Following a Carnivore-Ish Diet: What You Can Eat, the Benefits of an Animal-Based Diet, and More | The Hart of Health Podcast S1 E25
Joané & Jonathan: (00:03)
Hi, I’m Joané Hart and I’m Jonathan Hart. This is the Hart of Health. A show where we focus mainly on health and self-optimization. Here, we like to talk about our experiences and knowledge when it comes to health and biohacking. Hope you enjoy the show.
Hey everyone. So on today’s episode, we are going to be giving you a little bit of an update on our diets, because we are currently carnivore-ish me leaning more towards carnivore, and you’re kind of…solidly in the carnivore-ish.
Speaker 3: (00:54)
I’m loving it, I must say. I’ve been mostly animal-based for about six months now. So carnivore-ish. We don’t really cook any vegetables at home. It’s basically meat, fat, and organ meats. And I do love my dark chocolate, which is why I refuse to go full carnivore currently.
Yeah, I did introduce chocolate again. But then I did notice a few possible joint pains that might be correlated to the chocolates. I’m going off it again. And I’m going to re-introduce just to confirm that it was actually chocolate, there are oxalates in chocolate, so maybe I’m sensitive to oxalates and that’s going to influence my decision going forward, but this is what I like about where I am at. Because I was like pure carnivores for so long that now I can almost like play around with different things. So now I’m trying different fruits. So, I’m starting with things that are on the list of least toxic.
Yes. And to be clear if we’re talking about chocolate, we’re not talking about milk chocolate, we’re talking about dark chocolate that I made.
Yeah. So homemade chocolate, not just store-bought plain chocolate. So it was actually pretty much just like introducing plain cacao. Yeah, I was looking at the magnesium content and I don’t know how much of it you absorb, but I thought it would be cool, but I’m not married to chocolate.
I know, but I wouldn’t even cling to the magnesium content of chocolate because oxalates can make it hard for your body to absorb magnesium. So even if a food has magnesium in it, if it has quite a bit of oxalates in it as well, you’re probably going to absorb even less magnesium.
Hmm. So there you go. That’s what I said. It’s got it in it and that’s what everyone always assumes on, you know? And they’re like, oh, this plant’s got so much, but then there’s always sort of an unknown side chemical…but when you get this in as well, then all of your ability to absorb it goes away.
Yeah. The pairing of nutrients is very important because oxalates interfere with quite a few nutrients. I know that the higher your calcium intake is the better your body can handle oxalates. So ideally if you had the chocolate, you should have some calcium with it. Like eggshell powder. If you eat dairy that could work. But if you have a high calcium diet, you don’t have to be as worried about oxalates.
Yes. That’s an important thing to remember, but yeah, otherwise you will have cucumber without the seeds and without the skin.
I’ll eat fruit now and then. But because I try to stay low carb in general, I don’t eat a lot of fruit; maybe once or twice a week.
Yes. But this is the thing it’s also, I feel like this is sort of the entry-level, you know, like this is doing carnivore with your training wheels on. It would be the thing that I’d recommend to anyone who doesn’t want to look to make an extreme change, but is looking to gain a better understanding of their own sort of personal story of food sensitivities and things like that. I mean, as soon as you tell someone like, okay, just animal products, just liver, meat, fat cheese dairy, then they kind of go oh my word, what am I going to do? I’m so attached to my vegetables and I’m like uhh. I’m sure if you use things like avocado and squash and like the fruits that are not sweet and then also say, okay, well, yeah, you can have sweet fruits here and there; just to try and get you through those first few days without proper veggies or grains or those things that are more on the toxic side of plant products. Because that is the thing, it’s a spectrum. We’ve got things on the one end, like wheat and beans that are very toxic, that are like on the really toxic side. Things like avocado on the other end. So you’ve got to sort of just play around on that spectrum. But I think if you can shift towards the least toxic one a lot and then make the main focus of your diet animal based, you’re going to notice huge benefits.
Yeah. So this is for people who don’t want to go full carnivore and still want some plant foods in their diet. I chose to keep dark chocolate and cacao in my diet and fruit. Apart from the chocolate, I think my diet is quite ancestrally appropriate. You know, mostly eating animal foods, but still eating some plants like fruits. Which, you know, if you did live some way, if your ancestors lived somewhere where there was fruit in certain times of the year, they would still have fruit probably.
Yeah. This brings up very interesting sort of observations from our current native populations on the planet. Everyone loves to quote the Hadza, but if you look at the Hadza food preference list, the number one is honey. Okay. But that’s sort of like when they find a beehive, so it’s a rare treat. That also sort of explains why people have this sweet tooth
And we do have honey.
We have honey, but I stay below a hundred grams of carbs a day.
And I don’t have honey everyday because I try to keep my carb intake quite low. I think my carb intake is usually about around 20 or lower, unless it’s a day where I do include some fruit, but then I’ll go to about 50 to 60 grams of carbs. But I don’t usually go above that.
Yeah. And I do think it’s good to cycle through. So like have some days where you do some days where you don’t, so you maintain that good metabolic flexibility between being a good fat burner, but still being able to utilize carbs for like an exercise or whatever. But so then you look at the HUD’s second favorite and the woman have kind of like a tied second favorite, but the men have a very clear favorite for second and that is meat and the woman have fruit and meat kind of tied in second for the Hadza. And, then I think that their least favorite thing is potatoes as these are sort of one of their staples. And it was like, oh yeah, but the odds are they’ll dig up a tuber or whatever. It’s like, yeah. That’s when they don’t have honey or meat, they will go dig up a tuber and they will chew it and spit out the fiber.
It’s a fallback food. A lot of these plant foods, we’re eating as staples every day now. Well, not we, but people in general used to be fallback food. So if you couldn’t kill an animal and you needed to find something just to keep you going until you could kill an animal, then you’d go for the plant. Unless it’s something like berries or honey, that’s sweet and like triggers your brain.
But that’s not an everyday thing. You don’t get a beehive every day. You don’t trees fruiting every day. Like maybe the closer you get to the equator. And then that probably brings in the question of like, where’s your ancestral origin having an influence. Like I think if you have very pale skin, your ancestors probably had very seasonal kind of fruits. So only be there like once a year, where if you more from the equator, then you probably going to have fruits that are sort of there throughout the year that you can sort of like this one comes into fruiting or this one fruits all the time; where if you’ve got paler ancestors, then you probably be good to sort of cycle in like have no carbs for a while, then have some no carbs because I think that’s more appropriate to our lineage.
And I feel for women in certain stages of their menstrual cycles, they do benefit from having a bit more carbs and that doesn’t mean eat bread or anything like that. It can mean just having fruits, having some honey. So what I like to do is I try to stay low carb, like really low carb for two weeks. So almost keto, and then I’ll just increase my carbs a little bit for two weeks. So I try to sync my carb intake according to my menstrual cycle.
Which is a good idea. I sync my carbon intake up with my exercise level. So on a day where I know I’m not going to do much, I’ll have a little or none. And then on days where I know, okay, today, I’m going to want to like, you know, perform, then I’ll have more. Women have a long cycle and men have a 24-hour cycle. So you can get yourself into a pretty good rhythm as a man on a daily basis where I think women need to sort of look at it from a more broad aspect because your hormonal cycles a lot longer than ours.
Definitely. I wanted to mention something now, the carbohydrates. Oh yeah. One thing that you will not have now, and then is black coffee, even though you’ve never been a coffee drinker, but you use it as a performance enhancement, like drug, because coffee is a drug, let’s be honest. But, it really gives you a boost if you play action frisbee or hockey or something like that.
I haven’t done it in months, but yeah.
But it’s something that you’re open to. So it’s not like, oh, you are a strict carnivore you will not touch coffee or anything like that. I keep thinking about what Paul Saladino says, where he’s open to plants being used as medicine situationally. So you’re carnivore, you know, 95, 90% of the time, but if there is a day where you have a hockey game or something, and you just want that little bit of boost, you might have the shot of dark coffee.
Yes. And that’s the thing; I always look at it like an experiment, so I’ll go, okay, let’s, let’s have the coffee. If I have a negative experience from that, I’ll see like, okay, is there another way to get the caffeine in without the negative from the coffee? But for me, I personally, haven’t really noticed a massive difference from having one shot of espresso once a month or twice a month, you know. And having that infrequently is what makes it so good for improving and having a noticeable improvement in your performance. Like if you’re drinking that every day, your body’s so used to it, you won’t notice any difference in your performance. Where I kind of use it like a little caffeine boost, but that’s the thing is like, I’m sure there might be an extracted caffeine source where you can get just the caffeine without having the polyphenols.
Just look at all the diet fat burners supplements in the stores. All of them have caffeine. There’s one you do get in the shops that are just caffeine. So then you just take a tablet, you don’t drink the coffee with the oxalate; you just get the caffeine.
Yeah. So, there’s plenty of options. I think a lot of people think like, oh yeah, but you know, I’m not really ready to go carbs. They want that more kind of staple carbohydrate. The one I would recommend is rice, white rice is probably like the most harmless of the grains. Yeah. One of the least toxic, the most benign, if you compare them to the others in like lectin levels. You don’t want to go brown rice because brown rice has an increased amount of, of problematic lectin compounds. So the white rice is actually better in this. It’s almost purely like amylose carbohydrates. So if you’re now looking at like, oh, okay, wait; now I see an option.
Oh, butternut squash. You can have that as a carb, right?
Yeah. That’s also a good carb. Even bananas, they’re pretty good, but I’m just saying like, sort of as a more staple, cheap thing to have as a carbohydrate source, if you can just shift away from if your current diet includes bread and corn and high lectins, high oxalate foods like leafy greens, like they’re not worth it.
Throw away your juicer. If you have one.
Wheatgrass? It’s not a good idea; spinach, kale, not a good idea. We can go into detail on why, but…
We should do a separate podcast just on that. That is a whole topic in itself. I’ve taught so many people just please don’t eat leafy greens. Like don’t you don’t need the oxalates. It doesn’t taste that great anyways, you don’t need it.
And then I’ll say like one thing I think everyone should add is liver.
Yeah. Even if it’s in capsule form, you don’t have to eat the liver, but you just have to get the liver in your body, in yourself.
Yeah. Because that’s one thing I noticed that took carnivore for me to the next level was getting liver. Because I remember when I did it that time when I was in Cape town for a month and I don’t know, I felt a little bit lacklustre doing the carnivore because I was eating a lot of like pork and chicken which might’ve contributed to it. But then when I made that liver boss, so I specifically bought a sausage or in South Africa is called wors, which is like Afrikaans sort of like roots in Dutch and Finish. I made a sausage that contains some meat and some liver and that made it a lot more palatable because I did not like liver. I did not like the taste and now I’m eating liver. I had liver tonight. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
And you get excited about it, which is really cool.
It’s almost like my body started correlating this boosting like mood and this nutrient-rich food with liver. So it’s almost like my body’s relearned to associate the taste of liver with, wow, we get a good benefit from it. But it took a while. I’m not going to lie. But if you’re really not trying or not in the mood for trying to force a new taste in food, there are supplements out there that are really good for you to take. And if you really want to do it cheap, chop up your liver into tiny blocks and freeze it and just swallow it like capsules and you don’t taste it. If it’s still solidly frozen, like you do not even taste it. You just cut it into a small enough block. Don’t try and swallow large chunks. That’s not, not recommended.
How else has our diet changed is going carnivore-ish. We eliminated like all spices. We don’t buy spices anymore. We just use salt to cook with. You actually learn to appreciate the taste of the meat a lot. I really don’t miss it. One thing I realized the other day was you never really liked lamb. It was not your favourite meat. And a few days ago, I phoned you and asked if I should buy us lamb for dinner. And you actually got excited and said, Ooh, that would be very nice.
And lamb in South Africa is quite expensive. So it’s like a treat. Treat me it’s more expensive than the beef.
Yes. So I bought lamb and then I was just laughing at myself in the car because you actually got excited at the thought of me buying lamb, but it’s just because it’s this really nice fatty meat. It’s quite nutrient-dense as well.
Yeah, the balance between the fat and the meat. So the protein fat ratio in the lamb is really nice because it’s already sort of there where if you have like a large steak with a strip of fat, you almost feel like you’re getting a large volume of protein and not enough fat.
Lamb has a way better fat to protein ratio.
Yeah. It’s fine. I like, you know, just getting hard fat. That’s another thing that’s actually very cheap and a good way to get in calories. If you’re looking for a way to up your calories.
Yeah. Save money on carnivore; go to the butcher and ask them for a bunch of fat.
Kidney fat if possible.
If possible; and organ meats, because they’re usually cheaper as well.
And they’re so satisfying.
If you mix a lot of fat with organ meat, it’s the most satisfying meal. I cannot overeat on it. And if you have a binge eating problem, I highly recommend making liver and fat and having that and seeing how far you can get, you will be able to binge on that.
No, even if you really enjoy the taste of it, your body picks up very quickly that it’s nutrient-dense. And that is why the whole makes me think of the whole calories in calories out. We have done a podcast on calories in calories out if you want to. But I don’t think I’ve really changed my position. I think that’s just a great example. I mean like you can eat popcorn until you fall. You’re sort of, you’re going to be like, ravenously hungry in like an hour.
Yeah. You might feel full for a little bit, but your body’s not getting the nutrients it needs. And then it’s going to start asking again, and then what are you going to do? Make more popcorn just to trick your body into thinking it’s getting nutrients. And then it reacts in a way that almost kind of, at some point forces you to give it the nutrients that it needs. How many people start binge eating.
You lose control of what you put in your mouth suddenly like, whoa, my body’s taken over. Not everyone understands that experience, but I think a lot of people listening will relate to that; like insatiable sort of like you can’t stop eating and yeah. Then a lot of people will say like, oh yeah, but you just need to be disciplined. You just need to be disciplined. And I’m like, some ways of eating make the discipline, like not even a factor
Speaker 3: (21:09)
It’s super hard. And one thing is, you know, people can say the carnivore diet is so restrictive, even a kind of ish diet, you know, eating mostly animal products with some fruits and some plant foods. But there’s this thing, there’s this saying where there’s freedom in constraints. So for me, for example, I find freedom in how restrictive my diet is. Yes, I do have dark chocolate and indulge. I treat myself, I don’t feel deprived all, but if I go to the store, there are so many foods that are no longer options for me. I’m not going to KFC; I’m not buying the doughnuts; I’m not buying McDonald’s. Most of the things that you find in the store that would be easy to binge on aren’t really carnivore-ish friendly, you know? So it just automatically eliminates a lot of junk. If those foods were options and I started eating some of it, I would just spiral and want all of it.
If it fits your macros sort of, kind of style calorie counting, just watching macros and calories, you think like, oh, I’ll be able to control this. And then you realize suddenly you’re skiing downhill and you don’t have full control of where you’re going all the time. And I suppose there are some people out there that have had success by just white-knuckling it and fricking holding on and being disciplined and pushing through and doing it. But there’s the health at every size movement and the fat acceptance movements pointing out how diets fail so much of the time. And I think this is the reason why I think, because if you’re not eating the right foods, it’s almost like you’re battling your own body. And most people lose. Most people don’t have the discipline to be able to push through that really tough part where I think almost anyone can do it; if they just ate the right foods, eat the foods that like don’t, they’re not super high in calories. Like, yeah, they’re calorie-dense, but you eat a small portion of it and suddenly you just super satisfied and you don’t want to eat for the next four hours. That’s going to benefit people because then you’re not getting any deficiencies. And yeah, I’m just like, that should be like case closed. You’re getting all the nutrients you need, you’re not overeating on calories, and you’re not eating junk.
I used to binge eat for years ever since I was a little kid and it actually stopped about five, six months ago, which was around the time that I got my period back, but also around the time that I went animal-based, and I didn’t try to restrict any calories. I was just focusing on eating animal-based and I didn’t have the urge to binge because we had such satisfying meals. It’s only now that I’m having the urges to overeat because I’ve been trying to lose fat. Now that I’ve had my period consistently for six months in a row.
Yeah. You’ve tried to reduce your calories now for the first time. Yeah.
Yes. And it was only after a few weeks where I started getting hungry. And then I realized so many people have a healthy relationship with food, but then they start dieting and then a few weeks in, they binge for the first time in their lives. That, wasn’t my story because I binged as a little kid and, you know, all way up to now.
Diet started around about the same time.
I only started like really actively trying to die at around nine or 10, but I was binging at five or six.
So a couple of years.
So it was a couple of years before that. And this was the first time in my life where it’s so easy for me to stop eating. And even now I’ve been hungry a bit, then I’ll eat and I’ll eat something that’s super satisfying. So I don’t overeat. And this week I’ve been trying to take a diet break and I’ve spoken to you about it. I’ve been struggling to hit my maintenance calories because I’ll eat, and then I’m so satisfied with these carnivore-ish meals that it’s hard to eat more. And I find that, butcher foods are hard to overeat on. So dark chocolate is great. So if I have meat and fat, which is very satiating or organ meat with fat, and then I have some dark chocolate afterwards and I’m talking, I don’t even do 70%. I buy the 85%, 90% cocoa chocolate.
The more, bitter, the better.
And that’s what I eat. So, it’s a dessert, but it’s kind of bitter and sometimes I’ll have decaf coffee. Not that often, but it’s also quite bitter. And I find that having protein with fat and then something bitter afterwards, like the dark chocolate for dessert that has been such a wonderful combination for me in terms of binge eating. And that’s why I’m happy to be carnivore-ish over just being carnivore because if I was just carnivore; I’m sure I would do fine, but I would want honey, I would want something that like I was eating a dessert and then my carb intake would just go like up quite a bit. I did do an experiment a few weeks ago where I did cut out dark chocolate for a few weeks, but I really increased my honey intake in that time. So now we’re back on the dark chocolate and life is so much better.
So yeah, that’s, I hope that gives everyone listening to an idea of how you can play around with this thing. Like it’s really infinitely malleable. You can sort of say like, oh I’d really like to do this, but then you can assess it. You can assess it like an individual experiment. So you can go like, okay, I’ve been, I’ve been good for a month at least I’d say a month if you want to do like an elimination.
Strict for a month, not necessarily good, because what is good.
Yeah. I mean like you haven’t eaten that thing, you specifically tested for a month.
Or that thing you didn’t want to eat, you didn’t eat.
Yeah. So let’s say wheat, so you haven’t had any bread or any wheat-based products for a month at least. That means you’ve eliminated for a month. And so then, you’re going to be able to test your sensitivity if there is any at that point again. So when you reintroduce it, you can be like, okay, so now it’s been a month, let’s have some bread. And then you must be honest with yourself and be like, okay, that caused a lot of problems or, oh no, I can live with that. You’ve got to make your own call. And I mean, I think most people might think like, ah, a month without bread, you won’t even realize, and the month will be done. It’s really not difficult. And I think it does pay to know how your own body responds to these different foods that we sort of all assume are safe to eat for everyone.
Yeah. Or even if for me it was chocolate. There might be some other food that somebody is just not willing to part with. Even, unfortunately, if it is high in oxalates, if it’s nuts for now. If you cut out a lot of other foods from your diet and you were limited down to your animal foods and nuts, that would already be way better. Even though the nuts have oxalates in them, sometimes even the food can have negative effects. I mean, I eat dark chocolate knowing that it is high in oxalates. And I try to get as much calcium as I can. But if there’s a food that you’re just not willing to part with, that doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment with carnivore. I mean, you’re carnivore-ish could look like, oh, six days of the week you eat animal-based, and then one day over the weekend, you will eat other foods because that’s what you want to do. You know? LIke Paul Saladino says, what is your highest quality of what gives you that? So if you want to be carnivore during the week and then on the weekends eat the way you want to, that is perfectly fine because you’re still going to get a lot more nutrients in your diet from being more animal-based because animal foods are a lot more nutrient-dense than plant foods.
Yeah. That’s why I say it’s quite important to be honest, you have to be honest with yourself. Like, I think we can often trick ourselves into thinking that something’s essential when it’s actually very easy to cut out and you won’t know until you try. But yeah, like you said, there are so many ways of doing it. You eat strictly and then once a week at a family gathering or whatever, you let it go, even then you’ll start picking up on a pattern and be like when I go to my family and they have potatoes, then after eating the potatoes, I noticed there was a really big problem digestively, or itchiness or whatever happens, you’ve got to be alert and self-aware. But sort of say like, oh, okay, so now I know potatoes is kind of a thing; or we can say it’s not enough of a thing to cut it out completely. That’s very individual. That’s where it comes up to each individual.
Yeah. Sometimes the benefits of eating something for you outweigh the negatives. So sometimes it’s you have this memory attached, it might be like a ritual, a family thing. At home, I didn’t eat vegetables, but when I go and visit my parents once or twice a week, then I will. There are certain vegetables that I just don’t want to eat. I stay away from them like leafy greens, but it doesn’t mean that I never eat vegetables because I actually enjoy vegetables. I also grew up eating it a lot. So it’s not always something that I really want to cut out. But obviously, vegetables like spinach and kale. I don’t care. They could be cut out. Broccoli is overrated. I do like avocado, luckily that’s fruit. And I like your squashes. So it’s funny that some of my favourite vegetables are the vegetables that are lower on the plant toxicity spectrum. So if I have butternut then I’d be happy with that. If I have fruit, I enjoy that. Yes, it has sugar in it, but I just feel like it’s more ancestrally appropriate, because we’re not supposed to eat the leaves and the stems of these plants and the roots and things like that. And the seeds.
So that’s one thing I would say like, okay, some people are probably wondering, oh, why aren’t you saying tomatoes? Tomatoes are nightshades. So I’d also, even though they are fruit, I would still be careful with them. And this is where you can bring in the whole thing of like, how do you prepare them? Because as I mentioned earlier, when you have your cucumber, you peel it and you de-seed it.