Health professionals have been sceptical about the carnivore diet because it is an extreme elimination diet. It is worth looking into its connection to many health benefits.
Health benefits linked to the carnivore diet include:
- Blood sugar levels are lower
- Reduced discomfort in the intestines (e.g. gas and bloating).
- Inflammation is decreasing
- Stronger mental acuity
- Weight loss
- Reduction in symptoms of chronic diseases, especially Autoimmune diseases
Even within the health community, there has been much interest in the surprising link between these health benefits and a predominantly meat-based diet. Although this diet seems healthy and delicious, there is one last thing that makes it appealing to many: it may be the easiest diet to follow.
It is important to understand the risks and drawbacks of any drastic changes in your diet. Before you start to explore any diet, it is worth 1) doing your research and 2) consulting your primary doctor, a nutritionist or a dietitian.
What is the diet of a carnivore?
Carnivores eat only meat and other animal products. This diet is high in protein, high-fat and, ideally, zero-carb.
The popularity of the carnivore diet is increasing in recent years. Shawn Baker, an orthopedic surgeon, was the first to adopt this diet. He switched to an all-meat diet back in 2016. In 2019, he published The Carnivore Diet. It details his conversion to carnivory and his positive results in health. He also credits the success he has had with his athletic endeavors to this diet.
One year later, Dr. Paul Saladino published The Carnivore Code. He is also considered a pioneer in the meat movement.
Saladino recommends eating “nose-to-tail,” which means that one should eat organ meats and connective tissues in addition to traditional cuts. Saladino also advocates for grass-finished and grass-fed beef (cows that eat grass only).
Dr. Saladino goes beyond being an expert provider and author. His severe eczema, an autoimmune skin condition, required several courses of IV steroids to manage the severe inflammation. It even caused bleeding.
Before discovering the carnivore diet, he tried many other diets, such as the autoimmune protocol and plant-based diets.
Podcast host Joe Rogan he tried the diet for a month in 2020. This likely contributed to the diet’s popularity. He only ate grass-fed beef, eggs, and elk. To supplement his micronutrients, he did consume amino acids and fish oils.
He reported feeling more energetic and less aches after the 30-day period. He was so pleased with the results that he tried different versions of the carnivore food plan with slight modifications.
Rogan now eats a carnivore diet, but with fruits to provide healthy carbs. This is better for Rogan in the long-term, especially as the fruit gives him an energy boost before his workouts.
This carnivore version allows him to work as hard at the gym, while maintaining a healthy weight. It also improves gastrointestinal symptoms.
What can you eat while on the carnivore lifestyle? The carnivore diet is flexible and can be tailored to your individual preferences. However, it always includes meat, organ meats and animal fats.
Dr. Saladino identifies 5 levels of the carnivore diet. These are variations on the basic that you can adapt to your needs.
Although dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk are allowed, the diet recommends that you only consume low-lactose foods to maintain a low-carb diet. We don’t recommend eggs or dairy to patients who are trying this diet.
Some people consider themselves mostly carbivores, as they include small amounts of other food types in their diet.
Chris Bell, brother of Mike and Mark Bell, is a film director. He would claim that he is 90% carnivore. He considers cravings serious as he believes that it is your body’s way of telling you that something is needed.
Bell also believes that a flexible diet is more sustainable for carnivores.
Carnivore Diet vs. Keto
The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet. It causes your body into ketosis, a metabolic state in which you burn more calories. This state causes body fat to burn more quickly as you have exhausted your primary energy source, glucose.
There are many similarities between keto and carnivore diets. Both diets emphasize protein intake and reduce carbohydrate intake. Both lead to rapid weight loss for most people. The keto diet is a natural next step in cutting down carbs.
These diets have some significant differences.
First, keto does not restrict food based upon animal or plant origin.
The second is to keep track of macronutrients (proteins and fats) when you are on keto. Consuming too much protein can cause the body to convert it into sugar, which will kick out ketosis.
The carnivore diet is generally more restricted in terms of nutrient sources, but less focused on macro and calorie counting.
Is the carnivore lifestyle a way to get into ketosis? Although the carnivore diet will place you in ketosis (which is not the main intention), Once your glycogen (the stored form glucose) has been depleted, you will start to produce ketones with the carnivore food plan.
Is keto better than carnivore? Despite having a lot in common, it is difficult to decide which one would be “better” without doing long-term studies.
How to Follow a Carnivore’s Diet
The best thing about the carnivore diet is its simplicity. There are only two rules to follow:
- eat meat (and possibly some animals products )
- Eat until you’re full
It is not necessary to count calories or categorize them. This diet is designed to help you feel great and function optimally.
How do you start a carnivore lifestyle? After you have a good understanding of the benefits and potential risks, it’s time to go to the grocery store. To maintain a high level of calories and satisfaction, most advocates favor red meats that are more fattening.
Foods to Eat
- Grass-fed beef and grass-finished beef
- Steaks (fatty cuts like New York strip or ribeye)
- Pork belly
- Pork chops
- Pork ribs
- Pork shoulder
- Chicken thighs
- Lamb chops
- Fish packed with omega-3’s – salmon, trout and albacore tuna.
- Eggs (once an absence of sensitivity has been established).
- Beef liver
- Chicken liver
- Beef heart
- Beef kidneys
- Bone broth (from bone marrow real)
- Animal fats such as lard, duck fat, and tallow (but not butter).
- Seasonings (at the discretion of the customer)
- Avocado (occasionally)
- Squash (occasionally).
Foods to Avoid
- Grains — whole and processed grains, such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes
- Heavyly processed foods – frozen meals, cakes, cookies and chips
- Butter, goat cheese and ricotta cheese are dairy products that contain higher levels of lactose.
- Beverages: Alcohol, soda, juices, energy drinks and teas
The carnivore diet is easy to follow. It is important to make time to prepare your meals, unless you are willing to experiment with raw foods. A meal plan will help you make your food preparations more efficient.
Here’s an example of a 3 Day Plan:
- Breakfast: Beef, and bacon
- Lunch: Bone broth and shredded chicken
- Dinner: Ribeye steak
- Breakfast: Salmon, sardines
- Turkey burger
- Dinner: Pork pulled
- Breakfast: Prime rib
- Lunch: Tilapia, albacore tuna
- Dinner: Pot Roast
Snacks are not included. You’ll notice that snacks are not included in the carnivore diet.
If you feel hungry, snacks are welcome. You can make tasty meat morsels with anchovies, shrimp, and jerky.
The Carnivore Diet has many benefits
What are the health benefits of a carnivore diet Carnivores report many benefits, including improved digestion and lower inflammation. They also claim that they have stabilized energy levels and mood improvements. These claims are largely based on testimonials and other anecdotal evidence, but have not been proven scientifically in larger populations.
Translation: While a carnivore diet may offer the above benefits, it is unlikely that it will work for everyone.
If you are considering major changes in your diet, like going full-carnivore, consult your healthcare provider.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
The average American’s diet is so dependent on carbohydrates that many people struggle with blood sugar spikes or energy loss every day.
Blood sugar levels tend to balance out when the carnivore diet eliminates sugar intake. This stabilizes energy levels throughout the day.
Many plant foods disrupt our gut:
- Fiber, although generally good for your health, can also cause gas and bloating.
- Lectins, which are proteins found in nightshades (potatoes and eggplants as well as tomatoes) can cause stomach upset.
- The stomach can be irritated by phytochemicals such as flavonoids or tannins in many fruits.
You may notice a decrease in gastrointestinal problems if you eliminate plant-based foods.
Remember that major changes in diet like this can cause side effects, just like any other change.
Sugar is a key trigger for inflammation. Inflammation is reduced by removing sugar and inflammatory vegetables (those nightshades once again). Eliminating processed foods is another way to lower inflammation.
One study shows that low-carb diets can reduce inflammation-causing fatty acid composition.
Pro tip: Avoid consuming processed foods such as deli meats or non-organic red beef to follow your carnivore lifestyle. You may be following this plan to the letter, but you might miss out on the important benefits of lower inflammation.
Many carnivores claim that meat sharpens their brains. The brain functions of meat are supported by nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B12. Many claim that their mental health has improved after eating meat.
Your energy levels and mental stamina will increase without blood sugar crashes. Ketosis will also lead to improvements in brain function for most people.
Vitamin K2 is found in meat, which has been shown HTML to reduce calcification of the arteries. This factor plays an important role in developing heart disease.
A 2019 review also suggests that a high-protein diet may help lower LDL levels (often called the “bad cholesterol”).
Consuming high levels of animal fat and meat may cause cholesterol elevations. The overall effect on heart health will be positive due to significant decreases in inflammation, glucose/insulin spikes, and other effects.
When you are trying to lose weight, it is common to attempt the carnivore lifestyle.
Long-term studies have not shown that a carnivore diet can reduce obesity risk. Research does indicate that a higher-carnivorous diet could positively affect weight gain and metabolic problems in a greater population.
Additionally, ketosis can often lead to weight loss. However, it is not for everyone. In 2018, a 12-week study found that keto-dieters lost an average 24-39 pounds within the first three months.
Nearly all carnivores lose weight within the first few days. After the body has used up its preferred energy source (sugar), it turns to stored bodyfat for fuel.
Dietary protein is well-known for satisfying appetites . This is why you may find it less tempting to snack on carnivore food.
Autoimmune Diseases: Reduced Symptoms
One of the most striking claims about the carnivore diet’s effects on chronic conditions is its reported effect on people with them.
PrimeHealth’s medical director and co-founder, Dr. Soyona Rasfatjah interviewed Brian Jaworski, a former patient, and discussed his success with the carnivore diet.
Brian was suffering from psoriasis and psoriatica. He tried keto and paleo with limited success. He noticed a dramatic improvement in his health after switching to the carnivore lifestyle.
His energy levels stabilized and improved, his pain in his joints diminished (so much so that he could take up guitar and martial art), and his skin cleared. He even lost weight. He will sometimes experiment with adding a new food to his diet to see if his body reacts.
You can read the entire interview here
Carnivore diets can have potential drawbacks
Before you dive in to the carnivore diet, there are some things that you need to be aware of.
- Diarrhea/or constipation :Most people notice changes in their bowel movements. Diarrhea is expected to occur in the early stages of the diet. Constipation is common once the body adjusts to the protein intake. Fiber is not included in this diet plan. To resolve constipation, you can take a magnesium supplement.
- It is hard to sustain: The limited food choices make it difficult for carnivores to eat a long-term diet.
- Repetitive: This can be deterring, especially if you are a foodie and enjoy trying new foods frequently.
- Expensive Some people may not be able to continue their diet for a prolonged period of time due to the high-quality meats or organ meat supplements.
- Health risks: Consuming large amounts of meat has been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. While this research is often due to external factors (low-quality/processed meats, simple carbohydrate intake, etc. However, there are risks to becoming a full-carnivore. Some people may experience excessively high iron levels by eating a lot of red meat. To determine if you are required to donate blood, it is important to consult a doctor.
Are you a carnivore and do you require supplements?
Many diet advocates argue that supplements don’t need to be taken. Organ meats and other meats are extremely nutrient-rich. Some people can’t stomach organ meats. However, organ meat supplements are increasing in popularity.
To ensure that you’re maintaining your optimal vitamin levels, we encourage all people on this diet to have them monitored by their healthcare provider.
Vitamin D3 should be taken regardless of your diet. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids might be necessary for brain and inflammation optimization.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t get vitamin C deficiency from a carnivore diet. It’s important to monitor your vitamin C levels when you are on a very restricted diet.
Who should try the carnivore lifestyle?
This diet is ideal for short-term goals like
- Weight loss
- Food sensitivities:
- Cleaning the body after a high-carbohydrate diet
This diet has not been tested over time and isn’t long-term. The carnivore diet appears to be the best for those with severe chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases or cancer.
The most famous case is Mikhalia Peterson. This case was the daughter of Jordan B. Peterson, a Canadian psychologist, author and YouTube personality.
From a young age, she suffered from severe rheumatoidarthritis. At 17 her left hip and right ankle had to be replaced. She was also afflicted by depression.
Her symptoms disappeared after she changed to an all-meat diet. Her results were so convincing that her father switched to a carnivore diet. He claims his depression vanished.
Another exceptional case is that of Dr. Al Danenberg, a nutritional periodontist. In 2018, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer (multiple myeloma). He also developed what he called his “10 unconventional cancer protocols” to combat cancer.
His plan focuses on a predominantly meat-based diet. His cancer is now under control.
Get in touch with a functional provider right away.
You can still learn more about the benefits of a carnivore lifestyle and how they could be beneficial to your chronic conditions by contacting a functional provider.
PrimeHealth is a holistic approach to diagnosing the root causes of illness. A treatment plan is then created to meet the individual needs of each patient.