WEIGHT LOSS ON THE CARNIVORE DIET?
WHAT IS CARNIVORE? | CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT? | HOW IT WORKS | BENEFITS | CALCULATING CALORIES | MEASURING PROGRESS | EXERCISE | FAQ
You may have heard of the carnivore diet for weight loss from a friend, a Google search or a YouTube video. But does it really work? Are the benefits worth it, or are you better off going with low-carb, Paleo, Atkins or another popular diet?
Let's review how effective the carnivore diet is for weight loss, how weight loss works, the advantages of weight loss on the carnivore diet, how you can work out the calories you need to lose weight, how you can track progress and finally, what exercises you should be doing.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is the diet of our ancestors. In fact, some leading researchers believe that “the first major evolutionary change in the human diet was the incorporation of meat and marrow from large animals, which occurred by at least 2.6 million years ago.
The carnivore diet can be defined as a nutritional strategy where one only consumes animal products and water. Food such as vegetables, nuts, sugars, alcohol, oils and carbohydrates are prohibited, but those foods are replaced with meat, fish, dairy and animal fats.
This way of eating stems from the belief that our ancestors survived for millions of years on animal products only, and the introduction of carbohydrates has caused a spike in illnesses and obesity.
READ MORE: WHAT IS THE CARNIVORE DIET
Can You lose Weight on the carnivore diet?
To understand how the carnivore diet works for weight loss, we need to take a birds eye view of how weight loss works and what components make up an effective weight loss plan.
At it's core, excess energy is stored as body fat and too much body-fat is usually the result of a prolonged calorie surplus - which means spending a large amount of time consuming more food than your body typically burns in a day.
According to a scientist named Max Wishnofsky, we can assume that:
Using those values, we can conclude that a pound of body fat actually contains anywhere from 3,436 to 3,752 calories.
Does this mean we need to burn around 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat?
Sort of. The idea that we can lose a pound of fat per week by reducing our calorie intake by 500 calories per day is a bit of a myth.
While you may be able to lose this in the short term, especially if you have some weight to lose, weight loss can often be much slower as you have less and less weight to lose. Mainly due to the changes in your body composition and metabolic health.
To answer the question; can you lose weight on the carnivore diet? Yes, you can. Simply put, carnivore is one of the easiest ways to reduce calorie consumption without feeling hungry and to restore the metabolic health of your body.
READ MORE: CARNIVORE DIET RESULTS
How It works
Ready for some science? To understand how weight loss works, and what components make up weight loss, we need to look at total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Your TDEE is how many calories your body expends, or uses each day. To understand how this works better, let’s break the 4 elements of what TDEE is made up of:
Each of the components are composed of a different percentage of TDEE, which is shown in the diagram above. Let's break these components down:
Rested Energy Expenditure (REE)
Non-Rested Energy Expenditure (NREE)
For fat loss, the most important thing is to achieve a calorie deficit.
This can be achieved in two ways:
Creating a nutritional caloric deficit should be the foundation of all fat loss diets regardless of whether you opt for carnivore, intermittent fasting or any other popular nutrition protocol.
Benefits of The Carnivore Diet for Weight Loss
Eating a carnivore diet will cause you to lose fat, but only if you can achieve a calorie deficit. However, any diet where a calorie deficit is created will cause you to lose fat. So what makes the carnivore diet different? And why would you choose to go carnivore instead of going with other popular nutrition protocols?
Because, like our ancestors you are only consuming animal products and not consuming carbohydrates. This cause your body to go into “ketosis”. Ketosis is a state in which your body breaks down fat cells and creates molecules called ketones. Rather than running on carbohydrates, your body uses ketones for fuel.
We have broken down all the health benefits of the carnivore diet previously, but how exactly can the carnivore diet benefit those wanted to lose fat?
Whilst it may take several months to become adapted to a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet (LCHF), a study was conducted to find out whether marathon runners were able to adapt to it without an impediment to performance. According to Chang, Borer and Lin, it may actually improve performance. High carbohydrate foods release free tryptophan, which causes fatigue and tiredness. Carnivore has zero carbohydrates - so combined with your body being in ketosis, we can see why so many people that follow the carnivore dit report an increase in energy.
According to Gibson et al, who conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of ketogenic diets on hunger levels, individuals who adhere to a ketogenic diet were less hungry and had less desire to eat. It is worth mentioning that the studies reviewed were in the context of energy restriction, or a calorie deficit, so it is very relevant to weight loss. As carnivore puts you into ketosis, it should make hunger more manageable.
Whilst many diets can leave you feeling low energy and tired, there are numerous accounts in online carnivore communities of people having more mental clarity. This is likely to be caused by an increase in protein. A study conducted by Jakobsen et al, showed a high protein diet improved reaction time and cognitive function, compared to a moderate protein group.
Thermic Effect of Food
Out of all the macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and protein), the one that takes the most energy to digest is protein. Being on carnivore means you’ll be burning more calories without doing anything. Why does this matter? Because one of the components of energy expenditure is TEF or the thermic effect of food. It may only account for a small amount of additional calories burned per day, but over time this adds up, helping contribute to weight loss.
How to Work Out Your Calories for Weight Loss
A lot of people start following the carnivore diet for fat loss and don’t track calories - and they still lose body-fat. That being said, we recommend having an understanding of how to calculate your calorie requirements so you don’t over consume by mistake.
The math is a bit complex so we've also included a calculator below. We use the Revised Harris-Benedict Equation:
How to Measure Progress
Measuring progress is very important in a fat loss diet. One of the main reasons tracking progress is so important, is because if weight loss stalls, you can address the reason early on and make changes to your caloric intake. Tracking progress usually revolves around 3 things - measurements, body weight and progress photos.
This can be done weekly or monthly and here's how to do it:
In addition to this, taking a weekly or daily measurement of your body weight is also a good idea. The best time to measure your body weight is first thing in the morning after using the bathroom and before consuming food or water to ensure consistency.
Finally, measurements are great because sometimes, your bodyweight can stay the same for a long period of time. That may mean you’re developing muscle whilst losing body fat, so seeing your waist go down but bodyweight stay the same means you’re on the right track. Using a tape measure, take measurements of your shoulders, waist, hips, biceps and quads.
Should you include exercise?
Remember the components that make up energy expenditure? EAT and NEAT do make up a percentage of how many calories your body burns. If you look at the percentages, NEAT actually makes up a much bigger percentage of calories burned compared to EAT.
That means that simply by being more active each day, you actually end up burning more calories than going to the gym each day. Doing things like regular brisk walking, yoga and even cycling to work will help you achieve higher levels of NEAT. Some people doing the carnivore diet for fat loss choose to do some weight lifting to help build and/or maintain muscle mass. This is very beneficial for weight loss, but it is not paramount to your success.
Carnivore Diet Weight Loss FAQ
DO I NEED TO CONSUME FAT IF I HAVE FAT TO LOSE?
You do, yes. Our body needs certain essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids can't be made from our body and need to come from dietary fat. Eating fatty meats and egg yolks will almost certainly cover your bases. The main goal for weight loss on carnivore is to be in a calorie deficit.
DO I NEED TO GIVE UP COFFEE AND TEA?
It's completely up to you. Unlike other ways of eating, how you approach carnivore is personal to you. If you enjoy coffee and don't get any negative side effects there's no reason you shouldn't continue to enjoy it.
DO I NEED TO FOLLOW THE DIET FOREVER?
No. If you just want to lose some weight then you can add other foods back in should you choose to. Most people who go on a carnivore do so to improve certain autoimmune conditions cause by plants. If you can tolerate plants, enjoy the variety.
Our mission at The Carnivore Diet Coach is simple. We want to empower people with evidence based, scientific data about meat production and consumption so that they can make better decisions for their health.