DAY 16 (1st December 2020)
Before we started this experiment, Chris was kind enough to send me some advice. He’s been doing carnivore for over a year so I figured I’d better listen to what he had to say! Here are some highlights, in case you’re interested in trying it out for yourself:
- Jump in, both feet;
- Commit to at least 30 days of eating this way, and see how you go.
- Before starting:
- get bloods taken
- take pictures of yourself
- take measurements of arms, thighs, waist etc. plus weight
- Your body will go through a transition from being powered by carbs/sugars to being powered by fat. Fat is a more efficient fuel but some people will get symptoms in this transition. If you feel weak, dizzy, tired, lethargic, cramps or headache this is all salt related. Have a teaspoon of salt, and wait 30 minutes. The other side to this is that drinking too much water simply flushes out those electrolytes, so keep water drinking in check with how much salt you’re putting in. Yes, water can dehydrate you!!!
- If you are hungry, eat.
- Find beef which is unprocessed, and has no fillers or additives. Steak is good, but I like mince/ground beef. Preferably grass-fed if you can find it without breaking the bank. Ribeye is a great protein to fat balance.
- Listen to your body. It will start communicating with you.
- If you can, do some HIIT and AMRAP training. You can add plenty of muscle and tone on carnivore. My recovery between exercise now is, quite frankly, insane. If you can’t exercise, don’t worry, it’s not going to impact much.
I read an article today that described the transition period when you first start a carnivore diet as the “trough of despair” and I’d say that’s a fairly accurate description of my experience. David and I were already eating relatively low carb, and the adaptation phase hit me like a tonne of bricks. So, based on that, I’d be inclined to suggest a more gradual easing into a meat based diet. Some can tolerate the bumps along the way better than others (I’m looking at you, Mr. Bamford) but why put yourself through that if you don’t have to.
DAY 17 (2nd December 2020)
While I was at work last night, David slaved in the kitchen at home, preparing a juicy cut of pork belly for our lunch today. And let me tell you it was bloody delicious. I love pork belly but it’s always seemed a bit difficult to get the skin just right. Our oven is a temperamental son of a bitch and I just don’t trust it with such a beautiful cut of meat. The air fryer on the other hand, was totally up to the task. The crackling, as you can see, was phenomenal.
Dinner was oven-roasted chicken wings. For the sake of convenience, we used a bit of olive oil rather than butter. And for the eagle-eyed amongst you, yes, this is technically a cheat, since olives are not an animal product. And since I’m confessing my sins, I’ll also admit that we add cracked black pepper to almost everything we cook. Nothing to lose sleep over.
DAY 18 (3rd December 2020)
I’ve been feeling achy all over today, which might be my body dumping oxalates. Oxa-whats? Oxalates, found in many vegetables, as well as seeds and nuts, are toxins and cause a range of problems in the body, varying from pain, stiffness and inflammation to mineral misbalance and kidney stones. These fuckers can even cause mitochondrial dysfunction (in other words actually messing with your DNA). Common fruits and veg, the foods that are supposed to be good for us, can actually cause us harm. Before starting this experiment, I told Chris that I was eating at least a handful of almonds a day, and he was actually worried for me. And it’s not just almonds, people. Potatoes, peanuts, spinach, beets, beet greens, blackberries, kiwi, figs, black beans, buckwheat, quinoa, oranges, soy and tofu, black tea, sweet potato, rhubarb and whole grains are all packed full of oxalates. Starfruit contains so much oxalate it’s actually dangerous to eat. I think this is worth paying serious attention to because, simply put, if you eat too much oxalate, you will die. And I am not even joking.
The other crappy thing about oxalate crystals is that they build up in your body, and when you stop eating the foods containing them, you start releasing the build-up as waste. And that hurts. This might be the reason my elbows are feeling really sore today. As one health researcher put it, “The nanocrystals of asbestos and oxalates have basically the same level of harm. It’s just that we don’t eat asbestos three times a day and call it health food.” Mic drop!
DAY 19 (4th December 2020)
Today was seafood day. For lunch we pan-fried some plump scallops and ate them with grilled streaky bacon (pigs can swim, right). For dinner we ate Scottish salmon fillets with crispy skin. We also snacked on some salmon roe during the day. There really is a lot of variety to be enjoyed when you’re on this diet. It’s not all steaks and burger patties. We’ve tried heaps of new foods and cuts of meat and it’s been really fun experimenting and discovering new things to eat and new ways to eat them.
It’s also been a good reset away from food as comfort, or food as reward, or food as social lubricant. Yes, it can still be all those things but it no longer feels like a crutch. I’m developing a relationship with food now that feels healthier, and more effortless.
DAY 20 (5th December 2020)
This morning we went for a 3km walk followed by a half hour yoga session, and I felt great. But in the afternoon, around 4pm I could barely keep my eyes open and just had to have a nap on the couch. It’s disappointing to still be getting these energy slumps but I’ve learned enough to know that I just hadn’t had enough to eat. I am still learning how to listen when my body talks. Hey body, yoo-hoo, I’m finally paying attention.
So, I got into a Twitter fight with some vegans last night. Ouch!! I’m lucky that my vegan friends (who may not love that I’ve converted to eating only meat and meat products, but aren’t admonishing me about it) are open to discussion. They aren’t militant about their veganism. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realise that not all vegans are so reasonable. Some are militant. Some are aggressive. And some are just plain ol’ nasty. I was ganged up on and called names by these people, but I’m proud to say that I managed to rise above it, keeping my cool (and keeping the snark to a bare minimum). Following are some of the things they said to me when I tried to engage them in a conversation about regenerative agriculture:
“You self-serving, apathetic moron.”
“Were you dropped on your head as a child.”
And when I asked why vegans were so angry all the time (OK, there was a little bit of snark), I got this response:
“Peepeepoopoo, carnivore got upset vegan doesn’t wanna deal with your irrelevant comments.”
Please remind me to never again waste my time trying to have a civil discussion with vegans on social media. About anything. Ever.
DAY 21 (6th December 2020)
I know I said I was done talking about my bowel movements, but jeez, I guess I’m really not done talking about them at all. It’s not that I like talking about my poo. It’s just that a lot of people have different toilet experiences when they start this diet, and I think it’s important to document all aspects of our experiment in a scientific manner. For instance, David seems to have jumped ahead of me to the stage of lamenting the loss of his satisfying, daily morning shit. He’s pooping less often, and pooping less each time, which seems to be the norm for carnivore. Me? I’m still all over the fucking place (albeit not as bad as the first couple of weeks). We’re eating exactly the same food, so I guess that’s a good example of how people respond differently to eating this way.
DAY 22 (7th December 2020)
I lost weight pretty rapidly the first week of this experiment, but it looks like that might have mostly been water weight, as I’ve plateaued, and even put a little bit back on. Like I said though, it was never about weight loss. What I am noticing is my body fat being redistributed, which may sound gross, but actually looks quite good in the mirror. I’m not going to measure anything yet, but my waist and belly are definitely smaller. I’m still squidgy, but I’d say that this diet is somehow “sculpting” my body. And this is good because the visceral fat that accumulates around the abdomen is the worst kind of body fat. It’s a precursor to all sorts of horrible ailments like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and stroke. Byeeeeeee, belly blubber.
DAY 23 (8th December 2020)
Today was my first really good day. Hallelujah, and about fucking time!!! I didn’t need any electrolytes, or added salt (though I did liberally season my food with it). I didn’t experience any energy slumps at all. I felt clear-headed all day. During exercise, I felt physically strong, and fit. I wasn’t sore or achy in any of my joints. And I felt calm and level-headed from the time I woke up until now, just before bedtime. This is very exciting. It’s a turning point, and a point at which I can’t imagine going back to the way I ate before. The concept of being carnivore seems more weird, and absurd and overwhelming than the actual reality of it. It actually feels really natural. It feels good. I was prepared to try it because hey, what did I have to lose. I have spent the last 36 of my 49 years alive unhealthily obsessing over food and never actually feeling in the best of health. I understand for the first time now what people mean when they refer to their body as their temple. Like I said, hallelujah.
DAY 24 (9th December 2020)
Today I danced around the house full of energy. Also, I ate butter with a spoon. These two things are related. We need fat to survive. We need protein to survive. But there is no essential carbohydrate that your body needs for survival. So why do we even eat carbs at all? It’s no coincidence that the size of the human brain shrunk by 10% at the exact same time as the agricultural revolution took place. No coincidence that humans became shorter, developed dental problems, structural bone issues and other degenerative diseases. We are simply not designed or evolved to eat wheat, corn and rice. And yet, these crop foods make up half of the calories consumed in the whole world every single day. Obesity, cancer and heart disease have closely followed. I don’t want to suffer from these ailments which is why I think the right thing for me is to keep eating this way. Today David and I were asked the question, if we only had a few days left to live, would we keep eating this way or would we go back to eating carbs. We agreed we’d keep this up. It’s not as if we’re depriving ourselves. The food we eat is so delicious and satisfying. Why would I want to spend my last days splooged on the couch in a food coma? Spoiler alert: I wouldn’t.
DAY 25 (10th December 2020)
David is looking amazing. He’s lost the puffiness around his face and torso, and is looking a lot leaner (and, I might add, a lot younger – hubba hubba). While he was at work today, I spent the evening diving down the rabbit hole of online carnivore testimonials. While there are yet to be many studies done on the benefits of eating only meat, there are so many astounding stories of health reversals, life changes and physical and mental benefits. It’s truly inspirational to hear what other people have to say about their experiences.
DAY 26 (11th December 2020)
Today marks 26 days without alcohol. Our last booze-free record was 25 days, and that was over three years ago. Trust me when I say there’s been a lot of wine under the bridge since then. It’s been a pleasant surprise to find how easy it’s been to go without alcohol the last three and a half weeks. It’s taken no effort at all, and I don’t even miss it. Weird, huh?
I’ve found a couple of really great online meat stores with same-day delivery in Dubai. Today we received 4kg of organic grass-fed ribeye from Les Gastronomes. And a 1.2kg grass-fed ribeye cowboy steak from Carnistore.
DAY 27 (12th December 2020)
While I don’t mind eating organ meats, I’m really not that comfortable cooking things like liver and brains and so I made the decision to buy some supplements made entirely of desiccated, organic, grass-fed Argentinian beef livers. If cows produce the most nutrient rich food on the planet, the cow’s liver is the holy grail of nutrients. A lot of carnivores say they do fine without the extra kick of essential vitamins and minerals but as long as I’m still experiencing the occasional transitional symptom I’m happy to pop a few of these a day.
Speaking of the transition, I’ve had a few comments about Part 1 of this ejo, with people saying they are a little put off or worried about how difficult it seems to have been for me. I guess I felt that too, while I was going through it, but having (mostly) emerged on the other side I actually think it’s more of an indictment of my diet before the experiment rather than of how I’m eating now. The body is an amazingly complex instrument, capable of adjusting and normalising almost anything you subject it to, including a typical western diet. Sure, it can handle it, but that doesn’t mean it likes it or that it’s good for it. So it makes sense that when you make such a big change, even if it’s for the better, there are going to be some glitches while your body readjusts. I’d say please don’t be disheartened by my experience. Perhaps, instead, take inspiration from how easy it’s been for David. He’s breezed through it like an absolute champion. And keep in mind, he never even signed up for this shit.
DAY 28 (13th December 2020)
The way that we eat now has become really easy. We generally eat twice a day, and snack only if we’re feeling hungry. Even cooking feels like less of a hassle than before (though in the interests of full disclosure I will admit that the washing up is a bit more of a chore). And even though we do repeat dishes frequently, it’s no more often than when we ate veggies and salads with our meals. There’s a simplicity to our diet now that I really like.
DAY 29 (14th December 2020)
One of the great things about eating carnivore if you have any digestive problems is that it’s the ultimate elimination diet. When you eat only meat, you’re removing lectins, gluten, phytates, oxalates, alkaloids and salicylates. Things all known to cause issues. You can then (if you like) re-introduce foods one at a time to figure out which one was giving you grief. You see, it’s a fun fact that hardly anyone is physically allergic to, or even intolerant of, beautiful nutritious grass-fed beef. I am a firm believer that eating the right kind of meat is actually a way of giving your digestive system a rest. We think we’re eating “better” and “cleaner” when we eliminate meat, but plants and fibre actually cause our digestive system more stress than meat does. Reducing fibre gives your gut a welcome break.
Prior to starting this experiment David and I very rarely ate red meat, and I never craved it. Now it’s all I want to eat, and the thought of a big juicy steak gets my mouth watering. Whilst I really did love eating veggies before, and in particular greens, I have not craved them once in the last month, and that’s because I’m getting all the nutrients I need from meat. I could actually go without veggies for the rest of my life. Who needs ‘em!!!!
So, let’s get real. Are veggies actually bad for you? I used to whip up a very delicious smoothie for lunch every day using my beloved NutriBullet. I’d chuck in a cup of raw spinach, some cucumber, an avocado and some almonds and almond milk. It was delicious, and I thought I was being healthy. Look at me with my thick green smoothie, I’d virtue signal to everyone. Sure, I always had an upset tummy afterwards but it never lasted too long, so I just put up with it. Then one day earlier this year I read that raw spinach was actually bad for you, especially if you have too much of it. I was flabbergasted. I did some more research and yep, turns out that Popeye’s favourite green can actually cause a slew of problems if consumed raw. Things like interfering with the body’s ability to absorb other minerals. Stomach aches (yeah, tell me about it). Build up of uric and oxalic acids, which can cause kidney problems. Skin conditions. Gout!!! All this from virtuous spinach!!!! I immediately gave up my smoothies, and immediately stopped having daily stomach aches. I honestly believe that there are a lot of things we take as gospel about food, and in particular veggies, that may not actually be accurate. I don’t purport to know what the truth is. But I do know that I am going to question everything from now on. Nothing is gospel anymore
DAY 30 (15th December 2020)
So, today is judgement day. As an air traffic controller of a certain age, I am required to undergo what’s known as a Class 3 medical examination every year. This is to ensure that I am in peak physical condition and don’t drop dead on the job. It involves a mental health questionnaire, audiogram, eye test, ECG, BMI measurement, blood pressure and, of course, a blood lipid test.
A sticking point for me every year is my naturally very high cholesterol (thanks Mum). Having said that, my ratios are usually very good, and within range, which means I always pass my medical. This year my regular doctor wasn’t available so I made an appointment to see David’s guy. Today. After 30 days of eating nothing but saturated fats. Let’s allow that sheer and spectacular show of arrogance to sink in for a second.
Everything went well and the doctor was pleased with my general health. He was about to sign me off for another year, and then… he saw the results of my cholesterol test. Haha. As expected, he was horrified. I recall him saying something to the effect that in 40 years of practising medicine he’s never seen such high cholesterol numbers. He wanted me to start taking statins! Yesterday!! I pointed out that while yes, the numbers were indeed astronomical, the ratio was still within range (albeit on the higher side). I managed to talk him down from reading me my last rites and shoving statins down my throat, to giving me a pass on my medical on the condition that I go back in a couple of months with drastically reduced LDL figures.
I am intent on continuing to eat this way, but I will do what I need to do to lower my cholesterol in the next eight weeks. To achieve that I’ll probably need to reduce my intake of saturated fats and increase unsaturated fats (which means no more butter by the spoonful). But to be clear, I’m not worried about my cholesterol. I’ve done my research. Blood lipids go up on the carnivore diet, not because of an increased risk of heart disease, but for a myriad of other, biologically complex reasons. Also, incidentally, low cholesterol is associated with reduced life expectancy in the elderly, an increase in cancer risks and increased odds of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, mental health issues and impaired cognition.
Look, I don’t want you guys to worry. To be on the safe side, David and I have both got referrals to see a cardiologist to ensure our arteries are clear. And if there are no issues there, I reckon I’d be a fool to go back to the way I was eating before. So many other things have improved since doing this experiment. For instance, my joints are no longer constantly aching. My plantar fasciitis is all but gone. My left shoulder mobility is vastly improved. Because my insulin is no longer spiking every time I eat, my sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) are more stable. I no longer wake up every day with pain in my lower abdomen, and this one is huge for me. The pain emanating from my nether regions has negatively affected the quality of my life for years. When I was first diagnosed (we’ll talk about it in a future ejo, I promise), I’d been told that the only treatment for my condition was a hysterectomy, and that if I didn’t want to rip out my uterus I would just have to find a way to manage the pain. And I have. The last couple of years though, I’ve been pre-menopausal, and my rioting hormones have wreaked havoc “down there”. The pain has, in recent times, become worse, and more constant. The reprieve from that feels like a miracle. It feels like a gift. In addition, I’ve lost almost 4kg and David has shed a whopping 8kg in 30 days. He looks fucking amazing. And, both of us have lost several centimetres from all over our bodies, but most notably around our bellies. I’ve dropped a pretty impressive 14.5cm from around my waist and David has lost 12cm. I find this remarkable and the best indicator that we are actually doing something right. So, cholesterol be damned, I shall keep calm and carnivore.
* The chart is courtesy of Maria Emmerich’s book, “Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on The Ketogenic Diet, including Simplified Science and No-cook Meal Plans“.