Carnivore diet, plate with only beef

The carnivore diet, a dietary plan that consists entirely of animal products, has gained popularity for its potential health benefits and simplicity.

We will talk about the intricacies of the carnivore diet, discussing its benefits, risks, and how it works in this article.

This diet can be crucial for anyone considering making significant dietary changes, especially those aiming for weight loss or addressing specific health issues. By examining the latest research and expert opinions, we aim to provide a full guide to the carnivore diet.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

Definition and Origins

The carnivore diet is a restrictive eating plan that focuses exclusively on animal products. Followers of this diet consume meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy products while eliminating all plant-based foods.

However, there are also people who call an all-meat diet, a carnivore diet. But that diet is now called the Lion’s diet and pupularized by Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of dr. Jordan B. Peterson.

  • Definition: A diet that excludes all plant-based foods and includes only animal products.
  • Origins: While the modern resurgence of the carnivore diet is recent, similar eating patterns have been followed by various indigenous cultures throughout history, such as the Inuit and Maasai.

Core Principles

The core principles of the carnivore diet revolve around the exclusive consumption of animal-based foods, which proponents believe offer numerous health benefits due to their high nutrient density and bioavailability.

Allowed Foods:

  • Meat: All types, including beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meats.
  • Fish and Seafood: Includes all varieties, such as salmon, mackerel, shrimp, and shellfish.
  • Eggs: Both chicken eggs and other types like duck or quail eggs.
  • Dairy: Some followers include low-lactose dairy products like butter, hard cheeses, and heavy cream.

Comparison with Other Low-Carb Diets:

  • Ketogenic Diet: Focuses on high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs but allows plant-based foods.
  • Paleo Diet: Emphasizes whole foods and excludes processed foods, grains, and dairy, but includes fruits and vegetables.
DietMain ComponentsExcludes
CarnivoreMeat, fish, eggs, some dairyAll plant-based foods, grains, and sugars
KetogenicHigh fat, moderate protein, very low carbsMost fruits, grains, starchy vegetables
PaleoWhole foods, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nutsProcessed foods, grains, dairy, legumes

Remember: There are also more strict carnivore diets, such as the all-beef diet, popularized by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, whose daughter’s autoimmune condition reportedly improved significantly following this diet.

How the Carnivore Diet Works

Mechanism of Action

The carnivore diet works by significantly altering your body’s metabolism and energy sources. By eliminating carbohydrates, the diet forces your body to rely on fats and proteins for fuel, leading to a metabolic state known as ketosis.

Ketosis and Fat Adaptation:

  • In the absence of carbohydrates, your liver begins to convert fat into ketones, which become the primary energy source for your body.
  • This process is similar to what occurs in the ketogenic diet but is more extreme due to the complete elimination of plant-based foods.
  • Over time, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy, a state referred to as being “fat-adapted.”

Nutritional Profile

The carnivore diet’s nutritional profile is unique due to its focus on animal products, which provide a different balance of macronutrients and micronutrients compared to more varied diets.


  • Proteins: High intake of complete proteins from meat, fish, and eggs.
  • Fats: Significant consumption of animal fats, which are crucial for energy in the absence of carbohydrates.
  • Carbohydrates: Virtually no carbohydrates, leading to minimal glucose in the diet.


  • Vitamins and Minerals: While meat and fish are rich in certain nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and zinc, there can be concerns about deficiencies in vitamin C, fiber, and other plant-based nutrients.

Typical Daily Meal Plan on the Carnivore Diet

A typical day on the carnivore diet includes meals composed entirely of animal products. Here’s an example of what a daily meal plan might look like:

MealFoods Included
BreakfastScrambled eggs cooked in butter, bacon, and a small portion of liver for additional nutrients.
LunchGrilled steak with a side of salmon or sardines, providing both protein and healthy fats.
DinnerRoasted chicken with the skin on, along with some cheese or full-fat dairy, such as heavy cream.
SnacksBeef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, or pork rinds for convenient, protein-rich snacks.

Benefits of the Carnivore Diet

Weight Loss

One of the most touted benefits of the carnivore diet is its potential for weight loss. By eliminating carbohydrates, the diet helps reduce insulin levels and promotes the body’s use of stored fat for energy.

How the Carnivore Diet Promotes Weight Loss:

  • Reduced Insulin Levels: Lower carbohydrate intake leads to reduced insulin production, which helps the body access fat stores for energy.
  • Increased Satiety: High-protein and high-fat meals can lead to increased feelings of fullness, reducing overall calorie intake.
  • Simplified Food Choices: The restrictive nature of the diet can limit the variety of foods consumed, often resulting in a natural calorie deficit.

Supporting Studies and Anecdotal Evidence:

  • Research published in the journal Obesity Reviews indicates that low-carb diets can be effective for short-term weight loss.
  • Numerous anecdotal reports from individuals following the carnivore diet suggest significant weight loss within a few months of adherence.

Health Improvements

The carnivore diet may offer several health improvements, particularly for those with specific conditions or intolerances.

Potential Benefits for Health Conditions:

  • Inflammation: Some individuals report reduced inflammation, which may help with autoimmune conditions.
  • Mental Clarity: Anecdotal evidence suggests that eliminating plant toxins and anti-nutrients can lead to improved mental clarity and focus.
  • Digestive Issues: For those with severe food intolerances or digestive disorders, the simplicity of the carnivore diet can alleviate symptoms.

Research Findings and Expert Opinions:

  • Studies on low-carb and ketogenic diets, like the one published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show potential benefits in reducing inflammation markers.
  • Experts such as Dr. Shawn Baker advocate for the carnivore diet’s ability to improve mental clarity and overall well-being through interviews and published testimonials.

Simplified Eating

The carnivore diet’s simplicity can be one of its most appealing aspects.

Benefits of a Simplified Dietary Regimen:

  • Ease of Planning: With fewer food choices, meal planning becomes straightforward and less time-consuming.
  • Consistency: Eating the same types of foods regularly can help establish consistent eating patterns, which some find helpful for maintaining dietary adherence.

Personal Testimonies and Case Studies:

  • Many followers of the carnivore diet report enjoying the simplicity and finding it easier to stick to compared to more complex diets.
  • Case studies often highlight improvements in various health metrics, from weight loss to reduced symptoms of chronic conditions.

Risks and Considerations

Nutrient Deficiencies

One of the main controversies and concerns with the carnivore diet is the potential for nutrient deficiencies due to the exclusion of plant-based foods. Here are the main nutrients that are in question with this diet:

  • Vitamin C
  • Fiber
  • Other Nutrients: Potential deficiencies in folate, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants, which are typically found in plant foods.

Fiber and Gut Health

Contrary to popular belief, humans do not need fiber to maintain optimal gut health. While it might sound surprising, there is no credible scientific evidence suggesting that consuming fiber offers significant health benefits.

Addressing Common Fiber Myths:

  • Regular Bowel Movements: You do not need to consume fiber to have regular bowel movements. Fiber increases stool volume and slows digestion, which can be counterproductive for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or similar gut issues.
  • Blood Sugar Response: Fiber can improve blood sugar response, but this is irrelevant on a meat-based diet since meat does not contain carbohydrates.
  • Gut Bacterial Composition: A meta-analysis has shown that consuming fiber does not improve the diversity of microbial species within the gut microbiome. Early humans and modern hunter-gatherer tribes like the Hadza in Tanzania did not consume significant amounts of fiber and still maintained good health.
  • Heart Health, Cancer, and Weight Loss: Studies, such as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial, have confirmed that increasing dietary fiber does not benefit colon cancer prevention, heart disease, or weight loss.

Early Human Diets:

  • Historical Diets: Early humans and Paleolithic ancestors did not consume meaningful amounts of fiber. They might chew on fibrous plant foods for nutrients but often spit out the indigestible material.

Digestive Health and Fiber:

  • Increased Gas: A study published in Nutrients in 2021 found that men consuming a predominantly plant-based diet (i.e., a vegan diet) had increased “anal-gas evacuations.” This suggests that high fiber intake can lead to bloating and excessive gas, which are not signs of optimal gut health.

Cardiovascular Health

Individuals with heart conditions or high blood pressure are frequently advised to increase their fiber intake, as fiber is believed to enhance heart health and lower the risk of cardiovascular incidents. However, recent scientific research has cast doubt on this belief.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial, a comprehensive eight-year study involving 49,000 women, revealed surprising findings. Contrary to popular belief, the study found that increasing dietary fiber through more consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables did not result in a significant reduction in the risk of heart disease. This extensive research indicated that higher fiber intake did not correlate with a decrease in cardiovascular events, thereby challenging the notion that fiber is essential for heart health.

These findings are particularly relevant for those following the carnivore diet, which eliminates fiber-rich plant foods. The study suggests that the emphasis on fiber for heart health may be overstated, and other dietary adjustments, such as reducing sugar and processed food intake, might play a more significant role in promoting cardiovascular well-being.

Long-term Sustainability

Maintaining the carnivore diet over the long term can be challenging for many people due to its restrictive nature.

Challenges of Maintaining the Carnivore Diet Long-Term:

  • Social and Lifestyle Factors: The diet’s restrictiveness can make social dining and variety in meals difficult. Also, other people might advise against this diet, and create a negative atmosphere.
  • Monotony: Eating the same types of foods repeatedly can lead to boredom. The growing community of the carnivore diet suggest that you play around with different types of food to include in your diet, to make it “perfect” for your own needs.

Alternative Diets for a Balanced Approach:

  • Ketogenic Diet: Allows for a broader range of foods while still promoting ketosis.
  • Paleo Diet: Includes a variety of whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, while avoiding processed foods and grains.

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