What is the Carnivore Diet? Benefits, Food List, FAQs and more
Advanced Topics

What is the Carnivore Diet? Benefits, Food List, FAQs and more

Carb Manager Staff

Carb Manager Staff

a year ago

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.[*]

  • Meat
    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.
  • Eggs
    Scrambled, poached, fried. However you choose to make them, the most important part is the yolk. Try not to eat just the egg whites.
  • Fish
    Just like meat, try to eat fattier meat sources like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and halibut.
  • Dairy
    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.
  • Chicken
    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:

Weight Loss

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.

Increased Cognition

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.

Increased Testosterone

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.

Decreased inflammation

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.

Comments 11

  • Lemon Zest 🍋

    Lemon Zest 🍋 9 days ago

    Does a carnivore diet affect/reduce a healthy gut microbiome? Would it be ok to take a daily probiotic and fibre capsule? I'm a short, fat woman with insulin resistance. Does eating more than 25gms of protein result in surplus protein being stored as fat?

    • Tabitha

      Tabitha 14 days ago

      How much meat should one eat at one sitting? I’m a female, 167lb, 5’8” and doing OMAD (one meal a day), on carnivore?

      • Asnyder01@att.net

        Asnyder01@att.net a month ago

        How does anyone deal with constipation?

        • Lemon Zest 🍋

          Lemon Zest 🍋 9 days ago

          Surprising! We were all taught to "eat our veg to stay regular".

        • Tabitha

          Tabitha 14 days ago

          My constipation cleared up on carnivore

      • thebedrockdiet

        thebedrockdiet a month ago

        One of the advantages of this over Keto is that sometimes inflammation can come from the vegetables, and particularly cruciferous veg. For a system already overloaded, removal of vegetables, seeds and nuts from the diet can assist with reduction of inflammation. I was able to lose 11 kg on Keto, but have gone on to lose another 19 kg on The Bedrock Diet - which is based on a carnivore way of eating.

        • SpectacularKale179632

          SpectacularKale179632 3 months ago

          After reading this I realise I have been on the carnivore diet most of my life. I love meat and dairy products and can’t push myself to eat more than the blandest vegetables. I could quite easily never eat a vegetable, fruit or grain again in my lifetime. I have been forced to eat vegetables and bread etc since young and have never been happy with it. Thank you for the article on the diet.

          • Graham

            Graham 3 months ago

            Is carnivore an all or nothing proposition? I consider myself to be mostly carnivore but not strictly so. I have a small salad one per day.

            • IneffableArugula861753

              IneffableArugula861753 3 months ago

              I believe having vegetables is considered ketovore a combination of keto and carnivore

          • jparzadon

            jparzadon 3 months ago

            This is what I do. Most of the time i eat fish fillet like halibut, salmon, mahi mahi and eggs together with cauliflower as my cali-rice . I didn’t its called carnivore diet

            • Sarah

              Sarah 3 months ago

              The cauliflower makes it a High Protein Ketogenic Diet. Carnivore literally means nothing but meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.