In the age of selfies, how do you prove to people that beauty and health is more than skin deep? Even more complicated: In the age of the genome, how do you describe to smart women that cancer, neurodegenerative disease, autoimmune disorders, premature aging, and heart disease begin at the level of DNA? And that environment and nutrition interact at that level in ways that can’t be seen or even felt? Disease states are the END process of something that started much before you start to feel like crap.
Zero Carb diets come up frequently in the KetoChix Group. They are hard to argue with because they work.
The problem is that there is no controversy on this note: this is not a long-term healthy diet. While you may kick ass in your skinny jeans on this diet (and I know I’ve already lost some of you who are rushing off to do this right now), this is far from an optimal diet, and anyone who claims it is is naive. We can establish all of the nutritional deficiencies with all meat and/or ketogenic diets (which are completely different but share some of the same deficiencies). That’s why we recommend the classic ketogenic ratio with the addition of green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and low carb brightly colored vegetables and some fruits (olives, avocadoes, some night shades if not sensitive, berries, and melon).
People do survive on zero carb diets, the issue is will they thrive? Will they be more vulnerable to disease and aging long term? Our clinical assessment is yes.
Some of the deficiencies recorded include vitamin A, vitamin E, magnesium, sulfur, and even vitamin D. What’s more: whatever deficiencies exist in a ketogenic diet can be augmented in a meat only diet, because the ketogenic ratio is usually inverted (more protein than fat) and the fat soluble vitamins don’t enjoy the same lipid rich environment. Furthermore, all of the issues associated with higher protein (AGE advanced glycated end products) without attenuating anti-inflammatory lipids applies here. Most people who do no veggie no fruit diets also eat a lot of dairy–which is odd. The reason is: dairy carbs don’t count. Because: not vegetables or fruits. It’s not really a nutritional strategy as much as an ideology that eschews plants and vegetables as an anti-establishment bird-flip. Dairy is certainly nutrient rich but comes with a host of allergenic and quality issues. Unless you get your dairy all straight from the (A2) cow it is hard to avoid these issues and when you are on zero carb you are introducing these inflammatory ingredients in larger than average quantities. The calculus involved in trading the phytonutrient density of fruits and vegetables with poor quality dairy eludes me.
However, there may be legitimate reasons to limit vegetables or to get close to zero carb for a temporary period of time. If one is compelled to this for serious reasons (not just to get into skinny jeans) there are some things you can do:
Eat organ meats
Eat fish–the whole fish
Eat high quality fish and animals that eat the green things you are not eating.
However, this isn’t the goal. The goal is to also eat plants.
People are fond of telling the stories in the medical literature of meat only diets and in the age of low fat high carb dieting it was indeed compelling evidence that fat and protein diets were not lethal. But two things should be noted about those stories.
1) They always include people eating meats that most of us wouldn’t consider and not exclusively muscle meat.
2) They also look for only immediately apparent issues and do not look at one of our primary concerns: long term mitochondrial function and brain size. We know that A1C impacts brain size already–and protein is going to raise A1C more than a higher fat and plant rich diet would. Vitamin deficiencies create unstable insulin and consequently glucose. And we know that vitamin C and several other plant based compounds are known hypoglycemic agents.
And this is when people usually bring up the Inuit who were/are allegedly robustly healthy even though they eat exclusively animals. It turns out the Inuit ate every single part of the fish AND were not exclusively meat eaters, eating various berries and shoots that were around their far from barren landscape.*
Human groups have always eaten plant life and our teeth are built for the habit. Our omnivorousness is one of the secrets to the evolution of our large brains. While we eat a lot today that we never before ate in human history, plant life is NOT one of those things. I don’t make the argument that if our ancestors ate something we automatically should eat it. For one thing, we are metabolically damaged in ways that our ancestors were not. They might have ate the shit out of some plantains, but once we are adult humans having grown up in Big Food driven west, the metabolic and genetic damage we have sustained may not make all the native choices the best choices. However, I am certain because of what vitamins and phytonutrients do at the level of our mitochondria, that we are supposed to be eating plants and a lot of them.
What we are ultimately talking about is epigenetics–you can turn genes for disease on and off by what you eat or don’t eat, and by the quality of that food. You can’t see or even necessarily feel this is happening. It’s one thing to eat an all meat diet, but if that meat is also commercial meat, we are talking about meat that has mutated genes within the myofascial tissue you are consuming. Yes–we don’t think about this but we eat the genes of the animals we eat and the constituents of their DNA can enter our blood stream. And the quality and amount of protein (not too much, not too little) affects gene expression.
This is why smart chicks–KETOCHIX–think more about their genes than their skinny jeans.
*Searles, Edmund. “Food and the Making of Modern Inuit Identities.” Food and Foodways in Asia: Resource, Tradition and Cooking. 10 (2002): 55–78.