It's in the name, the Carnivore diet focus on eating meat and animal organs. It's basically the polar opposite of being a vegan.
The food you would mostly be eating on this diet include:
beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, organ meats, salmon, sardines, white fish, and small amounts of heavy cream and hard cheese.
Many fitness influencers swear by this methodology, claiming that it leads to less inflammation, fat loss, muscle gain and more.
But what does the data say? Are there long term studies on this diet? Is it sustainable ?
Lets dive in a bit.
Why all the meat?
In the carnivore diet you will hear terms like “evolutionarily consistent” and “toxic plant compounds” as proof that the diet works.
Evolutionary consistency means eating the way our ancestors did.
There is research that shows a lot of hunter-gatherer tribes (yes, many still exist around the world) have much lower rates of the health problems that plague people who eat a standard Western diet.
However in truth most hunter-gatherer tribes eat more than just meat, they eat what is available to them in that season. Most research shows that plants make up most of what these societies eat or ate.
Toxic plant compounds refer to the idea that some plants contain substances that make humans sick. Advocates of the carnivore diet also believe plants aren’t as good for you as everyone says due to the chemical compounds they contain. One example is lectins, which are found in plant foods like grains and legumes, and essentially serve as built-in defense mechanisms against microorganisms, insects, and other pests. Some people are sensitive to them, and if certain foods aren’t prepared properly (like kidney beans), they can make you sick. However s long as you prepare lectins and legumes properly , they generally aren’t harmful.
The benefits of carnivore
the drawbacks of carnivore
what does the science say?
Bottom line: There’s no scientific evidence linking the carnivore diet with good health.
It turns out we don’t have data on what happens to people long-term. That includes no long-term data on weight and body composition, the digestive system, metabolic health, or anything else.
But Brand! We’ve seen so much success stories of people on social media who are shouting from the rooftops about how much healthier they are, or how much weight they lost. In truth the carnivore diet is a lot like other popular diets that trend over the year like keto or vegan or intermittent fasting.
It is what all these diets have in common that is producing these results. It’s not so much the focus on meat (or veggies) that is leading to the results they are getting , it is the elimination of processed foods and excess calories.
The carnivore diet is basically an elimination diet.
Like all these diets, carnivore puts emphasis on only eating meat and meat products, so most likely you are not eating very many carbs, you’re cutting out many food groups and are probably eating less processed foods.
This eating style is super restrictive. Because of that, people end up drastically reducing the types of foods they eat. They are eating less processed carbohydrates, less sugar, less processed and calorie dense foods in general .
And that’s where the diet’s benefits really come from. Anytime you’re eating less processed foods , you are going to see benefits.
All the stuff they’re not eating makes a big difference too.
People who feel so much better on the carnivore diet are probably addressing an intolerance. Food intolerances can cause a whole range of symptoms: digestive troubles, chronic inflammation, and feeling sluggish.
So it’s not that the carnivore diet is magic. It’s that by omitting dairy, gluten, FODMAPs, and so many other foods, they stop eating what’s causing their problems.
End result: they feel better.
But is that sustainable ?
In principle, the carnivore diet isn’t so different from other popular diets. Again, It’s the stuff these diets all have in common that produces results: eating enough protein, and focusing more on minimally-processed foods and less on highly-processed foods.
While it may work for some people , it is not for everyone and can be very hard to sustain long term.
If you want to try the carnivore diet out, go for it! But use it as an experiment, not a long term solution. Try to include some fruits and other high fibre foods in there.