The carnivore diet includes only foods that once walked, swam, or flew. Yes, that means only eating meat. It is often a step taken after trying the paleo “caveman” diet of only fresh fruits, veggies, grass-fed meats, and wild seafood or the more extreme keto diet of very high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbohydrates.
The highly-controversial carnivore diet has been featured on Good Morning America and written about in the NY Post. Some call it just another fad diet, while others assert that it is the answer to our crippling health problems. We’re here to break it down for you – benefits, risks, and what you can and cannot eat when on the carnivore diet:
The carnivore diet claims that by eating only meat, you will avoid phytochemicals in plants that are damaging to our immune systems and the empty calories in carbohydrates. People who swear by the diet have seen weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain, improved digestive health, increased libido, increased mental clarity, decreased anxiety and depression, and improved skin health.
When you start the carnivore diet you will experience adverse effects, known as the adaptation period. Symptoms include: headache, chills, sore throat, digestive issues, irritability, dry mouth, muscle soreness, nausea, cramping, insomnia, night sweats, etc. The adaptation symptoms are less severe if you are transitioning from a keto diet, as the metabolic and hormonal changes are less extreme.
Tips to reduce symptoms include:
- Eat more meat. One of the key mistakes people make when transitioning to the carnivore diet is attempting to restrict calories.
- Hydration is always important, but especially when experiencing symptoms of adaptation.
- Use salt on your meat and consider taking potassium and magnesium supplements.
- Take supplements to help GI issues. Taking lipase supplements before meals helps your gallbladder and pancreas adjust to the increased meat intake. Ox bile and Betaine HCI can be used if you are still having issues. These should only be used for 2-4 weeks until your body adapts naturally.
- Avoid eating within a few hours of bedtime and be asleep before 11pm.
- Sweating is a natural detox method and will help reduce symptoms.
Foods to Eat on the Carnivore Diet:
- Red meat (fattier cuts preferred)
- Organ meats
- Bone marrow
- Salt and pepper
- Bone broth
Foods in the Grey Area: Some people on the carnivore diet include products that come from animals, while others do not. Experiment with both to see what you prefer.
Foods Not Allowed:
Before starting any diet, talk to your doctor to ensure you get the proper nutrients you need to stay healthy. If you want to learn more about the carnivore diet, you can read about the answers to common questions here.