This very low carbohydrate, high protein diet is most notably promoted by Shawn Baker, a former American orthopedic doctor, as a method for improving health, losing body fat, and providing relief from many chronic diseases. The basic premise behind this way of eating is that high-carb diets are a cause of chronic disease.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The Carnivore Diet is an elimination diet consisting entirely of meat and animal foods, excluding all plant foods. This includes meat, fish, eggs, and other animal products; excluding fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
This article explains what is included and excluded on the Carnivore Diet, the health benefits, and how to follow a Carnivore Diet meal plan.
Health Benefits of The Carnivore Diet
Claimed health benefits of the Carnivore Diet include blood sugar regulation, improvement of gastrointestinal function, reduced inflammation, improved mood, and achievement of optimal health.
Some report improvements in body composition including weight loss and an increase in muscle mass when following a Carnivore Diet meal plan.
Since the diet promotes eating essentially zero carbs, this eliminates sweets, processed desserts, and other low nutrient, highly caloric foods from the Carnivore Diet. As part of a healthy, balanced diet, these foods should be limited, and doing so will result in benefits to one’s health.
However, no research has proven the effects of the Carnivore Diet.
Foods to Eat
Only meat, including organ meats, eggs, fish, and some dairy are included in the Carnivore Diet. It is recommended to choose grass-fed meat whenever possible.
Dairy products may be included for some people if tolerated. It is suggested to limit dairy choices to those which are low in lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.
Foods to eat on the Carnivore Diet meal plan include grass-fed beef, organ meat, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon, sardines, tuna, white fish, eggs, bone broth, bone marrow, ghee, and low lactose dairy products such as hard cheeses.
Spices as seasonings are used depending on personal preference and tolerance.
These foods are all high in protein and healthy fats while being low in carbohydrates, making the Carnivore Diet similar to the Ketogenic Diet.
- Grass Fed Beef
- Organ Meats
- White Fish
- Bone Broth
- Bone Marrow
- Low Lactose Dairy
- Hard Cheeses
Foods to Avoid
Most people either fully eliminate plant foods, or greatly reduce them on the Carnivore Diet. The diet excludes many food groups such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some dairy products.
Foods high in carbohydrates are severely limited or avoided. Coffee, tea, and alcohol can be consumed in moderation, but many choose to avoid them.
Lastly, make an attempt to eat grass-fed meat over processed meats wherever possible.
- Fruit Juices
- All Fruit
- All Vegetables
- Some Fatty Dairy Products
- Nuts & Seeds
- All Legumes
- All Grains
Grass Fed vs Grain Fed
The way animals are fed can have a big impact on the quality and nutrient density of their meat. Within the United States, most cattle are fed a grain-based diet, consisting of corn, soy, grain, and other cereals.
Some farmers however are utilizing a grass-fed diet for their cows, which means the animals consume only grass and forages.
While both grass-fed and grain-fed meat contain high amounts of nutrients, there are some differences. Both types of beef contain B vitamins, iron, selenium, zinc, and protein.
Generally, grass-fed meat contains a higher concentration of beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E, and fatty acids such as omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Even though grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of certain nutrients, there is currently no significant evidence that it is healthier than grain-fed beef overall. The effects on health will most likely be comparable between the two types.
When following a Carnivore Diet meal plan, the choice is up to the consumer on whether or not to eat grass-fed meat. In general, consider purchasing grass-fed when available and if your budget allows. If this isn’t possible, eating meat which is from grain-fed animals is perfectly fine.
Meat Delivery Services
Meat delivery service offers a wide variety of fresh, grass-fed cuts of meat, you may not otherwise find in local grocery stores. You may choose from different meat and organ meats which are then delivered directly to your home.
When it comes to purchasing high-quality meat in stores, the cost can be a deterrent. Online meat purchasing can help you save money by cutting out the middle-man, and buying directly from the supplier.
This can be especially beneficial and provide convenience when following a Carnivore Diet meal plan. Some examples of meat delivery services include:
The Carnivore Diet is a very low-carb, elimination diet, consisting entirely of meat and animal foods. It’s main emphasis is on improving health, losing body fat, and providing relief from many chronic diseases.
There has been an array of claimed health benefits of the Carnivore Diet including improvements to blood sugar and gastrointestinal function, reduced inflammation, and overall achievement of optimal health. Some also report reduced body fat and increased muscle mass.
Although there have been many positive claims about the effects of this diet, there is currently no research backing these claims. It is important to note that the Carnivore Diet may not be suitable for all populations, and individuals are advised to consult with a medical professional before implementing a Carnivore meal plan.
Kristen Kuminski, RD, CDN
Kristen is a consultant Dietitian with experience working with a variety of individuals and populations. Kristen has experience counseling/ coaching clients in eating disorders, pediatrics, weight management, mental health nutrition and other chronic health conditions.