In our last post Taking our health to the next level: We’re going carnivore! we talked about our new mostly-carnivore diet experiment. That was a few months ago. So how are things going since then?
We’re often asked by our Primal Influence Tribe members, who are interested in Carnivore eating, how we’re going, what results we’ve noticed, what we eat, etc so we thought it was a good time to post an update to answer their questions and provide more insight all in the one place! Plus, we’re about to embark on a new level for three weeks during World Carnivore Month. So it’s interesting times indeed!
This post includes what’s been happening over the past couple of months, what pros and cons we’ve noticed, what we’ve been eating, how it’s effecting our lives in general, what we’re doing next and why.
We’ll split this up in two parts; my (Aimee) update first, then Clint’s.
My carnivore-ish experiment to date has provided mixed results. In some ways my health has greatly improved, and in others not so.
I’ve seen excellent improvements with my digestion and hormones. I used to experience soft and sometimes runny stools with my 2-3 day bowel movements. That was the ‘norm’ for me for many years even though I’d seen improvements for very short periods of time in the past when I’d made diet changes but my gut always reverted back to being unhealthy and overall while eating a lot of vegetables almost every one of my toilet experiences were bad. I knew that wasn’t ‘normal’ and that the longer I experienced this the more health problems I’d have in the future because of gut permeability and malabsorption of nutrients.
Also I’ve only had short bursts of experiencing no period pain – for the entirety of having periods since my early teens. I’m now 36. That’s a lot of pain and discomfort in my lifetime! The only time I was free from the pain was when I had help from an FDN / L3 CHEK practitioner who gave me a high-veg, low-meat, low-fat, paleo-based eating plan. I lost weight, had no period pain, had balanced hormones, more energy etc etc. I felt great for a few months after the first few months in. But it didn’t last 😦
Eating mostly paleo-based didn’t improve either my digestion or period pain issues. Carnivore was my next option. And it’s been working!! I find when I do mostly Carnivore for a month I have no period pain the next time ’round and my digestion is now really good pretty much all of the time!
It started out as constipation though. Not something I was at all familiar with and don’t really want to experience again but I’m pretty confident I won’t based on how I’m tracking now. The first few weeks into eating mostly Carnivore (basically 5 days a week full Carnivore + coffee, easing right up on weekends) I’d not need to go to the loo for quite a few days. Actually one week I think I hit 6 or 7 days! I remember telling our Chiro who’s been a friend of ours for many years and who we can talk to about the deepest depths of diets, digestion etc with no weirdness whatsoever, and even though I’d read it’s normal to be a bit constipated at first due to the changes in gut microbiome and the processing of the new and different foods, I was a little concerned with that particular prolonged stint of nothingness. He suggested I drink a heap of salt water quickly. Not Sole like I was having all day long, but just a heap of salt added straight to water and gulp it down. I tried it when I got home and all that happened was I felt like vomiting and nothing changed with my digestion until the following day when I went and it was ‘good’. Phew! My Chiro texted to ask how I’d gone and I replied “Crisis averted!”. Lol
After a bit of uncomfortable constipation for a few weeks my digestion has settled down to being ‘regular’ (I go #2 most days now) and ‘normal’ (good consistency) – the best it’s been since I first started being aware of it, so basically in about a decade!
I still feel a sense of surprise every time I go because I’m so not used to it!
The other benefits I’ve noticed with my health are that my immune system is much better now and my back pain is much less. I’m not getting sick like I was before my clean re-set month (talked about in the previous post) and I’m recovering quickly from any small bouts of sniffles, pain and strains. Before, it would take me a week to get over a virus or back/hip/groin/neck issues. Now, 1-2 days max.
This is a very positive thing for me considering all the pain and sickness I’ve experienced since… forever.
Improved digestion is going to lead to better nutrient adsorption and less inflammation (especially in the lower back) and less pain. Yay!
So those are the positives I’ve experienced, but what about the negatives?
My clean month gave me a nice reduction is weight and body fat which was nice but after that ended I slowly put ON weight over the last 3 months. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it could just be a normal part of the process and I keep reminding myself of these important aspects:
- This is a long-term approach. Healing the body takes a long time, it’s not a quick thing.
- Everybody is different and all the weight loss success stories I was seeing in a Facebook group I was a member of should not deter me because my body is my own, it’s going through it’s own unique journey and I just need to focus on that without comparing my experience to others.
- Often weight on the scales is actually a build up of water retention and can drop ‘all of a sudden’ if the clean eating is continued.
- Body fat can stick around for a while if the body has some major healing still to do. When the healing progresses the fat can finally go away.
- I’m still finding my way with Carnivore and may still need to eliminate or reduce certain foods to allow my body to heal quicker.
- Weight isn’t everything. I’m seeing improvements to my health and that’s absolutely the main thing!
With those in mind I’m going to keep on truckin’ and keep tweaking, changing, learning, evolving and most importantly, simplifying.
That’s the only ‘negative’ I’ve experienced and it’s really not that bad anyway! I do now need to simplify my semi-carnivore approach even more because I’m still experiencing symptoms I’ve had for a long time that have only budged a little during my recent clean eating month, and need to go for good!
What are those?
- Pimples (OMG I’m 36, can I be done with acne already?!)
- Up and down mood with small bouts of depression
- Tiredness (I felt awesome in my clean month and now I’m back to feeling fairly tired most of the time. Not cool)
- Lack of brain function and focus (again, during my clean month I felt so clear and focused. But that’s since passed)
And of course I want to reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, feel good all the time, the usual goals we all have!
To be honest, my time eating carnivore has been pretty straight forward. At the start it was a little rough on my digestion (possibly too much fat) but I overcame this with reducing fat consumption, especially roast chicken drippings which I tend to have a lot of from the pan after we’ve roasted a whole chook for dinner, and end up needing to go to the toilet pretty quickly shortly after.
When my diarrhoea was extreme I needed to take some digestive enzymes before eating which made a huge difference and I no longer need to take them which is great.
My mood and general outlook on life has improved and I can notice the difference with anxiety when I eat something sugary. I get easily anxious and worried when I eat high-sugar foods. Good to know!
When I stray too far off clean carnivore eating I get pretty tired and need to nap during the day but when I’m sticking closely to it I feel really good all day, even after getting up at 3am and working on a farm for 6-hours.
My weight has stayed the same, however since starting carnivore I have lost approximately 6 cm from my waist and gained muscle weight which tells me my muscles are getting denser and larger from the extra protein I’m having, plus with basic natural movement exercise I’ve increased which has neither been intense or drawn out over a long period of time, just fun and enjoyable. I never end a workout feeling so tired and sore I can’t get much out of the rest of the day, I always feel like I can go back later and do more. Which is how it should be.
I do, like Aimee, have a few symptoms I’d like to get rid of in 2020. They include dry scalp and sometimes under my beard, pimples mostly on my back, muscle tension and anxiety.
These have all gotten a lot better when I’ve eaten really clean but I’d like to see if I can get rid of them long-term.
So I’ll continue the way I’m going with my natural movement workouts.
Eating has been simple and I am not too worried about the lack of variety. I’ve always enjoyed eating really simple meals and often just feel like having meat and eggs. So I’m glad that’s been working well for me and is a good option in general.
I’m looking forward to the next phase!
What have we actually been eating over the last few months? We’re always asked about what we eat on a daily basis so let’s go into it!
Brekkie tends to be a 150g beef mince or been mince/liver/kidney patty (was 120g but we didn’t feel full for long enough and read that maybe more protein and less fat was ok for a while), 2 pastured egg yolks or whole eggs, a bit of suet, Ghee-daise or plain ghee, lots of salt and usually after drinking a glass of Sole first. Then a black, strong, organic coffee with collagen powder after for Aimee, and a collagen water or hot cocoa/water/stevia for Clint.
Lunch and dinner are just meat of some kind; often free-range chicken (not ideal), beef, seafood, kangaroo, pork (only occasionally, we don’t have access to good pork here sadly), venison. We usually add a bit of suet or ghee and sometimes have 1-2 eggs with meals.
Sometimes we make Eggoodles or an Egg Pancake which is basically just eggs, water and pure grass-fed beef gelatin powder combined and cooked.
We were also adding in bone broth and other offal cuts some days.
This is typically how we eat 4-5 days a week and definitely eased up for more days each week than we’d originally intended to. We really should only be having 1 ‘off’ day per week but with socialising, hosting events, travelling to visit family, both having low will power and big sweet tooth’s… we didn’t stick to that plan too well! BUT having said that, we still didn’t eat much in the way of veggies and fruit and we know that’s helped us.
We do not miss cooking and eating veggies. Not one bit! Life is so much better without veggies!
Come winter time we’ll probably say on occasion “oh some roasted pumpkin and carrot would be nice right now” but that’s about it. Meal times hold absolutely no stress. We can cook a piece of meat, add a bit of fat, maybe cook an egg, and a dish is done. Veggie prep and cooking is just so damn time consuming and boring.
Especially because we know cooked veg are healthier and easier for the body to process. We couldn’t just whip up quick salads, we were having to cook most of our veggie meals. Now, there’s none of that! On ‘off’ days if I want to cook something else that I enjoy like my homemade tomato sauce, a bushfoods dish, paleo mayonnaise, green banana flour dishes etc I would and that’s ok, I’ll always do that. But I feel for the majority of my week my eating needs to be even more simple than it has been on this semi-carnivore journey so far.
Think about how humans would be able to eat in a totally, fully, completely natural environment; we wouldn’t have access to the HUGE variety of foods we do today, nor would we have the quantity of food available to us on a daily basis that we have now, we wouldn’t be eating foods made up of large quantities of different types of foods, we’d be eating in alignment to nature (with dirt, ash etc on our food. Not almost sterilised overly-hygienic environments), we’d have to work for our food with hunting, gathering, processing and cooking and we’d be eating outdoors and in tribes. Not indoors in solitude.
Our modern lifestyle is not conducive to how we naturally need to eat and live. And in a time when we’re over-exposed to and affected by harmful toxins, we experience chronic stress and sickness, we’re spending loads of time using and being surrounded by harmful tech devices and frequencies, and we’re more isolated even though we’re often living in more densely populated areas, it doesn’t make sense to be overwhelming our body’s with more food, more supplements, more synthetic materials, more toxins and more general confusion. The more we add the harder it is for us to deal with and utilise.
It DOES make sense for us to simplify things. Our food, our environment, our thoughts, our activities.
What’s our next step?
Well January happens to be World Carnivore Month and, if done properly, is an epic clean-up and good opportunity to use it as a type of ‘elimination diet’ and simplification period which would be good for us because we’d love to find out if some not-so-obvious foods we regularly eat are causing us some problems. Plus cut out definite we-know-about-but-easily-ignore problematic foods and ingredients.
The eating plan for the month consists of:
- Red meat (muscle meat and offal)
- Good salt
- Beef bone broth and gelatin
That’s it! So, no eggs, no coffee (which I know is a problematic one for me), no white meat like chicken, no seafood, no tea, no alcohol.
If you’d said to me 6 months ago we’d be doing a full-on carnivore diet month we’d have said you were insane! We thought it was such an unhealthy experiment and wouldn’t have considered trying it ourselves. But the more we learn, the more we realise the less we need to do.
We’re going to do this high-level carnivore program for 3 weeks instead of 4 because we have Australia Day celebrations planned for the weekend of 25-26 January and want to enjoy a few of our favourite foods and drinks with friends (minimally of course), then continue a really basic carnivore approach after that but play around with adding foods back in for periods of time to see how they effect us. For example … eggs.
Many long-term carny’s report they feel better eating mostly just red meat, eggs never or rarely, clean animal fats, no or minimal animal milk/cheese, lots of salt and water. It’s really not natural for humans to have access to and be consuming chicken eggs regularly. And eggs can trigger an inflammatory response in many people. So it’ll be interesting to see how we go eliminating then bringing them back in.
White meat animals are fed so much crap, it’s no wonder people often feel better without consuming them. Whereas red meat animals such as grass-fed organic cattle and lamb (and in Australia kangaroo) are fed only grass varieties and produce cleaner, more bioavailable and natural nutrients for humans to consume and benefit from.
So for the next 3 weeks we’re going hardcore carnivore. Then we’ll go back to carn-omnivore (our made-up label to show that we’re mostly carnivore but still omnivores!) but simpler and more basic.
Tracking will be key for us throughout this next phase. We need to journal our experiences and gain better understanding of our health so we have better control over it.
We wouldn’t recommend just anyone embarks on a strict month of carnivore eating to begin with, it’s a huge stretch for most people. Basic carnivore though could be the way to go.
If you do want to join World Carnivore Month register HERE.
Coming up in the future blogs:
- how the hardcore 3-week carnivore eating went
- is eating meat ethical?
- bio-availability and what it means
- other lifestyle factors equally, if not more, important than just what we eat
- grass-fed vs grain fed and other meat/ protein comparisons
- + more!