After a life-long struggle of failed diets & medications, Mikhaila Peterson finally found the answer: Meat.
"Meat heals" is a popular tagline within the carnivore diet community. This rings true for Mikhaila, who has suffered from various autoimmune disorders & depression for the majority of her life. Simply eating an organic olive could trigger a waterfall of symptoms that makes the next few weeks an ordeal.
Check out Mikhaila Peterson here.
Mikhaila, thanks for coming on the program.
Thanks for inviting me.
Absolutely. So let's talk about the carnivore diet, and to give you some context, I've really approached the carnivore diet from a performance interest. How do we get healthy people to perform even better? And I know that for your personal journey with the carnivore diet it's been from a different perspective or a different approach, coming from more of a therapeutic approach.
Yeah, how to not die.
So for folks that don't know your story, what's the high-level synopsis here as we set the context?
Super high-level. I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was seven, and it got severe enough even on multiple immune suppressants, I ended up with a hip and ankle replacement when I was 17. I was diagnosed with severe depression in grade five. I started taking SSRIs for that. Well, it wasn't diagnosed until I was 21, but idiopathic hypersomnia, so that was excessive fatigue, and got to a point where I was sleeping about 17 hours a day and never waking up properly. I had other symptoms. Rashes, skin problems, itching everywhere, severe brain fog. I was just getting sicker, and sicker, and sicker, and I was on more and more medications. And I started looking into diet when I was 22 or 23. I had never really heard of the whole ketogenic community or paleo community or anything. I just kind of came across some research about gluten disrupting your gut and kind of went down that path, and then coincidentally tried somewhat of an elimination diet, which was coincidentally pretty low-carb and had a lot of success that way.
And this is all self-exploration, sort of like your own version of biohacking, if you will.
Yeah. I tried everything, especially for the fatigue.
I went down every nootropic. I tried any supplement I could get my hands on before I tried diet...I had the most success with diet.
So I did low-carb for about a year with a lot of success but not nearly where I needed to get to, and I had a baby and eventually ended up doing what I'm doing now, which is the carnivore diet, but specifically really strictly beef, salt, and water.
So the most pure of purists here.
So how long have you been on the carnivore diet, and subjectively what are the characteristics that you're seeing?
So I started the carnivore diet. I went from really low-carb to just meat. I realized even the carb-y vegetables I was eating were bothering me, so I went to meat and salad and I was doing that for about a year. And so I went from meat and greens to just meat December 2017, so it hasn't quite been a year. You've probably talked about it on other podcasts, but I wen through the adaptation period even though I was just ... I'd been in ketosis for years, so it wasn't a ketosis switch. It was switching to all meat. But I saw pretty significant improvements within the first week with joint pain I was still having and body itching. So with low-carb I saw improvements in weight, and I went off of my antidepressants and I went off of all medication. So I had already seen a lot of improvements doing a ketogenic, very low-carb diet, high fat, but during my pregnancy I started to experience my autoimmune problems again to a lesser degree, but they were still there and so I knew something was going on. And when I finally cut out the salad, the itching went away by day three, and my joint pain started to get better around the same period of time, so within days of cutting out the vegetables and plant foods. And then my anxiety that had resurfaced, that took about six weeks, and then I started getting a lot more benefits at about the five month period. So it's changed a lot.
Yeah, and I know that in some of your previous conversations and podcasts you were starting to start to piece together why carnivore diets seem to be working. I know people are putting out thesises that one, it's especially helpful for people with autoimmune issues or people with food allergies. Some people are throwing out the notion that it's similar to the ketogenic diet but more restrictive. Some are proposing that it's more of a caloric restriction phenomenon versus the benefits of eating only animal products. As someone, you living through it, and I'm sure you're also trying to understand it in a more rigorous way, how are you piecing together all the different hypotheses on why this is working so well for you?
It's changing. So when I first started it I was very skeptical, and my theory was, well, people who switch over to carnivore are seeing improvements because they're just coincidentally cutting out all the foods that are irritating them. So they don't have to be that restrictive, but they're getting rid of grains, and sugar, and processed food, and soy, and potentially dairy, depending on the carnivore diet.
I tried to reintroduce foods a couple times, and they were pretty benign foods, like organic olives, which are very low-sugar, and I had an autoimmune response to that.
A couple of times during this period I've had pepper accidentally and I've had an immune response to that. So my theory started off with it was an avoidance thing. I don't think it has anything to do with calorie restriction, because I think I actually started eating more calories when I switched over, just from the fat I'm getting. My best theory is that, and I think it's similar to Shawn Baker's, we've evolved to eat this type of animal and that's what we're best suited for. And obviously there's something wrong with me, or I wouldn't have these huge responses to any other food, but I think maybe there's some genetic component and possibly a microbiome element, like from being born through a C-section and maybe years of antibiotic use. And I know you inherit a lot of your microbiome from your mother, so I'm assuming if you take antibiotics, then your kid is potentially going to have a less diverse microbiome. So maybe generationally over I just got screwed over from that. But right now I'm thinking this is probably the best diet for us evolutionarily, and I respond terribly to plant toxins. That's my best guess.
Interesting. Yeah, I think the microbiome angle is interesting, although the microbiome does shift reasonably quickly in response to diet. So I know that when I was sort of shifting into the carnivore diet, the first week or so there's definitely an adaptation period, and I think part two is that we don't need to have the microbiome be able to digest fiber, right? So if you're just removing and sloughing off that microbiome you would ostensibly see a shift in your microbiome.
Oh, yeah. For sure. I actually did microbiome testing throughout, like even before I started diet, so it's been pretty interesting.
Yeah, I'm actually curious to hear about that. That's what our audience is very interested, in terms of just the tracking and the quantitative measures here.
When I first got my microbiome tested and I went through a naturopath, I wasn't missing any healthy strains, but it was all slightly less in quantity than he had wanted to see. I had strep but not badly enough for it to be a concern. Yeast did show up and it was high, so that was a concern. So I definitely had a problem there. I didn't have anything pathogenic, but there were a couple strains that were iffy, and then my overall microbiome, there were fewer bacteria then were ideal. So that was on the basically standard American diet. Then I went low-carb, and I didn't have pathogenic bacteria, but the ones that were not ideal, so strep was in that category, they went away. So the next test I did, that was gone and yeast was gone.
I felt way better on low-carb. I lost a lot of bloating. I lost weight. I went off all my medications, but my responses for reintroductions were so ridiculously horrible that it wasn't sustainable.
And it also, the other reason I think it might have something to do with microbiome is because I was doing fine on the low-carb, like really, really well as long as I wasn't introducing any foods, and then when I got pregnant the foods I was able to tolerate all disappeared. So I started reacting to salad and sweet potatoes and what I thought were all my safe foods.
So you got super sensitive.
It was like every plant thing, because I was doing fine. I wasn't in ketosis the whole time when I was doing low-carb. I was eating apples sometimes, and pears, and I was still feeling great as long as I didn't introduce anything wrong. And then, yeah, as soon as I found out I was pregnant I lost my ability to tolerate whatever I was eating. And it turns out during pregnancy you do lose diversity with your microbiome, so I think something changed there, and then after the pregnancy it never came back even though I was doing meat and salad at that point. I still couldn't tolerate the salad. So then I got my microbiome tested on the carnivore diet, and now basically everything they test for for that test is gone. None of the bacteria that digest any type of sugars are there. So I look severely depleted in everything, but all my symptoms are gone.
Which stands to reason, right? Because you're diet is very, very different from what they would expect in the standard American diet or standard Western diet. So that's almost to be expected. One thing that I think is interesting is that it sounds like a lot of your symptoms have improved a lot, but you're very, very sensitive now to a reintroduction of food. Why do you think that is? Do you think that because you're so refined on your diet now that it's more of a management of symptoms?
100%. So it's management to the point where I don't have symptoms, but if I do anything wrong then all my symptoms come back. It's definitely management, yeah.
Yeah. I guess where I'm going with that is that when people that are type 2 diabetic go on a ketogenic diet, often times you'll reverse the requirement of insulin. People's blood markers improve, they lower their insulin, their hemoglobin A1C goes down, weight loss, all the typical markers you want to see. But the skeptics are saying, "Well, if you reintroduce sugar into their diet, are they still very insulin resistant?" And all that story where it's like, okay, that's a fair statement.
It's a fair statement, but I mean, I think that's like saying, "If you stop eating a poison and then you reintroduce it and you're still poisoned, yes, that's what happens." To me, anyway. So yeah, I don't particularly take that very seriously. I don't think I've solved whatever is causing an immune response, and my first theory was I had the same theory that most people in the paleo community have where it's heal your gut and then you'll be able to introduce more foods, and I could never do that. I cut out anything inflammatory. I tried taking probiotics, which I can't tolerate at all, and I've tried a whole bunch of different-
Like you just take some probiotic pills and you just have GI issues.
Oh, yeah, and I didn't even just do pills, because I was like, "Maybe it's the cellulose capsule." So I found a company that does pure powder. I tried, is it L-lactate or D-lactate free. I tried really specific ones, and I tried the most minute amount in water, or I tried making my own sauerkraut, and I respond worse to green cabbage than purple cabbage so I was making purple cabbage sauerkraut and taking a really tiny but of the liquid. I tried with the most ridiculously small amounts, and every time my body was just like, "No." So
Originally I thought it was a gut issue, but if I get pure medication injected or intravenously, I have an immune response to that too. It's definitely an immune system problem.
It's not a gut problem. I was hoping it was a gut problem, because I thought maybe I'd get less sensitive, but it seems to be an immune system problem.
Yeah, I mean, if you're injecting intravenously.
I mean, that, and you're still responding, then-
Yeah, it's way less bad that way, but it still happens.
And then from performance side, I'm curious in that aspect. Dr. Shawn Baker is talking about still setting world records as a master rower. I'm curious on that aspect. It sounds like obviously a lot of the therapeutic benefits that you were seeking are there with the zero carb health lifestyle. A lot of the autoimmune symptoms and mental health issues that you had are gone. I'm curious to hear about your anecdotal experiences around ... Do you feel like you're performing better? In which dimensions are you performing better? Are you pretty biohacker-y with blood markers, blood glucose, cholesterol, all of that stuff? How deep into the biomarkers are you?
When I first started off I was more interested in it, especially when I had this chronic fatigue, because I couldn't wake up. And then I started looking at nootropics and seeing if any of that would wake me up, and then I started taking Adderall, and man, that woke me up. So I kind of got into it then, but since I've gone over to the all beef diet and all my problems have resolved, I haven't been as interested. I did get my blood work done and put it up on the blog, mostly because other people were interested and I knew I'd be asked about it. So I do have that, but no. I've been monitoring whether I stay in ketosis or not, but that's about it.
Do just a finger stick?
I'm consistently in ketosis.
I'm curious. What concentration ketones are you typically leveling out as?
I went to, I guess it was Paleo f(x). I guess it was like six months ago. And they have the breath test, which seems to be interesting.
An acetone meter, yeah.
Oh, so it's an acetone meter. Okay. That was measuring at five, which I think is a lot, right? Again, I'm not as into this, but I feel like five was a lot, and that was pretty consistent.
Yeah, acetone markers will be related-
I didn't think it was acetone, whatever they had at Paleo f(x), but in order to breathe into it does it have to be acetone?
Yeah. Breath meters typically measure acetone.
Yeah, so beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate will be metabolized by the blood. There will be some trace amounts that is urinated out, but acetone is typically what one would measure with a breath meter. But I think there is some work trying to correlate acetone levels to blood BHB levels, but it sounds like you are definitely breathing out acetone, which is a signal of ketosis.
Yeah. The interesting thing is I think I was actually in deeper ketosis when I was including salad. I was just using the urine sticks, which I know aren't a great test, but they showed up at in a deeper level when I would have the salad, which I had all my symptoms so it wasn't useful, but I think my level of ketosis might have been deeper.
Interesting. I wonder if that could be because if you're going full protein your macro ratio is higher on protein, but when you had salad you had a lot of fiber.
The macro ratio might overweight fat a little bit more. So what do you eat? So meat, salt, water, but the thing that's hard for me, as for folk that have been following along. I did a three week carnivore block and then cycled off of it, and now I'm entering another block of carnivore. The hardest thing for me is having to just shop for steaks all the time, because I just go through red meat so much, and I think the first time around I don't think I ate enough meat. You need to eat two to four pounds a day, essentially, of meat, especially if you're doing a lot of exercise, which I do a lot of training, and you need your energy levels up. So curious to hear how you manage it just from a lifestyle perspective, because it's not simple as being able to go out to a Chipotle or something and get a burrito. You got to prepare.
Yeah, and I know a lot of people on the diet go to fast food places and just get patties, but I'm so allergic to everything else that I don't risk that. I switched over to chuck roast recently instead of rib eye, which is a third of the price and tastes almost just as good fried. So I've just been getting three pound chuck roasts and then cutting them up and then frying them during the day. I'm fortunate enough that I work from home, so I can cook whenever I want to cook. But my day basically looks like, like I'll get up in the morning. I'll have a chuck steak, and then-
Like a pound?
... it depends how much-
Like half a pound?
Less than a pound. More than half a pound. I end up eating about two pounds a day if I'm doing a lot of work, and even if it's not physical. If it's just on the computer and it requires a lot of brain power, then I'll have to eat a little bit more, but it ends up being just under two pounds and two and a half pounds a day.
And then when you said you're frying, are you frying with-
Okay, so just pure fatty cuts of beef, because I'll incorporate a little bit of butter in there just to add a little bit of a richness, but you're using beef tallow as your oil.
So it's all beef, grass-fed meat, and I don't even eat very much salt anymore. I was eating salt, and everyone tells you to eat salt so I was eating a lot of salt, and I was excessively thirsty all the time. I was drinking like four liters of water a day, but my digestion was kind of screwy.
I cut out all the salt just to see what would happen. My theory was if my electrolytes were going to get unbalanced then I was going to get muscle cramps.
And nothing happened except that everything tasted like nothing for like a month. So I don't even eat very much salt anymore. It's mostly beef and water, and now I only drink maybe like a liter and a half a day or two liters instead of four. So that's where I'm at now. Mostly chuck roast.
Interesting. And then you mentioned you had your blood panel done. What are the highlights there? I guess most people would be interested in LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, maybe blood pressure.
So this is in millimoles per liter. LDL, 1.75. HDL, 1.37, and triglycerides, 0.66.
Interesting, so millimoles is the metric unit. In America we typically use milligrams per deciliter, so it's a times 18.
Not particularly convenient.
I mean, they seem pretty reasonable. I'm just doing some mental math here. In terms of relatively low LDL, you have a nice HDL, LDL ratio. It's not too crazy.
Yeah, and I mean, I'd never tested it before, and I'm young. So my doctor was wondering why I wanted to test it in the first place. But yeah, everything that he tested showed up completely normal.
Did your doctor know that you've just been eating steaks for the past year?
I explained it when I told him I wanted to test for cholesterol.
Yeah. Did you blow his mind?
He's been following me since I needed a hip and ankle replacement, so he's seen me really, really ill on a lot of medication, so he's not entirely sure what to think. But he also saw me cut out grains, and then I was coming to him and going, "Oh, my God, I'm allergic to almonds. Oh, my God, I'm allergic to soy. What's going on?" And I went to see a whole bunch of immunologists because I was having these food reactions, and a lot of these weren't showing up as true allergies. Turns out I did develop an allergy to nuts, but soy wasn't showing up as a true allergy, anything like that. So he's been watching this, and he was okay with the no grains. He said, "People don't need grains," and now he's saying, "Look, there's a lot of evidence that maybe high-carb diets aren't good for people, but I'd be a lot more comfortable if you were eating fruit and vegetables." I said, "Well, no, but I still want to test the cholesterol."
Yeah. I think that's one of the things that just has opened my eyes a little bit around just being open to community experience. I think some of the same critiques that people had with fasting or ketogenic diets is happening with the same kind of pattern with the carnivore diet. And again, if you look back back of why intermittent fasting seems kind of insane now, but cultures have fasted for thousands of years. The three meal a day system is really an artifact of an industrial revolution where you had factory labor shifts. And then that got me thinking. Why is fiber such an important part of the diet? What is that story? And then you realize that there is Mr. Kellogg-
Oh, no. Yeah.
... who wanted to sell more corn flake with a lot of fiber content in there. I'm curious from the historical perspective, but also to speak to the broader social logical phenomenon. I mean, what do you make of the whole, I would say, hype or fad cycle around carnivore? I mean, you've been profiled in a number of magazine articles around being a carnivore icon, if you will. What do you make of it in terms of the historical path of these diet changes?
Historically, I think there were a lot of scientists that did things that they shouldn't have done nutrition-wise, and I don't think any of them realized the repercussions that that would have. So I think mostly it was just people not doing what they should have been doing. So I don't think there was some big conspiracy, but there were scientists that shouldn't have published certain things or shouldn't have not published certain things, and that did screw over generations, because now we're eating wrong. So historically it's a pretty big disaster, but I don't think anybody was thinking that it would be this much of a disaster. As for the response now, I can understand where people are coming from, because when I was really sick, especially with the depression, I had people come to me in kind of a snobby manner and say, "Well, have you looked at diet or tried exercising?" And it's like I had looked at diet and tried exercising, and I was too sick to exercise, and I had tried not eating sugar. I went on a candida diet one time, and I went really strictly no-sugar, but I didn't know what do so. So it's not like I was surviving off of junk food and I was still really sick, so when people came to me and said, "Have you looked at diet," it was mostly insulting. But the idea, like even when I heard Sean Baker. That's how I heard of the carnivore diet. Even when I saw him, even though I knew I was reacting to the plants I was eating I still thought, "Well, there must be a different explanation than this is how we're supposed to be eating." So when there are a lot of negative articles about it, I get it. I
It's really strange, and we've been told for decades that certain things are healthy, and people are really attached to their foods.
And certain foods are super addictive that people don't realize, so you can kind of see how people get that emotional attachment to things. So I don't blame people for being upset about it. It's pretty strange, and it's strange that it works so well. And it's the most ridiculous sounding diet that there is, so I get it.
Yeah, and then I think one of our audience members had an interesting question where this carnivore diet has been tied towards different other sub-communities. It's been associated with the Alt-Right. I know a bunch of Bitcoin crypto enthusiasts are all Bitcoin carnivore maximalists. I think the Alt-Right, sort of, I guess, the white nationalist associations are even more, I guess, dangerous or cynical.
What do you make of that kind of association? I mean, to me, it's just like, that's ridiculous. People are just eating stuff.
It's ridiculous. I think the whole Alt-Right thing, and I might be wrong, but because my dad's been associated with the Alt-Right and then he went on Rogan and said he's on a carnivore diet, I could be wrong, but I think some of it came from that, because then it's like, oh, Jordan Peterson, the Alt-Right person, only eats meat. Now eating meat is Alt-Right. Maybe it originated somewhere else, but I'm sure that didn't help. And obviously that's insane. There's two camps of people, really, who go on this, and one of them are like me, and they're at the end of their rope, and they're half dead and desperate, and the other half are generally fairly bright people who are very open and interested in becoming faster, smarter, or better at whatever they're doing. So yeah, I think trying to associate it with certain groups of people is just another way to insult it. It's funny that the cryptocurrency guys are getting into it, but I think a lot of these people are very smart and very open. So why not give it a shot?
There's definitely some correlation towards openness to new ideas and trying things, right?
One thing that I thought was interesting from your Joe Rogan conversation was that there was this big argument around just exercising. Just go out and exercise and make your day better versus I think what you were kind of arguing was that, look, there's just some malaise that someone has if they're not eating the right diet, and you can't just tell them that they're lazy. I think that's an interesting story, and I think the added nuance is that there's a lot of just core science, especially in exercise science, showing that having that mental resilience or mental energy is a big driver of how you work out. So curious to hear if you have any added discussion or thoughts around that area.
Well, it was funny, because later in the Joe Rogan podcast he said that if he eats, I think it was ice cream, then he's stuck on the couch. And my point was, there are people who that's just their life. So before I went low-carb, when I started taking Adderall I could go to the gym, but before the Adderall I didn't have any energy. I couldn't do school. I couldn't wake up. I was falling asleep driving all the time, so if you're at that point, and not even to that point. There are other people who aren't at that point, but it still doesn't mean you have enough energy to go to the gym, and I think some people who are in that camp, it might be harder on their bodies to get more stressed out, because going to the gym does stress your body out. And there are obvious benefits, especially if you're doing well, but if you're not doing well then that might not be a good idea. And I think I was in that category. So when I was talking to Joe Rogan I was really mentioning there are a lot of sick people, especially in North America, and a lot of overweight people, and I don't think that that is an exercise problem. I think that that's a diet problem, and I think that naturally as soon as you're healthy you're going to want to exercise. When I switched over to this diet I could feel the urge to run, and that just came eventually. So it was like energy that I wanted to spend doing things, but I never had that before. But obviously in order to push yourself to go to the gym, it does take, you know-
Willpower, discipline. Right.
It does take willpower, for sure, and some people are going to have that more naturally than other people. And you do have to force yourself to get to the gym, but there are a lot of people who need to fix their diet first.
Yeah, I agree. Of course, there's a lot of value in willpower and discipline, but I think more and more people are seeing, and researchers Tim Noakes, Samuele Mercora are showing that the brain and the mood state that one's brain is dictates how much energy and how much performance one has in terms of being able to exercise. So I think that one shouldn't discount people by saying, "Hey, my diet is so messed up that I'm just not in a good place where I can even go out and exercise," even if you have so much willpower and discipline. Your body is just in a broken place. So I think we need to be thoughtful about, okay, let's not just overly criticize people to not work out. We should be understanding that there might be some other factors there.
For sure. And there are also people who have an unbelievable amount of willpower, and are working out, and are still overweight. I've been speaking to a number of generally middle-aged men that run. They're like, "I don't know what's going on. I can't lose this weight, and I'm running 10 miles a day."
It's like, those aren't people who are out of shape. Those are people who are having food problems.
Right, so where do you think this goes next? I think there's a lot of interest in the community to look at randomized control trials, doing more rigorous studies. Within any science phenomenon, there's clearly enough signal here that there's something interesting being observed through all these N-equals-ones and all these case studies. I know Sean was mentioning in our conversation that researchers are looking to do some trials. What are you sensing in broader community here?
Trials would be great. Now that we have all these anecdotal reports, I don think it's more dangerous testing this out to treat things than it is testing a pharmaceutical medication. So obviously it should be looked at seriously. The doctors in Hungary are doing a pretty good job, so that would be something that would be interesting. And we obviously need more research, and we need more doctors on board to stir up interest. I've been running kind of a grab for information off of my blog that I started before I started the carnivore diet, and it basically is a just of kind of random autoimmune symptoms that people experience sometimes. Like, everything's on there. Bleeding gums, floaters, mouth ulcers, dry skin. Just a random bunch of information, and I think 10,000 people have filled it out, and it also has diet questions on there, so like vegetarian, carnivore, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, keto. So I'm going to do something with that, look through piles of information sometime next year. But yeah. Randomized controlled studies would be great.
I imagine that you didn't find yourself when you're seven thinking that you'd be behind a thought leader in the carnivore community. I don't imagine that you thought that you would be spending a lot of time doing this.
But now that you're in this position, where do you see yourself positioning, and what do you want to actually do given this platform now?
I don't know. I've been trying to figure that out. I was really not into diet. My mom was always dragging me to naturopaths before I looked into diet, and I just hated it because nothing ever helped. And I don't know. I was one of those people who thought gluten-free was a fad. It made me angry, so that's why I can kind of understand where some of these people are coming from, because it did used to make me angry. I'm not entirely sure why. Just the idea of diet. So I definitely didn't expect myself to be in this kind of situation. I think what I'm going to do is I interrupted my degree. So I dropped out of psychology because I was half dead, and then I started taking Adderall and thought, "Oh, my God. If I don't figure out what's wrong with me I think I'm going to die," because I was really, really, really sick. So I went back to university, and then I shad a baby. So I have a year and a half left of my degree. I went back for a bachelor of science, so I'm going to finish that next year. And then I don't know what I'll do after that. I'd be interested to just have the nutrition title. I'm not going to agree with anything they're teaching, so I'm not sure if there's a point in going back to school. I'm writing a book. The deadline's in May, so it'll come out some time after that, but that's the carnivore diet how-to guide.
And I'm doing consults, mostly people just asking me how many times a day I eat. That's basically it, but I'm trying to put all that information in a book so that people can just go to the book. And recipes, stuff like that.
That sounds like it's pretty simple if it's chuck roast, two pounds a day.
You'd think that, yeah. It is simple, and if I just have a 20 minute explanation I can get through a lot of it, but it's such a dramatically different way of eating for a lot of people that they need specifics. And some people go through a pretty horrific transition period, especially if you're not starting from a ketogenic diet or a grain-free diet. Going from eating pizza to only eating meat, well some people can't seem to do it. So I'm trying to figure out a way to make that easier on people.
It is a simple idea. Yeah. Just eat meat, but then they're like, "How much?" And I don't know if you experience this, but I experience, like, my feelings of hunger changed.
Even by just dropping salad, I stopped having this kind of famished, starving feeling. I just got cognitively hungry.
So I just get slower, and I wouldn't be able to bring up words, and I'd get kind of brain foggy. They're like, "Oh, what's going on?" Oh, I just need to eat more. But I wasn't hungry like I'd been experiencing for the last 25 years.
That's very similar to my experience, as I did a lot of fasting, or eating keto, or carnivore, where it's a different sense of hunger. I think you just realize there's a mental state of being hungry and a physiological need of being hungry, and I think you just get more attuned to that as you're experimenting with diet.
For sure. So I'm trying to put all that kind of random information that you learn-
... in a book. The feeling of fullness changed, so instead of feeling physically unable to eat more it's just like you have to eat until you can't eat anymore. Because lots of people when they first start off don't eat enough. I'm talking to people who are 6'2", 6'2" men, and they're eating two pounds a day. And they're like, "I'm tired. I don't feel very good," and it's like, "You're hungry." So you switch over and you don't even know how much you're supposed to eat anymore, because our bodies are so confused. So I'm just trying to squish that all into a book. We'll see.
Yeah, no, and that's pretty sensible. And that, I think, was my mistake for my first carnivore block, because it just not easy for you mentally to realize, okay, I'm eating two rib eye steaks a day. That seems like a lot of food. If you actually count the calories, it's like low 2,000 calories, and if you're a larger man who does a lot of exercise, you want 2,500, 3,000 calories a day. So you are just under-caloric, and that's what I think was some of the challenge I had initially transitioning in. You don't think you need to count calories, but you need to count calories to make sure you're having enough calories. It's like the opposite problem.
Yeah. People seem to ... They cut out all the extra food and just eat the amount of meat they were eating before if it was that meat-heavy diet, and then it's not enough food. Yeah. Pretty interesting.
And then how's the consult stuff going on? I remember reading some articles where people thought it was interesting that you don't have a professional background in nutrition, but clearly you're able to provide value for people to come to you to ask for advice. How do you respond to the haters, and what does a typical experience look like when you're helping some of these clients out?
So respond to the haters. It did stress me out at the beginning, because I was like, “What if somebody sues me?” But then I did it anyway, and I talked to a whole bunch of people. And the calls are interesting. They're kind of similar, so I'm less stressed out now because it's mostly people who have decided to try the diet and have a bunch of questions. I think people were worried that somebody with some horrible disorder is going to come to me and I'm going to go, “Oh, it's treatable with this diet,” which isn't what's happening. What's happening is there are people, and they say, “I have these problems. I've decided to try the diet. How bad is the adaptation period going to be? How much do you eat a day? How do I cook meat?”
A lot of people don't know how to cook meat. Where do I go? How do I make it cheaper?
A lot of is that, and a lot of people just want to talk to somebody who's eating this way and thriving.
So you're not giving medical advice. You're giving practical tips, essentially, for people.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It sounds very sensible, and I think we have seen that in our community where people just want to talk to people that are trying fasting or trying ketogenic diet, and I think part of it's just like, okay. Not a lot of people around me are doing this. Who can I talk to?
Yeah. Jut eliminating anything from your diet is a bit isolating. Even if you go gluten-free, you're going to get people who come up and tell you you're a moron. But cutting out everything except for meat is on an entirely different level, so yeah. They're isolated and they're generally trying to get healthier, and they're getting hell from all their friends so they just want somebody to talk to.
Yeah, I think that's an interesting aspect. Do you have some good stories around going out with friends and people are ordering at an Italian restaurant or something. People are getting pasta. How do you respond to that? Do you just ask for a piece of meat? Do you just not eat? What are the social situations? I think that's a non-obvious question a lot of people don't think about when you're actually implementing this in your lifestyle, because I personally have been to dinners where I'm just drinking water or drinking soda water, and it is a little bit socially strange. So curious to hear about your anecdotes there, and how do you deal with it, and how do you explain it and all that.
Yeah, the social aspect sucked, I would say, for about a year and a half. This is when I was doing really low carb, so I was basically doing a lot of meat and very specific vegetables. So it was really annoying to order out. And at first, I just didn't go out, which wasn't a good way to do it, and then I started going out, but it was really anxiety-provoking and I hated being rude. Sometimes they'd serve me something that was just covered in soybean oil. I'm going to be half dead for a month. I can't eat it. But it felt so rude to tell them that they'd done something wrong and to give it back and things, but now that I've been doing it for a while and now that my anxiety's completely gone, it doesn't bother me at all.
Going to carnivore actually has made going out a lot easier. Before, I'd order the steak and then a salad made with specific ingredients, which was really annoying.
And now it's like, I want rib eye steak, medium rare, cooked with no oil, grilled, with no seasoning, absolutely nothing on it. And they're pretty good, so generally I try and go to steakhouses. So if I'm going out with friends it's like I'll go to the steakhouse, otherwise I'll meet up afterwards, generally. I do go out. If I get invited to a dinner party or something, I'll go and I won't eat. And people are pretty used to it, and because I've successfully and really visibly, clearly treated how sick I was with this diet, I don't get much hell. Even though they're like, “That's weird,” they can still see the difference in me, so there's not much of an argument. I'm sure it's more difficult for people who just suffer from anxiety or they're just trying to improve things. So they don't have as much of an excuse, like my excuse with I don't have an autoimmune disorder anymore. Can you tell? They're just like, "Yeah, okay. That's just Mikhaila."
Yeah, I think to just assuage folks out there who are considering it, I don't think it's that serious. People will maybe rib you a little bit, but they don't actually care if you're eating or not eating.
They don't. They don't, and you get used to it pretty quickly. At the beginning, especially if you're anxious, it was horribly anxiety-provoking, but it doesn't bother me at all and none of my friends care.
Cool. Any other questions or topics we should cover at this point? I mean, I think we covered a broad swath here. So you got the book coming out next year, you got consults, you're going to go back and finish of the degree. What else is exciting? I mean, what do you ... I guess raising a newborn is probably a lot of work, as well. What else is on the docket?
I think I'm going to start a YouTube channel. I keep saying that, though, and not doing it. So I might have to cut down on consults, because I also need time to write a book, and I'm working for my dad and that takes most of my time.
What do you do for your dad?
I basically manage his life. I'm on call. For the last two days I've got calls from 4:00 in the morning from ... He's in Sweden or Switzerland. So it's constant. It's crazy, so that's mainly what I'm doing, but then I'm trying to keep my blog up-to-date, and it's on WordPress, which is kind of God-awful, so I need to revamp that. So yeah, there's a lot. I figured out if I use Google Calendar and schedule every slot in my day then I get a lot more done. So that's what I've been doing, but so far, no. It's I have this job, the consults, the blog, the book, and then I'm going to get all that done and go back to school.
While eating carnivore.
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Thanks so much for taking the time to jump on the program. I think it's really helpful to get a real story of how this is applied in an everyday person's life. So thanks for the time. a fun conversation.
Thanks for having me.
Food is thy medicine. And it's not only about what you eat, but when. In our newsletter, we share evidence-based methods to use food as fuel, medicine, and as a tool. Empower yourself by signing up below.
Once a week, we'll send you the most compelling research, stories and updates from the world of human enhancement.