Our minimalist experiments of the month were 1) trying the carnivore diet and 2) limiting screen time. Both were very rewarding. Let me tell you a bit more about the diet experiment for now.
The carnivore diet is trending in the low carb and keto communities and I thought it would be fun to try it. The hardcore version is eating meat and water only – no salt, no coffee or tea, no nothing except from unprocessed animal products. Some take it even further and refuse to cook the meat. I decided to include salt and butter in my trial, and I did cook the meat. Here is an interesting and well written article on the diet.
These are some results from my experiment:
- After the first couple of days, I was completely free of cravings.
- I felt satisfied and comfortably full for the entire month.
- After an initial week of adjustment, I experienced no bloating or other stomach problems, but bear in mind I was already on keto and thus fat adapted.
- I lost some excess water and body fat, but I’m not sure how much, since I don’t have a scale. I just notice my pants fit looser and my muscles are more defined.
- I sleep better.
The physical results are all good and well, but the most interesting parts of the carnivore experiment were psychological, or even spiritual. First and foremost, it was very relaxing not having to make choices. Oftentimes, I feel like my brain is hijacked by the neoliberal, consumerist emphasis on choosing what to eat and what to buy. During my carnivore month, food related choices were few and easy. The restrictions of the diet freed up a lot of time and energy. “Do I want a snack?” or “Should I have this?” or “What should I pick?” – these kinds of questions became redundant and I quickly changed my focus from food related everyday choices to other topics. I had a lot of time left since shopping, cooking and doing the dishes was much quicker than usual.
On a typical week, I went to the grocery store, picked up three kilos of pork ribs, some eggs and butter. I then went home and cooked about half of the ribs in the oven on low temperature for a few hours or even overnight. They were perfectly cooked and delicious every time, despite the lack of seasoning. After a few days, when I’d finished the first round of ribs, I repeated the process. I had eggs for breakfast as usual, and ribs for lunch and dinner. Some days I had ribs for breakfast as well, which was excellent.
I did make sure to eat some liver and heart once in a while to get vitamin C and a few other nutrients, although longtime carnivores claim that they don’t need vitamin C. They could be lying, bonkers or absolutely correct. It’s interesting to consider that the recommended daily values are modeled after the Standard American Diet (SAD) and may not necessarily apply to someone on carnivore diet.
I did worry about the social aspects of eating, but it turned out quite unproblematic. I had a few meals out during September, which was fine. I simply ordered meat and butter. When I was invited to friends for dinner I offered to bring my own food, but they were kind enough to cook carnivore meals for me. I also managed to buy food at the grocery store when travelling. Here is a nice, mackerel lunch on the train:
After a while, I got very tired of eating as much butter as I needed in order to get enough energy and stay in ketosis. I always eat a lot of butter on the keto diet, usually with mashed broccoli, in a rich stew or vegetable soup, but there is really no way to prepare it nicely on the carnivore diet. Therefore, I made a habit out of drinking a lot of fatty bone broth. Bone broth contains collagen and gelatin, which is supposedly excellent for skin, hair and joints – although, there seems to be no conclusive research supporting these claims. It certainly feels very comforting and wholesome and has been a warm, tasty and fragrant addition to my diet. My thighs look smoother after a few weeks of bone broth craze, but this could well be placebo or the result of the zero carb diet.
So, will I keep it up? I must admit I like the carnivore diet a bit too much to abort the experiment tomorrow, at the beginning of October. I might keep it up for another month. I’ll probably return to my usual, slightly less extreme ketogenic diet that includes leafy greens and some other vegetables come November. We’ll see.