If you’re new here, welcome! I’m Rosemary. I’m a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I’ve had my nutritional therapy practice seeing clients and teaching classes since 2015. I found success with carnivore that I hadn’t found with keto or paleo, and Real Food Carnivore was born to help other support practitioners with the tools they need to help themselves and their clients to eat animal-based. I hope you’ll stick around!
Who knew that six months ago when I started researching carnivore and thought about trying it for myself as an experiment that I’d be still going strong six months later?! As somebody who was never able to stick with clean keto or paleo for any longer than three months before face-planting into a chocolate cake and falling off the rails for weeks (months, years?!), this kind of blows my mind.
I’ve always called my carnivore experiment an experiment, not because I didn’t think it was safe or wasn’t confident that it would work, but because I knew that my Rebel personality would resist it the moment I said “I eat carnivore now.” Nobody can tell Rosemary what to do, including past Rosemary. 💁🏻♀️ So I always call it an experiment, because it helps me to know that I can quit anytime I want, if I decide I want to. I always need an out. (For us Rebels, dealing with our own personality is at times like managing a stubborn three year old: “NO. You can’t make me. I don’t want to.”)
As in the past few months, my approach has shifted a bit month by month based on some trial and error and new information (some of which was a DOOZY, and may or may not have sent me into a tailspin for a few days… more on that shortly).
Here’s what carnivore looks like for me six months in, what I’ve learned, how my approach has changed, and what I’m doing next.
As you may know, I’m already a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, but I’m also doing a second certification course through Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, and as part of the program I was able to run a couple labs on myself that my clients will be doing, specifically a saliva hormone panel (the Access SHP) and a stool test (the GI-MAP).
My digestion and hormones have been out of whack for years, and while my symptoms were way better on carnivore, they weren’t fully resolved.
Welp. My saliva hormone panel (cortisol and sex hormones) and the GI-MAP stool test were pretty gnarly…which definitely explains why I wasn’t feeling 100% yet. As part of the FDN program, you review your tests with one of the Course Mentors in a Results and Recommendations session, just like you will be doing with clients.
My tests showed major gut dysbiosis, including H.pylori (a nasty little bugger that suppresses stomach acid and is super hard to get rid of), overgrowth of certain strains of bacteria and yeast, gut inflammation, low Secretory IgA, suggesting my immune system has been fighting for a long time and is low on ammunition, and high calprotectin, which shows high gut inflammation. My anti-gliadin antibodies were also high, suggesting I’m getting gluten exposure somewhere (I suspect cross-reactivity with the decaf coffee and 100% dark chocolate I was doing). In addition, my melatonin was low, suggesting gut dysfunction (duh), my testosterone was low, and my progesterone was tanked. Like below post-menopausal levels tanked. Come ON. The course mentor also said that the inflammation was a red flag and referred me to my doctor to get tested for Celiac or possible IBD.
So… after an initial
sobbing meltdown of frustration feeling of disappointment and a few days of processing, my obvious thought was, did carnivore cause these gut issues and hormone imbalances? I could see how someone might think that was the case. But, I don’t think so. I’ve had these symptoms for years, and nearly all my symptoms improved with carnivore, so I know these issues have been here for a while, and that the carnivore is working… but that there were deeper underlying issues. Diet may have got me 80% of the way there, but I knew there was another 20% that needed to address―I just didn’t know exactly what, until I did the testing.
I wish I had a “before” snapshot of these tests from right before I started carnivore, because I’m sure they’d have been in even worse shape. To be honest, I’m surprised I’ve been able to function as well as I have given how many things are going on in my gut and hormones.
The point here is that you can thoroughly dial in your diet, but there can still be underlying hidden stressors that you may never know about unless you test. If I hadn’t done any of this testing I probably just would have tried to do more of the same, never uncovering any of these healing opportunities, which left unchecked would send my body into a disease state eventually. I’m just glad I caught them now so that I have a starting point to address them, and that my certification with FDN (just a few weeks to go until I’m done!) will allow my clients to do these same tests on themselves. I’m honestly so excited about my clients being able to use these tests; it’s going to be a game changer.
After processing the overwhelm of the test results, I realized that even though things are a little worse than I anticipated, now I have a place to begin, and I know what to do to fix it. I have an appointment in a week with my functional MD to discuss treatment for the unwelcome friends in my gut and gut healing, some further testing, and make a plan to get my hormones back to normal. I’ll report back as I go through that protocol, which will be at the very least a three month process, and involves re-testing afterwards to make sure everything worked.
The plan from here is to make sure my diet is completely dialed in, plus reduce other sources of stressors that are contributing to the state of metabolic chaos my body’s in. I’ll need to be hyper-vigilant about sleep, moving my body, meditating, making sure ALL my body care products are swapped out for non-toxic products, etc.
Here we gooooooo!
What I’m Eating
- Mostly beef and pork, though considering transitioning to 100% beef
- Nutrient-rich organ meats in the form of homemade beef liver and kidney capsules, 6 each daily (but if you’re not a crazy person like me 🙃 you can buy them from Ancestral Supplements or Heart and Soil).
- Spices (though will be eliminating as part of a gut healing protocol)
- Water & sparkling water
- Sea salt
- Transitioned to occasionally having this coffee replacement made of figs instead of the decaf coffee (I mean, it’s not the same, but it’s something)
The Lifestyle Stuff
- Continuing Intermittent Fasting, though not as strict: I’ve been eating within a 4-8 hour window most days (anywhere from 16:8 to 20:4 to OMAD), but other days it’s more like a 12 hour window, especially before I start my cycle and want to eat ALL THE THINGS. Since IF is a mild stressor (a beneficial one for many people, but still a stressor), I’m going to ease up on it a little bit, and just go back to eating when I’m hungry and not when I’m not. Since my body is already under so much stress, my priority right now is removing contributors to stress, since you can’t empty the bathtub while the water’s still running.
- Still eating about 1.5-2 lb of meat most days 🥩🥓💪🏼
- Sleeping from about 9-10 pm to 4-6 am
- Exercise is only walking now, and certainly not as much as I probably should be. There’s definitely room for improvement there.
I feel SO much more like myself again. I couldn’t really see a difference in my body composition at first (which is common and it’s why I recommend in my Quick Start Guide to Carnivore that you take progress photos if body recomposition is one of your goals!), but I can definitely see it now. Here’s how it’s changed over the last 6 months. For reference, I’m a 33 year old female, 5’4 (162 cm).
- Waist: 37.5 to 31.5 (6 inches lost)
- Hips: 40 to 35 (5 inches lost)
- Weight: 143.8 to 118.2 (25.6 pounds lost)
- Waist-to-Hip Ratio: 0.94 to 0.90