So I have been eating pretty much red meat and water (with a few minor exceptions here and there) for about a month now and think it is a good time to write out some pros and cons thus far and give thoughts on some of my experiences.
Simplicity and accountability
Staying strict to my diet while out and about was simple as the stipulations of my diet were quite straight forward: If there was a beef option I would take it, and I could settle for other meat if I had to. Shopping was super easy, although I was disappointed that my go to grocery store only had bison for a short time. Extra accountability came from publicizing and logging my diet.
Weight Loss without Strength Loss
Losing weight is great, but any diet that creates a caloric deficit can do this. What I liked is that I haven’t had noticeable loss of strength in any lift. There was a day where I felt a little weaker on dead lift, but that did not persists and is something that happens to every lifter on any diet as some days will be easier and others harder. In fact, I have had the urge to lift more often (which has affected strength endurance in subsequent sessions, but not after adequate rest) and have actually had to make a conscience effort not to overdo my workouts. Weight loss stalled after I starting doing more volume and cardio in my workouts, but this is likely do to acute inflammation from the physical stress of exercise.
Easy Bowel Movements
After the first 10 days bowel movement became regular and easy. There was a transition period as my body was getting more fiber before, but it went quick and the end result (no pun intended) was better than before changing up my diet.
It is hard to say if this is due to the diet itself via anti inflammatory processes and ketosis or from less stress over food, but I have been abnormally productive this last month. It is not that I was not productive before, but after a days work now I would continue to do work at home and work on this page/blog for example. I was also getting up and starting my day earlier which may be another factor increasing my productivity.
To be honest if I was eating the same quality meat I am most of the time on this diet my regular food budget would still be pricey. That being said grass fed beef, steak, and bison are all pricier than regular ground beef, pork, eggs or poultry. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not exactly cheap either so the difference in cost is as much from improving the meat quality as it is anything else. Eating out is much more expensive as a lot of places still make you pay for a lot of things you aren’t going to eat (the most ridiculous is restaurants that make cheese standard and charge the same for a hamburger as a cheeseburger).
Social Outings are weird
There were just some places that didn’t have a reasonable way to order just meat without paying for an entire meal and feeling like you are wasting food. There are times when I have to eat before going to a social gathering in case there isn’t food that fits in my diet there.
What’s changing after 30 days?
So I went quite strict for the first thirty days of this diet. Besides 2 days of pork and 2 slices of cheese I only ate red meat and mostly grass fed beef or bison seasoned with only salt. I drank only water until day 20 when the safety of staying awake for driving was more important than sticking to my current regimen. For the next half of my challenge I will still be carnivore, but will allow other meats, eggs, and seasoning (unless I notice issues from a seasoning). I will likely use almond milk in iced coffee from time to time, not because I particularly think almond milk is healthier than animal milk or dairy, but because I like cold brew and iced coffee and don’t like to add much in terms of calories or change the taste. I simply find almond milk cuts the bitterness of cold brew just a bit and smooths it out.
Calories still matter
Yes, I lost a lot of weight to start with, but I also stagnated at times and likely gained weight this last weekend before coming back down. The reason I lost weight was either due to the initial water weight drop, or burning more than I was eating. The later part of that equation was influenced both by eating less overall due to fullness and satiety and possibly increased energy expenditure (higher thermic effect of food due to protein, better fatty acid mobilization, or more activity).
Food quality matters
Although I have felt pretty good overall throughout the experiment, I definitely felt worse during and after days where I ate fast food burgers or that one time I had cheese. My weight loss also stopped the week I added in more non-grass fed beef and/or bison.
Fat loss happens without weight loss
This is supported in the scientific literature, but I definitely still got a little leaner as I stayed at 195 lbs. This doesn’t necessarily mean I was putting on extra slabs of muscle mass, but with higher volume comes more water retention in muscles so I saw visible improvements in the mirror as the scale weight stayed the same.
The scale may lie
The above section is one way to describe this insight, but my scale was also not super consistent. Many scales have multiple points of contact that are used to measure pressure and dirt, grime, or and uneven flow or load can throw off readings. I tried to be as consistent as I could with all this considered, but it still wasn’t perfect.
This diet is getting me leaner
I was not exactly in my best shape starting this diet (some of that was purposefully eating foods I knew I would be without leading up to this challenge) and have more to lose in my mid section, but the fat loss is very obvious even with the lighting and hair difference. I have also gained a little muscle since my bacon diet last April as I am looking similar in leanness (maybe 2% higher BF mostly ), but at 12 lbs more bodyweight. I ended up breaking my 195 lb weight plateau on day 28 weighing 194, then 192.6 on day 30.
Start and 20 days into carnivore diet
End of month of bacon only diet April 30th, 2017