Update on my "zero carb" experiment

I’m still doing it! I think I started on april 28, so it’s been 2 mos now. I feel great and I’m going to stick with it for the foreseeable future.

So, first I should say, I don’t actually eat zero carbs, but I normally eat 2 g cho a day, so pretty close. When I have 2 meals a day, it’s 5 slices of bacon and a burger w/ cheddar for my 1st meal and 2 burger patties with cheddar for my second meal. More often now, though, I just eat once a day and I have 4 slices bacon, 2 patties, and cheddar. Eating this way, I just don’t get very hungry. When I only have one meal, I often lose my interest in it half way through, but I try to finish it because I like that it gets me through the whole next day. I may experiment with less food or eating even less often, though.

This way of eating is so unexpected for me because I normally have a large appetite and want to eat all the time. But now I think that was just a side effect of the carbs for me. And even 25 or 30 g a day was enough to keep that going. But on near-zero, I am not very interested in food at all. It’s so liberating!

Blood sugar has been pretty good (would probably be better if I would stop forgetting about it, I have been missing shots here and there). When I’m paying attn, though, it’s quite good. And I’m using a tiny amount of insulin most days (total of 13 to 16 units and I think I’m needing less, been going low more this last week).

The real shocker for me, though, has been that my dawn phenomenon has disappeared! It used to be that if I got up to get my son to school and didn’t do any insulin or eat beforehand, I would go from 80ish to 300ish by the time I got home. I would normally do 3 units of humalog at 7:30 to keep it in line if I didn’t eat. Now it really doesn’t happen at all. The other day, I tested every hour until I had my evening meal (fasted all day) and it did go up steadily all day, but the highest it got was 141!

I think I may need to lower my lantus shot again because I’ve been waking up low the last few days (which I hate bc I feel like having those recovery carbs makes me feel really off all day, especially bc it’s been first thing in the morning). So I’m crossing my fingers that I continue to stay steady in the am if I decrease it. But when my dawn phenomenon was in full swing, a bit more lantus was not helpful, so I think there has been a real change.

Does anyone know if Dr. B has anything to say about low carb effecting DP? I don’t recall seeing that anywhere, but I haven’t listened to the podcasts.

I have lost about 20 pounds since I started, but gained a few back just in the last few days since I’ve been having these lows.

I don’t know what Dr. B has to say, but I also noticed the disappearance of the DP when I went lower carb. I haven’t had to give up carbs completely, but just giving up the real baddies has made a huge difference for me.

I’ll be interested to watch your progress! :slight_smile:

I actually don’t believe you can really practically do a “zero” carb diet. I’ve tried it and generally found no advantage over 6-12-12 (and actually I don’t find any difference between 30 and 50g/day). There is actually a zero carb community, but for the most part I believe zero is an illusion. If you eat cheese or eggs, you are eating carbs.

My experience is that while reducing carbs flattened out my postprandial response and reduced my DP, only insulin was ever able to bring my morning numbers down towards normal range. I suspect that your improved DP may not be due to low carb, but a result of better basal insulin coverage overnight. I actually seem to need dramatically more insulin overnight to suppress my DP, three times the level I take during the day. You take Lantus, which is flat. Dropping the carbs (and the weight) may have reduced your basal needs. This may have resulted in a basal dose that was finally high enough to suppress your DP, but in the end will be too high, causing ongoing lows.

Only time will tell.

Thanks for the update. Interesting to hear that even 20 to 30 g/day of carbs was causing hunger, also your observation on DP.
Keep us posted.

I don’t eat eggs. I usually eat 2 or 3 slices of cheddar cheese that has 3/4 g of cho per slice, so the most carbs I get in a day is 2.25 g. Sometimes I don’t have any cheese at all and I do have a true zero carb day. But I’m not really that interested in the number of carb grams as long as my diet is working for me, and this is working for me. I think it’s important for me that if I have carbs they don’t come from grains or fruits or carby veg.

For me, it is a huge benefit that I don’t crave carbs or get the munchies when I eat this way. I am much better at sticking with this than I am at the 6-12-12. And I’m not miserable doing it. And that is just huge. I am eating very cleanly – no permissible (ie, low carb) junk food, no carb creep. And I don’t think about food all the time the way I did when I was shooting for 30 g a day. I don’t sit around daydreaming about what I can have at my next meal or snack or try to think of ways to make my 12 g seem more like chocolate cake or vanilla pudding. I don’t agonize over whether one really has to count leafy greens. How could more leafy greens be bad for you, after all?

I’m wondering if, since you saw no advantage in eating this way, if maybe you didn’t have these problems.

As for whether you can really practically do it… I’m doing it, so I’m not sure what the debate there would be about. I suppose it’s possible that I won’t be able to sustain it for the rest of my life, but I think I am more likely to keep this up than some kind of low cal plan or the 6-12-12. It feels much more comfortable to me than any other way of eating that was good for my blood sugar. I’d love to sit around eating chocolate cake all day, but that’s not really an option.

I suppose it’s possible that my lantus is covering my dawn phenomenon. I’m not sure it really matters in the end whether the woe is obliterating my DP or just making it so that I can cover it with lantus. Either way, it’s pretty nice not having to worry about it all day. And I am pretty certain I would not have been able to cover my DP with lantus while eating carbs. But it would be kinda cool if it turned out that eating this way resulted in no DP at all.

And, btw, I wouldn’t really recommend that zeroing in on health forum if there’s anyone interested in reading about this woe. I’m sure there’s a lot of good info there, but the guy who runs it is a little nutty. This one’s a lot better: http://forum.dirtycarnivore.com/index.php .

I will admit, for the most part, under a low carb diet, I lose my appetite and cravings. If I had cravings, that would be a huge problem. My family has not followed low carb, my pantry is filled with carb heaven. But instead, I really have to concentrate on eating when I am supposed to and cleaning my plate.

I think you are right, that forum is a little out there, I’ve tended to gravitate towards more of the paleo forums lately. And in closing, I’d like to note the ultimate icon of zero carb, and give a shout out to “The Bear.” He passed away just this last year, and apparently lived on meat, seafood, eggs, butter and cheese since 1959. He died in an automobile accident this last spring. May he rest in peace.

I was really sad when I read about The Bear. I’m sure it was sad for him and his family, of course. But also a sad end to an experiment. It sure would have been interesting to see how he did in his old age. I think I read that he was in his seventies when he died.

My family isn’t low carb, either, and that certainly doesn’t help. My husband is a wanna be vegetarian and he is pretty sure that all that low fat/low cal stuff from the 70s is just right for him. He did shockingly say recently that he hasn’t seen me look this healthy and energetic in years and he’s coming to terms with the fact that this seems best for me. I do think he’d have loved it if I could have controlled my blood sugar and my weight by “eating sensible portions”. But, man my little ones really like carbs and the ones that I have in the house for them can really trip me up. I have debated about banning them altogether, but it is hard with a husband who’s not on board.

The “experiment.” Interesting, I always thought of it as a “Test.”

My kids don’t follow low carb and my wife by her own admission is a carb addict. For years, she has rebelled against my diet. But she has recently decided to take up the Atkins diet. I’m really proud of her, she is losing significant weight. So for now, I can cook three meals instead of four.

I was, beyond any shadow of a doubt, a carb addict – I think it’s more common to be one than not. But as long as I assiduously avoid the evil six – bread, rice, potatoes, cereal, corn and peas, I do pretty well. I’m about halfway through Taubes’ Good Calories Bad Calories, and the studies on dietary change and the “diseases of civilization” is pretty convincing. I just need to get myself to increase the vegetables in my diet.

hi! i follow a very low carb diet. but it is a bit different than yours because i was never a big meat eater. i eat tons of spinach, almonds, tofu, steak, and small amounts of cheese. that is basically what my diet consists of and i do not mind eating the same thing every day, in fact, i love it! i have lost 20 pounds in the last year eating this way and i am stuck now at a plateau of about 3 months! i was wondering…do you think if ate the way you do; just burgers and bacon, without the spinach, i would start to lose again? i like the spinach because it is a healthy thing to fill up on and only 9 carbs per bag with 8 grams of fiber. what are your suggestions!!

I have to say, if you have been following a Bernstein level low carb diet, I would really be surprised if tightening up your diet to reduce carbs broke your plateau. Just my opinion.

Perhaps you should try some things to switch things up. What about Intermittent Fasting. Choose a day each week to do a 24 hour fast. What I do is on Saturday or Sunday, skip breakfast(s), morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack. You basically don’t eat from Friday dinner to Sat dinner. Then just eat however much you are hungry for.

Just a thought.

And jeez, you already look thin in your picture, I almost feel bad about giving you tricks to lose weight.

thanks for the tips! i am at a comfortable weight, id just like to shed off a few more! thanks for the advice

My opinion is that it would kick start your metabolism a bit. Not long before I started eating this way, I went low carb and lost 11 pounds in the first couple of weeks, but then stalled out. Then when I started this way of eating I immediately began losing again. I had a lot to lose, though. If you’re close to your ideal weight, I think it’s usually much harder to lose. But maybe try it for a few days. Sometimes just doing something different is enough to shake things up.

Btw, I’ve never been a big meat eater, either, and I’m not that stoked on all this meat. lol I would love to have some bacon with some yummy crusty bread and a really ripe red beefsteak tomato. Sigh…

I find that people who aren’t carb addicts have no idea what I’m talking about. My dh loves to eat and has battled his weight a bit, but is definitely not addicted to carbs.

I’m loving the Taubes book, but I have no time to read. It’s driving me crazy!

I have been doing something similar to you on the weekend. Big breakfast with almost no carbs and then I skip lunch. I do 2 exercise sessions one about 11 AM and one about 4 PM. It seems to have a positive influence on my Insulin Resistance which in turn helps my DP. At times the positive effect lasts well into the next week esp. if I am conscientious about my regular exercise schedule. I usually don’t get hungry which I find interesting. I may try your bacon, burger and cheddar meal which would be higher protein just for the heck of it. Not sure about everyday though I like my veggies too much:)

Thanks again for sharing, very thought provoking. Also liked reading the Dirty Carnivore forum.

i decided to cut out the veggies for a few days and rely solely on hamburgers like you. lets see what happens!

Hate to be a wet blanket, but the idea of eliminating all veggies disturbs me. Plant foods contain not only vitamins and minerals but phytochemicals, and we don’t really know what role these play in good nutrition. I don’t think you’ll see any difference over the short run, but you’re young, and have a long life expectancy – what’s going to happen 20 or 30 years down the road?

In addition, the difference between a meat-eating society like the Inuit, and someone in our culture eating hamburgers is that the Inuit ate EVERYTHING, and got their nutritional needs met that way, but hamburgers are lacking in a lot of nutrients. Are you going to go out and get (and EAT) liver and brains and kidneys and stomach? And eat them raw? I sorta doubt it. I know for sure I wouldn’t.

I’m sure that a couple of days or months off veggies won’t hurt you, but if you decide to do this, take vitamin and mineral supplements. As far as the phytochemicals, well, you’re your own science experiment, and if you kept it up long term, you would find out if your health deteriorated. But it might be a one-way street.

yeah this is all true

If you feel hungry, add fat! It really helps with appetite and doesn’t seem to deter weight loss. Good luck!

When I first heard of Atkins, I was pretty disturbed by that. And then I tried it and whoa! What a world of difference! I understand your feeling that getting rid of veggies must be bad. I have believed my whole life that green leafies were the healthiest thing going. Now that I see how well my body works eating this way, though, I can’t help but wonder. My digestion is so different now. And it seems much better and healthier to me (though who knows what is really healthy, I suppose that is a cultural construct, too). But I do feel like it’s been good for me not to have so much fiber scratching up my insides.

I am definitely not going to start eating all the icky parts. lol I wish I had it in me. There are several people on the dirty carnivore forum who eat whole animals and eat them raw. I like my cheeseburgers cooked, and I doubt I’m going to get too much more adventurous than that. Though, I could see adding some liver as long as I get to have some bacon with it. (If only I could have chopped chicken livers with CRACKERS!) Anyhow, you say that hamburgers are lacking in a bunch of nutrients, but there are people who claim that hamburger has everything in it that we need for proper nutrition. Given the fact that I’ve spent the last forty years being steeped in low fat dogma, I’m not sure who to believe. But I’m not going to give up the experiment because it seems like it can’t be right to give up veggies. I think it seems that way for the same reason that it seems like it can’t be right to make fat a large part of your diet. But I am relatively certain that all that low fat business was way off base.

I may add a bit of veg back in when I get closer to or reach my ideal weight, but I doubt I’ll go back to feeling like they should be the bulk of each meal. And I certainly won’t feel all virtuous because I had a salad for dinner. If the veggies send me into a state of constant carb craving, I hope I can cut them out for good.