The carnivore diet has been touted by many to treat various health problems and chronic diseases. However, many others argue that the carnivore diet can cause nutritional deficiencies due to the complete elimination of plant-based food.
It’s difficult to know who to believe, as there is limited research on the carnivore diet.
In 2021, a Harvard study found numerous benefits to animal-based eating. This was the first study on the carnivore diet specifically, and likely the first of many to come as science catches up with the amazing results people see every day.
In this article, we break down exactly what the study found, so you can make your own decisions and take ownership over your health and lifestyle.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Was the Harvard Carnivore Diet Study?
When people say the Harvard Carnivore Diet Study, they’re referring to a piece of research titled: Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”
This study involved 2029 participants aged 18 or over, who consumed a carnivore diet for more than 6 months. The objective of the research was to understand the effect of the carnivore diet on physical and mental health status.
A survey was conducted through social media, with most participants participating through Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. Most of the survey questions were about their motivation for following the carnivore diet, dietary intake patterns, symptoms that could suggest dietary or nutritional deficiencies, satisfaction with the diet, and prior and current health conditions.
What Were the Results of the Study?
The results were that real people following a carnivore diet experienced huge health benefits from this way of eating.
Most of the people who participated in the study (93%) consumed a carnivore diet for more than 14 months, and were motivated to eat this way because they had medical conditions or health issues. Respondents showed a high level of satisfaction with the diet.
Here’s a summary of some of the key findings:
- 98% of the population with diabetes reported improvement in their condition, and a decrease in need for their medication
- 97% of the population with gastrointestinal issues reported improvement in their symptoms
- 93% of obese participants reported weight loss due to a carnivore diet, with only 1% reporting weight gain
- 93% of participants with hypertension reported improvement
These results are quite different from the view that long-term consumption of a carnivore diet causes health problems. Instead, participants reported improvement in their prior health conditions due to long-term use of a carnivore diet.
The study also found that long-term consumption of a carnivore diet improved the participants’ energy levels, strength, sleep, endurance, mental clarity, and focus.
The results for lipid abnormalities were more complicated, with 19% of people reporting worsening of their condition and 8% reporting new lipid abnormalities due to a carnivore diet. However, 56% of people reported either resolution or improvement of their symptoms.
What Were the Limitations of the Study?
Although the results illustrated the benefits of the carnivore diet, the study did have some limitations.
For example, the study only collected data about the self-perception of the participants. It did not objectively assess diet, nutritional status, or confounding health-associated behavior. Also, the study did not obtain physiological or biochemical measurements. Recall and reporting bias also may have affect the data and results.
This is understandable, as there are both pros and cons to the carnivore diet.
Conclusion: Does Evidence Support the Carnivore Diet?
In short, yes — this study does provide evidence of some of the benefits of the carnivore diet. It’s not a perfect piece of research, but it’s an excellent start and likely a sign of things to come.
The fact that such a high-level and publicized study took place is also encouraging, as it shows the carnivore diet is going mainstream and more people are waking up to the power of ancestral diet and lifestyle.
Read more about what the research says about how the carnivore diet can treat various health conditions:
- Carnivore diet and arthritis
- Carnivore diet and erectile dysfunction
- Carnivore diet and hair loss
- Carnivore diet for IBS
- Carnivore diet and inflammation
- Carnivore diet and insomnia
- Carnivore diet and kidney stones
- Carnivore diet and menopause
- Carnivore diet and multiple sclerosis
- Carnivore diet for psoriasis
- Carnivore diet and rosacea
- Carnivore diet for SIBO