Interview with Michelle
I’m a long-distance runner, registered and licensed dietitian, and a huge Football fan. I currently work in 2 hospitals in Portland Oregon. I work with mental health patients as well as patients with a variety of chronic conditions (diabetes, heart failure, kidney disease). I have a dog, 5 chickens, and my wife just got a baby tortoise. I have a long-term goal of breaking records in Ultra distance races.
How did you eat before Carnivore
Before Carnivore, I was training with the hope of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the Marathon. You need to run under 2.45 to qualify. I had run a 2.55.34. I was eating 300-400+ grams of carbohydrates a day. My day consisted of a huge bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and lots of fruit from breakfast, a turkey sandwich with 2 pieces of fruit and a granola bar for lunch, more granola bars or cookies for snacks, and a large plate of pasta with a little chicken and olive oil for dinner. I would often still be hungry after dinner and eat a high sugar dessert.
Why did you try Carnivore to begin with.
In the summer of 2019, my health seemed to be falling apart. I was constantly sore, and my muscles hurt so badly that I couldn’t sleep through the night (unless taking massive doses of Advil). While I’ve struggled on and off with depression and anxiety my whole life, it was getting worse during this time. It was a struggle to make it through the work day. I used to be able to run 18 miles at a time- Now I had to stop after a mile or two. Everything hurt, and I was having cold sweats. I tried eating MORE carbohydrates, as I believed my muscles must be lacking fuel. This just made things worse, as my muscle aches became debilitating.
I became so anxious and overwhelmed with my fatigue and muscle pain, I gave up my dream of making Olympic Trials and decided to quit running altogether. I had been slowly cutting minutes off my marathon over the last 5 years, and now I couldn’t even run a few miles.
By chance, I came across an article about Zach Bitter and how he ran long distances on a low carb “meat heavy” diet. I knew that lowering carbs could reduce inflammation, and at this point my muscles were hurting so badly I decided to give it a try. My only expectation was I might-just MIGHT hurt a little less. I thought I would probably be constipated, have terrible energy, and struggle with sleep, but the idea of hurting less was my only real goal for this type of eating plan. I’m originally from Texas so I also really like beef. My wife thought this was a terrible idea and was originally NOT on board.
How do you personally approach the Carnivore Diet.
I am an intense person. I work incredibly hard on aspects of my life that I value. That being said, I am not 100% Carnivore. I would say I’m 90-95% carnivore, in that I take at least 90% of my calories from Animal sources. I eat 1.5-2 pounds of fatty red meat a day. I raise chickens, so I incorporate eggs once or twice a week (they are lazy layers ) I eat butter, tallow and occasionally some pork. I do run a fair bit (see below) so I eat 1 cup of blueberries most days, I drink coffee with butter daily, and I eat a piece of sour dough bread that my wife makes on days I run 2 hours or more. Before I run 2 hours or more, I use a product called Generation UCAN. It’s a slow burning carbohydrate, that was originally developed for children with glycogen storage disease. It doesn’t elicit an insulin response (so you can still burn fat and utilize the carbohydrates in the product). I also drink red wine once a week. To me, it’s what you do MOST of the time that creates your life, not what you do the 5% of your time.
What benefits have you seen since starting the Carnivore Diet.
As I stated above, I was hoping, praying, and crossing my fingers that I would hurt less. I wanted the searing pain in my back, quads, hamstrings, and calves and to just get a little better. After 1 week, it was GONE. No more pain. Also, I noticed, I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t worried or obsessing about calories or food. I just ate and was satiated and happy. I have struggled with an eating disorder for much of my life, so finally feeling the weight of worrying about what I should eat disappear literally brought me to tears! I felt joy, and I looked forward to work and time with my friends. I had so much energy that I started annoying my wife lol. I decided to go for short runs for the hell of it. I always loved running. Running felt so great, and I felt so strong that I reached out to Zach Bitter and asked him to coach me. I’m now training for a 50-mile race! I couldn’t even run 5 miles before and yesterday I did 21 miles BEFORE going to work. In summary, I sleep like a rock, I’m full of joy, I’m not anxious, I have great focus and energy, and I don’t hurt anymore (note I have normal muscle soreness from running, but not debilitating, I can’t move soreness). My wife stated that she hasn’t seen my anxiety this low “in the 10 years I’ve known you.” She’s on board now 😉
What negatives have you found with the Carnivore Diet.
If I could re-do my first week of the carnivore diet, I would supplement with electrolytes. I had a massive, ridiculous headache for about 48 hours (while my body crashed from switching from a shit ton of glucose to using ketones) later, I read lots of salt, potassium, and magnesium can really help this. That was annoying, but the biggest annoyance is co-workers and other medical professionals who “make fun” or scoff at my “diet that is going to kill me.” I literally have people eating bagels, cookies, and salad, declare my diet to be unhealthy. The biggest negative is overcoming the current view that a meat-based diet will cause me to trop dead of heart disease.
Oh and Vegans- they are a special kind of science denying, backwards group. I think it’s the B12 and protein deficiencies, but Vegans are like Kellyanne Conway- lots of “alternative facts”.
Do you exercise on the Carnivore Diet, if so how do you find it and what do you do.
I’m a long distance runner. I run 8-10 hours a week right now with the goal to run 50 miles all at once in May. I run before work. If I’m running for two hours or less, I just blend coffee with butter and head out the door. I drink water and electrolytes. No fuel needed. If I’m doing a very hard work out or running over two hours, I will have a scoop of UCAN, and coffee with butter. I stretch and do core work as well, but most of my exercise is long distance running.
What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in trying this diet but hasn’t taken the leap yet.
I would say this will literally change your life. This was one of the best decisions I ever made! I got my life back. Change is hard- so for someone who is contemplating this, I would say give it two weeks. Do this during a low stress time in your life because this is a stress on your body (going from burning glucose to fats/ketones) I would also say- DO NOT under eat. As a woman, I have been told more than once that I “eat too much” Most Americans are overfed and undernourished. We are fat and malnourished. Your body desperately needs protein and fat- FEED IT. I would lean towards eating a little more than you think you need initially. Enjoy every delicious meaty/fatty bite (oh and look at using some electrolytes those first few weeks). Also, make the choice that you are not going let anyone make you feel bad for taking care of your health. Be ready for people to give you a hard time. This happened to me initially, now I have people asking for my advice. Be patient! Do this for you!
Do you think Carnivore will ever be accepted as a mainstream diet.
No, I do not. I work in health care. The sad truth is it’s not about healing people. (That’s a naïve thing to think) it’s about power and money. If we can continue to feed you “Healthy whole grains” and “lots of fruit and vegetables” you are guaranteed to become sick and overweight-Which makes money for everyone invested in prescription drugs and health care facilities.
I’ll fight like hell to promote this diet, but we have an uphill battle.
Anything you would like to add, and where can people follow you.
The last thing I want to say is that I’m deeply and profoundly grateful for this diet. Anyone who has struggled with severe depression, anxiety or has struggled with an eating disorder knows how lonely and hopeless it can seem. I would be honored to answer any questions (Please DM me on Instagram) and I hope I can continue to spread the message through my Instagram handle @runeatmeatrepeat
Ketogenic Endurance – I hoped you enjoyed this post.
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