is hard to quantify this, however, I would say I can spend at least 4 times longer in the sun before getting the same redness. This makes evolutionary sense if you think about it. We have spent nearly all our evolution outdoors hunting. If we could only spend an hour in the sun at a time before burning. We would be pretty crap hunters. I researched into why this sun tolerance may be a thing. The best explanation is that I do not eat much Omega 6. Omega 6 is very high in the standard western diet, think Vegetable Seed Oils which are in almost all processed food. These are extremely easily oxidized by UV light aka the sun. So the less Omega 6 you have in your skin cells, the less oxidization there will be. Oxidization leads to the burning.
6) What negatives have you found with the Carnivore Diet.
I died of Scurvy, that was probably the biggest negative.
Seriously, dealing with the inane questions is probably the worst.
Them “Eee you are looking great and healthy, what are you doing?”
Me “I only eat meat”
Them: “That’s unhealthy”
Me: “Get out”
It is quite funny, because 9 times out of 10 it is someone in worse shape than me trying to point out all the flaws in my diet.
Seriously I do try to explain things the best I can. However, the truth is most people don’t listen because they are not ready too. They don’t want to believe that where they are, is down to them. They fear change. So they don’t want to believe what you are doing is working and is healthy. It is not because they are bad people. It is more that if getting healthy was as easy as just eating meat, then they would have no excuses not to do it. So they have to look for ways to convince themselves it cannot work, rather than thinking about how it might work for them.
There is no excuse for nutritional ignorance nowadays. We spend hours every day in front of a computer or phone. The internet is right there. All the information you ever need is available in seconds. Within 10 minutes you can find glaring holes in the food guidelines, and it doesn’t take long to realize they are more to do with who funds them rather than nutrition or science.
You only have one body, do not waste it by being ill-informed. Do your research. Your research may take you down a different path than me, and that’s OK. Most diets will work for most people if you can stick to them long-term (Note I don’t class Veganism as a diet, because even if you calculate it perfectly. You still need to take B12, K2 and DHA via supplements. So it can’t be a real diet because it relies on synthetic supplementation).
I am always learning, and I am not tied to Carnivore for life. I may find a better path. However, I believe it to be a significant net health benefit and something I can stick to long term. This will mean I will likely have less relative risk for all diseases. It doesn’t mean I will not die of a disease, we all go out at sometime and somehow. That said the theory and practice behind Carnivore suggests it helps fight the root causes of most diseases. After all, there is no point finding a diet that decreases your chances of heart disease, if it increases your risk of cancer. You need a diet, that is an all rounder in helping you be healthy. I believe Carnivore is the best all rounder, which sounds silly considering it is allegedly so restrictive.
In general, the only real drawback is social. There are very few places to eat out where you can get a decent portion of meat for a reasonable price. Also, my alcohol tolerance is much lower. I get drunk quicker and on fewer drinks. You also need to plan when you are out and about. If I forget my lunch, I cannot just go and grab a sandwich meal deal.
7) Do you exercise on the Carnivore Diet, if so how do you find it and what do you do.
Firstly it is a complete myth that carbs are essential for anything, especially exercise. At my level anyway. I can run far, I can run quick and I can put on muscle. Obviously, you do need to allow a bit of time to become fat adapted.
Currently, I do three strength training gym sessions a week. Based around 5 sets of 5 reps, of compound lifts. Then 1 or 2 cardio sessions, which during this winter is 10 intervals of 100m sprints on the Concept2 indoor rower. This takes around 2 to 2 and a half hours a week. Then in the summer, I will train for a marathon. So I will do a running plan, as well as some weight lifting.
If you want to become an elite athlete in something, then you have to specialize and maybe incorporate carbs for performance boosts. However I am not attempting to become an elite athlete, so I do not need to add in carbs to do anything. I am chasing long-term health and carbs play no part in that.
I believe the human body is extraordinary and you should not limit yourself. I am a natural sprinter, but I easily trained for a marathon. I want to be able to do anything. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and if someone invites me to do something, I want to be physically capable to do it. Whether that is sprinting, marathons, weightlifting, mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking… basically anything. If you have to turn things down or limit your potential. That is a real shame.
Listen to your body and find exercises that you enjoy. Consistency is key. When I was on Keto, I had the urge to run long and slow. On Carnivore I have the urge to lift heavy stuff and sprint. If your diet is healthy, you will want to start to exercise. Your body loves to move.
8) What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in trying this diet, but hasn’t taken the leap yet.
Be brave, don’t let fear control you. If you are carrying extra pounds and you are not happy with yourself. Do something about it. The same applies if you have diabetes, hayfever, allergies, skins issues, anything really. Do not presume that all you can do is medicate and hope for the best. If Colitis is an inflammation disease of the colon, then limit the food you eat that digests in the colon and don’t just think you have it so there is nothing you can do about it. The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, you just have to stop feeding it things that get in the way of it being able to do that. Just think about things, if you have had hayfever for all your life, and you have had cornflakes for breakfast for that entire time. Maybe swap that for bacon and eggs and see if anything improves. If your diet is causing chronic inflammation, then your body spends all its time dealing with that. This means external viruses and allergies etc may find a home. Eat food that your body is designed to digest, then it is less inflamed and then has more resources to deal with external threats.
9) Do you think Carnivore will ever be accepted as a mainstream diet.
Unfortunately, the fact that I ask this question is a sign it will probably not. As it shows that we have got so far removed from what we should be eating, that it is a long way back.
From my research, it is pretty clear to me that we have thrived on fatty meat for millions of years. Eating plants, was a starvation protocol until we found a source of meat again. However, nowadays we are trying to thrive on the starvation protocol, and trying to prove meat is unhealthy. This is a real shame as you can see modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune, allergies, heart disease, and cancer are skyrocketing. The mainstream is trying to blame meat for this. However, how can modern diseases be caused by ancient food? Instead look at what people have started to eat in the last 100 years. For example, more grains, more sugar, and more vegetable seed oils. That is where the blame lies. Remember the more a food is processed the more profit is to be made from it. There is very little profit to be made from a Carnivore Diet.
I do think the Ketogenic Diet has a real shot at becoming mainstream, as it includes fruit and veg. This fits into a narrative a lot of people are comfortable with. Plus there are ways to profit from it, like Keto cookies and protein bars.
Keto is also very effective, so the wisdom of the crowds will see the benefit in Keto. This will benefit the carnivore diet too, as a lot of people who do Keto end up trying or at least think about trying carnivore at some point. There is not much of a leap from Keto to Carnivore, whilst there is a giant leap from a mainstream diet to Carnivore.
If you look at the trends though, we are becoming more and more plant based. This will likely continue. The world will get sicker, and the mainstream will continue to deflect blame. They are struggling to prove the nutritional science behind this push. Access to studies and data is too readily available nowadays. So in 2019 you will see them try and push the environmental and moral issues. These are just as bogus, but it might give them another 10 years of deflection. We all know deep down though that burping cows are not the real problem. The burning of fossil fuels is the elephant in the room. How can I, who only eats British meat be a bigger environmental burden than someone who eats bananas which need to be flown over from South America.
I believe Carnivore is the base Human Diet, and the vast majority of people would do very well on it. However there are variances in that spectrum, but for the most part I think the following 3 rules would be a change for the better, for most people.
Rule 1 – do not eat anything invented in the last 150 years, or needs to be made in a factory.
Rule 2 – Treat anything created in the last 15,000 years with suspicion. Only eat it if you know for sure you can tolerate it, and only when in season. Even then you don’t have to eat it if you do not want too.
Rule 3 – Freely eat anything that was available all year round over 15,000 years ago. Basically meat, fish and eggs (although some people do have issue with eggs, so test that out too).
The younger or healthier you are the more you can likely tolerate things in rule 2, if you want.
The older or unhealthier you are then you would likely just be better off sticking to Rule 3.
Or think of it like your health is an elastic band. The harder and longer you pull at the elastic band with a poor diet the more likely it is to snap = disease. The longer and thicker your elastic band is the more wiggle room you have. Problem is you have very little idea what size elastic band you have.
10) Anything you would like to add, and where can people follow your journey.
On the Joe Rogan podcast #1212. David Goggins tells a little story. The jist is that imagine that at the end of your life, you are sat in front of God or whoever. They start reading out your accomplishments, you were a world record holder, you inspired millions, etc. You tell them that isn’t you, they have the wrong list. They say back to you, that’s what you could have done, that was your potential. Imagine how painful that would be.
It is never too late to do the best with what you have got. It is never too late to try. You can live in fear, tell yourself you don’t have time, or you can’t run or you can’t swim. It takes bravery, to say I would like to do this and I am going to do it.
Before I did my marathon I had an eye on doing an ultra eventually. However, after doing the marathon I said I would not be doing an ultra because I would not have time to do the necessary training. Really I just lost my bottle, the desire and will to do one. That is not the case now. If I get the urge to do an ultra in the future, I will find a way to find the time to do the training.
What often places fear into people is that they want an end to something. I want to lose 5 kg in 3 months, I will join the gym for a year. THERE IS NO END. That terrifies people. If you want to be healthy and fit for the rest of your life you have to eat right and exercise for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Carnivore would be pointless to me if I couldn’t see myself eating that way for the rest of my life. It would be nothing more than a band-aid otherwise. I love the thought of eating well and exercising until I die. When I am 80 I want to be able to walk in the gym and blow people’s minds by doing pull-ups, when I am 90 I want to be able to break the 100m master’s world record, when I am 100 I want to be able to do some ridiculous yoga pose.
Short term attitudes are pretty pointless, instead be consistent over decades and see what things you can achieve along the way.
Oh and enjoy it.
You can find the below T-Shirt as well as a wide range of Carnivore inspired clothing on my UniqueCarnivore Etsy shop.