Is Carnivore your Dietary Magnus Opus: Craving the truth
Mid December amidst discussion about ketosis, paleo and plant-based rhetoric the carnivore approach piqued my interest. It was not the first time I was driven to self experimentation with diet, but in this case I felt an acute sense pulling on the threads of curiosity. I figured it might pair well with my intermittent fasting and sauna protocols. Frankly, I wanted an experiment to spark positive physical and cognitive change.
Around this time I started to uncover some research theories related to diet on autophagy, physiological reserve and endogenous plant pesticides that had me wondering if perhaps I was over-dabbling in the vegetable department. I can say with certainty that I fare better without grains (headache triggers) and most legumes (GI dysfunction). I still have love for my cruciferous veggies. Gone but not forgotten.
The carnivore diet is essentially ZC (zero carb) therefore men (depending on activity/performance levels) are eating around 2.5-4lbs per day and women 1.5-2lbs per day (Beef, turkey, chicken, fish with marginal amounts of butter, eggs and cheese). As you read this please note that this is by no means "Medical Advice." I am sharing information as it pertains to my self experimentation.
This sort of restriction can be a tough pill to swallow for some. Who does not want a panko-crusted chicken thigh with a side of roasted potatoes and broccolini. Personally, I have eaten in what one would describe as a “healthy manner” for nearly a decade. These last 3 years I have gravitated more towards a plant-based diet (most recent conventional thinking) with low to moderate animal proteins. I’m physically active/training 5-6 days per week, and while I have noticed mild changes in biostatic measurements, my strength began to wane, I was fighting off cravings, noticed dermatological changes, gut irritation and a host of other not so exciting phenomenon.
Two weeks before Christmas and I took the plunge. From day 1 I felt well. Some people talk about the keto-flu and negative side effects to the metabolic transition. I never experienced any of these negative effects with the exception of one isolated headache (may have been related to electrolyte imbalance). The longer I went the better I felt. It put the kabosh on any holiday-related carbohydrate binge. However, the thought of an avocado or chocolate stout crossed my mind a few times. Otherwise I felt a deeper detachment from flours and grains then ever before. I was full and content. My blood pressure and heart rate improved, perceived ability to focus skyrocketed, aches, pains and training soreness diminished and strength increased.
Now the question is do I continue for 2 months or pepper in cyclic ketogenic phases? I know my wife’s answer to this question.
Okay, so let’s just say what you’re thinking (or not).
All that fat can’t be good, right?
Well in an environment free of processed foods and high volumes of sugar the body appears to do quite well becoming fat-adapted and using fat as an energy source.
That’s really got to stress your kidneys?
Sorry, this is a perpetuated myth and several prominent nephrologists have done research to say otherwise, unless you have failing kidneys to begin with or other extenuating circumstances. Dr. Jason Fung’s studies
What biomarkers will you rely on?
This time around zilch. Perhaps next time around I will utilize pre and post NMR lipid profile, C-Reactive protein, ESR, micronutrient levels along with a urinalysis. Understand that many biomarkers are poorly understood and poor predictors of the benefits and or problems with high volumes of meat consumption
Will you be able to use the loo?
People may experience an adaptation period with change in frequency a/o quantity but go on to have regular and improved bowel movements.
In addition, there is a bevy of researchers asking interesting questions and potentially changing old thought processes around diet:
A bit nuanced and some science-based links (If you enjoy health related research subscribe to Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast
Insulin metabolism (connection btw diabetes and cardiovascular disease) Dr. kraft ( 5- hour insulin assay)
Does Saturated Fat Cause Heart Disease? Dr. Rhonda Patrick
LDL Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Disease Risk with Dr. Krauss
IF and time restricted eating Dr. Satchin Panda
Health benefits of sauna use Dr. Jari Laukkanen
Thats a wrap.