Thursday, July 23, 2009

Carnivorism - The First Week

My breakfast today:
No, seriously.

I must admit, I expected going meat-only to be much more difficult than it has proved to be. My early pangs of wanting veggies and eggs passed quickly, and I have been happily filling up on meat for each meal, with some green tea to stave off the late-night munchies. (Context of green tea - I use one bag in my 1L+ pot, which tends to be refilled three times per evening. So the 'tea' is really just a bit of a taste to differentiate from plain water, which I drink during the day. Other than that one sad bag, it's just meat and water for me!)

There has only been one day during which I only ate one kind of animal, an event due only to my big sleep-in, and my limited choices at a restaurant. Every other day I've eaten from two, or usually three different species - four if you count my fish oil capsules :)

I have been eating considerably more calories than I usually do, and yet the scale reports otherwise...

Here's a day by day breakdown, with approximate figures via Spark People (same nutrition database used by FitDay, etc). I tend to over-estimate portions rather than under-estimate, but I do use a kitchen scale so meat is usually spot-on accurate. Then it's just down to fat/protein variation in the cut:

Day 1
Weight: 80.7kg (I weigh in every morning, so this is Weight Zero, start of week)

Calories: 2075
Fat: 127g
Protein: 232g

Day 2
Weight: 80.6kg

Calories: 2100
Fat: 171g
Protein: 134g

Day 3
Weight: 80.1kg

Calories: 1650
Fat: 131g
Protein: 110g

Day 4
Weight: 79.8k

Calories: 1783
Fat: 109g
Protein: 193g

Day 5
Weight: 79.7kg

Calories: 2816
Fat: 213g
Protein: 209g

Day 6
Weight: 79.9kg (taken late in the day, too cold to get up and weigh in at the usual time!)

Calories: 2300
Fat: 179g
Protein: 168g

Day 7
Weight: 79.7kg

Calories: 1629
Fat: 166g
Protein: 124g

Day 8
Weight: 79.4kg

Calories: 1400 (plus more from extra chicken skin, mmm!)
Fat: 108g (see above)
Protein: 147g

Tallied up, that makes the difference between my starting weight of 80.7kg and this morning's weight of 79.4kg a lovely 1.3kg loss! As I've said, my weight slipped down to 79.3kg over the holidays, a two week block of sleeping in all morning, eating small meals, and getting very little exercise, so some of that 'loss' may have simply been due to less food in my system, and maybe even a little muscle waste. I also tend to see that getting adequate sleep shows results via the scale, no matter how much I eat during my waking hours. So, given that the holidays are over, that I'm back at work ( and therefore considering a full seven hours of sleep quite good fortune), walking to and from work as well as walking, standing and lifting books/tubs all day, and eating plenty of food, it's safe to say that I most certainly have lost fat in this past week.

My 'ideal caloric intake for fat-burning zone,' so the Intarwebz tells me, is between 1450 - 1650kcal per day. As you can see, most days I was well over this figure. I have broken through the ceiling of this limit in the past, usually courtesy of nuts, and I can assure you that weight loss was NOT the result.

My percentage of calories from fat was 60% at a minimum, and - if memory serves - reached 75% on at least one occasion. This is right on target in my quest to align my intake with the advice of ZC experts. The only goal that seems to be inaccurately set at the moment is caloric intake - I will be shifting my target to around 2000kcal per day for the next week to see where that sends me, given it was my average over the past week. Note: I eat what I want, until I am satisfied, and log everything after dinner. So if I fall over or under my calorie target, I won't know it til I'm done eating for the day. This doesn't bother me at all - I'm not obsessing over this - but hopefully will not skew my results.


Too early to spot any real change, although I have lost perhaps 1/4" from my waist. Also, the cellulite on my thighs seems to have lessened significantly... I knew I should have measured them! But the whole area is much smoother, less obviously dimpled. This is very good news - I had all but given up on ever having legs that I felt okay with showing off, since my Mum is quite slim but still has dimpled thighs. Still a long way to go in that area - my thighs look like they're set to be the last place to slim down. Ah well, there are still four months until summer... :)

So, my plan is to continue this way of eating for at least a month. My body has obviously adapted to the carnivorous lifestyle comfortably - apart from the early variety cravings, I have had no physiological issues whatsoever, and preparing meals has not been a problem. Breakfast is usually prepared fresh, including leftovers for lunch if dinner had not already provided some. Today, in fact, I thought I had tinned tuna at work, but I didn't, yet I wasn't hungry until I had completed my obligations for the day. When I arrived home, I was still happy to postpone eating until the boy arrived and we could have our delicious dinner... Eating a big (if calorically small) breakfast probably helped, since today was a killer!

Next Thursday I'll complete another summary post - until then, I shall continue to log my daily eats. Deepest apologies if you are getting sick of photos of chops and drumsticks. So very sorry. I will try and find time to make the odd recipe, even if I don't get to taste my own creations. I wouldn't mind trying my hand at Tur-duc-ken... ;)


MrsEvilGenius said...

Wonderful progress!

And your brekkie looks fab. I have a thing for pork and can eat it every day, easily. I get pork fat from my butcher and fry it up as well. Mmm, greasy/crunchy goodness! :D

Jedidja said...

Interesting experiment :) Looking forward to reading more

G said...

A blood work list would have been a great way to measure results as well. My guess is you are losing weight because of two things - less calories, and strictly meat. Oolong works better than green tea due to oolong tea polyphenols which cannot be found in green tea.

Last question...what do you do for exercise? Primal living involves more than just eating primal.

Copperlaw said...

Hi there, a few comments. Sounds like a delicious experiment, btw!:

As long as you're consuming dietary protein (which it sounds like you do experiment or not), there won't be any "muscle waste." That happens when the body runs out of dietary protein to metabolize and must use its own, stored in muscle.

Also, if you are losing weight on the amount of calories you are taking in, perhaps you have been underestimating your activity level when calculating your BMR online. There is simply no way to lose weight while in a caloric surplus. Remember the number you get online is only an estimate!

A possible explanation for your results is, you have been in a chronically large deficit for so long due to underestimation, your metabolism is beginning to "reset" now that you have upped your calories.

I haven't been following you that long, so I'm not sure if you already measure body temperature in the morning -- that can be the most helpful indicator of your metabolic rate. 97.8-98.2 degrees F is normal & indicates a normal metabolism (which coincides easily with online calculations). Every degree below that, however, represents a 10% reduction in BMR and vice versa.

For example, when I'm near the end of a dieting period with an extreme deficit (30 - 50%), my morning temperature is about 1.5 degrees lower than it is when I'm at maintenance calories.

(The sources I thought of while writing this comment are Lyle McDonald of and Leigh Peele of

Funni said...

Nice results!

Are you considering adding organ meat to your diet to get all the essentials? You might not get it all from just muscle-meat... in fact, it's likely that grok preferred the fatty organs to the lean meat, which was dried for long-term storage or fed to the dogs if excess occurred... and the bone-marrow, the fattiest part of the animal, was the most attractive of all!

a lot of people are grossed out, but personally I love all kinds of varietys with offals! Chicken liver is my fave.

(and no getting sick here! I lovelovelove the flow of pictures you post of juicy meat XD)

Anonymous said...

Nice! So how did you feel in terms of energy levels? Any noticeable change?

Jezwyn said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! Not sure why everyone is trying so hard to "explain my results" - it's all pretty damn obvious to me. But I'll explain it further (am trying to avoid getting too technical here since it's all just theory and conjecture, no matter how well-read we are):

Blood work is hard to access and very costly, and requires a GP as middle-man. I don't invite unnecessary medical interference. This diet isn't that different to how I have been eating already, so nothing is likely to have changed so significantly as to warrant all that fuss and bother.

This is a diet experiment - I am not adding extra exercise into my usual regime as it would skew my results. I'm very well aware of what a Primal lifestyle involves, kthxbi.

I also know how protein and muscle waste works - over the holidays, I slept for a good 12 hours every day, and ate less, and moved less, so it is indeed very likely that my muscles depleted over this time. My body lets me know when this, and the inverse, is happening.

My Intarwebz BMR calculation is used as a reference only (hence my tongue-in-cheek, derisive use of 'Intarwebz'), and is a range that is supported by my earlier calorie experiment where I scaled back my calories from 2500kcal per week until fatloss resumed. It was physically impossible for me to lose weight on a mixed Primal diet when I consumed more than 1900kcal during the school term (active) or 1500kcal during inactive periods. My count isn't some random estimation, and my average intake hasn't been regular enough in the past month for my body to have adjusted to that range, whether a deficit or not. I have had weeks in the past that have been over 2000kcal per day, and yet weight loss has not necessarily improved or restarted once calories returned to my optimal range. There's more to it than calories.

I'm surprised regarding the comments about metabolism, but perhaps you have not read the resources I listed at the beginning of this experiment. To save you some time (but I do encourage you to read them), the likely reason for my body to be able to lose weight at a higher caloric intake than I could on a different way of eating is due to two factors: one, that even a small amount of carbs was effecting an insulin response which interrupted my ability to burn fat (I have not been in ketosis for some time, not since my early days on Atkins Induction-esque foods), and also - here it comes folks - because my system is designed to run on meat and fat! My core temperature fires up noticeably when I have eaten, a sure sign of metabolism doing its thing, with the bioavailability of nutrients and energy helping my system work at maximum capacity (starting to sound like a rocketship, must power-down the allegorical thrusters...) My body combats the cold weather itself rather than needing me to rug up every time someone opens the classroom door. I never have any digestive distress. I wake up refreshed in the morning (usually) so I spend less time walking around zombie-style. All up - my body is willing and able to burn more of the fuel I put in. I felt this change begin when I took my week of zerocarb (inc egg and dairy) before meat-only, despite my kcal usually sitting around 1300-1700 per day during that time.

For the tribes nearest in ancestry to me, the fat around the muscle was the prized part of the animal, and that's certainly the part I am prizing. On top of that, it's nearly impossible to find organic organ meat here, although my biodynamic butcher does stock some, but charges a ridiculous amount for it. But I know that a few carnivores with an online presence live on raw organ meat mixed with some minced beef, so I'm not completely averse to trying it out one day, when I have a supplier of organ meats that doesn't require me to sell mine first... In the meantime, my high-quality meat and fat is getting me all the essentials, propped up by Mark's Master Formula (which I'm probably going to stop taking since all it's giving me is stinky urine... What waste.)

Thanks for reading!