In your search to cure health issues with an animal-based diet like the carnivore diet, you may have come across the Lion Diet — a strict meat-only elimination diet popularized by Mikhaila Peterson, the daughter of world-renowned academic and thought leader Jordan Peterson.
In short, the Lion Diet works. It has helped many people overcome severe health issues by healing their gut. However, it’s not without its trade offs, and may not be right for you.
Read on to learn more about the Lion Diet.
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What Is the Lion Diet?
The Lion Diet is a meat-based, elimination diet. On this diet, you only consume ruminant meat such as beef and lamb plus salt and water.
The diet revolves around the idea that our ancestors evolved to eat meat and that a diet high in animal products is healthier and more natural than the standard American diet (SAD). Eliminating everything but the core foods we need to survive allows our gut microbiome to reset and our bodies to heal.
Since you eliminate most foods from your diet, it becomes easy for you to identify food sensitivities that you have and get rid of them. The Lion Diet was created originally by Mikhaila Peterson — a Canadian nutrition blogger and daughter of Jordan Peterson — who claims that the diet has worked wonders for her.
She was chronically ill throughout her life — suffering from rheumatoid arthritis from the age of 7, idiopathic hypersomnia, depression, and various other autoimmune issues. She cured all these health problems with the Lion Diet.
The Lion Diet is similar to the Carnivore Diet since you are only allowed to eat meat and organ meat. However, it is more restrictive in nature as you only eat meat, salt, and water. People who follow this diet, show improvements in cognitive and physical health. They also report complete remissions of autoimmune, psychological, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Why the Lion Diet Works
The Lion Diet consists of only meat, water, and salt. It reduces your food intake to the least inflammatory foods to keep you in the best health. The standard American diet contains a lot of carbs and sugar that are inflammatory in nature.
The Lion diet works by eliminating all problematic foods as you sustain yourself with a single, nutrient-dense food (i.e., ruminant meat). What you eat plays a key role in your physical health. It is a key factor when it comes to chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and skin ailments.
An elimination diet like this works because it eliminates the foods that cause inflammation. Various studies show concrete proof that elimination diets are effective for numerous allergies, IBS, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
What Can You Eat on the Lion Diet?
The Lion Diet is a meat-based diet. Here are the things that you can consume on the Lion Diet:
Ruminant animal meat:
Organ Meats (from ruminant animals):
- Bone Marrow
Apart from this, you can have salt and water. Nothing else is allowed.
Benefits of the Lion Diet
The Lion diet has numerous benefits, from weight loss to reducing inflammation and promoting gut health. Let’s explore the benefits you can derive from this zero-carb diet.
Benefit #1: Improves Gut Health
The Lion diet works wonders when it comes to digestive issues. A very low-carb diet changes and improves your gut microbiome in ways that reduce inflammation. It is also effective for autoimmune issues such as leaky gut.
A leaky gut is when the tight junctions of your gut separate and let foreign substances enter your bloodstream. This affects the responses of your immune system and results in autoimmune disorders. The Lion Diet is full of collagen and glutamine that help in repairing and strengthening your gut lining. Since you are removing the fermentable fiber and plant toxins from your diet, it will reset your gut. Cutting out fiber from your diet reduces bloating and gas and eases your bowel movements.
Benefits #2: Reduces Inflammation
C-reactive protein and IL-6 are markers of systemic inflammation. One of the main benefits of the Lion Diet is that it reduces these markers and helps you with inflammation. You eliminate irritating plant toxins, increase omega-3 fats, and improve your insulin sensitivity. All of this is linked with improving your gut health which is closely linked to your body’s inflammatory responses.
There are numerous studies that show that a low-carb diet such as the Lion Diet can decrease inflammation significantly.
Benefit #3: Improves Brain Function
The Lion Diet helps energize your brain. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is present in ample amounts in food such as lamb. DHA plays a key role when it comes to cognitive function. Over 20% of the fat in your brain has DHA in it. It not only enhances neural connectivity but protects your nerves as well.
Benefit #4: Helps with Weight Loss
Your primary nutrition source on the Lion Diet is protein. It takes your body a relatively long time to break down the calories that you get protein. It not only keeps you full for a long but also increases satiation and reduces food cravings. This results in effective weight loss.
When you eat carbs, your insulin levels keep on spiking and crashing. As a result, you suffer from a hormonal imbalance of important hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, and HGH which are associated with fat storage, hunger, and weight loss. Since you are on a zero-carb diet, you will be safe from these issues.
Risks of the Lion Diet
Even though the Lion Diet gives your body a vital dietary reset, it is not entirely risk-free, particularly if you follow it long-term. Here are some risks of The Lion Diet:
- Vitamin Deficiencies: Meat is nutrient-dense. However, eating muscle meat only causes vitamin/mineral deficiencies. Eat organ meats such as beef liver to avoid this.
- Protein Poisoning: Excessive protein causes protein poisoning, resulting in symptoms like diarrhea and hyperammonemia. Eating fatty cuts of meat can prevent this.
- Muscle Cramps: Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance cause muscle cramps. To avoid this, increase your salt and water intake.
- Loose Stools: Your digestive system will take some time to adjust to this new, high-protein and high-fat diet. Once your body adapts, this will resolve on its own.
The Lion diet is not for everyone. It is a restrictive diet that is difficult to follow in the long term. Moreover, if you have chronic kidney problems and need to monitor your protein intake, then this isn’t the diet for you. If you have cholesterol sensitivity, meat isn’t the answer for you as it is high in cholesterol.
Tips for Success
Here are some tips that will help you get a smooth start on the Lion Diet:
- Start gradually. It is recommended that you start by eliminating all refined and processed foods, and then gradually remove non-meat items from your diet. It will give your body ample time to adjust to the new diet and help you avoid any digestive issues.
- Add variety to your meals. Don’t stick to one type of meat only. Eat meat from different ruminants to ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients. Incorporate organ meats into your diet as they are highly nutritious.
- Select high-quality animal products that are grass-fed, pasture-raised, and free of hormones and antibiotics.
- Since you are cutting out plant-based food, you will have to be extra vigilant and stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated.
- Listen to your body and make any adjustments that you feel are necessary. If you experience any digestive issues and negative symptoms, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help.
Should I Try the Lion Diet (and if so, for How Long)?
There is a vast array of benefits associated with the Lion Diet. It is an effective way to lose weight. The diet has a high-fat content which improves your energy and mental clarity as a steady source of energy is given to your brain and body. It eliminates the common sources of inflammation such as processed foods, sugar, and grains. It is also helpful in managing specific health conditions like autoimmune disorders and digestive issues.
If not planned properly, the Lion Diet can lead to protein poisoning and nutrient deficiencies. We recommend that you follow this diet for a while — until your health issues start to clear up. Mikhaila Peterson recommends following it for at least 3 months. Once you are asymptomatic, you can start adding in new foods.
The Lion Diet is highly restrictive in nature. A more balanced ancestral diet is one what we recommend. It not only eliminates all the harmful food groups but allows you to eat a larger variety of foods, fulfilling all of your dietary needs efficiently. The Lion Diet may help you reset your gut and reduce inflammation, but over time you should switch to a more balanced ancestral diet.