We are carnivores

As paleo and primal become more complex, authoritarian, licensed, profit driven, subverted and infected with fear based marketing efforts, Primal North seeks to simplify, unify, and advocate a proper level of scientific skepticism to the world of paleo, primal and low carb nutrition. Meat is food, plants are medicine, food is fuel, and movement is pleasure. Lets stop making a mess of it!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Life without plants - Lessons from the Inuit and Modern Zero-Carbers

I was a very short time member of a well known zero carb group, lasting really only a week.  I had personal disagreements with the leader which caused me to leave.

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.

Snipped from the website, its interesting that the  blog of the leader of the movement, the guy who keeps telling us that grass fed is a waste of money, is affiliated to and a customer of US Wellness.  Meanwhile advising newcomers as I was that it is a waste of money.

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

Sources etc...

John Tyman's Inuit Food

Discover Magazine:  The Inuit Paradox

Vilhjalmur Stefansson:  My Life with the Eskimo


  1. Bloody beautiful post. Over the last year I have started making fish head broth a lot more often, and my kids have gotten used to it. My wife as well, she is pretty open to new things, so it's never much of a problem for her to have a go. I take the salmon heads, or kingfish, or whatever whole fish, and toss them in the pot with garlic, bay leaves, all the whole elements in indian garam masala, which are a few choice herbs like bay leaves, cloves, etc. These are just because my palate is used to them and food tastes like food when it has masala. Same reason goat curry is the bomb. I just can't see myself having plain old boiled mutton, I gotta have masala in there for aroma.

    I take the gills out, I cut em out with a nice lil knife I have, and then boil it all together, strain it, and the finished product is gorgeous. Smells and tastes and actually could revive the dead.

    I went on a kick last year and read a ton of books about and by Steffanson. Opened my eyes.

    The forum you mention seems too cultish for my tastes. I'd rather not let them own the concept. It's a human concept. For all.

    So yeah, fish head broth + ribeyes + coffee + tobacco. Oh and oysterz, can't forget those. That's the diet that I feel best on, even if I don't 100% adhere to it.

    There's no way I would ever adhere 100% to any diet, though I prefer to stay ketogenic as much as possible for mental relaxation health and body power.

    Also, I've happened upon your blog before, what a transformation. You look great, boss.

    1. Thanks Ro appreciate all that feedback sounds like dinner at your house would be a good time.

  2. Great post, thanks for putting all the inuit stuff together.

  3. Great post Danny!

    Danny, I know youre Ross Enamait workouts fan but i have a question, what you think about ross food suggestion?
    (whole grains, low glicemic carbs, high carb - low fat) i think that work for him but not for everyone.

    I'm a big fan of keto and low carb diet, but when i follow the ross food basic i start gaining weight and fat.

    And what happen with the Primal North facebook?

    do you still in low carbs diet?

    Thanks for your time and work!

    keep strength

    1. My diet has been shit the past two months admittedly I am dialing it back in those, mostly cause I have essentially been travelling and working without access to a kitchen and it just became to much of a pain in the ass and to expensive to eat quality food all the time, but Im back at home base now so will be back to basics.

      I think Ross does so much conditioning work he could pretty much eat a pure sugar diet and burn it off LOL. His idea of "real food" is baseline nutritionist / dietician stuff and nutrition is not his field of study so he is just sticking to guidelines which is indeed a fair position. I cant eat like Ross and lose weight either.

      I closed the Facebook page mostly because Im far to busy and its far to distracting I got on and interact and lose hours, also I feel as though I have said all there is to say. With paleo and primal turning into a massive carb fest and pedling fear about low carb diets, JUST AS THe REST OF THE WORLD IS CATCHING ON, I am jumping ship literally I dont want to be associated with Primal these days they have gone from a very good carbohydrate curve to counting calories and "needing carbs" Honestly they sound like dieticians its the same nonsense LOL

    2. I agreed, the paleo world is now Safe carb-base feed LOL, moderate protein, low to moderate fat (pure coconut oil) and "Lot" of veggies because fruit is evil.

      I experiment with high carb diet but for me thats mean to little food. Maybe good for high performance, but not for general health.

      Maybe Ross is right with his moderate food and dont overcomplicated the food

      i dont know,


Approximately half the comments I get are only semi interactive, with the real goal of adding a hyperlink to some commercial product. Just enough text to get past a spam filter.

For this reason I moderate all comments, all the time. I do not delete comments that disagree with me, I welcome them.

I do not approve any comment that contains a link to a commercial product. Such links are not required to make a comment.

In short if you came to pretend to interact but instead advertise, you are wasting your time.

Debate is welcome.