After talking to my friend Chris about the benefits of the carnivore way of eating, I was inspired to try it myself. After all, I’m nothing if not adventurous. So David and I have committed to eating nothing but animal products for 30 days. Here’s how the first half has panned out.
DAY 1 (Monday, 16th November 2020)
Not off to a great start, actually. Oops. I’m starting to think that perhaps I should have done a little bit more prep work for our meaty adventure. I arrogantly thought that it would simply be a case of, “Well, I’ll just eat some meat and see how things work out”, but it turns out that a carnivore diet actually requires a little bit of meal planning, particularly if you’re a shift worker.
I did make the effort to cook up a beef and bone marrow burger for today’s lunch at work. But because I was working in the office and had a busy day, I didn’t have the chance to eat lunch until 1.30pm. I was absolutely fucking starving, which goes against the ethos of carnivore: eat when you’re hungry and eat until you’re full. I quickly microwaved my grey lump of meat and shoved it down my gob in between administrative tasks. I will not lie. It wasn’t very nice. I’m definitely going to have to sit down and figure something out for work meals, especially as some days I eat both lunch and dinner in the tower.
Dinner at home was much better. We roasted some organic chicken thighs and melted a little bit of butter on top. What’s not to like about that.
Oh yeah, David and I took some horrible pictures of each other in our underwear for the “before” snapshot (and no, these photos will never see the light of day, ew!). We also measured our chests, waists, hips, upper arms and thighs. This was about as much fun as it sounds. While the primary goal of this experiment isn’t actually weight loss, it will probably be a welcome by-product, and it’ll be interesting to compare our bodies after a month of eating only animal products. I also had my blood lipids tested yesterday so that I can see the effect on those results as well. Convention would have us expect that my cholesterol will go through the roof. Let’s wait and see.
DAY 2 (Tuesday, 17th November 2020)
I worked in the office again today and even though I woke up feeling pretty good, a headache galloped in at around 8am. I also started to feel really lethargic and sleepy. I wonder if this is what’s known as “keto flu”. I looked it up and it appears that the symptoms do include headache, as well as lethargy, irritability, nausea, foggy brain and difficulty sleeping. Symptoms tend to appear up to a week after starting a ketogenic diet, i.e. a diet of very low or no carbohydrates in which your body switches from burning glucose to burning fat. I’m hoping that these symptoms all resolve fairly quickly and that I start to feel some physical and mental benefits soon. It’s only Day 2 though, so I know I need to be patient.
I had a very tasty lunch at work today. David and I cooked up some salmon fillets last night and I heated mine up in the microwave at work. It was SO much better than the burger. Definitely something to put on the work meal roster.
When I got home I was so exhausted I basically changed out of my work clothes and crashed on the couch. And when I woke up it took me a good couple of hours to recover. Bloody hell.
Dinner was another of those beef and bone marrow burger patties, which actually tasted so much better freshly cooked than reheated the next day. Oh, and a fried egg. Weirdly, I think I might not be eating enough. But I’m simply not hungry. The amount of fat we’re consuming seems to be satiating me, which is great, but I am concerned that perhaps I’m not getting enough caloric energy. I need to do some more reading about it.
DAY 3 (Wednesday, 18th November 2020)
I woke up feeling good again, though that could be because we’re not drinking booze. Wine is grapes, people. Physical scan: my right elbow felt achy and my lower back hurt when I got out of bed. I also had a pain in my lower left abdomen, which is caused by a pesky ovarian cyst. It’s old news, but something I am actually hoping might see some improvement. Other things I’d like to see improve? Where do I fucking start. I’ve had plantar fasciitis in my right foot for a couple of years. It comes and goes, and mostly only hurts in the mornings but I’ve heard that eliminating plant products from your diet can help this to resolve. And I have firsthand anecdotal evidence from Chris himself that it does. Fingers crossed. For about a year I’ve experienced varying degrees of soreness and achiness in both of my elbow joints. Whenever I move my left arm a certain way I feel pain, deep in my shoulder joint that radiates all the way down my arm. My left hip and pelvis almost always hurt. So yeah, I’m hoping that all the wonderful ways in which Chris’ body became healthier and stronger when he switched over to carnivore might also happen for me.
Today my headache rang the doorbell around 3pm. It wasn’t a particularly bad headache, but it was persistent, and somewhat weird. Not a regular kind of headache at all. My head felt spongy and heavy. Like a medicine ball. I drank heaps of water so I don’t think it was due to dehydration. Is it food related? Who knows. It’s early days yet and I’m really still wrapping my spongy head around everything.
I had a deli-style lunch at work today. Some salami, prosciutto, smoked salmon, a couple of boiled eggs and a piece of cheese. It was nice, and actually so filling that I couldn’t even finish it all, in one sitting. While cold cut meats are very convenient, I think we’ll eat them scarcely, if at all. It’s not exactly stuff that our bodies were evolved to eat, so we’ll try to stick to animal products that have been messed around with as little as possible.
DAY 4 (Thursday, 19th November 2020)
It gives me no pleasure to talk about this, but in the interests of full disclosure, here goes. I am pooping a lot. Maybe six, seven times a day. Runny, gassy, small (but frequent) amounts of lumpy shit. Sometimes explosive. I did read that it can take a couple of weeks for the gallbladder to adjust to higher levels of fat, so yeah, I guess that’s one more thing I need to be patient about.
For lunch today, we pan-fried some salmon fillets in a little bit of butter and it was great. Simple, yummy and easy. And for dinner we ate boneless pork chops (organic, of course) with a fried egg. So far, even though I think about veggies wistfully, I can’t say I’m missing them physically. I’m not experiencing any cravings yet. I wonder, will I crave them? Hmm, food for thought.
DAY 5 (Friday, 20th November 2020)
Lectins are proteins that are found in all plants (though some contain more than others). There’s a bit of a debate about whether they are harmful to human beings but I did read an article which posited that lectins are known to disrupt and modify hormone functions. As you can imagine, that would fuck up lots of different parts of the body, including (drumroll….) my crappy reproductive organs. I don’t know if a lifetime of eating tomatoes is the reason I have uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts, but after learning this information, I’m very keen to see if going 30 days plant-free results in some improvement in my symptoms, namely the constant pain in my lower abdomen.
We are both feeling good, but not heaps different, to be honest. Still waiting for the miracle change. But hey, maybe it happens more slowly, over time. Maybe 30 days isn’t even enough. That’s why I’m writing this diary. I want to keep track of things, and perhaps even help another fellow newbie carnivore navigate their own journey.
For lunch today, we cooked up a burger patty each. We bought some ribeye mince made from 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef. It’s amazing what you can buy online these days. For dinner we grilled some organic chicken thighs. So yummy. We’re certainly eating well. Unfortunately though, I am still experiencing tummy upsets and as I prepare for my night shift, the rumbling in my belly fills me with fear and trepidation. During nights I work in the tower alone for two and a half hour sessions. I need my butt to behave.
DAY 6 (21st November 2020)
I started the day feeling pretty good, despite having worked a night shift last night. I woke up feeling physically stronger and more energetic than the last few days, as well as mentally sharper, clearer and more focused. I banged out a great yoga session and did a few chores around the house. After a 1pm lunch of a burger patty and fried egg, I did kind of parachute down a little bit, but I think that’s more to do with not having had much sleep in the previous 30 hours. This is the life of a shift worker, unfortunately. And that’s OK, I’m used to it. What is noteworthy though, is that a week ago I would have needed a nap in the middle of the day. It’s 6pm as I write this, and I am tired, but I’ll easily make it to bedtime. Though it might have to be an early one.
It’s funny, having given up booze at the same time has been eclipsed by the huge change in what we are eating. So even though I haven’t had a drink in six days, it’s barely registered. And that’s cool. For snacks today we munched on a boiled egg each, and a couple of teaspoons of wild salmon roe – not only is this decadent and fucking delicious, it also provides some of the nutrients that a diet devoid of plant products may be missing out on. Stuff like Vitamin E and magnesium. And for dinner I’m preparing some organic chicken wings to bake in the oven.
DAY 7 (22nd November 2020)
Well, today was a bit of a wild rollercoaster ride. I woke up feeling really great. My energy was back, better than ever. I was bouncing around the house, full of beans!! For lunch we had a steak cooked in butter. Great! So what happened? About an hour after lunch, I started feeling sluggish, and mentioned that to David. We wondered why that would be and decided to snack on a piece of smoked salmon. Five minutes later I felt like I was going to faint. I wouldn’t say I’m prone to fainting, but I have fainted a couple of times before, so I recognise the signs.
What is vasovagal syncope?? The internet defines it as: “a sudden drop in blood pressure, which causes your heart to slow down for a short time. As a result, your brain may not get enough oxygen-rich blood, which causes you to pass out”. Yep, sounds about right. I went to lie down for a bit, had some salt and recovered. No big deal. An hour later I was feeling energetic and back to normal. I don’t know what caused it, and I’m not going to be alarmed. I will just keep an eye on my blood pressure, which always tends towards the low side anyway.
We’ve gone a little nuts and bought ourselves an airfryer and an Instant Pot which we are using as a pressure cooker to make our own bone broths. We whipped up a batch each of beef and chicken bone broth. I’m so proud of us.
DAY 8 (23rd November 2020)
I’m definitely waking up feeling less achy, and today I had almost no issues with my plantar fasciitis, which is astonishing because it’s something I’ve grown accustomed to. I just wake up every day with a sore foot. I really feel that even though it’s all very incremental, my body is starting to feel different. Unfortunately it’s not all good yet. I had another “episode” today. Early in the afternoon, I just started feeling generally unwell, and then later I felt lightheaded and weak. I also felt nauseous, and thought that I might vomit (even though I didn’t). I rested and David brought me some of the amazing bone broth that we made yesterday. It was so restorative and comforting. I took it pretty easy for the rest of the night, and I feel OK now.
David cooked dinner in our new air fryer. This thing is amazing. It roasted us a small organic chicken in about an hour. It was juicy on the inside and the skin was crispy and delicious. We split the chicken and had half each.
DAY 9 (24th November 2020)
I’m lucky to have my friend and carnivore mentor, Chris, on speed dial to support us in our meaty quest. He’s super keen to see us get great results from this new way of eating and I really appreciate that. When I told him about my afternoon slumps (let’s call them slumps, OK?), he suggested that my electrolyte levels were too low, perhaps as a result of drinking too much water. So yeah, apparently in my quest to hydrate, I’ve been flooding my body and flushing all the good electrolytes away. Things like sodium, magnesium and potassium. So today, I made an effort to drink less. Which sounds nuts, but there you go. And I also made an effort to eat more salt (I consumed 12g of beautiful, pink Murray River Salt, which equates to around 3.8g of sodium). I mainlined the stuff. Literally spooning teaspoons of it into my mouth. And it made me feel better. I still didn’t feel 100% this afternoon, but I didn’t need to put my head between my legs to stay conscious. Let’s put it that way.
If the idea of scarfing salt like that seems shocking, perhaps it’s because we are conditioned to think that salt is bad. That it causes high blood pressure, and therefore increases the risk for heart disease. But that might not actually be the case. A 2011 meta-study dispels that myth. Salt is essential for the body, and when you stop eating carbohydrates a lot of essential minerals (electrolytes) get flushed out, leaving you deficient. Honestly, the only thing that has made me feel better the last few days has been copious amounts of salt. I am also having magnesium supplements at night to make sure I’m not deficient in that. The only thing I’m not supplementing is potassium because I can’t find it in any of the stores here. I might have to order it online.
I had a midday appointment today so we had an early, standing lunch of tinned mackerel, a slice of duck liver pâté for the huge kick of vitamin B12, and a piece of cheese. That kept me going for a while. When I got back home I had a cup of chicken bone broth that David had whipped up while I was gone (yes, I am the luckiest woman alive!!). And for dinner, we enjoyed a Maryland chicken each, roasted to crispy, juicy perfection in our new air fryer.
DAY 10 (25th November 2020)
I had an offsite work meeting at a café today. There weren’t heaps of options available to me on the menu, but I was still able to stick with my carnivore diet and ordered three eggs fried in butter.
Unfortunately I still haven’t mastered the water/electrolyte balancing act I need to avoid feeling faint and weak in the afternoons. I know when I do it will pay off, so I’m going to persist. I won’t let this glitch bring me down.
During the day I snacked on a boiled egg, some cold boerewors sausage that David grilled yesterday, and a cup of chicken and beef bone broth (the combo is to die for!!!!). Dinner was some fatty lamb chops under the grill. Nom nom.
DAY 11 (26th November 2020)
OK, I think I might have figured out the solution to my electrolyte problem. Before I even started this experiment, Chris sent me the recipe for an electrolyte replacement (kinda like the carnivore version of an energy drink). Because I hadn’t been able to find potassium chloride, I was holding off on making it. Silly girl. Anyway, today David found some in the supermarket and I made up a batch and immediately felt my energy increase. I felt like I was once again walking on solid ground, and that’s such a real relief. I can’t be going to work feeling light headed. That won’t track.
So, what’s the drink? It’s called snake juice (of course), and it’s very simple to make. To a litre of water, you just add ½ teaspoon each of bicarbonate of soda (for the sodium bicarbonate), salt (for the sodium chloride) and NoSalt or other salt substitute (for the elusive potassium chloride). Mix it all up and drink a glass and you’re good to go. I’ve drunk two glasses of it already and I feel great again. Huzzah!!!
Today’s lunch was a Scottish salmon fillet pan-fried in a little butter. And dinner was smash burgers. Very yum.
DAY 12 (27th November 2020)
I had a morning shift today so was up at 4am. Bleurgh. I felt great for most of the day and was actually jumping around in the tower (though the five espressos I had might have had something to do with that). It was a relief to have so much energy and clarity because I NEED to not feel lightheaded when I’m working. I can’t be having any fainting spells. If that felt even close to happening, obviously I’d have to give up this experiment.
Despite feeling good at work, and despite drinking snake juice all day, when I got home I just flopped onto the couch for an hour, fatigued and weak. I am very keen to figure out what’s causing my mental and physical afternoon slumps so that I can do something about it. It’s so frustrating feeling so let down by my body. I’ve read about how long it can take for your body to transition though, and I’m not giving up. It takes some people six months before they adjust. I’m hoping it won’t take me that long. When I woke up David brought me a cup of chicken bone broth. I felt really good afterwards and we enjoyed a very tasty air-fried roast chicken for dinner while we caught up on Season 2 of The Crown.
DAY 13 (28th November 2020)
I really wanted to attack this dizziness problem today, so mid-morning I pre-emptively had a cup of chicken bone broth, since it seems to always perk me up. I’m starting to think that I’m not ingesting enough protein, so the broth is perfect for that. And it did help. David has really taken to our new kitchen appliances which is so awesome. He made us scotch eggs for lunch. And even though I did have a bit of an energy slump after eating them, I kept up my electrolytes and salt intake and powered through without needing to rest. Is this a turning point for me? I fucking hope so because I’m getting pretty sick of it.
DAY 14 (29th November 2020)
I woke up with a goddamn hangover today. Well, not literally because I haven’t drunk any alcohol in two weeks. But it felt like I’d been hit by a freight train. I had a headache, I felt swollen and puffy and I was groggy. Ugh. WTF!!!!! Thankfully a coffee, followed by a yoga session helped brush away the cobwebs, and before I knew it I felt great. I didn’t experience any major energy slumps or dizziness for the rest of the day so hopefully I’ve turned a corner.
Today we decided to eat lunch before work (which means we ate at 11.30am). I’ve never done this before. I usually eat lunch at 2pm when I’m working an afternoon shift, but hey, I’m prepared to roll with the punches.
DAY 15 (30th November 2020)
I feel great today. Back to normal. Better than normal. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fucking yay!! You’ll also be pleased to know that my gall bladder has stepped up to the plate and started properly processing all the extra fat I’m eating. This means we don’t need to talk about my bowel movements anymore. Phew!
David and I went shopping at the local organic store and saw a cut of pork called neck steaks, which we bought for lunch. I’ve never cooked with this cut of meat before and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, and how goddamn delicious it turned out. YUMMO!!! How wonderful that this experiment is introducing me to new foods, and things that I probably would never have tried otherwise. We also made up a fresh batch of chicken bone broth, which I’ve come to regard as an elixir.
And for dinner, more of those incredibly tasty smash burgers, topped with cheese and grilled bacon. LOL!!! What did you have for dinner? 😉
Continued in Part 2.