125 days ago I started eating 1-3 steaks per day and removed fruits and vegetables. What began as a 30 day experiment became a lifestyle. I don't plan to stop.
The purpose of this article is to share some ideas I have about carnivory, which include:
- The adaptation phase
- The menu
- Thoughts on removing plant foods
- Micro-nutrient requirements
- How humans invented vegetables
- Variety and fiber are unnecessary
Like any diet, this one isn't for everybody. But, for those interested, I hope this can be a resource.
If you disagree with what I say or if I offend you...good. Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.
In 2011 I began the Ketogenic diet and it changed my life in a big way. I felt so good physically, I was able to boost other aspects of my life. Since then I've spent pretty much all my free time tinkering with nutrition and fitness.
I wanted to take my training and health to the next level without pills, potions or powders; carnivory seemed like the next step.
Plus, I follow Dr. Shawn Baker on Twitter (@SBakerMD). He holds world records in two age brackets for one of the most explosive sports...rowing. He's never used steroids, which I appreciate as a natural athlete. He's fueled exclusively by meat. His success with this diet was a strong motivator.
On Valentine’s Day I came home with a heart shaped, rib-eye steak. It was grain-fed because Brittany, my girlfriend and mother of my baby, prefers the flavor over grass-fed. Until then, we ate only grass-fed beef for 5 years. Also, the packaging was perfect.
The steak was deeply satisfying. We couldn't shut-up about it. We sipped wine and talked for hours. It was a perfect Valentines dinner.
Brit said, “I could eat this every night!"
I replied, "Ok, I'll make it every night."
And so began our carnivore diet.
Brittany quit on day 4 because she's a little bitch. Just kidding, she quit because of migraines. I quit on day 11 because of neck, back and leg pain, which began day 3. It felt like severe DOMS mixed with flu like aches. No amount of tissue smashing would alleviate the pain. My fucking cells hurt. I kept trying to crack my hips and back to no avail.
The more steak we ate, the more pain we felt. I couldn't sleep, I was irritable and I lost all motivation to train. I caught a cold on day 12.
Worst Diet Ever.
I fasted for a day and recovered. By day 13 all symptoms vanished. After two weeks off, I was finally motivated to train. I got Brit back on board and her headaches didn't return.
There's definitely an adaptation to carnivore...about a week and a half. I'm unsure if the cause is the steak, the fact it was grain-fed, total carbohydrate restriction or the elimination of fiber.
The symptoms were similar to the Keto Flu, which is the adaptation to low-carb.
Brit and I were already keto-adapted and eating a low as 20 grams of carb per day. I didn't think removing that last bit would require further adaptation.
Bottom line, expect a "hell week" if going carnivore.
80% of my diet is Ribeye or New York steak and eggs...in that order of prevalence.
Another 10% of my diet is other carnivorous foods like butter, sashimi sushi, shellfish, bacon, bison, grass-fed burger patties, bone broth (including connective tissue and marrow), birds, chicharrones (pork rinds), heavy cream etc...
5% of my diet are plants used for flavor, not necessarily nutrition. ie chocolate, garlic, peppers, pickles, herbs, spices etc. I still drink coffee in the morning too.
5% of total calories are "cheat" meals I have socially...and low-carb booze. RAGE!
I salt everything to taste.
Removing vegetables was intrinsically difficult. Everyone "knows" vegetables are healthy. It was like eating high-fat for the first time. It felt wrong. I had a deep seeded belief that vegetables are absolutely necessary for health. Thanks Grandma.
America "knew" saturated fat clogged arteries just a couple years ago. Some people still think fat is unhealthy. Now, butter is a heart healthy super-food.
We are very good at getting nutrition completely wrong. I'm open minded to the possibility that we're wrong about fruits and veggies.
I know veggies are edible, I'm not arguing that. Humans can obviously eat vegetables and be healthy.
But are veggies optimal?
Can we remove vegetables and be healthier? I think some of us can.
Remember the FDA's brilliant food pyramid? The monolith of health built on a foundation of processed carbs. We were confident enough to teach that in schools. We were wrong.
The FDA has also published RDI (recommended daily intake) of nutrients. Many of which can only be found in plants. Eating a carnivore diet wouldn't satisfy the FDA's RDI requirements.
Here's the thing...those RDI guidelines were designed for a population which eats a high-carb Standard American Diet. Which is basically garbage.
Many plants and carbohydrates are known as anti-nutrients. Which is to say they "compete" with nutrients within the body for absorbtion into our cells.
Glucose competes with vitamin C for absorption in cells. The more glucose we eat, the more vitamin C we require. If a carnivore eats zero-glucose, vitamin C requirements plummet.
Carnivores are running an entirely different matabolism than Joe Blow, bread eater. To say a carnivore is nutrient deficient, based on the FDA's RDI requirements is like saying a Tesla Model-S is missing spark plugs.
I can prove that vegetables aren't necessary in two words..."The Inuit."
Arctic Inuit tribes have THRIVED (not just survived) without plants forever. End of story.
There are massive online communities of lovely people who've practiced carnivory for years. The Andersen family has eaten only ribeye steaks for twenty years. They have zero nutritional deficiencies and look quite vibrant compared to the average overweight American.
Principia Carnivora is a Facebook group where I've met hundreds of friendly folks thriving on nothing but meat. Some even eat it raw.
The carnivore diet is healthy and sustainable. This is true whether you want it to be or not.
Humans invented veggies
Most of the vegetables we're supposed to be eating were created by humans through selective breeding.
Let that sink in...
How can vegetables be necessary for health if they didn't even exist until humans invented them?
Were humans nutrient deficient before we invented veggies?
It's hard to imagine our ancestors jacking wholly mammoths with nutrient deficiency, caused by lack of kale.
Do we enjoy vegetables because they're delicious or because we've been told they're healthy?
Most veggies aren't yummy unless covered in fat, flavoring or animal parts. Try eating your fill of raw kale for a couple weeks.
My baby boy (like most children) doesn't like vegetables. He hasn't yet learned that they're healthy (allegedly). He's driven by instinct and taste. He's been crushing animal foods his whole life and he's literally off the charts for height and weight for his age. Should I force feed him plants or should I trust his biology?
If veggies are necessary for health, evolution would have made them delicious, right?
If you're thinking, "but I need the dietary variety that veggies provide," you're not alone. Most people think eating only meat would get boring. Not true.
Meat is so deeply satisfying to human biology that variety is not needed. You won't fully understand this until you go all in carnivore.
My digestion is better than it's ever been, in my entire life. Repeat...on a carnivore diet, my digestion is better than it's ever been...EVER. I go the same time every morning, without pushing AND I have "Ghost Wipes."
People can't grasp that removing fiber would result in anything other than disaster pants. That's a reasonable doubt. Like other dietary dogma pushed by mainstream, the notion that fiber is necessary is false.
Fiber is indigestible. It literally provides no nutrition. It passes right through us.
Could fiber be displacing actual nutrients? In other words, if we ate less fiber, would we have more room for food we can actually absorb and use?
If you eat processed crap, sugar and carbs, then fiber is probably a good idea. I think this is why fiber is so popular in America. But if you eat well (low-carb, paleo) you might be better off without it.
This study clearly shows that no fiber outperformed low fiber, which outperformed high fiber. The less fiber the subjects consumed the more their digestion improved.
Re-introducing Vegetables at 100 days
100 days into this experiment, I added Brussels sprouts for two consecutive days, out of curiosity. No other dietary variable was changed.
Within 12 hours I had horrible gas and GI discomfort which continued for 48 hours. On the morning of day 3 I had a "less than optimal" bowel movement...the opposite of ghost wipes. I had to wipe so many times, I began to think I was actually a piece of shit.
Did this happen because I was adapted for carnivory? Probably. Would this have normalized after a few weeks of Brussels sprouts? I think so...but I wasn't motivated to go back to veggies.
Eat your veggies
To be clear, I have nothing against vegetables. I'm just trying something else.
The foundation of my health coaching is built on green vegetables.
They're an important piece to a well-balanced, non-carnivore diet.
There's more than one way to attain vibrant health. This carnivore thing might be one of those ways. I'm not recommending anyone remove vegetables from their diet, I'm just exploring a new way of eating.
I wanted to break the idea of carnivory when I began this experiment. After all, I've invested quite a bit into my pro-veggie coaching.
But week after week, this diet made it through the gauntlet of my scrutiny and testing. I couldn't help but love it.
To be continued...
In the next post I share the gains I have seen in sport performance, recovery and libido.
I have ideas of how the carnivore diet effects ketosis and blood glucose, where anti-oxidants fit in this diet and how it can boost overall productivity and free time.
If you have any questions or comments, please share.
Thanks for reading and have a good day.
Coaching inquiries: Gabe@ancientgains.com