You've probably heard about the ketogenic diet that became popular with folks looking to lose weight and address a variety of health problems. In 2018, a variant of the keto diet burst onto the scene. Called the carnivore diet, this elimination diet reduces food intake to meat, meat, and more meat.
A meat-only diet might sound a little crazy, and maybe a little unhealthy, but for some people, the carnivore diet is the answer they have been looking for to solve a wide range of digestive problems while offering a more satisfying meal plan than most keto-based elimination diet plans.
The All-Meat Diet – What You Need to Know
Let's start by talking about what the ketogenic diet means. Put simply, a keto diet reduces carbohydrates to a bare minimum and all but eliminates the consumption of complex carbohydrates that you'll find in sweet treats.
The goal of a keto diet is to consume a large amount of fat that is balanced by limiting food intake. Things that are off the menu include processed foods, flour, bread, pasta, lots of trail mixes and other snacks, a whole bunch of seasonings and sauces, and a wide range of other foods.
When a keto diet is working for you, your body will switch from burning carbohydrates for energy and begin burning fat. By getting (and keeping) your body in a state of ketosis, your natural metabolism will burn your body fat and help you lose weight.
Another similar diet is called the paleo diet. The paleo diet similarly restricts the consumption of grains and processed meats, but the diet incorporates fruit, nuts, and other foods that are high in fat and calories.
A beneficial side effect of the keto diet is that many people will find that they feel better with more energy and a better digestive system because of the elimination of certain food groups that can cause inflammation and poor digestion.
The carnivore diet is a logical evolution of the typical keto elimination diet, but is even more restrictive.
What Do You Eat on a Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet consists of meat, meat, and more meat. One of the best things about the carnivore diet over other elimination diets is that you don't have to count calories or restrict the amount of meat you eat.
The truth is that when you eat meat all day, you will probably find that you aren't very hungry between meals. When you want a snack, there are lots of good options to keep you satisfied and on the all-meat diet.
Is the Carnivore Diet Safe?
Any diet can present some risks to your health and it is always a good idea to consult a dietitian before beginning a diet. With extreme elimination diets like the carnivore diet, this is an even more important step.
You should have blood work done prior to beginning the carnivore diet to check for certain underlying health conditions that can cause problems for you.
Some of the known risks of the carnivore diet include kidney trouble which can lead to life-threatening kidney disease, digestive issues related to the large amounts of meat and lack of fiber, and some evidence exists that the diet can lead to increasing LDL levels which are associated with heart disease.
Some people are concerned that the carnivore diet can lead to problems with digestion that includes constipation. Empirical evidence suggests that constipation usually results at the beginning of the diet, but often alleviates after about a week.
Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
There are several benefits that proponents of the carnivore diet talk about. The first and most important thing is that the carnivore diet can help with weight loss while regulating your blood sugar. An only meat diet eliminates any possible ill effects from plant foods that are associated with indigestion and inflammation problems.
Some research has suggested that the carnivore diet works because it reduces the overall caloric content of your diet which may lead to more rapid and sustainable weight loss.
Because the carnivore diet excludes carbs in favor of animal fat, your body will quickly become accustomed to burning fat and you'll lose weight.
The carnivore diet is also a popular choice for people with diabetics. The complete elimination of carbohydrates can help to limit spikes in blood sugar regulation.
Care should be taken, though, as scientific evidence suggests that the full elimination of carbohydrates isn't a good plan for many diabetics who can regulate better with limited amounts of carbs.
How a Plant-Based Diet Can Cause Harm
Vegan and vegetarian diets have become popular in recent decades, giving researchers an excellent opportunity to study the long-term and short-term health effects of a plant-based diet. Many people showed weight loss in the short term, but the diet tends to be difficult to adhere to for long periods of time. It also requires a careful balance of ingredients to get the nutritional health benefits.
Some people suggest that plants are inherently bad for you because they contain chemicals intended to prevent animals from eating them. Examples include things like olives that aren't edible when raw, and numerous types of plants that are poisonous when eaten. These folks say that other plants are also potentially harmful, but at lower levels.
Harmful foods like beans that must be properly cooked and many types of grains and nuts that are difficult to digest and can cause health problems from cramping, headaches, and digestive problems.
Types of Foods for the Carnivore Diet
Similar to a vegetarian diet, you'll want to pay attention to the types of meats you are consuming on the carnivore diet. For example, you'll need a significant amount of high-fat proteins like steaks and other fatty cuts to get the caloric values you need and the high protein intake that is essential for healthy living.
Chicken breast is delicious, but it isn't going to offer enough calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle so you'll need to add other meats to your diet to compensate. This is why high-fat meats are popular on the carnivore diet because they offer enough calories.
You'll want to get used to eating organ meats and animal fats on the just meat diet. Because you are eliminating entire food groups from the diet, you'll need to incorporate other fatty meat products that include nutrients and vitamins.
One way is to incorporate bone broth into your diet. Bone broth is easy to make and it's delicious, too. Pork chops, lamb chops, and chicken liver are also good ways to incorporate lots of saturated fat into your high-protein diet.
Vitamins and Nutrients
You can also add bone marrow to your diet to ensure you get the proper nutrition. Bone marrow and organ eats are higher in essential vitamins like vitamin c and other essential nutrients typically easy to get from a balanced diet.
Can You Consume Dairy on the Carnivore Diet?
One interesting thing about the carnivore diet is that there isn't any consensus about whether dairy can be included in the diet. Most people on the carnivore diet will continue eating hard cheese and low-lactose dairy products like butter, but will avoid high-lactose dairy products.
Avoiding Certain Types of Dairy
You'll want to avoid eating soft cheeses, milk, yogurt, and similar products that are higher in lactose. If the goal is to get to zero carbs, eliminating all forms of dairy from the diet is essential. Even though the goal of the carnivore diet is to get to zero carbs, adding dairy into a healthy diet is still acceptable.
Do You Have to Eliminate Spices and Seasonings?
Now that you know what to eat on the carnivore diet, you'll want to understand how to flavor and season your red meat dishes. Eating meat is great, but it gets old quickly when you don't season and flavor the meat.
Why Some Spices are Bad for You
Most people who are on the carnivore diet will use herbs and spices in the cooking with the assumption that very small amounts of plant foods won't cause harm. Some herbs and spices are better than others. The main thing is to identify plants that are low in anti-nutrients which bind to the nutrients in your red meat diet and prevent the body from absorbing them.
Good and Bad Herbs and Spices
Things like basil, dill, and garlic are considered to be beneficial and good additions to seasoning meat. Herbs and spices you'll want to avoid include red chili flakes, black pepper, and mustard seed. You'll want to get creative with the types of seasonings you use to get good flavor without exposing your body to harmful plant chemicals.
All of our Bearded Butcher Blend seasonings are MSG free, gluten free, and comes with no fillers or anti-caking chemicals. Most of them are also sugar free, except for Hollywood, Black, and Cinnamon Swirl – so they're perfect for the carnivore diet.
Real Experiences on the Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet aims to eliminate lots of food groups, making it one of the most restrictive diets around. If you wonder what it would be like to be on the diet, you can listen to radio talk show personality Joe Rogan who lived the carnivore diet for 30 days.
Joe Rogan Talks about Carnivorous Diets and His Experience
Rogan said that he would typically eat six eggs or a steak for breakfast, rarely ate lunch, and would eat elk or steak for dinner. In 30 days, Rogan said he lost a total of 12 pounds, but also said he suffered from severe diarrhea during the diet. Following the carnivore diet is probably something that should be done in moderation, and Rogan agrees, stating that the diet may be best followed on a six-days on, one-day off schedule to avoid burnout and potential health problems.
Shawn Baker and the Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet gained popularity after a book was written by Dr. Shawn Baker. In the book, Baker described how the diet worked and why it was a beneficial choice for some people. Much of what Baker discusses in the book follows along the concept that early hominids, including Eskimo and other tribal societies primarily ate meat and show limited evidence of chronic disease and other health effects. Baker's only meat diet plan offered significant health benefits and weight loss as opposed to high carb diets and other types of plans.
The Problem with Baker's Credibility
While Baker's title as a medical doctor led to credibility for his diet plan, it soon was revealed the the New Mexico Medical Board revoked Baker's license to practice medicine.
The carnivore diet is an interesting option for people who are looking for an elimination diet that boosts energy and leaves you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day. Carnivore dieters report feeling healthier and better than when doing a keto diet or another extremely restrictive diet plan.
There is an increased risk of some health issues that you should take seriously if you are considering the carnivore diet. It is a good idea to talk to a licensed medical professional with experience on restrictive diets before beginning a carnivore diet to ensure you don't have complications that can have long-lasting, permanent consequences.
One of the best things about the carnivore diet is that you get to eat meat. You get to eat lots of bacon, steak, and wild game. You can add in ground beef and other red meat along with turkey, chicken, and pork to get a good balance of nutrients and flavors. You can always check out our YouTube channel and our blog posts to get great ideas about ways to incorporate fresh, delicious meat into your diet while eliminating high-carb and processed meat products that aren't healthy.