I’ve never been a big fan of vegetables. Yes, I eat them, but it’s always been more because I thought I was supposed to and not out of any particular enjoyment.
In fact, I can remember quite clearly a conversation I had one day (back in my pre-keto, calorie counting days) with my mother about how much I disliked vegetables. You see, Mother Dearest loves vegetables. No joke, she could eat a salad every single day of her life and be perfectly happy and satisfied doing so. I, on the other hand, have always seen vegetables as a necessity for weight loss and health, but never as a source of culinary enjoyment.
After listening to our fearles leader, Brian Williamson, interview Amber O’Hearn of Empirica about her Zero Carb/Carnivorous Keto lifestyle, my non-vegetable-liking self was quite intrigued. I wondered if it was completely crazy, or if this was something I could conceivably do. After all, animal foods are some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, and I personally suspect one of the main stated reasons for eating vegetables- dietary fiber consumption- is overrated and the necessity overblown. While some folks express concerns over lack of fiber or vitamin C, I figured eating the way Amber described for a few weeks couldn’t do too much damage, if indeed there were any damage that could be done.
Opportunity knocks sometimes, and it was borderline banging on my door. My children are away, visiting relatives for a few weeks, and that presented me the perfect opportunity to run my own little n=1 experiment.
And that’s how I ended up spending the last week or so- and will spend the next two additional weeks- as a Meatatarian.
In a nutshell, I’m only eating animals or things that come from animals. Meats, butter, animal fat, and a little dairy are the only things that go on my plate at the moment. The exceptions I have made are for one scoop of Ballistic Keto MCT oil powder in one cup of coffee in the mornings, and small quantities of spices/garlic. Other than that, if it don’t come from an animal, I ain’t eating it.
I plan on using this space for the next few weeks to document my findings.
Thus far, I’m largely sticking to my normal protein range of 70-75 g per day, although I have had two high days. My ratios are very Ketogenic: Every day has come in, calorically, at 75-80% fat, 20-25% protein, and minuscule carbs (usually 5 grams or less, so calorically it’s around 1% per day or less). Most of my carbs are coming from the cream I put in my coffee.
This week I’ve eaten steak topped with copious amounts of garlic butter, bacon, buttered bone broth, chicken thighs with butter, bacon, chopped steak with sour cream, pork belly, bacon, hamburger patties topped with melted bacon grease, chicken wings also covered in garlic butter, a few tablespoons of heavy cream in my daily coffees (yes, that’s plural), and even more bacon.
I’ve eaten A LOT of bacon. I think I’ve gone through 6 packages of bacon in the last nine days, and I’ve enjoyed every single second of it. In fact, I’ve taken to scraping the baking sheet I cook the bacon on with a spoon so as to get up any little bacon-y bits that were left behind and shove them into my mouth. I really like bacon, OK?
The things I’ve learned so far:
- I have not gained weight.
- Food tastes different.
- All systems are fully operational.
- Cravings are nil.
- Hunger is under control
In spite of eating towards the top of my protein range- and two days where I blew it out completely- and having what would be considered a pretty high caloric intake, I haven’t gained anything. In fact, I’ve actually lost a few pounds and a half-inch from my waist. This could just be due to cutting out the extra carbs, which should, ideally, keep my insulin and glucose levels low and steady.
Without the addition of vegetables and other condiments to my meals, I find I’m really tasting the meat more than I ever had before. I believe that is likely due to only having the one thing for my palate to focus on, so my sense of taste isn’t being confused, so to speak, by multiple flavors coming in at once. As a result, I’ve learned that one of my staple foods- chicken- is something I don’t really care for on its own. It’s bland and very blah. I do like chicken wings as what my husband calls a “sauce delivery mechanism” and, indeed, I greatly enjoyed them as a way to get a lot of garlic butter into my mouth. But outside of that, chicken is out.
On the flip side, I have greatly enjoyed steak, which is a huge revelation for me. I have never before eaten and enjoyed steak; I actively avoided it and would rather have fasted than eaten when what was being served was steak. Since I’ve been eating it very simply and without anything else on my plate to go into the taste mix, I find it’s quite tasty. I have had it four times in the past week-plus, and look forward to eating it again soon!
Normally, I would so categorize this as TMI, but the ability to “go” was the most common concern expressed by the few people I’ve discussed my experiment with, and I’m quite pleased to report I’ve had no trouble at all. I am as regular as ever on a diet of meat and fat and, quite literally, zero fiber.
Cravings are something even a longer-term “pro” like me still have to deal with. Some of it is fighting off old mental attachments that creep back up from time to time. Other times it’s a genuine physical craving for something that I must use willpower to avoid.
Since going Meatatarian, I have no cravings. I actually noticed this three days in. I have no desire for anything in particular, I don’t miss the vegetables, and I’m not bored with the meat and fat. I’ve also noticed that, instead of my personal taste for meat and fat diminishing, it’s actually increased. I’ve genuinely enjoyed every meal I’ve had (except the chicken thighs), and am not in any way turned off by the thought of more meat and fat at my next meal. In fact, I look forward to it!
I noticed this one right away. I’m eating until satiety, which is sooner than it was when I was eating meat and veg, and I’m not hungry in between. At all.
As I’ve written in this space recently, hunger is something I’ve struggled with quite a bit since I began training for an upcoming 5k. While I know I simply need a bit more food to fuel my running, I could quite easily eat all day, every day because I’m that hungry. I’ve managed to tamp it down quite a bit by reassessing my protein needs in light of my increased activity level, but the general hunger was still there.
This new, meat-filled way of keto-ing seems to have killed that hunger, pretty completely. Weirdly enough, macro-wise I’m in a very similar place as I was when I was including vegetables but hungry. Aside from a very modest increase in fat to compensate for the lack of vegetables (which, calorically is very modest indeed), food is pretty much where it was a week ago. I am not comfortable making any definitive statements as to why this has happened, but it is my understanding that the general supposition amongst the Zero Carb community is that even the small amount of sugar present in vegetables can stimulate the sweet sensors in the brain enough to trigger hunger and cravings.
Whether or not that is the case, I cannot say, but after experiencing the elimination of both cravings and hunger, it is certainly an idea worth consideration.
Thus far, I am very pleased with how my experiment is going. It’s been a very easy and surprisingly economical way to keto, with some effects I’m personally finding beneficial. There are still two more weeks to go, however, and I look forward to reporting back next week.