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 strictly 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 less 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 health 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 are 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.