Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Experiences of a five-year carnivore: Part II

Part II: Eating, then and now

When I first was thinking about trying an all-meat diet (Part I), I worried about things like boredom, and missing favourite plants. In practice this hasn't been a problem, because...

...my concept of what constitutes food has changed.

You may have have experienced this if you don't normally eat "processed" foods [1], and then are offered some blue, grocery-store-birthday-cake monstrosity, or "fruit" punch. It's about as appealing as plastic.

When I started out, I avoided all spices, and ate plain meat. It was a little bland the first few days, but my tastes quickly adapted to animal foods. Even though I have always loved vegetables, I don't miss them. I can see that they are pretty, and I can imagine their sweetness or texture if pressed, but it's really no big deal.


Amber eats chicken bones

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I started appreciating meat more.

I've always liked meat, but I eat meat differently from when I started. The first thing that happened was that I started liking it cooked more rare. Brought up vegetarian, I'd learned pride in my palate for the exotic, but I was not a connoisseur of flesh. I preferred my steak well-done. When meat was the only thing I ate, I began to notice that I liked it more rare, sometimes even raw, though admittedly, I don't eat raw often.

I also eat all the fat and gristle, and as much of the bone as I can chew, and marrow as I can access, but this has always been the case. A trick I have learned on that front, is that boiling bones results not only in delicious broth, but often in bones that are soft enough to simply eat.

Changes in fat intake

When I started out, I ate fatty cuts, and I sometimes added fat in the form of butter, and later (though not now) coconut oil [2]. When I measured, the fat-to-protein ratio was usually at about 65:35 — 70:30. But back then I had a lot of excess body fat, which I was losing at a good pace. So the true ratio, from a metabolic perspective, was actually higher.

If you hear the argument that a carnivorous diet is too relatively high in protein to be ketogenic, remember that if you are losing fat, that fat counts toward your consumption.

After my weight stabilised, I started wanting even more fat.

This was a gradual process. At first, I started drinking more in my coffee. I had been ordering occasional lattés made with heavy cream, and butter melted in, since the early days, when a fellow carnivore suggested it. This was before the days of Bulletproof Coffee (BPC). When BPC started trending, I butchered it made it my own by blending butter and coconut oil along with heavy cream into my coffee at home.

At the beginning of this year, I reported that I had all but stopped eating cream, butter, and coconut oil, in favour of lard. As I mentioned in that post, I've also been drinking cups of blended, fatty, homemade broth [3], liberally salted. It emulsifies to a thick cream, just like BPC, but it's just animal fat, and the minerals extracted from the bones, along with small amounts of collagen, and related proteins. It feels more nourishing to me.

Before and after blending broth.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1hYTPmBK6ZM/VGK8dZJNxtI/AAAAAAAAHXI/K7gfTZgZe7U/w879-h580-no/broth-before-after.jpg

Over the summer, another carnivorous friend taught me how to make beautifully clear, pure bacon drippings by cooking bacon in the oven in a glass pan. It comes out so mild and creamy that I have been eating it not merely as a spread, but by itself on a spoon.

Oven bacon and drippings.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-uXYQkxzPmUU/VGK8c4i9KRI/AAAAAAAAHW8/zMqbYlYQQKs/w916-h316-no/glassbacon-and-drippings.jpg
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-_gvpv_5lnvo/VGK8c0ypXJI/AAAAAAAAHXA/SX3rrMv9-Ng/w498-h580-no/tallow-spoon-cropped.jpg

I am the candle. See me glow.

He also introduced me to tallow as a food. I had no idea that tallow was so delicious. (It's best at room temperature.) I also find that the satiety I get from eating tallow is superior to any of butter, coconut oil, or even bacon drippings.

An acquaintance seeing me eat tallow, said that people make candles out of tallow. I am the candle. See me glow.

These days, my total fat intake is more than it has been in previous years (once I stopped getting much from my own stores). The superior satiety effect I am getting also seems to be resulting in eating less protein generally, an effect I didn't personally experience with the BPC approach [4].

A typical day

Last time I described my eating was two years ago. At that time I mentioned having occasional pickles, baker's chocolate, or sashimi garnish. I rarely do that these days. It simply appeals less.

My appetite is stimulated by the presence of (what I consider) food even if I'm not hungry. That is, if I walk into a kitchen where bacon or steak is frying, I'm likely to want to eat it, and often will. However, if left to my own devices, this is the pattern I have been falling into lately.

  • Throughout the morning, I alternate cups of black coffee with cups of blended broth. The broth is usually made from bones from roasts, though I also buy beef bones. If it is not sufficiently fatty, I may add bacon drippings or butter.

  • Sometime in the afternoon, I often (but not always) start feeling hungry, and I will usually respond to this by eating some tallow, possibly followed by some cold leftovers from the previous meal.

  • Supper is usually one or two of these:

    • roast beef, leg of lamb, pork shoulder, or chicken thighs
    • broiled or fried fish, pork or lamb shoulder chops, or steaks.
    • hamburgers, or fried pieces of fat trimmings, if I can get them from the meat counter.

    I usually eat more tallow or lard with the leaner bites of these.

  • Every few weeks I get a hankering for liver, and eat that for a day or two until it no longer appeals.

  • I also keep a supply of homemade jerky on hand, in case I feel like nibbling while I wait for something to cook.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ReNlEAbMCCk/VGKL9_wbsPI/AAAAAAAAHWI/8DJtM3LxYtM/w773-h580-no/IMG_20140925_075924.jpg

A recent breakfast: espresso, chicken broth, bacon drippings, and a little bacon.

Footnotes:

[1]

Let's face it: almost all foods we eat are "processed". It's about as meaningless a phrase as "chemicals", or "real" in "Just Eat Real Food". What I mean here is a food product that is made by isolating specific components, usually from plants, in a way that typically couldn't be done by hand, studying chemistry until you can figure out how to mix them back together so they stay solid, and calling it "food". Think Twinkie.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-5dZrrSqRENs/VGK8oASsOFI/AAAAAAAAHXc/K7nC66V_aoI/w251-h201-no/twinkie-ingredients.jpeg
[2]

Coconut oil is a plant, it turns out. I used it because it has a favourable fat profile: lots of saturates and monounsaturates. It even has medium chain triglycerides, which are known to be ketogenic, even under glycolytic (sugar metabolism) conditions. It also has a nice flavour, especially in coffee (my plant vice).

However, I had suspected it might be contributing to my rosacea, which has been in almost complete remission since I started carnivory. Coconut has salicylates, which may be incriminated in rosacea for me. This summer I went without it for a long time, and when I had it at last again, my face immediately flushed.

[3][Added 2014-11-16] To make broth, I just take the leftover carcass from a roast, throw it in a crock pot with water, and let it simmer for about one and a half to two days. I don't add anything else to it. Sometimes instead of leftovers, I buy beef bones, or shank. I have yet to try fish heads, but it's on my list.
[4]I haven't measured this. As much of my food is broth or whole cuts of meat, it is hard to get high accuracy on fat and protein intake. However, my ketosis readings would confirm this perception. More on that in an upcoming post.

60 comments:

  1. Amber:

    Low-carbing has given me back my health. No longer plagued with migraines, depression, arthritis, high cholesterol, bloating, inflammation and other health issues, I am extremely grateful to have found this WOE. However, at my age and metabolic condition, low-carbing has been unsuccessful in contributing to weight loss and loss of cravings, somewhat like what you experienced.

    I did an all meat diet in 2012 and lost 50 lbs and felt like a teenager again, then some spice (I'm guessing chili spice) triggered horrendous cravings which I did not control properly. So back up to original weight within a few months. Didn't take long. This year I started low-carb seriously but the cravings and weight loss were not spectacular. So November 1st I went all meat and have since lost 8 lbs.

    You are a constant inspiration to me. I know you are busy but people like you are the ones making a difference and assisting people regain their health. Thank you so much.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you are having success.

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    2. I also crave spices and vegetable-derived flavors,like other people crave candies, even though I eat way less spices than most people because I can't tolerate much - I was on a very bland diet during my childhood due to allergies. I love meat, but I absolutely can't have more after I ate to satiety, it is different with vegetables. I can even binge on some, especially cooked, but not necessary. Why I crave, for example, arugula, I have no idea.
      I tried many diets during my life, but never the only meat and fat one. I feel in my guts I should, since the worst diet for me was the one with limited animal products, the opposite approach sounds intriguing. It would be much difficult to hold from practical perspective, especially for a person who doesn't live alone, unlike a basic LCarbing.

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    3. You may find the classic book "The Type A / Type B Weight Loss Diet" by Dr. H. L. Newbold to be incredibly enlightening in regards to spices and other condiment causing cravings and eating sprees of carb foods. He helped many people with obesity by putting them on a very restricted diet of fatty ribeye stakes. He eliminated all "new foods" like grains, dairy, and spices. He even found that certain chemicals like copy printer ink or gas from a stove top could trigger carb eating sprees in his patients. He was one the most intelligent and original thinkers of his time in my opinion. Unfortunately, his work is little appreciated and largely forgotten. You can still find copies of his book through Amazon though, and I highly recommend it to anyone eating a meat-based diet.

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    4. Haven't read any of his books yet, but they've been mentioned to me as a pre-cursor to the stuff I research.

      One of his studies did make it into Principia Ketogenica though:

      --> Reducing the serum cholesterol level with a diet high in animal fat. - 1988

      --> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3336803

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    5. Thanks for the link to this study! Ash

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  2. It all looks and sounds utterly delicious!
    I agree about the beef fat being so good. I don't eat tallow as such, but do take beef fat trimmings cut into 1 inch cubes, put them on a skewer and bbq over charcoal for a little while. It does render some of its fat, but plenty stays in. The most delicious, smokey cold snack the next day. That and home-made pork rinds are favourites. Both very cheap, too.
    I still can't shake the habit of butter in tea and cream in coffee, but it doesn't seem to bother me, nor is it piling on the fat.
    For supper I've been on a raw oyster and steak binge lately. Perhaps about 50 oysters a week. Maybe I lost my taste for broth because of that, oysters being very high in minerals. I probably go back on the broth in a month or so after the oyster spawning season here.
    Thanks for such a nice series of posts.

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    1. Hi! It's nice to hear from you, Michael. The beef trimmings sound divine, and I *love* oysters. I'm in Colorado, though, and I don't often buy seafood. I don't see butter as a problem, really, I'm just preferring lard and tallow these days.

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  3. This is SO useful!!
    I have a long way to,go,fat-wise lol
    Day 5, sleeping like a rock (which is very unusual), no nausea or headaches, but still quite tired. All else really good and an inch off my waist measurement already!
    Awesome!

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    1. Yes, I feel exactly the same way. I trust my body on liver and on salt intake, because of experiences just like you describe: it's highly desirable and then suddenly not. But I wouldn't trust it on sugar or alcohol, for example.

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  5. Hi Amber,

    Would you mind spelling out your method for rendering bacon fat in the oven?

    Thanks!

    Patrick

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    1. Hi Patrick! I got this from my expert: For about a pound of thick-cut bacon, spread it in a Pyrex baking dish, and bake at 450 for 17 minutes (or as preferred). Less bacon, or non-thick will take less time, and ovens may vary. When I was getting it down, I checked it after 10 minutes, and then increasingly often until I liked it. Now I take my first look at 15 minutes.

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    2. Then I remove the bacon and pour the fat.

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    3. That's basically http://baconmethod.com

      I like it, however about 50% of the time I still get a massive POP which spreads fat all over the oven, *sigh*.

      So nowadays I just put it in a big frypan on low heat and cover it with a glass lid, in 10 mins you've got nice slippery warm bacon, in 15-20 mins you've got crunchy crispy stuff.

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    4. Do you have a specific brand of bacon you buy? I seome time looking at what was offered in my local Whole Goods Market today and found that every single product had with sugar or spices of some kind.,this was very disappointing to me because I am extremely sensitive to everything in the spice department due to their salicylate content and I certainly don't want anything that has been treated with sugar. Is there such a thing as PLAIN bacon? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  6. Just curious. Have you had recent blood work done? LDL-P, ApoB, TG, etc?

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    1. I am guessing a young female will most probably have a lower total cholesterol numbers regardless of a diet.

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    2. There is a cholesterol-fertility connection, for example, the females with fertility problems often have higher cholesterol levels. It looks from the common-sense point of view that normally-functioning fertility cycle utilizes a lot of body's building materials.

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    3. I'm not *that* young, actually. I'm 41. I can post lipid profiles. They are what you should expect: high total, high LDL, high HDL, and low trigs.

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    4. Everything is relative. My total cholesterol jumped 40 points after I turned 52, when my periods stopped being regular. It is now something like 245. Can't attribute it to LCarbing because it is how I eat since being 46 years old.
      You look very good, with a fresh face, unlike wrinkled and dry-skinned vegetarians. When people ask me what I do to have such a good skin, and I answer - I eat liberal amount of animal fat, then they think I am hiding some special facial routine. I started to tell - make a mask out of a Greek yogurt every morning in order not to sound too odd. Health comes from within.

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  7. It is common in Ukrainian and Russian cultures to eat raw cured with salt and a raw garlic pork fat. The chank of fat with some layers of meat liberally rubbed with salt and garlic, left in a cool place for three - five days, and that is all - slice it and eat.
    I guess you may like a meat jello - cooked till fall apart lowest parts of pig legs (it takes at least 8 hours), remove bones, let the broth cool, slice and eat it. I add a bay leaf at the end of cooking, and crashed garlic when not hot any longer but still liquid. It will have a thin layer of a melted lard on the surface.

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    1. That's a neat coincidence! I just tried boiling pig feet for the first time this week. It's really good. Спасибо за рецепт!

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    2. Wow! Another person speaking Russian. Whole Health Blog published at some point the diagrams with percentage of the people adapted to grain eating in European population. According to the graphs, Eastern Europeans were the least adapted to grains.

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  8. After pigs feet are cooked in a pressure-cooker for three hours, the bones get soft enough to chew.

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  9. Hi Amber
    I am particularly keen to try this all meat diet but wondered if you can help with a few queries. I am confused by the phenomenal amount of conflicting information amount on low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets. I have an extremely sensitive gut and ibs. I find despite the conventional wisdom to eat fruit and vegetables and fibre, these are the worse offenders for my gut. I am particularly sensitive to FODMAPs but also believe I am intolerance to nuts, diary, eggs and coconut. Therefore I find a typical ketogenic diet difficult to follow and hence my interest in an all meat diet. My queries therefore are in regards to 1. the conflicting information on protein consumption with many proponents of ketogenic diets advising only moderate intake. I find it difficult to moderate my intake if I am only eating meat and no other foods. 2. I do CrossFit 3-4 times per week but wondered about performance on an all meat diet. I can't find much information supporting all meat diets for strength and conditioning programs just a lot of the opposite. I am aware of Peter Attia's website and have read The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance. I'm all for science but also find anecdotal evidence quite comforting so would love to hear about people who can perform at a high intensity particularly CrossFit while eating only meat. I lasted eight weeks on my last attempt at a Ketogenic diet but was pretty flat while training and in my general energy levels. I was measuring my blood ketones and was regularly getting measurements between 1 &2.5 mmols but still having gut issues. Whenever I upped protein levels my ketones dropped back to around 0.5. I am currently off the wagon eating various crap which makes me feel crap, major gut issues and bad skin however much higher energy levels. If I thought I would eventually adapt to high intensity training eating only meat I would find it preferable to not have to measure ketones and count protein grams and just eat to satiety. Apologies for my rant but was hoping you might offer some suggestions, or anyone else who is reading for that matter. Thanks for your time!

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    1. I've put together a ton of science, history, and anecdata on fiber and why it's not something you should be eating much of here:

      - http://highsteaks.com/fiber/

      The problem with finding info on "all meat" diets is that almost nobody does it, and the folks who do generally don't bitch and moan on the internet like the "low carb" folk. Even me - I *advocate* a carnivorous diet, but in reality I'm a social being and still consume *some* plants, opportunistically.

      The folk over on the reddit ketogains sub are coming more around to the meaty life, when it started out it was all about "targetted" or "cyclical" ketosis for performance, which is psuedoscience speak for justifying having cookies and donuts to replenish glycogen brah. But nowadays more and more of them are noticing that in the long term they don't even need the carbs to maintain or increase performance. If it's anecdotal you want then just spend an evening browsing the community:

      - http://www.reddit.com/r/ketogains/top/?sort=top&t=all

      The manifesto in the FAQ is quite good.

      - http://www.reddit.com/r/ketogains/wiki/index

      You *can* do keto on nuts and veggies and coconut oil and being obsessive about every damn thing you put in your mouth and your blood sugars and ketones and acetone in your breath and piss sticks and "net" carbs etc etc etc.

      Or you can eat meat.

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    2. Mel, I have the experience of adapting to exercising in a fasted state and ketosis, it took me 7 - 9 months, at the beginning it felt horrible, but I just love how it feels now to have constant energy during a workout. I am a LCarber, I consume different plant foods only at the second part of the day . My exercising consists of pole-fitness (a full-body workout against own body weight ) 4 hours a week and two hours of rollerskating a week. I have to foretell you in advance it will train your liver to produce glucose without any delay.

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  10. Thanks everyone for the input. I will check out the resources suggested. As for the time taken to adapt to exercise I guess I will have to learn some patience!! I really appreciate your thoughts. Eating just meat sounds great to me.

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    1. I used the advice here in order to be fast-adapted http://gettingstronger.org/2010/11/learning-to-fast/. There is a possibility your morning blood sugar will be higher after such adaptation than now, but not necessary.

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  11. Starting my 30 day meat only trial tomorrow. Thanks for all the links and great info!

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  12. About your "I am the candle, see me glow" comment: I think it is working. Reading the long-winded comments on Petro's blog, I see that Richard Nikoley thinks you're in your twenties. Isn't that just the most delicious vindication of what you're doing?

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    1. That *is* delicious. Thank you for telling me about it.

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    2. Would you mind pointing me to which article? Long-winded is an understatement.

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    3. Ah. Found it: <a href="http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-p479l-gene-for-cpt-1a-and-fatty.html?showComment=1418238332332#c7149011448060980555>http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-p479l-gene-for-cpt-1a-and-fatty.html?showComment=1418238332332#c7149011448060980555</a>

      ""The blog of a person who eats only meat http://www.empiri.ca/. I "

      She looks 20-somthing. When I was 20-something, I could exist on beer and chips, and had a flat stomach and felt great."

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  13. I brought your example in the conversation as a person who didn't suffer from the lack of a fiber in a diet. I eat vegetables, but limit carbohydrates. I helps with slowing aging too. I recently turned 54 and told about it , and a fellow female who didn't know me for a long said she though I was close to 40 .

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    1. I'm yet to see a rational argument about the whole fiber thing. It's always circular logic.

      "Oh you need fiber for gut microbiota blah blah.", "Why?", "So you can deal with being able to eat fiber/veggies, duh!".

      Similar daftness with the resistant starch and butt fat thing. So retarded.

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  14. So... Ever kill your own food? Or eat dogs? They're pretty similar to pigs or cows, except not as smart as pigs.

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  15. Could you post a picture of yourself when you were vegetarian for comparison? Of course you were younger... Maybe just before you started eating only meat?

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  16. Interesting how your desire for fat increased after you lost your excess body fat.

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  17. I would appreciate it if you would say more about your eating of bones. I have raised five German Shepherd Dogs on a raw meaty bone diet according to the recommendations of Dr. Ian Billinghurst of Australia, and all have thrived. He says that there is no danger in feeding a dog raw bones, but there is grave danger in feeding them cooked bones. The reason for this is because cooked bones can splinter and perforate the intestinal wall, ultimately leading to death without surgical intervention. Raw bones do not splinter in this way and are, thus, safe for dogs to eat. So, my question is: why would this be true for dogs, but not for humans? Does it have to do with how thoroughly the bones are cooked? Are you using a pressure cooker, or a crockpot? How long do you cook the bones for? I have a good friend who told me that his grandmother always ate the ends of her chicken bones. Basically, whatever was soft enough to eat, she would eat. Also, how many and how often do you eat bones in this manner? Thanks!

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    1. I've heard that about splintering, too, though I'm not sure I buy it. If dogs evolved at our fireside, the bones may have been cooked, although, on the other hand, fire may be more recent than some believe..

      With regular chicken, like, say, roasted thighs, I've always bitten off the ends, too. These days I also crunch the whole bone open with my teeth. It usually splits in half, and I can eat the marrow. Sometimes the bones themselves break into small soft pieces, and I swallow them. Occasionally some of them are a little sharp, and I swallow or not at my discretion.

      It's possible that the way dogs and cats chew, they are more likely to swallow a sharp piece than I am. I don't know.

      With boiled ones, I cook them for about two days and if it's chicken, then at that point they just dissolve in the mouth. Beef only partially.

      I don't really have a regular time schedule for eating them. If I happen to be making a lot of chicken stock, then I eat them more often than if I've been making beef. I just go with the flow.


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    2. Yep, 3 chicken drumsticks was dinner yesterday, chomped to get at the marrow and gristle.

      - https://twitter.com/AshSimmonds/status/550534549138984961

      The whole "don't feed dogs cooked bones" thing is a friends-sisters-aunties-grandpas-roommates dog died on cooked bones. It's never happened to anyone you know.

      I've had dogs over the years and they've always eaten our scraps, never a problem.

      This doesn't mean you *should*, but I think it's like avoiding air travel completely because now and then a plane falls out of the sky.

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    3. I had to take our dog to a vet after he overate chicken bones. Vet lectured us on the danger of cooked chicken tubular bones(like in legs and wings) which could splinter into sharp pieces, he told us neck bones were ok. May be not only the type , but also the amount of bones plays a role.

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  18. Thanks for the additional details, Amber. You are a funny guy, Ash. I appreciate you sharing your experience, Galina.

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  19. Your 5 years encourages me because I've just been doing this for 2 months (after 10 years of very low carb), and I can't imagine eating any other way! I am at my 'ideal' weight and amazed at not only how I crave fat, but that I don't gain eating so much. I stopped counting calories after the first week (used to count religiously), and I just eat to hunger--usually no more than 2x a day.

    Thanks for the tip about tallow. I love the stuff!

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    1. Thank you. I'm at nearly 7 years now.

      It's so wonderful to have appetite work, isn't it?

      I do love tallow. It has a texture reminiscent of cookie dough.

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    2. Hi Amber,
      I've had some tallow made from suet, which I don't like. It reminds me of eating wax, and my stomach doesn't feel good on it alone. I am using it until a few tubs of tallow from an Amish farm to come in.

      I'm so excited to find your website! You are answering a lot of my questions. I had quit being ZC before as I ran into some problems. I am thinking of trying to add a little salt. I've been doing without it. It was good to read your links to the Bellevue experiments with V.S. I did not know that they did have a little salt. I'd read B. Donaldson's book and was determined to go without it.
      Thanks for being here as a resource.
      Celeste

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    3. Hi Amber,
      I've had some tallow made from suet, which I don't like. It reminds me of eating wax, and my stomach doesn't feel good on it alone. I am using it until a few tubs of tallow from an Amish farm to come in.

      I'm so excited to find your website! You are answering a lot of my questions. I had quit being ZC before as I ran into some problems. I am thinking of trying to add a little salt. I've been doing without it. It was good to read your links to the Bellevue experiments with V.S. I did not know that they did have a little salt. I'd read B. Donaldson's book and was determined to go without it.
      Thanks for being here as a resource.
      Celeste

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  20. Amber-
    You mentioned your lipid profile, and mine is similar--higher LDL, very high HDL, and low trigs. When I was just very low carb, I had a VAP test, and my LDL was 100% Pattern A (the big, fluffy kind).

    However, since zero carbing, my LDL went up about 20 points (although the ratio is still fine). But my doctors are making 'noises,' and don't buy my belief that in the absence of carbs (sugars and starches), I'm OK.
    Are there any studies I can show them about this?

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    1. Hmm. I don't know. It's more a matter of absence of evidence. LDL just hasn't been shown to have much correlation with IR/CVD.

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  21. HI amber, I've been drinking beef broth with tallow for two months now..and coffee with cream ...I've noticed my belly fat gets bigger..I wonder if I need to cut back

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  22. Yes, calories still matter. Fat is basically empty calories, nutritionally speaking. It is better to just eat meat whenever you are hungry. If you want more hands on help, you can join us on Facebook in the group Principia Carnivora.

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