The first time I heard about the carnivore diet, I was like “what? an All-meat diet? is this a joke?”
It turns out, it’s not a joke at all. The Carnivore diet is a very real thing, and it’s actually quite interesting because there is nothing really like the carnivore diet out there.
In this article, we are going to explore what is the carnivore diet, what are its benefits and disadvantages, what results can you expect from it, and more. So stick around, it’s gonna be a fun ride.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The Carnivore diet is a diet that only includes anything that walks, flies, crawls, swims, and the byproducts of these animals. You can only eat meat, fish, and their byproducts like eggs and certain dairy products.
The carnivore diet excludes all other foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts.
Some enthusiasts of the meat-based diet also recommend eliminating all dairy intake or limiting it to foods that are quite low in lactose – this can include foods such as butter and hard cheese.
By now you might be asking, but why? A good question, I might add.
What is idea of the carnivore diet?
The core belief behind the carnivore diet is that human ancestors that lived thousands of years ago lived on mostly what they could hunt like animals, birds, and fish, and they didn’t suffer from today’s chronic diseases.
Our ancestors also didn’t weigh their foods, calculate their macros, or ate at only certain times. Meaning the carnivore diet doesn’t have any guidelines concerning portion size, macronutrient breakdowns, or food timing.
It allows you to simply eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. You don’t need to concern yourself with anything else or use any sort of app or guidance.
The belief is that today’s high-carb diets and unnecessarily complicated eating habits are the root cause of most diseases and illnesses modern humans suffer from since our bodies didn’t get enough time to evolve and adapt to our high-carb diets.
Proponents of the carnivore diet believe that our diets have evolved faster than our bodies can adapt in the last 10,000 years or so – the same belief held by the proponents of the paleo diet.
This concept and belief are not new. In fact, it’s the same thinking behind other low-carb diets, like the ketogenic diet for example.
However, while low-carb diets like the Keto aim to limit the carb intake, the carnivore diet aims to eliminate it altogether. So the carnivore shouldn’t be considered a low-carb diet, but instead a zero-carb one.
Proponents of the carnivore diet, such as Shawn Baker, a former American Orthopedic doctor, claim that the diet can treat anxiety, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and even depression.
Here’s the thing; The Carnivore diet is based on a holistic approach, not a scientific one. There is not enough research to support the claims of these proponents of the diet, and no peer-reviewed articles backing up the claims of the proponents of the carnivore diet.
You can consider this a disclaimer. I don’t consider myself an expert on the diet, but I have done enough research before writing this piece, and you will find my sources at the end of the article. I also have not tried the diet myself, neither do I plan to at anytime soon.
In a nutshell:
The Carnivore diet is sort of the opposite of the vegetarian diet, but not quite. The Carnivore diet includes only meat, fish, and some animal byproducts like eggs, but excludes all plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, and nuts.
While on the carnivore diet, you can eat anything that swims, flies, or crawls, but you can’t eat things that came from the ground or that were made in a factory.
There are no guidelines concerning food timing, portions, or macronutrients. You can eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full.
Carnivore Diet Foods – What you can eat
The Carnivore diet consists of only animal foods. The ease of choosing foods is actually one of the benefits of carnivore diet, you just don’t need to think about it a lot.
You can simply think of it this way; of the constituents of your meal were alive or came from something that was alive, you’re allowed to eat them.
You can eat all the meat you want. This includes beef, pork, organ meats, lamb, turkey, goat, and so on.
You can eat as much Chicken as you want, just like those weightlifters you read about.
Anything that swims is a fair game. Sardines, lobster, herring, crab, salmon, and so on.
- Animal Products
Some will be glad to know that bone marrow and bone broth are allowed in the carnivore diet. Eggs are also allowed.
- Low-Lactose Dairy
This is the only point in the diet where there are two different camps. You have the die-hards who refuse to allow any dairy at all, and the other camp that allows for dairy as long as it’s low-carb.
Low-carb dairy includes things like butter, heavy cream, and hard cheese.
Salt, pepper, and seasonings are allowed in the diet. However, some die-hards do have objections on them, but most agree that as long as they are carb-free, they should be fine.
It’s also worth noting here that some followers of the carnivore diet choose to still eat soft cheese, yogurt, and drink milk, even though these foods are not included in the diet. It should be fine if you keep them low-carb and keep your intake of them to a minimum.
In a nutshell:
The carnivore diet foods you can eat include meats (all kinds of meat), fish, and animal products like eggs and butter, and you may consume low-carb dairy in small amounts. You may also cheat with Yoghurt and soft cheese every once in a while as long as you keep them low-carb and limited as well.
Non-Carnivore Diet Foods – What you can’t eat
Just like it’s easy to figure out if you should eat a certain food, it’s easy to determine if you shouldn’t – while on the carnivore diet.
Basically, if the food does not come from an animal, you shouldn’t eat it. This excludes all plant-based foods and processed foods.
Here are the forbidden carnivore diet foods – avoid these:
No, ma, I’m not eating my veggies. No more broccoli, potatoes, or carrots for you.
Say goodbye to apples, bananas, strawberries, grapes, oranges, and all other kinds of fruits.
Sorry to be the one that breaks the news to you; you can no longer drink beer. You also can’t drink wine or any other kind of alcohol. Take care of this one, there is a lot of alcohol in foods we eat, sometimes in unexpected places.
Who needs vegan protein when you’ve got animal protein, right? Yeah, no more beans.
Our Canadian friends will be heartbroken to know that maple syrup can no longer be in their grocery lists, neither can table sugar or any kind of sugar for that matter.
No more rice, bread, pasta, or anything made with wheat. I admit this will make things a bit harder for our Asian friends, but I’m sure they can live with it.
- Nuts and Seeds
You can not eat anything with sunflower seeds, almonds, or pumpkin seeds. No more peanuts and no more cashews is just sad, I have to admit.
- High-lactose dairy
Soft Cheese can no longer live in your fridge or on your table, neither should milk or yogurt, you know, ‘generally speaking’.
- Beverages that are not pure water
I have left the worst for last. Here we go: No More Coffee!
I know some of our English friends are reading this and saying “oh, big deal, it’s time you handle your caffeine addiction”. And to them, I say “No more tea, as well”.
In fact, you can no longer drink any kind of fruit juice, smoothies, or soda. Anything that is drinkable that’s not just water is off the carnivore diet menu.
In a nutshell:
The carnivore diet menu can’t include anything that didn’t come from animals. While on the diet, you can’t eat any vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, grains, seeds, or high-lactose dairy.
You also can’t drink anything that’s not pure water such as coffee, tea, alcohol, juices, or smoothies.
So, how would a day on the carnivore diet go?
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Samples
I’m sure the carnivore diet is new to most people reading this, and most of those are wondering now what a day in the life on the carnivore diet will look like.
Well, let’s see some samples for day meal plans.
Sample day 1:
|Breakfast||Eggs + Shrimp + small portion of heavy cream|
|Lunch||Tuna fish + Beef Jerky + Strip Steak|
|Dinner||Filet Mignon + Cran|
Snacks: Jerkey and some Parmesan cheese.
Sample Day 2:
|Breakfast||Eggs + Bacon|
|Lunch||Beef Tips + Mackerel + Pork Chops|
|Dinner||Hard-boiled eggs + turkey burgery patty|
As you can see, creating meals and meal plans for the carnivore diet is not particularly easy. However, you will face difficulties at the beginning when cooking since you’re not used to only cooking with meat.
It will take time, but it’s actually easier done than said.
Now, it’s time to ask the important question: Why would you go on the carnivore diet in the first place?
Benefits of Carnivore Diet
Going on a diet is not easy. You have to restrict yourself to only certain foods that you can eat and stay consistent with your meals. You have to plan ahead for buying groceries and preparing meals, and you will sacrifice things like going out.
But why? Here’s why:
Most people don’t believe that you can actually lose weight on a meat-based diet, and their first thought is that a meat-based diet should make you lose fat. However, they’re wrong.
Since this is a zero-carb diet, it works the same way the Keto diet works. No carbs means your blood sugar stays low all the time, which means that you don’t get insulin spikes. Getting no insulin spikes will give your body no reason to store calories as fat.
Of course,if you stay under your calorie intake, you will still lose weight, and despite what it seems like, going over your calorie needs in the carnivore diet is actually more difficult than you think.
In fact, according to followers of the keto diet, in order to gain weight on the carnivore diet, you’ll need to eat more than two pounds of meat per day, which is something most people will not do.
Having a very limited menu also stops you from falling into the mindless snacking trap we easily fall into. This is actually significant for losing weight, as you gradually get abandon mindless eating and get used to eating when you’re actually physiologically hungry.
Although this isn’t the intention behind the carnivore diet, it does put your body in a ketosis state most or all of the time, which aids in shedding pounds off.
A Healthier Heart
According to enthusiasts of the carnivore diet, the all-meat-diet can actually make your heart healthier. The claim is as follows; although there is a correlation between eating saturated fats and the cholesterol in the blood, there is also evidence that saturated fats can potentially improve heart health.
They also say that despite the numerous studies on the matter, there is still no clear link between the consumption of saturated fats and heart disease and that so far research only suggests that consumption of saturated fats has the potential to increase your risk of heart disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your total Cholesterol is not the best risk indicator for heart disease. Instead, your Cholesterol ratio is. Your Cholesterol ratio is the number you get when you divide your total cholesterol number by your HDL score. A 3.4 ratio is considered to be the optimal number.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that men who follow a high-fat, low-fiber diet for even only 10 weeks experience an increase in total testosterone levels by about 13%.
You can find the study in the resources section at the end of the article for references.
Although it’s common knowledge is that fat-rich animal foods can increase inflammation so much that it can be compared to the effects of smoking cigarettes, there are studies that show otherwise.
According to a 2013 study in the Journal Metabolism, high-fat eaters have lower markers of systemic inflammation. The subjects in the study followed two dies; a low-fat, high-carb one and a high-fat, low-carb one. The calorie intake was limited in both groups.
The researchers in this study concluded that high-fat eating may actually be more beneficial to the health of your cardiovascular system.
Limiting (or in the case of the carnivore diet – Cutting out) plant-based foods from your diet can lower inflammation.
Many people have a food sensitivity to some of the plants they are eating which causes low-grade inflammation, which means that limiting your intake of them or removing them completely from your diet alone will make the person feel better.
Fewer & less Serious Digestive Problems
According to a 2012 Study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology that studied the effects of reducing fiber intake in people with chronic constipation, the study found that it reduced their digestive problems significantly.
The subjects consumed no fiber at all for two weeks and then increased their fiber intake to a level they were more comfortable with.
After these two weeks, the subjects reported that they were seeing such significant improvements that they decided to continue on their zero-fiber plan and see how things go. The study then lasted for six months instead of these two weeks.
The ones who went back to high-fiber diets reported their condition being the same and seeing no improvements, but those who limited their fiber intake reported experiencing reduced gas, staining, and bloating.
They also reported a pleasant increase in the frequency of their bowel movements.
The book, The Plant Paradox by Steven R.Gundry, M.D, offers an explanation for why reducing fibers in your diet can lead to improvements in your digestive health.
The book’s argument goes like this; most plants have natural defense mechanisms against predators and these contain certain compounds that cause bloating, gas, and other digestive issues that also have an effect on humans like they have on other animals.
His reasoning is not totally backed up by science and more research on the subject is still needed, but his reasoning is a good explanation for the results of the study discussed here.
A Simpler Diet
Are you worried about a carnivore diet meal plan? Are you already googling Carnivore diet recipes?
You don’t need a carnivore diet plan, because the carnivore diet is easier than that. There is no calorie calculations needed, no need to break down every meal into its macronutrients, no need to only eat at specific times.
Go ahead and throw this scale you use to weigh every meal, you won’t need it with the carnivore diet as well.
It’s a diet with the minimum thinking needed. You eat when you’re hungry, and you can eat anything that comes from animals. Don’t track anything, don’t measure anything, and don’t limit yourself to certain times to eat.
The Carnivore diet makes your lifestyle simpler and more convenient. You have only a couple of basic guidelines that you can follow when buying food, preparing food, and eating food. What another diet can offer the same simplicity? None.
Inflammation is the major cause behind your achy joints that are causing you pain.
A lower inflammation will make your joints feel better, and there is evidence that eating more gelatinous proteins can improve cartilage health. Gleatenious proteins are those you find in bone broth, collagen, and gelatin.
Now, let’s discuss the other side of the coin; the carnivore diet side effects or the carnivore diet dangers – if you will.
Carnivore Diet Dangers
The Carnivore diet is highly restrictive by its nature, and eliminating so many foods from your diet is ought to have some negative effects. Let’s discuss some of these side effects and see how can you keep things balanced.
May lack certain beneficial micronutrients and plant compounds.
Eliminating fruits, legumes, and whole grains means your body will not be able to get the minerals and vitamins int needs. Meat is nutritious and does contain plenty of micronutrients, but it doesn’t contain all of it.
Plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and you won’t be able to get them – or at least get the same amounts of them – with only meat-based foods. The Carnivore diet also lacks fiber, which, traditionally, should mean it lead to constipation.
However, we have just discussed that this may not be even true, so your mileage may vary, and you will not really be able to find out until you try the diet yourself.
Still, fiber is important for other things, like the balance of bacteria in your gut. This balance is crucial for your health and immunity, and suboptimal gut health is linked to weakened immunity and colon cancer.
High in Sodium
This may not even look like a big deal, but processed meats – especially bacon and breakfast meals, contain high amounts of sodium and eating these regularly means your body’s sodium intake is a bit excessive.
Excessive sodium intake has been linked to an increased risk of kidney disease, high blood pressure, and other dangerous health issues.
Eating a lot of processed meat is also linked to higher rates of certain types of cancer such as colon and rectal cancer.
Although recent studies have shown that high intake of fats are not as strongly linked to a high risk of heart disease as previously thought, there is not enough research on what are the effects of a meat-based diet in the long term.
No research has analyzed the effects of consuming such high amounts of saturated fats over a long period of time, and you can’t – I mean you can, but you shouldn’t – base your diet decision based on the before-and-after photos and stories people share online.
The Carnivore diet before and after stories and photos may be enticing, but with not enough research to back this up, you are sailing into unmarked waters, and you are basically on your own.
Not suited for Everyone
The Carnivore diet does not work for everyone, and it can be more problematic for some people than others. People with certain conditions should not even try the diet, such as those trying to limit their protein intake (an example would be those with Chronic Kidney disease).
There are also people that are more sensitive to Cholesterol in foods. The carnivore diet basically consists of foods that are high in cholesterol, so it isn’t; suitable at all for those cholesterol hyper-responders.
Carnivore Diet Bodybuilding
The Carnivore diet seems like the ideal diet for bodybuilders; the diet is basically focused on Animal protein. But is the carnivore diet bodybuilding really this good?
It’s true, the Carnivore diet is considered by many to be a good diet for bodybuilders as it offers tons of protein, but more importantly, athletes on the carnivore diet report they have tons of energy and power through their training sessions when they are on the carnivore diet.
However, you should still consider this; the carnivore diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet, so it won’t just affect your training, it will affect every aspect of your life. So, don’t base the decision on just the promise of better results.
If you are indeed planning to get into the carnivore diet for bodybuilding specifically, here’s a very crucial piece of advice; Take things slow.
Many try to just cut off every plant-based food and go hard into the carnivore diet and go hard on the weights, this is the wrong approach. The right approach is to take things gradually and be ready to give the process even a couple of weeks to take things slow.
Can you really build muscle on the Carnivore diet?
Yes, you can absolutely build muscle on the Carnivore Diet. You can both lose weight and build muscle simultaneously if you follow the right workout routine for you. This workout routine should still include Cardio, and you may need some supplements (for vitamins and minerals) for healthy bodybuilding.
Carnivore Diet Plan for beginners
As mentioned before, there are really no restrictions, feeding times, or macronutrient calculations required in the Carnivore Diet.
However, a Carnivore Diet Plan for beginners can still be useful for you, so here we go.
How to Create a 30-Day Meal Carnivore Diet Plan for Beginners
- Prepare your grocery list and stick to it.
- Drink Only Water
- Make it gradual, you don’t have to go all-in on day one.
- Eat until full, but chew slowly and give your body time to tell you it’s full
- Go slow on the meat. Don’t jump from grams to kilos right away. Starting with less than 800 grams per day is totally fine and normal.
- You can eat cooked or raw.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Ideas
- Bone Marrow
- Eggs and Bacon
- Minute Steak and Eggs
- Shrimp and Eggs
- Chicken livers and egg
- Burger Patties
- Tuna fish, Beef Jerky, and Strip Steak
- Ribeye Steak
- Beef Tips, Mackerel, and Pork Chops
- Grilled Beef Heart
- Pork Chops
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Grilled Ribs
- Turkey burger patty
- Filet Mignon and Cran
Carnivore Diet Before and After
The following are some posts of some amazing people who have seen amazing results using the Carnivore Diet
Carnivore Keto Diet
What is the carnivore keto? It’s a form of Keto diet where you go full carnivore. Basically, it’s the keto diet with all plant-based diets excluded. The Carnivore Keto is more restricted than both the Keto and the Carnivore diets, but it also offers more rewards.
Switching to Carnivore Keto Diet
Many people like to transition from Keto to Carnivore, and while the jump from Keto to Carnivore is easier than the jump to Carnivore from almost any other food, it’s still quite a jump, and you still need to make plans for it.
If you have been on the Keto diet for a while and have learned its ropes, and more importantly, have gotten over your cravings and transition symptoms, you will be glad to learn that making the jump to Carnivore will be much less stressful than the jump to Keto in the first place.
However, this is also a larger commitment and your body will need some time to adapt to the Carnivore Diet.
Many people and athletes report that the Carnivore Keto has worked great for them, however, I really don’t recommend going for it over the long-term. I do recommend trying it for 30 days if you’re interested, but it’s, by nature, a bit too limiting, and I just don’t believe it’s a good idea to cut so many foods and macronutrients from your foods.
Does the Carnivore Diet Cause Vitamin C Deficiencies?
Short Answer: No, The Carnivore Diet should not cause Vitamin C Deficiencies. However, if you are worried, you can easily get vitamin C supplements that simply dissolve in water. 1,000 mg of Vitamin c per day is more than enough for your body to not develop any vitamin C-deficiency-related diseases.
Legends say that pirates and sailors before the 18ths century would go out to sea with nothing but jerky to eat, so they were basically living on a carnivore diet without knowing it.
The lack of fresh fruits and vegetables for the long months they would spend in the sea caused them to deplete their Vitamin C stores, which gave them Scurvy. Scurvy is a disease that is caused by the severe lack of Vitamin C and causes a number of symptoms like dry skin and hair, losing teeth, and developing lesions on their teeth, skin, and nails.
This will not happen to you. The Carnivore diet doesn’t cause Vitamin C Deficiencies, especially if you make sure your fresh meats are grass-fed. If you are still worried, you can get Vitamin C supplements as discussed earlier.
How long will it take to Adapt to the Carnivore Diet?
Short Answer: Two weeks to a month, but you must stick to the carnivore diet for at least a month to see how your body responds. If any problems persist for more than a month, you should quit the Carnivore Diet.
People are different, the time my body needs to adapt to the carnivore diet is different from the time your body does to adapt to the Carnivore Diet.
There are some symptoms that may take weeks to go away such as brain fog, tiredness, constipation or the infamous ‘carnivore diet diarrhea’. You will need your will power to push through those tough weeks, but they should not persist for more than 30 days.
For most people, all side effects are gone by the two weeks period, and this will probably be the case for you, but you still need to give it the full 30 days so your body is fully adapted to the new diet.
Can you gain weight on the Carnivore Diet?
Short Answer: Yes, you can actually gain weight on the Carnivore Diet. The formula for gaining or losing weight is simple and it applies to the Carnivore Diet just as it does to any other diet; If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight, if you do the opposite, you lose weight.
If you simply switch to the Carnivore diet but still eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. But, if that’s still true, then why doesn’t the diet have any calorie guidelines or restrictions?
Simple; it’s really hard to eat lots of calories on such a restrictive diet such as this one. Eating meat for every meal, as delicious as it may sound to you now, is actually not easy at all. After a while, you crave change, you crave fruits, grains, veggies, and beer, but if you push through those cravings, you will lose weight on the carnivore diet just with the simple fact that it’s really hard to eat more calories on this diet.
Note: in 2017, Shawn Baker’s Medical license was revoked by the New Mexico Medical board. The reason; concerns about his competency.
Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-7326, USA. [email protected] – Dorgan JF1, Judd JT, Longcope C, Brown C, Schatzkin A, Clevidence BA, Campbell WS, Nair PP, Franz C, Kahle L, Taylor PR.
Ruth MR, Port AM, Shah M, et al. Consuming a hypocaloric high fat low carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks lowers C-reactive protein, and raises serum adiponectin and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol in obese subjects [published correction appears in Metabolism. 2014 Mar;63(3):e1]. Metabolism. 2013;62(12):1779–1787. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2013.07.006
High-protein, reduced-carbohydrate weight-loss diets promote metabolite profiles likely to be detrimental to colonic health. – Russell WR1, Gratz SW, Duncan SH, Holtrop G, Ince J, Scobbie L, Duncan G, Johnstone AM, Lobley GE, Wallace RJ, Duthie GG, Flint HJ.