The Carnivore diet -- everyone is talking about it.
I mean, eating fatty cuts of steak and eggs for every meal?
Who wouldn’t want to give it a shot?
In this article, we will examine the carnivore diet. Is it a fad? Is it safe? Is it a viable alternative to the Ketogenic lifestyle?
What is the Carnivore Diet?
Individuals following the Carnivore diet eat only animal foods and products. This means that even fruits and vegetables are strictly prohibited.
One of the alluring aspects of this way of eating is that you don’t have to follow any rules or track anything. No food logging, tracking macros, counting calories, or timing meals. As long as the food you eat comes from an animal source, you can eat it whenever you want, and as much as you want. Or, as many proponents like to put it, all you have to do is "Eat meat. Drink water."
With that being said, most followers of the Carnivore diet try to follow a 1:1 fat to protein ratio for maximum health benefits, even if they're not formally tracking or logging their food intake.
List of Carnivore Diet Approved Foods
In general, you’ll want to eat animal meats that contain a fattier meat content and less on lean cuts. This will help you get the right amount of calories as well as maintain optimal hormonal and body function.[*]
Grass-fed meat is preferred: the fattier, the better. NY strip, porterhouse, ribeye, 80/20 grass-fed beef, and t-bone can all be consumed in large amounts.
Scrambled, poached, fried. However you choose to make them, the most important part is the yolk. Try not to eat just the egg whites.
Just like meat, try to eat fattier meat sources like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and halibut.
Yogurt, cheese, and milk are all technically allowed on the carnivore diet because they come from animals. However, many people limit their dairy consumption due to lactose intolerance.
- Fatty Meat Products
Cooking with lard or tallow is a great way to get in extra fats while adding delicious flavor to your meal.
Always get thighs or wings over breasts since they contain more fat.
Difference Between Keto and the Carnivore Diet
There are a few key differences between the ketogenic diet and the Carnivore diet.
While both diets recommend eating fats and protein, Carnivore dieters restrict all plant-based foods, meaning that the diet is virtually zero-carb. The Ketogenic diet, however, encourages large amounts of veggies, as long as total carbohydrates are kept under 50g.
On Keto, there’s also a large emphasis placed on fat. The Carnivore diet encourages high protein and high fat intake as long as you’re getting these calories from animal sources.
Unlike Keto, there’s no general macronutrient percentage to follow when eating a Carnivore diet. In addition, most followers of Carnivore don't bother counting calories.
Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
Many of the health benefits that come with the Carnivore diet are similar to the ones you would expect from the Ketogenic diet.
Here are a few of them:
Some people would assume that eating so much meat will make you fat. But just like Keto, the restriction of carbs on the Carnivore diet means that you'll be in Ketosis, with limited blood sugar and insulin spikes. In addition, you’ll find it pretty difficult to eat a calorie surplus when your only food options are animal products, which tend to be very filling due to their high protein and fat content.
Fats make up approximately 60% of the human brain. With the increased fat intake and absence of carbs, many people experience mental clarity because you start burning fats (ketones) as a source of energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
Studies have shown that dietary fats increase testosterone.[*] The large amount of fats you get on the Carnivore diet can boost testosterone levels, allowing you to increase strength, libido, and motivation.
A study compared high fat, low carb diets with low fat, high carb diets to look at inflammatory markers. After 12 weeks, the high-fat eaters had lower markers of systemic inflammation.[*]
Simple to Follow
Many people are intrigued by the Carnivore diet because of how easy it is to follow. Unlike most other diets, you don’t have to worry about counting calories or meal timing. As long as you’re eating only animal products, you’re in the clear.
Click here to learn about more Keto (and possibly Carnivore!) benefits that go beyond weight loss.
Carnivore Diet Common Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the all-meat diet.
Does it create micronutrient deficiencies?
Yes and no. While you can get most of your essential vitamins and minerals from red meat, there is one micronutrient that’s only present in plants and vegetables: vitamin C. However, some people believe vitamin C isn’t needed as much by the body when carbohydrates are restricted.
Is it safe?
Since it’s so similar to the Ketogenic diet, we don’t see any harm in the Carnivore diet. In fact, our ancestors from thousands of years ago may have followed a similar diet and some tribe members lived up to 90-100 years old. However, as Chris Kresser notes, every population typically cited as exemplars of an ancestral carnivorous diet actually take advantage of plant foods when they were available. With that in mind, be sure to listen to your body and consult your doctor if you have any health conditions.
Can athletes follow this diet?
Yes! There are many anecdotal reports from people all over the world praising the Carnivore diet for its ability to improve strength, speed, and endurance. If you’re on Keto right now and want to take your athletic performance to the next level, the Carnivore diet may be worth a try.
How long does it take to adapt to the all-meat diet?
There’s a good chance you’ll feel lethargic and experience flu-like symptoms (similar to the Keto flu) when you first start the diet. Your body should adjust to this new fuel source after a week or two. In terms of athletic performance, it may take a little longer before you start seeing increases in strength, speed, and explosiveness.
Note: The content in this article is not medical advice and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.