carnivore diet

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a big pile of meat used for the DadQuarters carnivore diet review

Over the years, many diet friends have come and gone. Low-fat diets were all the rage in the 90s, while low-carb diets like the Atkins diet were very popular in the early aughts. Now, a new diet has gained a lot of attention: The Carnivore Diet.

What is this diet all about?

As the name suggests, this is a diet that asks people to eat like carnivores. When you’re on this diet, every single food that you eat must come from any animal. Any sort of plant, including vegetables, has to be avoided.

At first glance, this diet seems to fly in the face of nutritional wisdom. However, there are periods of time where our ancestors did not have the resources to farm and primarily ate meat and fish. Because of this, our bodies are better equipped to handle a diet like this than we might think.

Advocates of the diet say that it’s an excellent way to lose weight and that it has other health benefits as well.

People with low testosterone have found that this diet helps them to increase their testosterone levels and even build muscle mass [1]. Some people also say that the diet gives them increased mental clarity or that it helps with digestive issues.

If you’re curious about the diet and would like to learn more, you’ll find answers to your questions below, in our comprehensive Carnivore Diet review.

What is The Carnivore Diet?

cuts of meat at the butcher shop

The Carnivore Diet is a diet that requires you to eat animal products exclusively [2]. This includes meat and fish as well as animal byproducts, like eggs and dairy. The diet excludes all plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and grains.

While the diet doesn’t exclude dairy products, many of the proponents of the diet recommend limiting dairy intake as well.

Foods that are high in lactose, such as ice cream and ricotta cheese, are usually avoided. Because this diet is extremely restrictive, followers must avoid most processed foods as well.

How it Works

People that follow this diet must eliminate all foods that aren’t animal products from their diet. The bulk of the diet consists of meat and fish [3].

This includes beef, poultry, pork, as well as numerous types of seafood. Eggs are allowed as are some dairy products, like butter and hard cheese.

a carnivore diet chef

Since this diet places strict limits on the types of food that you can eat, it’s important to choose the right cuts of meat.

For example, many proponents of the diet suggest eating fatty cuts of meat so that your body will be able to get the healthy fats that it needs.

Followers of the diet generally drink water exclusively, since other types of beverages contain plant products.

Some diet followers wind up drinking bone broth so that they can have a beverage with some sort of flavor. Because coffee and tea are typically calorie-free, some followers drink these beverages even when following the diet.

However, this practice is discouraged.

The diet doesn’t require followers to restrict their intake of calories in any way.

Followers can eat as many meals as they would like, and they can snack throughout the day as well. The diet heavily restricts what you eat, but there are no restrictions on how much you can eat.

Does it Work for Weight Loss?

a plate with weight loss spelled on it

Several studies have shown that following a restrictive, high protein diet like the Carnivore Diet can lead to weight loss [4, 5]

One of the reasons these types of diets tend to be so effective is that protein leaves you feeling full after meals.

This can lead to lower calorie consumption.

Additionally, because this diet requires followers to give up so many unhealthy foods, it’s an easy way to naturally transition to a healthier, lower-calorie diet. People that are on this diet have to give up foods like pizza, candy, chips, and soda, which can all make it difficult for people to reach their weight loss goals.

In some cases, people actually struggle to take in all of the calories that they need.

It’s important to monitor how you are feeling when following a diet like this. If you feel lightheaded or tired, it’s best to supplement your diet with a carnivore-friendly snack.

Pros & Cons

Is the Carnivore Diet Safe? Here’s What an Expert in Functional Medicine Says:

The short answer is that we really don’t know, since there are no long-term studies that have tracked large groups of individuals on carnivore diets for any significant length of time. One of my chief concerns about it is that it lacks several nutrients that are crucial for health….Still, we’re lacking data. Currently, the DRIs are the best we have to go off of, and I don’t think we have enough evidence to unequivocally say that this diet has no risk of producing nutrient deficiencies in the general population [6]. -Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac.

Pros

One of the biggest advantages of this diet is its ability to aid in weight loss. Some followers of the diet find that it has helped them to lose weight even when all other diets have failed.

Since you can eat as much as you want to eat while on the diet, followers don’t feel hungry.

Additionally, the diet allows people to continue eating some of the foods that they love most. Many of the diet’s proponents are people that already have a large amount of meat in their diet.

a steak cooked to perfection

When they follow the diet, they simply eliminate certain foods from their diet while continuing to eat the things they eat every day.

Cons

The diet requires people to eliminate foods that contain large amounts of processed sugar and naturally occurring sugars, both of which can have an adverse impact on your health.

The diet is also low in refined carbs, which can cause bloating and other digestive issues.

Of course, the diet has clear disadvantages as well, especially on a long-term basis. The diet is high in cholesterol, which has been linked to heart disease.

The diet also deprives the body of the essential nutrients that are found in plants. Some studies suggest that a diet like this can lead to nutritional deficiencies [7].

There are some people that choose to follow the Carnivore Diet for a short period of time so that they can lose weight. After weight loss goals have been achieved, dieters start to introduce some plants back into their diet. This allows dieters to get essential nutrients like fiber without supplementing.

Not everyone that follows the diet has the same experiences. Some people find that a low-fiber diet improves their digestive health. Other people have digestive issues when they aren’t taking in any fiber.

Not all bodies have the same needs, and it’s important for people to consider their own needs when following a diet like this one. Some people will get great results from this diet, but others will find that a more balanced diet is a better match for their needs.

What to Eat on the Carnivore Diet: Recipe & Meal Ideas

barbecue beef being cooked on the grill

Many meals include a protein and a plant-based product as an entree. For example, meat and potatoes is an extremely common meal.

However, people on the Carnivore Diet can only eat animal products, which means that this diet requires people to rethink the way that they eat.

When you follow this diet, the majority of your calories will come from fatty cuts of meat [8].

Steak and pork chops are especially popular choices. Lean meats, like poultry, can still be eaten on this diet, but they won’t provide as many calories or as many calories as fattier meats will.

Cooking oils, like olive and vegetable oil, can’t be used when preparing meat because they are made from plants. Instead, dieters use butter or fatty meat products, like lard or tallow when cooking meat. Spices, such as salt, pepper, and other types of seasoning are permitted.

Sauces are allowed if they are calorie-free.

Eggs are also an important component of this diet. Eggs are high in healthy fats and are rich in nutrients as well. It’s very common for people on this diet to consume some sort of egg breakfast when they start their day.

Dairy products are allowed as well, but most dieters try to keep their intake of dairy to a minimum.

In addition to these foods, a lot of Carnivore Diet followers add a slightly unusual food to their diet: bone marrow. Bone broth is an easy way to add some flavors and calories to your diet. It’s an excellent source of protein and other types of nutrients.

Sample Menu: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

a woman looks at her dinner menu

It’s impossible to follow a diet like this without a little bit of planning. You’ll want to come up with a meal plan and figure out what sort of foods you’ll be eating for every meal of the day.

Once you’ve put together a meal plan, you can assemble a grocery list and purchase the food that you need in during the week.

Most people that follow this diet do some sort of meal-prep so that they have the time to eat fresh food every day.

For example, many people cook up meals in advance, freeze them, and then thaw them in the microwave when they’re ready to eat. If you look at this sample menu, you can put together a meal plan that will work well for you.

Breakfast

Breakfast is often considered to be the most important meal of the day! While there are some people that avoid breakfast, there are plenty of carnivore-friendly options for your first daily meal:

  • Scrambled Eggs & Bacon
  • Ham Omelette
  • Sausage & Fried Eggs

Lunch

A lot of people eat lunch at work, which means many people grab fast food or takeout.

This won’t be an option on the carnivore diet, which is why you’ll want to plan ahead and bring diet-friendly foods like this to work with you:

  • Pan-Fried Pork Tenderloin
  • Salmon With Water
  • Bunless Burgers
  • Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
  • Baked Chicken Breast

Snacks

Since many of the meals on the carnivore diet don’t include side dishes, it’s possible that you’ll need to supplement your diet with some sort of snacks.

Thankfully, there are more options for snacks on this diet than you might think, including:

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Sliced Deli Meat
  • Pork Rinds
  • Bone Broth

Dinner

It’s important to finish off your day with a filling meal that will leave you satiated until the next morning. Many dieters recommend that you eat your last meal of the day several hours before you go to bed.

There are plenty of excellent dinnertime options for diet followers, such as:

  • NY Strip Steak
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Grilled Lobster
  • Pan-Fried Shrimp With Grilled Steak
  • Liver Steak

Because meat and seafood can be expensive, it’s important to plan ahead and develop a meal plan that will allow you to reuse the same types of meat in different ways.

For example, you could have bacon and eggs and breakfast, eat bacon-wrapped chicken for lunch, and have roasted chicken at dinnertime.

It’s frequently recommended that people that are new to this diet focus on steak and other types of red meat over poultry, as these cuts of meat contain more fat and calories.

Once your body has adjusted to the diet, you experiment more with your meal plan and include a greater variety of foods in your diet.

Summary

This diet isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone, but it can be very beneficial to people that want to lose weight and change the way that they eat.

Following this diet will allow you to alter your life in a number of ways, and those kinds of changes good lead to a positive transformation in your life.

cutting in to a rare steak

With that said, you should be prepared for some challenges when you kick off this diet.

When you’re on this diet, you’ll have to cook your own food, and that can be a big change for anyone that’s not comfortable in the kitchen.

You may want to invest in a slow cooker or an Instant Pot so that it’s easier for you to prepare the food that you’re going to be eating.

It’s also a wise idea to talk to your doctor about your diet plans before making any drastic changes.

Ask your doctor about having blood work done so that they will be able to identify any nutritional deficiencies. You’ll want to have your doctor continue to monitor your health so that you can see if this diet works for you.

This diet is unusual, and it certainly isn’t right for everyone, but many people have found a Carnivore Diet has helped them to lose weight and improve their overall sense of well-being.

More research needs to be done to determine if the diet is safe over the long-term. So for now, do your own research, talk to your physician, and together, you can decide if it’s the right diet for you.


Resources

  1. Hamalainen E, Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men, J Steroid Biochem., Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6538617
  2. Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD, All You Need to Know About the Carnivore (All-Meat) Diet, Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carnivore-diet
  3. Lorenz Mac, The Carnivore Diet: Can Eating Only meat Supercharge Your Health? Perfect Keto. Retrieved from https://perfectketo.com/carnivore-diet/
  4. Soenen, S., et al, Relatively high-protein or ‘low-carb’ energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance? NUTRIM. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22935440
  5. Layman DK, et al, A moderate-protein diet produces sustained weight loss and long-term changes in body composition and blood lipids in obese adults, Journal of Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19158228
  6. Chris Kresser, The Carnivore Diet: Is It Really Healthy? ChrisKresser.com. Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/the-carnivore-diet-is-it-really-healthy/
  7. Jayson B Calton, Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2905334/
  8. Richard Godwin, Josh St. Clair, Inside the All-Meat, Only-Meat Carnivore Diet That Took the Internet by Storm, Men’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a27405997/carnviore-diet-plan/
  9. Find More Diets on Our Diet Directory Page