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Zero Carb Trial Results, Reflection, and Aftermath

30 days!  Wow, that felt like a long time.  There were some things I liked about going Zero Carb, and there were some things I hated.  Though I was thrilled to get rid of the worst of my pre-diet symptoms, I was disheartened to develop new ones.  Though I discovered some plant-free meals I absolutely loved, there were many I couldn’t stomach.  So it was a very mixed experience.  However, in the end, I believe that going Zero Carb was a net negative for me, so I will not continue with it.

One huge issue for me is that I was just not able to eat enough calories, particularly since my body seems to have a very hard time with large amounts of fat.  At the end of this trial, I weighed 118 pounds, a loss of 15 pounds.  Yikes.  Maybe a 5 pound loss would’ve been okay, but 15 is just way too much, especially since it came about from not eating enough.

Looking over my food diary and my notes, I actually ended up sticking with Zero Carb for 37 days.  I then transitioned to a Keto diet for about 10 days.  My hope was that my body would be able to better handle other sources of fat (like nuts, for example), which would allow me to up my calorie intake.  However, due to worsening new symptoms, I’ve since (about 5 days) switched over to Paleo and have reintroduced some carbs from fruits and veggies.

As of right now, my pre-experiment symptoms are still gone.  Yes!!!  Thus, I highly suspect those original symptoms were caused by the grains that Paleo avoids.  Additionally, the new symptoms that arose during Zero Carb / Keto also seem to be subsiding–if not completely disappearing–as well.  So I’m quite hopeful!

I think this whole Zero Carb experience has still been worthwhile, even if only as an elimination diet.  However, I have no intention of ever doing Zero Carb again.  If your body can handle fat better than mine, you’ll likely fare better than me on it.  If you understand different cuts of beef and know how to braise them beforehand, you’ll likely enjoy this diet far more than I did!  Seriously, braise cheap cuts of beef.  If you take anything away from this blog, let it be that.  =)

Zero Carb Diet Results

The Good

  • The Healing – My original symptoms (incessant diarrhea, horrible bloating, and skin rash)… completely gone!
  • The Simplicity – I quite liked (and looked forward to!) eating the same two meals for every breakfast and lunch.  This made cooking, shopping, and eating a breeze.  And if I had known about braising beforehand, I might’ve even enjoyed dinner, too.

The Bad

  • New Symptoms – I had all kinds of nausea due to fat, culminating in one night where it honestly felt like I had food poisoning:  shakes, chills, feeling overheated, diarrhea and wanting to vomit at the same time, and thinking I might even pass out.  Additionally, there were many, many days where it felt like my stomach was constantly full of acid.  I couldn’t sleep on my right side because it was so uncomfortable.  And, towards the end of the trial, I’d often burp up this burning sensation that tasted awful.  Huge negatives.
  • Keeping Track of Food Stats – I know a lot of people don’t have to do this on Zero Carb, but since I struggled with getting enough calories, this was a must for me.  All I know is that I am so tired of weighing meals and calculating grams and calories, and I never want to do it again.  I will not miss that!
  • Extreme Weight Loss – Don’t know that others would experience this.  Again, I think this was due to my inability to handle fat and get sufficient calories.  But this is a concern to keep in mind when considering this diet.


Table of Contents

Intro / Background

  1. Why Eat a Zero Carb / Carnivore Diet?
  2. Why This Blog?
  3. Zero Carb Experiment Rules

Quick Recaps / Takeaways

  1. Symptoms Reflection After Week 1
  2. Cooking Reflection After Week 1
  3. Symptoms Reflection After Week 2
  4. Cooking Reflection After Week 2

Diary

  1. The Keto Flu (Days 1 and 2)
  2. Gotta Eat More Fat: Hamburger with a Spoon! (Days 3 and 4)
  3. The Cold and Endless Half-Pound Burger (Day 5)
  4. Even Baby Lambs Go Number 2 (Day 6)
  5. Insatiable Satiety? Unhungry Hunger? (Days 7 and 8)
  6. Can’t Be the Histamines! (Days 9 and 10)
  7. Fish and Fishy Research (Days 11 and 12)
  8. Bacon!! Well, Not Exactly… But Still… Bacon!! (Day 13)
  9. Short Ribs Causing My Patience to Run Short (Day 14)
  10. Cheese and Cheesy Research (Days 15 and 16)
  11. Out of Gas (Days 17 and 18)
  12. Warm Butter Water (Days 19 and 20)
  13. Dreading Dinners (Days 21 through 26)
  14. Braising to the Rescue! (Days 27 and 28)
  15. Broth from Braising Better than Butter Water (Day 29)
  16. Chives! Final Day of the Zero Carb Trial! (Day 30)

 

Symptoms Reflection After Week 2

Positives
Bloating – Still gone!
Diarrhea – Still pretty much gone!  Happened one time, and I don’t know the reason.  But once in two weeks is a wonderful miracle compared to multiple times every day.
Skin rash – Continues to fade, and that is excellent!
No “kidney pain” – Whatever that discomfort was from the first week, I haven’t noticed it since.  So maybe that was just part of the keto adaptation phase?

Negatives
Nauseousness from too much fat – Ugh, I hate this one.  Feels awful and makes for terrible sleep.  I really hope to prevent this in the future by better gauging how much fat I can handle in one sitting.  If I can’t, this is a huge negative.
Food nightmares – This one is… kind of funny?  Twice now I’ve had bizarre dreams where my garage is full of donuts or some other super carby food.  And though I fight and fight the urge, the nightmare always ends with me seemingly giving in to the desire.  Then I wake up all confused, wondering if I actually chowed down on a box of donuts and abandoned my Zero Carb experiment.
Mood – I don’t know that this is necessarily a negative, but the super positive mood from last week is more tempered now.  Thus, I think it was just initial excitement.  Still get down sometimes, still have reality to deal with.  No diet can cure that.
Weight loss – Yikes!  I’m still shedding weight and don’t need or want to be.  Though I’ve certainly averaged a higher number of calories per meal than last week, that number is still much lower than it should be.

Symptoms Reflection After Week 1

At the end of each week on this diet, I’ll do a reflection of the positive and negative updates that have occurred in regards to my symptoms.

Positives
Bloating – Completely gone!
Diarrhea – Completely gone!  Both of these two symptoms vanished immediately upon starting this diet.  Thus, both are certainly correlated to something I was eating previously.
Skin rash – Starting to fade.  No longer looks as red/pink and is turning more of a light brown.
Singing voice – This was totally unexpected.  I play guitar and have always wanted to add voice to my music.  However, regardless of what I’ve tried in my life, singing has never been comfortable, or it’s simply hurt.  Hence, I rarely sing.  But I was messing around the other day, and it was easier and more comfortable to sing!  I have no idea why this would be the case and perhaps it’s completely unrelated, but I’ll take it.
Generally upbeat mood – Other people have reported this, and I’d say I also feel more positive in general.  However, that may have little to do with the diet and could just be that I’m grateful that all my most awful symptoms are gone!

Negatives
I’m going to split this into what I think are symptoms due to keto adaptation vs. not.

Keto Adaptation Symptoms
The flu symptoms – The first two days consisted of:  feeling very weak, very thirsty, often nauseous, having a rapid heartbeat, and being super tired.
Lightheadedness – However, I think this is also due to me not getting enough calories.
Leg cramps – I’ve noticed cramps in my left calf from time to time.  Nothing major, especially since I’ve read this is quite common when starting this diet.
Struggle to exercise – I took a short walk and really struggled coming up hills.  It felt like I was gasping for air.  But, again, not unexpected and should improve with time.

Other Symptoms
Back pain – Still there!  So, sadly, Zero Carb is not a panacea for all ails and troubles.  Too bad!  But not unexpected.
Stomach queasiness – Again, I still think this is tied to eating too much fat.  But it’s definitely not fun and has led to a few nights of really lousy sleep.
Lack of hunger/satiety signals – More details here, but I think this is something I’ll just have to adapt to on this diet.
Food desires – I am really missing pizza.  That was my favorite food, so I suppose it’s only natural to long for it.  The other thing that worries me is that I haven’t really cared much for steak so far, despite variations in cooking.  Since this diet heavily relies on beef, that may not be a good sign.
Weight loss – This is a negative for me since I don’t really need or want to lose any weight.  I don’t have accurate measurements since this wasn’t a concern for me, but I’d say I’ve lost about 7 pounds or so in this first week.
Kidney pain? – Not sure on this one.  Had some unusual discomfort on my sides around where the kidneys are.  Perhaps not enough water?  Something to watch for now.