The Zero Carb Experience

Borge 27 Nov , 2017 82 Comments Training

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.

Maybe it’s because the diet isn’t really good for them and their digestive issues are making them cranky? (click link)

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 (part 1part 2), 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…

Some of the reported benefits of a Zero-Carb diet, with various degrees of confidence level (meaning that some are documented medically, others are mostly anecdotal):

● Eliminating cravings and emotional eating

● Effortless weight and fat loss eating according to hunger – when you want, and how much you want (also referred to as “ad libitum”)

● Improved and more stable energy levels, both physical and cognitive

● Dramatic reduction in inflammation (confirmed by significant drops in CRP on blood tests)

● Improved cholesterol and triglyceride numbers (also due to weight loss and lower inflammation). Some outliers (including myself) experience increased numbers, referred to as a “cholesterol hyper-responder”. There are most likely a genetic reason for this, but the following traits also seem to be correlated with this outcome: above average muscle mass, below average body fat%, and extreme weight loss. This is referred to as a “cholesterol hyperresponder”.

● Improved gut function and digestion (no more bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation)

● Mood improvements (there are reports of Zero-Carbers being able to completely eliminate various medications for depression)

● Elimination of snoring, joint pain and arthritis, migraines, acne and eczema

● Major reduction or elimination of symptoms related to Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Myalgic encephalomyelitis is characterised by a range of neurological symptoms: muscle pain with intense physical or mental exhaustion, relapses, and specific cognitive disabilities.

There is no real concept of “breakfast”, “lunch” or “dinner” on this diet, and you can eat the same thing for all meals: meat.

So what’s for breakfast?

Steak

Ok, and what’s for lunch?

Steak

How about dinner?

Steak

If you want to give Zero Carb an honest try, give it at least 30 days. That’s how long it takes to go through the adaptation period and truly experience the profound changes in your physiology and mental clarity that I and thousands of others have experienced first-hand. It also helps a lot to eat clean, grass-fed, organic meats. To learn more about grass-fed meat read more here.

I have had several of my clients try it out, and they have experienced the same amazing results, both in improved body composition, mental clarity, energy levels, and digestion.

Case 1: Well-trained and above average muscular male, 31yrs, dropped from 100kg to 96kg in 6 weeks, and according to DEXA (Dual X-Ray body scan) he gained lean body mass during that time. Also experienced dramatic reductions in inflammation, so that probably skewed the DEXA slightly, but still impressive.

Case 2: Female, 44yrs, dropped from 74kg to 64kg in 8 weeks, while gaining 20-30% strength on all lifts. She had been struggling to lose weight for years, her gut function improved dramatically, and her cravings for sweets (and red wine, incidentally) disappeared.

Case 3: Male, 36yrs, dropped from 80kg to 75kg in 12 weeks, using a low-carb diet at first, then switching over to Zero Carb while increasing his calorie intake – and he gained muscle and still managed to lean out even more.

Most of these eventually started incorporating other foods (fruits and berries, some dairy etc) but in a step-wise manner. What they all noticed, though – was that their digestion was much improved, almost as if some type of “healing” had occurred. Most of the benefits (inflammation, fat loss etc) persisted, even though some weight gain does occur once carbs are reintroduced (fiber/volume of food, glycogen, water).

You can read more case studies and success stories here…

And for free guides on how to implement the diet in various ways, go here…

Written By Borge

82 Comments on “The Zero Carb Experience

  1. Raimon Andreas Olsen Reply

    November 28, 2017 at 9:47

    .

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 12:29

  2. Henriette Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 12:30

    Spennende! Er utdannet kostveileder i Lchf og paleo. Jar ikke prøvd Zero carb over tid, men elsker å lese om andre og vise til det faktum at vi MÅ ikke spise korn og frukt for å få optimal helse

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 12:31

      Nei, og som jeg sier i boka: I consider plant foods CONDITIONALLY healthy, dvs at noen mennesker i perioder så absolutt vil få positive helseeffekter av å spise mye frukt og grønnsaker, men å tre en og samme anbefaling over huet på absolutt alle, alltid – det er det jeg forsøker å kvele med roten blant annet med denne boka.

  3. Brent Schaffrick Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 12:54

    You need to read Weston Price “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” and Francis Pottenger “Pottenger’s Cats” for an older yet still valid look at nutrition

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 12:32

      I have 😉

  4. Boz Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 4:47

    Great content as always, my friend. Hope more people to check out and grab your stuff….you serve it and hope to see more from you soon….some deep-dive online training for example:).

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 12:33

      Thanks! 🙂

  5. Brandon Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 8:21

    Interesting read overall. What are your thoughts performance wise on the diet? Applicable to performance athletes or is more research needed? Since eating more calories and still dropping body fat with this diet has your views on CICO changed?

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 12:34

      I already answered this on Facebook, so I’ll just copy it here for completeness:
      “I have written extensively about performance in the book. It varies individually and depending on the sport. A lot of strength, power sports athletes involved in combinations of lower intensity and high intensity bursts have noticed significant improvements, often due to simply having lower inflammation and improved recovery, but also because the higher protein intake and lower insulin levels can drive dopamine levels (responsible for arousal and motivation).

      A Tour de France competitor or some of our Cross-Country Skiiing champions would not do very well on this diet.

      My views on CICO are the same as before, I have been outspoken about the “black box” model before. It’s still a matter of calories in-calories out, but most tend to forget—or just ignore—what the body actually does with those calories (incoming and stored), so the goal should be to affect nutrient partitioning and flux/NEAT positively.”

  6. Peter Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 2:59

    Hi! I just want to thank you for all your contributions and that you take your time to answer so many questions and comments on articles, Facebook, emails etc. Even if you have to bash your head against the wall sometimes for answering the same question for the umpteenth time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone be as responsive and thorough to comments as you are, especially on this level of quality. The commitment is inspiring.

    Keep up the great work, Børge. It’s always exciting when you release new stuff. 🙂

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 4:12

      Wow, thank you so much – I really appreciate this, Peter 🙂 I just do what I love, and if I can save the world one person at a time, I feel like I am following my Ikigai perfectly.

  7. Monica Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 3:39

    Hva med etter dietten? Jeg kunne gjort dette en stund for å oppnå det jeg ønsker, men det blir hardt å leve hele livet slik…Jeg har forsåvidt prøvd lignende i 30 dager med god effekt, men rykket tilbake til start etter kort stund.

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 4:10

      Det er et eget kapittel i boka om hvordan man innfører karbohydrater etter de 30 dagene, hvordan man håndterer sosiale settinger, og hvordan man forøvrig finner et livsstilsbasert kosthold tilpasset deg selv 🙂

      • Monica Reply

        November 29, 2017 at 7:39

        Ah, så fint! Da skal jeg lese.

  8. Frank Reply

    November 29, 2017 at 7:42

    Hi Borge, first of all I second everything Peter wrote above.

    And indeed, even If I’m not going to try a Zero Carb diet anytime soon, I’ve bought the e-book nonetheless. I’m saying this not because I want the world to know how amazing of a human being I am, but because I strongly feel that good work MUST be rewarded, especially in the “fitness” field where too much crap is still circulating. And over the years you put out a ton of good work, often for free, always replying to random guys on the web like me.

    As I said in the volume post, your writings are always thought-provoking, and after reading the book I started wondering about fibrous foods, especially their availabilty, and digestion, also because I suffer from various gut (stomach mostly) problems, that generally are adviced to be healed with even more fibers.

    Is there any scientific/evolutionary rationale for the “food combining” thing, like eating fruit only alone away from other types of foods? I’ve always thought it didn’t make much sense, but maybe I’m wrong.

    Keep up the good work and sorry for the long comment. Thanks!

    • Borge Reply

      November 30, 2017 at 10:00

      Thank you, Frank, I really appreciate it!

      There is no real science to back the food combining thing, no-at least not from a macronutrient perspective. There are many people who indeed notice that eating fibrous foods makes a meal harder to digest, and so eating them separately from other foods can lessen the digestive burden. This is highly individual, though-and some improve their digestion by combining fiber with their meal. I.e. if you eat rice and some dairy by itself, some people may bloat up from the insulin surge and feel horrible from the subsequent hypoglycemia (also refer to the section on carb tolerance in the book), while the quick digestion leads to incomplete digestion and cause issues for them.

      Adding some veggies will slow down digestion and allow the digestive enzymes to work more thoroughly while evening out the blood sugar and insulin response.

      • Frank Reply

        November 30, 2017 at 4:19

        Thank you Borge. I don’t know if it’s a psychological thing (“self-fulfilling prophecy”, the simple act of reading stuff on the web can instill unconscious fears), but if I eat fruit at the end of a meal, it sits on my stomach like a brick.

        Anyway, back on serious topics, I’m really curious about a thing. For someone like me who has a Mediterranean genetic heritage and a pretty good carb tolerance, would be crazy to try a high carb (especially high starch), low(er) protein and low/moderate fat diet, something in line with his or her nutritional ancestry?

        • Borge Reply

          November 30, 2017 at 4:23

          It’s not crazy if you have the carb tolerance and training volume for it, but I think that skimping on fats wouldn’t be a particularly good idea long-term for health or hormone balance.

  9. Pantherhare Reply

    November 30, 2017 at 2:36

    Great post, Borge. Did you have any blood work done? Are you going to go back to a more traditional Viking diet, that is one with grains, root vegetables, cabbage, and berries? Or, given how well this worked for you, are you going to stick with it indefinitely?

    • Borge Reply

      November 30, 2017 at 9:29

      I did have blood work done, all discussed in the book.

      I transitioned back to more carbs in the diet, but started experiencing a reversal of several positive benefits, so I went back to ZC but will eat some plant foods and starches on occasion, whenever I feel like it. I also discussed the transition back to a normal diet in the book.

  10. andrè Reply

    November 30, 2017 at 11:49

    Borge do you ave done also hormonal analysis? it wold be intereseting watch the testosterone : cortisol ratio…

    • Borge Reply

      November 30, 2017 at 4:24

      I’m on HRT for life, so these tests wouldn’t tell you anything, but I have seen it improve testosterone as well as dramatically drop CRP (a marker for inflammation) on some of my male clients on ZC.

      Cortisol is very dependent on when you test it, so for that test to have any value you would need to test it at least 3 times in a given day.

  11. Per Thomas Thorsager Reply

    November 30, 2017 at 4:34

    Could this diet be combined with a fasting protocoll.. lets say you only eat 1 hour a day and during the week you also put in a 48 hour fast aswell to keep your insulin low and autophagy effect high.

    • Borge Reply

      November 30, 2017 at 4:39

      I have no problems with fasting once in a while, if it feels natural to you and not forced or restrictive. I do think 48hrs is kinda stretching it, though – and since insulin is already low on Zero Carbs and autophagy can be triggered by just eating less and following the recommended meal pattern in the book (12-14hrs of fasting for most people) on some days, it would be a case of cracking a nut with a sledgehammer vs. using the proper tool for the job…if you get my metaphor 🙂

  12. Camilla Reply

    November 30, 2017 at 4:36

    Hei Børge,
    Takk for at du deler spennende erfaringer. Dette var gøy lesning! Jeg har tidligere forsøkt å spise etter dine anbefalinger og prinsipper fra biorytmedietten, uten hell. Det ble for mye karbohydrater, til tross for relativt høyt aktivitetsnivå med ukentlige styrkeøkter, intervall- og lavterskeløkter. Jeg ble oppblåst, vannete og stresset i kroppen, og jeg fikk dessuten problemer med fordøyelsen. Prinsippene du her deler om et lavere inntrykk av karbohydrater stemmer overens med erfaringer jeg selv har gjort meg ved egen kostholdseksperimentering. Jeg spiser nå en liten dose raske karbohydrater i form av en banan, svisker eller lignende i forbindelse med trening, og deretter en liten dose på feks 40 gram havregryn på kvelden. Ellers går det i fett og proteiner ved siden av det minimum av karbohydrater som finnes i nøtter, mv. Hva er dine tanker om en slik kostholdstilnærming over tid? Og hva er dine tanker om å leve tilnærmet zero carb over lengre perioder enn i forsøket som du viser til her? Ved tidligere intervjuer og artikler har jeg oppfattet deg slik at du anbefaler et balansert inntak av karbohydrater, proteiner og fett. Har du andre tanker og refleksjoner vedrørende langsiktig karbohydratinntak nå i etterkant av gjennomførte zero carb prosjektet? Som kvinne i begynnelsen av 30-årene er jeg ikke bare opptatt av en flat mage og god fordøyelse, men også stabile hormoner og god generell helse.

    • Borge Reply

      November 30, 2017 at 4:38

      Hei Camilla, og takk for hyggelig tilbakemelding.

      Jeg har gått i dybden på det du spør om her i boka om Zero Carb, så jeg vil anbefale at du leser den for å den nødvendige forståelsen. De $10 er vel verdt investeringen, jeg lover! 🙂

  13. Mari Reply

    November 30, 2017 at 5:01

    Hei Børge ? Utrolig gøy å lese! Fikk du testet kolesterolnivået, triglyserider og vitamin – og mineral status også? Utrolig gøy st du testet dette og laget en bok ut av det!

    • Borge Reply

      December 1, 2017 at 9:36

      Ja, det testet jeg også. Takk ?

  14. David Reply

    December 1, 2017 at 3:22

    Borge,

    Thanks for the great write-up. What’s the longest do you think someone can sustain this diet for?

    • Borge Reply

      December 1, 2017 at 9:36

      Their entire life, as many have done exactly that.

  15. Erik Reply

    December 2, 2017 at 6:20

    Hei Børge!

    Utrolig spennende å lese om dette. Takk for all info du deler. Gleder meg veldig til seminaret om 2 uker i Question for you:

    Have you noticed any difference in terms of sleep? As discussed with you earlier when I was a client of yours, I fall asleep easily but wake up several times. Have you noticed that a ZC diet help in terms of staying asleep?

    It’s just anecdotal and something I probably would have to try for myself, but would love your input here.

    • Borge Reply

      December 3, 2017 at 10:52

      I tend to sleep slightly less on ZC, and some of my clients also noticed this. Eating high protein ramps up dopamine and if you end up in a deficit there may be some elevation of adrenaline and cortisol, too. Still, there is no sign of sleep deprivation, so my assumption is that sleep quality is improved. I am getting a sleep monitor to get some data on this.

      • Erik Reply

        December 3, 2017 at 4:42

        Thanks for your answer. Would love to see those results.

        Side note:
        Have you any thoughts about ZC for someone who’s already lean trying to build muscle in a caloric surplus?

        And btw: based on what I read about your experience of this diet, I guess that you are not going for a 30 day vegan “challenge ” soon. Hah!

        • Borge Reply

          December 5, 2017 at 9:39

          ZC for gaining muscle is covered in the book, and yes – it is most definitely possible. I have a client now who has gained 3kg of bodyweight—without any change if caliper measurements—by just eating a lot of food on ZC. He got really lean first, though (4-6mm on all sites), which is the strategy I always recommend.

          I have already done the vegan challenge. I have never felt so horrible in all of my life. 🙂

          • Erik

            December 8, 2017 at 8:43

            Thanks for your answer.

            It’s really tempting to go for a diet like this. How do you determine which clients it suits for?
            Myself workout early in the morning (highest bosy temp and most energy at that point). I would believe that a ZC diet would fit really well into that setup and my lifestyle in general. But I am afraid of not eating any carbs at all, given the big emphasis experts give them.
            Listening to you and Shawn Baker makes me wonder though!

  16. Gøran Reply

    December 4, 2017 at 11:42

    “Even after 6 weeks of strictly limiting my protein consumption to ensure I didn’t limit ketone production”. Mener du karb her, eller er det noe jeg ikke henger med på?

    • Borge Reply

      December 5, 2017 at 9:38

      Nei, jeg mener protein. Via glukoneogenese (omdanning til glukose) kan høyere proteininntak (anslått til rundt 1,5g/kg kroppsvekt) hemme ketonproduksjonen.

  17. keith Reply

    December 7, 2017 at 2:17

    Hi Borge,

    I recently bought your zero carb book and associated myo-reps book – thank you for the excellent resources!

    I am at intermediate level for all my lifts on strength standards. I have also just read about the 8 sets to failure squat study (https://www.strongerbyscience.com/more-is-more/) which I am sure you are familiar with. It clicked with me as I seem to do well on high volume, and the lifters seem to be at a similar level to me. I was therefore thinking of structuring a training block of something like:
    Day 1: full body myo-reps. Day2: 8 sets of Squats, 8 sets Bench, minimal chest/legs assistance. Day 3: full body myo-reps. Day 4: 8 sets Press, 8 sets Chins, minimal shoulders/arms assistance. Repeat, with rest days when appropriate.

    What do you think of this plan?

    • Borge Reply

      December 8, 2017 at 4:12

      There are a number of caveats with that study. 1. Lower body does seem to respond better to volume than upper body. 2. Anyone who has worked in research knows how incredibly hard it is to get participants to go to failure, even on leg extension machines. So 8 sets to failure on squats? Highly unlikely they reached failure in more than 1-2 sets.

      Other than that, if you’ve read my book, I think my views on training volume are pretty clear 🙂

  18. Steve Reply

    December 19, 2017 at 6:12

    Hey Borge! Just wanted to say the books (ZC and MYO) are awesome! What a combo!! Its nice to have the books so I can refer back to them instead of having to bombard you with questions =)

    • Borge Reply

      December 19, 2017 at 7:45

      Thanks, glad you like them! 🙂

  19. erick Reply

    December 23, 2017 at 1:46

    it seems on ur instagram profile u no longer are zero carb

    • Borge Reply

      December 23, 2017 at 10:30

      I had a brief period reintroducing carbs to see what happened. I felt worse and started to gain fat, so I am back on ZC now.

  20. Ben ricciardi Reply

    December 24, 2017 at 7:38

    Borge which is the minimum amount of volume for stimulate MPS in one muscle, in a single trainig session?
    Happy c.mas borge!

    • Borge Reply

      January 17, 2018 at 2:57

      1 set to failure.

  21. Gunnar Reply

    January 17, 2018 at 8:53

    Børge,

    Veldig interessant oppplegg. Har en kamerat som tester dette nå med veldige gode erfaringer hittil. Les: liten til ingen sultfølelse og stort vekttap på kort tid.

    Har veldig lyst å teste dette selv, men er i en situasjon hvor jeg er “tvunget” til å spise lunsj på jobb av det som blir satt frem. Blir som regel en mager salat i tillegg til medbrakt proteinkilde.

    Er det greit om man spiser en lett salat på jobb 5 dager i uken, men resten ‘zero carb’…?

    • Borge Reply

      January 18, 2018 at 11:15

      Du må spise det som blir satt fram, og kan ikke spise det du vil selv? Man blir nysgjerrig på hva du jobber med, og om de overholder arbeidsmiljøvernloven hvis de tvinger de ansatte til å spise noe de ikke selv kan eller vil…

      Det skal forsåvidt ikke utgjøre noen stor forskjell, men du vil heller ikke få 100% av det som er formålet med ZC – f.eks. å gi tarmen en liten pause fra fiberinntak.

      • Gunnar Reply

        January 19, 2018 at 8:17

        Vi har obligatorisk lunsj hvor det forventes at vi deltar. Jeg er sannsynligvis alt den sære på kontoret som ikke spiser brødskiver og kaker, så tror jeg stopper der. Har gitt blaffen tidligere, men akkurat nå føler jeg for å heller gli litt inn i stedet for å ha ‘spesialkosthold’. 🙂

        Uansett takk for tilbakemeldingen. Kommer nok til å prøve Zero Carb. Tror jeg skal få forsøkt å kjøpe eboken din også for å få litt mer kunnskap om hvordan implementere det.

        Anbefaler du forresten noe annet treningsopplegg enn ellers når man trener slik? Får inntrykk av at du anbefaler mindre volum nå enn tidligere?

        På grunn av tidsmangel har jeg i år gått ned til to ganske omfattende fullkroppsøkter to dager per uke. Etter en slik økt føler man jo et behov for karbohydrater, men det er sannsynligvis mye mentalt og hva man har lært tidligere at skal være nødvendig.

        • Borge Reply

          January 20, 2018 at 11:40

          Skjønner. Det har alltid fascinert meg hvor avhengig folk er av at alle spiser det samme som dem for å akseptere det. På samme måte som vi har ulike preferanser på farger, musikk, biler og hvilke partnere vi velger, så syns jeg også det burde være rom for å spise akkurat hva man vil uten å skulle få kommentarer på det. Men jeg har selvfølgelig forståelse for at ikke alle klarer å motstå det sosiale presset og må innrette sine egne matvalg deretter.

          Jeg anbefaler ikke noe spesifikt treningsopplegg på ZC, men i adapsjonsfasen kan det være greit å redusere volumet til man har fått stabilisert (og økt) energinivåene og kroppens evne til å veksle mellom hvilke drivstoff den bruker. Generelt mener jeg at mange har høyere treningsvolum enn nødvendig, ja.

          Trener du hele kroppen to ganger i uka er det mest tidseffektivt (og effektivt i sin helhet) å utelukkende velge de store baseløftene, og så trene 3-4 harde sett (nær utmattelse, men ikke til utmattelse) pr øvelse.

  22. Gunnar Reply

    January 22, 2018 at 8:15

    Takk for tilbakemeldingen, Børge! 🙂

    Godt i gang nå. Veldig uvant å ikke spise karbohydrater etter trening, men puster fortsatt. Blir spennende å se hvordan dette går.

    Skal i praksis ikke ned mer enn 1-2 kg da jeg alt er i god form. Håper ZC kan hjelpe meg å bli kvitt disse siste kiloene ettersom de sitter som støpt med mer tradisjonelle opplegg. Også nysgjerrig på eventuelt andre positive effekter.

  23. Gunnar Reply

    January 28, 2018 at 4:22

    Hei,

    Da var min n = 1 over etter 8 dager på zero carb. Litt kort periode til å trekke noen konklusjoner naturligvis, men på grunn av en sosial sammenkomst ble det brudd i dag.

    Pussig nok var jeg mest lei av dietten de første to dagene og tenkte at dette aldri kunne gå i lengden. Men alt på dag 3 begynte jeg å få smaken på denne måten å spise på. Ikke bare det, men det gikk opp for meg at det faktisk ikke hadde vært umulig å leve kun på kjøtt i det lange løp. Er jo bare at det går helt i strid med alt vi har lært, så blir litt mye å svelge i starten.

    I forhold til energinivå, så har jeg hatt masse energi gjennom hele perioden. Føler at jeg har hatt litt mindre søvnbehov og vært tidlig oppe hver dag. I forhold til trening var det veldig interessant at jeg ikke opplevde noen merkbar forskjell i ytelse. Det overrasket meg. Litt rart å kun spise en laks eller kjøtt etter trening uten noe annet. Men gikk fint ser det ut til.

    Av negative opplevelser hadde jeg litt tendenser til svimmelhet og “lavt blodsukker” et par ganger i løpet av uken. Innser at dette er normalt og noe som trolig forsvinner på sikt.

    Er ikke seriøs nok til at jeg tok noen målinger, men tror jeg så rutene litt bedre i speilet etter en uke.

    Har lyst å prøve dette igjen og kanskje over en lengre periode.

    Mener du, Børge, at dette er en diett man bør følge over en lengre periode for å få “utbytte” av den? Eller kan det fungere fint å kjøre noen kortere perioder om man rett og slett bare vil være litt effektiv og/eller redusere vekt?

    En annen positiv ting var at jeg brukte veldig lite tid på matlaging denne uken. 🙂

    • Borge Reply

      January 29, 2018 at 2:55

      Takk for god tilbakemelding 🙂 Du burde kjøre en slik fase i minst 30 dager for å få utbytte, dvs du har jo allerede fått litt utbytte – men dette blir som å såvidt dyppe tærne i vannet i stedet for å ta en svømmetur. Jeg mener at som en livsstilstilnærming kan dette være en fin diett å kjøre i faser på 30-dager eller mer i løpet av vinteren, men så spise mer plantekost, frukt og bær på vår, sommer og høst.

  24. Gunnar Reply

    January 31, 2018 at 3:40

    Takker, Børge! 🙂

    En annen pussig ting er at jeg ikke hadde noe spesielt behov for “oppkarbing” når jeg avsluttet. Nå er jeg ikke ukjent med lavkarbo, så mulig det har en sammenheng, men synes det var litt snodig allikevel. Spiste bare “normalt” med karbohydrater neste dag.

    Jeg er alt i gang med runde nummer to fra og med i dag. Håper jeg kan stille deg noen spørsmål.

    1) Er 2 glass rødvin et par kvelder i løpet av en uke problematisk på et slikt opplegg?

    2) Noen tips til mat på dette opplegget når man er på farten? Så langt har jeg a) sultet og ventet til jeg er hjemme; b) kjøpt varmrøkt laks på Rema og litt ost.

    Virker litt vanskelig å improvisere med mat på dette opplegget når man ikke har noe forberedt, men stort sett ikke et problem.

    Kanskje tørket beef jerky eller lignende kunne vært en løsning.

    På forhånd takk. 🙂

    Gunnar

    • Borge Reply

      January 31, 2018 at 4:34

      1. Det er helt ok.
      2. Utover matbokser eller ferskvaredisken på butikkene, som har alle mulige kjøttretter tilgjengelig, fungerer det veldig greit med både ost, tørket kjøtt, røkt laks eller makrell.

  25. Gunnar Reply

    February 7, 2018 at 1:27

    Takker, Børge! 🙂

  26. Guilherme Reply

    February 20, 2018 at 6:38

    That’s really interesting, specially considering my own personal preferences and experiences.

    That is – I already thrive in a low-carb approach, but I find that when too many veggies are added (and meat / poultry / etc is subtracted) / I don’t feel so well as when I am more of a “carnivore”.

    However, I wouldn’t dare to go “zero carb” – I like eating them, and feel well when they are in moderate amounts.

    But will definitely try and go more “meat-eater” in the near future.

    Thanks for the great post!

  27. Lawrence Neal Reply

    March 22, 2018 at 1:53

    Was that my 2 part podcast? Where’s my link …. lol 😉

    Great article Borge. Interested to discuss further on the show.

    Thanks,
    Lawrence

    • Borge Reply

      March 22, 2018 at 2:12

      Yikes…you are right, I forgot to include the links! Updated now 🙂

  28. Eric Ramos Reply

    April 13, 2018 at 9:41

    Borge, Im curious on trying a low carb approach. Mainly because I can eat a ton and still be hungry and I keep hearing how low carb diet can help with hunger. In the book you mention the guy that gained muscle on Zero Carb. And later you offer a range in which people do well with on carbs.

    If one were to take the latter approach to a low carb lifestyle, would it still be condusive to gaining muscle you just have to eat more?

    Or What advice and/or resources would you suggest when trying to gain size on low carb?

    • Borge Reply

      April 19, 2018 at 2:17

      Eat more. Really.

  29. […] The Zero Carb Experience […]

  30. […] The Zero Carb Experience […]

  31. AE Reply

    November 29, 2018 at 3:23

    “Harry Potter” LOL!
    But seriously, thank you so much for sharing your information. I’m on day 3 zero carb after doing low carb inconsistently for many years. Today I’m sluggish, stupid, and hungry… daydreaming about fat bombs and other sweet things… snarfing electrolytes… but I’m hanging in there. Thank you again!

    • Borge Reply

      November 29, 2018 at 4:29

      Yeah, adaptation can be hard for some people, easier for others – sounds like you are of the former…but just hang in there and it will get easier in the next few days 🙂

  32. Clara Reply

    August 4, 2020 at 10:54

    Hey Borge, how are you?
    I’m a girl who follow (and had read) all your works and books since 2016!

    Are you still following a PKD diet or a more proteins based approach?

    And If you are using PKD-keto carnivore, how you manage salt?

    • Borge Reply

      August 4, 2020 at 12:19

      Hi Clara, thank you for being a loyal reader and follower, I highly appreciate it!

      I was on the PKD diet for a few months this year, after getting tests verifying that I had increased intestinal permeability and that the most likely causes were dairy and gluten. The last 6 weeks I have gradually increased my carbohydrates from fruits and berries in season (in Norway: cherries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, carrots are at their peak now) and lowered my fat intake slightly to be around the same as my protein intake. My protein intake is also slightly higher than it was on PKD, around 120-140g or so (80-100g on PKD).

      I always salt to taste, the body will adapt to any salt intake IMO – but you will notice that the need for water also scales in proportion to salt (and, obviously, perspiration – but assuming normal temperatures and activity levels here).

  33. Clara Reply

    August 4, 2020 at 11:35

    I really like your “seasonal” approach.
    I think it is very suitable, especially in certain regions of the world where climatic variability is more pronounced.

    Compared to when you followed pkd, have you noticed an increase in lean body mass with more total proteins?
    And in terms of satiety?
    I guess more proteins got you out from PM’s therapeutic ketosis.

    Finally, with regard to salt, why do you think in keto fitness circles they speak of at least 5gr of sodium per day (ketogains, volek & pinney..)?
    Maybe salting only to taste works differently with the pkd?
    I’ve tried a lot to manage with sodium and keto, but I obtain only water retention and edema.. really I dont understand.

    I tried to ask similar questions in the facebook group, but I only got one boot … in the butt :/

    Have a nice day
    Clara

    • Borge Reply

      August 5, 2020 at 8:53

      Which FB group was this?

      I think a seasonal approach makes the most sense from both an evolutionary and anthropological perspective, yes.

      Lean mass is slowly regaining, but it’s too soon to tell after only 6 weeks. Many things have been going on concurrently, and I did find PKD extremely effective at leaning out – fat just seemed to melt off me at times.

      Satiety is pretty much the same, but there were days on PKD where I think all that fat just didn’t feel natural – especially on hard training days where I felt more like eating more meat, not adding more fat to my meals.

      My ketones did drop, yes – but I’m not chasing ketosis per se, I’m more interested in maintaining metabolic flexibility.

      I think sodium intake is important during the adaptation period as insulin levels drop and may lead to some electrolyte imbalances, but this should stabilize over time. Even so, I doubt paleolithic man had access to 5g+ of sodium every day, so it doesn’t make much sense that modern man should require salting beyond what feels natural for taste to function optimally.

      Many claim to need it to ward off muscle cramps, but many notice that just having the equivalent of a cup of berries per day in added carbs resolves it much faster than high amounts of sodium (it needs to be balanced with potassium, after all).

  34. Clara Reply

    August 5, 2020 at 1:24

    The facebook group was the last created some weeks ago.
    I entered 1 week ago, ask 1 question, and immediatly I received the ban from a peevish admin.. I think he was a german guy.
    Really sad person… really.

    I’ve also found some of your post in the group, very very interesting.. but some guys told me that the admin remove your answers.

    Anyway..

    I’ve started pkd’ish diet in feb 2020, and like many other reported, I lost muscle mass.
    It seems that our body lose muscle with small proteins intake like they recommend!
    If you feel better with more proteins, stick with.

    Sometimes I find difficult to understand why PKD doctors report that they have lot of athlete who use their diet, but no one never saw these athlete!
    No one.. where are these fitness guys who grow with low proteins intake?
    LOL.

    Yes, about salt. Probably keto community exagerate the sodium RDA.. and our body is not idiot: if I have only edema over certain intake of salt, is a clear sign that something is not right.

    Cheers Borge!

    • Borge Reply

      August 5, 2020 at 2:35

      Yes, I know what group that was, and I left the group voluntarily after calling out the moderator (initials A.H.) for being a complete douchebag to the members and running the group as if he was a dictator. He deleted my posts afterwards. Not good for a group which purpose is to help people heal from serious diseases and health issues!

      The cases I have heard they work with are basketball players (which have an advantage if they are skinny) and kayakers. I also think they have a – let’s just say conservative view of what a person should weigh. I have seen someone really skinny in that group say that they were still told that they could lose more weight. I also have a post about this – search for my name and “BMI”.

      I think in more cases than not, as long as we are clear in our minds about wanting to heal, our instincts are perfectly capable of telling us what we need.

      In fact, your namesake sister Clara Davies did some very interesting studies in 30s with babies in orphanages. Even at 6 months, they knew what to eat and how much to heal disease and grow into strong boys.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1626509/

  35. Clara Reply

    August 5, 2020 at 9:55

    that’s right, we are talking about the same brainless idiot who moderates the group.
    total crap.

    yes the limit of PM is to think that everyone should be “thin” on an almost anorexic level.
    while there are people who are looking for more lean mass, and as you yourself have seen, lean tissue is lost with few proteins.

    in fact you do well to stay higher with proteins.
    and push them up to 1.5-1.6 without problems.

    their very extreme approach undoubtedly works … but I don’t understand how one can prescribe even less food to apparently undernourished people … the rationale really escapes me.

    it was a big loss for the group not to have you anymore.
    I hope to be able to “re-read” you somewhere (I know some are moving to create a new peaceful environment on facebook).

    thanks for the research, I read gladly.
    good evening Borge, you are a great man.

  36. Mike Rossi Reply

    August 8, 2020 at 2:21

    Hey borge.. I’m reading your answers here!

    Have you lost muscle mass with PKD?

    For me seems impossible think to gain (and mantain) lean muscles with a so low protein intake.

    Come on, research shows every day that more proteins are very good for us (up to 1.8gr x kilo of bodyweight).

    How they can write that you can build muscle with the RDA?
    Its a joke in my opinion..

    Best regards
    Mike

    • Borge Reply

      August 8, 2020 at 3:21

      It seems I have, but it’s also difficult to judge precisely since water retention and glycogen stores also drops dramatically on PKD, and changes to muscle mass – both gains and losses – take time. I didn’t lose much strength, so that’s at least a positive.

      There’s actually a lot of research showing that for advanced lifters, 1-1.2g/kg of protein is plenty (my protein was in that range, as recommended by Paleomedicina). The reason being that the body knows better what to do with the protein, and gaining muscle is a slow process on the order of 1-2kg per year for someone advanced…hence protein needs are around an extra 10-15g or so per day beyond the RDA (which, incidentally coincides with the 1-1.2g/kg figure).

      The most important variable is calories, and since the PKD for many will be calorie restriction I don’t think it’s optimal for building muscle. If you adjust calories to gain weight, then I definitely think muscle gain is possible. Whether it’s better or healthier than having some carbs, I don’t know – we just don’t have any comparative data, but based on what I know about nutrition – I honestly don’t think so.

  37. Mike Rossi Reply

    August 8, 2020 at 9:03

    If the diet was setted perfectly:

    “Enough” proteins.. 1-1.2
    And enough calories from fat.

    Why you lose muscles?
    And why you lose strenght?

    Yes, gain muscles is a slow process.
    But our body is not stupid after years of evolution.

    If the diet, is the only variable changed, and I will lose size and strenght is a clear response that this diet is not good for this purpose.

    Probably good for heal cancer.
    But to define it “the best human diet” (quote from PM doctors) is a joke.

    Look at them. Csaba, has lot of fat around his waist.
    Zsofia is too skinny.

    For me not the protraits of the best health.

    Mike

    • Borge Reply

      August 9, 2020 at 8:25

      I lost a lot of weight, so the calories were apparently still too low – which will lead to muscle/strength loss in and of itself. The same thing I have experienced on previous bodybuilding diets, so can’t fault the PKD for this.

      Drs Toth and Clemens aren’t interested in looking muscular and ripped, so I don’t think it’s fair to judge a dietary approach due to how they look.

  38. Mike Rossi Reply

    August 9, 2020 at 10:22

    In the begin they gave you a diet plan that you described, right?
    500 gr of meat + 175 gr of fats.

    This was not enough?

    But, why you told that this initial intale was sufficient to mantain your bodyweight with less calories (2200) compared to classic bodybuilding diet (2800 kcal)?

    Mine is not a critique for you..

    But everytime you are trying something new, is not clear why you defend with your sword what you are doing, only to change and say that what you did before was not good enough.

    In this case PKD diet, seems to create problems for bodybuilders..

    Mike

    • Borge Reply

      August 9, 2020 at 10:42

      Ok, look: I honestly don’t have any skin in this game or dog in this fight, so if you think I’m wielding a sword here you are mistaken and I must apologize if you got that impression.

      The first time I tried the PKD I did lose a lot of weight, and at the time it seemed as if I also lost muscle mass.

      In retrospect, I thought it was a little unfair to dismiss it without judging it properly and within context – there were many things going on in my life at the time. I also realized it was driven by the inherent paranoia and insecurity of a bodybuilder about losing muscle mass. I have also come off 25 years of TRT, so that plays a role, obviously.

      The second time I did it, I gave it more time and it coincided with gyms opening back up allowing proper training, so this time I was able to gain strength and muscle. Did the PKD hinder that or help that? I honestly can’t tell, as I was regaining lost muscle and strength. I also had other benefits wrt digestion, inflammation, hair growth etc. And I did maintain 92kgs with around 10-12% bodyfat at 2200kcals, at a previous point in my life and on a carb-based diet I ate 2800kcals to maintain – so nothing about what I said was untrue.

      The PKD is not designed for bodybuilders, it is to regain health – and I don’t think bodybuilding is healthy beyond a certain point, as I hope you will agree with. So I think it’s unfair to judge it based on something it’s not designed for. Is it the optimal human diet? Maybe not in its strictest form, but I’m just a layperson trying to figure out where the pieces of the puzzle fit in, not a scientist who measure clinical endpoints in a lab with patients as Paleomedicina are doing – so they probably have good reason to think and act like they do, and I don’t have any solid evidence to say that they are wrong. We are rational but also emotional beings, so judging based off our own insecurities is a problem in itself IMO.

      If your primary interest is bodybuilding you should probably look elsewhere than the PKD. Eating more meat and less fat – e.g. a 1:1 instead of 2:1 ratio – and with some selected carbohydrates around workouts will probably serve you better than a strict PKD approach.

      • Mike Rossi Reply

        August 9, 2020 at 9:20

        I totally agree with you.
        Bodybuilding is not healthy beyond a certain level: but I am ready to argue that as long as your workouts are fueled by meat, instead of tren, you are on the road to health.

        Thanks for the clarification Borge, I consider you one of the few honest left in the fitness industry. A rotten sector, based on lies.

        With PKD you solved your problems (TRT and tyroid)?

        Mike

  39. Brian Reply

    November 13, 2020 at 10:32

    Hey Borge, I know that you have experimented a lot
    In your opinion, increasing a lot proteins with a 100% carnivore diet, its possible to have muscles full of glycogen (like eating carbs but without the bloating effect on gut and stomach) and have a great pump in the gym?

    I have a PKD past, and I’ve lost a lot of weight
    Now is time to regain muscles.

    My idea is to use meat to increase GNG to replenish glycogen after weight training, also for a old dog like me!!!
    And mantain my liver full of glycogen.. also for sleep better (my sleep is a crap during ketosis and PKD).

    I dont see the needs to eat carbs if with proteins we might obtain the same result.

    Thanks

    Brian J.

    • Borge Reply

      November 16, 2020 at 10:40

      Yes, research has shown that glycogen levels can normalize even on a strictly ketogenic diet where protein is somewhat limited, so a typical carnivore diet will have an even higher chance of that given the – at times – excessive protein intake if eating to hunger and the cuts of meat are leaner.

      It is true that protein can be converted to glucose and then glycogen, and that carbohydrates aren’t really an essential nutrient per se – but I still think there is sufficient evidence to suggest that sugars (honey, fruits and berries being the most natural and important IMO) have their place in the long term nutrition approach, from both a health, longevity and performance perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *