It takes a lot of guts to play the role of the guinea pig — especially when it comes to the types of foods you put in your gut.
For Sault-native and fitness vlogger Steve Rimmer, taking on the guinea pig role is something he craves, if it means finding the most effective way possible to get fit.
Currently residing in Toronto the 28-year-old says he hopes to shed light on some of the biggest myths and fallacies in today’s fitness industry by personally testing out various diets or routines to determine their effectiveness.
And though some of these diets have limited or no clinical data in relation to their effect on the human body, Rimmer is willing to take them on so that others can have a better understanding of the health benefits or concerns associated with each diet.
Most recently, the “Carnivore Diet” has been growing in popularity throughout the health and fitness realms. There has not yet been a solidified assessment of the potential health risks associated with this diet, which has caused some uncertainty.
Contrary to the vegan diet, the carnivore diet consists entirely of meat and animal products, excluding all other foods. No fruit, no vegetables, no dairy.
Rimmer is exploring the impact the carnivore diet will have on his body, hoping to provide insight to those who remain unsure whether it is a safe routine. He has started a 90-day trial of the diet, where he will consult with a doctor, nutritionist, and other health professionals to track the effects it has on his body and mind.
“What I'm going to do is just eat meat and follow the exact diet that people are recommending to their clients and to their followers and see what does happen,” Rimmer says. “People can look and see someone who's not tied to either end of the spectrum and say, ‘how does it affect me?’ ‘Is it something that's worth trying?’ and, ‘what can I actually expect based on all of these different metrics?”
In reviewing the data collected throughout the course of the diet and providing that evidence to his audience, Rimmer hopes those following his story can make an informed decision based on their own goals.
This isn’t Rimmer’s first taste of the carnivore diet. He tried the diet for three weeks in 2018, but did not complete a comprehensive analysis of his health. He says he experienced leg cramps and noticed that his cholesterol and triglyceride levels increased pretty significantly while on the diet, so he is eager to see whether these trends will continue in the same trajectory.
“I'll be getting updates on bloodwork as I'm working with a doctor and nutritionists,” he explained. “We're going to be evaluating the blood labs along the way so if anything crazy happens we can pull the plug. It would have to be something pretty catastrophic for that to happen.”
Rimmer began working out in high school when training for St. Mary’s College’s football and hockey teams. Once his competitive sports days came to an end, his commitment to fitness had taken a hit. It took a personal wake up call to shake himself from the unhealthy lifestyle he was leading, and he wanted to get back on track to becoming fit and feeling better about himself.
“I remember I ate a pizza for breakfast one morning and thought to myself, ‘What are you doing?’” he said. “You have to take some responsibility for what you’re doing.”
That is exactly what Rimmer did. He began researching different diets, workouts and supplements, and worked his way back into the best shape of his life. And although he does not have any educational background in health or nutrition, he became informed by reading articles and listening to podcasts related to fitness. That allowed him to question and test some of the theories being taught in educational institutions, and challenge what was being recommended by health experts.
“I decided if I'm struggling with this by encountering the issue, I'm sure it's something that a lot of other people are struggling with, too,” Rimmer says. “So I decided that I would start doing it and releasing it through a YouTube channel.”
His YouTube Channel called SHREDucated currently has almost a half-million views since it was created in August of 2014. It is where Rimmer will be keeping viewers updated on the progress and analysis of the carnivore diet.
Rimmer emphasizes that he is not an advocate for the carnivore diet. He says there seems to be two very opposite camps: those who believe in the legitimacy of a carnivore diet, and those who believe in a vegan diet. In some ways, he believes the carnivore diet is a reactionary movement against the vegan diet; but he is focused solely on clearing up any misconceptions.
“There’s all this information out there that red meat is bad for you, yet there are people on the carnivore diet who are saying red meat has cured all of their health ailments,” he said. “This is the absolute pinnacle of what I was experiencing in university testing out a new diet – there are two exact opposite ends of the spectrum arguing that they have the best solution for your health.”
Overall, Rimmer acknowledges this experiment may not be indicative of the effects a diet like this might have on a wide range of people; but it will at least give a small sample size of how the diet could affect your body.
“I’m not going to be representative of everyone in the population, but at least you will be able to see a case study on what actually happens if all you do is eat meat.”