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As more people adopt different ways of eating, the carnivore diet is gaining rabid followers. Today we bring back Craig Emmerich to talk about the carnivore way of eating and the cookbook he and his wife, Maria wrote called The Carnivore Cookbook.
Allan: 01:29 Craig, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Craig: 01:32 Thank you for having me on.
Allan: 01:34 You know your cookbooks now. You're working directly with Maria to do the cookbooks and those cookbooks have been some of my favorites across, including Keto Comfort Foods, which made my list of favorite books that I've read because of the recipes that she has in there. Her etouffee is just unbelievable There's also Keto Restaurant Foods. You recently sent me one on air fryers, which I'm just now diving into. We don't have an oven in our apartment here we didn't realize that until we moved in. It's like we have a stove top and no oven. I'm like, huh. Air fryer. That might do it. A very small place. I'm going to be diving into that big, big time.
Allan: 02:13 And then your book now The Carnivore Cookbook. When I first started hearing people moving to carnivore, because the conversation went paleo, keto started kind of gaining momentum, and now carnivore. It was almost reminiscent of the vegan approach to eating. It's such a huge elimination diet that I was like, I don't know that I would ever try that, but I'm glad you sent me this cookbook. I'm glad we have this opportunity to have this conversation because I learned so much from this book.
Craig: 02:51 Thanks, Yeah, we tried to put a lot of, you know, it's much more than just a cookbook. You know, it's got over a hundred pages of content of why. You know, just the general question of why carnivore and I think the book covers that pretty well.
Allan: 03:07 Yeah. I would get on these Facebook groups and everyone's like, Oh no, you don't, you don't need that. You can just eat rib eyes all day every day. Or bacon. That's the same thing with Kito. I'm like, get off the bacon please. We need a little more than that. And I was really appreciative. I figured there was no way that you and Maria would put out a book without at least giving us some basis in science and some, some general howtos before we ever even try something like this.
Craig: 03:32 Yeah. That's what Maria and I, we've been doing this for over, Maria for over 20 years and we've always based everything we do on science and the, things we read and we're constantly learning and we're always looking for the latest information to, you know understand and, and understand this lifestyle and what the science is saying about it and our biology and all of that. And we incorporate that into, you know, our books and what we do with clients. And so, you know, things have evolved over the years. We used to recommend flax and we no longer recommend it. Probably eight or 10 years ago, we read more on the estrogenic compounds and what they you know do to people. And if they're with estrogen balance and so we'd no longer recommend it. So, we always try to keep up and learn and educate ourselves.
Allan: 04:25 And I appreciate that. That is part of what this podcast is all about. I'm generally agnostic until someone gets militant about their way of eating which is happening on all sides of this. I think a lot of us went through the evolution of the paleo, keto. And now people are looking at carnivore and other kind of spinoffs of keto. I've even seen some vegan keto that's out there and we've covered that on the podcast. And so I encourage people to explore these.
Allan: 04:56 Now with the carnivore diet, it's, the way I'm reading it, we have gone through this is it's basically an elimination diet. And a lot of people will get into it predominantly for weight loss. Maybe they stalled on keto and they're not losing any more weight. And they're like, well, what do I do? And seems like, well, you know, I went on the carnivore diet, I lost an additional five pounds in a week. And they're like, Oh, okay. And so people are experimenting with it. So it's important for them to understand what this diet means. But at the same time, it's there's, there's a reason we're going to do it besides weight loss for a lot of people. Including yourself.
Craig: 05:37 Yeah. So, you know we took the book when we started talking about applying this diet we took it in two parts and we said, okay, what are your goals? Why are you doing this? And if the goal is weight loss, then great, here's kind of how you do it and how to get success doing it for weight loss. And then we took the other angle of, are you doing it for healing? Because that can be a little bit different when it comes to, you know, healing from auto-immune disorders or bipolar or Lyme disease. Like I have those things require a little different protocol to kind of weed out what you can handle and what your body reactsto or not. And so that was, we coined, we called it the carnival auto immune protocol and it's basically, you know, just like an autoimmune protocol or it's an elimination diet, but it's a total elimination diet.
Craig: 06:36 And you start out just eating beef and salt and a take it back to the basics and allow your body to adjust to that and then slowly add things back in. And this is a way to find where your tolerance level is. And it's so important because people like me with Lyme disease that I've struggled with now for seven, eight years with, you know, chronic pain, especially the, the hardest thing is the migrating pain that I get where, you know, you wake up in the morning and it feels like you sprained your knee, you didn't do anything, you just wake up with this knee pain. Next morning you wake up, it's in the other knee or in your hip or your ankle. And it's very hard to function when you've got this because I mean it's just hard to even walk around with carnivore I was able to completely eliminate that migrating pain.
Craig: 07:27 And by eliminating certain plants and things that I eat used to eat when I was keto. And so it's a powerful thing. And there's even people in this community like Amber, our friend Amber O'Hearn, she's been carnivore for like, I don't know, 15 years and it's to help with her bipolar. With keto she saw improvements but not total stopping of the progression of the disease. With carnivore she did see a complete stopping of the progression. So, you know, this is not, I look at this as how we've always approached keto in that people come to keto and yeah, the weight loss is great, but they stay with it because of the healing effects and how much better they feel and a lot of the carnivore is in the same realm is that, you know, people especially with these, you know, chronic autoimmune or Lyme or these chronic pain conditions, they come to it and they see relief and that is the driving force behind it.
Allan: 08:34 And I think that's one of the cores here is that this is for some people this could just be a temporary, you know, I want to lose 20 pounds. I'll try carnivore and I do it for 28 to, you know, I don't know, six weeks, six months, whatever. You lose that weight and then you can start incorporating, you know, plant material back into your diet, and became basically keto from that point forward and feel pretty good about.
Craig: 08:59 Yeah, keto or low carb. And you can, you know, live that way for a long time and forever. And you know, Maria's been keto for, like you said, over 20 years and she's thriving and you know, she kind of goes back and forth herself. You know, she'll, there's days where she pretty much eats carnivore and then other days, you know, maybe like this weekend and we're going to family outings, you know, she'll incorporate salads and, you know, other things basically eating keto you know, myself, I'm still gonna stick to the meat because if I don't, I'm gonna be in rough shape that next day with the pain. So, you know, it really depends on your goals.
Allan: 09:39 Now you've mentioned in the healing part, you mentioned the Lyme disease, which is what you're familiar with particularly. And then of course the bipolar. Some of the other conditions you had in there included gout, which one of my clients suffers from. It's kind of hard. I can give him workouts and say, Hey, you know, go to this workout. But then, you know, he has a gout flare up and he's bedridden for a week. So that's not helping him. Is the state's going to help other things you had got listed, I believe. There's other items out there and exactly what do we think is happening in our bodies that's allowing this to be so effective? If you ask someone a doctor about gout, they'll say stay away from red meat.
Craig: 10:21 Yeah, I mean, that's a common myth, but you know, most of gout, lot of times it's related to fructose and as well as possibly oxalates. You know, there's some evidence that oxalates are one of the anti-nutrients that come with plants, plants, all plants have anti-nutrients. And this is something I would really want it to talk about in the book because I think this is one of the components that helps people like me is that you get rid of all these things your body doesn't really want. And when you're at a state like mine where lyme disease really chronically depresses your immune function and puts you in an inflammatory state. And so removing additional inflammatory components like anti-nutrients can help the body. And so all these anti-nutrients are basically compounds the body can't use and doesn't want. So it has to detox.
Craig: 11:16 There's tons of antioxidants, there's thousands of them in anti-nutrients in thousands of them in plants. Some of the most harmful are things like oxalates and phytates and glucosinolates and these compounds that are basically natural pesticides for the plants to kill off bugs or things that try to eat them. You know, a plant is, you think about it from an evolutionary perspective. Animals can defend themselves by growling, showing their teeth running away. A plant can't do any of those things. So it's the natural defenses that are basically natural pesticides. So a plant does not want you to eat the STAM, the roots or the leaves because that kills the plant. So it only wants you to eat the fruit. So the fruit, it makes sweet and tempting to animals. And then it has natural pesticides on its other parts that keep bugs and things from eating them.
Craig: 12:18 And there's actually toxicity levels for some of these anti-nutrients things like oxalates it's anywhere from three grams to maybe 30 grams of oxalates can kill you. It's a wide range because of immune function and metabolic state. So somebody has diabetes or Lyme disease or chronic issues or depressed immune function. They might be closer to three grams of oxalates that could actually kill you if you're very healthy. It might be more like 30, but a man did die eating too many oxalates in Europe and it's been documented. So, you know, this is something that we don't understand about plants. We've been taught our whole lives, that fruit and vegetables are unlimited. Eat as much as you want, but there are some negatives and especially if you've got a disease state, they can really hinder you.
Allan: 13:11 Yeah. You know, and they'll tell you, you know, when you go to lift weights you're, you're, you're doing some damage to the muscle. And then this process called hormesis is what's allowing the muscle to build back stronger and better. They used to tell us now, they would tell us with vegetables is that, you know, yes, they have these anti-nutrients, but your body under normal functioning can goes through hormesis there as well. So some of the advice I've heard before is a breakup your kale 10 minutes before you're ready to start cooking it so that it maximizes these anti-nutrients. And so, yeah, it, you know, I, I guess I, if you're, if you have a normally functioning immune system and everything's working out for you, you probably have that opportunity to improve from that stress. But if you're dealing with an auto-immune issue of any type, now you know, you're, you're in that situation of too much damage.
Craig: 14:06 Yeah. Additional stress is not good in those situations. And so yeah, I think the mechanisms for all these different conditions where you can see improvements with carnivore are a couple fold. Number one is that that aspect, the anti-nutrients you don't have to deal with anymore and additional stress on the body. The other aspect I think is nutrient density and bioavailability of those nutrients. If you think about healing the body, what do you need? You need lots of vitamins and minerals to help the body you know, very nutrient dense foods to help the body recover and repair itself. Well, what is the most nutrient dense food when you, especially when you consider, well, that's going to be animal proteins. We put a lot of charts in the book to kind of explain this, but the very important aspect of it as well is the bio-availability of those nutrients because there's a lot of these anti-nutrients that can leach these nutrients from the body. So what I mean by that is we give the, there's a study that was done that took oysters, which are great for zinc. They're very high in zinc and they might've..
Allan: 15:20 And my favorite food by the way.
Craig: 15:21 Yeah, me as well. When I can get them, we can't, don't get them a lot in the Midwest.
Allan: 15:26 We don't, we don't get them down here in Panama. So when I travel back up to Louisiana, Florida, I'm hitting the oyster bars for sure.
Craig: 15:33 Yes I did. Or you know, high in DHA. So they're really good food for you. But what they did is they tested postprandial glucose, blood zinc levels. So basically the amount of zinc that's getting into the blood from eating the oysters. And when they did it with just oysters, you get this nice increase in zinc in the blood. So you're getting all this zinc into the body. When you eat, when they had the participants eat the oysters with black beans, like a third of the zinc gets into the body. And then when they had them eat them with corn tortilla chips, none of the zinc gets into the body. And this is, I believe is because those anti-nutrients like oxalates that latch on to minerals. And then when they're detox, they go right through the body. So the body is basically robbed of these nutrients. And so going the carnivore eliminates any of that from happening. And you get this huge dose of vitamins into the body that your body hadn't been getting. And, and that helps with healing.
Allan: 16:38 So let, let's get into that a little bit because you know, some of them say you can just sit down and it's just eat meat. You're, obviously, well, maybe not so obviously not getting all the vitamins and minerals that you could get from vegetables and fruits, but what you're saying is all of the necessary vitamins and minerals are available in animal products and they may be even more bio available to us as in, in addition to that.
Craig: 17:10 Yeah. And you know, the charts that I put in the book, I tried to kind of show that we have I think about 15 vitamins and minerals, a list of in these charts and they compare the content of, you know, beef, beef, liver, kale, you know, broccoli, all of these foods. And what you see is that beef by itself stacks up really well against those other foods. I think in the one chart I did have just beef, like a steak versus kale, blueberries and an Apple. Beef is number one in the vitamins and minerals in 13 out of the 15 vitamins and minerals and number two in one other one. So it's either one or two and all but one. And I think the only one it wasn't was vitamin C, which vitamin C is your requirement for vitamin C in the body is, is directly proportional to the amount of carbohydrates you eat. The less carbs you eat, the less vitamin C you need. So it's my position that especially if you eat a nose to tail type of carnivore diet where you incorporate things like beef liver and you know, bone marrow and these kinds of things. You're getting all the nutrients your body needs and it's in a more bioavailable form than you get from the plants.
Allan: 18:33 And, and like I said, I, I trust you and Maria so much that I knew when I started flipping through the recipes, you were going to be giving us some advice on how to get liver and bone marrow into our diet on a regular basis. Even for those who have difficulty with it. Can you tell us your trick, your trick for getting liver into, into your meals? Even when you don't necessarily like the texture, flavor of liver?
Craig: 18:57 Yeah, there's a few things that we do. Even if you're not carnival or if you're looking at a keto diet, a lifestyle, even in keto, it's great to incorporate some liver cause there's probably nothing on the planet that's more nutrient dense than beef liver. I mean that is like nature's multivitamin. So we try to incorporate it wherever we can. One of the great things that you can do is mix it into hamburger at like a five to one ratio. So for every five pounds of hamburger you put a pound of ground liver into it and you mix it all up and it makes amazing burgers. Or you can make, take that and make it into things like Maria's protein noodle lasagna or her chili recipe if you really averse to the taste. Chili is a great one because the more spice there is, the more you kind of cover that taste and you and usually in our chili recipe, you don't even notice that it's, if you don't tell somebody, they won't know that. It's not that there's beef liver in there.
Allan: 19:53 I wouldn't advise that because when you tell them afterwards, they're going to be pretty angry with you.
Craig: 20:00 Maybe with your kids,
Allan: 20:02 Just get them to try and say, Hey, try this, try this meatloaf. It just, just to taste. You might not like it, but just try it. And if you like, it's from Maria's cookbook, I know it's going to be good, but here try this. And if you don't like it, then I understand. But yeah, don't, don't sit down to dinner and then tell your whole family what you did later.
Craig: 20:21 Well, actually we like to let our kids pallets do the talking. You know, one of the things that Maria gets annoyed by is like, her mother will sometimes say to the, Oh, Omray you might not like this. This is Maria's healthy pancakes. Well now the kids are going to hate it. Yeah. Just let them try it. And if they like it, great. You know, they don't need to know that. That's the healthy one.
Allan: 20:45 Yeah. I get it with kids, I get it. With your spouse, you might want to say I'm going to try this experiment. I want you to try it with me. Are you game? If not, I'll eat all of it. I promise I'll eat every bit of it. I just want to share this, this healthy meal with you.
Craig: 21:02 Uh but that's, that's probably the best way to incorporate it if you're averse to it. Uh some people just like, you know, they soak it in some cream and, and then grill it with some onions. Some, you know, there's a lot of people I like it just like that. Another way to get it in, if you're really averse to the taste is to do, you basically cut it into little cubes and then you freeze it and then you just pop them, like swallow them like a multivitamin. And that's a way to get past the taste if you're really averse.
Allan: 21:36 Cool. Cool. I like that. So we don't necessarily need vitamins and veggies for our vitamins or minerals. We can get all that we need from a mixture of beef liver and some other meats. We can kind of put that together to build out the nutrition that we need. But as far as fiber, because you know, we're told we're going to struggle if we don't get fiber in our diet, our guts gonna hate us. Um we're never going to poop again. Explain a little bit about that. Cause I do see some posts like I just started this carnivore diet and I, you know, I'm struggling. I haven't pooped in three days. I'm like,
Craig: 22:12 Well we see it go both ways. Sometimes people will get a little constipated, some people will get diarrhea. A lot of that just transitioning, you know the body has to adapt and adjust to any big change in your diet. And that's what we talked in the book. One thing that can really help is adding digestive enzymes after your meal and a little HCL hydrochloric acid with your first bites of food and do that in the first few days or a week just to help your body adjust to eating more meat. And that usually helps with any diarrhea issues or digestive issues. But back to the fiber thing, you know, that's a common myth that you need this thing. Your body cannot digest, fiber to bulk up your stills and shove it through the GI track. And to me that just seems weird. You know, first of all, there's studies that have shown, there was a study in Japan that showed that the lower the fiber when you lowered fiber, it actually made constipation better. And there are another study that showed that symptoms of diverticulitis, they had less issues with the less fiber they ate. Zero fiber was the best scenario with almost all their symptoms going away. So having this fiber can actually bulk up the stools and elongate the intestines and irritate them so it's actually can be a negative in that way. And another example is when people say you get, you got to have fiber to go number two, well I always ask them, you know, does a baby that's being breastfed typically have any issue going Number two, I mean know they have no issues with zero fiber in there from the breast milk.
Allan: 23:58 So, you know, I think back to a cat, you know, cat as a pure carnivore and sadly enough, some people try to turn their cats into vegans and that doesn't work out very well. But so you end up with this carnivore and I, I've watched it. A cat will go out in the yard and we'll start eating some grass and it typically just eats that grass at moments where it is already having digestive issues. So is there a case for some fiber in our diet or not really?
Craig: 24:28 Well I don't know if that's, you know, like our dog would do that and would he would gag and throw up. It's like he's trying to purge himself when he would eat the grass. So I'm not sure if there's a connection.
Allan: 24:41 I just figured there was a nutrition, I mean not a nutrition problem, but maybe I digest an issue that the animal is dealing with. It's, it's trying to put something in a system that isn't really in its, in its opinion food.
Craig: 24:53 Yeah. Our, our dog always threw up after he ate the grass. So I dunno if that's why he was doing it.
Allan: 24:58 Now if someone's coming directly from the standard American diet and going into carnivore this is a fairly drastic move. Someone going from keto to carnival or it's actually seems to be a pretty natural transition. I think the core for both is just there isn't additional requirement for electrolytes.
Craig: 25:21 Well, at least a focus on it. You know, I think it's much less of an issue if you're coming from keto, depending on your level of keto to carnivore. Um you're already focusing on electrolytes and making sure you're getting them. So it's probably not as big of an issue there, but it's still important. As important as it is with Kito. You know, carbohydrates are water retaining. So when you eat, the more carbohydrates you eat, the more water you retain. And then when you eliminate the carbohydrates your body flushes out this retained water, which is a good thing. You don't want to be retaining water and bloated. And but what that water go electrolytes that are associated with it. So you need to replenish your electrolytes. And especially when you're eating a whole foods keto or carnivore type of diet because you're not getting sodium in the food where, you know, standard American diet, there's sodium in everything. You know, a milkshake at McDonald's has more sodium than their French fries. So you're getting all this sodium that you don't even realize. And when you go to whole foods, there's no sodium. So you gotta make sure to add that salt back in.
Allan: 26:36 Yeah, I run, I run low on potassium and sodium already. So it is something as I'm, if I'm going to experiment with something that it is something that I, I would definitely make sure that I was getting my electrolytes.
Craig: 26:47 The body, it likes sodium and potassium to be kind of in balance and while eating carnivore, you know, beef and proteins are pretty high in potassium. But what the body has this pathway of, you know, if you're not getting enough sodium it will leach potassium until they're kind of unbalanced again. And so having sodium low can actually result in having potassium loss. So you gotta keep your sodium intake up to keep them balanced.
Allan: 27:16 Yeah. Craig, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Craig: 27:28 Well number one I think is just to stay as active as you can. And I think a component of that is getting outside, you know, today we spend so much time in unnatural environments with, you know, artificial lighting indoors, never contacting with nature or the sun or out, outdoors. And I think that's detrimental to health and just mental health as well. But disconnecting and getting out in nature and getting outside I think is a huge component. And just I liked, we were in low carb universe in Spain and one of the speakers was a dentist from the United Kingdom and he said, you should eat like you're never able to brush your teeth again. And I thought that was a pretty interesting take on it and that, you know, anything that is going to mess up your teeth, it's probably messing up your digestive tract as well. And you know, if you, if you just focus on eating the healthiest for your teeth and your body, you're going to end up in a better situation.
Allan: 28:39 Okay. wonderful. Now Craig, if someone wanted to learn more about you, Maria and the book and all the wonderful things that you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?
Craig: 28:50 Well, we have a couple places they can go. They can go to our blog, which is all free recipes and free information that's at Mariamindbodyhealth.com. And then we have a support website for our subscribers with lots of eBooks and things that are available to purchase. And that's keto-adapted.com. And then you can usually find us on social media under Maria Emmerich or Craig Emmerich. And then on Facebook we also have a couple of groups, one called keto, one called keto carnivore and another called 30 day ketogenic cleanse for our cleanse book.
Allan: 29:26 Cool. Well this is episode 415, so you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/415 and you'll find all the show notes and those links there. Craig, thank you so much for being part of 40 plus fitness podcasts again.
Allan: 29:41 Thank you Allan.
Speaker 4: 29:47 [Inaudible].
Allan: 29:47 Did you know that we have a 40+ Fitness podcast group on Facebook? Yep. We sure do. You can get a 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group . That's a great place to interact with me and other listeners of the show. I'm on there all the time trying to put out great content, trying to make it fun. It's a really cool place. We have weekly challenges. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group and request to join the 40+ Fitness podcast group
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