For people who struggle with their weight – like so many of us – and try to follow diets, you have probably heard of, or read about the Carnivore Diet. Dieting fads come and go, much like fashion trends. Some are better than others, some are exceptionally healthy and easy to follow. Others are definitely not good for you in the long term.
The Carnivore Diet is trending and we have done a comprehensive survey of its pros and cons. Read on to get the full low-down on this meat-lovers diet.
What Is The Carnivore Diet?
Do you enjoy relaxing around a camp-fire or barbecue with friends and family, cooking up huge juicy chunks of red meat over the coals? Then the Carnivore Diet will certainly sound tempting. In a nutshell, it allows you to eat only meat and animal products, excluding all other types of foods.
Think real carnivores in nature – big cats like lions and tigers, creatures like crocodiles, hyenas, wolves and even smaller animals like frogs and toads. They only eat animal flesh. Nowhere in their diet is there any sign of fruit, vegetables, grains or starches.
Supporters of the Carnivore diet cite our ancient ancestors who lived off meat and fish, very often uncooked, or simply cooked over a fire. Their diet was packed with loads of proteins and saturated fat and free of carbs. That is the main aim of the Carnivore diet – to up the level of protein that you eat and cut the carbs down as close to zero as possible.
What can I eat?
This diet allows you to eat animal products only. So, meat, fish and eggs are allowed. You are also allowed to eat small amounts of dairy products. When it comes to meats, the aim is to eat the fattier cuts rather than the leaner cuts as the fat provides a much needed source of energy.
In more detail, you can eat the following types of food
- Organ meats – like liver, kidneys, brains
- Limited amounts of processed meats like bacon and sausages
- Bone marrow
- Shell fish – crab, lobster, prawn, squid, octopus
- White fish
- Small amounts of cream
- Small amount of butter or lard (preferably grass fed)
- Liquids – Lots of water and bone broth
- Seasoning can be salt and pepper
What can’t I eat?
The Carnivore diet excludes everything that the current Vegan supporters say you should eat. This certainly raises questions as which is the correct way to go. It is in fact, the complete opposite of the current Vegan trend. Vegans want no meats or fish, and the Carnivore diet wants only meat and fish.
The foods you will exclude are
- Nuts and seeds
- Tea and coffee
- Sweets and snacks
- Breads and baked products
- Seasonings, herbs, spices – or only use in very small amounts
Has this diet been proven?
Like most diets, the Carnivore diet has not been medically proven. And like most diets, there are many people who will tell you that it helped them to lose weight and others who will tell you that it did not.
The basic concept of eating only meat and fish is that our ancestors survived on this diet for thousands of years.
The carnivore diet aims for zero carbs. In this respect it is similar to the Ketogenic diet, the very popular low carb diet. It is however more extreme – many of the foods allowed in the Keto diet are cut out altogether in this diet.
How to get through the first few weeks of the Carnivore Diet
Starting a diet is always a challenge. A large part of the process is in your head, knowing that you will be depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy. Being prepared and psyched up goes a long way towards helping you through the first few weeks.
Dieting with a partner or friend is a great way to motivate one another and helps to keep you going when you want to give up.
Spend time beforehand to make a set of meal plans that you can incorporate into your busy daily life. Plan to shop and ensure that you have all you need at home for the meals. Not having the correct ingredients at home after a hectic day is one of the easiest excuses to break your diet regime.
Try to vary your meals within the range of the allowed foods to alleviate boredom. You don’t want to eat steak three times a day – mix it up with poultry dishes and fattier fish like sardines and salmon.
Preparation is Key
Your Carnivore diet meals can be prepared in many ways. Get creative and try roasting, grilling, searing, stewing or steaming. don’t get stuck on fried steak as a staple. Make sure you do not use any vegetable or plant-based oils or additives when creating your dish.
Try to choose a time to start your diet when you can relax. If possible start a diet while on a break or over a weekend. You may feel dizzy or light-headed and having to head into a meeting with the boss is probably the last thing you will feel like doing.
Keep busy with things that take your mind off eating. Dwelling on your diet makes it first and foremost in your mind and it soon turns into an obsession – and usually a negative one. Keep your mind busy with relaxing and enjoyable activities.
Satisfy your cravings with foods that you are allowed to eat. Crispy fried sardines or pork rinds make great snacks between meals. Make sure that they are fried in animal fat or lard and not vegetable fat.
What are the Pros of the Carnivore Diet?
Like most diets – there are pros and cons. Here are some of the positives.
Number of meals and portion size – Many diets require a huge amount of time and effort calculating portion size and planning eating times. The Carnivore diet is simple in this regard – eat as much as you like whenever you like until you feel satisfied.
You can snack throughout the day. This goes a long way psychologically towards reducing the stress of dieting. One of the biggest stresses is dwelling on the fact that you cannot eat until a certain time. Snack all day – as long it is on only meat and fatty fish products. Drink bone broth – it is a wonder drink. Donna Gates, Author of Body Ecology, writes about the positives of bone broth. She claims that it can decrease the appearance of cellulite and boost brain functioning. Bone broth contains many valuable nutrients including collagen, that help build strong skin and a beautiful complexion.
A diet that is low in carbs follows the well known ‘high-fat-low carb’ diet also known as the Ketogenic diet. This diet deprives the body of carbs, putting it into a state of ketosis, where you start burning fat to produce energy. The Carnivore diet is an extreme version of the Keto diet.
Are there any Cons?
And the negatives …
Many dieticians will claim that eating only one type of food group is not good for you, creating both health and psychological issues.
For a start, eating only one type of food can be extremely restrictive in real life.
Social, traditional and modern-day lifestyles do not easily accommodate for this type of diet. You don’t live in a cave, so it could become trying, especially when around other people. You will be the one ordering a burger with no bun, no trimmings, no sauce, no seasoning – essentially – just a burger patty on a plate – and not fried in vegetable fat!
Limit other nutrients and vitamins
Totally removing a range of food products from your diet long term restricts your body from processing different types of nutrients. Although many nutritionists will agree that you do not need to eat five helpings of fruit and vegetables every day, it is widely believed that fresh plants are generally healthy for the human body. Not eating vegetables and fruits at all leaves you at risk of getting scurvy – a symptom common amongst ancient day mariners.
Ashwin Ananthakrishnan of the American Gastroenterological Association explains that by eliminating plant based foods, you are depriving your body of much needed bacterial species that tend to be anti-inflammatory. You are also not getting the soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables that help to keep your gut healthy.
An all-meat diet over a long period of time does reduce your intake of some essential nutrients, calcium, manganese, folate and certain vitamins.
Increased chance of colon and rectal Cancer?
Probably the biggest con of all – There are a number of studies that have been done, most notably showing that eating large quantities of red meat for extended time periods can lead to an increased chance of colon and rectal cancers.
Eating is a huge part of life and you need to enjoy it – whether you are on diet or not. Realistically who wants to eat steak three times a day forever? There are many other diet options that allow a wide and varied range of foods that will also help you to lose weight.
If you have skipped the above and are here to get the most important FAQ’s in a nutshell – read on …
What can I eat?
Anything that is animal flesh – that means loads of meat. You can also include some poultry and fish. You are allowed small amounts of dairy – eggs and butter.
What can’t I eat?
Fruits, vegetables, grains, breads, baked goods, seasonings, alcohol.
Must I weigh my meal portions?
No, eat as much as you like whenever you like.
Any major side effects?
When starting on any new diet, you may experience headaches or dizziness in the first few days as your body adapts to the new routine.
Any bad short term effects?
Probably not – until you get very tired of eating meat and start craving for some fresh fruits and veggies.
Any bad long term effects?
The most worrying concern is that there are proven studies showing that eating an excess of red meat over an extended period of time can increase the risk of colon cancer.
Must I take supplements while on this diet?
You probably don’t need to, as meat provides a high percentage of protein and fats.
Any famous celebrities on the Carnivore Diet?
While a host of famous celebs follow the Keto Diet, there are fewer who claim to be exclusive red meat eaters. One notable person, author and former orthopedic surgeon Shawn Baker, is the creator of the World Carnivore Tribe Facebook Page and swears by the diet.
Charlene Andersen who is an icon for many women, claims to have been following a strict Carnivore diet for many years.
The controversial author, speaker, academic and clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson from the University of Toronto in Canada, claims to follow an extreme Carnivore diet of only beef, salt and water.
My Opinion …
As a fad, trying out the Carnivore diet for a few months probably won’t cause you any major setbacks. You will also most likely lose some weight.
In the long term, I feel that living in the modern era requires a far more balanced, varied and healthier choice when it comes to dieting. You want to have an eating pattern that maintains your weight, provides all the nutrients you need and is sustainable for years to come. In other words, it becomes a daily part of your lifestyle, without disrupting it in any way. And, most of all, it must be interesting, exciting and enjoyable.
The Carnivore diet is certainly not easy to sustain for the long term. Unfortunately for many people, it may simply become another of those many disappointing fad diets that one tries and then gives up.
Is there a better alternative? Let’s talk about the Metabolic Diet
A natural process of the body is metabolism. Very simply – this process converts food to energy to enable cellular processes to function. These functions include the conversion of food into the basic components of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. It also aids with the elimination of wastes.
Since your body is doing this naturally – why not consider a diet that enhances and helps this process, rather than trying to impede it or modify it?
Metabolic Cooking is a more than a diet – it is a way of life that encourages your body to function normally and at an optimum level, while burning excess fat and keeping you slim. You can eat a large variety of foods, cooked in many different ways. Your diet becomes a part of your everyday life and can easily become part of your family life too. It is simple, healthy and effective. The end result is that you burn fat, lose weight naturally and feel fabulous while doing it.
Following the Metabolic Diet is simple. You can eat fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy and snacks. There is very little that is forbidden. The trick is to follow the tried and tested recipes that incorporate a comprehensive range of foods, all adding up to healthy eating. Most of the ingredients are those that you buy in a local supermarket and may already have in your pantry.
Because these recipes are tailored to combine unique foods that burn calories – you will naturally start to lose weight. The recipes use thermo-charged ingredients that are ‘fat burning friendly’. They are detailed and designed to be most effective for different times of the day. You will never have to worry about eating the wrong foods at the wrong time.
This eating plan works for all types of people and all styles of lifestyles. It is rich and varied in non-meat products which will make vegans happy. It also allows red meats for those meat lovers. The diet caters for breakfast, lunch and dinner and some healthy snacking in between or when on-the-go. You can eat desserts after dinner and healthy smoothies after gym. Do you enjoy a spicy curry or a platter of garlic lashed seafood? The Metabolic diet won’t deprive you of your favorite meals.
You can adjust the Metabolic diet to fit in with your eating requirements as they change. The recipes are indicated as being high in protein, carbohydrates, fat and vegetables. Choose from hundreds of suggested recipes and tailor-make your meal plans to fit in with what you need at the time.
Eating only red meat every day will sound very daunting to many people. It also does not offer an option for those who have cut meat out of their diet for ethical, cultural or health reasons.
When deciding on a diet, the main factor to consider is that it compliments your lifestyle. It needs to make you feel both happy and healthy.