Mikhaila Peterson has officially coined her version of the carnivore diet: The Lion Diet.
Strictly sticking to ruminant meat, salt, and water cured Mikhaila of her autoimmune issues back in 2018. Most recently, she's been experimenting with multi-day intermittent fasting as a new lifestyle, nutritional intervention.
While Mikhaila initially targeted for fat loss, she also found that fasting was a profound tool for mental health and emotional stability.
What else happens when a carnivore embarks on a 7-day fast? Let's find out.
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Mikhaila Peterson, really great to have you back on the H.V.M.N. Podcast.
Thank you. Thanks for inviting me again. I'm excited to talk.
It's been about a year since we last spoke officially on the podcast, and folks have been following along on the carnivore diet or the Mikhaila journey, have probably seen a lot of interesting updates, and we'll dive into all of it. But perhaps before we dive into some of your experiments with carnivore, the new "Lions Lair", fasting, maybe just an update on personal life. I know you've been traveling a little bit. How are you? How's the family? How are you doing?
Things are progressing in the right direction. It's been a rough. We had an absolutely brutal summer. We talked last year, so none of this had happened, but my mom was diagnosed with a very, very rare cancer that had been brewing for a while, but we caught it. It was a collecting duct variant of cancer that was extremely aggressive, and so this summer was just horrible. She had multiple surgeries, and then she had a surgical complication that was extremely rare on top of the extremely rare cancer.
And then people are aware I put out a video. Dad started taking an anti-anxiety medication during that period of time. Honestly, it was tempting even for me. It was such a horrible experience over the summer. And then he's had a paradoxical response to the anti-anxiety medication, so now we went ... My mom is better. That's something to get out of the way. Somehow, she recovered magically and is doing really well now although completely traumatized by the experience, but she's better. But now we're dealing with dad's health complications, so it's been very stressful.
And then normally social media pressures and things don't really get to me, and I'm already talking about a somewhat controversial diet and saying things like, "It made me symptom-free from an autoimmune disorder," which is fairly controversial to start with. So I'm pretty immune to drama online, but in the last month, the social media trolls have been absolutely brutal. So that, coupled with family stress, has been a lot, so I've been trying to figure out how to cope with stress. And I think people who know a bit of my backstory know I was medicated with an SSRI or different SSRIs from the age of 12 till 20 ... I think I stopped when I was 23.
And so I don't think I've really figured out to have healthy stress coping mechanisms, I guess. Or I don't think the part of my brain that ... I'm not entirely sure how to explain it, but if I get stressed out, I have a hard time getting down from that. And these are extremely stressful situations, so I don't know how much of that is normal or how much of that is because I wasn't able to learn that. And I think part of that was from taking SSRIs for a very long time.
Things are good health-wise, excellent, absolutely perfect health-wise in regards to me, but managing external stress is tricky. So I'm trying to focus on that. So I'm kind of moving into now that I've figured out the nutrition aspect, at least for me, I'm trying to move into lifestyle and how to reduce external stressors lifestyle-wise as much you can.
Bouncing off of that, riffing off of that, I mean, I think your situation is pretty bespoke. Right? I mean, I think even if you're a hundred percent normal, healthy, perfect condition, someone's mother or parent having a serious prognosis and maybe dying, that's traumatizing for anyone. So I think in your particular situation where you have that kind of situation where I think any normal human response is like, "Holy crap. Someone that I love, and I grew up with my entire life with has a percentage chance of dying plus the social media scrutiny plus the hoopla around there." I think it's a very natural response in terms of you having to deal with things that very few people have to deal with. Obviously there's lot of different types of stress in the world. Not to say that I don't think you're saying, "Hey, poor me. I'm a victim here," but I think it is compared to a lot of people's level of stress. It's quite acute.
It certainly has been for the last I would say approximately six months. Before that ... And the funny thing about the social media pressure is if I'm not stressed by anything else, the social media pressure doesn't bother me at all. A negative article comes out, or there are trolls or whatever. It doesn't bother me at all. Sometimes I'm entertained, so it's like ... But as soon as the stressors start plying up, then anything additional is a bit overwhelming, so yeah. I've found fasting helps, and cold water emersion has helped a lot for stress too.
Yeah. So it sounds like things are on the up and up, so really glad to hear that, which is phenomenal.
Yeah. They are.
So yeah. Let's dive into some of the new explorations, new interventions, new data, new science since the last time we caught up. So just as a refresher, one of our most popular episodes was our conversation about 11, 12 months ago. And at that time, I think there was a big upswell of media and press around the carnivore diet at the time. And since then, you've done a lot of experimentation with fasting, and perhaps that's a good way to start because I think that's something that was one of my personal ways of how I got interested in metabolism. How'd you step into the fasting world?
When I first switched over to just eating beef, it did kind of happen naturally. Intermittent fasting happened naturally. I went from eating three meals a day to eating two meals a day, but I was still of the mindset that you should be eating breakfast, which I never really wanted to eat for my entire life. So I was eating breakfast and dinner, or sometimes it'd be lunch and dinner. So it was kind of intermittent fasting sometimes. It was definitely eating fewer meals.
After about a year on the diet, I started traveling a bit. I had to get my ankle replacement fixed last January, and I started eating less out of convenience. I was still really worried about eating out. I'm not worried about eating out anymore, which is nice. That piece of anxiety is gone from life, but I was worried about eating out. So I went to eating once a day for a while and just could. And I was like, "That's really interesting. I'm not really hungrier."
And then I realized I was probably less hungry, so I was eating once a day for a while when I was traveling. So it'd be maybe a week of eating every 24 hours. I was like, "Oh, my hunger's actually reduced." So that's interesting. So I did that for a while, and then I started the multi-day fast. I started researching it a bit, and I thought, "Well, maybe I'll push it and see what happens," and it was really difficult at the beginning. I could do 18 hours easily. It took a while to get to 24 hours.
And then when I tried to push it past 24 hours to the 36 hour period, the first time I did that, and I did that at that point without electrolytes, which I know are really helpful now, but I didn't know what I was doing back then. So I tried pushing it, and I remember leaving the house being like, "I can't work. I can't think." I put my phone down in the cupboard and closed the cupboard. Then I couldn't find my phone for 40 minutes. I was completely brain foggy the first time I tried to push to 36 hours. And then the next time I tried to push to 36 hours, it was pretty easy. So it was a really fast turnover.
Right. A fast adaptation period.
So it sounded like ... I also remember seeing you doing your finger sticks. I mean, it's a pretty interesting transition going from I would say pretty intuitive to now being fairly biohackery or quantitative with all of that.
Well, I'm kind of torn because when I first went down the whole nutrition road and got to the carnivore diet, I would say I was more trying to biohack than anything. I was very science-oriented and testing-oriented. And then my mind was just completely blown by the fact that only eating beef cured, successfully put into remission all my disorders. So then I was just mind blown, and I was like, "I give up on testing anything. This is too weird."
And then it's been interesting, but then I went to visit Paleomedicina or medicina in Hungary. I did that last January as well before my ankle replacement revision. And they were talking about how you want to get your ketone levels to a certain measurement therapeutically and how your glucose should be. They want it to be below 80. And I was like, "All right. Well, I wonder what mine is." So then I got a Keto-Mojo and started testing that just out of curiosity, and I'm kind of torn between how much of that matters and how much of it doesn't matter. For instance during fasts, or if I only eat every 24 hours, my ketone levels stay pretty high most the time. If I only eat every 24 hours, they're high all the time. The more frequently I eat, the lower they get.
And then for high, what range are you typically seeing? What do you consider high?
Eat every 24 hours. It's usually 2.4.
Okay. Yeah, that is fairly high. Yep.
That's fairly high, yeah. If I do the multiple-day fast, I've gotten really high, 6.4, high-high. If I eat three times a day, or if I snack throughout the day, and it's still just snacking on meat, but I'll have jerky sometimes, which I generally eat with talo. So it's not just ... it's not as high a protein as jerky would be, but my ketone levels can drop too. I can definitely kick myself out of ketosis, especially if I have a whole bunch of jerky. And I do find that I'm less hungry, and I feel better if I'm at a higher level of ketosis.
So the testing has been fun. It's been interesting, but one thing I would like to say about fasting is the symptoms of my autoimmune disorder did go away before I incorporated fasting in and before I was at a high level of ketosis. So when I first started the carnivore diet, I wasn't even eating very much fat because I didn't like it. It was nauseating, and I don't think I was digesting it well. So I was eating mostly lean cuts of meat, and my symptoms still went away. So I don't actually think it was the ketosis that helped. I had been on a ketogenic diet for years prior to the all-beef diet. I think it was just removing everything my body was finding inflammatory.
Yeah. I mean, at a very minimum, you had a very strict elimination diet. And it's probably something in either other plants, or something that were anti-nutrients, or something that was stimulating immune response. And it sounds like once you eliminated everything that was triggering an immune response and then incorporate fasting on top, then that synergized well. It wasn't just intermittent fasting plus eating broccoli would cure your autoimmune. I mean, it was kind of endorsed. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yeah, it was definitely the anti-nutrients or something, but fasting has definitely upped my game I would say. It makes me more emotionally stable, and I'm emotionally stable most of the time unless I'm under some horrible stress like my mom is about to die from cancer. I'm emotionally stable most of the time, but fasting, I don't know what it does if it's just the adrenaline increase or what it is. But I am so much more stable fasting than I am eating even though my stability eating is fantastic as well. That's been a huge positive thing I've found with fasting.
So, I did a 7-day extended fast in September, and this was after I realized electrolytes were completely necessary. I've been using the brand Element. They have unflavored, pure salt electrolytes. I've mixed my own as well, but I like them.
Yeah. And this is just sodium and potassium.
And a little bit of magnesium.
But I did a seven-day fast kind of out of curiosity to see what would happen, but I also did a DEXA scan early September and found out my body fat percentage was at 34. I was absolutely shocked.
In the sense that it was high or low?
High, much, much higher than I was expecting, 10% higher than I was expecting. I was like, "Well, that's not good." Even if I think that that looks fine from the outside, that's not healthy.
So I figured, okay, well what's the fastest way to cut down on that? I guess I won't eat for a week just to see what happens. Unfortunately, they don't allow you to do DEXA scans repeatedly that quickly, so I still have to do another one. It was really good experience. It helped a lot with the anxiety of if I go out, sometimes I'm concerned I won't be able to eat, especially if I'm traveling. Will I be able to find a steakhouse? Sometimes steakhouses aren't open. I don't want to go to a lower quality one in case they cross-contaminate, particularly with gluten. And knowing that I don't have to eat every day is really freeing.
Yeah. Talk about the seven-day fast. So I did the seven-day fast in early 2017, and just for our listeners out there, this is not easy to go directly into a seven-day fast.
I mean, it's quite hard. So for listeners out there, don't expect to be inspired by Mikhaila or myself and just do seven-day fast tomorrow. I had to try a couple times hitting three days, hitting four days, and finding it unbearable before I was able to commit and do a seven-day fast. For me, I felt like it was almost spiritual in some weird sense where it really pushed the physical limits and mental limits of what you think is possible, as well as there's definitely some sort of mental buzz of having ketones up to 5.0 plus. It sounded like you were really hitting your peak ketones when you're doing a seven-day fast. Can you walk us through that?
Okay. What was it like? Well, so like I said earlier, I pushed myself to 18-hour fasts and then to 24-hours, and then I did a 36-hour one, and then I did a 38-hour one, and then I did week one. I took video notes too because I wanted to put it on YouTube, and then my phone was stolen, so that's a pain. I have to another one just to re-get the video footage.
So I ate really, really late the night before. And so then I'm not really hungry until the following night anyway, and then it's pretty easy just to go to bed. After you pass about 36 hours, I find it gets a little bit easier. It was spiritual. It does give you some sort of high. Definitely after day four, I had difficulty sleeping, but I wasn't tired. It'd get to be late, 1:30 or 2:30 in the morning. I was definitely having trouble sleeping. 2:30 in the morning and I'd think, "I'm going to be exhausted tomorrow if I don't get some sleep," and I'd sleep until 6:30. So maybe near the end, I was getting four or five hours of sleep a night. And I'd wake up and was like, "Well, you know what? I'm still pumped."
That's exactly how I felt exactly. It's like I didn't need to sleep that much. It was four or five hours a night, and I would just like, "I'm fine. I'm clear. I'm lucid. I'm a little bit anxious. Get things going." It's a-
Get thing going. Yeah.
Oh. One of the things I really liked is I got more aggressive, but I wouldn't say in a bad way. I guess you're in hunting mode. You're in go-mode or something. I just didn't have time to waste. That's what it felt like, especially near the end, so I don't know. I really want to do another one. I think I still have enough body fat so that it's not dangerous. You don't want to do it ... And so you might've had a harder time too because you definitely have much lower body fat percentage. And I know once you get down to a certain level, it might be more tiring or a little bit more fatiguing, but I think I-
Yeah. At a certain point, it's actually starvation. At a certain point, it's actually malnutrition. Absolutely.
You're going to eat into muscle or something.
Yeah. Yeah, so I think part of I think some of the things I noticed that were interesting was that I think at day three the second of third night of sleep, the hunger really attenuated. I think the ketones elevated, which suppressed ghrelin. And I think after day three, day four, the difficulty was just the same. I felt like if you could fast for seven days, you could probably fast for ten days. Essentially, it didn't really matter how long you're fasting, but the first couple days were the hardest.
That's exactly how I felt. I was really surprised by the amount of energy I had. I was surprised about the mood stability. I was very surprised that I didn't get hungrier, that I got less hungry. I went out for dinner a number of times with my family.
And you just sat and looked.
Yeah. And I got made fun of a couple times. I was like, "This doesn't bother me at all." So yeah, it did get easier. I had to. It was a little tricky for the first three days because I have to feed my kid. So I'm air-frying steaks being like, "Well, just wait it out. Just wait it out. It'll get easier," but it is hard. It does take quite a bit of self-control to stick past the first 36 to 48 hours because it's really easy to eat.
Yeah. Did you exercise?
I'm curious in terms of your physical exercise, so that's what's one thing that's interesting when people consider longer-term fasts, doing a little bit of exercise to just stimulate muscle, which stimulates growth hormone, which retains lean muscle tissue. I think one of the concerns folks have you are burning a lot of fat as you're fasting for extended periods of time, but obviously you don't want to be catabolizing your muscle tissues. As you're adding and incorporating new things into your routines and protocols, how does physical exercise add in? And did you incorporate that in your extended fasts?
So I did try. It depends what you would qualify as an extended fast. If I'm doing 36 or 48, then I'll just do what I normally do, but my gym routine isn't an intense gym routine. It's basically physio. I'm doing some lift weight like weight lifting, but it's basically physio. I'll definitely get there at some point. We'll keep doing these podcasts, and people can listen. And I'm going to be super fit at some point, but right now it's basically physio.
So what I did with the seven-day fast is on day three or four, I went to the gym. And I did my usual workout maybe a little bit more intense than usual because I had a whole bunch of extra energy. And I was sore for the rest of the fast, and I was like, "Well, maybe that's muscle growth." But I think ... Oh, this is another thing I should mention. I think what happened was I got dehydrated. I found that at the very beginning, I needed a lot of electrolytes to stay functioning, a lot of salt to stay functioning, especially for the first two days. And then on the third day, I felt a little bit better. And then on the fourth day, I wasn't even thirsty anymore, and I was like, "Well, maybe it's a dry fast. I don't know what's going on. I'm not hungry. I'm not thirsty."
So then I worked out, and I think what happened is I got dehydrated. I wasn't having muscle cramps. I don't think it was electrolytes. I think it was dehydration, but I really wasn't thirsty at all. So it took maybe a day and half or two days for me to be like, "Okay. My muscles still hurt. Drink a whole bunch of electrolytes and water." And I had to kind of force myself to do that, and then the muscle pain went down.
So one of the mistakes I made with that extended fast was once I stopped being hungry, and I stopped being thirsty, I thought, "Eh. I'll just wait." But I think next time I do it, I'll have to force myself more near the end to drink water and have electrolytes even if I'm not particularly thirsty.
Yeah. I mean, I think that's an important point for folks who are considering or learning about this for the first time. When you are fasting, your insulin load drops. And when you have low insulin, your body excretes out more and more sodium. And that's where electrolyte replacement, and that's as a fancy way of saying just eating some table salt would work too. And I remember when I was doing day five, day six. Just having a little bit of salt water in the morning helped a lot.
In the morning.
In the morning in particular, yeah. Near the end, day five, day six, same as you, I'd wake up, and I would feel glitchy. I don't know if you got glitchy, but it was very specifically like a computer program that was glitchy. And I woke up a couple times. I think it was day five and day six when I woke up in the morning, and I thought, "This is not comfortable. I am not comfortable. Something is wrong, and I should eat something."
And then I'd have a big glass of water with salt, and then 15 minutes later, everything would be fine. But that first waking up in the morning and then the night of day six, so it's coming back to me a little bit more. The night of day six I actually woke up in the middle of the night and had some salt water because that stopped the morning of day seven from being glitchy and weird. It was definitely a strange experience, but it wasn't scary. And it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, and there are a lot of benefits. And it's kind of addictive.
Yeah. So we talked a little bit about your ketones levels. And then just to give a sense of the range for our listeners out there, usually above 0.5 is considered nutritional ketosis. And then I think depending on your starting conditions, your goals, I mean, I think when I was at the end of my seven-day fast, I hit 5.4. Sounded like you were even a little bit higher.
I was higher, yeah.
Usually, you'd expect to be 1.0, 3.0 between day two and three, and you need that ketones, right? Because if you're not having carbohydrate or any other energy substrate, you got to be having ketones. So I think that's probably the hard part if you aren't fat-adapted, if you haven't been eating very low carb, haven't been doing 36, 18-hour fasts or 36-hour fasts. It's very hard for your body to shift into ketone production, and then you just feel really, really crappy.
Yeah, really crappy.
And then I'm curious to hear about your glucose. Obviously one of the goals that you had was keeping your blood sugar under 80 milligrams per deciliter, and I think that's an important thing to consider. It's just not chasing ketone numbers. It's also making sure your glucose is under control. Curious to hear about the glucose trajectory.
So for that seven-day fast, I think I started at 94.
And that was testing after I ate my last meal. And I had eaten a lot that day because I was preparing.
And just for context, was this fasted in the morning?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Okay. And then typically in the morning, under 100 is considered healthy. Under 120 is considered pre-diabetic. A fasted blood glucose of above 120 is considered a sign of type-2 diabetes. So you had pretty good glucose control. You woke up after a heavy meal under 100.
Yeah. I wouldn't be surprised if I had any type of carb if that just shot up ridiculously. I feel like my glucose does rise a bit faster than it should even if I'm just eating meat. I can get it. If I try really hard, I can get it above 100. And in the greater scheme of things, that's still healthy, but I do try and keep it below 80 rather than 100. And I'm only taking that information based on what the folks at Paleomedicina are telling me is ideal. And I can kind of understand that. So I started at 94. It dropped pretty quickly that day to 84, and then for the next five days, it was pretty much the same. It wasn't the same. It did go up and down a little bit. I think it changed when I exercised. I can't remember what it did. I think maybe it had gone up.
Yeah. It should go up when you exercise. That's one of the counterintuitive things that I noticed when I had a continuous glucose monitor. And it makes sense, right? What's happening there is your body needs more energy, more substrates, and your stored glucose, your glycogen breaks down. And you have a little bit of blood sugar rise as your muscles need that fuel. So exactly. That's expected.
But after the exercise, then it basically stayed the same. And it hovered around 65, which that might seem low to people, but I was totally fine. So that's where I kind of stuck at for the rest of the fast.
You're never going to get to zero.
And I think that there should be no ... people shouldn't target no blood sugar. There's always going to be some ambient blood sugar because your body needs actual some sugar to function, but yeah 65 is quite a controlled level.
Yeah. What were yours at for your extended fast?
I actually don't remember my blood sugar. I think of the ketones more, but-
Ketones are way more fun to measure because they basically keep going up. Well, they stop at a certain point, but those are more fun. Glucose is pretty stable once you do those extended fasts.
Yeah. I think it must've been around 60 and 80, which is probably an expected range if you're doing extended-day fasts.
Any other tips or tricks? Sounds like salt, electrolytes were huge, some of the sleeping. And I think for me I think from the spiritual or self-discipline perspective. I thought that was interesting. Obviously, you have a sense of that as you do 36-hour fasts. You know that the food really doesn't control you. You can control your food consumption, but I'm just remembering back to some of the kind of religious context where you have Moses talking about him fasting for 40 days, 40 nights, or folks going to the Greek academies fasting, monks fasting. And I think I somewhat empathize with that kind of rhetoric or thinking because you just feel like you're in a kind of a very clear, lucid state.
Yeah. I guess the main thing I've learned is I really don't have to eat all the time. And I don't know how often ... The weird thing is I don't know how frequently I actually have to eat in order to maintain my weight. I think bodies are really good at burning excess calories, right? And then they only end up storing it. I mean, who knows how much more we're eating than we really need to eat.
I have a sneaking suspicion I probably only have to eat every 36 hours to maintain my body weight although I'm not heavily exercising or anything. So maybe that'll change once I'm exercising more, but I think that was the most interesting thing I learned is, oh, miss a meal. I was always taught as kid you have to eat breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day. Don't skip a meal. Don't skip a meal, or you won't be able to think, which might be the case if you're eating a really high-carb diet. But it certainly isn't the case if you're only eating meat.
It seems like you actually just need less sleep, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that your digestive system isn't really on.
Yeah. So I don't know. I loved it. I want to do another one. I'll probably put it up on Instagram and Facebook so people can join if ... I told people last time only do those extended ones if you're used to the 36, 48-hour range.
Yeah. Let me know. Yeah. I'd love to join you as well-
... and I'm sure our audience members would too. But I think that's the right caveat and right disclosure. Don't just jump in. It's like I wouldn't advocate go run a marathon if you haven't done some training, and I think this is the same exact context.
I'm not going to be able to lift 500 pounds on a bench press. I haven't trained to do that. And same thing with the seven-day fast. I mean, that's a pretty aggressive way to start. So what else have you been testing? I know that Zhill flagged that you've been testing your microbiome. People have been asking you for all sorts of blood work and metrics. What are some of the most interesting things that you've learned that are counterintuitive, or have surprised the critics, or you thought are especially interesting? I think obviously the microbiome is a hot topic. It's not super well understood what is an optimal microbiome, but have you looked at it? Have they evolved?
So I don't know if I've talked about it last time I was on, but when I switched over, this was a complicating factor that I'm pretty open about. But when I switched over to the all-beef diet, all my autoimmune symptoms went away, and I started experiencing pretty bad C. difficile symptoms. Well, it turns out I had a C. difficile infection, and I didn't contract it at the same time as I started the diet. I think what happened was I had a very messed up microbiome to begin with from years and years and years of antibiotics after being born from a c-section. So I think I was just doomed that way to begin with. And then I switched over to this carnivorous diet, and all of the carb-eating bacteria or good portions of that they do die off.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing, but if that's what's keep C. difficile in check, it's not great. And I have had not a number. I've a had a couple of people who switched over to the diet and have experienced the same thing. If that much of your microbiome is C. difficile, and it's just being kept in check by carb-eating bacteria, then that's a problem by itself. But if you switch over to an all-meat diet, I think those die off, and then I think you kind of start developing ... And this is just me putting it out there, but I think it makes sense that you start developing the microbiome to tolerate an all-meat diet after the carb bacteria die off. And in between that period of time, the C. diff. shot up.
Yeah, which makes sense. Yeah.
So it makes sense, and it was unpleasant to say the least. So part of the reason I started fasting actually was because I was like, "There's no way in hell I'm taking antibiotics to get rid of a problem that was probably caused by antibiotics. Maybe fasting will help." It didn't. Even the extended-fasts didn't.
What were the symptoms? I mean, how'd you even know to look? I mean, obviously I get microbiome test isn't necessarily something that your doctor tells you to do.
No, no, no. It was symptom-based.
So a lot of people who switch over to The Carnivorous Diet from the people I've spoken with, about 60% get diarrhea for the first approximately two weeks after a couple of days on the diet. And who knows what that's caused if it's microbiome change, or if it's difficulty digesting fats, or if it's the keto flu, or what, or a combination?
So that's pretty normal, but mine didn't really go away. I had pretty obvious signs now that I know what a C. difficile infection is like. It was basically diarrhea after I ate. So I had my microbiome tested through the natural path, and that gives you a little bit more in depth story although honestly, who knows how much we know about the microbiome in the first place anyway?
But the clostridium bacteria were high there, and so I actually went to my doctor. My GP was like, "Test that." And he did, and I came back positive for that. And then I didn't want to take antibiotics, so I went to the Taymount Clinic, and they're doing fecal microbiome transplants. And over the next three months, I did 15 of those.
And they have a success rate of one time has an 80% success rate, and two times is 95. And I did it 15 times, and it didn't work.
I'm not actually going to talk about it on here because I'm going to put out a video.
But I figured out how to get rid of it. I did get rid of it. It took a lot of research. That's gone, so that's why I said my health is great now. My digestion is perfect. And the amount that that meat diet has helped me was that year even having a fairly severe C. difficile infection, just that year of not being miserably depressed and having an autoimmune disorder was the best year I've had-
... even with that infection. But I did figure out how to treat it, and I am going to put that on YouTube. And I do have tests to show that it was successful. So I did microbiome tests throughout this whole thing to try and fix what's going on because ... And I know there are a number of carnivores in this space that think the microbiome doesn't really matter. And even the folks at Paleomedicina think that if you're on this super-high fat meat diet long enough that things just fix themselves, but that wasn't my experience at all with an actual infection. So I think once you've decimated your microbiome with antibiotics for two decades or generations, who knows? You need to be a little bit more proactive with fixing that, and it's not just diet-related unfortunately.
Yeah. It makes sense. I mean, if you just had a deranged microbiome to begin with, and the carb-consuming microbiome was holding the C. difficile in check. And then you release the crack in, if you will, and C. difficile takes over. I mean, that makes sense. And it's interesting to hear that the benefits of a carnivore diet were so compelling that even if you had to have essentially fairly consistent diarrhea and deal with that over a year that the carnivore diet was so beneficial in the other attributes of your health. That, it was huge.
And it's interesting to hear about the fecal transplant because we've had on the podcast Dr. Josiah Zayner who's a well-known biohacker, and I think he got some publicity and some notoriety for doing the first amateur microbiome transplant. So he's literally collecting his friends feces and making his own-
Yeah. Good for him.
... own cocktail there. So it's interesting to see that you tried multiple times, a number of times, and it wasn't hitting. So I'm very curious to see that video when it comes out if you weren't using antibiotics. It wasn't a fecal transplant. What kind of routine did you have to do? So that'll be fun.
I guess just stepping back a little bit. I mean, I feel like the mainstream adoption or acceptance of carnivore has evolved a bit. I mean, if we just kind of review the last year, I mean, I think a year ago was just like everyone was insane. The Peterson family is insane. Now I would say that there's quite a bit more doctors and folks who are much more open to it. I wouldn't say people are like, "Hey. Carnivore is the best diet for everyone," but I think we have people accepting that, okay, this could be reasonable for some people.
Yeah. It's pretty funny. There was a period of time they're like, "Oh no. Well, everyone's going to die in eight months." And then that eight month period ended, and they were like, "Well, okay. I guess people can survive on this, but it's still a bad idea." It'll evolve a little bit further in the coming years. I'm sure.
What is it like being one of the essential characters here?
It's weird. It's just such a weird group of people that decide to do something as ... I don't want to call the carnivore diet ridiculous, but you get the people who have literally tried everything and just want to get better.
And then you get the really open, fairly smart group of people who just want to biohack. So you get open people, and then you get really sick people. Try doing those extended fasts and just being sent hundreds of pictures of steak. I'm just sent hundreds of pictures. I don't know how this became my life exactly, but I put up a photo about a month ago, and I went to a shooting range in the states. So I put up a picture, and it was like I had lamb that evening. So I had lamb, and then it was video of me at the shooting range. And I had a glass of bourbon. And then-
It's quite American.
It was very American. I thought it was pretty fun. And so I've put that on Instagram, and then I've had hundreds of people send me pictures of their steak with some sort of weapon beside their steak. And I figured I'd just keep re-posting those until they stop making me laugh, and they haven't stopped making me laugh yet.
It's definitely some meme content that's going to be generated from this movement.
Yeah. It's been fun though. It's a supportive community for the most part. I'm hoping people can ... I can understand why people can become ... I don't want to say ideologically possessed by the idea, but if something dramatic happens like you heal from an autoimmune disorder, it's going to be really hard to not talk about it, as exemplified by me.
Yeah, but I think it's a natural phenomenon. People want to associate and just share experience with like-minded people. I think that's what is a core part of human experience. I mean, we could talk a little bit about that. But one thing that I think strikes me as a sign that this is a growing interest area is that there's sub-families or sub-schools of thought within carnivore. I would say that a year ago no one really thought too much about the nuances of how to best implement a carnivore diet, and I think now you have people saying, "Oh, you got to have Oregon meats. You got to have liver, brains, et cetera, et cetera. You got to eat nose to tail." Is that something that you follow? Is that something that you try to incorporate? Any nuances or refinements to your daily nutrition?
Yeah, definitely. So I renamed the version of the carnivore diet I'm doing. I'm calling it The Lion Diet, which sounded more attractive to me than all I eat is beef or either ruminant animal meat. So I've been calling it the ruminant ... I mean The Lion Diet, and yeah. I don't know how I feel about all the iterations. I mean, I have my own iterations, so who am I to say what's right exactly except for what worked for me? But diary was always extremely inflammatory for me and eggs as well, probably the egg whites. So the idea that, "Oh, the carnivore diet works, and it's all animal products," I was never, never on board with that because dairy was one of the first things I cut out that gave me terrible, terrible arthritis.
It was grains, and dairy, and soy. They were all at the top. So that's why I was calling it an all-beef diet for a long time. And then this nose to tail idea I don't buy into that. There isn't enough. I don't particular buy into that. I don't think there's enough actual evidence out there to suggest you need certain things. And there a number of people, myself included, who are mainly eating muscle meat, fatty muscle meat, who aren't vitamin deficient. In fact, one interesting thing that's happened in the last year that was really exciting is I've been vitamin D deficient and zinc deficient since I was seven. My vitamin D is still low. I haven't been able to get that up, but my zinc has recovered for the first time in my entire life.
Which makes sense on a high-meat diet, but it wasn't like that when I was doing keto, and I was eating. I was probably eating more meat honestly on my keto diet than I am now just not percentage-wise. So my vitamins and then my B vitamins, which got completely diminished after I was 20, a number of them, those have all recovered. So all my vitamins except vitamin D have recovered.
Got to get some sun. I guess is it hard to get some sun in Canada? What's the deal there?
I've been trying really hard this year. I was in The Bahamas for a long time. I was in Florida for the winter, and I've been tanning. And I was outdoors all summer, and I'm fairly ... I don't know if you can ... Well, I'm getting more pale now. I've been fairly tanned and this vitamin D thing is definitely part of whatever the underlying problem is with being so sensitive. It has something to do with it, but I mean, it is Canada. But I don't think it has anything to do with that per se. I think it's something else.
But I craved liver in the winter. I did. I always hated, absolutely despised liver. And then 10 months into eating only muscle meat I had a bit of liver, and I thought, "Oh my god. This is sweet. This isn't bitter. That doesn't make any sense," but I guess you can taste the carbs in the liver. There's a little bit of carb in the liver. And so I had quite a bit of that over the winter, and then in the summer, I didn't really ... It started to taste. I didn't like the taste again, so I stopped eating it. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that there's less sun, and you need more vitamin D.
Maybe it has something to with that in the winter, but I've basically been telling people go based on your body. Trust your body, and trust your cravings. I don't think you need to take organ supplements or swallow frozen liver if you hate it. I think once you remove some of the inflammatory problems in your body, it'll kind of tell you what it wants. So I wouldn't be surprised if I started craving liver again this winter, and then I'll eat it. But otherwise, I really just eat very fatty cuts. I don't eat lean cuts at all anymore because they make me kind of angry after I eat them. I'm just not satisfied. But that's my iteration of the carnivore diet is ruminant meat, ruminant, fatty meat, organs if you want to. And if you crave them, it might be a good idea to include if you're low in vitamin D, probably.
Got it. So yeah, just to summarize or clarify here. So The Lion Diet by Makhalia Peterson is ... What are the core tenets if you will? It sounds like it's ruminant meats. Is this just beef now, or are you considering lamb, other ruminants?
Anything ruminant seems to be fine.
The wild game is generally leaner, and it's more expensive, so I don't normally eat it. But I don't react to it. I've had a number of people from India who can't get beef reach out, and they've had success having goat and mutton. So I don't think ... It seems as if if it's a ruminant animal, it seems to be just as effective as long as you keep the fat intake high enough so that you're satiated.
Right. Do you make a clear distinction between grass-fed versus grain-fed? Again, that's one of those sub-nuance points where people can have little religious arguments about that. Obviously grass-feds a little bit or quite a bit more expensive, and I think the argument is you want a higher ratio of omega-3 polyunsaturated fat versus omega-6, which make sense. But is that a huge something that you've noticed that is important for your lifestyle?
No. So when I first was doing an extremely limited keto diet, I was only eating grass-fed because I wanted to rule out the possibility that conventionally raised beef I guess was contributing to my autoimmune symptoms. And so for the first part of the carnivore diet, I also only ate grass-fed. And then I got a little bit more relaxed, and I started eating. In Canada, we don't really get soy-fed and corn-fed beef. Well, we get corn-fed a bit, but the soy-fed, the stuff that is lower quality we don't get as much in Canada. So it's hard for me to comment on that, but I don't respond negatively to grain-fed.
I am going to do a grass-fed test where I only do that. I think I'll do it. I probably have to do it for a while to see what happens. So two months I guess I'll only do grass-fed, and I'll see if I feel any different. But I'm pretty careful about being adamant about only eating grass-fed because a lot of people who are really ill with autoimmune disorders that just telling them that they need to cut out all their favorite foods and switch over to eating meat that is enough without saying, "Also it's going to cost a lot because you can only eat grass-fed because the other stuff isn't good" when I got better eating grain-fed beef. All my symptoms went away eating grain-fed beef.
So that's good enough. And then I think once you're healthy, and you want to say, "Okay. Well, I want to eat sustainably. I want to eat grass-fed" switch over to that. I try and do grass-fed now because I can afford it. You want to eat sustainably. It's probably better of the environment, that kind of thing. But my main goal is to get people to stop having autoimmune disorders, and then they can worry about the rest of that. So I'm not part of the whole, "It needs to be grass-fed" camp.
Okay. So and then in terms of seasoning, you're a salt girl.
No pepper. Nothing. Maybe some salt.
Salt. Salt definitely. I got-
So ruminant, salt, don't need to be too religious or dogmatic on grass versus grain. You don't need to be just beef or just sheep or just mutton or what not. Anything else that's part of The Lions Diet, the official Lions Diet?
Well, I tell people if they want to cheat, I didn't have autoimmune responses to bourbon and vodka, which sounds crazy. I had terrible hangovers though. If you don't have carbs, and you drink, holy cow are the hangovers bad. But I tell people it's hard to get rid of all your vices at the same time, so if you need a vice like vodka and soda water or bourbon and soda water.
How rigorous are experiments here? I mean, you go through tequila, gin? You went through everything?
Yeah, yeah. So it turns out, well, at first I thought I was just reacting to alcohol. So I'd wake up ... This before the beef diet. This is when I was still including salad. I'd wake up the morning after, and I'd be itchy. And I was like, "Oh." My whole body would be itchy. Okay. Well, that's definitely some sort of autoimmune response. That's not just a hangover. But it wouldn't happen every time I drank, so I didn't really know what was going on. And then I went out, and I had gin somewhere, and I got an autoimmune response after that. So I wasn't just itchy. My digestion was messed up. My arthritis came back, and my skin broke out. And I was like, "What is going on? Maybe they accidentally added something to my drink."
But it turns out Beefeater's Gin adds almond extract, which is something people with nut allergies should know. And so I was like, "Oh my god." I thought all 40% alcohols were pure alcohol, but it's not true. It turns out the only alcohols that are as pure as you can make them are unflavored vodka. Turns out Ciroc, too, adds sugar. Their unflavored vodka adds sugar. I found that out because I got itchy but unflavored vodka. Bourbon gets it color from the casks it's aged in, and I don't seem to react to that, shockingly. So that's okay, but-
How about whiskey? I mean, bourbon and whiskey are somewhat related. Have you-
But technically, so scotches generally add caramel coloring to give them color, which is derived from sugar.
Gold tequila is the same way. Silver tequila doesn't have anything added after it's distilled, so you could throw silver tequila in there, but I find silver tequila repulsive. But yeah, I'm not drinking anymore because that was a vice I didn't need, and I don't think I need, so I'm not drinking anymore. But I tell people if they do need a break, or if they're at a party, and they're socially anxious because they can't eat what everybody's eating, I didn't have an autoimmune response. It didn't make me depressed to have a bit of vodka with soda water or a bit of bourbon with soda water. So that's part of the diet, but it's probably better if you don't drink. But it doesn't seem to cause an autoimmune flareup, which is mostly what I'm concerned about.
Yeah. And I'm sure that it varies at this point just to have a soda water. Yeah, and likewise, I rarely drink. And if I feel like I need to have something in my hand, it's so easy to just have a soda water. And if you're not have an issue with lime, I have a soda water with lime. It's just no one cares.
Nobody cares. My problem with alcohol was anxiety, really, which I don't really have anymore. But it was still I'm so used to going out and drinking that it made me more comfortable although my response to alcohol has changed since I got healthier. It's not as fun as it was. It was more of a relief before when I wasn't healthy, and now it's just like I get kind of slow. And then I feel terrible the next day. I was like, "Oh. Maybe I should just cut that out completely."
No, I mean, it's fascinating because I feel like you're so sensitive to your body's responses now. It's a very accurate barometer of what is good and not good for you, which I think a lot of people just lack these days because they don't need to. And I think that they just lose sensitivity to how their body feels.
So I mean that's super helpful, and I know that you recently launched The Lion's Lair. Do you want to tell us about The Lion's Lair and then perhaps some of the other projects that you have in the works here?
Yeah. Actually, I've got a bunch going on. It's pretty exciting. So The Lion's Lair I was doing consultations a long time ago, and I had to stop because I got too busy. And well, that was mostly why, but I've launched The Lion's Lair, which is a group. It's almost 40 people now of people who generally have some sort of honestly, heartbreaking illness that they're trying to get under control, and it's kind of a way to group ... I don't want to say freak out together, but when you first start the diet, if you go from especially The Standard American Diet to The Lion Diet or the carnivore diet, it's really scary and isolating. And I realized that when I went, when I switched over, I didn't have anyone to talk to about it, and it made it a lot harder.
So this is a group for people who need someone to talk to about it and who don't want to feel so isolated because you're always going to have people telling you you're nuts. And it's really hard having an autoimmune condition or having a mood disorder, in particular, and then trying to do a ridiculous that nobody understands yet, and then having your entire social circle tell you you're nuts.
So I tried to design a place that was like a social circle for support, and so far, people are finding it really useful. I go in there every day to check in on everybody, and I've been doing weekly Q and As, so it gives you access to a Facebook group. And I've been trying to keep the number down because the bigger the Facebook group, the more chaotic it gets, and then I don't find that I'm helping people as much. So I go in there weekly, and I'll do a Q and A, talk to people, kind of show them how I cook. So I put recipes up there. But I think apparently, it's helpful for people to have kind of the sense of community. So I'd launched that. That's The Lion's Lair.
Congrats. I think that's maybe what, a couple weeks old, almost a month old at this point?
It just started, yeah.
Yeah. It's brand new, yeah. So congrats.
Obviously, it's always fun and exciting and also-
Scary a bit.
Scary, yeah. I mean it's just like a new thing, but it sounds like good traction and good buy-in so far, so let's see. Yeah, excited to see how that evolves.
Yeah. Me too. Me too. And I'm going to give people access to ... Well, okay. So what else am I working on? I'm still working on the autobiography. I'm not ready for that to have an ending yet. I'm hoping next March will be a good place for the story of my autoimmune disorder to end, so I'm working on the autobiography. I'm working on a how-to guide, which I'm hoping to put out in the next three months, and it'll kind of go into how to jump into the carnivore diet. And I'll be focusing on The Lion Diet, so extreme elimination diet, how to jump into that like jump right in, or how to do it slowly because a lot of people with autoimmune disorders it's actually easier on their body if they ween down the carbs. So I'll be trying to focus on those too. I'm hoping that'll be really helpful to people.
And then the other thing I'm excited about is I'm going to be starting a podcast. Figured I might as well start a podcast so yeah. So maybe late November that should be getting launched. So those are the three. I'm redesigning my website so that it looks less like a WordPress blog that a 24-year-old built who didn't know how to use WordPress. So yeah, things are ramping up.
Awesome. Yeah, a lot of content and education coming out there. Anything on the experimental side or the biohacking side that you are curious about? Obviously, a lot of I guess, a lot of the educational side I'm just curious. Are there exercise or different variations of fasting or nutrition that you've wanted to do or different exercises you want to incorporate that you want to do, and you're just planning that out?
Yeah. So I really want to get stronger because I'm really not strong right now, and I had this ankle revision surgery last January. And the surgeons told me it takes a year and a half for the soft tissue to stop being swollen. My ankle is still visibly swollen. It's very frustrating, so I really have to take it easy on the fitness probably for, oh my god, a year and a half, another eight months, which is really frustrating. But every time I push it, it swells. So there's no pushing it. So hopefully at some point, like I said earlier, I'll get really fit, but that's going to take a while.
And then for biohacking, I'm really interested in mindset at the moment and how much that can change your perspective or whatever reality you're in. So I think I'm going to be doing some research or some tests. I like this extending fasting. I'm going to continue doing that, but I might be looking into meditation to see where that brings me. And I also want to delve a little bit into breathing techniques, so I think I'm going to give Wim Hof a listen for a while and see what that does because just my experience with fasting has ... Well, who knows where a mindset can take you? So I kind of want to delve into that. I'm excited about that.
Yeah, lets definitely have you back on when you've given that an exploration because I think one of the interesting things that I've had in terms of talking with world champion Ironman athletes or endurance athletes, I mean, because they're competing on seven, eight, and nine hour races, it ends up being more of mental challenge than a physical challenge, or at least the mental component is just as important. And I think my perception of their mental state is that it's almost they turn themselves into the meditative flow state. And I think there's an interesting there where are we tapping into from a fasting perspective and what zen monks or priests are doing to get into a prayer or meditative state there? Is there something from a athletic-flow state that's all interrelated or correlated? I think there's something interesting there.
Oh, there's definitely something interesting there, and that's exactly what I want to look into. And maybe there's an easier way to do that through meditation or through breathing techniques than having to not eat for 50 hours plus. So we'll see, but that's the direction I'm heading in.
Awesome. Hey, this was super fun to catch up again, and we'll have to have you back on soon again. Thanks so much, and we'll speak to you again soon.
Thanks for having me. Yeah, talk soon.
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