What is the carnivore diet - Is it the ultimate elimination diet? Take the 5-second test at the end.
Why has the carnivore diet become so popular recently? Why are people having phenomenal results - and fast? What can you eat, and what should you avoid?
This amazing lifestyle change has revolutionised thousands, with zero side effects. So why is it so amazing ... yet so controversial?
By continuing to read, access, and use this website, Ditch The Carbs, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions. As with any dietary change, care and precaution should always be taken. If you have any medical conditions, medications, or health concerns that require monitoring/discussing, you must be under the supervision of your regular healthcare provider who can monitor you with any dietary change. This is not a suggested diet, just another option that readers have tried with varying success.
What is a carnivore diet?
As the name suggests, it's a diet that only consists of animal products, predominantly meat, fish and eggs. As you will read below, some carnivores add other animal products in varying quantities and frequencies.
The carnivore diet is a high protein, low carb diet with all the fat that comes along with the meat. So enjoy fatty steak, chicken with the skin, plenty of eggs and healthy oils.
Eating the carnivore way is how many of our ancestors ate and how many isolated communities still do eat.
Is it another fad diet?
There are several new diets out recently that seem to be gathering momentum.
Once upon a time, many people thought keto diets were a fad, low carb diets, and paleo diets too. But these have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, we are only just rediscovering them because the food pyramid did its best to hide them under a mountain of bread, carbs and industrial modern seed oils.
As the public are turning their back on the flawed food pyramid, they are educating themselves on ancestral nutrition. This includes keto, Paleo, LCHF and the carnivore diet.
"To say the oldest form of food is causing modern diseases ... is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard".
Depending on who you ask, the benefits can and will vary. Some people enjoy being on the carnivore diet because they're eliminating processed foods and sugars from their life.
Others absolutely fall in love with the almost immediate health benefits from eating this way. Less gastrointestinal distress, incredible energy, improved athletic performance and rapid weight loss.
This, in turn, helps them feel better and may prevent other ailments and illnesses that being overweight could cause.
Meat is incredibly filling so people tend to overeat less when living like a carnivore. And when people aren't feeling sluggish and full from eating, they're more apt to keep moving and enjoying the day.
There are numerous reported health benefits from living the carnivore life:
- shed stubborn weight FAST
- appetite control
- reduced gastrointestinal complaints
- improved skin conditions
- less psoriasis and eczema
- reduced joint pain
- reduced inflammation
- improved mood and energy
- improved mental clarity
- improved athletic performance
- reduced recovery times
- reduction in sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass as we age)
Those who oppose the carnivore diet argue that there are no long term studies into living the carnivore way, but in reality, humans have been eating this way for tens of thousands of years. In fact, there are NO long-term nutrition studies of our modern diet, that was invented for the food pyramid just a few decades ago.
What about nutrients and fibre?
This is a great video to learn all aspects of the carnivore diet.
What do you eat?
On the carnivore diet, you eat only products from animals. All types of meat - chicken, pork, beef, fish - are allowed and consumed during all meals.
Some people on the diet allow butter and eggs since they are derived from an animal, but many people are strict and omit them from their menu.
Doing the carnivore diet is tough for some people because it's cutting out vegetables, fruit, nuts and only other type of food that isn't meat.
For others, it is freedom. No more worrying about macros, calories, and low-carb and keto sweet treats are completely off the menu. It also virtually stops snacking overnight. The carnivore diet is so sustaining, quick and easy. [take the 5-second quiz below]
No more vegetable preparation, no more meal planning, no more snacking, no more baking and less washing up.
Is carnivore the same as keto?
No. The keto diet is not the same as a carnivore diet. They both limit the intake of certain foods, but the carnivore is actually a stricter diet since all that is allowed is meat.
The keto diet does allow things such as vegetables, nuts, seeds and certain low-sugar fruits.
Many people who try the carnivore diet are the 5-10% who haven't experienced the results they desired from a ketogenic diet or those who still have gastrointestinal issues. Those who have stubborn weight loss. Athletes who want to prime their performance and reduce their recovery.
Those who were originally strict keto, often trial the carnivore diet. Keto for some people is mainly meat and animal products anyway, so they say that becoming a carnivore just closes the gap.
Am I allowed dairy?
This is actually up to your preference and how extreme you want to go. While there is an overall basis and guide for the carnivore diet, there are variations as well.
Some people on the carnivore diet allow dairy while others don't because of the sugars that can be found within (lactose). Plus, if you're really strict about eating on grass-fed or natural meats because of added steroids and rink of antibiotics in other meats, you'll have to be just as careful when it comes to consuming dairy.
This will have to be a personal choice on whether or not you're going to allow dairy.
Most carnivores I know, allow themselves full-fat dairy, heavy cream and full-fat hard cheeses. It makes being a carnivore in modern times sustainable and enjoyable.
How much protein is too much?
Ahhh ... protein. The million-dollar question. How much protein is needed? How much protein is too much? How much protein does it take to kick you out of ketosis? How much protein do you need to prevent muscle loss?
I have said this many times that if you ask 10 experts you will get 10 answers. What is clear is that too many people who have gone low-carb or ketogenic, fear protein because of gluconeogenesis (glucose made in the body from protein).
Gluconeogenesis is the amazing mechanism within our body that creates its own glucose supply from protein, and so some people fear that eating too much protein will raise blood sugar levels and will increase insulin levels (which is what we are all trying to lower and stabilise so we become insulin sensitive)
But more research has been released where this is only true in context.
It has been discovered that a rise in insulin that is required to process the protein is raised 70% higher in someone who is living the S.A.D (standard American diet, which is high in carbs, starch and sugar) compared to only a minimal rise in those who are living a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle.
Protein is satiating, self-limiting, extremely nourishing, nutrient-dense and provides all the essential amino acids and micronutrients we could possibly need.
- What does 30g protein look like?
- Beginners guide to intermittent fasting
Will I lose more weight?
As with any change in lifestyle and diet, you'll most likely lose weight. Cutting out the carbs is always a quick way to cut down the pounds quickly, but it doesn't always mean that it's going to stay off. Which is why some people have turned to the carnivore diet because it's simple, requires zero planning and it works - rapidly.
There's never a "magic" diet or pill that will keep the weight off without working hard to make certain it doesn't come back. But the carnivore diet certainly does seem to have made a huge impact on a large number of people.
What about vegetables and fruit?
Basically, they're a no go on this diet. As the name suggests, it's all meat, fish or nothing.
It is highly debated - do we actually need vegetables? For their vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre?
There are numerous reasons that carnivores avoid fruit and vegetables.
- Fruit is high in natural sugar
- Many vegetables are high in starch
- But, more importantly, the susceptibility of some people to the antinutrients, phytates and oxalates that some vegetables, soy and legumes provide.
And while this doesn't mean that you can't start to slowly incorporate them back into your diet, they aren't something that is allowed when first starting out.
What are anti-nutrients?
Plants can't really defend themselves from predators so they try their best by using a physical barrier (thorns and prickles are a great example) or chemical defence (anti-nutrients).
When an animal eats a plant and it tastes bitter or it later upsets the animal's tummy, they are less likely to go back and eat that plant again.
Humans, however, have learned how to remove these chemical defence mechanisms. For example, you can remove some anti-nutrients and phytates which would otherwise cause gut ache, wind, griping, pain and discomfort, by soaking nuts and legumes.
Plants don't like to be eaten, and this is one way to defend themselves.
This is a list of secondary metabolites (bioactive compounds) found in vegetables, rice, soy, beans etc. These compounds may have a direct effect (causing pain and discomfort) or may have an indirect effect (affecting the permeability of the gut or an endocrine disruptor).
Source: Maelan Fontes PhD - Food and Western disease beyond nutrients: Antinutrients
Do I need fibre in my diet?
For decades we have been told that fibre is crucial to a healthy digestive system, but is it?
Have you ever wondered why you are eating fibre which isn't absorbed, just for the purpose of it passing through your body? Yes it may help the transition and movement of waste through our gut, yes it may help our microbiome, yes fibre is a probiotic, but does it actually help relieve constipation or improve gut health?
Many academics think no.
- Stopping or reducing dietary fibre intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms - World Journal Gastroenterology
- Dr. Paul Mason - 'From fibre to the microbiome: low carb gut health' - well worth a watch to truly understand the fibre debate.
What I have read from anecdotal comments (and from Dr Mason's research above) is that those who eat zero fibre, are as regular as clockwork and visit the bathroom every single day. Dr Mason's research showed those who have zero fibre intake had no constipation whatsoever, compared to only visiting the bathroom once every 6 days for the fibre group.
Who is the carnivore diet good for?
The carnivore diet may be beneficial for anyone who is looking for a way to change their lifestyle and cut out sugars, carbs, processed food, vegetable oils and all junk food. But who else?
- This diet may also be beneficial for people who are wanting to jumpstart their metabolism and reset their taste buds.
- The carnivore diet can be wonderful for those of you who have tried keto, Paleo or low-carb and haven't got the results they wanted or still have gut issues.
- Many people who have autoimmune diseases have tried the carnivore diet and claim amazing results. Could it be because the carnivore diet is the ultimate elimination diet? Once symptoms resolve or the weight has been lost, you may wish to slowly incorporate them back into your diet.
Are you mentally prepared?
The number one problem that living as a carnivore causes, is the difficulty experienced when eating in social situations. But once you can learn how to navigate menus and eating with friends and family, it becomes second nature.
As with any diet, it's a complete lifestyle change. Many people know what carnivore life is about, but underestimate how difficult it can be to eat only meat, all the time. What sounds wonderful in the beginning is going to be more mentally challenging than you might think. Yet for others, it is liberating and provides freedom.
Before starting on the diet, take the time to understand what you think the diet is. Then, do your research and prepare yourself even more. Read articles and books and fully understand what you can, and can't, eat on the diet.
Why is it so controversial?
The 2 main arguments against exclusively eating meat, fish and animal products, is the debate over ethics and sustainability.
These are both complex topics which I cannot debate fully here in this article today, but here are some things to think about. I'll let you make up your own mind, just please don't turn the comments below into a heated debate. This is not the point of this article.
If your ethics are against eating animals then this is not for you. It is an individual choice. But for those of us who are comfortable to eat meat, will all agree we want the best ethically raised animals and the best quality meat we can afford.
I understand many vegans are completely opposed to the carnivore way of life, but carnivores are just as opposed to vegans. Healthy debate is good, but anger and uneducated arguments on feelings, not science are an emotional response. I believe each to their own. If a particular way of eating (no matter what that may be) works for you and you have zero health concerns, then brilliant. Go for it.
- EAT - Lancet's plant-based planet. 10 things you need to know. Dr Georgia Ede, MD.
- Dr Peter Ballerstedt - 'Ruminant reality': Diet, human health and environment.
- In defence of the carnivore diet. A well-written debate for both sides to promote understanding of the carnivore way.
- 10 things carnivores hate about vegans and visa versa - A lighthearted approach, yet some of the points made are very poignant.
- Carnivore Aurelius - Covers topics such as sustainability, microbiome, protein: energy ratio and so much more.
Take the test - 3 shades of carnivore
- Do you crave meat? Do you have incredible discipline? Do you have health concerns and tried keto before but you only reached 95% of your health goals? If YES, then you may be the hardcore carnivore.
- Do you love meat but can't forgo your creamy coffee? Do you love a burger but can't imagine it without melting cheese? Do you love scrambled eggs with cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you love a good steak with a creamy blue cheese sauce? Then you may be an everyday carnivore.
- Do you love meat, fish and eggs but find it hard in social situations? Do you love family meals and want to make being a carnivore sustainable? Do you value social gatherings and family time just as much as the benefits you experience from living carnivore? Then you may be a weekday carnivore and go back to eating a small number of vegetables at the weekends to make this way of life sustainable.
FREE 5-day meal plan
We have been trialling the carnivore way of eating in my membership with great success. Many of my members have now decided to adopt a practical approach and live carnivore mid-week and go back to regular low-carb meals at weekends so it works with family and social situations.
More articles you may enjoy:
- The Beginners Guide To The Keto Diet
- The Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Alcohol
- How Much Does Low Carb Cost?
- How To Be A Ketogenic Athlete - and what to eat
- Keto vs Paleo; What's The Difference?
- How To Travel Low Carb, Whole30 and Paleo
I have tried KETO diet & was doing well with it, losing weight that needed to be lost. I don't recall exactly when or how I strayed off from KETO & ate some carbs . My husband does most of the cooking, and for him it's either one way or the other. He does not understand food ISSUES. I gained all the weight back that was lost on KETO PLUS. I am morbidly obese, & it really saddens me to see how grotesque I look in the bathroom mirror when naked. I was considering surgery after the pandemic was finished, but also know I will be required to lose weight first. I am SO TIRED of being SO FAT. I have decided to try the Carnivore Diet. It simplifies what I eat. It looks very STRICT which is what I need NOW. My main obstacle is my husband. I am getting to the point where I will tell him to deal with it; I HAVE to do this for Me & my Health. I won't have to think about what to eat, as the food choices are LIMITED, thereby simplified & hopefully, workable.
I totally understand you. I'm also tired of being so fat for so long... I'm on a keto diet since 2016, with a few in and out periods, mostly because there is no one with medical knowledge around me that could help. I'm doing it by myself, in a foreing language (English is my third language) and it is not easy. Even though, I've lost 20 kilos, but that is so far away from my goal. Now I'm going to give carvivore a try, maybe that will help! I've had good health results but I really need a real weith loss result. In my case, at least, I'm not dealing with a reluctant husband, all my support to you!
Very interesting article about a diet and diets that I know nothing about. During lockdown, we’ve been getting our Groceries delivered but you can’t pick and choose, just select the organic boxes you want. One of these boxes is the meat box so we’ve been eating meat five days a week. I’ve never dieted in my life and at 83kg I was very happy with my weight. However, the weight started disappearing and at 78kg I did become concerned. I ended up having a video call with the doctor and she was becoming baffled. She then asked what my diet was like and I explained about the organic food and the large amount of meat I was eating. A lightbulb moment ensued and she explained it all. I’d been dieting and didn’t know it. BTW, I never stopped eatIng cake and chocolate in exactly the same small amounts and my wife has lost 4kg so she’s happy ? ????
Whoah Ken, you managed to start the carnivore diet without knowing it! I'm so pleased with your results, hopefully you might inspire others here reading your comment to give it a go. Whenever we do our carnivore 3-day mini-challenge inside Ditch The Carbs PRO, we have tremendous results. Congratulations, and being to eat cake along the way - you can see why there is absolutely no deprivation when living low-carb (or carnivore).
Spot on Libby and thanks. Great site and as you say, it’s cake along the way so hip hip hooray ? BTW, I see from the time stamp you are two hours ahead of us in Englan. Where are you guys based?
I'm in little old New Zealand 🙂 Far far away 🙂
Spot on Libby and thanks. Great site and as you say, it’s cake along the way so hip hip hooray ?
Can you still lose weight if you are a weekday carnivore, or if you alternate between carnivore and Keto?
Losing weight depends on many factors, your macros and insulin resistance to name just two. Being carnivore has many health benefits, and yes, weight loss is one of them. As long as your macros are still within your carb tolerance, weight loss should continue.
Been relaxed carnivore for a few months now (around 80%, so weekday' carnivore). Maintaining a very lean body-weight without having to track/count/weigh my food anymore (after doing that hamster wheel for 6+ years), and I just got blood work back-my cholesterol numbers are the best that I have on record. While eating a predominately animal based diet that's high fat (including higher saturated fat). I feel amazing, am in excellent health and I love the simplicity of a carnivore style diet, I'll probably keep with it long term 🙂
Awesome Sara, it's amazing how wonderful we feel once we find what works for us. Carnivore is really gaining in popularity because it works and because of success stories like yours. The simplicity, the health benefits, the clarity, the health improvements.Thank you for telling us your story 🙂
I found the article very interesting, and looked forward to taking the 5-second test promised in the first sentance. Houever, after careful searching I found no indication of any test. very disappointing
It's at the bottom in bold "3 shades of carnivore - take the test ".
As you are staying away from plants on the carnivore diet does that mean you can't use herbs and seasoning on the meats. Not sure how strick it is supposed to be
Great question, take a look at the 3 shades of carnivore at the end of the post. There is the strict carnivore (meat, salt and water only) then there is the everyday carnivore that adds minimal plants (such as herbs) and allows dairy for tea/coffee. It would depend on why you are starting the carnivore diet. If it is to resolve gut or other health issues, it is the ultimate elimination diet. You may wish to be strict at the beginning then slowly add certain items back in as you can tolerate them. Alternatively, if you just want improved performance, you may be fine with a number of items that others restrict themselves from.