The carnivore diet is a high protein, low-carb elimination diet in which you consume meat, organ meats, and animal-based products only. You don’t eat plant-based foods like grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The carnivore diet is the right choice for many people. Animal-based is our natural way of eating — our ancestors were carnivores. Cutting out gut-irritating vegetables can help cure lots of autoimmune health problems.
The carnivore diet can be too strict for some people, but for many, this is a pro — they can eat steak every day.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Carnivore Diet Pros
There are various benefits of eating meat and animal-based products— from antioxidant effects to weight loss and satiety. Once you start, you will see that being on a carnivore diet is beneficial for your mental as well as physical health.
Helps with Weight Loss
The carnivore diet helps with weight loss because it’s easy to stay in a calorie deficit and burn more energy than you consume. But meat also has weight-loss properties.
Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid that is found in meat. It is associated with weight loss, enhanced mitochondrial function, and improved body fat. It also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in your body.
Enhances Brain Function
The carnivore diet helps with your brain function as well. DHA — Docosahexaenoic acid — is essential for proper brain function. It makes up over 20% of the fat in the brain. Not only does it protect our nerves but also helps with neural connectivity. Animal-sourced foods like pork, lamb, and organ meats provide DHA in ample amounts.
Choline is very important for the proper functioning of our body and we rely on meat-based products to get most of it. Choline deficiency is linked with issues with memory, concentration, and cognitive impairments.
In short, the carnivore diet contains all the vitamins and nutrients needed to keep your brain functioning at its best.
Improves Overall Bodily Function
Eating a meat-based diet offers several general benefits such as the creation of red blood cells (RBCs), conversion of fuel to energy, stabilization of mood, and boosting your cognition. All of these benefits are provided by Vitamin B12, which is present almost exclusively in animal-based products.
Heme iron is also present only in red meat and it is important for the formation of RBCs, proper immune function, cognitive ability, and energy metabolism. If you don’t get enough iron, you become anemic. The zinc present in meat is 400 times more bioavailable than that present in grains.
Zinc is essential for your immune system and helps your body synthesize DNA and protein. It helps with wound healing and proper development and growth.
Improves Bone Health
Vitamin K2 increases the amount of calcium present in our bones and helps with osteoporosis and improves your bone health. Vitamin K is present only in dairy products and meat. It basically functions like a hormone and activates other proteins which stop the calcification of kidneys, tissues, blood vessels, and arteries.
It promotes the calcium that binds to teeth and bones. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) present in the meat also helps with bone formation and mineral density.
Contains Nutrient-Dense Foods
A carnivore diet provides you with various essential nutrients that are only present in meat such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin K2 Retinol, Creatine, Heme Iron, DHA, and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Pasture-raised animals contain a the fat known as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
CLA reduces body fat and increases lean muscle. Moreover, it reduces the risk of atherosclerosis. Retinol is important for stem cell differentiation. The preformed retinol present in organ meats such as beef liver has a higher level of bioavailability than the beta carotene present in plants.
Even though the carnivore diet is a restrictive elimination diet, it’s more nutrient-dense than the standard American diet by far.
Eliminates Antinutrients and Plant Toxins (Heals Your Gut)
Plants are usually considered to be healthy. However, what most of us don’t keep in mind is that plants have historically been a very small part of our diet before the agricultural revolution.
Evolution is all about survival — since plants can’t hit, claw, or run their way out of danger, they have sophisticated mechanisms of defending themselves using antinutrients and plant toxins. Plant toxins such as phytates and lectins that plants use to defend themselves promote leaky gut and thus contribute to chronic inflammation.
Plus, according to research, people who eat plant foods also consume about 1.5 g of natural pesticides each day. Modern agirculture does not create healthy vegetables.
Once you start the carnivore diet, you save yourself from the harmful effects of plant toxins and antinutrients. And if you eat organic meat, you avoid pesticides too.
Carnivore Diet Cons
The carnivore diet also comes with its limitations for some people.
Causes Constipation at First
When you switch over to a carnivore diet, your gut goes through various changes. Your stomach has to adapt to a high protein, low-carb diet. Your fluid intake reduces as well on a meat-based diet. This adaptation and change can result in unusual bowel movements.
Constipation on a carnivore diet is temporary though. After a few weeks, you’ll notice your bowel movements are smoother than ever.
Restrictive in Nature
The carnivore diet is an elimination diet — you have to give up eating everything other than animal-based foods. This can be hard for you to follow in the long term.
May Not Be Suitable for All
The carnivore diet may not be the right fit for everyone. For instance, people with chronic kidney issues and those who need to limit their protein intake can’t follow the carnivore diet.
Plus, people who are sensitive to cholesterol in their meals should be very careful while eating high-cholesterol foods like meat. Pregnant or lactating mothers have special needs when it comes to nutrients that aren’t fulfilled on the carnivore diet, and should eat an omnivore diet instead like paleo (the difference between paleo vs carnivore is that paleo includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds).
Optimizing the Carnivore Diet for True Ancestral Living
The carnivore diet should not be looked at as a way of eating only — it should be thought of as a lifestyle. To do that you will have to optimize the diet to experience true ancestral living.
Increase Water Intake
As we stated above, a carnivore diet can result in constipation. You can easily resolve this by staying hydrated. Once your body becomes used to the diet, your bowel movements will be regulated as well.
Add a Little Variety to Your Meals
There are other animal foods except for meat. For example, honey on the carnivore die is absolutely fine, as long as you don’t eat too much.
You can also experiment with some healthy foods that technically aren’t animal-based. Coffee on the carnivore diet isn’t ideal if you’re healing your gut, but most people can tolerate it well.
A carnivore diet with fruit is also a good option for people who don’t want to stay in ketosis. Unlike vegetables, fruit wants to be eaten to spread its seeds, so it contains fewer anti-nutrients and doesn’t harm your gut.
Once the carnivore diet has healed your gut, try adding fruit and even some vegetables to follow a seasonal ancestral diet. This will ensure that you don’t get bored by the restrictive nature of the diet. Remember, the diet that works is the one that you stick to.
Conclusion: Is the Carnivore Diet Right for Me?
If you’re looking to lose weight, feel better, and live like your ancestors without the harmful effects of modern foods, then yes — the carnivore diet is right for you.
Here’s a recap of the pros of the carnivore diet:
- Helps with weight loss
- Enhances brain function
- Improves overall bodily function
- Improves bone health
- Contains Nutrient-Dense Foods
- Eliminates antinutrients and plant toxins (heals your gut)
And the cons of the carnivore diet:
- Causes constipation at first
- Restrictive in nature
- May not be suitable for all
As with any diet, you should review the pros and cons before starting. We recommend following a strict carnivore diet of only animal products for several months to heal your body, and then moving to a seasonal ancestral diet that includes small amounts of fruit and plant foods.