First of all, sorry for the long post.
Starting June 11, I shifted from a well formulated keto diet (50g total carbs, 70g protein, the rest fat - about 160g) to a carnivore diet. I did not track macros. I ate morning and evening only (same eating pattern as past two years), frequently fasting all day (no breakfast). I allowed coffee, sparse carbs (1/2 pickle here and there), diet soda (my weakness, which I’m working on kicking - and which by the very mention of it I’m sure will generate a flood of comments, which will deserve another post altogether), and moderate alcohol. I consumed copius amounts of all types of animal foods (bacon, eggs, cheese, steak, salmon, shrimp, roast, sausages, beef liver, pork neck bones, and ground beef) to the tune of around 1.5 pounds a day. Essentially, I wanted to see what would happen if I went practically zero carb, and shifted from measuring out macros with a scale to my plate, to just eating intuitively on a haunch of meat like a hunter after the kill.
The execution wasn’t perfect, which can be expected trying to live like a Paleolithic hunter in modern times, but I made every effort to keep everything the same except for the type A measuring bit, and the shift from low carb/moderate protein to pull out the stops eating meat to satiety.
It’s also worth noting that I began a weaning off supplements, and now at the end of 30 days all that’s in the cabinet is a few capsules of alpha lipoic acid and vitamin D3.
My aim was to see how my body responded, and to see how I felt, how I enjoyed it, and if I needed more experiments.
After the first month on the carnivore diet, I had labs run. Here are the results:
HBA1C. 5.0 (previously 5.1)
Fasting Glucose: 98
4.9 (previously 3)
350 (previously 200, 157, and 126 over months)
56 (previously 83, 90, 92)
.35 (previously .18, .31, .30)
33/26 (previously about the same)
High, as expected with a high protein diet (previously within the normal range).
Anyway, it’s clear that
- Glucose control improved slightly
- Inflammation and liver function stayed about the same
- Triglycerides got worse
- HDL was within reference range but decreased (not good)
- Insulin increased (not good). This one can be influenced dramatically by many factors, not just glucose, as is apparently the case with this test.
As to how I felt. Well, one observation that stands out is GI improvement. The BM is much less frequent (gross factor out of the way). I find with a lot of leafy carbs and cruciferous vegetables there are also issues of discomfort for me. That has resolved.
Sleep is about the same. I so no great improvement or decline in time or quality.
Overall feeling physically and mentally is slightly better, but being a huge fan of ketosis anyway and used to its benefits, there is no surprise nor substantial change here.
As to enjoying the diet. I find that I personally am content with it, and find that it could easily be a sustainable long term solution for me. There’s no washing of vegetables. There’s no hand wringing over supplements (and added dent to the budget). The kitchen is far simpler. Shopping is effortless. Taste is fabulous - there’s nothing better I can imagine in the eating world than the smell of bacon cooking in the pan.
Now I love the whole cooking experience, and have had years of joy in the kitchen. And I know that most people can’t do such a simple eating life. I respect that and completely understand.
Going forward for now, my thoughts are that I am inclined to determine what might happen if I did a four day elimination diet with only ribeye steaks, water, and coffee. And then run a CMP to look at glucose, liver function, and lipids. I may run insulin again as well.
I feel I would learn a lot from ruling out all foods but protein, particularly red meat, and one rich in nutrients like the ribeye.
I am not giving up on the carnivore diet, but I want to solve the triglycerides riddle. The insulin is troublesome but it’s not the glucose. It’s possible that IGF1 is at play and raising insulin slightly. Not sure.
I am concerned about the drop in HDL.
It’s worthy of note that I consumed quite a lot of fat over the past month. Much of it was the “drippings” of the meats, which were eaten along with the flesh parts. So though I didn’t test ketones, I feel confident that I was still in ketosis, considering the energy I had and the work load I was under every day.
It’s also worth considering that it may take a longer period of adaptation. And, the other confounding variables over the past month, like alcohol and a lot of aspartame in the diet sodas, might have an effect. That’s why a short elimination diet is appealing. With a short window of time, an accurate reflection of lipids and insulin can be shown. I could eat nothing but coffee and donuts for four days and in theory run a lipid panel that would accurately reflect serum lipids. And that’s just it - serum lipids, not cellular. Same goes for glucose and insulin. It’s what is floating around in the blood while in a fasted state.
As for the riddle, this is a question I have: could it be that my body isn’t very efficient at storage of fat, and so the triglycerides, no matter how much fat consumed, aren’t getting stored but rather used - and whatever isn’t used is also not recycled but just hangs out in the blood awaiting use? This is the riddle. Ive been chasing it for two years. There must be some accounting for the high triglycerides. And the consistency of low HBA1C and insulin results over many months - on a super low carb diet - leads me to rule out glucose or fructose altogether. Considering also that I am not the only anomaly - Brenda Zorn, for instance, who, after the 30-day steak challenge had readings of triglycerides approaching 1000 mg/dl - it therefore seems that the dogma that “serum triglycerides reflects dietary carbohydrates” is simplistic at best and deserves a lot more attention. I don’t mean to be contentious, but I feel that there’s still so much we have yet to learn. Sarah Hallberg’s research outliers with high lipids while faithfully on a ketogenic diet are another example of anomaly not sufficiently explained.
Anyway, this is one of many experiments I will conduct and hopefully post over the coming months. I look forward to any and all suggestions, and to fine tuning, and even solving the riddle. After two years and no answers, I’m ready to try nearly anything to understand my lipids.
Is there anyone else out there with this issue? Please chime in! I hope discussions like this will help you too. Cheers!