As I step onto the scale, I notice that I’m down 4lb in two days. I also notice a surging energy pulsing through every inch of my body.
Today, I felt more energetic than I’ve ever felt in the gym. I dumbbell bench pressed the most weight I’ve ever done — without a spotter. Not even safe, I don’t think.
The strange thing is, I don’t have any carbohydrates [or veggies] in me.
Normally, my favorite pre-workout meal is a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It has a bunch of sugar/carbs to amp me up for a powerhouse workout on-demand. Combine that with a little caffeine and I can snap into my workout “flow” on demand.
But today’s different. I ate two steaks seared in a deep puddle of butter for my first meal at noon. At 5PM, 4 eggs sunny-side up, floating in butter once again, paired with 4 slices of bacon.
For breakfast? Two cups of bulletproof coffee: an electrifying combination of butter, stevia and coffee whipped up to a latte-like affect.
Now, if you think I’m crazy, well you’re probably right. If you’re a vegan, I don’t even know if I recommend finishing this story.
I’ve been on the “Carnivore Diet”
That’s day 3 from my journal you just read. As I research new methodologies to share in my Absolute Athlete program, this one certainly intrigues me.
Today I’ve been on the diet, if you can call it that — for 9 days. I’d intended to do a 2-week experiment. At this point, I’m expecting to do a month or more.
Nothing but meat and animal products.
Let’s back pedal a little bit. Why in the world would someone actively consume fat and protein, and remove veggies and basically everything else we know to be “healthy”?
Some of my initial concerns when learning about the diet were:
· How will it affect my cholesterol?
· Will I have explosive / intense energy in the gym without carbs?
· Am I going to feel like there’s a brick in my stomach?
My friend who shared it with me, reported it as so (edited for privacy/decency):
Based on a friend’s results and his mind-blowing before/after pics, I reluctantly agreed to try (with an accountability partner to join me).
According to other people who’ve tested this, here’s what people generally try this diet out, “Why? For many of the same reasons people try a ketogenic diet: weight loss, clearer thinking, fewer digestive problems, and a simple approach to eating that lets them consume foods they enjoy. It may also offer performance benefits. Though scrapping all plant foods seems like a severe step, it instantly removes nearly all of the allergens and antinutrients that some people find cause health problems and discomfort, and, as with ketogenic diets, the lack of carbs alone can offer a range of advantages.” — Borrowed from Sean Hyson’s post on Onnit.com.
It’s really quite simple — eat only meat and some animal products, every day, all day until you decide to change diets.
Here are the permitted foods (I’ve eaten within these guides except no cheese):
- Red meat: beef, pork, lamb, wild game
- White meat: chicken, turkey, fish, seafood
- Organ meat: liver, kidneys, tongue, bone marrow, heart, brain
- Eggs: chicken eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs
- Dairy: heavy cream, cheese, butter, ghee
I also drink bulletproof coffee instead of eating breakfast, and eat at noon (similar to intermittent fasting). I opted out of cheese.
To put it gently, I’ve been proactive about consuming fat. I guess you could say I’m low-key trying to achieve ketosis.
My Daily Recaps
- Day 1) Excited, energetic, not really noticing the fact I have no carbs for brain food
- Day 2) Still energetic — actively notice no afternoon slump. In fact, I don’t take a power nap either as I normally do prior to the gym. I go to the gym and have the most energy I’ve ever had.
- Day 3) Ridiculous sugar cravings killing my focus. Low energy, very tired, grumpy.
- Day 4) Energy begins to resurface. My ketone test says trace amounts are present. I up meat consumption.
- Day 5) Everything feels normal, moderate hunger causing a few mental distractions. Overall, very consistent and high energy without having to actively think about energy. No afternoon coffee on any of these days except 1.
- Day 6) The new eating pattern seems normal, eating three to four only-meat meals per day. Loading up fat and protein. Energy is about the same as day 2, 5 — high and consistent. A bit of eagerness to cheat. So, I do a cheat meal — Korean BBQ (Gyu Kaku!).
- Day 7) Cheat meal is quickly digested and a huge relief to eat. Although it seems to have slightly set me back fat-burning wise — this may be mental.
- Day 8) high, consistent energy levels (still drinking coffee daily). Hunger is manageable, energy isn’t a “thing”.
- Day 9) Feels like any other day in the neighborhood.
I’m going to unpack the results and insights in 3 portions and provide as much empirical data as I have for each of my findings.
Physical Results of the Carnivore Diet
The first thing I noticed was almost immediate fat loss on my sides. By day 3, there is visibly less fat around my lower abs as well.
When I was running [the Santa Monica Stairs on day 2], I did notice a few things.
One, targeted pain areas felt like fat was literally burning in real time — small areas that felt like a pinching sensation. Endurance was lower. Although this could be due to the fact it was very hot and I ran out of water about 15 minutes into the 1.5hr workout.
I didn’t empirically measure results like skin clearing up or complexion improving. These seemed to improve a little bit, but I also was trying a new face wash so that could’ve coincided.
However, there are several clear physical differences: less belly fat, less oblique (side) fat, and maintained muscle size on arms/chest (further validated by strength at the gym). I didn’t go down in strength for any workouts, which was a byproduct of my last diet experiment — intermittent fasting.
After conducting a bodyscan at my gym, clocking in at 3.5% bodyfat, down from around 5%. Will edit this post and add the photo as soon as I find the results print out after this travel.
While I never trust these machines — it did embark a few thoughts on my mind. One — this is a very advanced body scanner (in an Equinox), not a handheld $25 one from Amazon. Secondly, whether 5% or 3% are accurate or not is less important to me than the trended view. Did I lose fat or muscle over time? Assuming the machine’s margin of error is consistent over time.
For those of you interested in ketosis, I took a ketone test and only had trace amounts of ketones (day 4). I expect that either 1) I hadn’t been going long enough or 2) the meat is being converted to glucose by my body and I’m simply eating too much protein and not enough fat.
This area I’m going to equate to “energy” for the purpose of this post. I’ve found, when we’re energetic, we’re happy. When we have focus, we achieve things — also making us feel “happy”. So, the mental results generally equate to happiness for me.
Being a slightly less measurable concept, mental energy can be subject to placebo effect. But based on my immediate recollection:
Energy levels are high and consistent, while hunger can be a bit of a distraction or rationalization tool. “Oh if I just had some carbs I’d feel more energetic”.
I did notice more mental clarity — the ability to focus.
However, I’ve been intermittent fasting for 2 years now, and imagine I’ve gained most of the mental benefits. A newcomer would likely experience much more drastic mental performance changes.
I expected strength / size to be the biggest price I had to pay.
Thankfully, and surprisingly, that’s not the case at all. In fact, I noticed a marked difference in testosterone which made me more willing to try more weight on each workout.
I felt like the hulk pacing around the gym with a furious tone about me. Not intentional — just intensity. Purportedly from the amino acids in the meat stimulating testosterone (as I’ve been told).
All large muscle groups either stayed similar or increased in strength. Which signifies to me that any carb depletion is being subsidized by protein converted to glucose (Talk to your doctor if you really want to know. I don’t claim to know the scientific / anatomical explanation.) And the protein that isn’t converted to glucose is being synthesized into new muscle effectively.
Other remarks around my experience with the carnivore diet
· How will it affect my cholesterol?
→ Seeing my doctor for another analysis soon (was analyzed just a week before, so I have a good bench mark). As I’ve researched, it appears the opposite effect happens — bad fats actually go down. Feel free to ask me in two weeks and I’ll share.
· Will I have explosive energy in the gym without carbs?
→ I definitely have MORE energy/testosterone in the gym, and visibly more intensity/fury
· Am I going to feel like there’s a brick in my stomach?
→ Digestion has been fine. It’s actually much nicer than when I was consuming some carbs. It just feels as if you haven’t eaten. Light and airy — even on the days where I eat 1.5lb of chicken thighs.
The Synopsis — Will I continue?
As much as I love the results, I don’t think I’ll continue beyond a month or two. My reasons are as so:
1. It’s nearly impossible to “get lunch with a friend” or “go on a date”
3. Everything I own and my whole apartment smells like bacon or steak
4. There aren’t long term studies/analyses of this diet’s effect on inner health / cholesterol
5. I can get the results I want from doing slow carb + Intermittent fasting
There’s a high likelihood I’ll move to paleo after this is all over. Another diet I’ve never tried. From there, back to slow carb with intermittent fasting.
Alas, we must live, right? We can’t eat like total barbarians and have a happy life with a normal life (and relationships).
I also noticed that people can really make you feel bad for trying something unconventional. I don’t know I’d want to endure the criticisms long term.
If you’d like to know more about my experience, or to see my before/after pics — you can email me and my team at Absolute Athlete: hello (at) jonathanmaxim.me.
Hope you enjoyed,