The fundamental principle of the carnivore diet is eliminating everything except animal products from your diet. Dairy products (including milk, butter, cheese, and yogurt) are animal-based, so yes — you can consume dairy on the carnivore diet.
In fact, dairy is one of the key foods on the carnivore diet food list.
Some people are lactose-intolerant or allergic to milk proteins, so they may have issues consuming dairy when they start the carnivore diet. However, by healing their gut and then introducing raw dairy products slowly, it’s often possible for them to tolerate these foods.
Learn more below about how and why you should consume dairy on the carnivore diet.
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Health Benefits of Dairy
Dairy products are nutrient-dense foods. Even health authorities like the USDA advise people to consume dairy products every day. Out of the 22 essential nutrients, 18 of them are present in milk, including vital minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and probiotics.
Milk also provides a good amount of magnesium, selenium, Vitamin A, and zinc. The main mineral in your bones is Calcium — and dairy products are the best source of calcium when it comes to the human diet.
Thus, dairy products are great for your bone health. Studies show that the consumption of dairy improves your bone density, reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis, and reduces the risk of fractures in older adults.
Dairy products also help you with your body weight and improve body composition by reducing your fat mass and waist circumference, and increasing your lean body mass. Yogurt is associated with preventing risk factors of metabolic syndrome such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, and triglycerides.
Fermented dairy products such as kefir and yogurt contain probiotics — microorganisms with a multitude of benefits. Intake of probiotics is associated with lowering the levels of LDL as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Why You Should Avoid Diary on the Carnivore Diet
The main carbohydrate in dairy is lactose, which is a milk sugar that comprises galactose and glucose. To break down lactose, we need an enzyme called lactase. Children produce lactase to break down the lactose present in breast milk.
However, as we grow up, many people lose their ability to produce lactase and break down lactose, which leads to lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerant people experience digestive symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, cramps, and gas when they eat dairy products.
Plus, some people are allergic to the proteins in milk and dairy products, such as casein. When they consume milk, milk proteins like casein are identified by their bodies as harmful, which triggers the production of IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies to neutralize the allergen.
From wheezing to vomiting and hives, people suffer from different symptoms. In some people, it can cause a life-threatening, severe reaction called anaphylaxis.
Learning to Tolerate Dairy
If you have any type of allergy to dairy, it’s best to avoid it when you start the carnivore diet. You can start with just beef and salt (known as the lino diet) and gradually reintroduce other foods to see how you feel after a few months.
Of course, if your dairy allergy is severe — it’s best to stay away completely.
When reintroducing dairy, try to start with raw milk from a local farm. It’s not dangerous at all, and because it’s not processed, your body can likely tolerate it a lot better. There are huge health benefits to raw milk, and it’s a key part of a balanced ancestral diet.
You could also try goat’s milk, as many people tolerate that better than cow’s milk. You can then start introducing other dairy products, such as carnivore-diet-friendly cheese, yogurt, and kefir.
Carnivore Diet Alternatives to Dairy
Unfortunately, you can’t replace dairy products on the carnivore diet with alternatives other than carnivore bone broth, which is also full of nutrients that improve your overall health.
Dairy products are carnivore-friendly and you can consume them safely without ruining your diet. They have several health benefits as well, and even if you can’t tolerate dairy at first — it’s possible to learn to tolerate it by introducing it slowly.
The carnivore diet heals inflammation in your body, so it can help you digest foods you couldn’t eat before.