My experience going Carnivore

2024-04-23 — Updated: 2024-05-19

After having wanted to try it for years, I finally gave the carnivore diet a shot. I’ve only heard great things from great people. (Not the people that just have a degree, but actually highly respectable individuals) Maybe I’d even see some improvement in my eczema, since elimination diets often help against autoimmune issues.

The plan was to go strict for 3 weeks (with one notable exception), and after that try expanding to something like a modified paleo diet. “How strict?” I hear you ask. Well, here’s everything I would eat:

Literally nothing but exactly what is on that list. No seasoning, no condiments, no seed oils, no greens, no processed versions of the meat containing preservatives or starch and no dairy. However, I did introduce a tiny amount of well-aged cheese after week 2.

T+3 Days

Half way through day three I noticed two key things:

  1. I wasn’t sleepy at and around dinner time.
  2. I haven’t shit for three days.

The first point really surprised me! I didn’t realize it was possible to not have the 3 PM slump, but it is! It just disappeared completely. Matter of fact, all slumps disappeared. I wasn’t groggy when waking up anymore, and I became sleepy at a reasonable hour. I would also wake up right before my alarm went off. (Though, that could easily have been because the sun is in sync with my alarm at this time of year.) This completely straight and predictable energy level was an absolute game changer for productivity. The cause of it is probably that at this point I am in ketosis, with my body steadily burning fat for energy instead of being reliant on eating carbs all the time to keep my blood sugar up.

The second point didn’t really effect me. I knew that the keto flu would be coming. It’s quite the mode-shift the body has to go through, so I’m prepared for a week of absolutely liquid shits at some point.

I’ve also had a couple of dreams where I accidentally ate something like bread, and had spit it out, which was pretty funny.

T+7 Days

I have met other people by now, and I’m getting all the questions and resistance you expect: Isn’t that unhealthy? You’re giving yourself cancer from the red meat! The body needs fiber! What about vitamins?? You’ll have a heart attack from the cholesterol!

Without going through every single objection, the common reply to all of them is: If you’re an active person, then it’s completely fine, don’t worry. Basically everything you’ve ever heard about nutrition from “official” sources is wrong.

For instance: Burning fat instead of glucose for energy only requires half as much vitamin B1/thiamin. You don’t need as much vitamin C when your body doesn’t have to digest carbs, because vitamin C and glucose compete for the same transmitters. Therefore, your vitamin C utilization improves, and you don’t need as much. Reducing glucose also improves magnesium and potassium levels. Fiber is a scam. You don’t have 4 stomachs, you’re not a cow, you can’t digest it. It doesn’t do you any good beyond causing a more lactic-acid-producing microbiome in the intestine, but that is also caused by regular exercise, so I’m not worried. Why care about that? Because that type of microbiome is associated with slightly lower risk of cancer. Other than that, fibre does nothing but cause constipation.

Speaking of which, I still haven’t shit since this began.

T+10 Days

Here come the shits. Luckily it only lasted for about 3 days, but yes, everything you’ve heard about the keto flu shits is real. Liquid ass-puke for 3 days. I was fully able to control the timing of it, though, so it wasn’t that bad. Stomach also hurt a little leading up to, and during this. However, no flu-like symptoms. No fever, or cold sweats. I felt fine.

My daily intake at this point looks something like this:

T+14 Days

Shits return to “normal”. Still somewhat reduced volume, however. I’ll have a small poop about every 2-3 days. This continues throughout the rest of the experiment, and up until this day. No more issues. I suspect the reduced volume is because way more of my food is actually being absorbed than what usually would be the case on a modern mixed diet.

I notice that vision has gotten sharper. I’m usually very, very slightly myopic. When looking at the houses on the opposite side of the neighborhood, the lines between the planks are normally a bit indistinct. Now they’re not. They’re tack sharp.

I’ve also noticed some reduced performance when training. I track my calories for a couple of days, and see that I’m very slightly below a maintenance level of caloric intake. My energy levels generally are still absolutely amazing, but specifically when working out I can tell my rep count has taken a hit. I’m definitely noticing the lack of muscle glycogen. I am aware of this and decide to try introducing a carb source…

I try bread. I am fucked.

Within an hour my focus is absolutely shattered, my eyes feel lazy, just imagine five afternoon slumps stacked on top of each other. My brain went from C to python within 60 minutes. After trying to get work done for an hour through this state, I lay down and pass out for a few hours, and wake up feeling groggy. Sleep that night is slightly impacted by the fact that I slept so long in the afternoon, but otherwise, the morning after is OK, and I’m back on it.

T+20 Days

This weekend was the 3-week mark, so I ate some really nice, organic sour dough bread from a local bakery with my friend Sam, of Serēnum fame. This one loaf was over $10 so it better be good. And it was. Didn’t really feel the impact of this one. Maybe because it was organic sour dough, or maybe it was because I was intensely socializing with Sam. Not clear.

Anyway, time to transition to something like an expanded paleo. I re-introduced real butter, goat cheese, honey, whole milk and black-as-sin chocolate. All only organic, of course, and low-pasteurized where possible. Norway is a modern soy democracy, so non-pasteurized milk has been illegal since 1953. They can’t take away our raw eggs, however, which I have shlonked a couple of at this point. It’s not that bad.

What is pretty bad, though, is eating boiled egg with the shell on. It is like eating food full of hair. My entire body was wanting to reject it continuously while eating. I got through all of it, of course, because I’m not a quitter, but I didn’t do it again. Why do it in the first place, you may ask? Mostly out of curiosity, but also out of desperation when looking for new ways to prepare the same meal I have been having for almost a month. Because if you’re going to go carnivore, then prepare to find variety in other parts of your life. Eating will be less interesting. It will still be good, in fact, now that you drop the seasonings, you will probably notice a lot of nice subtleties of meat flavor that you’ve never noticed before. I’m all for skipping seasoning.

After this 3-week point I want to make clear that I am still staying far away from seed oils and soy, which I will probably keep avoiding for life.

T+25 Days (Time of originally writing this article)

My conclusion so far is that this is great. Has made no difference to my eczema so far, but feeling evenly energized the entire day is a game changer, and my sleep has been great. I’m experimenting with some carb sources to aid in the workouts. Whole milk, honey and creatine has helped massively. The workouts have been feeling a lot better. Been getting great pumps, and been feeling sore in the best way. And of course, all concerns of getting enough animal-source protein are gone!

The biggest problems so far are that it is not very cost effective if you want to be on a caloric surplus, and that chewing resistance is hard to come by. Minced meat provides none and is a staple for budget reasons, steaks are expensive and often too tender, and there’s no epic hard bread crusts to chew on like I usually would have. I suppose I could buy mastic gum, but that stuff is expensive! Maybe adding a tiny bit of pan fried broccoli could work for this. More experiments are to be done.

I can also now confirm that people who can’t stick to diets are weaklings. Sorry, not sorry. I was there, I felt the cravings. I was at dinner parties where they served chocolate and offered soda, coffee, beer, etc. I had the condiments staring at me from the fridge door. I was with my friends at aromatic restaurants and kebab shops. Saying no is so easy. Frankly, if you struggle with this, get your shit together and just stop struggling. You know what to eat and what not to eat, so just do that. The cravings stop after a couple of weeks anyway.

T+37 Days

I had an interruption in the diet. Just finished a one-week job on a reality show, where we had catering. I did what I could to at least minimize the seed oils and soy I was exposed to, but around day 2 I was reminded that my left knee normally hurts a bit. Sometimes my back does too. I didn’t realize I used to have all these slight pains, but now that they came back, I realize they had disappeared at some point! That was pretty cool.

When I got back on after this, the aches subsided within a few days.

T+50 Days

Honestly, paleo was just more work for little reward. I didn’t feel any better, and the benefit of “varied flavors” isn’t interesting enough to warrant the more involved preparation. Currently, I’ve settled on still eating 95% meat, but allowing for elements of small bits of dried fruits, egg, honey, dairy and plant-spices. Feeling great, none of this has killed any of the benefits I’ve been feeling.

In fact, the benefits seem to only have been compounding! My energy-levels have been fantastic. I had a period of time recently where there was a lot of work to be done over a very short amount of time, pulling all-nighters, and it felt way easier than it usually does. I did what was probably an 18 hour day no problem, slept 2 hours, got up, worked another 8 hours, did chores and got ready to celebrate the 17th of May, slept 4 hours, got up, celebrated all day, traveling between parties, went to sleep around 2 AM. Barely felt sleepy at all throughout any of that. And the day after the 17th, I also had a ton of work to do, and I went that whole day working. Didn’t even eat, didn’t need to, got plenty of work done. I am not being hyperbolic when I say this feels a little like the movie Limitless. I now truly understand why the Mongol warriors were so feared by the Han Chinese. If I was some malnourished farmer, I’d be scared of the invading pastoralists too.