I ate only meat, mostly, for the month of March. By “meat,” I mean red meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood. I also ate small amounts of nuts, cheese, and heavy whipping cream.
As stated in my post “Just meat,” here are my goals for doing this:
- To lose some body fat. Despite exercising intensely several times a week, including spin class, cross-country skiing and running, my clothes were getting tight, especially in the waist, and my weight was consistently over 140. Together, these were a red flag.
- To stop cheating on foods I know are unhealthy for me — i.e., to develop a saner, less addictive relationship with food.
Fat loss: Achieved! I’ve lost 4.6 pounds, plus 2.5 inches off my waist, and almost an inch off my hips. I’m 5’7″ and I weighed 137.7 lb this morning, vs. 142.3 on March 1. I am VERY happy about this, especially about my waist. This was without much self-control and without feeling deprived, by the way. Take that, menopausal weight gain!
Relationship with food: Much improved. Eating this way definitely regulates my appetite and reduces cravings. I like the way this Reddit post for new zero-carbers puts it:
“There will … come a time when you don’t feel like eating very much, and meat will seem unappealing – that’s fine. In fact, it’s good – you’re learning to distinguish between psychological (perceived) and physiological (actual) hunger. When you think your body is trying to tell you something by making you “crave” a certain food, learn to recognize that it’s all in your head. “Cravings” are a construct; they are not real. If you’re only “hungry” for a particular food, you are NOT truly hungry. Simple as that.”
My acid test is now, “Am I hungry enough to eat a boiled egg?” If I’m not, I know I’m just bored or craving. I wait until TRUE hunger emerges.
And another Reddit comment:
“When you eat ZC [zero-carb], food = fuel. That’s it. It isn’t fun. It isn’t a treat. Food/meat is something you have to consume to get stronger and healthier.”
And this, from the author of I ate nothing but meat for 2 weeks. Here’s what it was like:
“The carnivory / zero carb attitude toward food is completely counter to how I’m used to thinking about it. I didn’t realize how much my food entertained and delighted me before I removed the variety.”
https://www.reddit.com/r/zerocarb/comments/4hpls2/chef_gone_zc_newbie_struggles/d2rtoqq/ … #sonyagoescarnivore
I like this attitude. It may be the Calvinist in me, but I don’t feel that every meal should be an incredible celebration of over-the-top tasty delectableness. For feast days and celebrations, sure. But most of the time, food should just be fuel, and you’re less likely to overeat if it’s a bit boring and not insanely delicious.
For the first 10 days of March, I suffered with cravings for peanuts. As in, any empty space in my brain was filled with the thought, “PEANUTS!”
I can eat peanuts to excess even though (1) I know my digestion will be upset the following day (2) they make my skin break out (3) They’re too carby when eaten in large volumes, and I don’t handle carbs well (weight gain, puffiness).
It’s “only” peanuts, but according to Dr. Gabor Mate’s wonderful book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, my behaviour fits the definition of addiction:
“The addiction is the repeated behaviour that a person keeps engaging in, even though it harms himself or others. How it looks externally is irrelevant. The key issue is a person’s internal relationship to the passion and its related behaviours.”
As the month went on, the peanut cravings diminished and were basically 100% gone by March 22, when I went to visit my Dad and stepmother, who always have peanuts on hand. I wasn’t even tempted, and the freedom felt wonderful!
Digestive/fiber: I had some diarrhea 2 weeks in, but apparently this is to be expected because your gut biome is transitioning to the new way of eating. Since then, no problem and no constipation. My digestive system is actually happier than before. Who knew? Apparently we may not need tons of fiber after all.
How about micronutrients and antioxidants? I’ve been eating liver now and then because I love it — but did you know it has more Vitamin C, by weight, than an apple? To be on the safe side, though, I’m taking a Vitamin C tablet every couple of days. Also, although plants contain a lot of micronutrients, those micronutrients are often not well absorbed by humans — see Dr. Georgia Ede’s great post on vegetables.
Incredible simplicity: One of the things I like best about this is how simple mealtimes are — just cook some meat and you’re done! No endless peeling, chopping, and prepping of vegetables and side dishes. Ditto for grocery shopping and meal tracking. When doing keto, I used to track everything I ate on MyFitnessPal or Cronometer, but if you only eat meat and the occasional nut you know your carbs are under 10g/day.
The plan going forward
I feel great, and I really like the simplicity and the results. I plan to continue this way of eating for at least another couple of months. Who knows, maybe I’ll approach my high-school body composition! (128 lb)
A typical day
- Early morning: Weak coffee with about 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream. If doing an early morning workout, I’ll have a bite or two of meat left over from last night’s dinner, or 3 or 4 macadamia nuts.
- Brunch: I often fast until about about 10:30 or 11:00 AM, then have 2 or 3 eggs plus either some leftover meat from dinner, or some sardines. Alternatively, brunch can be an entire can of salmon or tuna.
- Afternoon snack, if needed: One of the following:
- Some home-made pemmican (basically powdered home-made beef jerky mixed with fat)
- A “fat bomb” — I’ve been enjoying a mixture of suet, lard, and butter, with touches of salt, cocoa and vanilla
- Some pork rinds dipped into bacon fat
- Dinner: MEAT. Yum. Dishes we’ve enjoyed:
- Andrew’s amazing Caribbean pork loin
- Tilapia or salmon baked in a homemade mustard mayonnaise and topped with cheese
- Scotch eggs (hardboiled eggs wrapped in a coating of raw sausage meat, then deep-fried. NUM! Recipe coming soon.)
- Salmon formed into “meatballs” and flavoured with soy, sesame oil, and green onions
- Flank steak marinated for 20 hours with soy, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, and garlic
- Chicken in various forms – breasts, wings, drumsticks
- Various preparations of free-range ground beef:
- Andrew’s wonderful hamburgers
- Curried ground beef with a dash of coconut milk
- Ground beef with chili (bean-free chili)
- Andrew’s meatballs — they’re studded with little fragments of cervelat sausage — SO GOOD!
- Andrew’s meatloaf — delicious!
- And my favourite, the time Andrew cooked bacon for dinner. My reaction when I smelled it as I walked in the door: “OMG, you DO love me!”
What do you think? Have you tried a zero-carb diet? If not, do you think you’d ever consider it? Let me know in the comments!
- Just Meat — great page of collected links
- I ate nothing but meat for 2 weeks. Here’s what it was like — Sonya Mann writing on Inc.com
- The History of All-Meat Diets — post by Harvard-education nutritionist Dr. Georgia Ede
- Meats – Another great post by Dr. Ede