Isn’t it supposed to be the optimal way to eat?
Since I began coaching people in the carnivore/keto way of eating, I’ve heard a lot of wonderful success stories. I’ve seen migraine patients drastically reduce their frequency of headaches, and a couple have reported that they are completely pain-free. I’ve seen hundreds of pounds of weight lost. I’ve seen people get off blood pressure and (type 2) diabetes medication. I’ve seen anxiety disorders improve. Everything that I have experienced in my own health, I have also seen happen to others through my coaching. I enjoy the face time I get with my clients. It fills a need in my life that I didn’t even know I had. Nothing makes me happier than getting a call back from somebody and hearing about the ten more pounds lost, or the skin condition cleared up. I help people! I’m feeling pretty good about this gig!
But there have been a couple of “failures”, as well. For better or worse, I’ll often talk to a client once, and then have little follow-up because they don’t need further help. They just hopped right in and got better. These cases don’t bother me. That’s a good thing, even if it does mean I don’t get another paycheck. It also means that I have no idea how things go for some people. They just don’t get back to me at all, and I’m left wondering how it went. Thankfully, the people who do not do well often come back, even if it’s just to explain to me why they’re not doing the diet anymore. The criticism and explanations help me far more than they probably intend to, given that they’re basically just venting their frustrations before they walk away.
I don’t view these cases as failures of the diet, because physiologically, it just doesn’t make sense that the diet wouldn’t help pretty much anybody. Nor are they failures in the client. I view them, rather, as failures in my coaching for those (literally 2) clients of mine who found they couldn’t make it work. There are others who have “failed” who I haven’t coached, but who–kindly or otherwise–emailed to let me know I was full of beans.
To be clear, I don’t think everybody needs to be fully carnivorous in their eating. While we are all built to the same basic plan, everybody’s coming from a different background, and with different current needs. When somebody doesn’t want to do carnivore, unless I can see that they have an obvious problem with all plants the way I do, I help them think about other ways of eating, targeting those foods and patterns of behavior that are most likely to be causing harm to them.
Carnivore is a way of thinking about food, not a religion.
I have counseled low-carb athletes to incorporate some easy-to-digest carbs for performance. I personally have not gone that route, and found that I have some limits because I’m not willing to do that. That’s fine. My clients and I have different goals. I have had one metabolically healthy woman add fruit back to her diet because she just couldn’t get her electrolytes straight any other way. The first few years of carnivore were perfect for her, but she had reached the end of her need for restriction and needed to experiment a little bit for the next step. Do I think there may have been a more carnivorous way to solve her problem? Sure! But having some fruit and veg when sugar and fiber aren’t a problem for you is not the end of the world, so that’s what she did.
I do think most people need to at least be in ketosis a good portion of their day, so I always, always steer people to the low carb side of things. While there is an amount of carbohydrate that a healthy person can handle, people who come to me aren’t usually that healthy yet. Even when they are, the amount they are able to tolerate isn’t nearly as much as they’d often like to consume once they get started. Carbs make you eat more carbs. It’s just the nature of the beast. The cases I spoke of above are two unusual cases out of many.
So why didn’t carnivore “work” for you? This post is an introduction to several more that I hope will help you troubleshoot what went wrong when you tried to change your diet. Hopefully these posts will also help people new to the diet never encounter these problems to begin with. If you’re a newb, read them all before you jump in. Carnivore or meat-based ketogenic eating is very simple, and doing it should be as easy as falling off a log. Unfortunately, we’re usually coming at this from a life of dysfunction, whether physical, social, or mental, and we get tripped up. If you have any diet-related problems at all–and if you’ve been eating the typical Western diet, you do–it is well worth trying more than once, even if you have “failed” in the past.