CARNIVORE DIET - GETTING STARTED
Whether it’s for the weight loss benefits, improving an autoimmune disease or dealing with another kind of health condition detailed by your physician, the carnivore diet is a low-carb option that could lead to positive health benefits and fewer cravings similar to a ketogenic diet. If you’re looking for more information about the carnivore diet, then you’ve come to the right place.
What Is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is a method of eating that involves consuming mostly, if not entirely, animals and animal products only. This typically includes a lot of meats, organs, cheese, butter and eggs.
The main recurring theme among these products is that they contain almost zero carbohydrates. However, unlike a lot of other low-carb or high-fat diets, the carnivore diet does not include vegetables or nuts and aims for zero to less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
While this can seem fairly restrictive it's much closer to the diet of our ancestors than today's high variety, high sugar, high carb diets.
This may raise questions such as “how do you get fiber?”, but the general consensus for the carnivore diet is that fiber is not needed. This is because lowered fiber intake results in more regular bowel motions and also less bloating issues, leading to the idea that fiber is not needed for a healthy diet.
Many people also question whether not eating vegetables is healthy for the body, but they might not be as essential to our diet as we first thought. While they certainly contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients, they might not be the best source because they come with a lot of “anti-nutrients” that bind to the same receptors and reduce uptake by the body, or are destroyed during the cooking process. This means that vegetables may not be as essential as people thought.
READ MORE: WHAT IS THE CARNIVORE DIET?
Is the Carnivore Diet Safe?
One of the most common questions regarding the carnivore diet is if it’s safe for humans and one of the strongest arguments for its safety is in our ancestors and their diet.
This is similar to the concept of the paleo diet which is inspired by the Palaeolithic era of our ancestors. A carnivore diet takes the same reasoning, drawing inspiration from research which shows that humans from over 80,000 thousand years ago were carnivores that consumed a lot of meat. This has lead to the belief that a carnivorous diet is the go-to ancestral human diet and that eating plenty of meat is the best option for health and longevity.
The carnivore diet also goes against many modern nutritional lessons such as balancing your diet, eating a lot of vegetables and fibers and also the idea that eating a lot of meat can cause high cholesterol and digestive problems. But the current dietary guidelines are failing us. More people are obese, unhealthy, diabetic, depressed and tired than ever before.
The idea of a carnivore diet comes from the idea that our ancestors mostly ate mostly meat because there wasn’t enough energy from other sources of food. As such, our bodies evolved to be at its best when operating on a meat-centric diet.
Other researchers have supported this idea, noting that the world has yet to produce any civilization that has sustained itself purely on a vegan diet from childhood to death. In contrast, there are many recorded examples through history of people from various cultural and geographical backgrounds that lived on carnivorous diets for generations. There have also been many positive results from people that have attempted and stuck with a carnivore diet, and there are many reasons for why they have been successful.
READ MORE: CARNIVORE DIET SIDE EFFECTS
Carnivore Diet Key benefits
There are many different benefits to the carnivore diet that can help people stick with the diet while also providing many positive health effects.
EASY TO FOLLOW MENU
Unlike a lot of modern diets that require very specific balances of macronutrients, the carnivore diet focuses mainly on meats and fatty foods. This makes it very easy to form a diet and also helps to kerb hunger due to the high protein intake that is a staple in the carnivore diet.
Not only is the carnivore way of life simple to maintain, but also very easy to shop for because it’s possible to just buy meat in bulk and cook it when needed. While a modern diet comes with various recommended daily intakes to deal with the vast amount of anti-nutrients from plants, the carnivore diet relies on the fact that you can get everything you need to survive and thrive from animal foods.
Much like regular keto and low-carb diets, a carnivore diet causes your body to entire ketosis which is a metabolic process of using stored fat for fuel. Ketosis occurs when your body lacks glucose for energy and starts to burn stored fats instead. There are many positive benefits of ketosis such as reducing mental health issues, weight loss and strength gains. Aiming for ketosis is simple thanks to the meat-centric and zero-carb nature of the carnivore diet.
Moderation is difficult especially if you’re either starving yourself or trying to obtain a very specific balance of macronutrients. On a carnivore diet, cravings are typically suppressed because each meal becomes more filling thanks to the high protein and high fat intake you get from meat. This makes it very easy to stick to a carnivore diet plan and ultimately helps to reduce calorie intake which leads to more weight loss.
One of the key benefits of any diet is weight loss, but the carnivore diet excels in this regard due to a number of different factors. Firstly, entering ketosis helps to greatly improve your fat burn rate which results in fast weight loss. Secondly, eating more protein means that your metabolism increases due to the amount of work it takes for your body to process it. Roughly 20-30% of protein calories are actually burned during the digestion and metabolizing process, resulting in more calories out which leads to faster weight loss. Lastly, high protein diets that focus on zero carbs are also less likely to consume sugary foods and empty calories, resulting in more nutrient-efficient foods.
Many people subscribe to the carnivore way of life to manage or cure autoimmune disorders like Addison’s Disease, Asthma, Anxiety, Celiac Disease, Depression, Graves' Disease, Guillain-barre Syndrome, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Psoriasis
Rheumatoid Arthritis, SIBO, Vasculitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
There are many more benefits to the carnivore diet, but these are the main advantages that you can expect to experience when you try the carnivore diet.
READ MORE: CARNIVORE DIET HEALTH BENEFITS
What to Eat on The Carnivore Diet
What to eat on the carnivore diet very much depends on what your personal goals are. Some people look to the carnivore diet for weight loss in which case, the low carb diet might also be suitable.
Some people are dealing with mild autoimmune issues and use the carnivore diet as an elimination diet, only to add in plant, nuts and seeds later while they learn what their body can tolerate.
The more hardcore carnivores tend to eat only animal products in an effort to reduce inflammation and control auto-immune disorders.
The strictest of the carnivores eat only beef, salt and water. While this can often seem restrictive, the people who choose that way of life do so to avoid other debilitating symptoms of depression, skin outbreaks, inflammation and other disorders.
READ MORE: CARNIVORE DIET FOODS
Surviving the First Month on the Carnivore Diet
While it may sound easy to stay on the carnivore diet because it’s all about eating meat, it’s important to understand that there are a couple of unexpected challenges that you might face. So in this section, we’ll be discussing a few things you can do to make your life easier and what to look out for.
READ MORE: SIDE EFFECTS OF THE CARNIVORE DIET
Here are some other hints and tips that can help you on your carnivore journey.
GET A BLOOD TEST
Before you try any kind of diet (especially one recommended on the internet) it’s vital that you speak to a doctor or nutritionist for advice. Get your blood tested before you start a diet and do it again in 2-3 months after so that you can measure the effects it has on your body.
You should also be taking note of things like your energy levels, digestion, weight, energy and so on. Everyone’s body is different and the way you react to the carnivore diet might differ from someone else, hence why it’s vital to keep track of how your body is doing before you continue it for a long time.
The first week of any diet that is drastically different from your current one will result in fluctuations to your energy, focus and appetite. This is why it’s important to start the carnivore diet on a week when something important isn't happening so that you have more time to take care of your body should you experience any of these fluctuations.
The first week will be the hardest when you make the switch to the carnivore diet and it’s ideal that you get plenty of rest to help deal with differences in your energy level. After the first week, you should feel much healthier and your body will have grown accustomed to the differences in your diet.
In addition to fluctuations in your energy and focus, it’s a good idea to prepare for swings in your appetite as well. You’ll likely experience some days where you aren’t hungry at all, whereas other days you’ll crave a huge meal for lunch or even breakfast.
Appetite levels will fluctuate wildly during the first couple of days or even a week, so make sure you have access to a lot of carnivore-friendly food throughout the day. A great way to do this is to prepare microwavable meals that will help to satisfy your hunger.
You can prepare these a few days in advance and just microwave them when you feel hungry, or you could consider stocking up on cold cut meats and treat them as a snack. If you do this, make sure they’re not filled with useless ingredients and are made from 100% meat.
TRY SOME VARIETY
While it might sound like a lot of fun to eat steak every single day, it’s vital to vary your meals a little while still sticking with the plan of zero carbs and high protein from meat. You might find yourself losing your appetite for steak on some occasions or even craving something sweet and high in carbs.
The best way to prevent this is to ensure that you vary your meals by adding things such as cheese (if you can tolerate it), fish and eggs into your diet. If you feel cravings and require a cheat day, then it’s best to eat something that remains fairly high in protein yet still satisfying your needs.
For instance, peanut butter is a great way to maintain your high protein intake without overdosing on carbs. It’s far better than resorting to junk snack foods that are high in sugars, carbs and other unhelpful calories.
With these things in mind, you should easily be able to survive the first month on a carnivore diet without too much worry. Ultimately, you want to be very cautious of what you eat and also prepare for swings in your energy and appetite levels. Try to clear out your fridge before you start so that you’re less likely to succumb to your cravings and make sure you record your results so that you have something to compare to in the future.
READ MORE: CARNIVORE DIET MEAL PLAN
Carnivore Diet RESULTS
Those who commit to a carnivore diet should expect to see a drastic loss of weight, increase in strength due to protein content potentially health effects such as reversing autoimmune diseases.
However, the benefits and results from a carnivore diet depends on the individual. One way to examine the results of a carnivorous diet would be to look at cultures that have historically eaten meat exclusively.
One example is the Canadian Inuit that lives high up in the arctic circle where there is very little plant matter during the winter season. This means that the majority of their diet consists of animal products. It is believed that the Canadian Inuit enjoys strong health throughout all seasons because of their diet and way of life.
Another example would be well-known carnivores such as Shawn Baker, Jordan Peterson and his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson.
These figures have previously appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast describing their carnivore diet. For Jordan and Mikhaila Peterson, they were able to reverse the effects of a severe autoimmune disease thanks to a carnivore diet. Shawn Baker is a famous athlete that, despite being age 52, continues to break world records in rowing with a diet that consists purely of meat.
There are many other success stories that involve carnivore diets as well, but a common theme is that the results typically only appear after committing to it for an extended period of time.
Hopefully, this post on getting started with the carnivore diet has been useful to you. It’s a unique diet that takes a lot of inspiration from our ancestors but is also grounded in science and observations made by researchers that describe the effects of protein and the questionable need for things such as vegetables and fiber in our diets.
READ MORE: THE CARNIVORE DIET AND WEIGHT LOSS