The carnivore diet is currently one of the most buzzworthy nutrition trends encouraging people to eat meat and stay away from everything else. In other words, you only eat animal foods. No fruits. No vegetables. But all the burgers and rib-eye steaks you can get your claws on.
It’s become one of the most controversial diets to date and for good reason.
After all, we’ve been taught that meat is an unhealthy, disease-inducing, artery-clogging food that should be avoided at all costs.
What is Carnivore Diet?
Similar to a ketogenic diet, the carnivore diet relies heavily on running off fats and proteins as a source of energy. So as long as the constituents of your meal walked, crawled, flew, swam, or otherwise had parents, they’re fair game. You don’t have to follow any rules as far as food timing, macronutrient breakdowns, or portions. Simply eat when you’re hungry and until you’re full.
This means you’re restricting all types of carbohydrates from candy to vegetables and eliminating plants and supplements from your diet.
Keto vs. Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet and ketogenic diet both permit protein and fat while restricting carbs, but the carnivore approach is considerably more extreme. Because you aren’t eating any plant foods at all, your carb intake is virtually zero. This isn’t to say that your body won’t have carbs in it though. As with a keto diet, the body learns to make its own carbs to fuel activity in a process called gluconeogenesis. So while the carnivore diet may also be called a “zero-carb” plan, that’s somewhat of a misnomer.
In a ketogenic diet, the emphasis is on fat. Protein is limited in order to prevent excess gluconeogenesis, which can take a person out of ketosis. In the carnivore diet, however, you’re encouraged to eat both protein and fat liberally. As a result, depending on exactly what foods you eat and how much, you may or may not achieve technical ketosis following a carnivore plan. Whether you do or don’t doesn’t matter. The only goal is feeling better and getting healthier.
Unlike with keto, there are no clear guidelines to follow for the carnivore diet regarding macros or percentages of total calories. Because the diet has never been formally studied, there is no hard science to define how to set it up optimally. But Baker and other carnivore dieters seem to agree that relying on red meat makes the diet simple to follow and takes care of every nutritional need.
Remember that your food must be sourced from animals, so the avocados and coconut oil that typically abound on a ketogenic diet have no place in the carnivore plan. On the other hand, you can eat any animal foods you like in any amount or combination you prefer.
Dairy foods containing sugar, such as milk and yogurt, are generally not found in a keto diet plan, but may be included in a carnivore one, even though they contain some carbs.
How Does the Carnivore Diet Work?
By nature, animal foods are zero carb. When we restrict carbohydrates from our diet, our need for certain nutrients are decreased.
We don’t require several vitamins that are involved in carbohydrate metabolism when we are consuming an all-meat zero-carbohydrate diet.
One study in particular took a further look into vitamin A and its effect on macronutrient metabolism. The study concludes that in the absence of carbohydrate, vitamin A requirements were no longer imperative for metabolic regulation.
When we eliminate carbohydrates from our diet, our body looks for other sources of energy and will eventually enter a state of ketosis where your body is using primarily fats for energy via ketones.
Running purely off fats for energy via ketosis is our body and brain’s preferred energy source and comes with several health benefits
Benefits to the Carnivore Diet
Eating meat, meat, and more meat may sound like a nightmare to your doctor, but it has some strong advantages backed both anecdotally and by research.
1. SIMPLE WAY OF EATING
Much of the intrigue to the carnivore diet is due to its extremely simple protocol. Everyone knows what food comes from animal sources and what doesn’t.
If you often get confused with macronutrients, counting calories, meal timing and prep, then eating a meat-only diet can be a great way to begin dieting.
While it may sound like a costly lifestyle, meat is known to be very filling and you’ll find yourself going for long periods of time without craving food.
2. IMPROVED DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Fiber has been a staple in just about every diet and has been promoted as a way to improve your body’s digestive system.
But the carnivore enthusiasts propose a different outlook and may have the science to back it up.
Carnivore dieters believe that cutting fiber out of your diet may actually improve any digestive distress.
One study by the World Journal of Gastroenterology looked into the effects of decreasing fiber intake in people who were experiencing constipation, which is the opposite of what we’ve been told to do.
The results showed that those who ate no fiber saw a large improvement in their digestive issues including less bloating and gassiness. They even began to see an increase in bowel movement.
3. MENTAL CLARITY
Similar to the ketogenic diet, carnivore dieters experience an increase in focus and mental clarity almost immediately.
Our brain is made up of nearly 60 percent fat so by following a diet composed of mostly fats and protein, it’s common to begin experiencing longer bouts of focus and an improved mood.
Studies have shown that by restricting carbs and using fats and proteins as the majority of your daily caloric intake has strong neuroprotective properties that will help you focus better and tolerate stress more efficiently.
4. DECREASED INFLAMMATION
One study compared inflammation markers between a low carb, high fat group to a low fat, high carb group for 12 weeks.
The results show that the low carb, high fat dieters had lower systemic inflammation by the end of the 3 month study.
5. FASTER WEIGHT LOSS
If losing weight is your main goal, adopting a meat only diet will help you maintain steady levels of blood sugar due to a lack of carbohydrate.
A large reason why your body accumulates fat is because your body isn’t insulin sensitive. This means anytime you eat carbohydrate, it’s converted into fat rather than used for energy.
Completely restricting carbohydrate will improve your insulin sensitivity.
Additionally, eating meat and maintaining a low carb high fat diet regulates your body’s hunger hormone which keeps you satiated for longer periods of time without craving sweets every couple hours.
6. IMPROVED TESTOSTERONE
Diets that are high in fat have been proven to increase testosterone levels.
One study found that men who adopted a low fiber, high fat diet for two months had a 13% higher testosterone compared to the participants following a low fat diet.
Approved Carnivore Diet Foods
Steak, burgers, and red meat in general are the main food sources for carnivore dieters. Because you’re not eating carbs—or any plant foods at all—it’s crucial that you get enough calories to keep your energy up, so fattier cuts of meat are best. Poultry and organ meats are also fine, as are processed meat products such as bacon and sausage.
Any kind is OK, but again, fattier types such as salmon and sardines are the smartest choices.
3. Whole Eggs
You’ll need the fat in those yolks.
Milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter all come from animals and are technically admissible, although most carnivore dieters seem to omit or at least limit them. This is usually due to people discovering the carnivore diet as an outgrowth of the ketogenic diet, in which milk and yogurt are generally not permitted due to their lactose (sugar) content.
As one of the goals of a carnivore diet is to eliminate nutrients that your body may not be able to process optimally, you should experiment with dairy foods one at a time and in small doses to see how you handle them. You may find you feel better with none at all.
5. Bone Marrow
Bone broth is allowed.
6. Fatty Meat Products
Tallow, lard, and other fat-dense foods derived from meat are greenlit.
If you choose to follow the carnivore diet, or consume animal products as a cornerstone of whatever eating philosophy you follow, we strongly suggest that they be of the best quality that you can afford.
Salt and pepper are your friends here, as salsa, horseradish, mustard, and various herbs and spices don’t technically qualify. With that said, most sugar-free condiments don’t contain substances that cause digestive problems in most folks, so we don’t see any harm in using them just because they come from plants (especially since people typically enjoy condiments in small servings). With that said, due to its fat content, meat—particularly red meat—is quite flavorful on its own, so you’ll probably find that salt, pepper, or small amounts of butter provide the taste you want without the need for further add-ons.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
Here’s an example of how you could eat in a day if you want to get the broadest possible nutrition from an all-animal diet.
Coffee (black, or with whole milk)
Scrambled eggs and bacon
(You may also choose to skip breakfast and fast till lunch)
Rib-eye steak, OR chicken liver, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup bone broth, OR a few slices cheese
Hamburger patty seasoned with cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper
OR salmon fillet
All meats and dairy products should be organic and pasture-raised whenever possible.
Is this a sustainable diet?
In short, probably not. Yes, you may lose weight from this diet and gain a boost of energy but keeping up with an all-meat diet on a long-term basis can leave you exhausted, distraught and possibly constipated. Once you are ready to break from the carnivore diet, get on a healthy detox plan.
There is no better ways to detoxify and cleanse your body of toxins than to get on a little-known plan called the Red Tea Detox. The Red Tea Detox system combines the use of a special blend of rooibos (“red”) tea drink with a smart, effective weight loss system to first help you rid your entire body of toxins, and then continues to help you crush big weight—and fast! Did you know that just by drinking rooibos tea, you can increase your metabolism and burn 20% more fat, all without exercising?
Women who have followed the Red Tea Detox system reported losing up to 14 pounds and 2-4 inches from their waist in just a matter of 14 days, and to boot, they also reported significant relief from allergies and an improved complexion as the result of the detox—the methods in the Red Tea Detox system are all backed by science. Check out this video on the Red Tea Detox system now to learn more about how to follow the detox system—and get to your ideal sweet weight in 14 days.