The Carnivore Diet Experiment

Carnivore DietThe carnivore diet has been flooding my social media feed as of late. Everyone from Joe Rogan to Jordan Peterson, Shawn Baker and a pantheon of athletes are all trying the diet hoping to gain energy, reduce inflammation and improve athletic performance. I had a very good friend of mine who attempted to get me to try the carnivore diet a few years back, but at the time I wasn’t ready to take the leap. He talked about how the switch to eating just meat helped him heal up some gut issues he was having, and as an added benefit he also dropped a significant amount of weight. His story was compelling but I just wasn’t ready to give up all the food that I enjoyed. But as I got further along in my jiu jitsu practice I started to realize that I needed to make some lifestyle changes if I was going to have the energy to roll as often as I wanted to roll. I started by changing my sleeping habits, I became more strict about when I went to bed. I also changed what I ate, and when I ate. Intermittent fasting (along with bullet proof coffee) helped me to have more energy and also helped fix some gut issues I was having. I also became a lot stricter about the quality of my food, really focusing  on eating more meat, vegetables and less low quality carbs. All of these changes greatly improved my jiu jitsu.

I have been following Dr. Shawn Baker’s twitter feed for a while, at the recommendation of my friend. Dr. Baker has been exploring the carnivore diet for some time, with amazing results. He is an athlete in his 50’s, who holds many strength records, including 1st place Texas Strongest Man, and 5th place USA Strongest Man. He attributes his athletic prowess to the carnivore diet. This piqued my interest. I’m still trying to dial in my nutrition, and suffering from exhaustion more often than I think I should, and if this diet helped Dr. Baker with his athletic goals, maybe it can help me with mine.  One thing I’ve been interested in seeing is his lab work, to see if eating only meat has had any negative effect on his cholesterol or reveal any other potential issues. It’s one thing to see a boost in athletic performance, but if it comes at the cost of causing harm in other aspects of your health then it’s not worth it. Dr. Baker was a guest on Robb Wolf’s podcast, in which they discussed his lab results, and they look pretty good. This has given me the confidence to try this diet myself.

In addition to Dr. Baker’s results, I have also been following Dr. Jordan Peterson’s and his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson’s, dietary journey. Mikhaila has suffered from a long list of physical and mental ailments (arthritis, depression, skin issues), and Dr. Peterson has said he also suffers from depression and digestive issues, among other problems. Traditional medical advice wasn’t helping with their problems, so Mikhaila decided to try changing her diet to alleviate her symptoms. She eliminated everything from her diet except for meat, and in short order she claims that most of her physical and mental issues subsided.  Dr. Peterson saw the results his daughter had and decided to give the carnivore diet a try himself, and apparently he also saw a litany of positive effects, including more energy, less brain fog, relief from depression, clearer skin, and weight loss. You can see the interview with Joe Rogan here:

All of that sounds intriguing to me, so this week I’ve decided to give it a shot. I went to the grocery store and found some sale items, BOGO chicken breast and london broil. I found a recipe online for london broil, and made enough for lunches and dinners for the next couple of days. I started eating mostly meat 2 days ago, and I can say that I already feel more energy, I haven’t slept as many hours as I usually do, and I’m thinking much more clearly than I have in a long time.  I’m going to stick with this for at least a week, maybe a month and see how the results hold up.

Of course, as part of this diet, I have to eliminate beer, as beer contains carbs that would interfere. So I looked up what people recommend for alcohol when on the carnivore diet, and it looks like bourbon is on the menu, so I got all the base ingredients to make Old Fashioneds at home. Yes, I know the simple syrup is a little bit of a cheat, but as important as it is to eat well for the body, I also think you need to eat (or drink) a little that’s good for the soul.

Old Fashioned Recipe:

Optionally you can add a bit of orange peel and a maraschino cherry, but I just make mine with the ingredients listed above and it comes out great.  Mix it all together, drop in an ice cube and enjoy some fine sipping.

Old Fashioned

I’ll write another post after eating this way for a while, to share my experiences, and meal prep tips. Meal prep has been the trickiest thing to figure out for me, especially on a budget, so if I find any good hacks I’ll share it in the next post. I’m already planning on buying beef jerky for snacks, Epic Meat Bars I’ve tried before and their products are delicious. I also saw Three Jerks Jerky on the Shark Tank, and I’ll be checking that out as well. I don’t know how you can go wrong with jerky made out of filet mignon.

I’m really hoping that I get some of the benefits that I’ve been reading about on the carnivore diet. It would be nice to need less sleep, and to be able to recover from jiu jitsu quicker. I know what you eat is as important (if not more so) than your fitness routine, so with a little tweaking I’m hoping that the carnivore diet will boost performance.

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