Well fam, I pulled the plug. The carnivore diet and I are done. I lasted three weeks.
But before I get into the nitty gritty of why that happened, let me rant a little bit about some stuff. Ready?
Nutrition science is comparatively a really young endeavour and we are learning new things all the time that refute what we think we knew. Remember when high-carb, low-fat diets were considered the healthiest options out there? That wasn’t that long ago. And how many of you grew up eating margarine instead of butter because we thought (or our parents thought) that that was the better choice? How many baby boomers out there are STILL not eating eggs because of the cholesterol? See what I’m getting at here? So we don’t really know exactly what our bodies need, how to live forever, or how to ‘hack’ nutrition – especially those of us who aren’t super educated on the topic, and I’m counting myself in there even though I’ve studied nutrition in some depth over the last fifteen years. What I’m really getting at here is, people need to get off their high horses about how others choose to feed themselves. I think the most interesting thing about this project (and there had to be something because the diet itself sure as shit was not interesting) was the effect it had on EVERYONE around me – the idea of going 100% carnivore doesn’t land on ANYONE in a neutral way. It was either super interesting and met with curiosity and enthusiasm (which I appreciated) or offensive on a weirdly religious level. Look, I don’t care if you’re vegan or if you’re keto or if you eat exclusively McD’s and gummy bears; if it’s working for you, you do you. I won’t offer an opinion unless I’m asked because the more I learn, the less I know for sure about anything…which is why I had to try being a carnivore; I’ve tried all the other stupid diets out there. Now I can add this one to the list.
What I mean by that is, it didn’t work well for me. Let me elaborate.
I’m gonna be hard pressed to come up with anything legitimately GOOD, so I’m gonna fill this space with what was not terrible.
So. Weight loss stopped this week – this is actually a good thing because I was starting to wonder if I had a tapeworm. But, it turns out that energy balance is a thing and if you’re fueling your body with as many calories as you burn, your weight flatlines. Doesn’t matter where those calories come from. Still, 5kg in three weeks was significant even though lots of that was fluid loss. There was fat loss too.
And fat loss feels pretty freaking good. I had a photoshoot this week where I had to get nearly naked, and once I got over my initial discomfort (because I tell ya, I NEVER thought I’d be that naked in front of a camera, not ever) it was actually fun. And I’m super stoked to see how they turned out – probably one or two of them will end up on social media and on this blog so stick around if you want to check out my 42-year-old nakedness. They’re tasteful, I promise.
Sleep on the carnivore diet was an interesting thing: I slept very very well on this plan as I ran out of steam and simply could not keep my eyes open past about 8:30, and could hardly drag my butt out of bed in the morning. It took a lot of extra caffeine to get me through the day, and when I stopped mainlining coffee and energy drinks, that was it. My husband Joel, on the other hand, got less and less sleep as the diet wore on – he was down to about four hours a night at the end of this week. I think Joel saw better results than I did; he lost the same amout of weight as me, but he actually did reap the benefits that the carnivore diet aficionados brag about: clearer thinking, steady energy levels, balanced mood. I, on the other hand…
…was one angry bitch for most of week three. Everyone on the ‘gram asked about energy levels (which were pretty good), training (also not really affected), and digestion (different but okay) but no one asked about mood changes. And holy crap did I ever have a burning undercurrent of rage for most of that three weeks, but toward the end I was really having trouble keeping a lid on it. I wrote last week about the weepiness and lack of control; this week I was just fucking angry. And I was foggy and forgetful and I fell horrifically behind on work correspondence (sorry everyone; I think I’m caught up at this point but if I’ve forgotten you PLEASE remind me). Joel and I learned lots of new and interesting things about each other this week, the biggest being that he is not the curmudgeon that he’d like to think he is, and I’m glad I didn’t kill him for leaving a pair of dirty socks on the kitchen table even though I really wanted to at the time.
What was worse than the rage on the last couple of days was a growing sense of nastiness – headache, low-grade but constant nausea, shakiness, and weird vision problems that suggested that my electrolyte levels were getting catastrophically low. I was irrational. I couldn’t stand the sight or smell of the food choices that were available and wanted to quit but was afraid that I did something awful like mainlining avocados, potatoes, and bananas to get my potassium and magnesium back up, I would blow my weigh-in before I competed on Saturday…so on day 17 I started taking some supplements. Those helped but they didn’t quite get me back to baseline. On Saturday morning – competition day – I woke up feeling so bad that I thought, that’s it, I’m done. Soon as the weigh in is over, I’m getting some carbs and some electrolytes in me…and after the lifting is done, I’m eating some normal food.
First omnivorous meal: turkey taco bowl with cauliflower rice, veggies, guac, and fresh salsa, followed by vanilla ice cream with ghost pepper and blueberry sauce. Mmmm…
And that was exactly what I did. At this point, after 24hours of normal food I’m feeling like myself again…and mulling over what’s next: maintaining that weight loss while eating a normal, varied, omnivorous diet! But that’s boring to read about. Stay tuned!