Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) test = five years younger than my current age in healthy test subjects.
[Edit 2/18/20: a second CIMT taken six months after the first one shows no visible inflammation in the carotid arteries. That is an improvement.]
I decided to pay out of pocket for a CAC scan last month since I could not get my doctor to order one. They are not yet standard-of-practice, or even well understood, in the orthodox world of conventional medicine. I had one done ten years ago, also zero, and also paid for out of pocket because my doctor would not order it. I did that one six years after going to the dark side and starting to make saturated plant and animal fat the predominant source of energy in my diet.
It was hellish scary, making that switch. I’d lost 90 pounds by following Barry Sears’ Zone Diet from January 1, 2002 through October of that same year. Then 10 pounds more later.
Sears believes saturated fat will kill you. He articulates the why of it very well. He was a bleeding edge lipidologist (specialist in fat science) at MIT with 9 patents in lipid delivery systems before he bailed from academia and wrote Enter the Zone. Choosing to believe he, along with most of the rest of the brightest scientific minds in the academic, scientific, and medical communities, were wrong about saturated fat was a terrifying decision but it made sense and I chose to bet my life on it.
The CAC scan I had done in 2010, after six years of heavy saturated animal and plant fat consumption – about 60% of my daily calories – was zero.
It remains zero ten years later.
That includes a two year long period of sugar and starch re-addiction that began when I did Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb Diet in 2014. I was working to see if I could reach bodybuilder levels of leanness, just for fun.
Foundational to the SCD is a one day high starch, high sugar binge done each week for the duration of the fat cutting cycle. The high calorie intake re-starts a metabolism that has gotten sluggish from caloric restriction over the prior six days. I never recovered from binge day after the diet was over and I’d reached 5% bodyfat. It re-triggered the addictions I had not realized I had kicked in 2002. I did not regain the 100 pounds of fat I had lost 12 years before but I did put on 50 fresh pounds of it while watching my vitality and health disappear.
After several years of failed attempts to kick sugar I decided to do a high fat, hard ketogenic diet in January of 2018. I had never tried one before. I was hoping it would help with a severe concussion I had taken six months earlier. I also used it to do a whole-life re-set and finally kick the sugar addiction.
In July of 2018 I modified the keto program by eliminating all plants except a single daily cup of coffee and shifted to a high fat, all meat, fully carnivore diet.
Despite any damage done from the two years of sugar binging, and despite the idiotic amounts of saturated fat I have eaten for 16 years, I have no calcified atherosclerotic plaque in my arteries around the heart.
A legitimate problem with the CAC test is it can only locate arterial plaque that is old enough and large enough to have begun to calcify. In the early stages of plaque formation the masses are soft. It can take years for calcification to begin, which means you can have a zero CAC score and still be loaded with active atherosclerotic lesions. A CAC provides no information beyond an implication that past conditions remain true today. It is a powerful test but it provides an incomplete view.
The CIMT test – an ultrasound of the carotid arteries at the neck – provides a visual look at both calcified plaque and soft, inflamed, active plaques that have not yet begun to attract calcium. It is the soft, active plaques that most often break apart and lead to arterial blockages that cause heart attacks, not the older, hard plaques that show up in a CAC scan. Last June I paid out of pocket for one (again, no support from conventional medicine because it’s not yet in their diagnostic paradigm) and discovered, corroborating the blood test numbers I’ve consistently seen since three months after I began a ketogenic diet in 2018, that my neck arteries show minimal signs of active inflammation and have minimal hard plaque in line with healthy test subjects in my age range.
I’ve been eating a diet that should have killed me long ago according to consensus science.
The 100% meat, no plant, carnivore diet even more so.
If nothing else I should be dead from scurvy if the current orthodox models of how the body functions are correct. They are clearly wrong. More investigation is required from curious, open minded investigators who want to understand how our prior views have been incorrect. In the meanwhile the pioneers who are willing to fly without the safety net of established science to back up their choices will continue on.
After sixteen years of eating extraordinary amounts of saturated animal fat – while reducing sugar and starch intakes to minimal levels before eliminating them entirely during eighteen months of an entirely meat, zero plant diet – my arteries are perfectly clean.
That is amazing.
It is also a relief.
It is not stress-less going against the beliefs of others, particularly smart people who make their living studying the very things I chose, and continue to choose, to disagree with. Especially when you are betting your life on it.
Gratitude to those who came before me and paved the way, often against far more opposition and with much less support than I have had.
Finally, I offer some love to anyone who is willing to make the change to improve their health and return their body to its primal best by working to give a diet shift a try. I tell my story because when things got hard – and they were often very hard – it was the stories of those who had difficult times but got through them and succeeded that kept me on track when my entire system was exploding in resistance to the changes I had made with immediate and overwhelming desire to go back to the old ways, not stay tracked in on the new. Good luck to you as you make your way.
I haven’t posted pictures for nine months because my body has not visually changed. After six months of a hard ketogenic diet beginning January 1, 2018 I switched to a fully carnivore, zero plant diet on July 1st. By January 2019 my body had found its fat/lean set point.
I maintain about 12% bodyfat when eating an unrestricted all-meat diet. By following my hunger signals – I eat when hungry and stop when full – I consume 3000-4000 calories a day, usually taken over three meals – with supper being the largest.
In January of 2019 I began to incorporate water fasts into the program to drive detoxification and renewal of my body’s metabolic mechanisms after decades of abuse. In January, February, and March I did a three day water-only fast each month. In April and June I did a five day fast. I just completed the first seven day fast and am posting the visual results below.
The jury remains out on what the fasts are doing. Each one has been different.
On January first I weighed 175 pounds. The day before the seven day fast I weighed 175 pounds. The body dumps weight during the fast then restores itself through careful re-feeds in the weeks after.
I have two more fasts remaining this year – a seven day in October then either a seven or ten day in December. After that I will re-evaluate and decide how to proceed next year.
If you click on the image it will enlarge. The differences are subtle but noticeable. All four images are from the same seven day period, one clothed and one unclothed. I often speak of the roll of extra skin I maintain from the years I was overfat. It’s visible in the clothed pictures but re-distributes itself in the unclothed images.
Because I’m engaged in such an unusual diet I’m exposed to unusual thinking. I’ve learned more about food, nutrition, human health, and the health of the Earth in the past year than I had ever known – even after 20 years of relatively intense studying and experimenting with diet and exercise.
The first formal diet I ever did was an attempt to eat Vegan. In 1997 my wife, son and I went vegetable only for four months. No animal products at all. I felt absolutely great. Mind clear, body clear. Unfortunately, I was starving the entire time. No meal ever satisfied the hunger. I recall being stuffed and ravenous simultaneously after a big feed. It was only the application of an iron will that kept me on track.
After it was over I had discovered I loved unprocessed, organic Vegan food (except soy. Bleah) but needed a steak with my vegetables.
It had been instructive.
Why did I try Vegan first? Because like everyone else in the US I had been impacted by the Vegan Cultural Imperative. I had no desire to harm animals. I had questions about the long term health of eating meat. I wondered at the sustainability of animal agriculture. I had any number of thoughts about food but gave no consideration to the source of those thoughts.
How had I heard about all of those things? They were and are ubiquitous. We all hear them all the time. They are a constant undercurrent in the news and, increasingly, the culture.
Over the past several years I’ve spent some time at WeWork locations in New York City. It’s a super-hip, hyper-connected, shared work space that allows people to subscribe to the service and find communal rooms in several restored, re-sourced buildings in all the major cities in the US.
I felt like a dinosaur in there. The crowd was fully hipster – age mid-20s.
WeWork recently made all of their spaces Vegan, no longer allowing meat to be served in their buildings. That was a marketing decision. In an increasingly competitive shared-space market, a market they invented, they branded themselves the hippest of all of the competing rent-a-space companies by taking a current foundatational belief of the most elite of all cultural elites and defining their business around it. Consider how many people have to be willing to be Vegan, at least for their time at WeWork, for the business model to succeed. That is a lot of people.
My dive into a fully Carnivore, Zero Plant Diet has taken me down paths I had never considered before. I’ve learned more about food and food sourcing than I ever knew. I had already been buying much of my food directly from farmers for years, giving me an understanding of where food comes from, yet I had not really considered all the implications for the impact that food – both plant and animal – makes on the ground on which it is grown.
We have all heard that grazing animals destroy the environment. What we have not heard, and what I had not fully considered before, was how plant farming destroys the environment. One of the more interesting articles I have read was a blog post entitled “The Most Vegan Item In Your Grocery Store Is A Steak”. It laid out the case for the terrible damage being done to ecosystems and the animals that live in them due to past and present deforestation for crop fields. It also described the incredible amount of animal life destroyed yearly through the process of plowing, cultivating, and harvesting plants. As many as 7 billion animals are killed a year for our worldwide crop harvest. Many very small creatures die for that salad we eat every day. Contrast that with the single death of a steer – feeding one human for six months to a year. I’d never thought about it before because I’d never heard anyone talk about it. The Vegan ethic is a powerful, compelling story and it’s presented as truth so often and so subtly I had no idea there were competing opinions.
Even more ever-present than the death conversation is the Vegan argument on the sustainability and environmental cost of animal agriculture. As it turns out that story is far more complicated than the one we have been told. There are other, competing versions that tell a different tale. One of the most interesting is contained in the linked article below. Most notable is its presence in a relatively main stream source. I’ve been reading about the Earth healing impact of properly managed grazing operations for a while but the information was coming from fringe websites. The Guardian got a whiff of the story and told it pretty well in the article.
Intelligent, concerned, caring people can look at the evidence for either vegetable or meat consumption and disagree with each other. I find myself increasingly coming to believe that it is almost impossible to be a Vegan without creating long-term nutritional deficiencies. While it is clear we can eat plants, and possibly even thrive on them, it seems more and more obvious to me that after a decade or more of consuming only plants the body begins to degrade. It is often subtle. It may even extend life-span by creating a long term state of pseudo-undereating but it does so at the cost of strength and vitality.
I’m hesitant to say this out loud. I don’t want to upset my vegan friends, of whom I have many. Yet I now believe it needs to be said. The narrative we’ve been given is misleading at best, most likely deceptive. It needs to be corrected and if no one steps up to do it it will never be done.
What are the long term effects of eating only meat? No one yet knows. There are strong clues if you know where to look for them but the last cultures that ate only meat to the exclusion of almost everything else are long gone. The 50,000 people who are migrating to this way-of-eating (WOE) are pioneers in a plant eating world. We are experimenting. That entails risk.
It also leads to outsize reward if you get it right.
Having more information is always a good thing in my experience so I’m passing all of this on to present a way of thinking that is counter to what is common but contains truths worth considering.