Soon after that, annoyed but wanting to try zero carb or close to it, I returned to it and did my "Summer of No Excuses" during which time I ate fewer than 10 grams carb a day and 95% of my calories from animals, using plants only as herbs and seasoning, not the main course.
During this time I also ran my first half marathon distance, 13.1 miles, off road and liking to think at much the same pace as an Indian scout ;) I wish! LOL
So I admit that upfront I did not leave their circle on good terms, and feel free to accuse me of bias against online zero carb communities, but I am not writing this to say their way of eating does not work because for many it does, just that some of the claims about the Inuit diet seem now to be inaccurate.
I do think it fair to say a lot of zero carbers remain my friends and see overall I am supportive of their way of eating as a viable, I just do not agree with the "historical base" portion. The ideal is a simple one, by eating very very few but nutritionally complete foods we reduce our need for "other nutrients". I would whole heartedly agree with that, and think a fabulous example is vitamin C. Vitamin C, in part, is used to metabolise dietary glucose, so by not eating starch you simply need less Vitamin C thus even rare meat becomes an adequate source.
During my short time within the zero carb community I noticed a few things.
Please note: Zero carbers try to stay under 5g total carbs a day on an all meat diet, even meat has some carbs so a true zero carb diet is not plausible.
- We were told that beef (lean and fat) and water, were all the body required
- That grass fed beef was a waste of money
- That organ meats should be avoided and are "to carby" and their added vitamins are not necessary
- That bone broth was not necessary
- That inuits hunters (the healthiest) ate only the lean and fat, gave away the organ meat to the children and elderly or the dogs
- There is no need to add salt or magnesium, if you get cramps or other symptoms you need more water, recommendation I got was to start at a gallon a day and this would resolve any cramps (I was definately getting keto cramps at one time, since resolved)
- That the beef, beef fat and water approach is the ideal approach and most health issues with your diet can be resolved by restricting back to these and only these
The main focus is "lean and fat" is all that is required. The ratio determined by your "Fat hunger". In other words always be well hydrated, eat the fat until you no longer want more fat, then eat the lean until sated. Simple advice that would go a long way to ensure you end up with a predominantly high fat diet.
What I did learn interacting with the Zero Carb community
Hey its not all bad! They gave me a lot of great stuff that has proven true to me over time.
- Carbs really are optional at best
- Keto adaptation period should indeed not be combined with working out, its best to just rest and at most gentle walks until you are fully keto adapted
- Drinking lots of good water to stay hydrated is very important when very low carb
- Worry far more about adequate fat then adequate protein, keto is protein sparring and you just simply need less if fully keto
- How full of shit Danny Roddy and Paul Jaminet are when they talk about scurvee
- Keto is so much better when done with real animal fats and minimal plant fats and proteins
- Fiber sucks, and you will never be more "regular" then when you remove all sources of fiber from your diet and adapt
As for the Inuit? I have learned many of these claims are not true.
In fact this is when I started "Primal North" and my own twist on things "Eating your odd bits" aka organ meats and bone marrows. As to me this more accurately reflected the diet of hunter tribes such as the Inuit and the Plains Indians.
Inuit and Fish and Bone Broths
Inuit would slice off the lean, and the toss the skin, of fish caught that day. They would cook fish that were over a day old. They would also eat fish that had been poorly stored and partly rotten, without fear.
They would feed the scraps of fresh eaten raw fish to the dogs, but the scraps did not go exclusively to the dogs.
|Traditional Inuit Fish (Bone and organ) Broth|
Inuit did indeed drink bone broth for one, actually every single day. Their fish broth was consumed almost daily and was created by slowly simmering fish heads, guts, spines, etc... (including all the organ meats). Yes, they also fed these scraps to the dogs but not exclusively as noted above.
Inuit and Liver / Organ Meats
When a seal is killed and dressed out for the feast, it is split open and laid out raw.
Hunters will eat first, and will use a tea cup to drink the warm blood (to warm themselves) and cut a peice of liver. Liver being considered a choice cut (not something tossed to the dogs as I was once lead to believe).
Quite often the blood and fat would be mashed up with some brain between the fingers and enjoyed.
The hunters would then also eat lean and blubber to sate their appetite.
The women would then go for any remaining liver, the intestines and whichever amount of lean and blubber those wished.
Polar Bear Liver = Fatal
Polar bear liver is never eaten as it contains very high concentrations of Vitamin A and is fatal to humans AND dogs. Polar bear meat, as an eater of carrion, is always cooked first and not consumed raw to avoid trichinosis.
Blood is not just a rich source of nutrition, it is incredibly reverred by the Inuit. Inuit have a spiritual belief that seal blood is connected to human blood and a health beleif that drinking seal blood fortifies human blood and restores our health. Seal blood is enjoyed fresh from the kill.
Reverence for their Food
Unlike the zero carb community online who seems not at all bothered by the wastefulness of not eating any organ meat or bone marrow, or the horrid conditions at CAFO's, (and I am not trying to paint members with a broad brush but lets face it we support this with our pocket books if not our morales) the Inuit are quite reverant and respectful of their kill.
The Inuit believe there is an agreement between man and seal that a hunter will only kill what is necessary for feeding his family.
Seals are thought to be constantly thirsty, as they live in salt water. An Inuit hunter will offer a dying seal he has taken, a drink of fresh water, so it need not die with thirst.
No attempt is made at "Seal husbandry".
Further Reading / Viewing
The plains Indians, some tribes, lived exclusively on buffalo. Here we find out about how it was dressed and consumed.
Anthony Bourdain eats raw seal with the Inuit
"I can't wait to eat the brain" ~ Says Grandma
Pass some time in your own igloo learning Inuit String Art
Check out Inuit ice fishing legend Sara Annanak catching Arctic Char
John Tyman's Inuit Food
Discover Magazine: The Inuit Paradox
Vilhjalmur Stefansson: My Life with the Eskimo