As of July 2023, I have been eating low carb for 2 years and 3 months, with over a year and a half of that time being carnivore. I currently eat a “MEDS” version of carnivore (Meat, Eggs, Dairy, Seafood) with my carbohydrate intake being virtually zero. This way of eating has helped me manage Type 1 Diabetes, severe food sensitivities, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, among other issues.
I grew up on a family-owned and operated cattle ranch, and therefore, meat has always played a large role in my diet. Growing up, our meals consisted of grass fed beef, home-grown vegetables, and minimal snacks and sweets. In college, I ran track and cross country, and I ate more carbohydrates, usually in the form of cheap pasta and white bread, to fuel my long training runs. I noticed, however, that if I was feeling particularly fatigued from a workout, a good portion of beef seemed to help my recovery.
Shortly after college, I became sick and eventually was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This diagnosis prompted me to eat a diet that I thought was healthy, consisting of vegetables, fruit, whole grain bread, nut butters, and lean meats. I managed my blood sugar levels with insulin diligently, stayed active, and was able to have a healthy daughter with my husband.
In 2020, I developed food intolerances and dealt with severe stomach pain that would often last for several days after eating the offending food. By early 2021, I had lost a considerable amount of weight due to the stomach pain as well as stress from losing a pregnancy and COVID-19; I weighed 105 pounds at 5’7”. After diagnosing me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and food sensitives, including gluten and soy intolerance, a gastroenterologist put me on the low FODMAP diet and several medications. This helped, but I was still underweight and weak. I also did not like the potential long term side effects of the GI medications.
I had heard of the “Keto” diet, but had always thought it was only for treating epilepsy or obesity. I was desperate to regain strength and feel good eating food again, however, so on a whim one morning, I put a tablespoon of butter in my coffee and swapped my gluten-free toast for scrambled eggs. Within a few weeks of eating less than 30 grams of carbs a day, I felt energized, my digestive issues improved, my body aches lessened, my blood glucose was at a healthy and steady level, and I had incredible mental clarity. Over time, I also found that ancillary issues such as acne and menstrual cramping, which I had dealt with since my teen years, also resolved.
After eight months of consistently eating “keto”, I found content from Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Ken Berry, Judy Cho, and Mikhala Peterson on the carnivore diet. I still occasionally struggled with stomach pain and constipation and thought perhaps the carnivore diet was the missing link. It was, and my keto diet evolved to me eating fatty ribeyes from my parents’ grass fed cows, pork chops, burgers, bacon, eggs and lots of butter and heavy cream in my coffee.
A few months ago, I decided to experiment with eating some carbohydrates to fuel recreational triathlon training. For about a month, I ate 50-100 grams of carbs per day in the form of “natural” sugars: fruit, raw honey, and sweet potatoes. While I found my speed performance during my workouts improved marginally, my skin broke out in acne, I had increased body odor, my constipation returned, and worst of all, I had pain during my menstrual cycle again. I ended my experiment and returned to eating only meat, eggs, dairy and seafood. Even though fruit and honey are thought of as clean forms of sugar, they are still sugar and can have an inflammatory effect on some people’s bodies.
I feel in the best health of my life now eating carnivore. I have gained muscle and am at 120 pounds, I have energy to play with my daughter, work, exercise, my blood glucose is stable, and my digestive health is strong. As a recreational athlete, I have found more fulfillment in improving my golf game, strength, and flexibility rather than endurance sport such as triathlon training.
Results are not typical. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.