There are few things as polarizing as nutrition. For some reason, it’s similar to religion in how it brings out the best and worst in people. It’s as if the foods you choose to eat defines you as a human being. And when I started posting about my experiment with eating an all-meat, zero-carbohydrate diet, I got to see this with my own eyes.
Ranging from “wow, that’s interesting, tell me more” to “wow, you are incredibly stupid, and if you promote the killing of animals for food, you deserve to be killed yourself”.
Yeah, I’m dead serious.
I know a few vegans (after that horrible junk-science propaganda movie What The Health? many people turned vegan—without realizing that even vegans thought it was horrible (click the link)), and I have even successfully coached a few vegans (yeah, just because you are eating tons of bread with peanut butter and jelly, doesn’t mean you are going to be healthy), but for some reason, vegans as a whole seem to be the most dogmatic and least accepting of other people’s preferences or views when it comes to food choices.
Ok, I’m kidding, but read the comments of that link for some cheap fun.
I think we should all accept that everyone can’t be the same. If you accept that we were born and grew up in different countries, have different skin colors, sexual preferences, like different movies and different clothes, have different favorite colors, have different thoughts, dreams and ambitions…then why can’t we also accept that we like different foods—and more importantly—that we thrive on different foods?
There simply cannot be a single diet or food that is perfect for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Even the same person can’t be expected to have the same macro- and micronutrient needs every day, regardless of his activity type, activity level, health and even season.
I have written about this in many forms before, but the short summary is that there are both daily (circadian) rhythms that dictate when and what we should eat during the day, but also seasonal (circannual) rhythms that dictate what we should eat throughout the year, so my recommendation is that you choose local foods in season, first of all.
You should also consider eating foods that are common to where you were born or grew up, or where your great-great-great-etc-grandparents were born or grew up. Evolutionary- or selective pressure, has formed traits and genetic predispositions through hundreds and thousands of years, but even in the last few generations, there will be clues to be found as to what your body will most likely thrive on.
For instance, Asians have a 90% prevalence of lactose intolerance, whereas Scandinavians have the opposite numbers: up to 80% lactose tolerance. So the GOMAD approach (Gallon Of Milk A Day) for getting big and strong can perhaps get you jacked if you’re a Norwegian weightlifter, but jack you up (read: explosive diarrhea) if you’re a Chinese weightlifter.
Incidentally, this is also a great position for solving constipation issues.
Ok, so with my genes being 70% Scandinavian, and being of Viking ancestry, it would probably make sense for me to eat a diet of what was seasonably available for the last few hundred years.The ability to store grains and plant foods in underground cellars didn’t become common until the last few generations, so during wintertime, my great-great-great-etc grandparents would most likely either have to hunt or fish, or go hungry during this cold and harsh season. Incidentally, I have always liked eating meat—not that preference for food means you should eat it…I also like chocolate but wouldn’t feel good if it was a staple food of my diet.
Also, as a species, humans have been eating meat for tens of thousands of years and even hundreds of thousands of years. Despite there being some Facebook warriors vehemently protesting this, there is a wealth of evidence to support ancient people being meat eaters and that they likely had to—or preferred to—eat zero carbs for shorter or longer periods of time. We would have to survive through periods of famine and lack of animal foods, though – so the ability to gather and eat plant foods was a necessity.
This means that humans aren’t true carnivores, but rather omnivores—which means that we are adapted to both digest and function well on plant foods, albeit to varying degrees. Although we can certainly say that grains, vegetables, fruits, and berries are “healthy” from a nutritional standpoint, not everyone will thrive on large amounts of it, all the time.
I have previously unsuccessfully tried a ketogenic diet. I gave it plenty of time but still couldn’t get the benefits that many in the keto-sphere raved about. Even after 6 weeks of strictly limiting my protein consumption to ensure I didn’t limit ketone production, eating liberally from high-fiber veggies and avocado for satiety, and drenching my foods in butter and oils to ensure I got sufficient fats—I was constantly bloated, tired, hungry and even had breakouts of eczema and acne. It was like I hit puberty again, just without the spontaneous, raging boners—which were also non-existent.
Even with all my knowledge, I couldn’t make a ketogenic diet work for me, and my regular, carb-based diet also didn’t work all that well for me. Being considered an expert and authority in nutrition, you almost feel obliged to both walk the walk and talk the talk, and even if my clients were getting great results I just couldn’t figure out my own diet.
Before I started my Zero Carb experiment, I had been dieting on a balanced, carb-based diet for 8 weeks but was stuck at 100kg/220lbs of bodyweight even with calories down in the 1800-2200kcal range—which isn’t a lot of food and obviously made me suffer.
My digestion and gut function had been up and down for a long time, with bloating being a good day, and stomach cramps and diarrhea on the worst days. I had to cut some of my deadlift sessions short on some days, let’s leave it at that.
Overall, I was obviously not happy with how things were going.
Then, I listened to a 2-part podcast with Dr. Shawn Baker, a 50-year old board certified orthopedic surgeon who is also a multi-sport world record holder Masters Athlete with several world records on the indoor rower Concept2. He was eating an all-meat/carnivore diet with zero carbohydrates, and was feeling great on it.
I was intrigued and started searching around for more information on this way of eating. There were several blogs and Facebook groups on it, where people had been experiencing weight loss, muscle gain, and some pretty dramatic health improvements by eating nothing but meat for a couple of months up to several decades!
I also read the book Fat Of The Land from 1956 by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and arctic explorer and anthropologist documenting his life with the Inuit as well as a 1-year all-meat experiment at Bellevue Hospital in New York. Both him and another participant showed no ill effects whatsoever, experienced no signs of nutrient deficiencies, lost a lot of weight, and improved several health markers during that year.
So I decided to give it a fair trial for at least 30 days.
The first few days I felt pretty good. I loved eating meat and didn’t really feel like I needed to load my plate up with broccoli to be healthier.
Around day 4-5 I started feeling sluggish and weak, but since I chose to make it extra hard on myself and cut coffee at the same time, that compounded the issue.
I did lose a lot of weight, though—water weight, for sure—but my waist was tightening up on a daily basis and bodyfat caliper measurements were finally moving in the right direction again.
Around day 7-8 I started feeling much better. Mental clarity improved, and my mood was much better. My joints hurt less, and gym performance was almost back to normal. I started getting comments such as: “you look different, what’s going on”.
That motivated me to keep going.
I didn’t comply strictly with the recommendation to eat beef and drink only water through the full 30-day experiment and included eggs, bacon, and some occasional cheese. I just let my intuition guide me.
While I didn’t feel the need to weigh and measure my food, I did find that hunger was somehow “different” on zero carbs. I needed to eat more than I thought I needed to avoid feeling faint and weak a couple of hours before the next meal. I started off at 4 meals per day, but given the lower volume of food compared to a carbohydrate- or plant-based diet, I could eat more at each meal and thus stayed satiated for longer—so I naturally gravitated towards 3 meals.
Breakfast was consumed within an hour or two after waking (I found myself waking earlier, too—around 5-6am in the morning), then lunch around noon-2pm, and finally dinner around 6-7pm and no later than 8pm.
Weight loss didn’t slow down after that first week, so I had to consciously make an effort to eat more food, and even with some days up around 3000-3300kcals I was still losing weight, and bodyfat seemed to literally be melting before my eyes.
Digestion was dramatically improved. No bloating, no gas, no cramps. There was obviously less mass with the complete absence of fiber, but after the adaptation period, everything was completely normal, i.e. daily. A smooth 30-second bathroom visit compared to being stuck there for the time it takes to read half of a Harry Potter novel is another benefit of this diet, the way I see it.
I kept going beyond the initial 30 days I had planned, and about 6 weeks into the diet I documented my progress over 10 weeks, with the left picture showing what I looked like over halfway into my carb-based diet.
The lighting is obviously different, but I think the pictures give a fair representation of the progress I could feel and see with my own eyes.
I had dropped 5-6cm off my waist and 5kg of weight, although even my better two-thirds, Ingeborg, thought I had gotten bigger. I find that hard to believe, but there is definitely a different type of fullness to my muscles on Zero Carb. Obviously, that roundness is enhanced when there is less fat and water retention cover the muscle.
Just goes to show how meaningless the bathroom scale number is, and that how you feel on the inside can be an indicator of how you actually look on the outside…
My Instagram pictures of the foods I was eating got a lot of engagement and comments, both good and bad, and given that there were very few resources on Zero Carb online and a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding it, I decided to write an e-book on it.
But first of all, I want to share a free PDF with you.
In this PDF I have provided a short summary of the Zero Carb diet, what it can do for you in terms of fat loss, muscle building and health benefits, and simplified it into a practical guide.
All you have to do is fill out your First name and best E-mail below, and I will send it to you with no strings attached, and no commitments.
In this free PDF, you will also find how to get my complete e-book “The Zero Carb Diet: The ancestral way to lose weight, increase libido, improve physical and mental performance, and forget cravings”.
Together with that I also offer you 2 free bonuses: a Zero Carb recipe cookbook, and my long-awaited e-book “Myo-reps: The Secret Norwegian Method to Build Lean Muscle in 70% Less Time”.
Some people told me that just the Myo-reps ebook is worth many times the price of the whole package, but I decided to give it away for free with my Zero Carb ebook. Because I’m a nice person who likes to give away stuff to help you achieve the best body you can in a smart way. 🙂
Hope you enjoy it!
P.S. If you are very impatient and want to get your hands on the ebook right away, then go here: http://borgefagerli.com/zcbook