Zero Carb Diet

The latest diet rage seems to be the Zero Carb Diet. The rules are:

  1. Eat only from the animal world (eggs, fish, red meat and fowl and some dairy are all animal sourced foods, i.e.: meat).
  2. Eat nothing from the vegetable world whatsoever. (Very small amounts of flavorings such as garlic/chillies/spices/herbs which may be added, are not ‘food’).
  3. Avoid milk and yogurt (heavy carbs – lactose), use only pure (not ‘thickened’- heavy) cream (read the label), cheese and unsalted butter.
  4. Don’t cook your meat very much – just a little bit on the outside – for flavor – blood – rare.
  5. Eat liver and brains only very infrequently – they are full of carbs.
  6. Be sure to have plenty of fat of animal origin at each meal and eat mostly of the fat until you feel you have had enough – you can eat more lean at this point if you like – calories are not important, nor is the number of meals/day. Vegetable oils are not good food.
  7. You do not need any supplements of any kind. Drink a lot of water and do not add salt to anything.

The hard core Zero carbers go even further. No eggs (they have carbs!). No dairy or cheese (carbs!). Not to mention “bolting” the food – swallow it without chewing it.

This is not supposed to be a crash diet, done for a short period of time. The Zero carbers see it as a way to eat for life. They are fully convinced that you can be fully healthy by eating supermarket meat only.

They base this conviction on the history of carnivorous peoples. The Inuits provide the main example. I do not understand how they fail to see the difference on a diet based on supermarket beef and a native carnivorous diet that included raw offal (brain and liver contain Vit. C, for example). Certain animal parts, raw, were greatly favored by carnivorous peoples. There surely was a reason for it. The same reason that I can crave broccoli. There must be something my body needs from it.

Even more alarming is that many with a history of ED (Eating Disorders) jump on the Zero Carb wagon. From one extreme to the other. While it might be good that they become unafraid of fat and calories, the recommendation to “eat fat until nauseous, then lean” doesn’t seem like it would lead to a healthy relationship to food.

What will the Zero Carbers do when weight loss stops? Cut the protein and risk protein deficiency? Cut the fat and end up with a Kimkins starvation diet? What other option is there?

Now, I don’t think that a couple of weeks with meat only is doing any harm. This is really Atkins’ induction, in the original 1972 diet. But Atkins never intended it to be done for life. He invented the carb ladder for a reason.

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Thanks for blogging about this. I hope more light gets shined on those extreme zero carbers who exaggerate and misrepresent the studies and researchers works that the plan is supposed to be based on before somebody is harmed by it.

This is so disturbing. I am wide open to the idea that doctors and nutritionists have been getting it wrong all this time, but there’s still the concept of safety to consider. Who came up with the rules for this diet??? And how can they recommend it as safe when the studies they interpret bear little resemblance to those rules? Persuasively mixing a little fact with opinion doesn’t make a person an authority… far more like Kimmer than cardiologist Dr. Atkins, for example.

At the very least, it’s easy to see that cultures who ate their meat minimally cooked or raw weren’t getting genetically modified meat from super bacteria laden factories. Their bodies weren’t being challenged by the same sort of microbial, environmental and lifestyle stresses that we have today, either.

People really need to carefully consider who you are getting health advice from. Doctors aren’t always right, but a population of wrong doctors doesn’t mean some guy on the internet is right either.

I’ve been watching the Zero Carbers for about a year. Unless I’ve missed something, they all seem to be doing okay. Many drop out because the diet is extremely boring, but so far I have not heard about any health problems. By a year, lots of health problems were evident on plans like the ones promoted by Heidi Diaz.

It appears that each zero carber does the plan a little bit differently. For example, Tooter continues to use her beloved coconut oil, which is definitely plant-based. Some zero carbers follow most of the rules you cited above. Others use a very low carb (<10 per day) version. (On pages 155-156 of the 1972 DADR, Dr. Atkins said that eating essentially zero carbs might be necessary for some very metabolically resistant folks in order to continue to lose weight.)

It’s also important to note that the zero carbers and the very low carbers are not engaging in some form of rabbit starvation by eating only lean meat. They emphasize that it is important to eat lots of fat for this way of life to work.

I’m intrigued by the stories from bulemics that I’ve seen on Low Carb Friends. Some of them find that when they eat zero carb, they are able to stop obsessing about food. If that works in the long run, it would be a very helpful strategy to help people with eating disorders who want to escape the need to think constantly about food.

Right now I’m not pro-zero carbing or against it. If you have any specific evidence that it is dangerous, could you please pass that along?

Stargazey – No, I don’t have anything specific that would show zero carb is bad in the long term, but neither have I seen any proof that it is healthy. It’s wrong to point at the Inuits and claim that their diet had any resemblance to a zero carb diet, or to a supermarket diet today.

I haven’t seen that many long term zero carbers that have faithfully stayed with zero carb for a year or longer. Most of them admit to “falling off the wagon” now and then. Perhaps taking vitamins help too. Even though The Bear discouraged it, I know that many zero carbers do take supplements.

And you are right. I should have pointed out that this is a high fat diet.

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30 lbs in 30 days nice. were you on zero carb?

Mariasol–five months have now passed and I’ve tried something close to Zero Carb myself. I experienced tiredness, skin problems, slight weight gain and the acquisition of a roll of fat around my middle. Other than that, I felt fine, and I actually enjoyed the simplicity of a fatty meat and water diet. I was happy to be able to return to three meals a day without needing to fight off a constant need to snack.

But behind-the-scenes interactions with some members of the Zeroing In On Health bulletin board made me realize that Zero Carb may cause elevated blood glucose in some people. For a more complete account of all of this, interested people can read about it at my blog:

Thanks for letting me add this to my previous comment.

Thank you for your comment, Stargazey! I encourage anybody looking into Zero Carb to read your blog. Or, that is interested in the science behind Low Carb. A lot of good information there.

does anyone even know about the guy who’s been on the diet for 47 years? just because your belief system blocks out anything it doesn’t agree with right away doesn’t mean it’s correct.

If you want science, look up gary taubes. But personal experience is the only way you could ever prove it. Science can say whatever it wants, it just depends who pays more. Except for the few exeptions of people who aren’t bullied into supporting a certain idea/theory with money.

Bulls….balloney whatever.
Lets face it, carbs all day long, they are fuel to be eaten just during morning
the most sedentary life in the world history
We have the denial habit.
we dont like fruits and vegetables
at least i have not seen anybody weighting 300 lbs because he/she sits 5 hours a day to eat broccoli and oranges

I was wondering how can I start eat fat off my meat. I am pregnant now but after i breastfeed I want to go back to as low carb as possible to lose weight. I am afraid I will gag if I eat the fat off my meat. Any suggestions?

Zero carbohydrate diets can be accomplished without animal flesh, eggs, or dairy at all. For vegans, this is good news. Simply drink nothing at all except water and most importantly – Plant oils. Olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, evening primrose oil, or perilla oil. Plant oils have no carbohydrates. If afraid of protein or vitamin deficiency, use supplements. Besides, once the fat is lost, then you can start to reprogram the way you eat.

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