- Carnivore Diet: A Beginner’s Guide to an All-Meat Diet
- What is the Carnivore Diet?
- Carnivore Diet Food List
- Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
- Frequently Asked Questions About the Carnivore Diet
- Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Example
- Getting Through the First Month of an All-Meat Diet
- The Carnivore Diet Is Worth Considering
- How to Start The Carnivore Diet
- Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
- Approved Carnivore Diet Food List
- Foods to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet
- Before and After Results on the Carnivore Diet
- Benefits of an All Meat Diet
- Problems on an All Meat Diet
- Common Mistakes on the Carnivore Diet
- Where to Buy Meat
- How to Cook on the Carnivore Diet
- Carnivore Diet Support Groups and Forums
- Carnivore Diet FAQ’s
- Q: Do I Only Need to Eat Grass Fed Meat?
- Q: Can I Eat Processed Meats?
- Q: What Snacks Are Carnivore Friendly?
- Q: Are Sausages & Bacon Ok to Eat?
- Q: Is This a Long-Term or Short-Term Diet?
- Q: What About the Risk of Constipation?
- Q: Will Eating Too Much Meat Cause Kidney Damage?
- Q: Do I Need To Take Supplements?
- Q: Will I Get Enough Vitamin C?
- What is the carnivore diet?
- How to Survive the First Month
- The carnivore diet FAQ
- What I Learned from a Month on the Carnivore Diet
- Guide to red meat – is it healthy?
- What is red meat?
- Benefits of eating red meat
- What does the research show with respect to meat’s potential harm?
- Carnivore Diet Results: Why It Works for Some People But Didn’t for Me
- Carnivore diet results: Why it makes sense to eliminate carbs
- What happened when I ditched carbs
- Why a zero-carb diet doesn’t work for everyone
- Carnivore diet results: What happens when meat works
- Hacks for the best carnivore diet results
- Join over 1 million fans
- Starting the carnivore diet
- After my carnivore diet
- The Carnivore Diet Is the Latest Fad to Ignore That Food Does More Than Just Feed Us
- What Is the Carnivore Diet?
- How Does the Carnivore Diet Work?
- Ketogenic Diet vs. Carnivore Diet
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is a Carnivore Diet Right for You?
- 27 Keto Carnivore Diet Recipes That Will Make You a Meat-Lover
- 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Organ Meats
- Here are just a few of the keto carnivore diet we’ve included:
- Recipes for a Carnivore Diet
- Keto Smokey Bacon Meatballs
- Keto Steak au Poivre
- 3-Ingredient Crispy Keto Chicken Thighs
- Keto Asian Chicken Wings
- Keto Mustard-Seared Bacon Burgers
- Three Ingredient Keto Steak Sauté
- Keto Lemon Baked Salmon
- Keto Crockpot Shredded Chicken
- Easy Keto Pepperoni Meatballs
- Paleo Chicken and Bacon Sausages
- Garlic Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites
- Slow Cooker Bacon & Chicken
- French Roast Beef – Cold Cut Style
- Organ Meats
- Keto Roasted Bone Marrow
- Rosemary Liver Burgers
- Tasty Beef and Liver Burger
- BBQ Chicken Livers and Hearts
- Beef (Heart) Steak
- Chicken Liver with Raw Garlic and Thyme
- Hidden Liver Meatballs
- Herb Roasted Bone Marrow
- Cajun-Spiced Chicken Livers with Bacon and Onion
- 50/50/50 Burgers
- Grilled Beef Liver
- Keto Chicken Hearts
- Pan Seared Beef Tongue
- Beef Tongue into Delicious Crispy Beef
- Related posts:
Carnivore Diet: A Beginner’s Guide to an All-Meat Diet
A new diet trend has emerged and it’s gained the attention of the masses.
The carnivore diet goes completely against the grain of the conventional nutrition advice we’ve previously been taught.
Out of all the trends we’ve been introduced to, this diet seems like the most extreme one yet.
But following a carnivore diet has been around for hundreds of years. Our ancestors adhered to a strictly animal-based diet and some of our longest-living populations thrived on carnivory long before “diet trends” were ever introduced.
The carnivore diet is extremely popular now for good reason.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is the carnivore diet?
- Carnivore diet food list
- Benefits of the carnivore diet
- Frequently asked questions
- Carnivore diet meal plan
- Tips for getting through the first month
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is simple, you only eat animal foods and products. Everything else is restricted. That means no fruits, no vegetables, and especially no carbohydrates. It’s almost the complete opposite of a vegan diet.
While this may seem crazy at first, many people theorize that plant foods are not required to live. In fact, carbohydrates – which can be found in plants – is the only non-essential macronutrient. This means fats and proteins are required for our body to thrive but we can get by without consuming any carbs whatsoever.
You don’t have to follow any food timing strategies, portion control, or calorie counting.
Bottom line: To successfully follow a carnivore diet, eat only animal products and avoid everything else.
Carnivore Diet Food List
Eating only animal products makes your weekly grocery haul extremely easy. One of the major selling points of the carnivore diet is how easy it is to follow.
Here is a list of carnivore-approved foods:
- Meat. Your main calorie source should come from fatty cuts of grass-fed meat like NY strip steak, porterhouse, ribeye, 80/20 ground beef, t-bone, bacon, pork chops, and flank steak. Since you’re restricting carbohydrates, meats with more fat content are preferred so your body can use those fats as a source of energy.
- Fish. Salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, and catfish are allowed. Just like meat, aim for the fattiest fish you can purchase.
- Eggs. Also known as nature’s multivitamin, eggs are the perfect ratio of protein, fats, and essential nutrients to keep your body performing at its best on the carnivore diet.
- Bone Marrow. Bone broth is carnivore-approved and it’s a great protein source that also helps with gut, skin, and joint health.
- Dairy. Milk, grass-fed butter, and cheese are technically allowed since they come from an animal but many carnivore dieters try to keep dairy intake at a minimum since a large percentage of the population eventually develops an intolerance.
- Fatty meat food products. Use lard, tallow, and other animal-based fats to cook your food instead of vegetable oil.
- Condiments. Salt, pepper, herbs, and spices are allowed on the carnivore diet. Stick to simple ingredients that don’t contain any sugar or carbohydrates. If you want some flavor with your meat, consider adding some zero-calorie hot sauce like Frank’s Red Hot.
Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
The shocking amount of anecdotal reports showing how beneficial the carnivore diet can be to overall health is why the all-meat diet has been brought to light.
These benefits include:
Similar to the ketogenic diet, eating a strict meat diet can help you lose weight faster and more effective than any other diet. By eating only fat and protein from animal sources, you’re shifting your body’s main energy source from carbs to fats.
When you’re fat-adapted – also known as being in ketosis – your metabolism can use both dietary and stored body fat for fuel. This means you can burn off your own body fat and use that as energy.
In addition, fat and protein are very satiating. You’ll find yourself able to go on with your day for several hours without even thinking about food. Studies have also shown that becoming fat-adapted improves your hunger hormones, further regulating your appetite.
Inflammation can be exacerbated when carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed. Vegetable oils, processed foods, and even some nutrients in plants have been linked to increased inflammatory responses in the body.
Having less inflammation through a carnivore diet results in fewer aches and pains. The extra collagen from protein sources will also improve cartilage health.
Healthy fats are responsible for optimal hormonal function, including testosterone. Diets that are high in healthy fats have been shown to improve testosterone levels.
Since you’re consuming large amounts of healthy fats and protein on the carnivore diet, expect to see an increase in muscle mass, strength, and energy. And if you’re a woman, don’t worry. The increased fat will regulate your hormones, including testosterone, it won’t increase it.
Many carnivores have reported increased focus, energy, and mental clarity. This is likely due to the restriction of carbohydrates, becoming fat-adapted, and running on ketones (fats) for energy.
Studies have shown that ketones have neuroprotective properties and the brain actually prefers fats for energy over carbohydrates.
Less Digestive Issues
We’ve been led to believe that fiber was crucial for healthy digestion. But people who follow the carnivore diet believe in the exact opposite, with the science to back it up.
A study conducted in 2012 found that reducing fiber intake in people with chronic constipation experienced significant improvements in their symptoms as well as gas, bloating, and strain. The group who ate high fiber saw no change in their constipation symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Carnivore Diet
Here’s a list of the most common questions people have about the all-meat diet.
#1. Will I have any nutrient deficiencies?
Short answer, most likely not. Red meat contains just about every vitamin and mineral your body needs to live including iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B, vitamin D, protein, and more. The only nutrient it doesn’t contain is Vitamin C. But carnivore dieters believe that your body no longer needs ample amounts of vitamin C when carbs are removed.
#2. Will it work for athletes?
Yes. Many fitness enthusiasts assume that glucose from carbs is the best source for quick and immediate energy to fuel workouts and competition. On the carnivore diet, your body will go through a process called gluconeogenesis where some protein is converted into just enough glucose for certain body functions.
#3. Can I eat processed meats?
No. Grass-fed animal products should be the only food source you consume. Processed meats like pepperoni and other lunch meats typically contain harmful ingredients like artificial nitrates to preserve its shelf life which can negatively impact your health.
Chomps are not your typical meat stick – the best meat with simple spices, that’s it. Chomps are free from any artificial ingredients or preservatives, including added nitrates and nitrites, and are made with grass-fed & finished, free-range, and antibiotic / hormone-free proteins.
#4. How long is the adaptation period?
Around 1 month. If you’re like most people, you’ve been eating carbohydrates your whole life. Your body will take some time to adjust to using fats and protein as its main source of energy.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Example
Getting started with the carnivore diet is extremely simple. Here’s an example of what a full day of eating on the carnivore diet looks like.
- Breakfast — Eggs and bacon followed by black coffee and water
- Lunch — 80/20 grass-fed beef or salmon with water
- Dinner — Fatty cut of meat like ribeye or NY strip steak topped with grass-fed butter
- Snack — Pork rinds, Chomps, or bone broth
It doesn’t get much simpler and there’s no need to over-complicate it. In fact, if you love steak you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Getting Through the First Month of an All-Meat Diet
Before you dive right into the carnivore diet, it’s important to know that the first month and especially the first week will be the hardest.
Here are a few things you should understand and incorporate to make the transition easier:
- Get your blood tested. Get your blood work done before you start the carnivore diet and again after approximately 2 months in. Everyone has different metabolic needs so it’s important to know whether or not the diet is working well with your body.
- Don’t quit when you don’t feel good. You’ll more than likely experience fatigue, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms during the first week of the diet. This is a normal part of the process as your body is getting used to using fats for energy rather than carbs.
- Your appetite will fluctuate. You’ll have some days where you want to eat non-stop and other days where you won’t even think about food. Your appetite will adjust once your body gets used to this way of eating.
The Carnivore Diet Is Worth Considering
While the all meat trend is still extremely new, our ancestors from hundreds of years ago have been following a similar eating protocol, some of which have lived up to 100 years old.
With the astonishing amount of carnivores revitalizing their health – and research to back it up – the carnivore diet will continue to rise in popularity. If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, consult with your physician first then follow the tips we laid out in this article.
Are you interested in Dr Shawn Baker’s carnivore diet?
Did you listen to Mikhaila Petersons’ story on how much better she feels mentally & physically on a carnivore diet?
In this beginners guide on the carnivore diet you will find out what the diet is, and how to easily get started.
The carnivore diet is a dietary plan that involves eating just animal meat for all your nutritional needs.
On a strict carnivore dietary plan there are no plant based foods, like fruit or vegetables, or any processed carbohydrate foods like, cereals and grains.
The all meat diet is also known as the meat only diet, zero carb diet, beef only diet, or the carnivore diet, and is classified as a high protein diet.
How to Start The Carnivore Diet
1. Do a 30 Day Meat Only Challenge
For most people who want to try start eating a diet of only meat; starting with a 1 month challenge is a good way to start.
For 30 days you will follow the recommended protocols rules and tips.
Use this time to see if you subjectively feel better (better energy levels, less aches and pain, better sleep , less hunger etc…), or you can see better objective health changes (weight loss, better blood results like HbA1c numbers for diabetes, thyroid levels etc…).
Taking before and after pictures, keeping a health diary or tracking these lab results will then help you know if this is the diet plan for you, or not.
Don’t worry, it is very easy to get started. This way of eating is not complicated, but just needs a little preparation.
2. Eat Only Meat
The carnivore diet is based on eating only animal meats. This means you should only eat 100% meat and organs when on the diet.
You will not be eating plant based protein like, soy or pea protein.
The recommended types of meat you can eat will be any type of animal based protein. Some people will add in minimal dairy fat and protein products like some cream or cheese, but some choose not to.
Eat the fatty cuts of meat & not only lean cuts of meat.
Natural saturated and unsaturated animal fat on the meat provides additional daily nutritional needs that your body requires to stay healthy; along with the protein, minerals, vitamins & other nutrients you get from meat. Plus, adding fat makes any food more tasty (palatable).
3. Drink Mainly Water
Choosing to drink only water depends how strict you want to be on your carnivorous way of eating.
Most people are recommended to try drink water only for the first 30 days. This can be regular tap water, mineral water, spring water or filtered water.
A tips is to try add some Redmond Real salt to your water for extra electrolytes. The salt fix book author Dr James DiNicolantonio recommends you do to avoid issues.
A full, or strict, follower will eat just meat and only drink water. Whereas, others may include drinks like, coffee and tea, or other sources of fat like dairy products.
Some long-term carnivore diet followers, like Amber O’Hearn, find they still wish to drink coffee or tea. Do this as long as you are not adding sugar or sweeteners into your hot drinks.
Avoid any hot or cold beverages with added carbs like: soda drinks, vegetable drinks, energy drinks, protein powder shakes etc…
4. Eat Until Full
You will want to eat till you feel full (satiated).
Your appetite will change during the course of the the first month. Do not go hungry; eat to your energy needs.
Dr Baker mentioned on the Joe Rogan #1050 podcast interview how he has seen many people eat on average about 2 lbs (900 grams) of meat per day. However, since Dr Baker workouts out heavily, he likes to eat about 4 lbs (1.8kg) of meat per day.
5. Eat 1-3 Meals a Day
You can eat three meals a day or practice intermittent fasting (IF) with one meal a day (OMAD).
How often you eat depends on your daily schedule and if you want to try add in more health benefits like practising timed fasting.
If you follow circadian biology thinking then protein in the morning within the first hour of waking helps to set your body clock; so a carnivore breakfast would be an important meal.
If you follow the advice from protein researcher Prof Stuart Phillips then eating protein throughout the day, plus in the evening, is a good idea to help maintain lean muscle mass.
6. Eat Cooked or Raw Meat
On the carnivore diet you can cook your meat how you like it.
Some people also choose to eat only raw meat.
High-end steak restaurants that value good tasting food cook red meat, like beef, to be medium rare and not well done. If you are not a fan of steak that is still pink or slightly bloody; you might find your tastes will change over time when eating meat everyday. You’ll likely come to start enjoying eating medium rare steak vs well done steak.
Cook other meats (chicken, bacon, fish) to make sure they are safe to eat.
I would not eat raw chicken, or raw bacon from a food safety point of view. However, raw seafood is a must try like, sushi sashimi salmon, tuna or fresh oysters.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
- Eggs and bacon
- Minute steak and eggs
- Chicken livers and egg
- Bone marrow
- Ribeye steak
- Fresh oysters
- Grilled beef heart
- Burger patties
- Grilled ribs
- Pork chop
- Beef sticks
- Beef jerky
- Biltong or droewors
- Boiled eggs
- Bone broth
Approved Carnivore Diet Food List
Here is a list of what to eat on a carnivore diet.
|Type of Food||Example Foods|
|Red Meat||Beef, pork, lamb, wild game, birds|
|White Meat||Chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, sashimi sushi|
|Organ Meat||Liver, kidneys, tongue, heart, brain|
|Animal Fat||Bone marrow, tallow|
|Eggs||Chicken eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs|
Foods to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet
Here is a list of foods you are not allowed to eat on a carnivore diet.
|Type of Food||Example Foods|
|Dairy*||Heavy cream, cheese, butter, ghee|
|Vegetables||Cauliflower, broccoli, potatoe|
|Fruit||Strawberries, blackberries, banana|
|Grains||Bread, cereals, flour|
|Nuts||Peanuts, almonds, macadamia|
|Desserts||Chocolate, ice-cream, protein bars|
* Some people still choose to have some dairy products like cheese on the carnivore diet.
Before and After Results on the Carnivore Diet
My Personal 30 Day Carnivore Diet Experiment Before & After Results.
Nothing like doing something yourself to try learn and understand what effect it will have on your body. I love protein and eating meat, so to try this way of eating (WOE) was a a good dietary challenge I was willing to give a go.
The summary of the pictures shows how I lost about 10 lbs (4.5kg) in weight and my hip and waist measurements came down too. My goal wasn’t to lose weight, but I did end up shedding some excess pounds.
Doing the experiment I discovered a whole bunch of things like:
- How much it costs to eat this way per day?
- What kind of meat do I find easy and enjoy eating regularly?
- What would this WOE did to my blood glucose and ketone levels?
I documented my thoughts each day in my Youtube daily vlogs about the my carnivore diet experience here and shared my blood ketone levels and glucose measurements on the Biohackers Lab instagram, like this picture below. (Tip: Use the Keto Mojo meter).
Good to know for those looking to do keto-carnivore.
Benefits of an All Meat Diet
There are lots of positive testimonials of how people are feeling better or seeing a positive change in their health within 30 days of eating this way.
- Simple eating plan
- No calorie counting food
- Eat until full
- Aid in weight loss
- Decrease inflammation levels
- Reduce glucose levels spikes
Problems on an All Meat Diet
Some people experience unwanted side-effects on the diet.
- Weight gain
- Food boredem due to lack of meat variety
These issues can normally be fixed by addressing the common mistakes do below.
Common Mistakes on the Carnivore Diet
- Eating too little food (this causes unwanted excessive weight loss or other symptoms)
- Not drinking enough water (drink to satisfy thirst and avoid dehydration)
- Not adding salt to food (you can experience same keto flu symptoms on this diet too)
- Eating a moderate all meat diet with added fruits, vegetables & other types of carbs
- Avoiding fatty meats (don’t fear the cholesterol it is good for you)
Where to Buy Meat
- Your local butcher shop (great place to learn & discuss anything meat)
- Local grocery store of supermarket
- Local farmers market (great place to meat the farmer & ask questions)
- Order meat online delivered to your home
- Order from Amazon
- Order from US Wellness Meats (Grass Fed Meat Supplier)
How to Cook on the Carnivore Diet
Use Meat Cooking Gear
Here is a list of cooking appliances and utensils that aid the pleasure of the carnivore cooking experience.
Get a Good Cutting Board for Meat
Get a butchers block to cut & carve all your meat on. I like this Neet bamboo cutting block at Amazon.
Get a Good Knife for Cutting All Cuts of Meat
Get a sharp knife designed to easily cut large chunks into smaller portions for cooking. I like this Victorinox Fibrox Pro knife at Amazon.
Get a Cast Iron Skillet or Grill Pan
Cook your meat on the stove top like a pro chef. I like this Le Creuset signature iron handle skillet at Amazon for cooking anything.
Get a Good Steak Knife Cutlery Set
Enjoy your plate of meat by eailty cutting it on your dinner plate with a good steak knife like the KEEMAKE steak knives set.
Carnivore Diet Recipe Cookbooks
I’ve created a list of 10 meat recipe books here that go from beginner to advanced chef mode.
Here are three quick ones if you need.
- Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers – as the title of the book says loads of recipes for meat hungry carnivores. Get the book on Amazon here.
- Meathead: The Science of Great Barbeque and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn– Meathead is a famous cook who will take you on a gastro science journey on how to cook the best meat. Get the book on Amazon here.
- Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda – this is more a textbook on just about everything most of us will need to know about types of cuts, sourcing, and cooking different meats. Get the book on Amazon here.
Carnivore Diet Support Groups and Forums
If you need online support from others following this way of eating (WOE) then I would recommend the following resources:
- The Carnivore Training System online health coaching by Dr Shawn Baker
- The nEqualsMany experiment started by Dr Shawn Baker
- The World Carnivore Tribe public Facebook group
- The Zero Carb Health closed Facebook group
- The Principia Carnivora closed Facebook group
- The Zero Carb subreddit forum
Carnivore Diet FAQ’s
Q: Do I Only Need to Eat Grass Fed Meat?
No, grass fed meat has health and ecology benefits, but it does tend to cost more. There is no problem eating meat that doesn’t cost much and fits within your monthly budget available. Do not let choosing or trying to find only grass fed/finished meats stop you from starting.
Q: Can I Eat Processed Meats?
Yes, you can eat processed cold meats like ham, salami, chorizo, & pepperoni. However they are best avoided in the first 30 days if possible. This is because you may be ingesting extra carbohydrate fillers unknowingly with these types of deli meats.
Q: What Snacks Are Carnivore Friendly?
Carnivore friendly meat snacks include Epic meat bars, plain beef jerky or South African biltong.
Q: Are Sausages & Bacon Ok to Eat?
Yes, bacon is great to eat how much you want. However, some sausages contain added ingredients like wheat to help fill them out. So watch out for eating only cheap hotdogs & pork sausages.
Q: Is This a Long-Term or Short-Term Diet?
It can be used for needed short-term health changes like weight loss or long-term general health benefits. You will find people like Kelly Hogan in the zero carb diet community forums on Facebook and Reddit who have been eating a meat only diet for several years or decades with no negative health effects reported by them. A good example of someone who has been eating an all-meat diet since 1998 is Joe Andersen and his wife. You can make only eating carnivore diet a new way of life for you if you feel & see the benefits in your body.
Q: What About the Risk of Constipation?
The most common question is the worry about becoming constipated. You’ll find you will likely have regular bowel movements with less stools (faeces) per day. This is said because the meat is more easily broken down and absorb in the intestines and so there is less output vs a diet high in insoluble fibre. This stool chart is a good guide about consistency, which can change depending on many factors.
Q: Will Eating Too Much Meat Cause Kidney Damage?
No, eating more meat does not cause kidney or liver damage. There is good research that disproves the myth that eating the recommended daily allowance of protein or even more causes kidney function. In fact, the opposite can happen and kidney function might improve by removing excess glucose from your diet and improving insulin sensitivity.
— Jose Antonio PhD (@JoseAntonioPhD) May 6, 2018
Q: Do I Need To Take Supplements?
No, you should not need to take supplements on a carnivore diet. However, some people may find a benefit from taking some electrolyte support like a magnesium or potassium supplement.
Q: Will I Get Enough Vitamin C?
Yes, eating a diet of meat and organ meats will give you enough vitamin c and avoid scurvy.
Long-term carnivore, Amber O’ Hearn, explains this is not the case and why not. Strict carnivore eaters feel if you are eating the right types of meat, and enough of them, this should provide all your required vitamin and mineral needs.
The carnivore diet – also known as the all meat diet or the carnivorous diet – entails eating almost nothing but meat for every meal, every day. That means a lot of protein, a lot of fat, and almost zero carbs.
This runs contrary to conventional nutrition wisdom, such as “you need to eat a lot of vegetables, fiber, and grains,” which has contributed to the proliferation of vegan and vegetarian diets. You’d expect the carnivore diet to cause high cholesterol, digestive problems, weight gain, and other problems.
However, conventional wisdom is not always perfectly accurate.
The carnivore diet is based on the theory that our ancestors ate mostly meat because it wasn’t energy efficient to gather a lot of fruit or vegetables. As a result, our bodies have evolved to run optimally on a meat-centric diet. So the theory goes.
George Ede MD shares a historical observation about vegan and carnivore diets to support this theory:
To the best of my knowledge, the world has yet to produce a civilization which has eaten a vegan diet from childhood through death, whereas there are numerous examples throughout recorded history of people from a variety of cultural, ethnic and geographical backgrounds who have lived on mainly-meat diets for decades, lifetimes, generations.”
It was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that the carnivore diet could not only not cause harm, but actually improve my health. However, after seeing people share positive results they achieved with it, I decided to run an experiment to see if it would actually work for me. And, since I enjoy the taste of eating meat, it seemed like a diet that could be sustainable.
In this article, I’ll cover the basics of the carnivore diet, the practices that helped me survive the first month on it, the impact it had on my health, and why I chose to discontinue it.
What is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet is pretty simple. I found that the simplicity makes it easier to comply with because you don’t have to think about or research what you can and can’t. The carnivore diet consists of:
- Meat (mostly steak)
- Butter (grass fed)
You can also eat some zero calorie foods such coffee and spices. I included Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil (MCT oil) as well.
The foods on the list above contain almost zero carbs. Unlike paleo and other low-carb/high-fat diets, the carnivore diet does not include vegetables or nuts.
Key benefits of the carnivore diet
Let me start with some important caveats. First, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist and this is not medical advice. Second, everyone’s body is a little bit different and will respond differently to different foods. Third, I have very little confidence in the data we have about the validity of any diet, including the carnivore diet.
Most of the research I’ve found on the carnivore diet has been with a small sample size of people or simply an “n=1” experiment. That doesn’t mean that the results aren’t informative, it just means take it with a grain of salt and talk to a doctor before trying it on your own. Without further ado, here are some of the potential benefits of the carnivore diet:
1. The first thing that attracted me to the carnivore diet was the menu. I like meat and other fatty foods and don’t have too much of a sweet tooth anymore. Therefore, it seemed like it would be easy for me to maintain.
2. Eating little or no carbs causes your body to go into ketosis, a metabolic process of using stored fat for fuel. Ketosis has been linked to many benefits including reducing symptoms of mental health issues such as ADHD, weight loss, and strength gain.
3. Sometimes moderation doesn’t help. A taste of sugar might make you want a lot more. Sometimes it’s better to have no sugar at all than it is to have a little bit. I experienced strong cravings for the first ~2 weeks, but they subsided significantly after that. When I’m on a standard low-carb/paleo diet, I typically eat “cheat” meals at least once per week. On the carnivore diet, my cravings for that cheat meal subsided significantly. In fact, I stuck to the diet strictly for an entire month.
4. I lost four pounds in the first week, and then two more pounds in the following three weeks on the carnivore diet. However, this wasn’t a goal of mine. I wouldn’t consider myself overweight and I don’t have any reason to work towards becoming “skinny.” This was the main reasons why I stopped.
How to Survive the First Month
I faced a few challenges when starting the carnivore diet. I’ll discuss four of those challenges and how I overcame them. By being aware of these potential challenges and having a plan for overcoming them, they will be easier and less stressful to handle if you experience them.
1. Get your blood tested before you start and again a 2-3 months after so that you can measure the effects. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before trying anything you read about on the internet :). If/when you decide to try it, take note of any changes in your energy, digestion, weight, etc. Everyone is different. While small samples of people have reported benefits from the carnivore diet, I’m sure there are others who it could cause problems for.
2. The first week was the hardest. Expect fluctuations in your appetite, energy, and focus levels. Get started on a week where you’re not too busy. Work remote. Take time off. Under schedule yourself. Give yourself time to sleep a little more.
3. A few days after I started, I lost my appetite for steak. I’m not sure if it was because I bought a bad cut, or cooked it wrong, but, as you can imagine, not having an appetite for steak while on a diet that consists primarily of steak was pretty challenging. Cheese helped. I ate a lot of it in the first week hah. Keep it stocked in case you need it.
If you’re going to cheat – and I did on that first week – try eating something that’s not too far from the diet, such as peanut butter. While peanut butter is not part of the diet, it’s not as bad for you as something like Twinkies, and it’s really tasty so it can help you overcome cravings for something much worse.
4. Be prepared for swings in your appetite. Some days I would go several hours without being hungry at all. Other days I would randomly be starving for a huge meal at 10am (after eating breakfast), a time when I used to never be hungry. My appetite leveled out after the first few weeks once I found the right portion sizes to eat throughout the day. Until you find yours, make sure you have access to carnivore friendly food throughout the day.
The carnivore diet FAQ
I had a lot of questions about the diet and I’m sure you do, too.
No vegetables? Really?
Despite what you’ve been told over and over again since you were a child, vegetables might not be as important as we thought. They certainly have vitamins and nutrients, but they might not be the best source. According to, High Steaks, “they come with plenty of ‘anti-nutrients’ which tend to bind to the same receptors and reduce uptake by the body, or are destroyed by cooking or are unavailable without certain fats.”
Did you experience digestive problems?
I had expected that a diet doesn’t include vegetables or virtually any fiber would cause digestive problems. I’m not going to go into the detail of my experience for obvious reasons, but I will say that the small (far less significant than when I first started on a low-carb diet) disturbances in my digestion that I had been experiencing almost completely went away. And after I stopped the carnivore diet, they came back. In short, no, I didn’t experience any digestive problems.
Don’t you need fiber?
If you’re not eating a lot of junk food, you might not need a lot of fiber. This is a goofy analogy but I’ll use it anyways: Tylenol might be helpful to someone experiencing neck pain, but might not be helpful to someone who’s not experiencing neck pain, or could potentially even cause some negative side effects.
Isn’t red meat bad for you?
Like many things in nutrition, and in life, you have to consider the other variables at play. If you don’t exercise and eat a ton of sugar, and red meat, you’re probably not going to be very healthy. But if you eat red meat, exercise, avoid sugar, and eat other healthy foods, you’ll probably be in pretty good shape.
What about your cholesterol?
There’s debate that meat/fat causes high cholesterol. There are many variables that affect cholesterol, and everything in our bodies for that matter. If you are eating a lot of fat AND sugar, that is very different than eating a lot of fat without the sugar. It could be the sugar that’s causing the problems, not the fat. Correlation does not equal causation. Exercise is another important factor. There’s even debate that cholesterol is bad for you, but I’m not qualified to understand or present those arguments.
I don’t have confidence in the research that’s been done to determine the best nutrition for the average person. I don’t have confidence in the food pyramid OR the carnivore diet. In addition, everyone responds a little bit differently to different foods and has different lifestyles.
We’ll get better data eventually though. There are some really smart people working on this stuff.
In the meantime, an n=1 experiment (trying it for yourself) is a good way to start learning what works for you. Do your own research before starting. Consider your pre-existing health conditions and consult your doctor and a nutritionist before making any major changes. If you decide to try it, measure the results quantitatively and qualitatively.
After the first week, I found it pretty easy to maintain. However, I stopped because I was losing weight, which isn’t a goal of mine. I probably could have changed this by forcing myself to eat larger portion sizes and/or scheduling my meals differently, but, frankly, I enjoy some healthy carbs, such as sweet potatoes, and my blood tests didn’t give me any reason that I needed to give them up. I still maintain a low-carb, high-meat, high-fat diet.
- Just meat
- Shawn Baker MD
- I cited several sources throughout this article. Those sources cited several more sources. Read those 🙂
What I Learned from a Month on the Carnivore Diet
“Only 30 days,” I whispered to myself. “It’s only 30 days.”
This spontaneous pep talk happened at my parents’ house on September 1, opening day of my monthlong plan to turn nutritional orthodoxy on its head. For the third time in barely an hour, I rushed with the urgency of an Olympic race walker to the closest bathroom. Let me be emphatic: I was not urinating.
That morning I had embarked on a dietary mission to eat only meat for 30 days. Later that afternoon, after my wife and I arrived at my parents’ place for a visit, my first meal hit me. I braced myself on the toilet in a state of disbelief—first, at what a single steak breakfast was doing to my body, and second, at my mother for failing to discover the virtues of two-ply toilet paper.
I initially heard about the carnivore diet in late 2017, when Shawn Baker was a guest on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast. For two years, the 52-year-old weight lifter and trained orthopedic surgeon has eaten an average of four pounds of meat every day. No fruits, vegetables, bread, or sugar, although eggs and fish were fair game. “If you would’ve asked me two years ago, I would’ve said, ‘That’s fucking crazy,’” Baker told Rogan while explaining his daily menu. “I did it for a month and thought, Man, I feel pretty good.”
Since then, a cult-like following has branded Baker the unofficial Carnivore King. Men and women of all ages get in touch to share their dietary transformations: there’s a formerly vegan mother of three whose before and after photos Baker reposted, and a bespectacled amateur bodybuilder who dropped 210 pounds after jumping on the carnivore bandwagon. For his nearly 60,000 Instagram followers, Baker routinely posts success stories of folks who embraced animal protein and found nutritional nirvana. “I’ve been 98% carnivore since May 2018. I’m now down 42lbs,” one woman posted in early November. “My inflammation is pretty much gone. My brain is back. My energy is returning. I just bought my first size 6 jeans since I was 20 years old. I haven’t worked out one time.”
While Baker is generally viewed as the all-meat diet’s chief evangelist, a robust online community of fellow carnivores has emerged. There are more than 25,000 members of the World Carnivore Tribe group on Facebook. About 125 novice and longtime dieters have shared their stories at MeatHeals.com, a website Baker publishes. And a simple search for #MeatHeals on Instagram yields some 50,000 posts. Two other high-profile devotees of the lifestyle are Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, who credits carnivory for sending her severe arthritis, depression, fatigue, and itchy skin into remission. Baker and his followers also claim the diet improves sleep, eliminates joint pain, increases energy, decreases weight, and pumps up libido. “I have no intention of saying I’m never going to eat anything else for the rest of my life,” Baker told me in September. “But as long as I’m feeling good and performing well, I don’t want to eat anything else.”
It all sounded wonderful. But would it work for me? I had to find out. Listening to Baker, I couldn’t help thinking about my own poor eating habits, which are at least partially a result of the frenetic nature of my job as a freelancer. Among my staples: pizza, burritos, burgers, and coffee—sometimes as many as five cups a day. I’m fortunate to have been blessed by genetics: I’m a 125-pound ectomorph with a fast metabolism, but as I inched closer to 30, I noticed that I had less energy.
Health professionals have many concerns about the diet—both for what it omits (vitamins, fiber) and for the rising risk of longterm diseases that can result from excessive red-meat consumption. There’s also the fact that the claims made by Baker and his followers are mainly anecdotal.
Still, I wanted a change, so I purchased 40 pounds of steak. Not being a seasoned carnivore, I simply loaded up my cart with what I thought would sustain me for a month. With $170 worth of meat in hand, I kicked off my 30-day journey with a steak and eggs breakfast. I felt fine: full but not bloated, sated but not groggy. And then came the diarrhea.
Baker discovered the carnivore diet in 2016, not long after he began noticing the effects of middle age. He had always been a big weight lifter, breaking records by deadlifting 772 pounds and winning contests predicated on feats of strength, including the 2010 Highland Games in Colorado, where he chucked a pitchfork hooked to a 16-pound bag of straw 34 feet into the air. A brawny man with a thick neck and a square jaw, and usually tank-topped, he looks abundantly healthy.
By age 45, Baker found himself maxed out at the gym. Despite being a medical professional—he completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Texas in 2006—he didn’t know how to curb his high blood pressure or manage his weight. So he began experimenting with diet. First he went paleo, consuming only meat and produce, and followed that up with a stint on a low-carb diet. Then he tested out a high-fat ketogenic diet. By that point he had lost 50 pounds but still felt sluggish. After reading about various diets online, he discovered Vince Gironda, a bodybuilding great from the 1950s and 1960s who advocated a curious approach: steak and eggs with a minimal amount of carbs mixed in. Baker was hooked, and Gironda’s diet became his gateway into full-blown carnivorism.
“I felt best when I was just doing steak and eggs,” Baker said during a video chat in September. When I reached him by Skype, he was animated and engaging, and very open to talking about how much carnivory had changed his life. “Then I kind of stumbled across these people that had been doing a carnivore diet for a long time,” he said. That included Joe and Charlene Andersen, a married couple seemingly lifted from the pages of a fitness magazine, who claimed to have lived on a diet of rib eye steak and spring water for nearly 20 years. (They declined to comment for this story.)
In 2016, Baker tried the carnivore diet for a week, then two weeks, then a month. Out of curiosity, he went back to his ketogenic diet, which included greens and dairy, but he didn’t feel as good. “It was like, I don’t really enjoy all this salad anyway. That was essentially the difference. It didn’t taste that good to me,” he said. Beginning in 2017, he returned to the all-meat diet for good.
Baker’s enthusiasm for the diet soon spread beyond his own life. While working as an orthopedic surgeon in New Mexico, he began discussing diet with patients suffering from osteoarthritis and other conditions. “I was basically practicing lifestyle medicine instead of strictly performing surgery,” he told me. A dispute with the hospital ensued, and in 2017, Baker was forced to surrender his medical license pending an independent evaluation, which occurred at the end of 2017. “The evaluation said there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m completely competent to practice medicine,” he said. He now lives in California and expects to have his medical license reinstated in February.
It was during this time that Baker became known as the Carnivore King, something, he said, that happened gradually after he joined Instagram in early 2017. “It’s been organic and spontaneous. I just started telling my story, and people got interested in it,” he said. Baker has supported himself financially by offering online diet consultations at $190 a pop, selling T-shirts, and doing the occasional public-speaking gig. (He’s also tried his hand at writing: his cookbook, The Carnivore Diet, will be published in April.)
While Baker is a happy convert, he’s not a zealot. He doesn’t push an all-meat diet on his three kids, for instance; he allows them to eat fruit and dairy but very little processed sugar. When I spoke to Baker in September, he had been on a carnivore diet for more than 18 consecutive months. He enjoys fatty cuts of steak like rib eye but incorporates eggs, bacon, chicken, salmon, and shrimp. Every so often, he’ll throw in a piece of cheese. Most of his diet is beef, but if it’s meat, he’ll eat it. Normally, people consume about 100 grams of protein per day. On a diet like Baker’s, that number skyrockets to nearly 500 grams, flouting the sorts of food guidelines groups like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend.
“There’s a lot of people that earn a living by making nutrition complicated,” Baker told me. “When I say, ‘Just eat a damn steak and you’ll be fine,’ that offends a lot of people.”
Eating a damn steak sounded simple enough. But prior to beginning my all-meat-all-the-time grubfest, I asked Baker if he had any advice.
His instructions were basic: don’t worry about weight, and eat whenever you’re hungry. “Kick those carb and sugar cravings,” he said. “It’s about changing your relationship with food.” No vegetables, no fruits, no bread, no sweeteners, no milk—and no beer. I drank whiskey and red wine, but only in small quantities, as Baker prescribed. The general rule, given my weight, was to eat about two pounds of meat a day. I ate mostly steak, but also chicken, salmon, and brisket. My wife, a veteran CrossFit participant, isn’t a big fan of steak, but she does like salmon, brisket, and chicken, so I’d cook up several steaks along with some chicken or fish. (Fortunately for us, our house has two bathrooms.) For snacks I ate venison and chicken protein bars. According to Baker, red meat tends to be favored by carnivore dieters: after all, a fatty rib eye is more flavorful than bland chicken.
Every day, I checked my weight, my blood pressure, and my fasting-glucose level—the amount of blood sugar in my body—with a glucometer. I also weighed the meat I ate and tallied the glasses of water and the cups of coffee I drank. (If you’re interested in the TL;DR version, check out this spreadsheet of my September diet. Yes, it includes a column for bowel movements.)
Like a lot of diets, the most difficult part is sticking with it when you aren’t near your own kitchen. Away on a reporting trip early in the month, I found myself sitting in a roadside motel room, using a plastic fork to pick the protein out of a ten-inch steak sandwich. Initially, the desire to cheat was strong. A diet of meat and eggs gets boring pretty quickly.
But after a week I was pretty well acclimated and enjoying a satisfying mix of chuck, strip, and rib eye steak. My guts were playing nice, too; no more power-walking to the toilet. I noticed that I was sleeping better, and I felt less sluggish each morning and more energetic in the afternoon, which is normally when I’d be pouring my third or fourth cup of coffee. For most of the month, I drank only two cups a day without deliberately trying to cut back. And while I lost several pounds—a result of the water content in my body shifting as I got used to a diet without carbohydrates—I never felt famished. In the gym, I was soon benching 130 pounds with ease. (Hey, it’s a lot for me.) My cravings for other foods subsided. Blowing up my diet forced me to focus on how my meals were prepared, how much I ate, and whether I felt nourished or bloated afterward. For the very first time, I cared about what I put in my body. I really did feel good.
And then came a fresh onslaught of diarrhea.
Frankly, it surprised me. I’d read articles before starting the diet that noted constipation as the main problem of carnivorous living. That seemed to make sense: you’re not getting any fiber. But when I started searching for answers, and a possible treatment, I turned up numerous carnivores who mentioned diarrhea. In an interview she did on Rogan’s podcast in August, Mikhaila Peterson said that her bloating and diarrhea persisted for weeks before it sorted itself out.
The reason has to do with how the body absorbs and digests fat, according to Teresa Fung, a professor of nutrition at Boston’s Simmons University. Glucose is the body’s preferred fuel, but in the absence of glucose-rich carbs, it turns to the fattiness of meat for energy. Usually, once fat hits the small intestine, signal molecules tell the pancreas to secrete lipase, a fat-digesting enzyme. The body normally produces enough of the enzyme to process the fat. Not so on a carnivore diet, at least at first. The amount of fat I was eating had surpassed my body’s ability to break it down. My colon had become a biodome of water and undigested fat. It got so bad that eventually I had to take lipase supplements—two capsules before every meal. That, along with some Imodium, improved matters. (“If you keep this up, I would be very worried about you,” Fung told me during our interview, which took place at the end of my 30-day test.)
“The diarrhea thing is very common,” said Baker, who also recommended that I stick with the diet for 60 to 90 days.
Later on I encountered another snag. During the final week of September, I noticed consistently rising fasting-glucose readings: 95, 106, 96, 100, 102. Fasting-blood-sugar readings above 100 indicate prediabetes; score 126 or higher on two separate tests and you have diabetes. (In May, some online critics singled out Baker after he publicly shared bloodwork revealing that his fasting-glucose level was 127.)
To help me distill this information, I turned to Stanford University School of Medicine professor (and vegetarian) Christopher Gardner. He said that while the human body can store a few pounds of carbohydrates and boasts an endless capacity for holding on to fat, it doesn’t store protein. Over the course of the day, protein helps make and repair cells, produce enzymes, and complete various other tasks. By the end of the month, I was regularly eating hundreds of grams of protein per day, way more than I needed. As a result, my body was trying to convert that excess protein into energy.
“As soon as you’ve met your capacity for other things, amino acids from protein will turn into glucose,” Gardner said. “That’s probably why your blood glucose is going up.”
While Baker allows that not everyone should be a strict carnivore, he does wear the mantle of Carnivore King proudly, using Instagram to poke at the vegans and vegetarians who fault his relationship with food.
“My goal is not to necessarily denigrate anyone,” he told me. “It’s to expose as many people to this diet as possible, because it’s potentially helpful.”
Unsurprisingly, it’s not hard to find doctors and nutritionists who object. “We have no evidence that this is a good idea,” John Ioannidis, a clinical epidemiologist and professor of health research and policy at the Stanford School of Medicine, told me. “We have mostly indirect evidence that this is a bad idea.”
Animal protein tends to throw the balance of good and bad cholesterol in our bodies out of whack, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization, red meat is associated with higher long-term risk of diabetes and colorectal cancer. Questions remain about the carnivore diet’s effect on the gut microbiome (the healthy bacteria that live in the colon, aid in immune response, and subsist on fiber). There’s also an insidious, unseen risk that comes with heavy meat consumption: meat is highly anabolic, which stimulates cell growth and boosts metabolism. Repeated studies show that such stimulation can make us age faster.
The lack of dietary fiber is of particular concern to personal trainer (and known self-experimenter) Ben Greenfield, who points out that the prebiotics and probiotics necessary to feed the gut microbiome—which plays a role in the long-term health of the immune system—aren’t present in significant quantities in meat like they are in vegetables. Last May, he offered a critical assessment of the carnivore diet on Rogan’s podcast.
“This points to a bigger cultural issue,” Greenfield told me over the phone. “So many people have distanced themselves from a healthy relationship with food that all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Fuck it, I’m just going to eat one food group.’”
Opponents of the diet also bring up the environmental hubris of focusing on a food group that contributes to 14.5 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the United Nations. The figure cited by the UN is a so-called life-cycle assessment number, which takes into account the feed, fertilizer, and land required to raise not just cattle but other meat-yielding livestock such as pigs and chickens. In the U.S., beef contributes only 2 percent of overall greenhouse-gas emissions, according to Sara Place, senior director of sustainable beef production research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. But research from 2017 argues that substituting beans for beef could provide three quarters of the emissions reductions needed for the U.S. reach its 2020 goals.
But perhaps the biggest question mark is why exactly some people’s bodies seem to respond so well to the carnivore diet. “It’s really hard to tease out whether it’s the presence of meat or the absence of other things,” said Gardner, noting that eliminating sugar, junk food, and wheat products—especially white-flour products like pizza, bagels, and cereals—makes us healthier.
Baker parries these concerns. When I brought up his higher fasting glucose, he pointed out that he’s not diabetic, citing a study that suggested high-performance athletes who wore continuous glucose monitors routinely registered very high blood sugar levels. And a recent coronary-artery calcium scan, one of the best predictors of cardiovascular risk, showed zero calcification of his arteries, he noted. As for the World Health Organization, Baker pointed to its own literature, which allows that estimating cancer risk associated with red-meat consumption is difficult to do because the evidence that red meat causes cancer isn’t as clear-cut as the evidence that processed meat (your fast-food cheeseburger) does.
“I think it’s fine to be skeptical,” Baker explained. “I would have been skeptical, too. But if you’re overweight, you’re tired, you have no libido, your joints hurt, you’re depressed, and you go on a diet and all of that gets better, the question is: Are you healthier?”
On the final Saturday of September, I ate four eggs for breakfast and a bunless bacon burger for lunch, then showed up at my brother-in-law’s house with a can of sea salt and ten pounds of meat: four thick strip steaks and four fatty rib eyes. I immediately called dibs on a strip and a rib eye, two juicy pounds we cooked to medium rare on the grill.
When I first announced to my family in August that I was going to eat meat for 30 days, the only real reaction I got was from my mother, who was convinced I would become violently ill. Granted, the stretches of time I spent in her bathroom on September 1 did nothing to assuage her fears. Yet I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like being a carnivore for a month. I like steak, and 30 days of almost nothing but meat did little to ruin my enjoyment of it. I relished the simplicity of mealtime, despite the challenge of finding diet-friendly options on certain restaurant menus. (Socially, too, it could be a bit awkward; several times I had to explain to curious onlookers what lipase was.) Once I figured out my bowel troubles, continuing with the diet was a cinch. Aside from my slightly elevated fasting-glucose levels, my blood pressure and weight both remained normal.
I relayed this to Baker when we spoke at the end of September. Even then, he told me, I was looking at the diet the wrong way.
“We have to realize we’re not individual lab data—we’re an entire complex system,” he said. “The more important lesson here is to realize that meat is human food, human nutrition, and it’s probably what we need to make the basis of our nutrition.”
Since completing my 30-day experiment, I’ve become more methodical about what I eat, returning to foods I’ve long enjoyed, like broccoli, rice, and black beans, and adding others I rarely ate in the past, like asparagus and sweet potatoes. I used to eat a sandwich for lunch, but I’ve abandoned that, only because it made me sleepy, which led me to drink more coffee. The clarity I gained from eating a limited diet has made me more discerning. In December, I ate pizza for the first time in months, but I didn’t feel bloated, groggy, or sick—probably because I had two slices instead of six.
“I’m always up for someone who finds a new eating pattern and tailors it to their own needs,” Gardner told me. “I truly believe that there isn’t one diet for everybody.”
There certainly isn’t for me. I don’t think I will ever go full carnivore again. But for one month, I was very deliberate about the food I put into my body. I thought about how it was prepared. I made sure I ate it in the right quantities. I limited how much my work schedule interrupted the meal patterns I was establishing. Now when I sit down to dinner, I eat what I need. I’m less tired. I’m more active. I still eat a steak every now and then. And I feel good.
Filed To: DietNutrition Lead Photo: Jen Piper
Could you eat nothing but steak and eggs for the rest of your life? That’s what’s on the menu for the latest fad, the carnivore diet, also called zero carb. Keto diet? That’s so 2017.
On the carnivore diet—also sometimes called zero carb—you can eat animal products only. So, no vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, or any starches. Dairy products are allowed, but some carnivore dieters avoid them because lactose is a sugar. The definition used by the subreddit r/zerocarb, a 49,000-member community says it all: “We only eat meat and animal products. We do not consume plants for nutrients or calories. Some animal products contain carbs (e.g. dairy), most of those are acceptable.”
It’s been in the news lately because of some high-profile adherents, like Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter, Mikhaila, who credits her carnivore diet with remission from her arthritis, depression, and “a plethora of other symptoms.” Dr. Shawn Baker, a California-based orthopedic surgeon whose license to practice medicine in New Mexico was revoked in 2017, is perhaps the most high-profile carnivore diet promoter. His forthcoming book on the diet claims that common diseases “that are often thought to be lifelong and progressive are often reversed on this diet.”
Of course it’s not possible to say that all carnivore diet proponents do it for the same reasons or believe in the same things, but broadly speaking, carnivore diet enthusiasts believe the diet will be beneficial for any or all of the following: weight loss, digestion, testosterone levels, cardiovascular health, curing/reversing disease, mood, and energy levels. None of these claims have been proven or shown through studies or research.
In terms of diets overall, I’m open to the fact that different ways of eating work for different people. I can’t, however, get behind mono-diets or the claims that many proponents of the carnivore diet are making.
Like many fad diets, the carnivore diet is a belief system, not a science-backed diet.
And while I’ve seen a lot of extreme diets come and go, this one is pretty radical. Its proponents’ demonization of carbs, gluten, grains, and legumes is truly at a whole new level, despite the fact that the diet has yet to be studied, so there’s no research supporting those claims. Many believe that grains, legumes, and seeds contain “antinutrients” and that fruit and other carbs are toxic. Because there’s no science to support those claims (in fact, in the case of antinutrients, the science is that they’re not harmful), all the “evidence” that the diet works comes from personal anecdotes. But anecdotes don’t prove whether or not a diet is legit.
Here’s why an all-meat diet is a bad idea.
We have no evidence that it’s actually good for your health.
Meat is pure protein and fat. You’ll frequently see people who cut certain food types out of their diet use the argument that “You don’t need X to live,” X being plants, dairy, whatever. This may be true—we don’t need plants to exist, but their phytochemicals, nutrients, and fiber are beneficial to our health. Some plant foods do have antinutrients in them, but most are destroyed by cooking or by our digestive enzymes. To say that these plant compounds are dangerous is false. In fact, in my field, it’s a widely accepted fact that plant foods are great for you.
Saturated fats—while not the culprit we once believed—have not been vindicated entirely when it comes to cardiovascular disease risk. Different people react differently to saturated fats—some people’s cholesterol rises higher and faster than others on a diet high in saturated fat. Just because a carnivore dieter’s cholesterol doesn’t seem any worse for the wear on their all-meat diet, it doesn’t mean that the diet is harmless to our health. Again, there have been zero long-term studies done on this diet.
It might not be good for your mental health either.
As much as a meat-only diet hasn’t been shown to be physically healthy, I think the psychological reasons to avoid a restrictive diet like this one might be even more compelling. I’ve seen people boast online about, for example, how many steaks they eat in a day, without ever getting bored of this diet. And while that may or may not be true for those individuals, it’s not a good reason for everyone to adopt this way of eating. Not even close.
You might get scurvy, like a pirate. Cooked meat contains very little vitamin C, notes Donald Beitz, a nutritional biochemist at Iowa State University. Without the vitamin, scurvy would bring on rashes and gum disease, not to mention very bad breath. Moreover, meat lacks fiber, so you’d probably be constipated. All in all, you wouldn’t be healthy or comfortable.
That said, some groups of people have survived—even thrived—on an animal-only diet. Research suggests that traditionally the Inuit ate any number of meats, including seal, whale, caribou and fish. But they rarely, if ever, ate plant fiber. The key to their success, says Harriet Kuhnlein, the founding director of the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment at McGill University in Montreal, was eating every part of the animal, “and you have to eat some of it raw.” Raw meat contains vitamin C (which is lost when cooked), and the skin, hooves and bones contain fiber. For greens, Kuhnlein adds, traditional Inuit “ate the stomach contents of caribou and deer.”
Historically, they were quite healthy, she says; they almost never suffered from heart disease. Today, the meat-heavy diet lives on in the form of the controversial Atkins Nutritional Approach. Formulated by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the early 1970s, the diet prescribes that adherents dramatically cut their carbohydrate intake.
The American Heart Association issued a statement in 2001 condemning the diet for cutting necessary sources of nutrients, stating that devotees were “at risk for compromised vitamin and mineral intake, as well as potential cardiac, renal , bone and liver abnormalities.”
This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Popular Science_ magazine._.
Guide to red meat – is it healthy?
Is red meat healthy, harmful or neutral? Should you enjoy it freely on your low-carb, keto diet, or limit your consumption?
Depending on which expert you ask, those questions may receive a very different answer.
Has a strong link between red meat and heart disease, cancer, or other diseases been established? Will consuming it on a regular basis shorten your life or put you at risk of health problems?
Here is our guide to what we currently know about red meat, so you can make an informed decision about whether to include it- and how much- in your own diet.
Disclaimer: Many health and nutrition experts consider red meat to be potentially dangerous for long term health. A careful analysis of the science shows that there is room for debate given the quality of evidence on which current conventional wisdom is based.
We recognize that many of the studies cited have both pro- and anti-meat funding biases. While the funding source does not invalidate the data, it does question its strength. That is one of the many reasons detailed in this guide why the evidence is not as strong as we would like on either side of the argument.
This guide is our attempt to summarize current scientific evidence. It is written for adults who are concerned about meat intake and health.
Discuss any lifestyle changes with your doctor. Full disclaimer
What is red meat?
Red meat comes from mammals. When raw, it usually appears dark red because it contains a lot of myoglobin, the iron-rich protein that stores oxygen in animal muscle. The red meat category includes beef, pork, lamb, veal, goat, bison, venison and other game.
The term “red meat” can be a bit confusing, though, since veal and pork flesh are often light in color while duck, as well as salmon and some other fish are reddish. However, when discussing meat from a nutritional standpoint, “white meat” refers to poultry and fish, which contain less myoglobin and iron than red meat.
Red meat can be fresh or processed. Fresh red meat is exactly what it sounds like: meat that contains no additives, requires refrigeration, and needs to be consumed within a few days, after roasting, grilling, or stewing etc.
Processed red meat is a broader term referring to meat that’s been modified by salting, curing, smoking, canning, or treating with preservatives. Popular types include bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs, and jerky.
The shelf life of various processed meats span a very wide range; certain types last for only a few days in the refrigerator, while dried or canned types can remain edible for several months or even years when stored at room temperature. Additionally, some processed meats contain salt as their sole additive, whereas others may include sugar, starch, other fillers, and chemicals such as nitrites.
Benefits of eating red meat
Animal foods are an important part of our evolutionary past, having likely played a critical role in our development as a species.1 They have even been credited with allowing us to develop the large, complex brains that are unique to humans, although evolutionary science like this is imprecise at best.2 Indeed, we may be genetically wired to enjoy the flavor and texture of meat from a very early age.
In addition to being tasty and filling, red meat provides many nutritional benefits:
- High-quality protein: A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of red meat contains about 20-25 grams of protein, depending how fatty it is (leaner cuts have more protein). Like eggs, dairy, and other animal products, red meat provides protein that is considered complete, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids in the amounts your body needs.3 Learn more about protein:
Protein on a low-carb or keto diet
Guide Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three macronutrients (“macros”) found in food, and it plays unique and important roles in the body. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about protein on a low-carb or keto lifestyle.
- Several vitamins and minerals: Red meat is an excellent source of many important micronutrients, including vitamin B12, niacin, selenium, zinc and potassium.
- Heme iron: All types of red meat are rich in heme iron, which your body absorbs more easily than the non-heme form of iron found in plants.4 Consuming red meat on a regular basis may help increase your iron stores and prevent iron-deficiency anemia.5
- May help preserve muscle: It’s an unfortunate fact that we usually lose muscle as we age due to hormonal and other physiological changes. In one study, older women who consumed 160 grams (5.6 ounces) of red meat six days a week in combination with resistance training achieved greater gains in lean muscle and strength than the resistance-training-only group.6 Similar improvements have been shown in studies of young and middle-aged men who consumed beef and triathletes who took beef-based supplements, when compared to men of similar age who ate lacto-ovo vegetarian diets or took whey-based supplements during strength training.7
- May help prevent frailty: In a recent study of older women, consuming higher amounts of animal protein, including red meat, was linked to a decreased risk of weakness, loss of strength and other changes that often occur with aging.8
In addition, animal protein sources may benefit lean body mass preservation regardless of the physical activity level. 9
What does the research show with respect to meat’s potential harm?
Over the past several years, news media have reported on studies showing an association between eating a lot of red meat and increased risks of cancer and heart disease. Some articles have even stated that meat is flat-out “killing us.”
But how strong are these associations, especially when considering all available types of studies? Let’s take a look at the research on red meat and disease risk to date and assess the strength of the evidence.
Red meat and cancer
In October of 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a press release classifying processed meat as “carcinogenic” and red meat as “probably carcinogenic” in humans. While the epidemiology studies reviewed by the committee suggest an association, other studies question the strength of the association.
- Cancers other than colorectal: In large reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies, researchers have found inconsistent results. While some analysis show no association at all, others show a positive association in regards to developing gastric, esophageal, breast, or prostate cancer.10
- Colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancer is by far the most common type of cancer studied regarding its relationship to red meat. Here, studies have shown a more consistent association.11 However, once again the association is very weak with hazard ratios mostly below 1.4. While this does not invalidate the data, it does raise the possibility that the association may be due to actors other than the meat itself. In some cases, this association has been attributed to heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and other potentially harmful compounds that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures.12 Could our cooking method confer a higher risk than the meat itself? That is unknown but some evidence suggests it could be true.
The heme iron found in red meat has also been suggested as a possible risk factor for any increased association, based on findings in animal studies.13 However, other studies have failed to show a connection between ingesting these substances and developing colorectal cancer.14
For those that did show an association, the hazard ratios were quite small, on the range of 1.06 to 1.4. In comparison, cigarette smoking has a hazard ratio greater than 3.0 for being associated with cancer, meaning people who smoke are three times more likely to get cancer than those who don’t smoke. Therefore although the observational studies can suggest an association between red meat and cancer, the low hazard ratios make it less conclusive that red meat causes cancer.
While many observational trials suggest red meat is associated with colon cancer, some researchers point out that other lifestyle factors could influence those results. With low hazard ratios, it’s difficult to completely exclude that high sugar consumption, alcohol intake, smoking, decreased physical activity, lack of vegetable intake or other factors impacted the results.15
In addition, a 2019 review and meta-analysis of cohort studies found very low quality of evidence to suggest any increased cancer risk from red meat.16
As an illustration of the difficulty with interpreting observational studies, a large UK study looking at relationships between nutrition and cancer found more cases of colorectal cancer among vegetarians compared to meat eaters, exactly the opposite of what many other trials show. While this in no way proves that being a vegetarian increases the risk of cancer, it does cause us to question the same findings for eating red meat.17
In contrast to the large amount of observational research available, very little experimental research on red meat consumption and colon cancer exists, at least in humans. One study in people with precancerous colon polyps found that cutting back on red meat over a four-year period did NOT decrease the risk of polyp recurrence.18 In addition, a review of RCTs comparing a lower vs. higher red meat consumption used the GRADE system to quantify the strength of the evidence. The authors concluded there is no meaningful increase in cancer with higher red meat consumption.19
Moreover, a 2017 systematic review of experimental studies in animal and cell cultures found that the meat amounts tested were frequently much larger than what most people eat, and that many didn’t include potentially protective whole foods that are typically consumed in healthy, balanced diets.20
Red meat and heart disease
Many observational studies show a relationship between eating meat and the risk for heart disease, stroke and heart disease deaths.21 Others show a link with processed meat but not less processed red meat.22
Other large reviews have failed to find any consistent and definitive relationship between red meat and increased risk of ischemic heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease).23 And recently, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (considered the strongest, highest-quality evidence) showed that eating three or more servings of red meat per week had no adverse effects on CVD risk factors like cholesterol, triglyceride or blood pressure values.24
A 2019 review of RCTs and cohort studies used the GRADE technique to assign a level of quality to the studies comparing more vs less red meat intake. They found no meaningful increased cardiovascular risk from higher red meat consumption. 25
Part of the problem is separating the effects of red meat from the effects of other dietary and lifestyle factors. The evidence suggests that those eating meat as part of a high-carb and high-fat Western diet tend to be less healthy than those choosing not to eat meat.26 If this represents you, then the data suggests red meat consumption is associated with heart disease risk, as is poor baseline health.
But what if you aren’t eating a standard Western diet? What if you aren’t unhealthy at baseline? Here, the data is much less conclusive regarding the role of red meat and heart disease.
A user guide to saturated fat
Guide This guide explains what is known about saturated fat, discusses the scientific evidence about its role in health, and explores whether we should be concerned about how much we eat it.
Another concern is that red meat may raise levels of TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide) in the body, which some some studies show is correlated with increased heart disease risk.27Yet what’s often not mentioned is that eating many other foods — including fish — also raise TMAO.28 In addition, the production of TMAO is dependent on the gut microbiota, not just the consumption of red meat.29
As we wrote about the inconclusive evidence for a relationship between TMAO and CVD, questions remain regarding the role of TMAO as an independent risk marker or causative factor of coronary disease.
Red meat and insulin-resistant conditions
Some studies suggest that eating red meat on a regular basis may increase the risk of diabetes and other conditions characterized by insulin resistance.
- Diabetes: Several large reviews of observational studies have found weak associations between frequent red meat and processed meat consumption and diabetes risk.30Once again, however, we need to put that into context of the baseline diet relatively high in carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods. On the other hand, randomized controlled trials have shown impressive improvement in diabetes with unlimited animal food sources, including red meat.31 This makes it much less likely that the meat itself leads to diabetes as opposed to the underlying poor health behaviors.
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome: A 2014 systematic review showed a weak relationship between red meat and obesity but a much stronger one between red meat and large waist size.32 Analysis of data from the PREDIMED trial — a large study exploring health-related effects of the Mediterranean diet — found that people who reported the highest red meat intake were more than twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome and eight times as likely to be centrally obese (defined as having a very large waist size) as those who reported the lowest meat consumption.33This association remained even after researchers made adjustments for the participants’ self-reported smoking, alcohol consumption, calorie intake and physical activity.34
On the other hand, a well-controlled trial in overweight and obese people found that including 500 grams (17.6 ounces or approximately three servings of 6 ounces each) of lean red meat per week as part of a Mediterranean diet resulted in equal weight loss and reduction in metabolic risk factors compared to following the same basic diet but eating much less red meat.35
How can we interpret this data? For those eating a standard Western diet with high carbohydrates and high fat, red meat consumption is likely associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. However, other studies show that low-carb diets that include red meat successfully treat type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.36
Therefore we come back to the concept that the overall content of the diet may be more important that the specific intake of red meat.
Red meat and gout
Gout, one of the most acutely painful joint conditions, is characterized by high levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). People with gout are usually advised to strictly limit the amount of red meat they eat.
However, a recent systematic review of 19 observational studies found that consuming red meat intake was only weakly associated with gout and elevated uric acid levels, whereas alcohol and fructose intake were found to have stronger correlations with each of these conditions.37
Red meat and all-cause mortality
As with the sections above, multiple epidemiology studies have shown a weak association between meat consumption and increased risk of death. However, once again these studies have low hazard ratios consistently under 1.4,. and are subject to healthy user bias and other weaknesses of epidemiological studies. 38
What’s more, a 2013 review of dietary habits among Asians not only found no association with increased risk of death among red meat eaters but also a slightly decreased risk of CVD mortality in men and cancer mortality in women who reported the highest intake of meat.39
Just as with the risk for cancer and heart disease, what else is eaten with the red meat likely plays a significant role as do other health habits. For instance, one study tried to control for these factors and recruited “health conscious” participants. They found no mortality difference between meat eaters and vegetarians.40
However we can’t completely ignore the data associating red meat with mortality. If someone fits the common subject profile in many of the epidemiologic studies, eating 40-50% carbohydrates, overweight and metabolically unhealthy, then those who eat more red meat have a slightly higher risk than those who do not. Is it the meat or is it other unhealthy lifestyle choices? That remains to be proven.
We also need to ask, what happens when they lower their carbohydrates, lose weight, reverse metabolic disease and improve their overall lifestyle? In that situation we do not have incriminating evidence against red meat.
Carnivore Diet Results: Why It Works for Some People But Didn’t for Me
- People are experimenting with the carnivore diet. On this diet, you only eat meat and nothing else. Some variations allow animal-derived foods like butter and eggs.
- For artificial intelligence researcher and former Bulletproof Radio guest Steve Omohundro, the carnivore diet improved his brain fog and fatigue after chemotherapy.
- No matter which diet you follow, make sure you’re eating organic, grass-fed meat to limit your exposure to bad fats, glyphosate, artificial hormones, and antibiotic residues — all of which can make you weak.
- When I was developing the Bulletproof Diet, I spent three months eating primarily meat and fat (the Inuit diet). I felt great for about a month, but severely restricting my carbohydrates dramatically lowered my sleep quality and gave me new food allergies.
- There are downsides to long-term carnivore diets. Namely, you disrupt your gut bacteria (which you can measure with a Viome test). Using Bulletproof collagen protein may help. Also, a diet high in meat amino acids tryptophan, cysteine, and methionine is shown to increase aging and cancer risk.
- The carnivore diet may work because it stops feeding bad bacteria in the gut. If you try it, I recommend doing it for a month or two and then cycling off.
What if you ditched every vegetable and fruit, filled your plate with fatty cuts of juicy meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still retained all of the essential nutrients your body needs to thrive? It’s called the carnivore diet, and some people swear by its results.
I tried eating only meat, eggs, and butter for three months when I was doing research for “The Bulletproof Diet.” Here’s what happened when I cut carbs and went full-on carnivore to hack my performance.
Carnivore diet results: Why it makes sense to eliminate carbs
While I was developing the Bulletproof Diet, I learned that some Inuit populations survive on virtually zero carbohydrates. They eat mostly meat, fish, and fat — a way of eating people today call the carnivore diet. Their diet was higher in fat than today’s typical carnivore diet experimenter — you could call it the “anti-vegan diet.”
It sounds extreme in comparison to the standard American way of eating, which is heavy on “heart-healthy” grains. (Insert eye-roll here.) And yet, when Inuit populations were introduced to refined carbohydrates, researchers actually saw an increase in dental cavities, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
Biohacking is all about finding new opportunities to expand your limits and reach new levels of peak performance. That’s why I tried eliminating carbs altogether. It didn’t work out well for me.
However, my friend and cancer survivor Steve Omohundro saw transformative results on the carnivore diet. Omohundro is a physicist who has been on the Bulletproof Radio podcast before to talk about his weight loss on Bulletproof Coffee and research in building a global brain using artificial intelligence. Keep reading for both of our stories.
What happened when I ditched carbs
For three months, I ate almost 100% meat and animal-based fats in an attempt to replicate an Inuit-type diet. It wasn’t a full-on carnivore diet, but it came close. I had one serving or less of green vegetables per day — usually broccoli.
After all, if a high-fat, low-carb diet was so transformative in helping me keep the weight off after weighing 300 pounds, then eating zero carbs should turn me into a biohacking superhuman, right?
Not so much. I felt great for the first month or so — until I noticed that I was exhausted every morning. According to my sleep monitor EEG equipment, I was waking up 10 to 12 times per night without knowing it. I developed brain fog and inflammation I didn’t have before, as well as three new food allergies.
What went wrong?
Why a zero-carb diet doesn’t work for everyone
Like the vegan diet, making a big switch to the carnivore diet can make you feel great for a month or two. Unfortunately, it can introduce new problems over time.
Depending on your individual biology, a sustained low-carb plan like the carnivore diet might not work for you. You’ll know this is true if you can’t get a good night’s sleep while you’re limiting carbs. That’s okay. Think of it as a red flag from your body that you need to adjust your carb intake. Learn how to do that here.
The brain uses glucose to operate efficiently while you sleep. That’s why I recommend keto cycling as part of the Bulletproof Diet to fuel all of your body’s systems, especially if you’re dealing with fatigue and poor sleep quality on a keto-type diet.
The other problem is that the bacteria in my gut were literally starving on an all-meat diet. I caused a dramatic shift in my gut bacteria when I eliminated carbohydrates. Sure, I got rid of the bad ones by eliminating glucose — but in the long run, I didn’t feed the good bacteria with fibrous prebiotic carbs like sweet potato, carrots, and squash.
The end result of this carnivore diet experiment? My body didn’t have enough carbs to maintain my gut lining, and the bacteria in my gut started to eat the mucus that naturally lines your gut (eeww!). I set myself up for gut inflammation and leaky gut. Learn more about how your gut bacteria support your digestion.
It’s also worth saying that I briefly experimented with a raw omnivore diet. I did it after I quit being a raw vegan because it made me sick after a couple months of feeling great. Eating raw meat was economical — you require a lot less of it to get energy — but I realized there are more effective ways to hack my cells and fuel my body, like blending butter in my coffee, eating antioxidant-rich vegetables, and practicing intermittent fasting.
Carnivore diet results: What happens when meat works
Even though the zero-carb life didn’t work for me, there are both studied and self-reported cases of people who follow the carnivore diet.
In the early 20th century, Canadian anthropologist and explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson followed the Inuit diet as part of his Arctic explorations. In the 1930s, he replicated the diet over a year with a fellow explorer for scientific study, and doctors didn’t find any signs of heightened blood pressure, fatigue, or kidney problems.
Psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, made headlines earlier this year because of their carnivore diet results: By switching to an all-meat diet in 2015, Mikhaila Peterson overcame her lifelong autoimmune disorders, brain fog, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Thanks to his daughter’s recommendation, Jordan Peterson overcame a list of conditions like depression, gastric reflux, and numbness in his limbs.
And then there’s my friend’s story, which is just incredible.
Steve Omohundro was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia seven years ago. Thankfully, he was successfully treated with chemotherapy — but chemo is rough on the body, to say the least. Omohundro struggled with brain fog, fatigue, and a creeping sense of depression.
“It was hard to get moving,” he says. “I started to get desperate.”
After hearing about Jordan Peterson’s results with the carnivore diet, he decided to research the science behind it — like a true biohacker. He found that chemotherapy can cause intestinal permeability, which may have made him sensitive to the anti-nutrients in the plants he was eating, like oxalates in kale. Learn more about the problem with oxalates here.
Omohundro was already following a Bulletproof low-carb, whole-foods based diet. He knew how much better he felt after eliminating carbs and sugar. Three months ago, he decided to see what would happen if he switched to eating just meat.
“In three days, all of my mental functioning came back,” he says. “All my bloodwork moved in the right direction and is almost all normal now.” He’s stronger, more focused, and, most importantly, healthier — and he’s still eating meat as every meal.
What a carnivore diet meal plan looks like
Here’s a snapshot of what Steve Omohundro eats in a day:
- Breakfast: Ground beef and coffee
- Lunch: Rib eye
- Dinner: Lamb
- Supplements: Salt, magnesium, zinc, ionite, fish oil, vitamins D, C, and K, and thyroid medication for Hashimoto’s
Omohundro’s fridge is full of vacuum-sealed cuts of meat bought in bulk and broken down into individual portions. Here’s a photo — it looks a lot like my freezer!
Hacks for the best carnivore diet results
Take a collagen supplement
If you’re going to dramatically reduce or eliminate your carb intake, I recommend you do what makes you feel good. It is a great idea to feed your good gut bacteria with collagen peptides or butter. Here’s why.
If you eat exclusively meat, you’re going to be short on short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) called butyrate. Your gut bacteria use butyrate as fuel to keep your intestinal wall strong. In one animal study, researchers discovered that an all-raw-meat diet led to SCFA deficiencies.
Another animal study found that cheetahs were able to ferment collagen from bones and chicken cartilage into SCFAs, so we know it’s possible, but no one has checked for this in humans. (I broke this news about collagen in a chapter of “The Bulletproof Diet.”) Unless you’re going to nosh on buckets of cartilage and bone broth, it’s easier to just supplement with butter, which contains a common short chain fatty acid called butyric acid.
Related: How to Make Bone Broth
You also have to consider what a high-protein diet does to inflammation. Red meat is high in the amino acids cysteine, tryptophan, and methionine, which are pro-cancer and pro-aging in excess. You can hit your protein macros without going overboard by consuming more collagen, which is a source of protein that doesn’t contain the same amino acids as a steak. Instead, collagen is high in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline — amino acids also support a strong gut lining.
Eat organic, grass-fed meat
If you decide to go on the carnivore diet, remember that you must only eat high-quality, grass-fed meat to limit your exposure to glyphosate, a toxic herbicide that accumulates in industrial meat. Learn more about the dangers of glyphosate here.
One of the laws in my book “Game Changers” says to eat like your grandma, not a caveman. By that, I mean that previous generations had access to organic, local, grass-fed, nutrient-dense meat that was packed with the right ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. If your ancestors on your mother’s side of the family likely ate a high-meat diet, it’s more likely to work for you.
Your grandmother’s diet also wasn’t filled with the same junk you’ll find in bargain cuts of grain-fed meat on your grocery shelf. Take a page out of your grandma’s book and eat organic, grass-fed meat, including offal.
Don’t overcook your meat
Burning, charring, frying, or ever over-boiling your meat changes how it impacts your body. Cook meat gently if you’re going to eat a lot of it to reduce inflammation. And avoid processed meat. It’ll wreck your performance and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Related: The Truth About Red Meat and Diabetes
Do a gut check, literally
Finally, test your gut before to hop on the carnivore train. Regardless of your diet, I always recommend a Viome gut microbiome test because this company provides a detailed report of your gut bacteria — all you have to do is send some stool. Yeah, poop in the mail is gross, but your report will help you monitor the way your gut changes on the diet. If your microbiome isn’t doing so well without soluble fiber, you can adjust your diet accordingly.
The best biohackers track and monitor their progress over time to make informed decisions. Learn more about the medical tests everyone should get from their doctor.
It’s good to experiment to see what works for you. The reality is that experiments don’t always end in success — but they provide valuable data you can use to inform your actions. In my case, when I went on a version of the carnivore diet, it gave me autoimmune issues similar to my experience with the raw vegan diet. It also introduced new food allergies I didn’t have before.
However, like Jordan Peterson, his daughter Mikhaila, and tons of other self-reported stories online, you might benefit from a zero-carb diet. My friend Steve Omohundro certainly did. Try the carnivore diet for a while, track your results, and see how you feel, but don’t make the mistake of doing it forever if there isn’t a need to stay on it.
When you eliminate refined carbs and processed foods, you tell the bad gut bacteria to get out of dodge — and if somewhere down the line your body is telling you to eat a vegetable, go for it.
And a note for my fellow environmentally conscious friends — our soil desperately needs poop from grass-fed, antibiotic-free animals, and grass-fed local ranchers are helping sequester carbon. Don’t eat industrial meat on this diet because it’s bad for the environment, and bad for you, too!
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The carnivore diet is incredibly simple, and also terrifying. Here is the diet: You eat meat, and nothing else.
A sort of extreme take on the keto diet, the carnivore diet has supposedly helped people lose weight and rid themselves of various health problems. I agreed to try it for the sake of journalism, and because the possibility of losing some weight sounded pretty good. Still, I was worried. I’m a firm believer in taking regular fiber supplements; what if I end up like the guy who had to have 28 pounds of feces surgically removed?
Carnivores trace the roots of their diet to indigenous peoples like the Inuit, who survived primarily by killing animals and eating them (studies show their genes may be particularly adapted for this). But the diet got some mainstream attention early this summer, when big-name pseudo-intellectual Jordan Peterson endorsed it on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Peterson and his daughter, Mikhaila—a lifestyle blogger—swear by the all-meat diet, which they’ve followed since late 2017. Dr. Drew Pinsky jumped on the carnivore bandwagon, too: “I’ll be goddamned if within three days I didn’t feel unbelievable,” he told the New York Post.
I knew the basics of the carnivore diet before I went it. The is to get your body into ketosis, so your body starts burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. It’s like the keto diet, except way more limiting in terms of what you can eat.
“Out of the diets I’ve been asked , I think this is one of the most extreme, in terms of the restrictions, that I’ve ever looked into,” Scott Hemingway, a clinical dietician at the University of North Carolina’s Health Care system, would later tell me after I tried the diet.
I probably should have called him before jumping headfirst into meat land.
“Out of the diets I’ve been asked , I think this is one of the most extreme.”
Starting the carnivore diet
I’m 28, 6 feet tall, and about 200-205 pounds. I work out three or four times a week and eat reasonably healthy. I drink on the weekends, but rarely during the work week.
As far as rules for the diet go, I opted to follow a more lenient version of the diet that I found on this blog: any meat, butter, hard cheeses, and eggs are okay. For drinks, I’d stick to water and iced green tea. (I don’t drink coffee, but that’s allowed, too). The diet usually only allows Himalayan pink salt, which seems like a scam carried out by the Himalayan pink salt lobby. vowed to break that and use whatever dry seasonings I wanted to get me through the meat consumption, as long as they don’t have any actual caloric or nutritional value.
I start the carnivore diet with scrambled eggs, because I haven’t gone to the store to buy groceries and meat. I soft-scramble five eggs with a generous pat of butter and Himalayan pink salt and pepper. Five eggs is more eggs than I would usually eat, but usually I would also eat something other than eggs, like bread or vegetables. The half jar of salsa I bought and didn’t finish before agreeing to begin this diet taunts me from the refrigerator shelf. I eat the eggs out of a bowl with a spoon, and they’re pretty good.
Twenty minutes later, I’m kinda hungry again. I drink another glass of water. I do some work and head to the store to buy steak.
At the store, I feel like an insane person. I apologize to the cashier and make a half-assed attempt to explain why I’m buying two pounds of ground beef, five steaks, two gigantic packages of chicken legs, blocks of cheddar cheese and 18 eggs. She smiles and says “Good luck!” I thank her, but now I am worried.
My carnivore diet haul. Jack Crosbie
I get home and deal with these worries by making a steak. I don’t make steak very often, and it’s great! My roommate’s dog, who is also not exposed to the smell of steak very often, is freaking out. Maybe this won’t be so bad!
This is bad. I would kill for carbs. Before I started the diet I bought a box of Pop Tarts at 7/11 because I was hung over and Pop Tarts sounded good, but I didn’t finish them before I started the diet, so there is just one Pop Tart left in my pantry and I keep opening the door and looking at it and then closing the door.
I made steak and eggs for breakfast, which was pretty delicious. Last night I made a pile of hamburger patties with sharp cheddar cheese for dinner and ended up eating three of them, which immediately gave me a headache and a stomachache. Now I have nothing to snack on, so I’m eating another hamburger patty, which is gross because I didn’t reheat it. I end up finishing the other three patties for dinner with copious amounts of cheese and some hot sauce, which I figure is fine because it has zero calories and zero sugar or carbs, and because I am still protesting the Himalayan pink salt lobby. Later, I get hungry again, and fry two eggs as a light snack.
So far I’ve eaten nothing but beef, eggs and cheddar cheese for two days, so I make chicken thighs and eat four of them. I poop for the first time since I started the diet, a very small, dense amount. I’m feeling vaguely nauseous—and while the chicken is good, I’m not particularly hungry.
I go to the gym for the first time in almost three weeks, because I had the flu. Holy shit, working out was a mistake. I’ve been training at Unlimited Martial Arts for the past six months or so, and I join an afternoon boxing class. It turns out to be just me and one other student, so my teacher, Phil, has us work on defensive drills and sparring, and I die. I just absolutely die. I have zero energy and it feels, literally, like I’m punching under water.
Every time I get hit with a body shot, it feels like I’m going to vomit out the entire bag of cement (three days of steak) in my stomach. I end the workout and am so gassed that I forget to have Phil take a picture of me looking gassed for the article, but honestly, it was not pretty.
“I have zero energy and it feels, literally, like I’m punching under water.”
I weigh myself after the workout, and I’m 195 pounds. That’s 10 pounds lighter than usual. Now, there are a lot of factors that could explain this: I had the flu recently, and I wasn’t eating a ton. I also sweat out about 2 pounds of water weight in an average workout. So I estimate I lost at least 4-5 pounds of net weight in 3 days of the the diet.
Now I’m 195, but I feel like shit.
It’s dinnertime, and my roommates are enjoying a plate of grilled salmon, avocado, and caprese salad, and they offer my girlfriend and me some leftover caprese. They know about the diet but they are heartless, so to beat them at their own game, I eat a piece of caprese. The tomato and mozzarella is fresh and tangy and cool and it is literally the best thing I have consumed in my entire life. I try to make steak for dinner but my head is pounding and I feel like I’m going to puke at any minute. The only things I’ve consumed today are the four chicken thighs this morning.
I make steak, for me, and roast sweet potatoes to go along with it for my girlfriend. As I try to take the first bite, I start having heart palpitations and get horribly dizzy, at which point everyone in the house tells me I am an idiot. My girlfriend looks concerned, which is nice of her, but I have done this to myself, and only I can free myself from this horrible prison of meat.
She tells me to eat the sweet potatoes. I look at them. They smell wonderful. I look at my plate, which has only steak. I cannot eat another bite of the steak. I eat a small piece of sweet potato, and it is also the best thing I have ever consumed in my life. Better than the caprese. This breaks me. I eat the rest of the pan of sweet potatoes, and the transformation is shocking: my headache starts to go away; my nausea subsides. I’m done with being a carnivore.
After my carnivore diet
I wanted to know a bit more about why my body crashed so hard on the carnivore diet, so I reached out to Hemingway, the dietician.
My first mistake was trying to exercise so soon into a ketogenic diet. Depending on your diet and exercise routine going in, it can take anywhere from three days to several weeks to get your body comfortable on a keto diet, Hemingway explained. (Clearly, I was not adjusted after three days.)
The lethargy that comes from your body trying to switch energy sources could definitely have explained my unpleasant symptoms, he said. And there’s a very good reason the sweet potatoes cured me.
“You essentially starved your brain’s primary source of energy for three days and then instantly gave it what it was craving,” Hemingway said, laughing. “That’s the reason you felt better.”
Some people see great results on the keto diet—but is there any real benefit to taking it a step further and cutting out healthy foods like broccoli and carrots?
“The removal of all vegetables is not something I would personally recommend,” Hemingway said. “There’s very little science if any science to support any negative effects of consuming vegetables on our overall diet.” There’s also no real reason to cut out fiber altogether.
“Typically I stay with the science,” Hemingway said. “If people find things that make them feel better or that works for them, I’m all for supporting that. However, there really is no science to back these claims currently, and there’s definitely no research to determine the potential long-term effects, whether beneficial or harmful, on a fad diet like this.”
I am not a dietician, but I did try the diet, and I’ll leave you with this: I hated it. Maybe some people respond well to it, but I sure as hell didn’t. If you want to try a standard keto diet, check out our tips—and maybe don’t go to the gym three days in.
The Carnivore Diet Is the Latest Fad to Ignore That Food Does More Than Just Feed Us
On the increasingly popular carnivore diet, people report miraculous results. It’s far superior to half-assed cousins like Atkins and Paleo and the ketogenic diet; not just low-carb but “zero-carb.” Of course mainstream media is skeptical and conventional dietitians scoff. How could it be that all carbs are evil, that plant toxins and “anti-nutrients” are the cause of most modern ailments? But results speak for themselves.
Pounds melt off. Stomach trouble vanishes. Joints gnarled by arthritis unfurl. #Meatheals doesn’t lie, and the world is listening. Joe Rogan recently introduced carnivore and orthopedic surgeon Shawn Baker to the masses on his podcast. Mikhaila Peterson, the daughter of Canadian psychologist cum bestselling self-help author Jordan Peterson, says she cured herself of depression by subsisting on only beef and water and now sells dietary consultations. Celebrity doctor Drew Pinsky told the New York Post, “I’ll be goddamned if within three days I didn’t feel unbelievable.” Some enthusiasts even claim to have acquired immunity to sunburn. (Others, apparently, have not.)
Since my next book will have a short section on carnivores, I wanted to give their diet a try. Starting on July 29, for thirteen straight days my wife and I got every last calorie from carnivory-approved animal products: eggs, seafood, chicken, pork, lamb, and mostly steak. Goodbye beer, wine, and my beloved bourbon. With the exception of butter, no dairy. No sauces, just dried seasonings, salt, and pepper. We peed on the strips and our urine was chock full of ketones by Day 2. This was the real deal.
I’ll start with the pleasant surprise: Carnivory did not give me the shits like everyone said it would. Instead, after a comfortable week of no shitting, my plumbing went right back to normal—actually, if I’m being totally honest, a little better than normal, since frequency and volume went down and who doesn’t want smaller, less frequent shits, right?
Bowels are what people tend to ask about first (“No fiber at all?!”), even if they’re most curious about weight loss. In our profoundly dishonest dieting culture, there’s an unspoken rule where everyone has to pretend health is their top priority while sharing inspirational selfies of muscles so unnaturally defined they make shirtless 30-year-old Marlon Brando look like a “before” picture.
So sure, happy to tell you. I lost seven pounds. And, after three days of normal eating, five of them came back. That’s because those were the bullshit pounds that low-carb diets use to hook their marks, like a con man giving away the first jackpot in a street hustle. Folks: you don’t leave the diet game with those initial winnings. If you stop eating low-carb, or “zero-carb,” the early loss—up to 12 pounds!—returns instantly because it’s not fat you’ve lost, just water released as your body burns through its glycogen stores. You shrink, but you aren’t any healthier than if you were wearing Spanx.
Watch More From Munchies:
Physiologically, there were only a few downsides: I like to row, but without carbs my non-keto-adapted body crashed after 10 minutes of continuous exercise; I developed a weird rash associated with ketogenic diets; and I got a bad sunburn, atypical for me, on day 14. (In all fairness, it would be unfair to blame that last one on the diet.)
Psychologically, though, I was a wreck. Not because meat makes me depressed, but because food and drink add so much to my life. Fresh fall peaches at the Charlottesville farmers’ market; cappuccinos at my favorite café; warm sourdough from the local bakery; Friday night beers: These weekly joys, often shared with friends, were now off limits.
My wife and I love to cook, yet despite trying to keep it up (Day 5: Smoked Paprika Meatballs, Day 12: Crab Omelet) we had to face reality: there’s not a single culinary tradition available to carnivores. French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian—hell, even Brazilian steak is traditionally served with toasted cassava flour called farofa. Whatever euphoria supposedly comes with ketosis was powerless against regular old despair.
After 13 days of the carnivore diet, I realized that focusing on physiology fails to capture what makes carnivory so extreme. One valuable lesson of the diet is that human bodies are remarkably resilient: You can shit without fiber and avoid scurvy without vegetables! But reducing food to physiology is as shallow as reducing culture to biology. It’s hard to overstate the sociocultural importance of culinary traditions. Breaking bread. “Comfort food.” Grandma’s recipe. Potlatchs. Wedding toasts. Birthday cake. Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t have to be a foodie for food to be meaningful—you just have to be a human being. And exponentially more than any other restrictive diet, carnivory isolates you from that meaning.
The true magnitude of this diet’s cost only hit me the day after it ended, when I was in colonial Williamsburg with my family eating “famous” peanut soup at the King’s Arms Tavern, once patronized by George Washington. There, enjoying what is essentially drinkable pad Thai peanut sauce, I remembered an interview I’d read with a carnivore woman whose staple food “is raw, frozen hamburger patties.” I know it seems trivial, but suddenly I felt tremendous sorrow that this woman would never, ever experience peanut soup at George Washington’s tavern, not because she was allergic to peanuts, but because somehow she’d been convinced to trade an entire galaxy of experiences for the promise of dietary salvation via communion wafers of frozen meat.
Seeking out alternative dietary practices makes sense. The so-called Standard American Diet—heavy on highly processed grains, oils, and sugar, and engineered for overconsumption—poses a serious threat to global public health, and no one has figured out how to fight it.
Our medical system does a wretched job dealing with dietary problems: Celiac disease is massively under-diagnosed, food intolerances are on the rise, and physicians often fail to consider dietary interventions for chronic conditions like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, instead prescribing pharmaceuticals with excruciating digestive side effects. Meanwhile, nutrition science lurches from one recommendation to another, leaving the public understandably skeptical of experts and government guidelines. Into the void step authorities of all sorts, underwritten by endless testimonials. Who wouldn’t want to give them a try in this age of polluted food and deteriorating bodies?
The illusion, however, is that this age is different from any other. Miracle diets, like the suffering they promise to resolve, are as old as religion itself. In the Book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon tries to feed Daniel and three of his friends on royal meat and wine. Daniel doesn’t want to defile himself, so, in what might be the earliest dietary trial ever recounted, he asks for his group to be fed for ten days on water and pulses (fruits, vegetables, and lentils). And wouldn’t you know it? “At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” Vegetarianism, endorsed by God and science.
When modern-day carnivores testify to the power of their diet, it’s essential to see it in the context of a long line of testimonials. Either you believe them all, or you consider the possibility that the latest might share traits with the ones that came before.
It may seem hard to explain miraculous arthritis turnarounds or sunburn resistance on the carnivore diet, but in truth it’s no harder than explaining miraculous arthritis turnarounds on a vegan diet, or the miraculous power of chewing your food 100 times per minute before swallowing it, or the miraculous power of juicing and coffee enemas to cure cancer. No doubt some of these diets are physiologically effective for some people. If you have undiagnosed celiac and go carnivore, you will experience a genuine miracle that might include remission of arthritis.
Science may one day vindicate the proposed biological mechanisms of carnivore sunburn resistance and arthritis remission, which would be terrific. They should be rigorously tested. But until then, scientific minds will acknowledge that proposed mechanisms are routinely falsified, and arthritis can spontaneously remit, just like cancer. Eliminating plant toxins may help treat depression and anxiety—but the thrill of immediate weight loss can also relieve anxiety in someone terrified of being fat, just as gaining it back can be depressing. History is replete with cases of the lame walking and the blind seeing, thanks to everything from diets to spiritual power. It’s simply easier to treat those cases critically when the people involved are no longer alive.
For as long as miracle diets have existed, people have also resented being told what to eat. They want to test the rules, as Eve did after God forbade eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A tradition of Jewish midrash (commentary) on Genesis points out that Eve—or possibly Adam—adds rules to God’s original prohibition. When the serpent shows up and asks about the Garden’s nutritional guidelines, Eve tells him that God not only forbade eating from the tree, he also forbade touching it. In one midrash, which fills in the original story, the serpent pushes her against the tree. Eve doesn’t die, and so he convinces her that the prohibition against eating from it is equally empty. If one rule doesn’t hold, why not rebel against them all?
Carnivory is perfectly suited to our cultural moment. Finding out that an all-meat diet won’t cause scurvy, that your bowels can do well (maybe better!) on nothing but ribeyes—it’s as if the serpent pushed you against the tree, and you survived. There’s an exhilaration in successfully violating deeply held taboos, a profound sense of power and freedom, the rush that comes with occult knowledge.
I felt it myself when my wife and I walked into a BBQ joint and ordered two pounds of brisket, no sauce. “For here?” asked the owner. “Yeah, for here.” He looked at us for a few seconds with a mixture of horror and astonishment before replying, “Hey man, I like your style.” Today, there’s no better way to break dietary taboos than carnivory: only meat, the fattier the better.
Never mind the question of whether carnivory is healthy, or ethical, or good for the environment. None of those addresses its unique appeal, which lies in giving the establishment and its sheeple an unparalleled fuck you. To make it easier, advocates pretend the government recommends eating the Standard American Diet when in fact it explicitly calls for avoiding products with added sugar, just like Eve pretended that God forbade touching the tree.
They tweet photos of their abs but do not mention the awkward family holidays, how they used to visit the farmers’ market, the keto rash and the unfortunate sunburns, or the possibility that faith, not physiology, is responsible for at least some of the reported miracles. (Or maybe it’s cutting out alcohol, something carnivores have in common with Daniel.)
Sitting in the King’s Arms Tavern, I felt the omissions profoundly. Like any medical intervention, diets have potential side effects, both physical and psychological. Honest advocates would be open about them; evangelists can’t afford to be. And the worst side effect of carnivory is never discussed at all: the vampiric draining of meaning from food until nothing is left but nutrition.
So consider this the warning on the side of the bottle. Perhaps there is a cure for you in carnivory; perhaps the pounds will melt off and after 3 days you’ll feel “unbelievable,” just like Dr. Drew. But before you try it, remember the frozen beef patties and all the peanut soups you’re trading for them. As far as I’m concerned that’s a pretty raw deal, even if you throw in six-pack abs and sunburn immunity.
Alan Levinovitz is an associate professor of religion at James Madison University and author of The Gluten Lie, which examines the religious roots of common food fears. His next book, One Nature Under God, is about the modern substitution of “natural” for “holy.” Follow him on Twitter @alanlevinovitz.
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The carnivore diet is an increasingly popular trend in the low-carb community. Carnivore encourages you to eat only meat, avoiding all other foods including fruit and veggies.
Carnivore has been understandably controversial. Eating nothing but meat is a bold suggestion.
At the same time, more and more people report increased energy, easier weight loss, decreased bloating, improved mental clarity, and other benefits after switching to carnivore.
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Is it worth at least considering whether a zero-carb, all-meat diet can improve your health? In this article, you’ll learn the basics of the carnivore diet, the science behind it, its potential benefits, and how carnivore differs from the ketogenic diet.
What Is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is a high-fat, high-protein diet where you eat only meat, eggs, and dairy and stay away from all other food groups. Those who experiment with a meat-only diet usually try the keto diet or paleo diet before transitioning.
Shawn Baker, a former orthopedic surgeon, is often credited with the popularity of the carnivore diet. Other advocates include television personality Joe Rogan (who welcomed Shawn Baker on his podcast), and Mikhaila Peterson, the daughter of Canadian Psychologist Jordan Peterson.
Carnivore is a variation of a ketogenic diet but they are not the same thing. Cutting out all carbs will put you into ketosis, and people on carnivore report many of the benefits that you get from a keto diet: mental clarity, faster weight loss, improved athletic performance, and a healthier digestive system, to name a few.
Carnivore is also an elimination diet: it removes all potential food sensitivity issues (unless you’re sensitive to meat), which may explain why some people feel better on carnivore.
Finally, advocates of the carnivore diet maintain the somewhat controversial claim that the ancestral human diet consisted primarily of meat and fish. Inuit people living near both poles reportedly follow a carnivorous way of eating for the majority of the year, yet have no adverse health effects.
All you have to do on the carnivore diet is eat animal foods and avoid foods that come from plants.
Foods to Avoid on Carnivore
The carnivore diet is pretty straight-forward when it comes to what you won’t be eating.
- All plant-based foods. From candy to vegetables, any plant-based food is 100% prohibited on a carnivore diet. Strict carnivores won’t even cook with olive oil.
- Supplements. The theory behind the carnivore diet is that if you switch to a zero-carb diet, your nutritional needs change, and that all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive are contained in meat.
What to Eat on Carnivore
On the carnivore diet, all foods will come from animal products.
- Meat. Beef, lamb, pork, chicken — any kind of meat is fine on a carnivore diet. Since you aren’t consuming any carbohydrates, you should be getting the bulk of your calories from fattier cuts of meat to make sure you’re getting enough calories.
- Dairy. Some carnivores eat cream, butter, and cheese, but many people avoid dairy products because they’re lactose-intolerant. Milk and half-and-half are not allowed on carnivore because they contain carbs.
- Animal fat. Lard, tallow, ghee, schmaltz, and other animal fats become the standard for cooking on carnivore. The good news is that they all have very high smoke points, which makes them well-suited for searing steak or crisping up a roast chicken.
- Fish. All types of fish are allowed on carnivore. Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, oysters, and shrimp are all popular for their DHA omega-3 content.
- Organ meats: This includes liver, heart, tongue, and offal, which are excellent sources of iron.
- Bone broth
Sample Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
Here’s a quick example of a carnivore meal plan:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with bacon and black coffee (or coffee with heavy cream)
- Lunch: Grass-fed burgers with bacon (and cheese, if you tolerate dairy) and water
- Dinner: Porterhouse or ribeye steak
How Does the Carnivore Diet Work?
There’s no direct research on a carnivorous diet yet. However, there are studies on low-carb, ketogenic, zero-fiber, and other related diets that shed light on how carnivore might be good for you.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that this research is not directly about carnivore. It’s more of a hypothesis, so take it with a grain of salt.
Carnivore Puts You Into Ketosis
When you’re in ketosis, your body runs on ketones for fuel instead of carbs. Ketosis comes with a variety of health benefits, ranging from decreased inflammation to appetite suppression to increased mental clarity.
Theoretically, you would get similar benefits from the carnivore diet. It’s perfectly viable to run on fat without eating carbs. In fact, many people feel better when they cut out carbohydrates.
You can get the few carbs you need from gluconeogenesis — your body will convert protein to sugar to fuel processes that require carbohydrates.
Your Nutrient Needs May Change on Carnivore
When you eat zero carbs, your metabolism runs very differently than it does on a higher-carb diet, and your nutrient needs may shift as a result.
For example, glucose metabolism uses a lot of vitamin A, and cutting out carbs may decrease your vitamin A requirement. Additionally, people on a low-carb diet show a higher antioxidant status, despite eating fewer antioxidants than people on a higher-carb diet. This suggests that carbohydrate metabolism may increase antioxidant demands as well.
This is fairly speculative, but more people report thriving on an all-meat diet in the long-term (for more than a year) without supplements. They also say their blood work shows no nutrient deficiencies.
A common concern with a carnivore diet is scurvy from lack of vitamin C. There’s a section on that below.
In theory — and, according to practicing carnivores — it’s possible to eat nothing but meat and maintain a healthy metabolism, with no nutrient deficiencies. Dietary carbohydrates are not technically necessary for your body to run.
Ketogenic Diet vs. Carnivore Diet
Both the ketogenic diet and the carnivore diet allow fat and protein while eliminating carbohydrates. But the carnivore diet takes it one step further and eliminates all plant foods.
On a ketogenic diet, you’re encouraged to eat lots of fresh, leafy low-carb vegetables, as well as plant-based fat sources like nuts, coconut oil and avocados. Keto also requires you to calculate your macros and follow them carefully, making sure you get the right ratio of fat to protein to carbs.
Unlike the ketogenic diet, there are no macronutrient ratio preferences in the carnivore diet. You just eat meat. And because you’re not eating any carbs, you’ll likely reach ketosis on a carnivore diet.
Most people report that they do. The only sticking point would be gluconeogenesis from all the extra protein. But gluconeogenesis is unlikely to take you out of ketosis.
There are a few potential benefits to eating a carnivore diet. Once again, there is little research behind the carnivore diet, so some of the following benefits are simply reports from those who have experimented with it.
#1: It’s a Simple Way of Eating
Carnivore could not be simpler. You don’t have to calculate macros or count calories. Food shopping is easy, and you’ll never have to think about what to eat for dinner. You just stock up on meat and eat it until you’re full.
#2: It Might Improve Your Digestion
Cutting out plants may help improve health problems associated with digestive distress. Plants contain antinutrients called lectins, which are indigestible and can threaten the growth and health of humans (and animals) who consume them.
While fiber has been a staple in just about every diet and has been promoted as a way to improve your body’s digestive system. Carnivore dieters proposes an opposite outlook: that cutting fiber out of your diet may actually improve any digestive distress.
One study by the World Journal of Gastroenterology looked into the effects of decreasing fiber intake in people who were experiencing constipation, which is the opposite of what you’ve been told to do. People who cut out all fiber saw a return to regularity in their bowel movements. Those in the zero-fiber group also saw bloating and gas disappear completely — 0% reported digestive issues.
Cutting out fiber may also be helpful for people with Crohn’s Disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Fiber irritates your intestines — you can’t digest it, and it causes microscopic damage to your intestinal lining as it passes through. If your gut is sensitive (from IBS or Crohn’s, for example), fiber can cause intense bloating and pain.
#3: It May Decrease Inflammation
Carnivore may help decrease inflammation. One study compared inflammation markers between a low-carb, high-fat group to a low-fat, high-carb group for 12 weeks. The results show that the low-carb, high-fat dieters had lower systemic inflammation by the end of the 3-month study.
It’s worth noting that this was a keto diet that still included carbs and fiber. It wasn’t a zero-carb, carnivore diet. The benefits may not transfer — although plenty of anecdotal reports say that carnivore helps people manage their inflammation.
#4: It Might Help You Lose Weight
Carnivore will put you into ketosis, which can suppress your appetite and helps you burn up to 300 more calories per day than a standard American diet. It can feel easier to stay in a slight calorie deficit when you’re in ketosis, which leads to sustained weight loss for many people.
The elimination of all carbohydrates will thereby completely eliminate all foods which could raise your blood sugar levels. This could be beneficial for those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
#5: It Might Increase Testosterone Levels
High-fat, low-carb diets can increase your testosterone levels.
One study found that men who adopted a low-fiber, high-fat diet for two months had a 13% higher testosterone and 12-28% lower estrogen than participants following a low-fat diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since the carnivore can appear as a radical diet — at least when compared to conventional teachings from a nutritionist or registered dietitian — it sparks a lot of questions. Here are a few answers to commonly asked questions.
Does Carnivore Work for Athletes?
There’s no research on carnivore for athletes, but plenty of people report doing well in the gym when they’re on carnivore.
That said, if you find you’re losing stamina in the gym after the first few weeks of carnivore, you may want to add in some carbs, or try a standard keto diet.
If that still doesn’t feel like enough, you can try a targeted ketogenic diet or cyclical ketogenic diet.
Does Carnivore Cause Nutrient Deficiencies?
There’s not much good research on whether or not an all-meat diet will cause nutrient deficiencies.
You won’t meet all your recommended daily intakes (RDIs) of vitamins and minerals on an all-meat diet. However, your nutrient needs may also change when you stop processing carbohydrates.
A growing number of people report no nutrient deficiencies in their blood work, even after months to years of eating only meat. Red meat contains many (but not all) vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients, particularly if the meat is from a grass-fed animal.
Does Carnivore Cause Vitamin C Deficiencies (Scurvy)?
You may have heard that carnivore can cause scurvy — a disease that causes a number of symptoms from dry skin and hair to loose teeth.
Scurvy was common with pirates and sailors before the 18th century. They would go out to sea with nothing but jerky to eat, and the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables would deplete their vitamin C stores, eventually causing their teeth, skin, and nails to develop lesions.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, and dehydrating meat removes vitamin C content. However, fresh meat does contain a small amount of vitamin C, especially if the meat is grass-fed.
On top of that, people on a low-carb diet actually have higher vitamin C levels (and other antioxidant levels) than people on a higher-carb diet do, suggesting that you either become more efficient at using vitamin C or you require less of it when you aren’t eating carbs.
If you’re still worried, you can always take a vitamin C supplement. About 1000 mg of vitamin C a day is more than enough to keep scurvy at bay.
Will a Carnivore Diet Cause Heart Disease?
Carnivore involves eating a lot of saturated fat. Will such a high saturated fat intake cause heart disease?
Again, there are no long-term studies on carnivore. However, recent research has found that saturated fat intake is a poor predictor of heart disease, and that a high-fat diet can improve cardiovascular health more than a higher-carb diet does, provided the high-fat diet is also low-carb and contains unprocessed foods.
How Long Does it Take to Adapt to a Carnivore Diet?
If you’re going to try carnivore, stick with it for at least a month. You may experience low energy, fatigue, and brain fog as your body transitions from burning carbohydrates to burning fat as its main energy source.
You also may experience either constipation or diarrhea while your digestive system adjusts to the lack of fiber and increased fat intake. Stick it out for four weeks and see if these short-term side effects go away.
If these problems persist for a month, carnivore may not be for you.
Is a Carnivore Diet Right for You?
There is very little research to directly show the health benefits or drawbacks of a carnivore diet. Most of the arguments, both for and against it, are theoretical.
That being said, those who follow the carnivore diet offer personal testimonies that seem to contradict everything you’ve ever been taught about nutrition. While most nutritionists state fats are bad and fruit and veggies are good, here is a diet that takes a complete opposite approach.
The result? Those following this meat-only diet are losing weight, thinking more clearly, and aren’t showing signs of nutritional deficiencies.
The carnivore diet offers an extremely controversial way of eating. If you are considering starting a carnivore diet, it’s recommended to start with a more moderate eating plan, such as keto or paleo.
For more information on how to start a ketogenic diet, you can use this complete beginner’s guide to keto to get started today.
Why try a 30 day Carnivore Keto diet plan?
Today marks 30 days I have been trying a Carnivore Keto Diet experiment, I wanted to try this because several people in my life had great success with it. My sister, Ellen is Hangry lost 20 lbs doing it after her baby was born in April 2018. She was having digestive distress every time she ate vegetables so that was even more motivation to try a carnivore keto diet. I talked to my health coach, my trusted nutrition advisor and she recommended this Carnivore Keto Diet to me over and over for my digestion and thyroid autoimmune symptoms.
To say I was excited about trying a carnivore keto diet would be lying, I have been putting off starting since May or June because I was afraid of the monotony and that it may exacerbate some of my food demons from my years of yo-yo starvation dieting. this summer I was traveling a lot and I didn’t think I would focus on it until I was home for a while.
I have done many elimination diets in the past including AIP but Keto carnivore diet way of eating showed me the most notable changes in a short time. Following a gluten free, paleo, then keto diets for nearly 10 years, I still have some challenges with my health.
Every step of my health journey since I was diagnosed with Hashimotos, an autoimmune thyroid disease, back in 2009 has helped my healing but I still have some issues such as slow digestion, weight gain, and fatigue.
I have taken thyroid medication starting in 2010, including Armor, Naturethroid and now I take NP thyroid by Acella 120 mg. I was hoping this plan would help reduce my thyroid antibodies from 100 to under 30 which some doctors count as remission. When I was diagnosed I had over 600 for my TPO antibodies so I have already seen a lot of improvement. I don’t usually register TBG antibodies unless I take a lot of iodine, so I avoid that.
What I ate:
My diet consisted of fatty cuts of organic or grass fed meat (order here) such as ground beef, chicken wings and some wild seafood. I ate eggs for the first 15 days then decided to eliminate those also for a time to see if that was a sensitivity for me. Butter was used to cook my meat but I only had 3-4 slices of cheese, at a restaurant on a hamburger patty. Cheese is a food I thought I would over-do as well as heavy cream, so I avoided them. I used to drink heavy cream all day in my coffee so I knew the calories really added up.Cheese is something that I can stand in front of the fridge and eat while I figure out what to eat, not good.
I drank black decaf coffee and unsweetened tea sometimes. I drink a lot of Lacroix and Spindrift seltzer water. Also I drank bone broth daily that I made in my instant pot (order here) with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to balance my electrolytes. I used this salt often because it has the right balance of potassium and magnesium, but I prefer the taste of this salt so I used it on my food.
I ate some spices but not excessively, mostly salt and pepper. It is important to use salt plentifully on your food especially during your adjustment phase or you may feel light headed or weak. Spicy brown mustard is a must for burgers from time to time. I had avocado mayonnaise a few times at the beginning of the month but cut it out with my egg elimination. It is important to eliminate nightshades if you have a lot of autoimmune symptoms but I wasn’t super strict about that this time as I have not reacted to nightshades in the past.
I tried to use animal based fats preferably but if I used a little olive oil and or coconut oil I didn’t freak out. Mostly I used grass fed butter. Beef tallow is also a very healthy and versatile fat order here.
Eating in restaurants: I ate fatty brisket a few times at our favorite place, Martin’s barbecue. They also have dry rub wings that are to die for. I just avoided the slaw but I was so full from the meat, it didn’t bother me.
My favorite foods during this time:
- fatty grass fed ground beef
- organic chicken wings (from Costco)
- scallops in butter
- salmon in butter
- applegate turkey pepperoni
Typical Sample Day of Eating on Carnivore Diet
8 oz grass fed ground beef cooked in 1-2 tbsp butter or 4 scrambled eggs in butter
8 oz ground beef cooked in 1-2 tbsp butter or ghee
10-12 chicken wings (love the flats) cooked in beef tallow OR ribeye steak cooked in butter or grilled outside
16 oz bone broth with 1 teaspoon sea salt
Tracking calories or protein?
My friends who had done a carnivore diet in the past, told me to not worry about counting calories or restricting my portions but to focus on eating to satiety. I concentrated on eating until I was full but not overeating. Protein is so filling it is hard to overeat especially when focusing on fatty meats. The combo of fat and protein are the most satisfying foods on earth. I felt like tracking anymore factors would just give me anxiety after all I was already giving up (vegetables, stevia, chocolate, berries).
I measured my blood ketones several times and they were very low .4 mmol/L but I felt like I was in ketosis because I have felt the feeling many times before. Optimal numbers of ketones are 1.6- are 3.0 mmol/L. The beginning of ketosis is considered .5mmol/L.
Testing Blood Sugar:
Blood sugar in the morning and it was 88 usually which is a little higher than usual. I am not sure why but pre-diabetes is usually considered above 100, so I am still in a good range. I would often get a lower number an hour or so after I would eat a fatty meat meal.
This is the meter I use for both blood and ketone testing (order here).
I was working out with weights a lot prior to starting my carnivore plan but I stopped when going through the adaptation phase. If you don’t know my story, I was a trainer for many years and I love weight training and used to also run marathons before I got sick. On this plan, I decided to just let myself workout if I felt like it and I have not yet been so inclined. I do walk about 4 miles a day, because I like to stay active. Maybe working out is something I will add in my second month if I continue.
30 Day Carnivore Diet Results:
It is hard to stick with elimination diets especially when you don’t see any noticeable changes but this time I lost 12-15 lbs in 30 days.Weight loss has been a huge challenge for me and I gained 20-30 lbs when I got sick with thyroid disease and nothing else has really worked for weight loss even though I have tried keto and paleo and even AIP.
Sleep and energy:
I was sleeping better, waking up earlier but more energy throughout the day. I sleep really soundly and fall asleep faster. Normally I want a nap but on this plan I didn’t even think of napping, so I was less tired overall.
Congestion in my nose was better so I was breathing through my nose while sleeping.
No sugar cravings:
This was the first time I have stopped eating stevia sweetened drinks or dark chocolate for 30 days and it was amazing how fast my sugar cravings dissipated. I didn’t have kombucha at all which is another favorite and it wasn’t hard to say no to that either.
The best part is I was never hungry on carnivore and completely satisfied, even more so than with a keto diet. Also I noticed how often I thought about food just as a comfort not from true hunger because I was looking to soothe myself. At times when I thought about what to eat, I didn’t want anything because I wasn’t actually hungry, once I realized meat was the only option. It gave me a lot of clarity that I used food as entertainment not just for fuel.
I have done keto off and on for 9 years and I usually don’t have any symptoms but this time was a much harder transition. I had to drink a lot of salt, 2-3 times a day, I chose to put it in homemade bone broth but other people make electrolyte drinks. Order bone broth here.
The day or two before my cycle begins I usually get a headache so bad that I have to lay in a dark room and go to bed really easy or sleep for 3-4 hours. My Young Living pain Cream helps a lot when I rub it on my neck but napping is key. After I was on carnivore for a few weeks I noticed my headache was a lot more mild at the beginning of my cycle. I was able to keep going and just had a mild dull ache which was big improvement! I am hoping to keep seeing improvements as each cycle approaches.
TMI Poop Talk:
I didn’t see a lot of improvement here but I was way less bloated. I was using magnesium oil (order here) on my skin and that did help a lot to improve motility but I had to use daily. Natural calm (order here) did not seem to work the way it usually does. I saw some changes in the color of my stool at first while my microbiome was probably freaking out. I was told to expect less volume of poop overall because of not eating fruits and vegetables and the body is so efficient at breaking down meat. Someone may need to change their expectation of daily elimination. I am hoping that over time this factor will improve as well.
My recap of carnivore on Day 5:
My thyroid results after 30 days carnivore eating:
TPO antibodies: 61 (under 30 is in remission, function medicine range is even more strict)
TBG antibodies: 1 (should be 1 or 0)
TSH: 0.40 ( 1-2 is optimal)
Free T-3: 3.1 (> 3.2 PG/ML is optimal)
Free T-4: 0.8 (>1.1 NG/DL is optimal)
A screen shot of my thyroid test:
GET TESTING DONE AT HOME
Interpreting the results:
TPO is a marker that measures the amount of antibodies your body has against its own thyroid tissue. A high number means a lot of inflammation or attack is underway. This marker is usually 100, for me for the past 8 years. It was 600 before gluten free diet and being on medication. I first was diagnosed with Hashimotos in 2009 or 2010. TGB is not a marker I have had trouble with unless I take iodine but I just get iodine from food.
TSH is optimal about 1.0 according to functional medicine doctors. Free T-3 is the active form that makes you feel energetic and if it is low it could be a conversion problem. If the free T-4 is a storage form of thyroid hormone that needs to be converted to be usable and if low it can mean your thyroid is still underactive or hypo. I wanted to test my thyroid to see how it was responding after 30 days of carnivore. I should note that it was the first test where I was taking a different thyroid medication so that could have been a factor as well (NP thyroid by Acella 120 mg).
Are you concerned about vitamin deficiency?
The vitamins that are recommended are based on a standard American diet which depletes things like vitamin C and magnesium. When we are not eating carbs we don’t need as much of those nutrients. I am taking a good multivitamin (order here) just to be on the safe side but I am not overly worried since I don’t plan to do this long term. Also liver and shellfish have trace amounts of Vitamin C.
Is a Carnivore Diet Expensive?
Well yes and no. I spend a ton on food anyway because I am a foodie and my husband is a chef. Eating is our main form of entertainment (kind of kidding, lol). But I actually found that I spend the same if I was eating vegetables because they are very expensive as well. Also I eat none of other things like chocolate, Halo Top and kombucha/ Kevita which all add up at the register. A pound of grass fed beef is $5.50 at Aldi so that is two meals for me, pretty cheap! If you are eating Ribeye at $10-15 a pop then it adds up but many people eat two meals a day rather than 3 if they eat a large steak. So it is all relative. Try eating at a restaurant for less than $15, good luck. If budget is a big issue then try eating less popular cuts like liver and heart. Get to know your local farmer and buy in bulk such as a cow share. Also shop the sale and markdown section of the grocery and freeze any deals you find for later. I used a Butcher Box Coupon and saved a lot. They have a deal for free bacon until Nov 30, 2018. Shop here.
Will I continue with carnivore?
I would like to continue with carnivore keto diet plan because I am feeling really good. I would love to lose another 10-15 lbs and this is effortless because I am never hungry. I am slowly seeing changes in my digestion so maybe that will keep improving.
I took this photo with the same outfit. The shirt is much bigger on the right and you can see more definition in my face. The shorts are much looser. I lost about 10-12 lbs during this program which was very motivating to keep going!
The photo on the left was Sept 30, 2018 and the one on the right was Oct 30, 2018.
How I am feeling now:
I would like to keep going and based on my thyroid results, it seems like carnivore is agreeing with my body. Every time I think I am done with carnivore I just eat a juicy steak and I am fine again. I am working with a health coach too and she is advising me. You can reach out to her at Nourished Caveman. I am feeling really good and it is so nice to fit in my smaller clothes and feel more like getting out of the house because I am feeling better in my body. Seeing the lab results was motivating too so I have something to say when people say carnivore is killing me!
The only worry I have is being compliant over the holidays so I may decide to have one keto dessert on Thanksgiving or Christmas if I really want it but otherwise keep it strictly carnivore.
If you try a Carnivore Keto Diet shoot me a message or tag me on Instagram @grassfedgirl with your results. You can watch my video diary here about my day to thoughts on carnivore. If you want more info on Carnivore, leave a comment below and I will write more blogs posts about it.
Thanks for reading,
Leave a comment about your keto or carnivore diet results!
27 Keto Carnivore Diet Recipes That Will Make You a Meat-Lover
Louise Hendon | December 19
If you find the idea of a carnivore diet interesting, but have no idea how to cook a meal that is meat-only; fear not. I’ve gathered all my favorite meat recipes together and created this collection that will help you get started.
It may seem like a difficult task to prepare dinner from only meats, but it’s quite simple. And delicious! You won’t have to eat the same thing every other day – there is plenty of variety on this list.
Even if you’re not on a carnivore diet, these recipes will make tasty Keto entrees that your whole family will enjoy. Simply throw in a side salad or some roasted veggies, if you’d like.
As you may have already guessed, I’ve included chicken, beef and pork recipes. But some of my absolute favorites are the organ meat recipes. Organ meats tend to be easily forgotten or at least not very popular, but they are inexpensive and super delicious when they’re cooked right. Listen to Caitlin Week‘s story when she tried Carnivore, or join her 30 Day Carnivore Diet Challenge!
3 Things You Didn’t Know About Organ Meats
- Organ meats are a great source of iron, protein and various nutrients.
- Organ meats (or offal) are great if you’re cooking on a budget!
- Tongue and heart may be the best ones to start off with since they tend to have the mildest flavor.
Some of my other favorites from this list are the mustard-seared bacon burgers, slow cooker bacon and chicken (which, by the way, is crazy-easy to make) and the pepperoni meatballs.
Here are just a few of the keto carnivore diet we’ve included:
- Keto Steak au Poivre
- 3-Ingredient Crispy Keto Chicken Thighs
- Keto Mustard-Seared Bacon Burgers
- Easy Keto Pepperoni Meatballs
- Keto Roasted Bone Marrow
- Tasty Beef and Liver Burger
- Beef (Heart) Steak
If you click or tap any of the links above, it will instantly take you to the recipe below. Or download the entire list by clicking on the green button below.
Recipes for a Carnivore Diet
Keto Smokey Bacon Meatballs
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: chicken breasts or ground chicken, slices of bacon, egg, garlic, onion powder, liquid smoke, avocado or olive oil.
Using a mixture of bacon and chicken with a hint of smokiness added for extra flavor, these must be some of the tastiest meatballs ever! They have just the right balance of meat and fat to make them unctuous and juicy, yet they hold together really well. These meatballs are really low in carbohydrates but packed with flavor and they even go down well with the kids!
Keto Steak au Poivre
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: filet mignon or similar steak, salt, peppercorns, sprig of thyme, garlic, ghee.
Steak is one of those impressive dishes that is often served at dinner parties, but it can be a good idea, when you are following a specific diet, to treat yourself to steak every now and then. This is a simple recipe but the crushed peppercorns add such a special flavor to the meat that it is worth a try! Try not to overcook the steak as the flavor is best when the steak is medium rare.
3-Ingredient Crispy Keto Chicken Thighs
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: chicken thighs (with the skin on), olive oil or avocado oil, salt.
When all thoughts turn to eating chicken thighs, think of this recipe! As you know, most coatings for chicken involve some form of breadcrumbs, which are not Keto-friendly, so using this low carb recipe could be the answer. It simply uses the skin on the thighs as a crispy coating that you can enjoy for any lunch or dinner.
Keto Asian Chicken Wings
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: chicken wings with skin on, sesame oil, tamari sauce, ginger powder, white wine vinegar, garlic, sea salt.
With only one gram per serving, these lovely Asian chicken wings are really low in carbs which is great for Keto people and they make a great snack to make for game nights. They have the great Asian flavors of garlic and ginger and the coconut aminos adds richness to the taste. Not only is this a snack packed with protein, but the wings end up with a really crispy skin which is delicious!
Keto Mustard-Seared Bacon Burgers
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: bacon, ground beef, salt, pepper, yellow mustard.
If you are looking for a bit of a change for your burgers next barbecue day, try this amazing beef and bacon recipe and the whole family will love them! The bacon adds a ton of flavor to the meat and the mustard gives a great boost to the flavors.
Three Ingredient Keto Steak Sauté
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: beef ribeye steak, onion (omit), garlic, avocado oil.
With only three ingredients, this Keto sauté would be perfect for a speedy lunch or a satisfying dinner after a busy day. Ribeye steaks tend to have marbling and that gives them more flavor than leaner cuts, so they are great for this quick and easy meal.
Keto Lemon Baked Salmon
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: lemons, salmon, olive oil, salt, ground black pepper, thyme.
Lemon makes the perfect partner for salmon as it adds a zingy freshness to the meaty fish and really boosts the flavor. We all know that fish is important on the Keto diet (and others) as it is rich in nutrients and Omega 3 fish oils, but what is just as important is that it tastes great! With the caramelized lemon slices on top, this would be a very impressive main for a dinner party.
Keto Crockpot Shredded Chicken
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: chicken breasts, chicken broth, garlic, onion (omit), salt, pepper, Italian seasoning.
Shredded chicken is such a great meat for Keto and paleo people as it can be used for so many different dishes. This is a very handy recipe that gives you basic steps to let you make a batch of the meat you can either use right away or freeze for another day.
Easy Keto Pepperoni Meatballs
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: ground beef or chicken, pepperoni slices, egg, hot sauce (optional), salt, pepper.
This is a versatile recipe as you can use either beef or chicken to make these Italian-inspired Keto-friendly meatballs. You might find that you don’t need to add much salt to season because the pepperoni contains some salt.
Paleo Chicken and Bacon Sausages
– Paleo Flourish
Ingredients: chicken breasts, bacon, egg, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper.
Chicken goes so well with bacon and these little Paleo patties look so good that you will want to make them again and again. Using the seasonings listed here makes the flavor of these sausages absolutely delicious and they will surely become a family favorite.
Garlic Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites
– Paleo Flourish
Ingredients: chicken breast, bacon, garlic powder.
These delicious little chicken bites look great and would make the perfect party food. The recipe is easy to prepare and you will be amazed how many you can make from just one chicken breast! These also go down really well for kid’s parties or as a tasty treat on a summer picnic. You could even jazz it up even more by adding some ginger powder to the chicken coating.
Slow Cooker Bacon & Chicken
– Paleo Flourish
Ingredients: chicken breasts, bacon, thyme (dried), oregano (dried), rosemary (dried), olive oil, salt.
This is a really easy recipe to use and the end result tastes amazing! Shredded chicken and bacon with the addition of the herbs are great ingredients for a light lunch. The bacon helps to keep the chicken moist and adds a real boost to the flavor, so it would be great for Keto and paleo people.
French Roast Beef – Cold Cut Style
– The Healthy Foodie
Photo Credit: Sonia from The Healthy Foodie
Ingredients: french roast or top round or top sirloin roast, Himalayan salt, ground black pepper, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, garlic powder.
Making your own cold cuts is not only simple but super healthy and full of flavor without all the added preservatives and other nasties you can find in store-bought meats. This delicious recipe gives you tender beef that will make excellent meals. Once chilled, the beef cuts really thinly, so a good roast goes a long way!
Keto Roasted Bone Marrow
– Keto Summit
Ingredients: bone marrow halves, sea salt flakes, pepper.
It has been known for many years that bone marrow can be eaten to help boost the system and avoid inflammatory problems, but it also tastes great and has no carbs at all, so it is perfect for the Keto way of life! The marrow bones can often be sourced from your butcher or in health food stores and roasting them is quite easy.
Rosemary Liver Burgers
– Paleo Flourish
Ingredients: ground beef, ground liver, rosemary, chili pepper flakes, oregano, black pepper.
These quick and easy paleo burgers are packed full of goodness! If you find beef liver a bit too strong for you, then calf’s liver would work here too. You are in control of the heat in these burgers by simply adjusting the amount of chili flakes you use, which is a good thing to bear in mind if you are making them for the children. One tip – make sure the burgers are cooked right through even if you have to cut one open to find out – raw liver is not a good surprise!
Tasty Beef and Liver Burger
– A Girl Worth Saving
Photo Credit: Kelly from A Girl Worth Saving
Ingredients: ground beef, chicken livers, sea salt, ground black pepper, coriander, poultry seasoning, red onion (omit).
Adding liver to burgers is a great way to get your family to eat this nutritious meat and even the kids can enjoy them. Chicken or lamb livers have a much milder flavor, ideal for introducing this offal to the family, and these burgers have the added benefit of coriander to enrich the overall taste.
BBQ Chicken Livers and Hearts
– The Nourished Caveman
Photo Credit: Vivica from The Nourished Caveman
Ingredients: chicken hearts, chicken livers, sea salt, black pepper.
We all know that offal should be included in our Keto diets as it is rich in nutrients, but it’s not the most appetizing of meats. And some of it just has too much of a ‘metal’ taste. That’s why using chicken livers and hearts makes a great introduction – the flavors are much gentler. Just be sure to place them in a foil tray on the grill as livers can easily stick to the grill.
Beef (Heart) Steak
– The Nourished Caveman
Photo Credit: Vivica from The Nourished Caveman
Ingredients: ghee, beef heart, rosemary infused olive oil or plain olive oil, salt, pepper.
Beef heart is a fantastic source of goodness as it is packed with zinc, selenium and coenzyme Q10, which has been shown to help control cholesterol. When you cook it like this, you have a piece of organ meat that actually tastes like a good steak and can be enjoyed on the paleo, Keto, and AIP plans. This recipe cooks the meat in just a few minutes, but if your family has a problem with the blood taste, soak the meat overnight in apple cider vinegar.
Chicken Liver with Raw Garlic and Thyme
– Autoimmune Wellness
Ingredients: chicken liver, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, fresh thyme.
If you are keen to try introducing more liver to your Keto diet but just can’t face the flavor, you need to try this recipe. The thyme and raw garlic help to mask any unfortunate blood taste from the livers, so it’s a great introduction to liver. If you really don’t like the taste, you can try soaking the livers overnight in a little cider vinegar.
Hidden Liver Meatballs
– Grazed and Enthused
Photo Credit: Grazed & Enthused
Ingredients: ground pork, US Wellness Meats Liverwurst, solid fat of choice (pastured lard, bacon fat, duck fat, or tallow).
This paleo recipe is ideal if you have a family of picky eaters or some serious organ meat haters who don’t like liver. Here you are using liverwurst, which has already disguised some of the liver flavor, so even the little ones won’t realize! Sneaky, but so clever! So next time you are having a family lunch, you can sit back and watch as they enjoy liver without even knowing it’s there!
Herb Roasted Bone Marrow
– Empowered Sustenance
Photo Credit: Empowered Sustenance
Ingredients: bone marrows, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, salt, black pepper.
If you have a local butcher, it can be really good to talk to him first before you dash out looking for marrow bones, as he will likely be able to supply them quite cheaply. The pieces can then be roasted and served as an appetizer, or as a pick-me-up for someone who has been unwell, as it provides anti-inflammatory properties too. If you don’t like to eat it as it is, you can spread it over steak.
Cajun-Spiced Chicken Livers with Bacon and Onion
– The Curious Coconut
Photo Credit: The Curious Coconut
Ingredients: chicken livers, onion (omit), bacon, salt, ground black pepper, cayenne powder, garlic powder.
Liver and onions was a regular meal in our house when we were growing up, but it lacked the added spices used in this great Keto recipe! The spices and the addition of bacon just send the flavors through the roof! I love liver, but even if you don’t, you will find chicken livers far more palatable than beef liver. This makes a really hearty meal for any time of day!
– The Paleo Mom
Photo Credit: Sarah from The Paleo Mom
Ingredients: ground beef (or any ground meat), bison liver (or any liver), bacon.
These paleo-compliant burgers are packed with protein and because you are using three different types of meat they are also packed with flavor! Burgers can be a useful way to get more organ meat into the family’s diet as the earthy flavor can be masked by the other meats. If you can’t find bison liver you could use lamb liver instead as it has a much milder taste than beef liver.
Grilled Beef Liver
– Keto Vale
Ingredients: beef liver, olive oil, garlic, fresh mint, salt, ground black pepper.
We have all learned about the health benefits of eating organ meats, but where do you start if you are not a confident cook? With a really helpful recipe like this one, which gives you simple instructions even a novice can follow. So now you can enjoy a quick and easy grilled meal with all the nutrients from the liver, but with added flavors from the marinade that gives you a tasty Keto meal to enjoy.
Keto Chicken Hearts
– Advantage Meals
Ingredients: chicken hearts, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder.
This great recipe shows you how to spice things up a bit when it comes to eating organ meats, and this can also help persuade doubters to try it! Heart meat has the same mouthfeel as regular meat, so don’t be put off by the thought of the texture – just rustle up a batch of these and enjoy them on their own!
Pan Seared Beef Tongue
– Keto Savage
Ingredients: beef tongue, water, olive oil or fat of choice, desired seasoning.
Beef tongue is one of the best meats for the Keto diet as it has zero carbs, but is full of nutrients and tastes amazing when it is cooked well. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pressure cooker – the tongue can be cooked in a large pot instead. Once cooked, just cut the meat into pieces and fry gently to give it an even more delicious flavor that you can enjoy.
Beef Tongue into Delicious Crispy Beef
– Eat Beautiful
Ingredients: beef tongue, water, lard or other fat, sea salt, ground black pepper.
If you look at the menu in any Mexican restaurant, you will notice at least one dish that uses beef tongue – they understand the benefits of eating it! It also is one of the easiest organ meats to enjoy as the flavor is unlike others, like liver and heart. This recipe gives you crispy beef that can be enjoyed as a delicious meal that is suitable for paleo, Keto and AIP diets.