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Dr. Shawn Baker popularized the ‘Carnivore Diet’ a few years back. The daily intake for someone participating is essentially animal products only.
No vegetables or fruits, no nuts or legumes. Just meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, butter. Anything that came from an animal.
It’s a high fat diet with touted benefits around weight loss, muscle growth, increased energy, decreased inflammation and for those with autoimmune disease, reported eradication of any symptoms!
In this week’s newsletter, I’ll walk you through my experience over the last 30 days. More importantly, I’ll demonstrate parallels to the challenge of being a mid-life entrepreneur and ask you to draw your own conclusions when I’m not explicit about how they relate!
WHY DID I GO CARNIVORE?
Like many, I struggle with a minimal reduction diet. That means ‘eat normal BUT cut out sugar’.
I wanted to leverage my reticular activating system which, when provided information, starts to look for it.
While saying I do NOT want sugar may seem simple, the RAS doesn’t hear the modifier, it just seeks out the subject. In this case .. SUGAR!
So this time, I told myself I will ONLY consume animal products. I was shocked at how much easier that made things! Broad elimination served me WAY better than minimal reduction.
THEN WHY NOT ‘ONLY’ VEGGIES?
Because I hate vegetables. I love meat. Full stop.
I mean really, a mouthful of lettuce, or some attempt to create protein out of creative recipes that still taste like ass and take a bunch of my time and fill my cart with plants that LITERALLY don’t want to be eaten..
A piece of meat in a pan with butter and salt
(Cue the inbox overload from my plant based friends 😂)
MY DAILY DIET
Over the last 30 days, I’ve consumed over 120 eggs, a couple of pounds of butter, a little bit of cheese and 50-60 ribeye steaks.
My usual day looked like this: - 4 eggs for breakfast (in butter or EVOO) - Ribeye for lunch (salt and butter/EVOO) - Ribeye for dinner (salt and butter/EVOO) - Snacks would be some leftover chicken, some hard cheeses and sometime, a mouthful of salted butter
In doing research, to manage glucose levels, I had an occasional fruit - only a banana or an apple - and no more than 1/day.
DID I CHEAT?
If you consider the apple/banana cheating, then sure.
But even leading carnivore advocates like Paul Saladino, Shawn Baker and even Joe Rogan incorporate some fruits in their diet.
In this 30 day period, both of my sons had their birthdays! Each had their own party with cake, nachos, and other fried foods - tempting, but I didn’t give in.
My 8 year olds birthday party was JUST this past weekend - so I definitely got close to giving myself the excuse of being close enough - but thanks to my wife, I resisted!
WHAT WERE THE PROS AND CONS OF THE DIET
Energy level - The first 12 days I felt a dip in energy as my body got used to not consuming carbs. But at 9:31am at the gym on the 12th day, it was like a pre-workout shot hit me .. a tingle in my scalp .. and my energy has been ‘up’ since then! This has also led to increased productivity and mental clarity for me. It’s noticeable.
Weight Loss/Muscle Mass - I started at 169 and on day 28 I was at 161 and you can see it. My face, my belly, my love handles are thinner/reduced. In the last day or so, I’m up to 162 but feel the same. I’m attributing that to muscle gain but we’ll see. My workouts have been a bit more intense and I feel stronger in the gym.
Confidence - I’ve had my shirt off more! I wasn’t unhealthy with my weight before, but I had some ‘fluffiness’ I was self-conscious about. Now I feel less inhibited and actually really like the look I have. You know how in the morning you look good after waking up, and then after a sip of water your belly bulges out? That doesn’t happen anymore.
Cost - Ribeyes ain’t cheap!! So it’s definitely something to consider. The ideal is grass fed beef which is the most expensive. I can’t say that I stuck to that, but I read a lot about this diet and the benefits of grass fed vs. grain fed. They’re there, but not so much better that you shouldn’t try this diet if your budget allows for grain fed only.
Variety - This honestly hasn’t been a problem for me .. yet. But I can definitely see that for those who really enjoy a variety of foods, you have to be creative. I’m one that can eat the same thing all the time .. so less a concern for me.
For those saying there HAS to be a downside, Ill share some things I’m keeping an eye on before calling it.
1. Egestion - TMI perhaps (but I know you’re wondering) I’ve gone from pure watery ickiness, to a bit hard to pass to perfectly normal with the occasional watery ickiness returning. Like anything, I need to determine what I ate, how much, etc that day and correlate to the bowel movement, but so far so good! 2. Labs - I’m due to get them this week and can report on IG once I have them. Maybe that will reveal some downside. We’ll see! 3. Colorectal health - I JUST had a colonoscopy and it was clear. Maybe I'll do another at some point if I’m feeling like there are issues. But when you read, many do reference colon cancer as a possible issue. Like much with this diet, it’s really unknown!
WILL YOU CONTINUE?
I like the balance of a little bit of fruit and perhaps I allow myself the cake at a birthday party here and there. But I love what I’m eating.
I look forward to each meal. I may be TOO addicted to meat, chicken and eggs!
#1: Overcoming being 90% Rich!
My father and I built a deck together on my Massachusetts house years ago. True to form for both of us, we erected this incredible 20x20 deck with skirting, railing, beautiful Trex style decking and a broad stairway. But the handle for the stairs stayed incomplete for over a year! I joke with my father ‘Richard’ that he’s ‘90% Rich’. The double entendre is clear, but that’s both of us! 2 days before my 30 day commitment, I almost had cake, repeating the pattern of being ‘90% Rich’. This was an important key to my entrepreneurial journey. I proved to myself that I am gritty and can persevere. It was a needed pattern interrupt and lesson to self.
#2: Experimentation is Key
I often say that midlife employees who crave their shot at entrepreneurship are afraid to try different things. There’s fear of failing, fear of being judged. Early in this diet, I ate too much cheese and I felt it. So I cut it, and then introduced it in much smaller quantities. I would eat everything on my plate and then learned to feel myself at the 80% full mark and left the rest. There was lots of trial and error with this, just like there is in business. The lesson was reinforced; make adjustments and roll!
#3: The Benefits of Focus
I noted the decision to ONLY do meat and animal products, instead of NOT processed foods. I always failed when the latter was my objective. But by focusing on what I DO want, it accomplished the long term goal of eliminating or reducing processed foods. Call fruit a cheat if you want, but I ate ZERO processed foods in the last 30 days. It’s interesting how my singular focus on a narrow objective actually indirectly accelerated goal achievement.
#4: Vegans man..SHEESH!!
I can’t tell you how many comments, emails, messages, recipe recommendations I received from my vegan friends. And I love all of you! Perhaps you get the same treatment from non-vegans or carnivores when you publicly share veganism. I’m naturally defiant, so for every ‘reminder’ I received of the health, environmental, humane, or other impact of being carnivore, I researched the same arguments against plant based diets 😂. Conclusion? Let’s all agree to ‘do you’ and love each other anyway!!