The Binary Nature of The Carnivore Diet - go all in or don't go at all

The purpose of this article is to encourage those interested in the carnivore diet, to commit to strict meat and water, for at least 30 days before deciding it doesn't work for them. In my experience, many people quit before realizing the true benefits. I'm not saying this is "the best diet". That doesn't exist. I'm saying it has unique advantages. 

People tell me they tried the carnivore diet, but it didn’t work for them. They say things like, “I craved salads, I got bored of meat, I lost strength, my digestion was fucked, I never felt fully satiated”.

I recently went to lunch with one of these people. He claimed to be 2 months into the carnivore diet. He ordered a protein style burger. 2 patties wrapped in lettuce with onion and tomato. I ordered 6 patties and some salt packets. He explained that the carnivore diet didn’t offer any huge performance increase over the keto diet, but that he’d stick it out another month for good measure. When I asked him when he planned to BEGIN the carnivore diet, he furrowed his brow and tilted his head 15 degrees to the left, like a cocker spaniel.

There’s a distinct “shift” in the body when plants are totally removed from the diet. A change that doesn’t occur when plants are almost totally removed. Strict carnivore (100% meat and water) feels nothing like lazy carnivore (95% meat plus a salad every few days).

This radical physiological change is what thousands of committed carnivores are raving about, but what those who lack discipline to fully commit, cannot understand.

 Ribeye with Icelandic blueberry sea salt

Ribeye with Icelandic blueberry sea salt

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The human body is a complex system. Like many complex systems: computers, organizations, heavy machinery, women…it’s often binary or bimodal. This way or that way, but never a mixture of both ways.

The nervous system, for example, is sympathetic or parasympathetic. Fight or rest. Deadlift explosively, then sleep deeply. But never deadlift while sleeping.

Binary systems work in opposition to each other. Activating one, deactivates the other. Glucose metabolism (sugar burning) shuts down ketosis (fat burning).

I enjoy competitive triathlons AND competitive powerlifting…but I never train power and endurance simultaneously. Maximal strength and maximal aerobic capacity are mutually exclusive. Don’t go for long ass runs when you’re trying to build your deadlift. Even hypertrophy (muscle growth) is separate from strength development. Spend a couple months getting big, then a couple getting strong.

As I write, more examples are coming to me. The main course comes before dessert, but never blended together, vanilla ribeye cake? Broads are either crazy or loyal. When growing hydroponic weed, there’s a veg phase (growth) and then a flowering phase (buds).

Inorganic systems offer good examples too. Vehicles are either performance based or economically based. Speed or MPG. Rarely do we see a car with both.

There are hybrids, but they’re never the best at any one thing. Enduro motorcycles are designed to handle city streets and mountain trails. But an enduro will never win the Moto GP or Supercross. Those podiums are reserved for Superbikes or Dirt bikes.

My good friend, Vanderchill, the owner of the best burger joint in SoCal, Grinderz, drives a Cadilac ATS-V. My first question when he showed me this freight train of a car was, “Is it manual?” He reluctantly replied, “It’s got paddle shifters.” Half the population of the sperm in his balls spontaneously committed suicide at that moment. Because every man knows paddle shifters don’t come with a clutch. #HybridMediocrity

Lots of plants or none

The human body adapts better than anything. Planetary Super predator…Check.  World domination…check. Our systems, hormonal, metabolic, sleep, emotions, etc. upregulate for specific inputs.

When I removed plants, my liver stopped producing enzymes to break down plants. The plant dependent microorganisms in my gut died off. That’s probably when my cravings for salad vanished.  Gut bacteria are known to influence cravings. The bugs inside me fought hard to stay alive. I had mad cravings for fibrous foods just before adaptation. They literally live on that stuff.

After adaptation, all resources were dedicated to converting one thing into energy…meat. Nothing was wasted, my system became hyper efficient. Ditch what you don’t need, its deadweight. I don’t keep a spare set of off-road tires in my Fiesta ST.

6 months into the “no plant diet” I ate an avocado and shat myself. I’d enjoyed avocados my entire life. But this one gave me stomach pains, a headache, disrupted sleep and anxiety. All from a measly avocado.

I hadn’t the gut bacteria or enzymes to handle it. The brussels sprouts experiment was even worse. Variety is metabolically expensive. Eating a wide range of foods is like majoring in 10 subjects. Resources are spread thin.

"Spices" seem to be OK, so long as its a very small amount of plant material...like herbs or a Serrano chili to gnaw on. 

 Bear eyeballing some wild Elk.

Bear eyeballing some wild Elk.

When I decided to add plants back in, I made sure to eat them daily. If I’m going to grow a plant-based microbiome in my gut, it will be well fed. I didn’t include a huge variety of plants. I pick a few nutrient dense species and stick with them for a few weeks.

I adapted back to a mixed diet after a couple weeks. I can eat avocados again. But I lost that unique carnivore edge. That beast mode. I plan to return to carnivore several times a year for specific goals.

No man’s land, a carnivore diet with a salad and almond butter every so often, enjoys neither the benefits of strict carnivore or the mixed diet with plants. It’s just a confused, non-adapted middle ground…like the enduro.

Bottomline: If you’re going to try the carnivore diet, don’t be a pusillanimous. Commit to meat and water for 30 days and wait for adaptation. You’ll know when it happens.

Thanks for reading, have a good day.

Gabe

p.s. - here's a video of a respectable human being advocating the carnivore diet.