The carnivore diet is gaining in popularity and I initially decided to try it for two weeks to see what benefits I would gain if any since I already follow a keto protocol. You might be frightened by the idea of eating pure meat, but this is not actually a new concept.
Starting in the middle ages, people would have periods of time where they fasted or ate only meat for days at a time, sometimes weeks!
I fell in love with the ease and simplicity of the carnivore diet and now use it as a regular part of my weight loss journey.
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What is the carnivore diet (the name says it all)?
The carnivore diet, also known as the zero carb diet, zero plant-based diet, and all meat diet (all the same things) promises to reduce insulin levels and get rid of inflammation in the body. The idea is that by eliminating other foods besides animal-based ones – especially grains and legumes – you will get healthier faster especially if you have any autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. And of course, there’s a good chance you’ll lose weight doing this diet since most people eat far more than they need.
In short; the carnivore diet is just what it sounds like; a diet where you eat only meat and not plants.
Carnivore vs Keto
The carnivore diet in a nutshell is eating only meat to lose weight and gain other health benefits. The premise of the keto diet is that certain amounts of carbohydrates cause an insulin spike which can lead to fat storage, whereas on a carb-restricted diet, fats are released into the bloodstream as fuel for energy.
Carnivore takes this a step further and argues that plants and fiber are not essential foods. Carnivore purists argue that all essential vitamins and nutrients can be obtained from animal sources.
A true carnivore eats only raw or cooked muscle and organ meat, eggs, or fish and animal-based products such as lard and tallow. Some people who follow this diet supplement their diets which I find helpful when following this protocol. You can also mix both styles in a ketovore diet.
How does a zero-carb diet work?
The idea behind this diet is that by removing all carbohydrates from your diet you can put your body into ketosis (burning fat for energy). This process should result in weight loss since carbs are easily converted into glucose especially in the presence of insulin. When we hear the word “carnivore” we automatically think of a bloodthirsty animal that eats anything in its path. However, this is far from the truth; in fact, humans are obligate carnivores. This means that our bodies can only thrive and survive by consuming high levels of proteins and fats while at the same time consuming very little amounts of carbs (aka ketosis).
This diet calls for no plant matter or vegetation whatsoever which takes away fiber-rich vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens, as well as fruit even though these things are rich in vitamins and minerals. This paper explains how plants can be harmful to our bodies!
Does the Carnivore Diet Work?
It does. Any diet that allows you to eat lots of tasty meat and eggs while cutting out processed crap is automatically an effective weight-loss tool. When cutting carbs, fat gets burned first which means if you’re eating mainly protein, your body will use its fat stores as energy before it begins burning muscle tissue for fuel.
There are lots of arguments against the carnivore diet which centers around nutrient deficiencies, but I didn’t notice anything except weight loss when I was eating this way. And I felt great! Of course, I didn’t do any bloodwork neither do I follow this diet for very long when I do it, I simply use it as a tool to get things moving when I need to.
Benefits of a Carnivore Diet
What I experienced eating a meat-based diet was quick weight loss, stable energy through the day, and no adverse side effects (unless you count all of the food porn I endure as a real side effect) or cravings. In fact, my appetite is naturally suppressed when I eat lots of animal protein (I have zero desire to munch on plant matter and my sweet tooth went caput!)
The Zero Carb Carnivore Diet has lots of other benefits which range from increased testosterone levels , lower cholesterol , decreased inflammation in the body , and greater mental clarity.
One very convenient benefit was no thinking of what to cook! When deciding what to eat each meal, I found it very easy since meat was all that was needed. I didn’t have to think about how to combine foods or worry about getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals from my diet.
The Low Down on Animal Fats
When people hear zero carbs they automatically think fat. Bad saturated fat! However, there is such a thing as healthy fats so don’t be alarmed! When you are eating a high protein diet your body will naturally produce ketones  which burn fat for energy and create ketone bodies in your blood which can be used up by many cells in your body (including the brain) as an alternative fuel source when glucose is low. It’s important to note that the liver uses these ketone bodies as fuel when there is no glucose in your bloodstream and they are quickly converted to energy.
The Carnivore Diet calls for lots of animal fat from the consumption of organ meats (liver) and egg yolks, along with the few other things permitted on a carnivore diet food list. These contain tons of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and cholesterol which helps regulate hormones.
Your body needs fat to regulate hormones properly. Fat is essential in hormone production and regulation as well as cell membranes. Egg yolks contain choline which helps transport fats to your cells (including the brain) so they can be utilized for energy instead of being stored as fat!
Another benefit was the regulation of my hormones. Cramps? No such thing on the carnivore diet! This was the best menstrual cycle I’ve ever endured. And I say that as someone who usually has the worst time during that time of the month.
Carnivore Diet Food List: What can you eat on the carnivore diet?
The Carnivore Diet consists of only meat, fat, and healthy condiments such as salt. An important thing to note is that no vegetable matter is allowed on a carnivore diet. In addition, no sweeteners are allowed on this diet because they are usually plant-based too.
Meat: All parts of an animal including muscle, skin, organs from the following animals: beef, pork (including bacon), chicken, lamb, bison/buffalo grass-fed meats are better than grain-fed meats). Wild game is also acceptable although it’s typically harder to find at your neighborhood grocery store. I usually bought my meat from a local butcher shop. I usually had steaks, ground beef/bison, bacon, sausage, and roasts in my fridge at any given time.
Seafood: Fish, shellfish, and crustaceans such as lobster. Wild fish is preferred to farm-raised but you should choose what’s available to you.
Dairy: Butter, real cheese (no processed stuff) and heavy cream are allowed on this diet. No dairy substitutes such as soy or almond milk are permitted.
Fats: All kinds of animal fats such as bacon grease/tallow/lard (which I used in place of oils) and avocado oil.
Condiments: Salt, pepper, some herbs and spices are allowed. Well, I don’t think herbs are allowed but I did use thyme and rosemary when making my steaks!
And eggs! Lots and lots of the best quality eggs you can afford.
That’s pretty much it! Here it is in graphic form for ease of reference
If you do decide to try the carnivore diet I recommend you consult with your doctor first. He or she may have some suggestions on what to do along the way as well depending on your medical history.
When you begin a carnivore diet, it helps to start out easy at first. So I would suggest that you slowly cut back on carbohydrates until you’re off of them completely and then cut out all other foods except for meat and fats while continuing to eliminate carbs from your diet one at a time each week until eventually there is only meat and animal products.
It is kind of restricting, you will either love this diet or hate it. I use it as a tool to break weight loss stalls or quickly get back into ketosis after several cheat meals.
I never stay on for long because I love my keto treats! But it is a good tool to have in your toolbox to shake things up and keep the scale moving. Are you gonna try the carnivore diet?