Carnivore Month 2021
- January 01, 2021
- Steve Macias
In January 2020, I participated in my first Carnivore Month. It was a great start of the year for me. It helped me kickstart a personal weight loss from 262 lbs down to 238.4 lbs by the end of that month. For those who aren’t familiar with the carnivore diet – it’s a way of eating that includes anything animal based and nothing plant based.
I’m doing it again for 2021 – here’s the link to my FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/851267705607051/
My Personal Journey
This was my second year using these “low carb/keto” efforts to get control over my weight and health. In 2019, I weighed in at 290 lbs and got serious as I approached 30-years-old in 2020. My father-in-law once joked with me about the internal “switch” changing from “burn” to “store” once we hit 30-years-old. I was truly afraid to be stuck as 300 lbs Steve.
I struggled with low-energy, brain fog, severe headaches, and near constant heart burn. I wasn’t happy with how I looked in photos and felt winded just going up and down our single flight of stairs. I made up a 8.5″ x 11″ page with 50 squares and began counting down my pounds. To motivate myself I also signed up for a diet bet with Healthywage (link: https://hwage.co/1536938/). I’ve won $2,500 over two bets using this website and betting against myself during this whole process. The betting aspect added extra pressure and real motivating financial deadlines.
Carnivore got me down to 215 lbs in 2020 and a 14 day water-only fast temporarily dropped me to 202 lbs. Once I started eating the fasting weight returned, but I got to experience the bliss that is true fat adaption. Strangely enough, the more meat-based my diet has been, the less of a role food plays in my life. When I fall off the wagon and into a McDonalds or Taco Bell stint (or usual series of stints) food dominates my thinking. 5 days into my water fast, I had none of the food cravings that marked the previous decades of my life. I didn’t go running everyday or join a gym. Most days I didn’t walk more than across a parking lot to my office and back.
As with any elimination diets or fast, you begin to see how certain foods affect you. Wheat/Gluten are really hard on my skin, rashing up my back, arms, and legs. I had no idea that it was related to my diet, but it began clearing up. Only to return during after a cheat meal. All throughout middle school and high school, my parents spent tons of money on all kinds of acne pads, creams, and cleansers to help with breakouts. Yet acne persisted on me throughout my twenties. Mom always said it was from sugared sodas, which I gave up when I got married, yet break-outs continued. I blamed stress. Going carnivore cleared up my skin to the point that I could predict a breakout only if I fell off the wagon and splurged on refined carbohydrates.
This past year I’ve also spent a lot of time poking myself with the glucose meter. These little blood sugar tests revealed quite a bit about what my body is capable of doing. I can run completely on ketones and be perfectly content – better than non-ketone powered Steve even. I could see inside and out – a better me.
One last note on my personal experience: sleep. This is a game changer. I didn’t think how much I slept mattered much even though I had read the reports about sleep regulating hormones and therefore helping with weight loss. But going to bed early did two things for me: 1) It prevented me from my late night splurges at the drive-thru; and 2) my frequent all-nighters would destroy my ability to self-regulate. I had created negative feedback loops – I’m tired and therefore don’t want to do X therefore I will reward myself with a splurge that makes me feel even worse.
Heading in Carnivore 2021
I’ve continued to read and study low-carb diets. I first read Gary Taubes book, “Why We Get Fat” before I got married. And I had to get fatter for what I knew to be true to match what I wanted to do. I needed some conviction to match my knowledge. And still I struggle against temptation from Taco Bell and Jack in the Box regularly. I’m sure part of it is that I enjoy junk food, but I’m sure I mostly enjoy the habit’s dopamine hit and the convenience of junk food. Growing up on fast food didn’t help nor does the association of fast food with “reward” that exists in my mind through my own family’s traditions growing up and social experience as a teenager.
Disentangling food from my emotional health has been difficult and I am still working through it. Despite the obvious results, extreme versions of ketogenic diets like “carnivore” aren’t appealing to everyone and I am not convinced interest in meat-only eating is sustainable for me personally. Not because its lacks any sort of science or nutritional value (quite the opposite) – but because food is more than nutrition in my world. So I see Carnivore as an appropriate seasonal fast. One that can help me break from my normal cycles and dependencies “Too much of a good thing” and all.. A fast that challenges my cravings and forces me to wrestle with what I really want. After all, a fast itself doesn’t mean that food is evil, but rather it affirms it is good.
Here’s to breaking cycles and becoming a better me.