Home / / What is the Carnivore Diet and Is It Healthy?

What is the Carnivore Diet and Is It Healthy?

By Rachael Attard, Updated Sep 5, 2021
What is the carnivore diet

What you eat makes a huge difference in the way you look and feel. Our diet can impact our mood, weight, energy levels, the likelihood of illness, and more. There are so many different diets out there, and it is important to figure out what the healthiest choice is for you.

The carnivore diet is a diet that is becoming popular, and some of you have asked my thoughts about it. So I decided to share more about the diet, why people try this diet, the pros and cons of the diet, and some of my thoughts about it.

What Is the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet is all about meat and animal products. While on this diet, people only eat food derived from animals and you can’t eat fruits and veggies, grains, plant-based oils, or sugars.

People who go on this diet tend to do so in order to see health benefits. Some say the diet can help people lose weight, regulate blood sugar, and help with mood disorders, however there isn’t much scientific evidence to support this.

This diet is pretty extreme and restrictive. Some people follow low-carb diets but the carnivore diet takes it a step further by eliminating most carbohydrate sources altogether. Most people who do the carnivore diet do so after trying the ketogenic diet or the paleo diet.

Because of the severity of the diet, many people wonder why it is appealing. Proponents of the diet believe that our ancestors ate diets that were rich in meat, and they believe that the human body performs best when it has a lot of protein and fat. However, their views are controversial and debated within the medical community.

Some people with chronic health issues, including diabetes, digestive issues, depression, and chronic fatigue, turn to the carnivore diet to try and help relieve their symptoms. But again, there isn’t enough scientific proof or research that shows if the carnivore diet actually helps or not.

RELATED POST: How to Transition from a Low-carb Diet

How Should You Eat on the Carnivore Diet?

Like with most diets, there is some flexibility with the carnivore diet. Some people are really strict, and they only eat products directly from animals, like meat and eggs. Others are comfortable eating products from insects (like honey) and using basic zero-carb seasonings, like black pepper.

Although there is some variation in the diet, the basic premise is to stick to products derived from animals.

Foods You Can Eat on the Carnivore Diet

carnivore diet food list

People on the carnivore diet consume animal products, but they also typically consume low-lactose dairy products. However, because lactose is a type of sugar, some choose to avoid lactose completely.

Here’s a breakdown of what they typically eat:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Organ meats
  • Fish, including salmon, sardines, and whitefish
  • Heavy cream
  • Hard cheeses (these tend to be low in lactose)
  • Butter
  • Bone broth
  • Water

People on this diet like to try to eat the fattier cuts of meat. The fat helps them get extra energy that they need to sustain the diet.

RELATED POST: Should You Go Dairy Free?

Foods You Should Avoid on the Carnivore Diet

what not to eat carnivore diet

This diet is very restrictive, and most foods that you can imagine are not unacceptable to eat while following this diet. However, the made foods you should avoid are:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Legumes
  • Bread
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Sugar
  • Dairies like yoghurt and skim milk

Some people will drink coffee and tea on the carnivore diet, but others choose to stick to water and bone broth instead.

Is the Carnivore Diet Good or Bad for You?

This diet is very controversial, and there isn’t a lot of research available to back up its claims. However, some people say that the diet has really helped improve their well being.

Pros of the Carnivore Diet

carnivore diet pros

It Might Help You Lose Weight

In general, low carbohydrate diets and specifically the carnivore diet can help with weight loss. There are a few reasons why some people lose weight while on the diet.

1. Protein helps you feel full. The carnivore diet is very high in protein. Because the protein helps you feel satisfied with your meals, you’ll probably end up eating less overall. This can lead to a lower calorie intake and, of course, weight loss. Studies show that people who eat diets that are high in protein lose weight faster than those who eat low-protein diets.

2. You don’t eat as much “junk” food. While on the carnivore diet, you have to skip the donuts your coworker brought in one morning. You can’t snack on chips, and you’re not allowed to have a slice of birthday cake. In other words, you avoid eating sweet, ultra-processed food that is connected to obesity and weight gain. Skipping these foods will help some people lose weight.

3. Your body might enter a state of ketosis. Low carb diets work, at least in part, by pushing the body into a state of fat burning. When you eat mostly fat instead of carbs, your body is forced to rely on fat, instead of sugar, for energy. It burns fat, which can help with weight loss.

However, because people on the carnivore diet eat so much protein, they tend to struggle to get enough fat to be in this state often. This is partially why some people on the diet like to try to eat as much animal fat as possible.

RELATED POST: Low-carb Diets – Good or Bad?

You Cut Out Food Low in Nutritional Benefits

As I mentioned, when you’re on the carnivore diet, you can’t eat ultra-processed food, sugary treats, or other junk food. In short, you avoid food that doesn’t provide you with any nutritional value.

This obviously can help with weight loss, but it also has other health benefits. For example, people with diabetes should avoid these foods to help manage their blood sugar levels.

Too much sugar and junk food are also linked to heart problems, acne, depression, low energy levels, liver problems, dental problems, and more.

RELATED POST: How Much Sugar Should You Have In a Day

SOME CLAIM THAT IT CAN CURE HEALTH PROBLEMS

People who support this diet claimed that this diet has cured their health problems. However, this diet is pretty new, and most of the claims supporting the diet are anecdotal.

There hasn’t been any research that suggests the diet works to cure health problems like this.

Cons of the Carnivore Diet

carnivore diet cons

The Diet Contains Too Much Fat and Sodium

Meat is often very high in both sodium and fat. In a balanced diet, this isn’t typically a problem. However, if you eat meat for every meal, the salt and fat adds up quickly.

Eating too much saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol levels and it can also lead to coronary heart disease.

Similarly, eating foods that are high in sodium is linked to other heart problems, including high blood pressure and kidney disease.

RELATED POST: Is Salt Bad for You?

The Diet Lacks Nutrients

For most people, this diet will not offer the vitamins and nutrients you need to be healthy. We receive a lot of necessary nutrients from fruits and vegetables especially. Skipping those can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

The Diet Lacks Fiber

I talk about the importance of fiber frequently. Fiber helps with digestive issues (especially types of constipation), keeps you feeling full, and is an important part of a well-balanced diet. Fiber can also help prevent colon cancer and colorectal adenoma.

Fiber is typically found in whole grains and vegetables. Some people, especially those with Crohn’s disease or other autoimmune diseases, struggle to digest certain foods that contain fiber. However, in general, fiber is an important part of a healthy diet.

The Diet Isn’t Sustainable for Most People

The carnivore diet is incredibly restrictive, and it won’t work well for most people’s lifestyles. Plus, I imagine it would get boring very quickly! Because of this, a lot of people struggle to stick with the diet.

When trying to eat healthy, it is important to be realistic with yourself about what you hope to achieve. For many people, following the carnivore diet is not a realistic way to try to eat or live.

Should You Try the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet is popular in some circles, but I don’t think it is the best choice for most people. It is very restrictive, hard to maintain long term, and doesn’t provide people with the nutrients and minerals they need.

Several health organizations, including the US Department of Health and Human Services and the American Heart Association, say that the best diet for most people is one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables without much saturated fat. In other words, they recommend the opposite of the carnivore diet.

Although you might experience some weight-loss benefits, there are other ways to lose weight without undergoing such an extreme diet. Instead, I suggest trying to eat a balanced diet that you can maintain long-term. If you are interested in trying a low-carb diet, I suggest looking into the keto diet first. :)

As always, talk to your doctor or a medical professional if you are experiencing any health issues with your diet.

Let me know what you think about the carnivore diet! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. :)

Love Rachael Xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.