As you well know, I'm very interested in nutrition and diet differences, and have dabbled in many different WOE's (Ways of Eating). I started reading some interesting blogs about a “Zero Carb Diet”, basically a keto diet on steroids! The zero carb diet can be even more effective than a plain ol' keto diet for those that are very insulin resistant (I just raised my hand), have extreme metabolic issues such as PCOS (yep), digestive issues (check) such as IBS or Crohn's or who have a disease that needs treated such as cancer or epilepsy.
What completely intrigued me first was an account of a family that ONLY eats beef and drinks water and takes no supplements of any kind. They are the Andersens and you can read their story here. My mind was blown a bit when I read this, but I was pretty skeptical, so I had to find more ‘evidence' that others have done this same WOE. I found a reddit subforum called zero carb, and also some other interesting blogs of people like me (very insulin resistant even without the presence of diabetes) who have benefited from this WOE for YEARS on end. They have continued to eat ONLY MEAT even after losing their weight because they feel so good. They don't even consider eating cake on their birthday, or a bite of anything on holidays.
What is a Zero Carb Diet?
A zero carb diet is keto simplicity itself. The premise is that humans do not need plant matter as food. Fiber is not needed and fat is good for you, and you don't even need fiber to poop properly. As paleo and keto eaters, we always knew that animal fats are good for us, but we also have a heavy reliance on plant foods. The zero carb camp believes that some people are so insulin resistant that even small bits of carbs from plants do not help break the carb cycle, but continues it. If you eat a paleo or keto diet and still have cravings (I'm raising my hand again), this could apply to you. Their logic is that for us to eat ANY sort of carbs from plant sources is like an alcoholic trying to only drink one glass of beer, or a cocaine addict practicing moderation with their drug of choice – it just doesn't make practical sense.
Technically the phrase ‘zero carb' is a misnomer, because even beef and eggs have nominal amounts of carbs in them, as well as full fat dairy. Purists in this WOE eat meat only (no dairy or eggs) and drink water only. Others just avoid all plant derived foods.
Zero Carb is Simple
I have to admit, the simplicity aspect of zero carb is very appealing to me. There's not a lot of complexity to this WOE and decision-making, meal prep and shopping time are greatly reduced. Also it's not a lot more expensive than a paleo or even standard American Diet because there's very little (if any) food waste. Any meat not eaten can be saved for another meal, and you don't have any issues with using produce in time. Meat can be bought in bulk and frozen so you can shop for the best prices. Many people do not even buy grass-fed or pastured meats (not sure yet how I feel about that).
Here are some interesting notes on Zero Carb Eating. It's important to not overthink this:
- If in doubt, eat beef until satisfied, and drink water
- When you're hungry, eat meat/fat.
- Don't count calories or carbs or anything else – listen to what your body needs and feed it from animal sources only.
- Eat fatty untrimmed steaks and meats. Eating the fat with your meat is important for satiety and also nutrition.
- The nutrition that isn't in meat, you can get in egg yolks.
- FOOD IS FUEL – not entertainment. (Ok I have to admit this one hurts!)
My Zero Carb Diet Challenge
I'm not convinced yet, so I'm willing to give this my all for 30 days to see what this is all about. So for 30 days from April 6, 2015 I will eat only animal foods:
- Meat – beef, pork, chicken, fatty fish, bacon, lamb, turkey (and their broth, if I want it)
- Eggs – chicken or duck
- Animal Fats – tallow, lard, bacon grease, duck fat, chicken skin, butter
- Limited amounts of Full Fat Dairy: 40% heavy whipping cream, real cultured sour cream with no additives or thickeners, and of course grass-fed butter.
- Use limited herbs and spices and taste nothing sweet – not even once. The theory is that tasting something sweet, even if it's sugarless gum keeps the brain addicted. Unprocessed salt is fine.
- THAT'S IT FOLKS! No veggies (even low carb), coconut, nuts, or plant foods of any kind, even oils!
Moving from a Ketogenic Diet to Zero Carb
Since I was eating a keto diet prior to this point, this experiment will be interesting. I'm already used to low carb and high fat eating, and I normally stay under 30 net carbs per day. However with zero carb, I will be most likely under 10 total grams of carbs per day. I have been moving toward counting total grams instead of net carbs for awhile, but this will still be a change to me of at least 20 grams less of carbs a day (if not more).