I love doing the Carnivore Diet Success Stories, I find it very rewarding to share peoples progress. So I am going to try to catch up with people once a year to see how they are getting on.
Will they all still be Carnivore, probably not. However, I believe they will have an appreciation of the benefits of a meat-heavy diet and will use that knowledge as a tool to further their health.
How would you currently describe your current way of eating.
I currently get 70-90% of my energy (calories) from animal products (i.e., hypercarnivore), with the balance (10-30%) from fresh and dried fruits and fruit juices, typically as follows:
2-4 pints of whole milk or whole milk yogurt
200-300 g beef (usually leaner cuts, sometimes fatter cuts or other types of meat)
2-4 tablespoons of gelatin daily
2 ounces of liver several times weekly
Small amounts of separated fats such as butter, cream, lard or tallow
Daily variable amounts of orange juice (usually 1-2 cups), grapes (100-200 g) or grape juice (1 cup), or other fresh or dried fruits
1-2 tablespoons honey
This I call “enhanced hypercarnivore”, or “meats & sweets.” This approach is based on the fact that we humans have gut adaptations to eating both meats and fruits. I discussed some of this in The Hypercarnivore Diet but did not realize its full implications or learn the full extent of our adaptations to fruit sugar until I did more research into it in 2019. In October 2019 we released a book entitled Meats & Sweets: A High Vitality Diet which provides a brief review of the evidence and eventually I will provide much more detail in a revised edition of The Hypercarnivore Diet.
What have you learned regarding nutrition over the last year.
- After eating at least 95-100% animal based for more than 18 months, I had one main daily complaint and one occasional complaint. The daily complaint was muscle cramps, which increased in severity the longer I continued. This problem was of minor issue during my first 12 months of eating that way, and I was able to manage it with magnesium and potassium supplements and salt. However, as time marched on, the cramping became more severe and the salt and magnesium supplementation became progressively less effective at controlling it, so I got no more than temporary relief of the cramps. The cramps interfered with my sleep (woke me in the middle of the night), my work (cramps in feet, calves and abdomen when spending long hours on my feet and bending forward to treat patients in the clinic), and my training (cramps in my feet, calves and abdomen when doing resistance and mobility training). I was losing flexibility and at one point strained my left hip adductors, which I think may have been a consequence of a the general high level of muscle tension. The more cramping I had, the more salt I took to try to control it, and eventually I developed (predictable) water retention (feet and ankles) as a side effect of high salt intake. I have tracked my nutrition all along, so I knew that I was typically getting insufficient potassium and magnesium from food, and by experiment I knew that using potassium citrate also controlled the cramping without inducing water retention (quite the opposite). However, I did not want to depend on mineral supplements for potassium and magnesium indefinitely. Also, restricting carbohydrate lowers insulin so more minerals are lost in urine. Fruits provide magnesium and potassium primarily in the organic acid forms such as potassium citrate. As I suggested to do in The Hypercarnivore Diet, I decided to add fruit to my diet to increase my carbohydrate, potassium and magnesium intake. Simultaneously I reduced my salt and fat intake. Since making these adjustments I no longer deal with cramps or unusual water retention, and only use salt for flavoring rather than as a “supplement” for electrolytes. Which brings me to my second complaint. When I was eating at least 95% and up to 100% animal based, my diet provided 60-70% of energy as fat. About once every 4-6 weeks, I had a bout of nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal discomfort that was due to fat indigestion (I exceeded my fat tolerance). I would just fast and take bitters and artichoke extract for 24-48 hours to resolve it. Since reducing my fat intake and taking supplements to enhance my bile flow more than 6 months ago I haven’t had one of these episodes. By the way, reducing fat and increasing fruits and honey resulted in a loss of some waist fat that I had gained while on the higher fat diet that had the higher proportion of animal foods. I did have one other issue: Although I got a great improvement in my psoriasis eating at least 95% animal based, it did not resolve completely. In particular, I got little if any significant improvement of my scalp lesions beyond some reduction of itching within 24 months. Something was missing. This led me to further research into the relationship between psoriasis and diet, discussed below.
- Like many others, I believed (and wrote in The Hypercarnivore Diet) that fructose is very harmful in almost any quantity, regardless of source (e.g. fruits or honey vs. refined sugar). In the last year I learned that this belief is probably ill-founded, partly based on animal studies that involve doses of fructose that are unattainable with natural foods, and typically using animals that are choline deficient because choline deficiency accelerates development of fatty liver; and partly based on very weak epidemiological data from human populations. I have discussed the limits of this research on my IG page. Space does not permit going into the details here, but I have shared and will continue to share my journey and discoveries on my Instagram page, my Gaining Strength Facebook page, on my Gaining Strength website, in our book Meats & Sweets: A High Vitality Diet, and eventually in a revised edition of The Hypercarnivore Diet.
- I learned that many modern diseases including autoimmune conditions like my psoriasis may be caused or promoted by absorption of bacterial endotoxin into the blood stream, and that some fruits and fruit juices have been shown to prevent absorption of this toxin.
- I have learned so much more that it is impossible to list it all here. Follow me on Instagram to stay abreast of what I am learning because I share a lot of it there.
What health & Fitness improvements, and/or setbacks have you experienced in the last year.
- In the past year I have been developing and testing a nutritional protocol (including supplements) for addressing the causes of psoriasis based on research I have collected that shows psoriasis is a bowel disease involving liver malfunction dysbiosis, gut inflammation and permeability, endotoxin absorption, nutritional imbalances and glandular hypofunction. Reducing intake of plant foods helps some aspects of the disorder, but a very high fat intake may worsen other aspects (gut dysbiosis, liver function), at least in some people; meanwhile intake of flavonoid-rich fruits may reduce endotoxin absorption and skin inflammation. So far I seem to be making some further progress with my psoriasis following this experimental protocol. I will report if/when I have major success.
- As mentioned already, when I was eating at least 95-100% animal, high fat and high salt, I suffered an adductor strain that stopped my progress in mobility training, particularly straddle split training. Since reducing my fat intake and increasing my use of fruits and honey, I have had significant improvements in my mobility/flexibility compared to the rate of progress when I was eating at least 95% animal based. The latter approach produced some good results, but my current approach (above) seems to have an even greater anti-aging or even age-reversing effect, at least so far, and temporarily.
- During the last year I did not achieve any increase in lean body mass or strength. Since increasing my fruit intake I have so far found that my recovery from strength training is improved and I am starting to see renewal of strength gains. Time will tell if this turns into muscle mass gains.
What are your health and fitness goals in the year ahead.
- Complete resolution of my psoriasis.
- Gain as much strength and lean mass as possible at my age (58 years).
- Achieve straddle splits.
Anything else to add? and where can people follow your journey?
As always, I don’t know what I don’t know. My knowledge and experience continues to expand. I could be wrong or misled about some things, and reserve the right to change when I realize my error. Everyone needs to find his/her own way. Stay alert to your own responses to foods and open to make changes as needed. I recommend avoiding using your food choices to define your identity, with language such as “I am a carnivore.” Instead, I recommend viewing diet and nutrition as tools to achieve the outcomes you desire, using language like: “I eat an animal-based diet to the extent and as long as it improves my outcomes and helps me reach my goals.”
Follow me and my wife Tracy:
Instagram: @donmatesz and @strongspiritwoman
Facebook: Gaining Strength and The Hypercarnivore Diet group
Don’s original Carnivore Success Story post is – HERE
Ketogenic Endurance – I hoped you enjoyed this post.
If you like what I am about, check out the below.
- Carnivore Fit Expanded Edition: eBook/paperback book detailing how to adopt the Contemporary Carnivore Diet, and how to exercise on it.
- Carnivore Diet Success Stories Facebook group.
- Carnivore Diet Success Stories Newsletter.
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