Like the character Kip in the movie Napolean Dynamite, as he dutifilly grates some cheddar atop a large pile of nachos-to-be, ?I’m really busy right now. However, I couldn’t not include the nutrition geek blogosphere in my current personal experiment ? especially considering the recent battle royale between Charles and Bruce?
First off, as just a tiny bit of background (and I’ll add plenty more as we go along day by day), nutritionists have long been debating the viability of a purely carnivorous diet ? for humans. On the one hand you had the Eskimos, who were all like, I think it might be possible to eat only animals you guys. They came to this conclusion as a result of eating like this for centuries while managing to get the attention of every health-curious explorer to have trudged into areas in which native foods were exclusively eaten. Their attention was captured because the Eskimos, while eating their native food groups of meat, fish, seal, and whale, had amongst the most robust health ever documented.
And it wasn’t just Eskimos that subsisted off of meat alone. Many early 20th century explorers and trappers raved about the vitality provided by an all-Pemmican diet (pemmican is dried meat encased in rendered fat). This was made famous by the legendary travels and year-long scientifically-monitored carnivorous diet of renowned anthropological explorer, Vihljamur Stefansson.
Anyway, I’ve been curious about the therapeutic applications of such a diet for a long time and wanted to experience it first hand to develop a more sophisticated opinion of it. Charles, a purely carnivorous, extremely well-researched, and fierce-looking marathon runner definitely helped inspire this escapade, although I’ve been toying with the idea for months.
As tempted as I was to call it the Napolean Dynamite diet, as the characters in the movie were seen eating little else than steak on a plate (except in cafeteria scenes featuring copious tater tots), the official name will be ?The 30-Day FUMP diet.
Before hinting at the meaning of the acronym, FUMP, let me first qualify what I’m about to say?
I have tremendous admiration for what some people have done. In fact, one man in particular has done more to progress the real food movement in the last couple of years than any other scholar, even getting the attention of our next president with his recent New York Times article. For that I commend him.
But it’s also very important to cajole those that you admire the most in and around your field. So here comes a fair criticism.
The MP in FUMP represents Michael Pollan, who, in his most recent bestselling book has made the broad-sweeping statement on the cover, simply put, that virtually all of mainstream medicine and nutrition would nod a dense head to, that we should all?
?Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Been there, done that, failed miserably ? and I’m not alone. Doing so made me ravenously hungry, nuked my digestion, made me an emotional basketcase, and helped me achieve the chiseled look of a marshmallow. It did help me sneeze and wheeze a lot to accompany my intense gas and physical pain. I’ll give it that.
Anyway, I’ll let you use your imagination as to what the letters that precede MP represent. Suffice it to say that the mantra here, if there is one, is?
?Eat food. As much as you want. Mostly animals.
And now, the contents of the first supper of the 30-day FUMP diet?
2 ounces calamari steak
1 slice totally uncured fatty bacon (from Three Meadow’s Tamworth hogs)
8 ounces organic heavy cream ? chugged straight
Tiny pinch of celtic sea salt
(Once the cream is gone it will be flesh foods and oils only, zero carbohydrates)
Be sure to follow along!
?And no I’m not saying this is the only healthy way to eat, or that I’m doing this for life, or anything like that. I’m doing this for my own personal educational purposes and am not a psycho. I do stuff like that, and usually keep it to myself to keep from freaking others out and thus appearing untrustworthy. Yes there are risks to following an all-meat diet ? ones I’m willing to accept. Don’t try this at home. Keep in mind I’ve had a two-year diet consisting of primarily fat with an average of just 100 grams of carbohydrates per day leading up to this. My body utilizes fats extremely well at this point, and the transition is much safer and easier for me to make than it would be for your average person.
When you get done with this diet, how about trying a raw milk diet for a month or two. Then switch to a pasteurized milk diet to see what happens.
Oh come on Dave! Take one for the team here! Try it man!
I think you should do one month each of exclusively the following:
Pasteurized skim milk
Raw whole milk
Let me know who wins!
You won’t be disappointed with Zero Carb. This is my 6 month on ZC and I am thriving!
FUMP – perfect! Sums up my opinion quite well. Tried his version and enjoyed the same results as you reported.
Come visit us at the ZC forum sometime :)
While I don’t think this is for me, I *do* admire the empirical approach you are taking.
On bit of info I heard from a nutritionist with a decidedly low carb bent (who met Atkins and worked with Linus Pauling) was that Eskimoes had a high rate of stroke. I haven’t verified this, but it might be something worth tracking down.
‘Bodyhacking’ like this isn’t for everybody, but I think it provides some valuable info for other bodyhackers.
Keep it real and keep it honest,
Thanks LCC. There’s quite a crossroads when it comes to low carb vs. no carb. To be honest, it seems like those who have turned against the carbohydrate most severely have run into the greatest problems. Just last week yet another person was complaining to me of coldness, tiredness, irritability, and other clearly low-thyroid problems after going to 20-30 grams of carbs for 6 months.
On the other hand, an all-meat diet has so much therapeutic potential and has been so highly lauded by Stefansson and guys like Charles Washington that how could I not give it a whirl?
We’ll see what insights I have as time progresses. Please stay tuned, and feel free to nudge your way into any conversations while you’re at it.
I’ve never bothered with Michael Pollan, based on his catchphrase to eat “not too much” and “mostly plants.” I am neutral. I’m not for or against zero-carb, but it isn’t based on good science. I disagree with Charles, because all he cares about is weight loss, not health. He talks ad nauseam about how eating meat with eggs made him gain a few pounds, eating meat with cheese made him gain a few pounds, etc. But he never tried eating the eggs and cheese by themselves. He mixed the foods together, rather than trying each one separately and in combination.
His claims are purely anecdotal and do not prove anything about what diet is optimal. It may just prove that mixing those foods together was bad, but his only concern is his weight. That is a vain, shallow, false standard of health IMO. It’s just eliminating lots of food based on superficial short-term results.
I ate very-low-carbs years ago, and lost weight to 185# at around 6 ft. Switching to the Primal Diet (100% raw, low fiber, high saturated fat) made me lose around 15# in a few months. All vegetables were juiced. No raw whole vegetables, limited fruit, very little nuts, low-fiber. Also I drank 2-4 quarts of raw milk a day and ate unheated honey in large amounts. So, nobody can say that this was a low-carb diet. AV tells many people to eat honey by the cup (that’s like 250g of carbs a day) and they reverse diabetes or lose weight on those amounts. So, you have to factor in the cooked food factor. Carbs that are cooked are more fattening than raw carbs, esp low-fiber ones.
Good commentary Bruce. I do agree wholeheartedly about weight management and the misleading nature of short term benefits. That’s what gets vegans thinking their diet is acceptable – that they have miraculous short-term results on it.
It’s not a simple matter of carbs make you fat, and there are several ways to overcome insulin resistance, from veganism to eating tons of honey and drinking milk, to going low carb.
Insulin resistance is caused by high cortisol anyway. With normal cortisol levels, you can eat carbs all day and have fantastic health just as many of our carb-lovin’ ancestors had.
And there is tremendous danger of raising cortisol by doing this meat diet shiz.
Vegans are a perfect example. They eat a deficient diet for years and often feel healthy, just like Charles. The proof is in the long-term effects, however. Many develop severe and irreversible problems from vegan diets, esp the raw vegan and fruitarian versions. The Primal Diet is not ideal, IMO, for various reasons. My health declined over a period of a year and a half on it. But I think a version of it without the green vegetable juice and raw egg whites and other things may be healthier than the typical low-carb diet of cooked food and/or frankenfood.
Many people on low-carb diets wonder why they can't lose any more fat, but never bother to consider the fact that they're eating mostly or exclusively cooked food and often processed low-carb foods like artificial sweeteners, PUFA oils, sugar alcohols, mayonnaise & salad dressings, roasted / salted nuts, protein powders, etc. Those are not foods, they are food like substances, to quote Pollan. I do agree with Charles that those foods are toxic and probably cause health/weight problems in the long run.
I don't think I have insulin resistance, because I can eat carbs and feel totally calm, relaxed, happy, energetic, etc. If I eat low-carb, I get overly worried and frustrated and obsessive-compulse with a lot of other problems. I feel like Diana Schwarzbein said, an "emotional zombie", on a zero-carb or VLC diet. I have tried eating nothing but muscle meat, with the same effects. Carbs in general aren't to blame for the diseases of civilization. Eating a diet BASED on refined carbs and vegetable oils, with little or no fresh, natural animal food, does cause disease.
One question. Why do you say that eating tons of honey and drinking milk can help overcome insulin resistance? Ray Peat is telling people to drink milk with orange juice, or eat cheese and orange juice or honey and cheese, or things like that. I ate very similar to this growing up and was thin, healthy, no cavities (until I changed my diet), etc. Ray doesn’t care much if it’s fresh or pasteurized juice, raw or heated honey, raw or pasteurized milk, etc. Even dried milk may be OK by him. It’s supposedly more digestible. I read recently of a study where they fed people evaporated milk or a placebo and the evaporated milk increased tolerance for lactose over time. Thoughts?
I do think the body adapts. I’ve always been a fan of tackling a problem head-on just as you state. Just as going on all-meat binges for a few days has worked wonders for my protein digestion, doing juice-fasting and vegan cleanses for several days have also increased my carbohydrate tolerance.
Even the evaporated milk/lactose tolerance thing makes some sense.
I must admit my diet other than the refined foods was quite nourishing as a kid. Lots of eggs, shellfish, real butter, fruits, and vegetables.
However, my teeth f’n distenigrated and I was in and out of the hospital. To an extent I think a nourishing diet can be a bad combination with refined sugar. Just like McCarrison found – a diet of rice alone let his subjects live longer than when fresh butter was added to the mix. That was the deadliest deficient diet of all.
I should clarify that it was dried milk, not evaporated. Sometimes the words are used interchangeably. Evaporated is the milk in a can. Dried milk is powdered. I ate a diet similar to Ray Peat’s advice growing up – milk, orange juice, butter, potatoes, liver, white rice, beef, some fish, some eggs, not much refined sugar. No cavities until 18 when I was sipping sodas during college and eating sugary breakfast bars and other crap. There is much to be learned from McCarrison. The fact that butter to a bad diet made them degenerate would explain the mainstream dogma that saturated fats are bad. Maybe if you eat a lot of refined sugar, then saturated fats are bad.
Ray had a post of mine passed along pointing out that this was a possibility, but he was not down with that at all. I just don’t think it’s what’s in your diet that matters most, but what’s not in your diet, and refined sugar seems to be uniquely capable of disrupting body chemistry and causing dental decay and so much more for only $1.99!
I think in McCarrison’s example the fat merely exacerbated the B-vitamin deficiency of the rice. We’re talking about acute deficiencies here, so the scenario is pretty specific.
You mean he’s not down with a meat diet? He would accept it if it was a diet like Stefansson’s in Bellevue or the Eskimos, but you have to eat lots of organ meats, gelatin broths, etc. He would certainly condemn Charles’s diet of muscle meat or the Primal Diet as it’s often practiced. But I think he would say it is OK if you ate the organs, and make broths from the bones, cartilage, and gristle. He’d like Jan Kwasniewski’s diet, I think, because JK emphasizes foods like head cheese and chicken feet stew and organ meats.
“I think in McCarrison’s example the fat merely exacerbated the B-vitamin deficiency of the rice.”
Don’t you think you could compensave for refined foods, though? I mean, if you’re eating white rice, but you also eat eggs and cheese and liver and shellfish would you be deficient? This guy Hans from the Scientific Debate Forum eats a diet high in refined sugar and starch, but he also eats cheese and eggs and butter. He says that the problem is the lack of protein, not the refined carbs. So, let’s say you eat a Zone diet, 40% carbs, 30% fat, and 30% animal protein. But a lot of refined sugar, white rice, and flour. Would that diet cause disease? Does McCarrison give any rules for a balanced meal?
BTW, can you read McCarrison’s books any place online? I found one online, but my library doesn’t have any of them. Amazon only has two of his books listed through private sellers. Where did you get them? Thanks.
McCarrison’s books are very cool. You can get them sent to you via interlibrary loan through most public libraries. Go down and figure out how to do that, bring the ISBN number and call # with you. The Library of Congress has the best database to search and get that information. It’s totally free. I did that with all the Stefansson and McCarrison books I’ve read and a few other obscure ones.
White rice and flour won’t give you a deficiency if you compensate with other foods like you say. I think Okinawans and Japanese are good examples of how refined grain probably isn’t the biggest dietary enemy. My top 3 harmful foods would include, in the following order: Refined sugar, veggie oils, cooked milk
I think if you’ve got all those in your diet in large quantities you’re beggin for trouble.
McCarrison was most impressed with the diet of the Sikhs, the healthiest people in all of India in which he did all of his nutritional study. Their diet was primarily fresh-ground whole wheat chappatis with milk, cheese, and a little vegetable food.
But you argued that the Japanese and the French were still deficient in your post about Devitalized Foods. You said, since everyone eats refined carbs, the one who eats the least calories lives longer. It seems the modern Japanese are deficient, since many have crooked teeth (in photos I’ve seen). The first criteria of health for a culture should be: that all people have 32 straight teeth with no cavities. Anything less than that is malnutrition. Then move on from there.
The guy Hans doesn’t eat milk due to the homogenization. He doesn’t eat PUFA oils at all. Just coconut oil. He eats cheese and other dairy products, and occasional eggs, but no meat. He does eat processed gelatin. He uses Rapadura type sugar for baking, but eats small amounts of crappy foods that contain sugar. However, he is not eating bleached flour, PUFA oils, or food with oxidized cholesterol (anything cooked in the open air, to him). He used to eat a vegan diet and had many serious health problems problems, which reversed with a low-PUFA low-fiber diet.
I think that the generalized stress reaction that Selye noticed is completely correct and points squarely at cortisol. My argument is that refined sugar is uniquely capable of disrupting digestion, intestinal bacteria, can cause chronic inflammation stemming from the digestive tract, elevate cortisol levels (which also eventually can trigger insulin resistance).
It’s elevation of cortisol, which can come from a variety of sources (including deficiency as McCarrision showed by posthumus examination of the adrenal glands), not necessarily high insulin that causes the greatest breakdown. High insulin and low thyroid are also byproducts of elevated cortisol, so like Broda Barnes, one could be led to believe that lack of thyroid hormone or high insulin or both are the root of all disease. It’s a triangle. The three abnormalities go together.
just remeber – dr.atkins died of a heart attack
He had a heart defect, which he believed was not diet-related. He fell on the ice and hit his head on the side-walk, going into a coma, and soon died. There’s some speculation that Dr. Atkins had a stroke or cardiac arrest. The Snopes website is listing his cause of death undetermined. They research internet rumors and hoaxes to see what the evidence shows.
Some people have claimed that Atkins was 258 pounds when he died, but the records said he weighed 195 when he was admitted following his fall. He gained weight due to swelling and intravenous feeding, but was normal weight or almost normal prior to being comatose and fed intravenously.
The question then would be:
What does soy protein isolate bars filled with splenda, fiber supplements, multivitamins, etc. have to do with this diet?
I’ll go ahead and field that question myself…
Comparing the Atkins diet to the diet of summering plains Indians and travelling Eskimoes(pemmican basically) is ludicrous.
Pointing out that Atkins had a heart attack to bash saturated fat or whatever you are attempting to do is a magnificent display of your complete and total lack of education on human health, heart disease, and nutrition.
Atkins was unhealthy and overweight long before he ever tried a low-carb diet. No, it didn’t fully cure him, but he was rapidly heading towards massive obesity before he stumbled upon the low-carb concept. Who’s to say he would have been better off with less saturated fat, less meat, and more carbohydrates like the typical American diet which has created the greatest epidemic of degenerative disease and obesity in the history of the world.
Matt: “What does soy protein isolate bars filled with splenda, fiber supplements, multivitamins, etc. have to do with this diet?”
While this is a valid theory of what may have caused Atkins’ undoing. you can not be sure that he was eating protein bars, just because he sold them to his lazy or gullible readers. I’m pretty sure that a lot of crack dealers aren’t addicts, and some tobacco execs don’t smoke, and many people selling doughnuts probably do not eat refined sugar and white flour. There is a demand for stupid crap, from Atkins Advantage bars to Zone bars to Snackwell cookies and fat-free doughnuts.
The health effects of a low carb diet probably depend on exactly what you choose. But I do know that this is very expensive (http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0271531707002515), and also increadibly bad for the environment. Meat and dairy have about 5 times the environmental damage, in nitrate spew, water use, land area, etc., that vegetable proteins require. And it costs 3 to 7 times as much. If you do try such a restricted diet, you should ensure you get enough of each nutrient. There’s software out there which can help, e.g. DietPower or my own Wagmu.com web site.
I appreciate what you’re doing.
I hate all of these mass diets that people do with strict rules and regulations that don’t work for the majority of the people who do them.
My food manta. Eat what your body craves and makes you feel good. Don’t eat until you can’t breathe.
It’s been working well for me and my boyfriend…sometimes you just crave a salad or an apple…sometimes you just want a big bloody steak. (Granted I grew up eating wild fruit and he’s a city boy so I tend to crave more plants while he’d probably do well on your FUMP diet)
Eat up. Exercise. Enjoy life and take joy in food!!
You have made some tragic errors in your commentary.
The first is that you have assumed that a low-carb diet is expensive. You are confusing a low-carb diet with a high-protein diet, which are not synonymous. I was able to complete this 30-day experiment for $11 per day in an area with some of the highest food costs in the United States – Maui.
A high-fat version can be very cheap. A pound of organic butter (mainland U.S.A.) costs $5 and contains 3200 calories. That’s enough to feed me, according to the nutition software I own, for an entire day. Coconut oil provides the same amount of calories for less than $2. Try getting 3200 calories of bell peppers for $2, or $5, or even $50. Organic bell peppers are $9 per pound in Maui, and shipped over 3000 miles. Much of the beef I ate on this trial I could see from my house. They do not pollute waterways, they are entirely grass fed. They do not eat corn, soy, or other commodities requiring massive tapping of aqueducts. Same goes for the meats I eat now in my new home of Colorado.
Meat can be produced in a way that is harmonious with the environment, or at odds – just like plant farming.
You have also fallen victim to the absurd notion of morality in regards to our dietary requirements. We should eat what optimizes our function and provides us with the greatest level of vitality. If you want to save the environment, do it in ways that don’t compromise your health. For example, I do not own a car, own very little clothing, eat hardly any imported food (what do you eat John, rice from 10,000 miles away? That’s environmentally sound for sure), and I have not committed the ultimate environmental atrocity – I have not reproduced. I have a feeling you have committed all those fouls, and here you are criticizing my diet of predominantly local artisan foods. Good going. What, do you want to compare carbon footprints or something? Good luck competing with me. I lived most of last year in a 100% solar dwelling, composted all of my human waste, fed food scraps to chickens, and ate copious amounts of avocadoes, eggs, and other goods from trees in my own yard. I used no heating or air conditioning.
If I really cared about the environment, I would not run this site, giving people information that prevents infertility and helps them live longer. The fact that 1 in 5 couples cannot reproduce is the best shot the environment has at recovering from human abuses in the next 100 years. Unfortunately for the environment, that’s not my God-given passion. Human health is.
And my final suggestion is:
Throw that nutritional software in the trash. It is pure garbage. It has nothing to do with health.
It can't get any better than this.