I keep hearing about this new diet that’s getting a lot of hype so I wanted to learn more about it.
It’s called the carnivore diet. Have you heard of it?!
What I learned is umm…pretty…INTENSE. So OF COURSE I need to share my findings.
You’re probably assuming just by the name that this diet includes a lot of meat. You’re right. But like, A LOT OF MEAT. You’re only allowed animal products and nothing else. Apparently this diet came from the idea that our ancestors ate mostly meat – kinda like how the paleo and keto diets got started. The difference? At least those diets allow SOME carbs. The carnivore diet allows NONE…as in ZERO.
What foods CAN you eat on the Carnivore Diet?
- Meat: beef, chicken, turkey, organ meats, lamb, pork, etc.
- Fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, crab, lobster, tilapia, herring, etc.
- Other animal products: eggs, lard, bone marrow, bone broth, etc.
- Low-lactose dairy (in small amounts): heavy cream, hard cheese, butter, etc.
Technically, carnivore diet followers should only drink water and bone broth because even low-carb drinks like tea and coffee come from plants (seriously). But a lot of people include them anyways. Oh and seasonings that are zero carb like salt and pepper are allowed, but only by some factions of the diet! (Healthline)
What foods CAN’T you eat on the Carnivore Diet?
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, peppers, etc.
- Fruits: apples, berries, bananas, kiwi, oranges, etc.
- High-lactose dairy: milk, yogurt, soft cheese, etc.
- Legumes: beans, lentils, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, etc.
- Grains: rice, wheat, bread, quinoa, pasta, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, etc.
- Sugars: table sugar, maple syrup, brown sugar, etc.
- Beverages other than water: soda, coffee, tea, fruit juice, etc. (Healthline)
Okay now that we know how restrictive the carnivore diet is… why would anyone want to follow it?
The people who praise this diet claim it can help with:
- Weight loss
- Mood disorders like depression and anxiety
- Regulating blood sugar
…But does it really?
Let’s start with weight loss.
So we know that eating more protein can help with losing weight. Protein is filling and keeps you satisfied, which helps you eat less. With the carnivore diet, you’re eating ONLY meat, so it’s also a lot harder to eat too many calories. So, you might lose weight.
BUT (there is always a but with these diets right?!) the people behind the diet also recommend eating high fat meats to help meet your calorie needs. This causes some unpleasant issues we’ll talk about later.
The theory behind the other “benefits” is that eating only meat eliminates any type of food that can cause sensitivities and inflammation – like wheat, dairy, nuts, etc.
As far as the science behind these claims, there really isn’t any. Nothing reliable at least.
Possible problems with this diet
The main thing I don’t like about this diet is how restrictive it is. It would be HARD to follow this for more than a few weeks. So even if you do lose a little weight, it’s probably not staying off for long.
Next, your body needs more than just meat. You’re missing out on A LOT on the carnivore diet.
Uhh like FIBER!!
When I was reading about people who gave this diet a shot (Joe Rogan was one), most of them said they experienced constipation, followed by horrible diarrhea a few weeks in. No thanks.
Why does this happen? A couple of reasons. We know that no fiber = constipation. Then once you’re further into the no-carb diet, your body has to adjust and make energy from fat and protein. When this happens, a lot of fat ends up in your intestines that needs to well… exit. Which leaves you running to the bathroom.
Eating a diet based on meat can also be really high in fat and sodium. You can actually have vitamin deficiencies on this diet too.
So here are my thoughts…
This diet is intense and super restrictive.
Like any extreme diet, the carnivore diet just isn’t sustainable. If you want to lose weight, you’re much better off doing it the right way with a balanced diet of whole, nutritious foods and plenty of exercise. Extreme diets are hard on the body AND your mental health. And most of the time, they don’t work! Totally not worth it if you ask me.