There’s a new diet that’s sweeping the nutrition industry by storm. The carnivore diet, which touts eating only animal foods and disregarding everything else, supposedly gives you a ton of health benefits.
Yes, that means no vegetables are allowed, no grains, no carbs …nothing but meat and animal products.
This goes against the grain of everything we’ve been taught. We have been raised to believe that eating a diet high in vegetables and complex carbs while limiting the amount of fatty meats is the healthiest diet out there.
But a ton of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies are showing just the opposite.
There is now a subculture of people who are following a strictly meat-only carnivore diet and praising the benefits of increased strength, mental focus, fat loss, amongst several other health benefits.
So I decided to jump on the carnivore diet myself and let me tell you, I’ve experienced all of the benefits that others are claiming to have.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
One of the main selling points to the carnivore diet is how simple the diet is to follow. You don’t have to worry about counting macros or calories or have to worry about eating at a certain eating window.
It’s the simplest diet you could ever follow and is boiled down to one simple concept.
Eat animal-based products, and nothing else!
The preferred foods are fatty meats such as ribeye, porterhouse, and 80/20 ground beef. This is because it is a highly effective macronutrient ratio that is rich in both protein and fat while having zero carbohydrates.
It’s important to eat fatty meats because your body needs to utilize fats to optimize hormonal function as well as give you energy.
You may be wondering, “wow, that sounds a lot like the ketogenic diet!”
Well, that’s because it is.
Eating the carnivore diet comes with a lot of the benefits that you receive from the ketogenic diet (which we’ll dive into a little more further into the article).
Here is a list of carnivore diet approved foods:
- Meat (mostly steaks and grass-fed ground beef)
- Milk (minimal amounts)
- Grass fed butter
- Some cheese
- MCT Oil (sometimes)
- Tallow, lard, and other animal fats
- Bone broth (lots of it!)
That means you CANNOT have:
- Vegetables (yup, you read that right!)
- Carbs (including rice, bread, sugar, potatoes, etc.)
- Anything that isn’t an animal product!
Difference Between the Ketogenic Diet and the Carnivore Diet
While the ketogenic diet and the carnivore diet have a lot of similarities, there are some differences that should be noted.
Difference #1: The ketogenic diet requires you to eat large volumes of green veggies while the carnivore diet encourages you to eat ZERO vegetables.
Difference #2: The ketogenic diet macronutrient ratio is comprised of around 70% fats, 20% protein, and 10% carbs whereas the carnivore diet doesn’t have a sole focus on macronutrient ratios. Instead, you should just focus on eating fatty meats and disregarding everything else.
But, if you were to break down what the macronutrients come out to on the carnivore diet, it would be a slightly higher protein allocation and less fats as compared to the ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet focuses heavily on a high fat intake and limiting proteins to avoid turning excess protein into sugar via gluconeogenesis.
Difference #3: The ketogenic diet typically avoids dairy products because it contains some carbs in it but it’s allowed on the carnivore diet because it’s an animal product.
The main takeaway: The ketogenic diet focuses on a HIGH fat, MODERATE protein, and LOW carb macro ratio to ensure your body burns ketones for energy.
The carnivore diet focuses on eating ANIMAL products only and avoiding everything else.
Our Carnivore Ancestors
Our ancestors dating back hundreds of years ago were already thriving on a meat-only diet. Conversely, we are the first generation of humans to adopt a vegan culture.
There has never been a civilization in the history of time that lived off a strictly vegan diet. But there were countless different groups of people who lived a wholesome life strictly through carnivorism.
Here are a few of our meat-only ancestors:
- The Inuit tribe lived solely off walrus, whale, seal, and fish.
- The Sioux tribe from South Dakota ate mostly buffalo meat.
- Our ancestors from East Africa thrived off meat and dairy products.
How Does the Carnivore Diet Work?
Since we’ve been taught to believe that meat can cause heart disease amongst other health diseases and that plants are the key to a healthy life, it would only make sense that following a diet the complete opposite of that would raise some suspicion.
But as we catch up on science and what our bodies really need, the fact is that plant foods aren’t entirely necessary to live. We need proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals to function at an optimal level.
Plants don’t have the essential nutrients our body needs.
Meat on the other hand (especially quality, grass-fed meat), has all of the essential nutrients to thrive.
But what about the negative stigma that carnivore diets increase cholesterol and all that jazz?
What about all of that saturated fat? Isn’t that going to “clog your arteries”?
Well, several studies are showing that cholesterol isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
We need cholesterol to ensure that the systems in our body are performing optimally. We need saturated fats for proper hormonal function.
In fact, there was a recent article by The New York Times that actually proves that scientists back in the 1960’s were paid by the sugar industry to shift the blame of heart disease from sugar to saturated fats.
Also, take a look at websites such as Meat Heals and you will find tons of testimonials that demonstrate just how effective this diet can be.
Now there is no better evidence that a diet works than when your body begins to drop fat, you begin to experience mental clarity, and more.
Benefits to the Carnivore Diet
Many of the benefits you receive from the carnivore diet are highly similar to that of the ketogenic diet.
Now before I get into the actual benefits you’ll receive from adopting the meat-only protocol, I want to say that I have personally followed this diet for more than a couple months now (teetering between carnivore and keto) and let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Like I mentioned before, a lot of the benefits you receive from the carnivore diet are benefits you might also experience from eating keto.
Here are some of benefits of the carnivore diet:
- Weight loss. You would think that a diet that consists solely of fatty cuts of meat will make you fat. But, it’s quite the opposite that occurs. With the absence of carbs, you don’t have the unnecessary insulin spikes which means your body is able to properly absorb all of the incoming calories and none of it turns to body fat.
- Decreased inflammation. There are several studies showing that a low carb, high fat diet significantly decreases inflammation. Inflammation is responsible for a variety of different illnesses ranging from achy joints, to depression, and worse.
- Increased testosterone. Diets that are high in fat have been shown to increase total levels of testosterone. This is critical for mental focus as well as physical improvements. For women, it helps regulate your hormones (not necessarily increase your testosterone) so there is no need to worry about that.
- Less digestive problems. We have been taught to believe that you need large amounts of fiber from vegetables for optimal digestive functioning. But a study in 2012 proved that decreasing your fiber intake actually resulted in less gas, bloating, and strain.
- Increased mental clarity. Just like the ketogenic diet, carnivore dieters have reported a huge increase in focus and clearer thinking almost immediately upon adopting the diet. You might feel a little sluggish at first but after the initial transition phase, expect to be able to focus on whatever task is at hand for longer periods of time.
- Simple dieting protocol. The fact that all you have to worry about is eating meat and avoiding everything else gives you peace of mind that you are following the carnivore diet correctly. This gives you peace of mind and allows you to steer your focus towards other areas of your life while still following the diet.
The Ketogenic Diet …But for Athletes?
There are a ton of similarities between the ketogenic diet and carnivore diet. I have been following a low carb, high fat diet for quite some time and I can’t say enough good things about it.
With that said, I definitely noticed that my lifts in the gym and my overall athletic performance decreased while on the ketogenic diet. Of course you can follow more of a cyclic ketogenic diet or targeted ketogenic diet but with the rise of the carnivore diet, it seems like there’s a new low carb diet contender for athletes.
There’s a rise in athletes who are incorporating a meat-only diet with great results. I suspect in the next coming years it’s going to be an industry standard.
While the carnivore diet has been around for hundreds of years, there aren’t many studies showing how it can be the optimal diet for athletic performance. But coming from my own personal experience as well as the anecdotal evidence out there, it’s very promising.
I believe that the increased protein intake on the carnivore diet gives athletes just enough sugar (through gluconeogenesis) to increase performance when you need to use those small amounts of sugar.
So instead of having to rely solely on ketones for energy, you can benefit from having small amounts of glucose present in your body when you need it for those anaerobic movements. Then, you can still receive all the health benefits that come with the carnivore diet.
Additionally, if you’re following the carnivore diet strictly, you’ll have the extra collagen that will help your muscles and joints recover. Collagen is literally the protein that binds everything in your body from your joints to your skin to make sure everything is working correctly.
One of the biggest carnivore diet advocates out there, Dr. Shawn Baker has set world records in rowing at 50 years old! He is a perfect example that this diet is very effective for athletes.
The Carnivore Diet is Here to Stay
The vegan community may hate you for doing it, but the carnivore diet seems to be the new diet trend and it’s sweeping the nutrition industry by storm.
You’ll find all over the internet, tons of people praising just how beneficial the diet is. From alleviating joint pain, to increasing mental clarity, to dropping fat, the carnivore diet is a diet that anyone can benefit from.
Just like any other diet, you should try it for yourself and see what works best. Everyone’s metabolism is different and while one thing my work for someone, it may not for someone else.
But with that said, our ancestors have been eating this type of diet so it’s pretty compelling that mostly everyone can eat this type of diet.
My program, the Ketogenic Diet Roadmap encourages a keto carnivore style of eating. This helps you get all of your nutritional needs from whole foods and animal products. Try it out and see just how much better you will feel, living nutritionally optimized.