Wondering if the carnivore diet is right for women?
Do you have particular concerns regarding female cholesterol and LDL levels on the carnivore diet? Are you worried about your thyroid levels while following the carnivore way of eating? Do you have autoimmune and hormone-related issues? Wondering if a carnivore diet can help with Hashimoto’s disease? Then this post is for you!
I recently interviewed Dr. Ken Berry as a special guest to share his expertise on the carnivore diet. He is a board-certified family physician in Nashville for over a decade, and the best-selling author of “Lies My Doctor Told Me” which reveals the truth behind the lies told by well-meaning doctors. This book helps sort through the medical myths and the outright lies.
Having seen over 20,000 patients of all ages over his career, Dr. Ken Berry specializes in treating obesity and similar diseases that arise from the Standard American diet. He himself used to be obese and prediabetic a few years back, but he was able to reverse his prediabetes within 30 days of following the carnivore diet, with zero heartburn and joint pain. He has made it his mission to stop the suffering of the epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes and chronic inflammation caused by the Standard American diet.
Dr. Ken Berry talks about the adverse side effects of the modern diet and the transformation that he went through by adopting a carnivore way of eating in this video. The special focus of this interview is why the carnivore diet is amazing for women.
Dr. Ken Berry’s story of Realization, Carnivore Success, and Why the Carnivore Diet is amazing for women
Watch the complete interview where Dr. Ken Berry discusses how adopting the carnivore way of living improves life, and the improvements it brings in the thyroid, cholesterol, and hormone levels, especially for women here. He talks about the improvements in women who start taking iodine and why it is important to moderately supplement your carnivore diet with electrolytes. He also shares what his carnivore day of eating looks like and much more.
Most doctors do not care about nutrition and they do not see any connection between nutrition. What got you to be interested in nutrition?
Yes, most doctors do not care about nutrition enough to dig into it and ensure that what they are saying to the patients is helpful. A few years back, I used to be morbidly obese, weighed 297 pounds, was prediabetic, suffering from rosacea, and had chronic heartburn.
Back in 2003 and 2004, I used to tell my patients stupid things like you just need to join Weight Watchers and join the gym. “Just eat less and move more. Burn more calories than how much you eat, that is all you can do to lose weight.” This is what I have been advising my patients throughout my career. I used to recommend the flexitarian diet, weight watchers diet, and dash diet.
Looking back on that time, I really wish I could go back and slap the shit out of myself. I was not giving them any helpful information, it was actually unhealthy and harmful advice, giving the patients more frustration and more failure, making them more self-conscious that they are the big fat. It was not helping them anyway; it was harming my patients.
When I became fat, it was a kind of wake-up call for me because I was basically following the advice that I was giving to my patients and I progressively gained more weight and became more diabetic. So that does not pass the sniff test.
I started questioning what I was taught in medical school about the food pyramid and exercise health facts. I realized that my patients are not lazy gluttons but follow ignorant advice. I had no concept of satiation, I had no belief in carbohydrate addiction. So I started to re-examine everything that I was taught and knew about human nutrition. Then I decided to dedicate the remainder of my professional career to trying to reverse the bad advice that I gave and reverse the probable damage that I caused by giving that terrible advice.
What is wrong with the standard American diet and why counting calories is not a good idea?
For years, we have been taught the wrong way to lose weight and the wrong way to think about our health. Insulin resistance, being obese, overweight, and diabetic are not calorie surplus issues; rather they are hormonal issues. The standard American diet destroys our hormone balance and leads to weight gain and disease. On my way on an alternative nutrition journey, I realized that until you fix your food and fix your hormone levels, you will never lose weight and keep it off.
Counting calories and trying to be in a calorie deficit almost never work because hunger and satiation are hormonal problems, and it has nothing to do with calorie restriction. Calorie counting and calorie restriction are actually not effective for weight loss management. Rather you have to control your hunger to help with weight loss. If you always feel hungry, that is caused by your hormones. There are dietary choices you can make that really improve these hormones. Moving them in the right direction can effectively turn your hunger off.
Tell us a little about your transition to a paleo, ketogenic, and carnivore diet.
The first three books I read when I was trying to figure out meaningful human nutrition was the primal blueprint by Mark Sisson, the Paleo diet by Loren Cordain and then I found an old copy of the Atkins diet revolution by Robert C. Atkins. These first three books I read obviously recommended the exact opposite of everything I recommended in my practice and so I started out with paleo and that did help a little bit. I lost a little bit of fat but still, I was eating way too many carbohydrates. So a few months into that I read an article about the ketogenic diet and this way of eating quickly took up all the space on my radar. I considered keto just a hack you would do for one or three months.
I had read enough, learned enough, and thought enough about this to go. Ketosis is very healthy. It is not only safe, but it is also optimal. Human beings for the vast majority of time on this planet were probably in ketosis every single day at least for a large part of the day. So then I really started looking at keto by limiting my carbohydrate intake. I was probably eating 150 grams of carbs a day on paleo, but then I started playing around with low-carb. I went to 100 grams then 75 grams and turned it down even more to 50 grams. During this low-carb ketogenic journey, I kept getting healthier, aching less and my heartburn was better.
I kept losing fat. My patients used to look down at my belly and say doctor what are you doing, you look better. I started to recommend this diet to my most morbidly obese patients with a BMI of 35 and above. I suggested trying this keto hack just for a month or two or three. That’s what I’ve been doing. Then I started hearing about Shaun Baker and the carnivore diet. The more I looked into it the more I realized that this is actually still keto, and you’re just getting the lowest possible amount of carbohydrates you can possibly eat, that’s what carnivore is. I consider the carnivore diet a subset; a very, very low-carb version of the ketogenic way of eating.
When I went carnivore I did it as a 30-day challenge on my Facebook page. I was like hey peeps do you want to do a month with a carnivore and see what this crazy Shaun Baker is talking about? During this challenge, I started feeling much better and able to completely reverse pre-diabetes. At the end of that month, I had zero heartburn which is a small miracle for anyone who has ever suffered from severe heartburn reflux. I didn’t even think I was going to live another day of my adult life without having heartburn. I thought it was a part of who I was. But now that I’ve been 14-15 months on the carnivore diet, I don’t even remember the last time I had heartburn. My joint pain has gone; I’m in the gym working out not because I need to but because I want to. Now being 51 years old, I’m actually down in my 2/3 low to 30s where I was 297 pounds back when I was eating the American Diabetes Association diet.
What about counting macros as many people are afraid to switch from keto to carnivore diet because they are so worried about counting macros? What do you think about it?
People usually get confused in the transition from keto to carnivore. I think the most important macro that you need to focus all your attention on is carbohydrates, total carbohydrates, not net carbs. If you are playing the net carbs game, you are going to get confused or tricked by the keto low carb manufacturers. Slim Fast will try to trick you, Quest Bar will try to trick you. They’ll say that they’re a protein bar when really they’re a carbohydrate bar.
So the right way to go about it is to focus on total carbohydrates instead of the net amount. Whether one chooses a high protein or high-fat and moderate protein diet, the effective results ultimately depend on reducing the number of carbohydrates.
Individuals looking for the right diet for themselves usually do not consider macronutrients. When you first come to keto if you don’t know a lot about the number of macronutrients and micronutrients in the food that you’ve been eating, you probably should download a food tracker and track your macros for a month or two or a week or two just to learn but it really all comes down to turning down the number of carbohydrates.
Why do you think the carnivore diet is amazing for women?
Women are more frequently practicing the carnivore diet as they get evident results from it. Women are the ones who really have the almost miraculous transformations when they go carnivore. I am amazed when I go to the conference and ask for the raise of hands for those who are strict carnivores here and it is usually seven to three women. Women are like being a carnivore is their secret superpower. They feel better than they ever felt in their life by just eating fatty meat. They feel like it is almost magic. But it is not really magic it’s actually science, some of which we don’t understand yet but when you feed a woman just fatty meat, things that they never thought would get better.
There is a very common misconception that women ought to be eating vegetables and high-fiber foods to become “dainty” or “petite.” However, those ideas are just a result of modern social constructs created by big food manufacturers. Women actually require more fat in their diets.
The idea of high-fiber food consumption has no factual reality in female physiology and biochemistry. Eating whole-grain products or flavored yogurts is more about marketing strategies by big corporate giants. In reality, eating fatty meats will give the intended results more effectively.
What do you think about the carnivore diet and women with Hashimoto’s disease? I know your wife, Neisha, has Hashimoto’s. What changes have you seen in her after going carnivore?
When she was eating paleo she was miserable. We did this diet for a year or so but she was like I don’t feel any better on the stupid diet. Then she switched to keto, which resulted in a slight improvement. She got noticeably better but still not great but her transition to an almost 99% fatty meat carnivore diet turned her symptoms into complete remission.
There are actually gurus out there in the Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism space saying oh if you have got Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism you need more carbs for proper thyroid function. That is stupid advice. I am sorry I am late stepping on toes but I need to be very blunt about it. This is a narrative that is propagated by corporate brands in an attempt to complicate the diet culture. This way they can earn more money.
A lot of women go to their doctor after they’ve been doing carnivore for a few months but they come back and they’re freaking out because their cholesterol and LDL are high. What do you tell them?
I don’t really care about those because none of the research about high cholesterol or high LDL is really compelling when you look at the totality of the research, not just the research that crest over Lipitor and zocor want me to read as a doctor. But actually, all the literature that’s out there points to the fact that having high total cholesterol is probably good for you, especially for women.
Women actually probably want to have cholesterol above 200. High LDL is a minuscule risk for heart attack and stroke. If it’s a risk at all, the things that I want you to improve and that a carnivore diet will definitely improve is that it’s going to lower your triglycerides, which is very important. It’s going to raise your HDL, which we used to call good cholesterol, and that’s a good thing. It’s going to lower your hemoglobin a1c, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s going to lower your c-peptide back to normal, which is also a wonderful thing. It’s going to help you lose the stored fat in your liver, your pancreas, and your belly, which is very healthy.
So when you look at this picture, the real question becomes would you rather want to have low total cholesterol and low HDL with high triglycerides? Would you really like to have that? Or would you rather want to have a low a1c and a low triglyceride, the high steel? But they would also have high total cholesterol in the process that we should not be worried about. I personally would much prefer to have a high HDL and a low a1c and a low waist-to-height ratio which means I’m not holding a lot of visceral fat inside my belly, I think that’s much more protective against heart attack and stroke than worrying about your high total cholesterol or your high LDL cholesterol. I hope everybody listens and stops freaking out.
Watch the full interview video to know more about why the carnivore diet is amazing for women.
Read my carnivore diet success story here.
Get my carnivore diet ebook to get started the right way on the carnivore diet (buy now)