ELAB has always supported a diversity of approaches with what I think of as the two blades of scissors: a low carb diet and intermittent fasting. As it happens, carnivore is an approach that fits.
I've watched some carnivore videos and read some web sites out of curiosity. I've had two episodes during my 13 months on ELAB when I craved protein strongly, so it interested me what these people do.
It seems to me that many have specific issues with plant foods, intolerance to oxalates or nightshades or other components of plant foods.
Also, many began keto, got 80% of their health improvement from that, but got the final 20% of the benefit from going carnivore.
It also seems especially helpful for some folks with autoimmune disorders.
Dr. Ken Berry is carnivore and his wife seems to be about 80-90% carnivore also; she calls it ketovore.
I recommend Dr. Berry highly even if you've no interest in carnivore specifically; he does a lot of videos on keto generally and is a very good source of information.
Honestly, it would not work for me. In my lottery fantasy, I could eat prime rib every day, but I'd definitely want mushrooms and onions on it.
I also wouldn't get the satiation provided by the RBS, which I can achieve for about 1000-1200 calories/day and I'm literally *stuffed*. Whereas if I were eating sausage, bacon and eggs cooked in lots of butter, I could easily eat 3000-4000 calories/day. I'm a big eater!
When I have craved protein and eaten larger amounts, my bG has gone up. My bG meter doesn't "agree" with more protein. It's not a terrible increase, my normal average is around 85, and it goes up to 100-110, not exactly a horrible bG to run for a few days to satisfy a craving. But I suspect I couldn't tolerate carnivore on a regular basis.
Finally, I get much joy and satisfaction from gardening, and none of the seed catalogs carry cow or pig seeds.
Recently, a very precious friend of mine told me he was no longer prediabetic. Because I hang out here, and am accustomed to people *improving* their health, I misunderstood for a moment. But it became clear that what he meant was he had received the dreaded T2 diagnosis.
I've known him for over 3 decades and nagged him about eating more vegetables the entire time; in fact, it's a standing joke between us that my job is to nag him to eat more veg.
He wanted to know what to do as he knows I've reversed my diabetes, but realistically, I just didn't think the RBS would be a sustainable way of eating for him. He might *try* to do it for a while, but you just can't *make* yourself eat something because it's good for you. I know, I've tried to eat liver many, many times - I can't do it.
And I don't want him to go blind, wind up on dialysis, get amputated into a wheelchair or die of a heart attack, so... my thoughts turned to carnivore for him.
If you're not frankly diabetic, this still applies; most who are overweight have insulin resistance (IR) and the only real difference between IR and diabetes is one of degree and time. ALL of it gets fixed by massively reducing insulin.
So I put together some advice from him, both my own advice on trying carnivore, and advice I solicited from other bears, and provided that to him. And then I asked Amanda if it was OK to post a carnivore FAQ essay, especially given we already have some vegan and vegetarian stuff and she said OK.
I've taken out the bits specific to my friend and rewritten my advice to be more general. When we spoke, we assumed he'd eat a big OMAD meal of meat at the end of each day after work, so that's where I'm coming from.
Many of the people who go from keto -> carnivore do so because it makes them feel better, because they have a bad reaction to something or other, nightshades or oxalates or something. Many seem to fix autoimmune issues.
So my suggestion is to pick a start date and go 100% carnivore for the first month. Odds are by the end you will be craving something, as tastes change significantly as you go along. And you can add back things one at a time and see how they make you feel or if your symptoms worsen.
1. The carnivore diet requires *fatty* meat. No boneless, skinless chicken breasts; the fattier, the better. This is *especially* true for diabetics, as excess protein converts to glucose via gluconeogenesis. You want the majority of your calories coming from fat, so eat that crispy chicken skin and pork chop fat! Save your bacon grease to cook your eggs in. Eat fat!
2. There is something called "keto flu" which happens when you switch from a high-carb diet to a low-carb diet. Your body has to ramp up all the enzymes to burn fat instead of carbohydrates, so feeling fatigued and vaguely poor is common until you've become "fat-adapted."
Brain fog, headache, dizziness, irritability, bad breath/smells, bad taste in mouth (metallic), dry mouth, cravings (sugar!), muscle soreness, jaw soreness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, poor focus, decreased performance, energy and drive, cramping, rapid heart rate, insomnia, night sweats, and nocturia (peeing a lot at night) are all common symptoms.
MOST of that is just from electrolyte issues, read this: https://www.reversingdiabetes.life/2019 ... lytes.html
If you have bad hypertension or edema when you start, *just* do the potassium in the main drink and just eat salt as you need to based on symptoms.
After the hypertension and edema are resolved, you can just do regular bought electrolytes; this product is good: https://www.reversingdiabetes.life/2019 ... lytes.html
Some symptoms seem to be a detox reaction though. There's any number of toxins stored in your liver and in fat. As they are released, they can make you sick; here's an article from a site I think well of: https://www.holtorfmed.com/what-is-a-he ... action.../
But even people in ketosis for long periods seem to get a secondary set of symptoms when they go carnivore; most common seems to be diarrhea, hot flashes and a return of cravings. Apparently, these resolve in a couple weeks.
3. Most people wind up eating 2-4 lbs meat/day. If I were going to try it for a month, which is what I'm recommending to you, I'd probably buy 60 lbs meat and just go until I needed to shop again - might last the whole month.
"Legal" on carnivore depends on your definition. The strictest ones just eat meat, salt and water. The more reasonable ones eat seafood, eggs and very high-fat dairy (butter, ghee, heavy whipping cream, hard cheese, sour cream); basically all the animal foods excluding low-fat dairy and honey.
Most of them seem to drink coffee, which doesn't make sense to me at all, but apparently is allowed by most. And while spices are allowed by many, herbs seem to be right out.
But given we're doing this for health purposes rather than because we've joined a food religion, just choose your rules and stick to them.
I'd use herbs if it were me, but then I'd also use mushrooms, garlic, onions, leeks, chard, mustard, bok choy, napa cabbage, okra, green and red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, radicchio and piles of lettuce. I'm not a carnivore kind of chick.
It seems to me that it's impossible to do carnivore healthily without organ meats. If you can't stand to eat liver a couple times a month, then buy these: https://amzn.to/2QFK5HP and take 2/day.
4. If I were going to do this, I'd proceed like this: buy about 35-45 lbs of big meat: a half ham (cured without sugar!), a pork shoulder/butt roast, a chuck roast, whole chicken and/or rack of ribs. Then about 10-20 lbs of burgers, sausage, (*just* meat and spices in the ingredients), steak, salmon and chops. 4 lbs bacon and 4 dozen eggs. "Snack" meat like jerky or pepperoni (without anything added beyond meat and spices), tuna pouches, canned seafood like sardines, oysters and clams. If you're not going to make your own, buy a few cartons of *real* bone broth (not "stock" or "broth"). And maybe a pound of hard cheese and a pound of pork rinds. And direct fat: butter (not margarine!), lard, tallow, etc. Personally, I'd use coconut oil too, but we've already determined I'm not a carnivore kind of chick.
On the weekend, I'd cook around 8-12 lbs of the big hunks of meat, a pound of bacon, and maybe boil a hard-dozen eggs. Investing a couple hours on the weekend means when you get home tired after work, you don't have to cook.
But if you're more energetic and bored with the other stuff, you can cook steak, chops, salmon or sausage. If you're bored *and* tired, you can cook burgers.
If you're too tired even for that, you can hit Wendys and get a couple triple burgers without the bun and condiments, just the 6 burger patties and cheese.
The canned stuff can fill-in when you have some leftovers, but are short for a whole meal.
Dried meat and pork rinds can be emergency snack foods; while you're better off not eating until your OMAD (one meal a day), if you need something to tide you over the first few days, that'll do.
No sauces except pan sauces made with broth, butter, spices, salt and pepper. I don't have recipes for this sort of thing, as I've never done carnivore, but Google is your friend; and there's a lot of carnivore web sites and Youtube channels out there.
4. WRT drinks, diabetes is primarily a liver disorder, that being where insulin resistance begins; most diabetics also have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. You're going to need to quit alcohol for the duration to let you liver rest and recover. Read the supplements FAQ which includes my recommendation for diabetes and liver support (mostly B vitamins and milk thistle).
Bone broth will be your main hot drink; salt to taste. Probably teas are OK as the vast majority of carnivores drink coffee, so I don't see how they'd object to teas.
The stricter people in ELAB, including Amanda, would tell you not to drink diet soda. There is research that artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin increase, but I've never seen it on my bG meter. So I tend to think they're OK, as long as they don't make you crave more sweets. Having taken away your booze, I'd cut myself some slack on diet soda.
I have mostly quit Diet Pepsi myself. But I didn't start out that way. I think when you're making major lifestyle changes, making them too overwhelming all at once can be discouraging. If you agree that quitting diet soda is a good thing, you can do it later.
Water and plain sparkling water are both OK in whatever amount you want.
5. Speaking of bG meters, you need one. I recommend you ask your doctor for a prescription for the Libre, if your insurance covers it; mine does with a $20 copay/month. If not that, whatever one your insurance covers is fine. Or there are cheap over-the-counter options. Read this about bG meters: https://www.reversingdiabetes.life/.../glucose-ketone...
6. Also be sure to read in the group FAQs, the essay by me welcoming T2 diabetics and the general T2 FAQ; lots of info there. LOTS!
Chuuwee eats mostly carnivore, loads of homemade bone broth, a bit of kimchi. She began it as an elimination diet, specifically to figure out which foods she reacts to.
"1. Don't just depends on the fat on the meat for your daily fat allowance. Eat extra fat such as Ghee, Butter, Tallow, Fat Trimmings or any other animal fat that falls under animal source. I recommend 3 tbsp minimum for each meal."
"2. Don't eat too much protein. Even for people like me that is not prediabetic gets headache from too many protein in 1 meal. For example I tried eating 2 pieces of 1/2 lbs steaks and they trigger my migraines, gimme hot flashes and shorter sleep than I like. When I get back to just 1 piece of steak about 1/2 lbs my hot flashes went away and my sleep was properly 7 hours as it should be."
But she is a tiny lady and eats 2 meals a day, so I assume a large man may need more protein than that. But the additional fat makes sense to me to prevent large insulin spikes.
Dwayne Britton doesn't eat much veggies and calls himself a ketovore. Search for his success story, he also lost weight *and* diabetes and is now in maintenance, doing two meals a day. His advice:
"Mornings I have five eggs cooked in butter and about four ounces of meat and cheese! For lunch, I have from eight to sixteen ounces of meat depending on how I feel and the type of meat!
"I found that all veggies give me lots of stomach and gut issues!
"I love ìt!"
"I live Ketovore. This allows me to have a salad once in a while, and to use more seasonings. But I seldom go over 5 total carbs a day. I always had stomach and bloating problems, until I cut out almost no veggies."
Anna Sul is not carnivore herself, she does copious veggies as I do. Her advice:
"It is possible that after a bit he might really want something else or to fast longer. Once insulin goes down our tastes sometimes change. I was surprised by that. You might warn him that if he suddenly starts craving something good for him he might need it. I have my carnivore moments. My shellfish moments. My nutritional yeast moments. My artichoke jags. Hobitty mushroom fests. My unexpected butter lettuce, arugula, parsley orgies. Maybe don't tell him the possibilities Lol Sounds too unlikely."
And she has a point. I never liked fermented foods except yogurt, but now throw dill pickles on my Big Mac salad and saurekraut on my Reuben salad. You may well discover you suddenly want mushrooms or onions with your steak, or suddenly crave a tomato.
I think it'd be best to go strictly carnivore for a month, just for the benefit of the elimination diet bit. It may well take several weeks to feel better, given the whole "keto flu" thing and you want to feel well when you start experimenting.
Anyway, my point is... you don't *have* to be wedded to carnivore. Some of these folks seem almost religious about it. As long as the veg you add isn't a root veggie or corn, you can add veg eventually if you want to.
As for fasting longer, I think you may want to, which will probably surprise you. *Fasting* is the key to reversing diabetes. OMAD will work, but longer fasts will work better.
Anyway, keto really reduces appetite; a lot of those who do extended fasts start it "accidentally," cause they just weren't hungry and skipped a meal.
Note: many diabetics who fast find their bG goes *up* - this is not a bad thing. It is your body dumping glycogen, the stored form of sugar. When it finishes dumping it, your bG will go down. Remember we are aiming to reduce *insulin*, not bG. When your liver is dumping glucose into your bloodstream, it's because your insulin is very low and the rise in bG is getting *rid* of sugar, so is a good thing.
Shon Neely Tetik, who also is not carnivore herself, said this:
"I will tell you, my friends here in Perry joined ELAB and they do not do salads or vegetables. They do low carb tortillas and beef/chicken/cheese. A lot. They do an occasional cooked vegetable. But as a couple they’ve lost like 140lbs I believe. They look amazing. So it is doable without vegetables or salads. And not even being totally carnivore. They do OMAD. Fasting is what is going to help him the most. But I don’t need to tell you that. You are the best. Hope he heeds your advice and does whatever it takes. Just seeing you might change his whole way of thinking."
I personally found low-carb tortillas spiked my bG all out-of-proportion to the carb count; I tried 3 different times. Perhaps I have a reaction to wheat, I dunno. Or maybe those folks just weren't as metabolically damaged as me. We're all individuals, and that's why you need a bG meter, to find out what affects *you.*
But yeah, Shon's right that the *fasting* is the thing. Autophagy happens during fasting, which is the bit where lysosomes within your cells "eat" all the malformed proteins and damaged organelles, using those bits to rebuild. <insert six-million-dollar-man theme here>
Fasting causes *profound* healing.
Most of what you will see on the group is about salads, or cooked veggie-heavy meals, because that's what Amanda did, and that's what most of our successful bears did following her lead.
But one of our core values is diversity in implementation as long as the two main bits are followed: a low carb diet and intermittent fasting. And no dessert pictures. So you can post and ask questions if you want.
Binge-watch Dr. Ken Berry; he has good advice generally. For a more scientific view of diabetes, watch Dr. Fung. And if you want to deep dive into these and much more science, listen to Dr. Peter Attia's podcast.
Filling your brain with this stuff keeps you going; one of *my* success factors is that Amanda made me a mod and thus made me be in the group daily. I have *never* stuck to a diet without cheating for a year; spending several hours/day with my brain filled with this stuff keeps me going. Feed your *brain* as well as your body.