Did I really eat a carnivore diet for over 60 days? No vegetables? No plants?
Hi, my name is Kristen and it’s true. I ate a carnivore diet for 60 days. In fact, I still am. I started this January 2, 2018 and today is March 14 and I’m still going doing it.
Why would I stop eating plants?
I know what people are wondering. Isn’t that weird and dangerous?
I went on a carnivore diet, because I saw others do it with interesting benefits, and I became curious. That’s the heart of it, and… I live by a principle. When new information presents itself, I make changes. No dogma here. I like experimenting with foods and styles of eating. I have for over 20 years, starting back in my bodybuilding days.
People think I’m nutty if I say I’m on a carnivore diet, but not as nutty if I just say Keto or Zero Carb. However, I don’t entertain those people until they’ve done the reading, research, and experimenting that I have. Sure, I’ll answer a few questions, but if you give me the “stink eye” we won’t talk until you’ve done some homework.
I’m drawn to the carnivore diet for a few reasons
- It’s easy. I mean really easy. I only eat two times a day – lunch and dinner (drinking coffee in the morning). The reduced food prep, reduced food shopping, and reduced decision-making fatigue is awesome.
- It appears we can get everything we need (in the best format!) from animal products so, no, it’s not harmful. It’s actually extremely nutritious! The common sentiment in the carnivore community is that #MeatHeals and it’s anti-aging. I’m inclined to agree. Animal proteins and fats have super nutrition without any of the possible negative consequences of carbohydrates.
- I don’t crave sugar or carbs. THIS SHOCKED AND EXCITED ME! I can follow a carnivore diet without any effort. I only crave delicious ribeye steak. If I could wave a magic wand, it’s all I’d eat (plus some fish on occasion). While remaining frugal, I’ll keep it to ribeyes some of the time, ground beef regularly, cheese occasionally, whipping cream in my coffee occasionally, chicken rarely, turkey twice a year, bacon sometimes, eggs regularly, and fish once a week (could be canned sardines).
- It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done to keep in great shape. It’s effortless. When I ate a “clean” diet in the past years, I stayed in good shape but had to put a lot more effort into it.
I can go from eating over a pound of fatty ribeye steak straight to wearing swimsuit because there’s no bloat. My abdomen stays flat. I can also workout after eating meat, too. In the past I waited before going to the gym, after eating, usually because I had a “food baby” or I was tired from digestion. Now, I’ve had times where I want to do pull-ups after eating steak.
I was excited about eating a carnivore diet because I knew about the nutrition in meat. I did question, for a while, whether eliminating plants would harm me though. Were there nutrients in plants I needed that I couldn’t get from animals?
Doesn’t look like it. I’ve read interesting information about the excellent nutrition profile of animal foods and the possible lack of nutrients(!) in plants. I didn’t realize that we could thrive without plants.
What I was looking for
I was curious enough to try. I wanted to see if I’d feel differently by eliminating plants from my diet and going carnivore. So far, I have no desire for plants other than coffee and tea which I’d like to eliminate and see what that does, too. All in good time.
I wondered about the following if eating a carnivore diet:
- Will my hormones improve and PMS improve? (They improved when I ended my vegan diet years ago, and I wonder if they could improve even more?)
- Will my occasional headaches improve?
- Will my energy improve? It’s not bad pre-carnivore, but as a homeschooling-work-from-home mom I’d love some more energy.
- I heard about major improvements in skin from many women by eating a carnivore diet. I’ve experienced it first hand and wondered if it’s a fluke or the real deal. My skin greatly improved after ending vegan, but I was getting occasional PMS breakouts (though not every cycle). I look at my skin now and see such health that I not only love eating a carnivore diet, but I feel it’s the optimal choice for me. The health of someone’s skin says so much. I’m also curious… Will I age slower without any carbs?
What prompted this craziness of not eating plants?
When a friend retweeted Shawn, I chuckled at his absurd diet of eating as a carnivore. However, he was an MD professsing awesomeness by being a carnivore and I couldn’t help but do a double take. A medical doctor, orthopedic surgeon no less, well that piqued my interest seeing as most doctors are still touting the outdated idea of watching the consumption of cholesterol.
So, I saw that he was a big dude, like super muscular and in great shape for his age (for any age actually!), which I think was 50 at the time. I saw once that he was eating about 8 plain hamburger patties for a meal. I thought, “Huh. That’s bizarre, interesting, and possibly ridiculous.”
At the time, I didn’t think any more of it other than pure entertainment of watching him and following his tweets on occasion. I had zero interest in doing it personally, after all, I was a polyphenol freak. Hello – Matcha Green Tea? Turmeric? Vegetables? I write and sell books about them! Funny how things work.
Over the months, I saw his meaty meals posted on twitter and saw him retweeting other people trying his carnivorous ways. From those links, I read blog posts from other carnivore-eating people and their fascinating experience. Some having done it for decades! More interestingly, some of those people had great health benefits of being low-carb first, AND then noticed a continued surge in health after eating only carnivore and cutting out plants.
Some of these people had real allergies, they learned, to the very phytonutrients many claim are beneficial. When I think back to my vegetable and fruit eating experiences I have to admit I had problems but who doesn’t eat veggies because of a small tummy ache after? The experts say we’re supposed to eat them for health.
When I looked back on my veggie eating days with the different eyes, I realized important points.
- Coconut foods can give me stomach cramps.
- Root vegetables can make me nauseous.
- Broccoli sometimes repelled me even with butter and salt. I would put on my big-girl pants to eat broccoli because of the “super powers” it supposedly had for health.
- Avocado made me crazy tired.
- Chocolate can nauseate me.
- Nuts can make me break out, feel sick to my stomach.
- Bananas can give me a small belly ache but I still ate them.
- Citrus can contribute to migraines.
- Alcohol I don’t drink because I always feel crappy after just a few sips.
- Kombucha gives me a stomach ache and, again, I still drank it.
- Dark leafy greens usually bothered me a little bit, but I ignored it, again, and figured I had stomach issues and not a possible allergy to plants.
- Green tea, on an empty stomach, makes me nauseous.
I don’t react poorly to all plants – I don’t think. However, I find that having ANY carbs can trigger carb cravings for me, so I want to eat carnivore style and eliminate them (save for the trace amounts in animal products).
Back to Dr. Shawn Baker…
He ended up on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and I eagerly listened since I knew who he was and what he was about. Not surprisingly, I found the interview extra interesting. He addressed issues like pooping when there’s no fiber in the diet, vitamin C and scurvy, and more. Those were things I hadn’t even thought about.
I later read more online about those common questions. I listened to interviews from scientists and researchers talking about how we don’t actually need plants and that we can get all of our micro-nutrients from animals along with the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. I read that carbohydrates aren’t essential. Some experts mentioned these topics and said we should have more research on it, but that there was NOT good science for the constant recommendation to eat more fruits and vegetables either. I was shocked.
You’d think from the way people talk that plants are to be revered to the utmost. We praise kids when they eat their veggies and not their fish or beef. Sure, we like our kids getting good protein, but do we praise them for eating it?
My immediate results
Here are my results that happened immediately in the first week on a carnivore diet:
- First thing that happened was I wasn’t super hungry all day. Very satiated. In fact I had to work at eating more because I was full. I remember Shawn Baker, MD saying to eat like it’s your job in the beginning to ensure adequate nutrient and energy intake.
- Second thing that happened was that I woke feeling super refreshed and with less sleep on even the first night.
- I had/have zero, and I mean ZERO cravings or desire for carbs. That’s never happened before, probably because I was always have some or I was not getting satiated with enough animal proteins and fats. Low-carb past experiences left me wanting carbs. It took eliminating them to be free of them.
- I lost weight – probably more than I should have. So, I started eating meat “like it was my job” to gain a couple of pounds back for a strong and lean weight.
After 60 days on a carnivore diet (still early but good data):
- Best skin ever in my life.
- Wounds heal faster.
- Satisfaction and satiety. That is liberating.
- Hip pain mostly gone. I’ve had hip pain for years since sleeping on one side for so long while pregnant eight years ago. That started to get a little better before carnivore, but is almost gone on carnivore.
- Fewer headaches.
- Better PMS.
- Great sleep.
- Excellent attitude and mental state!
- Increased sex drive!
- Beautiful muscle definition.
- ZERO BLOAT.
- I also think this must be an amazing diet for dental health. I think a person’s skin and teeth are windows into their body’s health. Excellent dental health has been a passion for the past four years, after my teeth went to hell from eating vegan so long. When I think about this diet, it has to be one of the best ones for building and maintaining healthy teeth. For me, that means including things like sardines (with skin and bones), getting sunshine, and including some quality cheeses/eggs/liver (for vitamin K2, retinol).
I figure that if the many people I’ve read eating only animal foods have survived many years, I can safely handle it for a few months while I experiment.
How do I prepare meat for eating a carnivore diet?
Over time, I found that I want mostly beef, preferably ribeye steak though the price can be limiting. I also like ground beef patties and fish. I’ve found my favorite way to prepare steaks and patties.
Reverse Searing Steaks
This is a brilliant way to ensure perfect cooking of any size steak. It will take a bit longer, but with planning, it’s mostly hands-free.
- Sea salt
- Baking tray/pan with cooling rack nestled inside
- Tongs for flipping steak
- Skillet for searing steak
- Animal fat for searing
- Season steak with sea salt. Place the steak on the rack nestled inside the baking pan.
- Turn the oven on to 275 degrees F. Put the steak inside.
- For me, because I like a final temperature (after searing) to be 125 degrees I keep the steaks in the oven for these lengths of time depending on thickness of steak: If it’s a thinner steak, cook 20-25 minutes. If it’s a thick ribeye cook 40-45 minutes. Either way, I keep them cooking in the oven until the temperature reaches about 110-115 degrees F.
- Heat the skillet to high. Sear steak on each side for about a minute (depending on thickness)
*I like to let my steak sit out for about a half hour (or a bit longer) to get closer to room temperature than coming straight from the fridge.
Broiling Burger Patties
This is the easiest and cleanest way to make burger patties, because I can cook many at a time and clean up is a snap.
- Ground beef*
- Sea salt
- Cheese, if desired
- Large baking tray, lined with aluminum foil
- Create patties from the beef. I do this by rolling them in a ball and then placing them on the aluminum foil- lined tray. I then smash them pretty thinly.
- Place the rack in the oven so the burgers will be about 3 to 5 inches from the top. Turn on the broiler to 500 degrees F.
- Season the burger patties with sea salt.
- Cook them for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until desired temperature is reached. For me, that’s a higher temperature than I eat my steaks because it’s ground and cooking higher is for safety reasons.
- If using cheese, place the cheese on top of each patty and return under the broiler for about 30 seconds.
*I like to let my ground beef sit out for about a half hour (or a bit longer) to get closer to room temperature than coming straight from the fridge.
Eating Out: Chipotle
Chipotle Bowl shown above, carnivore style: I asked for 3 servings of steak only.
On a carnivore diet you’ll see people eating cow, chicken, pig, fish, lamb, offal, and some include dairy (full fat like cheese, whipping heavy cream, butter, and ghee). Over time one thing many have in common is that most find themselves gravitating to beef most of the time. It seems the most satisfying.
I’m happy I found this way of eating. I love it. That said, I’m now traveling the world, writing this from Denmark, and I have yet to know if I can sustain it while traveling from the cost of meat, etc. I’ll keep my blog posted.
Thanks for reading!