Disclaimer: I have found no scientific, academic, peer-reviewed research in favor of the diet I'm about to describe. Everything I've read has been anecdotal. This is in no way an informed recommendation, and I'm not a trained nutritionist or dietician.
In fact, I've only ever always done diets the wrong way. I'm a fat guy. My diet up until college was mostly southern soul food. My nana and my mom are damn fine cooks. In college, I experimented and expanded my palette. I liked pretty much everything.
I would go through periods of intense eating—whole bags of chips and whole pizzas, four or five sushi rolls, six or seven sodas—followed by intense fasts, two or three days a week. Gorge, purge, gorge, purge.
In my junior year of college, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes. My grandfathers both had diabetes as well. It was a wake-up call. I read The China Study and a couple of other books about the reversal of diabetic symptoms using a vegan diet, and decided to go vegan.
I had a professor who went vegan and lost over a hundred pounds the year before. He mentored me and we meal-prepped together. With accountability, a cafeteria salad bar, and a gym in my dorm building, it was easy to get fit.
I lost 80 pounds in a little under two semesters. Granted, as a vegan I was eating nowhere near the amount I had eaten before, on a regular basis. So the weight loss can just as easily be attributed to a calorie cut.
Veganism was fine—I have no major complaints about it at all. It prompted me to think outside the box, and I ended up learning to cook some amazing meals. One criticism, I guess, is that I ended up eating a lot of carbs. A lot of french fries.
And I developed hypothyroidism, which my doctor attributed to too much broccoli (I was eating a cup of raw broccoli each day to get plenty of veggie proteins).
And after moving back home and entering the workforce (working 40-60 hours a week and finishing school in night classes), veganism was unsustainable. Too much work.
When I started eating meat again, and allowed myself fast food again, and dairy again, I gained all that weight back and more. It didn't help that I took an office job and stopped working out everyday. I lived pretty much a sedentary lifestyle.
Fast-forward six years. It's 2017 and I'm working from home, I'm sitting throughout the day, and I'm eating junk. At 300 pounds, sweaty and huffing to get up the stairs, and completely dehydrated, I decided to make a change.
One turning point for me: I took this photography job where I had to hike up this mountain to get a great view of the city. I had to get there as the sun was setting, but I left late, and huffing it up this hill, I got totally gassed. Nearly passed out. It was awful.
On the way back down the mountain my flashlight broke, so I'm using my cellphone light to try to get around in the woods. I got lost and ended up way off course.
At 300 pounds and strapped with camera gear, and having packed no water, I accidentally ended up hiking over 10 miles. When I got back to the car, I was breathing so hard I nearly had a panic attack.
After that night I partnered with my old college roommate Rilo, and he started training me. Only, I didn't change my diet up at all, so I made no progress for the first three months. I quit on him. I blamed him, in a way, but it was all my fault.
In March of this year, 2018, I realized I'm turning 30 in 500 days. My hair is starting to thin. The red in my beard is fading to gray. I'm not getting any younger. My grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes at age 35 and has been insulin-dependent ever since. 35 is six and a half years away.
If I have to be old and gray, I don't wanna also be fat and out of breath and dependent on $1,000 shots of Toujeo every month like my dad, or all the insulin my grandfather has to take. So I started to diet. I wasn't ready to get back in the gym, not yet.
In May, my dad and mom asked me to come help them clear out the landscaping around their front porch, as they were starting construction on the house. They're adding a new master bedroom suite, keeping room, and a larger front porch.
I ended up doing all of the work, and rightly so, as my dad and mom are both having issues of their own. Afterward I remember going into their bathroom to wash up, and looking at myself in the mirror.
After hauling all of those heavy bricks and rocks around, my arms were huge, and my traps at my neck were enormous as well! I realized that Rilo was building muscle on and that I just didn't see progress because of all the fat.
Seeing myself like that, strong and capable, got me got excited for more. So I went back to the gym with Kyle and we started hitting it hard. I am on month number two. I've been building muscle and now we're shedding fat—I've lost 25 pounds these last two months.
The diet has definitely helped.
Now that you know the full backstory, here's the diet that I'm doing. And again, heed the disclaimer above.
I'm eating only beef, salt, and water. Only rib eye steak, specifically, and occasionally some plain beef jerky. Far from vegan, right? Before you go saying I'm a total nutcase, let me explain myself.
First off, the ideas that red meat causes a spike in cholesterol and a lack of fiber, that it sits in your gut and is undigestable—that's all been debunked.
Secondly, beef contains balanced diet right inside itself. Flip the food pyramid upside-down. I get a little bit of carbs and a ton of protein, healthy fats, minerals, and sodium.
My body's energy source is fat now—a state called ketosis—so I'm no longer on the up-down-up-down roller-coaster of sugars and carbs.
I'm seldom hungry. Meat is super filling.
I'm spending way less money on groceries.
I'm eating clean, grass-fed, pasteur-raised, happy cows thanks to ButcherBox (not sponsored)!
There's nothing to ever think about. Buy steak, cook steak, eat steak, drink water.
I've taken a multivitamin for years, but about a month ago I broke out into rashes all over my body. I stopped taking the multivitamin and I've been fine since. My skin and hair look and feel healthier. No need for a multivitamin at all on the carnivore diet.
I take medicine for my thyroid and for seasonal affective disorder, but others who have done the carnivore diet have been able to cycle off of their medications. If I choose to cycle off of those things I'll do so with the partnership of my doctor.
I plan to have blood tests done at three months into this diet. I had a blood test before the diet and I'm anxious to compare results.
This is the first diet I've ever done that I've been able to do well. And stick with. No stops and starts, no roller-coaster eating and purging, no binging anymore. That, in and of itself, is saying a lot.
There are a ton of great resources on carnivore diets out there, but again, no hard science just yet.
The academic papers that show increased consumption of meat leading to higher cholesterol and higher rates of heart disease were not conducted on carnivore dieters—those people were eating more meat and all the sugars and carbs as well.
The eminently interesting Dr. Jordan Peterson has taken up this diet with his daughter, and is one year in. He reports that his eyesight has improved and his depression is gone. He also claims that the carnivore diet reversed his daughter's autoimmune disorder.
Again, this is all anecdotal. I don't expect a simple dietary change to be a magic pill for all that ails me. But search it out, read some stories, and consider it. It's literally the most minimalistic diet out there, which, you know me—you know how that does my brain good.
Here are some resources:
Biohacker's Lab (an interview with Dr. Shawn Baker)
Nutrition Advance (a bit of a counter-argument)
Mikhaila Peterson's blog
Joe Rogan Podcast (an interview with Dr. Jordan Peterson)
Joe Rogan Podcast (Ben Greenfield, another counter-argument)