What is the Carnivore Diet?

What is the Carnivore Diet?

What is the carnivore diet? The carnivore diet aims to help people achieve their health goals by redefining what it means to eat a healthy diet.

The carnivore way of life is all about enjoying meat, healthy animal fats, and a few other animal products on what is essentially the ultimate high-protein diet. 

Some have reported great success eating this way and claim they feel better than ever. Still, it’s a diet that isn’t for everyone. Here’s everything you want to know about the carnivore diet and whether or not it’s right for you. 

What is the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore’s diet is essentially a meat-only diet where you eat animal foods for every meal. While the central premise of the diet is to eat only meat, other animal foods like eggs and a limited amount of dairy are allowed. 

What Is The Carnivore Diet

If you’re familiar with the paleo diet, you might recall that diet’s focus was to bring us back to our roots, eating as our archeological ancestors did. The carnivore diet is similar but takes it one step further to the point in human evolution where we ate almost exclusively meat. 

In all fairness, many carnivore dieters don’t follow the diet because they want to eat like their ancestors. Instead, they’re more interested in the proposed benefits that the carnivore’s diet offers. This is essentially a supercharged ketogenic diet that has reportedly helped those who follow it lose weight and address a range of other health concerns. 

The carnivore diet isn’t to be confused with what you know as the keto diet. The keto diet is a low-carb diet, but it isn’t zero carbs like the carnivore diet. Where the ketogenic diet relies on a balance of fat and protein, with a limited amount of healthy carbs, the carnivore plan is a restrictive diet that takes carbs entirely out of the picture.

They share the same feature of having animal meat as a primary dietary component, but the two diets are quite different from each other. 

The Carnivore Diet and Weight Loss

The Carnivore Diet And Weight Loss 

Followers of the carnivore diet claim many health benefits but the diet’s ability to help people lose weight ranks at the top. There’s not much in terms of scientific research to back up these weight-loss claims, but it’s likely true that many people who stick to the carnivore plan do lose weight, and here’s why. 

Weight Loss Success with the Carnivore Diet

First, we can reference the keto diet again. The carnivore diet consists of eating only meat and zero carbs. There’s no balancing to find the correct number of carbs that you can eat to achieve and stay in a state of ketosis, like with keto. Ketosis is the state in which the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to use and fuel, so it turns to burn fat instead. 

Staying in a state of ketosis, as you do when following the carnivore’s diet, will likely result in weight loss through the burning off of body fat.

The question really is how long it’s safe for any individual person to stay in a state of ketosis. Also, looking at devoted lifetime followers of the diet, we have to wonder if long term, it might result in a rebound of weight gain. 

The second reason that people are likely to experience weight loss on the carnivore diet is that it’s an elimination diet that excludes carbs. Sure, there is a good variety of animal proteins to enjoy, but when all you do is eat meat, the repetition of such an extreme diet gets boring real quick.

You’re missing not only the nutrients from other food groups but the tastes and textures of those food groups as well. It’s quite common for your appetite to diminish, resulting in an overall reduction in caloric intake. 

Health Benefits of the Carnivore Diet

Proposed Health Benefits Of The Carnivore Diet
Photo Credit: Doctorkiltz.com

With many types of diets, we can point directly toward specific scientific studies that back up the proposed health claims. Even fad diets tend to have at least an element or two that can be backed up scientifically. This isn’t the case with the carnivorous lifestyle. 

This isn’t to say that the proposed health claims are false. It simply suffices as an acknowledgment that these health claims are more anecdotal or possibly correlation vs. causation – at least at this point. As the carnivore lifestyle grows in popularity and science takes more of an interest, we could see more supportive scientific evidence.  

What We Know the Carnivore Diet Does Do for Human Health

We talked about how one of the main healthy benefits is weight loss. This alone can contribute to positive changes in the state of a person’s health. The carnivore diet excludes carbs, and this includes carbs from refined sugars and processed foods.

Eliminating these types of carbohydrates can be very beneficial for blood sugar regulation and preventing or lessening the severity of diabetes. While many types of low-carb diets report the same benefits, the Carnivore lifestyle takes It to the max, but it’s not a diet that’s well suited for some, but not others.

Proposed Health Benefits Of The Carnivore Diet

Another health issue that this diet may help with is inflammation. Also often tied to excess weight or obesity, chronic inflammation is the precursor to chronic disease. By reducing the systemic inflammation in your body through diet, you can help control that aspect of your health.

Refined carbohydrates, including sugary snacks and junk food, are foods known to cause inflammation in most people – even if you can’t feel it. 

Those following this meat diet report other healthy benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease than with high-carb diets, improvements in autoimmune diseases, increased energy and decreased symptoms of fatigue, depression, and arthritic pain.

Again, remember that these proposed benefits come directly from the people who have tried the diet and not any type of medical journal. 

Carnivore Diet Rules

Carnivore Diet Rules

If you want to experience the benefits of the carnivore diet, like weight loss and a boost in mood, you have to start by knowing the “rules,” including what you can eat and what you need to avoid. 

Carnivore Diet Food List

The perfect carnivore diet meal plan focuses entirely on animal products. While it’s referred to as an all-meat diet, there is a small to moderate amount of low-lactose dairy products that you are able to enjoy. This includes foods like hard cheeses, butter, and low-lactose milk. 

The difference between-lactose dairy and other dairy products all have to do with sugar. Lactose is the type of sugar found in dairy products, and consuming too much of it interferes with the carnivore’s dietary plan. For this reason, you really want to keep an eye on your dairy intake and make sure you’re not consuming too much sugar. 

So, you can eat meat, fish, eggs, and a little cheese. Is that it? In a nutshell, yes, but we can also expand upon this. When you’re on the carnivore diet, you can enjoy all sorts of high-protein meats.

You want to go easy on fatty meat because of saturated fats, but you don’t have to completely eliminate fatty cuts from your diet. Animal protein that offers healthy fats, like salmon, are also good choices. 

A short list of foods you can enjoy includes lean or slightly fatty cuts of red meat, pork chops, chicken, fish, turkey, other types of poultry, game meats, and organ meats. Eating organ meats is highly encouraged on the carnivore diet because of the different nutritional profiles they offer. The general philosophy centers around eating nose to tail, so you get a variety of nutrients and minerals. You can also enjoy bone broth to your heart’s content. 

Is All That Protein and High Fat Food Good For You?

This is really where the burning question about the carnivore diet stems from. The true carnivore diet includes all protein and fat. While there’s no harm in enjoying a nice, thick steak on the carnivore diet, you’ll do your health good by sticking to lean animal protein as much as possible.

A carnivore diet plan that’s filled with lean protein like grilled chicken breast, turkey, lean pork, and fish allows the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet without the risk of eating too much-saturated fat.

The carnivore diet, when heavy in red meat, is also high in saturated fat. Not to mention that for those with a big appetite, the calorie intake of eating nothing but protein and fat can be through the roof.

If you’re exercising and burning fat, that’s one thing. But if you’re relatively sedentary, you still need to eat fewer calories to avoid negative health consequences, including weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases.

What To Avoid

Now, for what you can’t eat on such a carnivorous diet. Basically, anything that isn’t zero-carb, animal-based protein is off-limits. You also want to avoid processed meats because they’re often made with additives that include sugar or extra ingredients.

Unfortunately (at least for many), coffee and tea are also off-limits because they’re technically considered plant foods. On the bright side, while the carnivore diet is restrictive, it works as an effective elimination diet for people who have food sensitivities.

Is the Carnivore Diet Safe?

Is The Carnivore Diet Safe 

This is where the debate is with the carnivore diet. While many who follow it claim that they feel better than ever, there’s definitely a reason to question how a diet that focuses only on animal products and eliminates plant foods can be considered healthy eating. It really goes against all that we have been taught about balanced diets. 

One interesting detail to note is that the person who first really shined a light on the carnivore’s diet was an orthopedic surgeon by the name of Shawn Baker. Later in his career, in 2017, the New Mexico Medical Board revoked the medical license of Shawn Baker due to concerns and issues regarding his competency. 

Risks Of The Carnivore Diet 

Risks Of The Carnivore Diet 

So, if you were to ask a doctor if the carnivore diet is safe, and they said no, what would their reasoning be? One of the primary concerns is the lack of whole grains and other fiber-rich plant-based foods.

Without foods like whole grains, you’re missing out on fiber, which many medical professionals consider to be crucial to good health. 

Without fiber, all the fats and proteins are more difficult to effectively digest and process. There is a concern that a lack of healthy fiber can negatively affect blood sugar regulation and that people whose diets are low in fiber are at an increased risk of colon cancer and have fewer healthy bowel movements. 

There’s also concern that all the animal fat that comes with an all-meat diet puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and high blood pressure.

Additionally, there’s a solid argument to be made that when you’re eating only animal products, you’re missing out on all the important vitamins and minerals of a healthy diet. For instance, all the wonderful, immune-boosting vitamin C that comes from citrus fruit. 

Who Should Consider the Carnivore Diet

Who Should Consider The Carnivore Diet 

Anyone, no matter their age or state of health, should talk with their doctor before starting the carnivore diet. Pregnant or lactating women shouldn’t follow the diet because of its restrictiveness and lack of nutritional balance. Anyone with heart disease or kidney disease should be careful of any diet that contains higher levels of saturated fat. Even if you want to follow the diet short-term for weight loss, talking with your doctor about how long it is safe and effective is a critical first step. 


Bottom Line

One of the biggest challenges of carnivorous diets is finding the time to make it all happen. When you’re eating meat for every meal, you want to be well-prepared to prevent both boredom and cheating. Carnivore diet meal delivery services are always an option and are great for when you just don’t want to deal with the grocery store. Plus, the quality and variety of meat are usually top-notch, far above what you might find at your local meat counter. 

Eating meat only might not be everyone’s idea of the perfect diet, but there is a growing population of people who love following the carnivore diet. Grab your steak knife and dig in to find out if this diet is the one for you. 

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