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Diet Food Stuff » The Carnivore Diet: Is This Meat-Only Diet Healthy?

The Carnivore Diet: Is This Meat-Only Diet Healthy?

meat-only diet

Meat in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks – how does that sound? Quite questionable from the health perspective, right? But little do you know that many celebrities, athletes, and health professionals endorse the meat-only diet, also known as “the carnivore diet.”

The Carnivore Diet is believed to assist weight loss, improve mood swings, and enhance blood sugar circulation. However, no scientific studies have proven these benefits yet. 

If we look at it, eating meat every day, in fact, twice a day, seems strange, doesn’t it? 

Since this diet includes no other food except meat and animal products, it indeed lacks the essential nutrients our body needs to function correctly. Let’s dig deeper into the carnivore diet to find whether this diet is healthy in the long run.

What Is the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet is a meat-only diet with no other food except meat, fish, specific animal products like eggs, and some dairy items. You can’t have your favorite veggies, grains, nuts, or seeds on this diet – not even once a day.  

Those who intake dairy products in the carnivore diet recommend low-lactose products like butter and hard cheeses. 

The main idea behind this diet is to eliminate carbs completely from our daily food intake. Since our ancestors mostly ate meat and fish, today’s high-carb diet is the reason behind rising health concerns.

Yes, other diets like paleo and keto also minimize carbs, but the carnivore diet includes zero carbs. Strictly. 

The History of Carnivore Diet: Who Started and Popularized It?

The carnivore diet dates back to 1856, when Bernard Moncriff, the German writer and author of a popular book, “The Philosophy of the Stomach: Or, An Exclusively Animal Diet.” He spent an entire year on beef and milk. 

Soon enough, in the 1870s, Arnaldo Cantani, another Italian physician, appeared as the advocate for the carnivore diet, prescribing his patients an animal-based diet for diabetes.

Later, in the 1880s, physician James H. Salisbury endorsed a meat-only diet based on 2-4 pounds of beef and 3-5 pints of hot water for 4 to 12 weeks. He named it the “Salisbury diet” or simply the meat and hot water diet. 

In 2018, Shawn Baker, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, boosted the carnivore diet movement on social media platforms. He also published a book, “The Carnivore Diet,” in early 2018 and co-founded “Revero,” an online coaching platform that engages interested people and addresses their concerns.

On his website, Baker has posted customer testimonials citing how the carnivore diet helped with depression, obesity, anxiety, arthritis, diabetes, and many other health issues. However, no research study has confirmed these benefits. 

It’s worth noting that the New Mexico Medical Board revoked Baker’s medical license in 2017 due to his incompetency in practice. However, his license was reinstated in 2019, requiring him to practice medicine under direct supervision. Yet, Baker remains popular among the all-meat movement enthusiasts. 

The Carnivore Diet: Foods To Eat and Avoid

If you plan to go on the carnivore diet, make sure you’ve stocked the following items in your kitchen pantry:

  • Meat of any type: Beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork, and organ meats.
  • Seafood: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, lobster, crab, tilapia, and herring.
  • Animal products: Eggs, bone marrow, lard, and bone broth.
  • Low-lactose dairy items: Heavy cream, butter, and hard cheese.
  • Water: Hot or cold
  • Seasonings: Any carb-free option.

So, which foods to avoid? Simply, anything that doesn’t come from animals must be prevented in the carnivore diet. These can be:

  • Vegetables: Potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, mangoes, kiwi, etc.
  • Legumes: Beans and lentils.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pistachios, cashews, etc.
  • Grains: Rice, wheat, bread, pasta, granola, quinoa, etc.
  • High-lactose dairy items: Milk, soft cheese, yogurt, etc.
  • Sugars: White sugar, brown sugar, syrups, etc.
  • Beverages: Soda, carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, fruit juice, alcohol, etc.

You can’t include or exclude any other food item in your carnivore diet if you plan to follow it strictly. 

The Carnivore Diet Meal Plan

Here is what your meal plan will look like on the carnivore diet. (It’s boring and doesn’t offer much variety.)

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, and tuna
  • Lunch: Turkey patty, salmon jerky, and sardines/beef tips
  • Dinner: Chicken liver, filet mignon, and crab 
  • Snacks: Jerky with parmesan/hard cheese

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Shrimp, eggs, and heavy cream (in a glass or however you like)
  • Lunch: Chicken steak, tuna, and beef jerky
  • Dinner: Lamb chops or patty, beef liver/pork, and scallops 
  • Snacks: Bone broth with hard cheese

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Eggs, sardine, and pork sausage
  • Lunch: Beef tips, lamb chops, and mackerel
  • Dinner: Turkey/chicken patty, hard cheese, and bone marrow/lard
  • Snacks: Eggs, shrimp, and parmesan cheese.

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Tuna/sardine/trout, chicken, and bacon
  • Lunch: Beef/turkey meatballs, salmon jerky, and hard cheddar cheese
  • Dinner: Crab, filet mignon, and a small quantity of heavy cream with seasonings
  • Snacks: Trout, beef jerky, and hard-boiled eggs

Day 5

  • Breakfast: Eggs and shredded chicken/turkey sausage
  • Lunch: Lamb roast, chicken liver, and pork chop
  • Dinner: Flank steak, scallops, and a small quantity of heavy cream
  • Snacks: Bone broth and turkey jerky

You can make variations in your carnivore diet meal plan according to your taste buds and “mood of the day,” but it should be a meat or animal product. 

The Carnivore Diet Benefits and Downsides

Starting a carnivore diet may sound exciting, but it comes with many benefits and downsides that you should consider before going this route. 

Benefits of the Carnivore Diet

Let’s go through carnivore diet benefits first:

  • No sugar and refined carbs. Sugar is a silent killer that harms our bodies more than anything else. Since the carnivore diet eliminates cookies, candies, sodas, and many other high-carb foods, it keeps us safe and ensures we eat only good. This is also beneficial in diabetes management
  • Promotes weight loss. According to many studies, the carnivore diet benefits weight loss as it is high in protein and low in carbs. Proteins keep you fuller for longer than carbs and boost your metabolism, helping you burn calories faster

However, eliminating carbs entirely from your diet isn’t recommended, not even for diabetes management. Doctors suggest diabetic patients eat high-fiber carbs in smaller amounts for a well-balanced diet. 

Downsides of the Carnivore Diet

The highly-strict nature of the carnivore diet leads to several downsides, including:

  • Rich in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. Animal foods are typically high in saturated fats that may increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, posing a high risk for heart disease. These products also contain lots of sodium, which is linked to high blood pressure and kidney diseases
  • Cancer risks. A high red and processed meat intake is associated with high cancer risks, including rectal and colon cancer. 
  • Lacks micronutrients. The carnivore diet doesn’t include essential vitamins, fibers, and minerals, like vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains, all of which make up our daily nutrient intake. You need a well-balanced diet to function properly.
  • Not suitable for everyone. The carnivore diet isn’t ideal for people with chronic kidney diseases, cholesterol sensitivity, and special nutrient needs, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and children. 

Key Takeaway

The carnivore diet is a meat-only diet that includes only animal products and excludes everything else. You can only have meat, fish, eggs, low-dairy products, and water in this diet. 

Undoubtedly, it is a very strict diet and quite challenging to follow in the long run. While many carnivore diet advocates claim to experience several benefits, health experts don’t recommend it as it lacks essential micronutrients our body needs to function properly. 

You need a well-balanced diet consisting of essential minerals, vitamins, and fibers to achieve specific health or fitness goals. So, the carnivore diet may not be a healthy option.

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