What is the Carnivore Diet?
Our colleagues over at Carnivore Aurelius are passionate about the Carnivore Diet and all things meaty that enable a path to thriving! They’ve shared their wisdom and insights in this comprehensive blog containing everything you need to know about this nutrition protocol!
Everything You Need to Know
The carnivore diet is a high-fat, high-protein diet consisting mainly of animal products. Yes, that’s right. No more grains. No more sugar. No more vegetables. And no more complaining!
Wait, vegetables? The healthiest foods in the world?
Yup. As we’ll describe below, it turns out plants are loaded with endogenous pesticides (like lectins, oxalates and goitrogens) that could be causing your health issues.
It’s surprising, but you should be happy. After all, don’t we only eat salads for the dressing and the bacon bits? Let’s be honest.
The Carnivore Diet is a more restrictive variation of the ketogenic diet. It’s very low in carbs and will put you into ketosis, which has tremendous health benefits. It’s also sometimes referred to as the all-meat diet or the zero carb diet.
The Carnivore Diet took the world by storm when Shawn Baker appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. Dr. Baker is an athlete in his fifties, and to put it bluntly, he’s absolutely ripped. He recently set two indoor rowing world records, and he attributes his success to the Carnivore Diet.
Other prominent advocates include clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter Mikhaila.
The Carnivore Way may be shocking at first. The Carnivore Diet preaches the exact opposite of all mainstream nutrition recommendations. We’re told to limit our meat intake and subsist mainly on whole grains and vegetables—including the controversial Game Changers documentary on Netflix. But are we any healthier for it?
If you look at the state of health around the world, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that people are looking for a change. As Dr. Baker argues, what everybody is doing is undoubtedly NOT working.
Think of this diet like Noah’s ark: if it’s an animal, hop on board. Noah left plants behind – why shouldn’t you?
Explore this journey further.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau
One of the biggest benefits of the Carnivore Diet is how simple it is. Simplicity is all about identifying what is essential and eliminating the rest.
This is what your Michelin Star chef’s programme could look like- complete with just 5 ingredients!
Instead of spending hours preparing your meals and thinking about food, you can read a book. Start a business. Hang out with loved ones. Do the things that actually matter and use food as medicine to optimize your energy for the things that really matter.
#2 Might Support Your Mental Health & Mood
The Carnivore Diet may support your mental health, mood and overall wellness as it eliminates the junk that the human body may be intolerant to: seed oils, fructose, glucose, and even many vegetables (like nightshades). It also provides plentiful amounts of Zinc, DHA, Vitamin B12, Iron and Vitamin B6 which can support a healthy mood and positive mental health.
#3 The Carnivore Diet Might Supercharge Your Energy
Many advocates of the Carnivore Diet have purported energy levels likened to that of the Energizer Bunny!
Nutrients aren’t just those things on the back of your food label. They’re fuel for your mitochondria, the metabolic engine for your cells. When you don’t get sufficient amounts of protein, vitamins and nutrients, your body slowly sputters to a halt.
This study found that people with occasional fatigue have low levels of carnitine . The best source of carnitine? Red meat.
Furthermore, the foods you’ve replaced your red meat with may be throwing a wrench in your mitochondria engine as well.
For instance, studies have found that people with occasional fatigue have higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids .
One culprit: seed oils. Seed oils are cooking oils made from processing seeds like corn and canola. Throughout the 1900s, consumption of these seed oils skyrocketed as people replaced “dangerous saturated fats” with them. Turns out they’re loaded with these omega 6’s and may negatively impact health.
Lastly, ketones are superfuel for your brain. They have more ATP per gram than glucose, and they lead to more efficient energy usage. Why would you submit your brain to glucose sludge when you could power it with high-octane ketones?
#4 The Carnivore Diet May Increase Weight Loss
The all meat diet may be one of the best ways to lose weight. Studies show that the main causes of weight gain include:
(1) Persistently elevated insulin, locking your body fat in storage mode
(2) Eating processed foods that throw off your innate satiety mechanisms (your internal fullness signals) therefore causing you to eat more than food than you need
The Carnivore Diet can potentially help to address these issues. First and foremost, it maintains healthy insulin levels by removing all foods on the Mount Rushmore of glycemia. Maintaining healthy insulin may also help you shed body fat.
The second punch: cutting out processed junk and powering yourself off of protein, fat and ketones will reduce your hunger. You’ll be more satiated even at a lower caloric intake.
This study, for instance, found that simply eating processed foods increased caloric intake by an average of 500 calories a day.
#5 The Carnivore Diet May Help Keep Your Skin Looking Clear
Remember the phrase “you are what you eat?” If you eat junk, your skin will be junk. If you eat good foods, you’ll have good skin.
The Carnivore Diet provides you with copious amounts of nutrients:
- Vitamin A (if you eat beef liver): Vitamin A is the most important nutrient for your skin’s health.
- Vitamin E
#6 The Carnivore Diet May Support Your Overall Health & Wellness
By increasing protein, cutting out high-glycemic foods and removing the weapon of mass destruction that is vegetable oil, you’ll cut out some of the biggest culprits that negatively impact your overall health and wellness.
What are the Downsides of the Carnivore Diet?
Not What You’d Think…
The only downside: it’s painful to leave your inner weakling at the door. The Carnivore Diet will take willpower, but it is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.
At first, certain social situations will be challenging to deal with. Say goodbye to pizza nights. But you’ll quickly realize that it doesn’t matter what other people think.
What matters is that you’re living your best life. And that will come from eating the right fuel.
With that being said, there is no long term clinical trials on the Carnivore Diet. If you have health issues, like chronic kidney disease, please make sure to talk with a physician before starting this diet.
The Science Behind the Carnivore Diet
Why does it work?
First, it cuts out the poison.
Next, it adds back in the nutrients you need for optimal health.
Simple as that.
First, It Cuts Out the Junk
The Carnivore Diet may seem radical, but when you cut out seed oils, fructose, glucose, and yes, even vegetables, this can have a positive impact. Plants produce their own natural pesticides to fend off predators like you. Lectins, saponins, oxalates, and goitrogens in plant foods all play a role in disease. Almost every single plant food has one of these booby traps… potentially an opportunity to explore further why you may not need vegetables.
Next, The Carnivore Diet Adds Back the Healthiest Foods in the World
A nose-to-tail Carnivore Diet is argued to be one of the most nutritious diets in the world. Humans are carnivores. We adapted over 2 million years ago to eat a diet high in meat and animal fat. Evolution demands that we give our bodies these nutrients. 16 reasons why the carnivore diet works.
What to Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
Finally, good food.
Diets should be optimized around three things:
- Energy: Fat / Carbs
- Nutrient density: Micronutrients & protein
- Minimizing toxins
The Carnivore Aurelius food pyramid tackles all three.
First, on energy: the base of the pyramid is animal fats. Fat made us human, and we now need fat to power our large, complex brains. Without fatty acids, our brains would not have developed as rapidly as they have.
Regarding protein, most people are not getting nearly enough. The Carnivore MD recommends .5g – 1g per pound of body weight for muscle gain, maintenance and overall health. The muscle meat on the Carnivore Diet will be more than sufficient and muscle from ruminants contains all the essential amino acids the human body requires. That is, they are complete proteins.
Lastly, on micronutrients: organ meats are the most nutritious foods in the world. Beef liver has almost every micronutrient you need in optimal proportions. Beef liver is packed with Vitamin A, B, C, K and other essential nutrients for the brain.
Here’s an overall food list:
What to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet?
Almost everything you currently do…
At first, you want to keep the diet as simple as possible so you can get to a good baseline.
Avoid the following:
- Anything that’s not meat or salt
- Vegetable oils
- Chicken, at least at first. The fat and nutrient profile is inferior to the other options above
- Processed meats: they contain too many additives. Look out for nitrates and nitrites, and avoid these especially.
- Dark chocolate, at least at first. Sorry.
- Complaining and moaning!
What About Vegetables?
Carnivore protagonists are emphatic…plants are decoration, not food. For those with a sensitive gut, the toxins in vegetables can irritate the human body.
A 1990 study identified 27 rodent carcinogens that plants produce for self defense.
The table below summarizes some of the toxins you can find in plants and which humans may be sensitive to.
Nightshades contain alkaloids, which damage fat and carbohydrate metabolism as well as DNA function.
It is interesting to compare the nutrient density of spinach to foods like beef liver.
How Much to Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
It’s time to rebel against the tyranny of calories.
The most favourable thing about the Carnivore Diet is that one should eat until full. When you’re consuming healthy, natural, satiating foods, your body won’t become a slave to sugar or crave an endless stream of empty calories.
One helpful tip is to ensure you eat sufficient fat.
For most people, eating more protein is the answer. But on the Carnivore Diet, once you reach sufficient protein, too much protein can actually be detrimental.
If you find yourself with an insatiable hunger, you may not be eating enough fat. If this is you, try eating fat first to satiation, then adding in the muscle meat after.
Most people end up eating 1-2 pounds of meat a day.
When to Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
At first, eat when you’re hungry. Over time, you’ll probably find that you only need 1 to 2 meals a day. But you can experiment with this later on.
Made to Thrive is an advocate of intermittent fasting, or consuming all of your calories within a certain time window.
In addition to maintaining insulin levels within the normal range, it may activate the AMPK pathway and down regulate mTOR.
This is why the Carnivore Diet and fasting may help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels within the normal range.
However, intermittent fasting is something to experiment with later on after transitioning to the Carnivore Diet. Jumping from your current trash diet to both intermittent fasting and the Carnivore Diet may be overwhelming, seeing as both are big changes on their own.
Carnivore Diet Results: Before & After
The Carnivore Diet results are remarkable. They almost seem too good to be true but those who have followed the protocol and experienced the results note the benefits of:
- Maintaining clear skin
- Gaining energy
- Supporting their gut
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Promoting a positive mood
- Maintaining healthy, normal blood sugar levels
Brett Lloyd lost 98 pounds on the Carnivore Diet- inspirational!
For more success stories, visit the Facebook group Carnivore Nation.
Frequently asked questions
#1 Don’t I Need Fiber in my Diet?
One of the most common concerns with the Carnivore Diet is the lack of fiber.
It’s claimed that fiber treats constipation, and it’s widely believed that it’s a necessary component of our diets.
However Carnivore supporters will note that there is not a single trial to support this notion. The below graph indicates that reducing fiber actually reduces several issues. This isn’t an error – on the right side of the graph, you can see that there is zero occurrence of digestive issues when fiber is removed.
Why does this happen? Fiber makes faeces bigger. People think that since constipation is caused by not passing stool, making more and larger faeces will improve it.
But that’s like arguing that we should make cars bigger to speed up traffic.
Because you can’t digest fiber, it increases the size and volume of your feces. But this just ends up making the constipation worse.
Some people have issues with diarrhea when transitioning to Carnivore. This isn’t because of the lack of fiber. It has 6 main causes: read more about carnivore diet diarrhea here.
#2 Can I Drink Coffee and Tea?
Some Carnivores still drink coffee, but both tea and coffee have been known to cause inflammation and gut permeability issues.
To be fair, some people have a crippling coffee addiction. If this is you, don’t cut your six daily cups of joe out immediately. This will cloud the results of your Carnivore transition.
If you think you can go a week without coffee and tea, try slowing consumption and transitioning out. Especially if there’s something specific you’re trying to treat, a slow transition away from coffee and tea will ultimately help you achieve your goals.
#3 Am I Allowed Eggs and Dairy?
Both eggs and dairy products can be inflammatory triggers for some people, but you know your body best. It’s up to you to determine what works and what doesn’t.
Egg whites contain protective proteins that can irritate the gut, trigger autoimmune disease and cause acne. Egg whites are actually one of the most prevalent causes of allergies, affecting 1-3% of the population .
Some Carnivore supporters filter out the yolk and eat that alone as the yolk is much more nutritious.
Dairy can cause inflammation for two reasons: lactose and dairy proteins. If you’re just lactose intolerant, you can try hard cheeses and fermented products that have had the lactose fermented away.
If that still irritates you, then you should drop the dairy altogether – it’s likely the proteins that bother you.
On the first 15-30 days of the Carnivore Diet, given how frequently eggs and dairy products cause inflammation, you should not eat either. If you feel great after your first month, then you can experiment with adding them back.
#4 What About Vitamin C?
A Carnivore Diet uses different metabolic pathways and coenzymes, and it cuts out many anti-nutrients that block vitamin and mineral absorption.
Despite this, meat has actually been known since early times to reverse scurvy. Humans are carnivores.
Yet based on the RDA, meat is woefully deficient in Vitamin C. How is this possible?
Vitamin C is almost identical to glucose biochemically.
Glucose and vitamin C compete for absorption, so the lower your blood sugar, the higher bioavailability of the Vitamin C that you do have.
If you’re still worried, try some beef liver – it’s one of the best animal sources of Vitamin C.
With that being said, there may still be some benefits of additional vitamin C consumption. We do however, need more studies in this area, to find out.
As with all things, it is important to acknowledge the uniqueness of your own body and to find a nutrition protocol that works for you and will address your specific health goals.
The wisdom contained in this article is provided compliments Carnivore Aurelius, whose goal it is to educate and motivate others to take charge of their health. Carnivore Aurelius is not a medical doctor, registered dietitian, or qualified to give individualized recommendations regarding health, nutrition or fitness. All views expressed are based on his own personal research and experiences. For specific health-related questions, please consult your doctor.