The carnivore diet generally consists of eating only animal meat. For many, it includes other animal products that don’t raise blood sugar like cream and butter.
There are various reasons why people are doing this diet. Some are doing it because they’ve heard that it boosts physical performance and they want to see if it does that for them.
Some are doing it because it sounds appealingly primal. For these people, this sounds like a temporary fad diet.
Others, connected to Bitcoin, are doing it as a lifestyle statement of sorts protesting centralized banking and healthcare–or something like that. You’ll have to read more about it as I do not have an affiliation with this group.
One of the more common reasons I have found for people taking on such a limited diet is that they have ailments they are suffering from and are desperate to treat in a way that doesn’t include harsh drugs but rather work at the root of the problems. This is the camp I fall into.
I’ve been following this diet for several years out of curiosity as an objective observer. I’ve read claims of an all meat diet healing one’s gut and therefore being useful for those with multiple food allergies, sensitivities, and autoimmune conditions. The goal here is to heal and then reintroduce foods.
This past year I’ve had several months long bouts of fatigue and joint pain flares. These have happened over the last decade but the pain and duration of the flare-ups have been getting progressively worse. I’ve also developed some kind of dermatitis on my face and have psoriasis. Things get real when they happen to your face because you can’t hide it and you’re constantly reminded of it.
My doctor said that he could give me prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen but those can damage kidneys over time. He said he could give me steroids but those would raise my blood sugars. Neither option seems like a solution to me. I’m only 35 years old.
My kids have my genes and another motivation for me to figure out what might help autoimmune problems is to know what may work in the case my kids were to develop something.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
So anyway, I finally became fed up enough recently that I decided to find out if the diet could be tried without serious health consequences.
I did research on the topic of how bowel movements happen in the absence of dietary fiber, the need for vitamin C changing while not consuming carbohydrates, and what the latest science says about cholesterol. If you’re interested, I urge you to research these fascinating topics.
Sufficiently armed with a base level of confidence that I wasn’t going to kill myself by doing this for a few weeks, I plunged into the diet one week ago. I haven’t removed coffee because I don’t want to deal with caffeine withdrawal just yet. I’ve been eating beef, chicken, salmon, sardines, pork, eggs, butter, and cream.
One Week Symptoms
Here’s what I’ve experienced so far:
The first two days I had cravings for everything except meat. I also started sweating a lot, which for me isn’t much, because I am not one to sweat, so just sweating period was a strange occurrence. I would sweat at each meal which wasn’t very appealing. I sweat a lot the first two or three nights, too. My weight, after 3 days, went down 3 pounds which may have been initial water weight loss.
On day 3 I noticed that my stomach has flattened. That’s weird, I thought my belly was just really pudgy. It appears I was bloated or retaining fluid there. My husband was surprised to see a little bit of a four pack of abs. He said, “Wow, your waist is actually really small, isn’t it?” Apparently so.
Another thing I noticed on day 3 was that I sprung out of bed so easily in the morning. For many, many years, since I was a teen, I’ve been trying to wake up while feeling happy and energized. I couldn’t do it. These last 10 years have been brutal. I have needed more than 8 hours of sleep each night and I have had such a hard time in the mornings that I had extended my waking hours into the night (since I feel pretty good then). So two years ago I was going to bed at 12-2 am most nights and getting up late. All this time I’ve been wanting to get my sleep schedule in sync with my husband’s–he gets up at 6 am, sometimes earlier. Well, since day 3 and each day since, I’ve been up at 5:30 or 6 am.
In the past 20 years, I’ve consistently struggled in the morning because when I wake up I feel like I’m dying and feel super depressed and stiff for about 30 minutes. Eventually, I feel better but it makes life hard when you don’t welcome the day. Maybe I’m just excited and these effects will wear off soon. We’ll see.
Another thing I’ve noticed is my coffee has started to taste much sweeter despite me drinking it the same way I have been having it for a long time.
As you can imagine, my blood sugars have been ridiculously stable. On the first three days, I had to treat a few low blood sugars with a glucose tablet or two but I’ve since lowered my basal and haven’t had any more lows. I am now taking 6 units of Tresiba in the morning and 3 units of Tresiba at night. I take about 6-8 total daily units of regular human insulin with my meals. I may take a unit or two of Humalog as a correction to stay below 100 mg/dl.
Speaking of meals, I’ve needed only two a day because the food is so filling.
My digestion is fine (I was worried I’d get constipated but that hasn’t happened). I take a magnesium supplement every day and Vit D3. I’m thinking of adding a little bit of Vitamin C.
The other thing I’ve noticed is I seem to be much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol this past week. Just the other night I had two shots of liquor (something I do only a few times a year with no problems) but this time I suffered the worst hangover of my life and the first one as a mother, which truly embarrasses me. I endured nearly 8 hours of vomiting–that was just yesterday.
I don’t know how that happened. I threw up bile for the first time since I was in the hospital with severe kidney stone pain 12 years ago and had to keep a hawk eye on my blood sugars while sipping water infused with electrolyte drops. Lesson learned the hard way. Take severe caution with alcohol.
Maybe I’ve hurt my liver in the last week and that’s what happened? Not likely. I’ve been eating mostly meat and veggies for a long time and my liver tests have been great. I do have high bilirubin levels but always have and providers have speculated that it’s a harmless genetic thing (possibly Gilbert’s Syndrome).
I Will Keep You Updated
It’s still early for me so I will strive to be objective as I continue to note whatever positive and negative things pop up. I have no big hopes or expectations. I just want to find out if this helps. If not, I’d be very happy to go back to my beloved vegetables, nuts, and dark chocolate.
The good days of my monthly menstrual cycle are currently happening. The effects of rising estrogen and the oomph of extra testosterone make everything better. I’ll have to really test this out through my monthly week of low hormone hell which nothing–not even rainbows or ice cream can survive.
I do want to point out that I’ve never been a big meat lover. For the past decade, my favorite foods have been mostly vegetables, flavorful sauces, herbs, spices, and sweets. I joke that I like steak only because I get to have steak sauce. Or that I like shrimp because of that tomato-based cocktail dip. Wings dipped in blue cheese–you get the idea.
Eating only animal products has made meals so strangely satisfying. I can’t figure out why that is if I love veggies but am no longer eating them. I’m entirely weirded out. Since I’m feeling fine, I’m going to keep it up for a while to observe my symptoms.
Time will tell me more. If you think this sounds crazy, I’m with you, but I hope I am not judged harshly for trying to stop my widespread pain. It’s bothering me enough now that I’m willing to try anything. I don’t feel like I have anything to lose. I have other ideas to try to help rule out causes to my symptoms. I’m determined to somehow make things better for myself. Right now, it’s the carnivore diet.
For better or worse, I will update you soon.