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What Is The Carnivore Diet and Is It Healthy?

Published August 15, 2019 Read Time: 8 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

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<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"What Is The Carnivore Diet and Is It Healthy?", "datePublished":"August 15, 2019", "description":"Is an all-meat diet the key to losing weight or just another fad diet? Here’s everything you need to know about the carnivore diet.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/07/beef-carnivore-diet-cooked-steak-slice-thumbnail-0230.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What Is the Carnivore Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">Wait, What? (and Why?)</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Benefits of the Carnivore Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Drawbacks of the Carnivore Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">So, Is Eating Meat Bad?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">Is It Bad to Eat Meat Every Day?</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Can You Survive on an All-Meat Diet?</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Not many diets come along claiming you should only eat <i>one</i> type of food to lose weight and get healthy. But that, among other things, is what the carnivore diet says to do. </p> <p>And the results people are reporting—weight loss, disease reversal, and more—have people asking lots of questions about this extreme diet.</p> <p>Namely, does it work? And is eating only meat healthy?</p> <p>As you’re about to learn, there are two problems with going full carnivore: it’s quite restrictive, and science isn’t ready to back the insane claims the all-meat eaters are making.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll look at what the carnivore diet is, the drawbacks and benefits, how eating meat fits into a healthy diet, and our recommendation whether you should follow the carnivore diet to lose weight.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What Is the Carnivore Diet?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The carnivore diet, as its name implies, is an eating approach where people restrict everything but animal-based products.\n\nOn the carnivore diet, chicken, beef, pork, fish, and eggs make up the majority of your food options. A popular way to describe it is to eat only foods that walked, swam, or flew.\n\nSmall amounts of dairy are allowed but limited to hard cheeses and heavy cream.\n\nThe carnivore diet is about as restrictive as a diet gets. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains are also omitted from the diet."}}]}</script> <h2>What Is the Carnivore Diet?</h2> <p>The carnivore diet, as its name implies, is an eating approach where people restrict everything but animal-based products <sup>1</sup>. </p> <p>On the carnivore diet, chicken, beef, pork, fish, and eggs make up the majority of your food options. A popular way to describe it is to eat only foods that walked, swam, or flew <sup>2</sup>. </p> <p>Small amounts of dairy are allowed but limited to hard cheeses and heavy cream.</p> <p>The carnivore diet is about as restrictive as a diet gets. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains are also omitted from the diet.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Wait, What? (and Why?)","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Like many things in today’s world, the carnivore diet’s popularity was born on the internet.\n\nPeople claimed that an all-meat diet absent of fibrous plant foods helped them lose weight, gain muscle, and even rid them of autoimmune disorders.\n\nNaturally, people wanted to know more.\n\nThe thinking behind the carnivore diet is that our primal ancestors lived healthy lives, and were, for the most part, disease-free. And they ate mostly meat and fish. Therefore, the carnivore diet goes to extreme measures to root those foods out, so people can improve their health and lose weight.\n\nBolstering the carnivore diet’s claims are tons of established scientific evidence that says eating lots of carbs and processed foods leads to most modern day diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease."}}]}</script> <h2>Wait, What? (and Why?)</h2> <p>Like many things in today’s world, the carnivore diet’s popularity was born on the internet.</p> <p>People claimed that an all-meat diet absent of fibrous plant foods helped them lose weight, gain muscle, and even rid them of autoimmune disorders <sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>Naturally, people wanted to know more.</p> <p>The thinking behind the carnivore diet is that our primal ancestors lived healthy lives, and were, for the most part, disease-free. And they ate mostly meat and fish. Therefore, the carnivore diet goes to extreme measures to root those foods out, so people can improve their health and lose weight.</p> <p>Bolstering the carnivore diet’s claims are tons of established scientific evidence that says eating lots of carbs and processed foods leads to most modern day diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease <sup>3</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Benefits of the Carnivore Diet</h2> <p>One of the main drawbacks of the carnivore diet is the lack of <i>actual</i> science backing its perceived health claims. However, there is some science to support an all-meat diet.</p> <h3>1. Protein Helps You Lose Weight</h3> <p>High-protein, low-carb diets help you lose weight for two reasons. First, protein has a satiating effect, meaning you feel full longer after meals <sup>4</sup>. And because your blood sugar isn’t constantly fluctuating, you’re less likely to reach for sugary foods throughout the day <sup>5</sup>.</p> <p>A steady dose of protein also makes it easier to implement weight-loss tools like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-to-use-intermittent-fasting-to-accelerate-your/" rel="noreferrer">intermittent fasting</a>. Fitting your meals into smaller windows also allows your body to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/fasting-and-autophagy-understanding-your-body" rel="noreferrer">naturally reset itself</a>, ridding itself of old, damaged cells.</p> <p>Therefore, you could see how an all-meat diet <i>could</i>, in theory, help with weight loss. Hunger wouldn’t be much of an issue, and you’d be less likely to eat junk food. </p> <h3>2. It <i>Does</i> Restrict Bad Foods</h3> <p>Like other <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">low-carb diets</a>, the carnivore diet naturally eliminates the most problematic foods for our health. You can’t eat sugary, refined, or processed, foods, which science has identified as the major culprits robbing us of our health.</p> <p>There’s a reason new low-carb diets keep popping up: they work. The carnivore diet is an extreme example, but it piggybacks off the success of already established diets like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">keto</a>.</p> <h3>3. Reported Benefits </h3> <p>The carnivore diet, like many new eating approaches, got popular because its earliest users promised big results.</p> <p>Weight loss, disease reversal, improved digestion, and elevated mood are all common claims of carnivore dieters. Some men even report increased testosterone levels <sup>6</sup>.</p> <p>But remember, none of these claims about the carnivore diet are currently supported by science. We don’t know the long-term effects of eating only meat, nor do we know if it’s safe.</p> <p>Understand: health and nutrition are all individual things. We wouldn’t want to rob anyone of the awesome results they’ve obtained. </p> <p>But keep in mind, science is a tool to help us find a nutritional approach that works for us and helps us <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/how-to-set-realistic-fitness-goals-you-can-achieve" rel="noreferrer">reach our goals</a>. Going off what’s <i>proven</i> to work gives us our best chance of sticking with it long-term and ensures that the diet we pick is safe for us to use.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/salmon-carnivore-diet-raw-prep-0230.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/salmon-carnivore-diet-raw-prep-0230.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/salmon-carnivore-diet-raw-prep-0230.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/salmon-carnivore-diet-raw-prep-LR-0230.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="salmon-carnivore-diet-raw"> </picture> <h2 id="section4">Drawbacks of the Carnivore Diet</h2> <p>With these benefits in mind, understand there are reasons to be skeptical about an all-meat diet.</p> <h3>1. Very Little Scientific Evidence to Support It</h3> <p>Most of what you’ve read to this point relates to the number one drawback of the carnivore diet: <i>the science isn’t backing it</i>.</p> <p>Carnivore dieters are psyched, and their results may sound amazing. But the majority of scientists and dieticians aren’t ready to support such a restrictive approach to eating for one key reason:</p> <p>Because balance and sustainability are keys to <i>maintaining</i> weight loss results. So an all-meat diet might do more harm than good in the long-term.</p> <p>Plus, plenty of information exists about other low-carb diets (like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">keto</a>) that offer many of the same benefits without such extreme restriction.</p> <p>At this point, an all-meat diet is merely a belief system, not a science-backed approach to healthy eating <sup>6</sup>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spinach-superfood-close-up-0230.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spinach-superfood-close-up-0230.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spinach-superfood-close-up-0230.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spinach-superfood-close-up-LR-0230.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="spinach-superfood"> </picture> <h3>2. Lacks Micronutrients</h3> <p>We’ve talked before about <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-micronutrients-why-they-are-important" rel="noreferrer">micronutrients</a> or the vitamins and minerals in foods that are an essential part of human health.</p> <p>Take spinach, for example. Spinach is a source of A and C vitamins, magnesium, iron, and folic acid <sup>7</sup>. This <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/what-are-superfoods-top-7-for-your-keto-diet/" rel="noreferrer">superfood</a> promotes skin, heart, and bone health, boosts immune function, and keeps you healthy at a cellular level. And that’s just one vegetable containing a few micronutrients. </p> <p>Other fruits and vegetables contain different micronutrients, all of which make up a balanced diet.</p> <p>Unfortunately, an all-meat diet is anything but balanced. Meat <i>does</i> have B vitamins, riboflavin, and niacin <sup>8</sup>. But you’re still missing out on many of the other essential vitamins and minerals.</p> <h3>3. Lacks Fiber</h3> <p>Veggies are also packed with fiber, which is essential for gut health <sup>9</sup>.</p> <p>In stark contrast to the carnivore diet, more and more science seems to emerge, almost weekly, showing us just how important gut health is to overall function. We’re still on the cusp of understanding just how much of a priority it is.</p> <p>Some things we do know: the brain and immune system is compromised when <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/inside-look-on-gut-health/" rel="noreferrer">our microbiome</a> is unhealthy. We also become much more susceptible to diseases like cancer.</p> <p>The carnivore diet contains <i>no</i> fiber, which does not bode well for your gut now and in the long-term. </p> <p>Not eating any fiber can cause you to become constipated, bloated, and even more likely to get colon cancer down the road <sup>10</sup>.</p> <h3>4. High in Saturated Fats and Cholesterol</h3> <p>Fifty years ago, the general consensus was that eating lots of fat made you fat (and led to things like heart disease). </p> <p>Those studies were referring to saturated fat, which is abundant in most animal products, especially red meat. The same goes for the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol or LDLs (low-density lipoproteins, if you were wondering what it stood for) <sup>11</sup>.</p> <p>Nowadays, the links between saturated fats, cholesterol, and heart disease aren’t considered as big of a deal <sup>11</sup>. </p> <p>Still, an all-meat diet might be cause for concern because you’re literally restricted to only eating products high in saturated fats and cholesterol.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/carnivore-diet-steak-raw-prep-spices-0230.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/carnivore-diet-steak-raw-prep-spices-0230.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/carnivore-diet-steak-raw-prep-spices-0230.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/carnivore-diet-steak-raw-prep-spices-LR-0230.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="carnivore-diet-steak-raw-prep-spices"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"So, Is Eating Meat Bad?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"No, eating meat is not bad. Meat is packed with protein, which besides being good for weight loss, is necessary for repairing and rebuilding muscle and other tissues.\n\nOur preferred eating approach, the keto diet, is considered a high-protein diet. It doesn’t necessarily have to be—heck, you can be a vegetarian and still follow the keto diet. But most people will eat around 100 grams of protein, maybe more, per day.\n\nAnd that’s really difficult to achieve without eating meat.\n\nEating only meat is a different story. You’ll deprive yourself of micronutrients and fiber, which we don’t recommend."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section5">So, Is Eating Meat Bad?</h2> <p>No, eating meat is not bad. Meat is <i>packed</i> with protein, which besides being good for weight loss, is necessary for repairing and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/why-you-should-be-calculating-your-macros" rel="noreferrer">rebuilding muscle</a> and other tissues.</p> <p>Our preferred eating approach, the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">keto diet</a>, is considered a high-protein diet. It doesn’t necessarily have to be—heck, you can be <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-to-stay-vegetarian-and-vegan-on-a-keto-diet" rel="noreferrer">a vegetarian</a> and still follow the keto diet. But most people will eat around 100 grams of protein, maybe more, per day.</p> <p>And that’s really difficult to achieve without eating meat.</p> <p>Eating <i>only</i> meat is a different story. You’ll deprive yourself of micronutrients and fiber, which we don’t recommend.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section6"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Is It Bad to Eat Meat Every Day?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Science can be tricky sometimes. Dig deep enough, and you’ll surely find an article or some science claiming that meat is bad to eat every day.\n\nOn keto, you’ll probably eat some meat at each meal. We’ve seen thousands of people transform their bodies and health eating meat most days.\n\nCall us biased, but we’re not ready to say it’s bad to eat meat daily.\n\nIf you’re exercising frequently, eating meat will support your goals by giving you protein to repair and rebuild muscles."}}]}</script> <h2>Is It Bad to Eat Meat Every Day?</h2> <p>Science can be tricky sometimes. Dig deep enough, and you’ll surely find an article or some science claiming that meat is bad to eat every day.</p> <p>On keto, you’ll probably eat some meat at each meal. We’ve seen thousands of people <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/" rel="noreferrer">transform their bodies</a> and health eating meat most days. </p> <p>Call us biased, but we’re not ready to say it’s bad to eat meat daily.</p> <p>If you’re <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer">exercising frequently</a>, eating meat will support your goals by giving you protein to repair and rebuild muscles.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section7"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Can You Survive on an All-Meat Diet?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"You can survive, but the real question is: would you really want to if there was a better way?\n\nAn all-meat diet absent of fibrous plant foods sets you up for failure because you aren’t taking in essential vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy.\n\nTrue story: a few years ago, some guy lost weight eating Snickers bars and M&Ms for thirty days 12. He was able to do this because he restricted calories enough that he still lost weight—but that doesn’t mean you’re healthy.\n\nThe carnivore diet may get results, but much less restrictive diets, such as keto, do the same thing and set you up for long-term success. They’re also tested, which means they’re safer.\n\nSo give broccoli a call, and tell her you’re sorry—that you didn’t mean it when you said you didn’t need her, that you never wanted to see her again, and that you were better off with someone else. Until proven otherwise, veggies should stay a key part of your diet!"}}]}</script> <h2>Can You Survive on an All-Meat Diet?</h2> <p>You <i>can</i> survive, but the real question is: would you really want to if there was a better way? </p> <p>An all-meat diet absent of fibrous plant foods sets you up for failure because you aren’t taking in essential vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy.</p> <p>True story: a few years ago, some guy lost weight eating Snickers bars and M&Ms for thirty days <sup>12</sup>. He was able to do this because he restricted calories enough that he still lost weight—but that doesn’t mean you’re healthy.</p> <p>The carnivore diet may get results, but much less restrictive diets, such as <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">keto</a>, do the same thing <i>and</i> set you up for long-term success. They’re also tested, which means they’re safer. </p> <p>So give broccoli a call, and tell her you’re sorry—that you didn’t mean it when you said you didn’t need her, that you never wanted to see her again, and that you were better off with someone else. Until proven otherwise, veggies should <i>stay</i> a key part of your diet!</p> <h3>Resources</h3> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carnivore-diet#what-it-is" rel="nofollow noreferrer">What is the Carnivore Diet?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/carnivore-diet-benefits-risks-food-list-more/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">On the Carnivore Diet, People Are Eating Only Meat</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar" rel="nofollow noreferrer">The sweet danger of sugar</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469287" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Protein, weight management, and satiety</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21105792" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.self.com/story/im-a-registered-dietitian-and-i-really-dont-want-you-to-eat-a-carnivore-diet" rel="nofollow noreferrer">I'm a Registered Dietitian and I Really Don't Want You to Eat a Carnivore Diet</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/spinach#vitamins-and-minerals" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Spinach 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://meatscience.org/TheMeatWeEat/topics/meat-in-the-diet/nutrients-in-meat" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Nutrients in Meat</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-is-fiber-good-for-you" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Why Is Fiber Good for You? The Crunchy Truth</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carnivore-diet#downsides" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Downsides of the Carnivore Diet</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21735388" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.delish.com/food-news/a45300/man-loses-weight-eating-junk-food/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">This Guy Only Ate Junk Food For A Month And Lost 11 Pounds</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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