Ketogenic Diet

Carnivore January Experiment – My Impressions

Well, it’s Feb 2, the groundhog has not seen his shadow and spring is right around the corner. And for the last 2 days, I have not been 100% carnivore. Only about 95%…

It’s actually hard to think about messing with the absolute peace that I have been experiencing on this way of eating. I have had a small amount of low carb vegetable intake at supper only for the past 2 days, mainly because I’m away from home, visiting in another home. No intolerance issues at all – GI tract continues to function pretty well as it was during the past month. In particular, I had about a half cup of roasted cauliflower the first evening, served with a beef short rib tomato sauce (about 1/4 cup) and Parmesan cheese. It wasn’t filling enough and I had about a half of a cold beef burger later in the evening.

The second night, I made a large Caesar salad with bacon, Parmesan, olive oil, anchovy paste, and of course Romaine lettuce. I ate about 1 1/2 cups, probably half of what my usual amount would be. Along with New York strip steak done in a sous vide, then seared. That’s the sum total of my plant food intake since New Years…

I’m feeling like this might be the pattern for February. Mostly carno, with a side of low carb veggies at the supper meal with my husband. I don’t see myself going back to very high vegetable content meals such as “keto eggroll in a bowl” or cauliflower “mac and cheese” bake. I’m really happy with meat, eggs, poultry or fish/seafood. A soup bowl full of large shrimp sauteed in generous garlic butter is absolutely heavenly. Cheese stuffed “meat muffins” make a highly satiating lunch that travels to work easily, reheats in a minute, and keeps me satisfied until supper.

What have I learned and experienced in the last month? What makes carnivore eating different than Keto? Well, lots, it turns out. I wasn’t expecting it to be so different, but it was…

Here’s my rundown of the top benefits and downsides:

  1. Satiety. OMG! The satiety of eating this way is something that I have never really experienced before. It comes from the concept of feasting then fasting. Eating until full on protein rich foods, well lubricated with either their own fat or added fat in the form of butter, bacon grease or beef tallow. I have started saving the grease in the pan after cooking burgers, pouring it into a little ramekin, chilling in the fridge, then use to cook eggs. It adds a richness of flavour that eggs have never had before. Within 2 days of starting full carnivore, the desire to snack between meals was entirely gone. Amazing.
  2. The feasting part is important for the fasting part to work. There were several days when supper was a little light and I was hungry (truly stomach hungry at 9 or 10 pm). A single meat muffin (2 oz beef, about 1/2 oz cheese) was enough to scratch that itch and I was fine again until noon the next day.
  3. Variety was still nice, but not necessary. I ate a variety of different meats, mostly because I was still cooking for my husband. So we had dinners of beef roast, steak, burgers, lamb, pan-fried salmon, shrimp, chicken, Cornish hen, leftover Christmas goose and goat sausages. I could easily eat the same thing for several nights in a row, but hubby is not like that. And I cooked vegetables for him, although I made it easy on myself by buying some pre-made salads and batch cooking so that there were leftovers.
  4. When going for satiety, three eggs is the magic number for me. Who knew? I’ve eaten two eggs at a time my whole life. But by eating three with a small amount of accompanying meat or cheese, I would be full for hours. I would mix the eggs with either full fat sour cream or heavy cream, add salt, pepper and a generous pinch of dill (really – it’s a game-changer!), and scramble softly in a tablespoon of animal fat. Between the eggs, the high fat dairy and the added frying fat, it’s a perfect mix of moderate but adequate protein and lots of fatty satisfaction. In a beautiful, creamy, softly yellow mound.
  5. Hardcore carnivores will restrict themselves to only beef, salt (a mineral) and water. Okay, maybe the rare someone needs that level of restriction for their health, but from my perspective, it smacks of religious extremism and some sort of self-professed superiority to be able to restrict yourself so much. Carnivores are being accused of the same quasi-religious elitism as extreme vegans, and this is unfortunate. I believe that there’s a real benefit to removing most plant matter from one’s diet, but the reasoning is based in science and biology, not religiosity. And there are a multitude of shades of grey in this diet. I personally used coffee, tea, herbal teas, lemon slices in soda water, pepper, herbs, garlic and a bit of red wine for meat marinade. I was still Carnivore…
  6. Eating out in a restaurant is not too hard with this restriction. I ate out twice. A supper with friends at a schnitzel house was handled by ordering a bunless homemade burger. The accompanying salad (in place of potatoes) was eaten by my husband. I ordered all the meat toppings (bacon, cheese), put the onion ring and lettuce aside, and chowed down. It was just fine. Club soda with lemon on the side. The other time was a breakfast – simple! Three egg omelet with two kinds of cheese inside and an order of bacon on the side. No toast or fried potatoes, thanks.
  7. Eating out at friend’s houses is a bit trickier, but not impossible. I was out at friends several times in the last month. Luckily, none was a lasagna and garlic bread event. If there were appetizers, there was usually a cheese or meat component that I could at nibble at without adding crackers. For the main course, there was always a meat entree that I could concentrate on. I would explain what I was doing for the month, generating some interesting conversation re plant toxins and nutrient bioavailability. The only potential problem might happen would be looking for more than a “normal” person’s amount of meat, but since these were company meals, there were usually extra servings made. No dessert for me – just keep sipping on the lemon water, or have tea or coffee. Keep the conversation lively and nobody noticed or fussed. My friends are pretty used to me, especially after being strict keto all last winter…
  8. Prepping vegetables takes a freaking lot of time! Washing, peeling, chopping, grating, steaming, sauteing – what a pile of work and mess! Contrast that with the following: pull a piece of meat out of the wrapping, possibly chop up, season with salt, pepper, possibly herbs, plop into cooking vessel (frying pan, baking pan, Instant Pot, crock pot) and walk away. The most labour intensive thing that I did carnivore-wise all month was to mix up ground beef with egg and seasonings and mould them around cheese cubes to make my meat muffins. Cooking carnivore required planning ahead to have meat thawed, or at least a dinner planned in my head (otherwise it was eggs…), but the actual process of meal prep was minimal. So much time freed up!
  9. Shopping is also super uncomplicated. A butcher shop visit to stock up on basics like a 10 lb box of ground beef, plus a stop at my local fish shop after work once a month, plus a fast cruise around the outside of my grocery store. Nothing goes bad in the bottom of the fridge. My dairy accompaniments were cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan and feta cheese, full fat sour cream and heavy cream.

All in all, a good experience. Not a difficult experience. Sometimes the toughest part was assuring friends and co-workers that I haven’t gone crazy or joined a cult. I would assure them that Carnivore was a real thing and that I was doing an experiment that had an endpoint on Jan 31. Next post, I will go into my personal results – weight, labs, energy, etc. Stay tuned…