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High-Fat Carnivore Diet: Is It Healthy? Everything You Should Know

The high-fat Carnivore diet can be a shortcut to health and weight loss if your body can tolerate it. You can effectively increase your fat intake to induce and maintain ketosis, but which sources contain more fat, and what are the effects of fat on Carnivore results like weight loss and reduced inflammation?

High-Fat Carnivore Diet: Is It Healthy? Everything You Should Know
Highlights
  • The high-fat Carnivore diet is a variation of the pure Carnivore diet, focusing more on fat.
  • Consuming fat benefits our body in many different ways and can lead to weight loss.
  • There are different methods to balance macros on a high-fat Carnivore, like 70/30 or 80/20.
  • The best fat sources include grass-fed butter, egg yolks, pork ribs, chicken thighs, chuck roast, fattier mixes of ground beef, etc.
  • Plant-based oils are not allowed on a high-fat Carnivore diet.

What Is the High-Fat Carnivore Diet?

The high-fat Carnivore diet is a version of the standard Carnivore diet, with the highest caloric intake coming from high-quality fat.

You always want to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Calculate your lean body mass for free.

High-fat Carnivore allows no Carbohydrates, almost zero, and no plant-based foods, including vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.

This diet focuses on animal products, from ruminant meat and poultry to seafood, eggs, and high-fat dairy products.

Since the main rules of the Carnivore diet and its high-fat version are similar, let’s compare them to find their differences.

Learn More: Long-Term and Short-Term Side Effects of The Carnivore Diet

Dr. Paul Saladino:

"Animal-based diets that are higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates may offer benefits for weight loss, metabolic health, and overall well-being."

High-Fat Carnivore Diet vs. Carnivore Diet

The table below shows the similarities and differences between the Carnivore diet and the high-fat Carnivore diet.

AspectCarnivore DietHigh-Fat Carnivore Diet
Focus Increasing fat and protein and minimizing carbohydrates Maximizing fat, increasing protein, and avoiding carbohydrates
Macronutrient Composition 70 percent Fat, 30 percent Protein, Almost 0 Carbohydrates 80 percent Fat (or more), 20 percent Protein, Almost 0 Carbohydrates
Included Foods Ruminant Meats, seafood, poultry, organ meat, eggs, limited dairy Same as the Carnivore Diet, but with an emphasis on fattier cuts of meat and additional sources of dietary fat
Excluded Foods Plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds Plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
Benefits Reduced inflammation, improved insulin resistance, weight loss, ketosis, better mood, digestive improvements, decreased appetite, and improved energy levels Reduced inflammation, improved insulin resistance, faster weight loss, longer ketosis, better mood, digestive improvements, decreased appetite, and higher energy levels
Concerns Digestive issues, electrolyte imbalance, potential saturated fat problems in individuals with no physical activity Digestive issues, electrolyte imbalance, potential saturated fat problems in individuals with no physical activity
Professional Guidance Consult a healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with your goals and health status, especially if you have underlying health concerns. Consult a healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with your goals and health status, especially if you have underlying health concerns.

As the table shows, the focus of both diets is on fat. But why do we need to consume fat on the Carnivore diet?

Learn More: How to Start a Carnivore Diet? When Should I Start?

Why Should We Consume Fat on the Carnivore Diet?

Humans have eaten fatty animal meats for about 2 million years [1]. We have inherited meat-eating genes, and our bodies can digest animal fat effectively to produce energy.

Interestingly enough, 50-65% of the calories in human breast milk have a fatty content similar to animal fat, and 54% of this milk is saturated [2]. So, our bodies are not unfamiliar with animal fat.

Consuming fat has various benefits, and the Carnivore diet focuses on it for different reasons, including:

  • Improving Cardiovascular Health
  • Helping Cell Structure
  • Reducing inflammation and autoimmune diseases
  • Improving Mental Health
  • Increasing Energy Levels
  • Balancing hormones
  • Improving insulin resistance
  • Decreasing Obesity
Dr. Shawn Baker:

"The carnivore diet has shown significant potential in improving metabolic markers such as blood glucose and triglycerides in some individuals."

Fat Improves Cardiovascular Health

Studies show animal fats are more beneficial to our cardiovascular health than plant-based oils despite the common belief that animal fat is unhealthy [3] [4] [5].

Fat Positively Affects Cell Structure

Fat helps build and maintain vital membranes for the body’s cells [6].

Fat Improves Autoimmune Function and Reduces Inflammation

Fatty acids can affect cytokines and positively impact autoimmune conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids are also linked to protect against intestinal inflammation [7] [8].

Fat Improves Mental Health

Omega-3 fatty acids help improve mental health issues like depression and anxiety. They can also positively impact mood. [9] [10].

Fat Is an Important Energy Source

The right types of fat in adequate amounts give us energy, and if we do not overeat them, we won’t face obesity problems.

Fat Helps Balance Reproductive Hormones

Fat helps regulate various hormones in the body. For example, certain fatty acids are linked to a lower risk of anovulation in women [11].

Fat Can Improve Insulin Resistance

Polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids positively affect insulin resistance [12] [13].

Fat Can Help Decrease Obesity

A review of 16 studies revealed that consuming high-fat dairy products, such as butter, can surprisingly decrease the risk of obesity [14]. But how will eating fat help us lose fat?

Learn More: Carnivore Diet Food List, What Foods Can I Eat?

Summary

Fat can positively affect cardiovascular health, cell structure, autoimmune system, inflammation, mental health, energy levels, hormones, insulin resistance, and obesity.

A High-Fat Carnivore Diet Helps with Weight Loss

The high-fat Carnivore diet allows protein and fat and excludes carbohydrates to help you lose weight in several ways.

  • Burning Fat Instead of Carbs: When you consume almost zero carbohydrates, your body finds no carbs (glucose, sugar) to burn for energy. So, your body turns to fat reserves to burn them and produce energy. This process is called ketosis, where the body uses ketones produced from the fat breakdown to provide energy. Consuming higher fat speeds up ketosis, which helps you lose weight [15] [16] [17] [18].
  • Reducing Appetite: Eating more fatty animal products increases ketone levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels. It means more consistent energy levels and a lower incidence of sharp spikes and crashes in blood sugar, which triggers hunger and cravings. Also, consuming protein can push the production of hormones like peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which create fullness and decrease hunger. Controlling appetite helps you create a caloric deficit and lose weight [19] [20].
  • Increased Energy Expenditure: Breaking down fat and producing ketones need extra energy, which can lead to increased calorie burn and weight loss [21] [22].

But why do they say consuming fat makes you gain weight? Well, it’s partly true that consuming fat can cause weight gain, but under the circumstances below,

  • Caloric Surplus: Overeating and consuming unhealthy fats (trans and saturated) and processed foods can increase carbohydrate intake. If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight [23] [24].
  • Insulin Resistance: When you eat, your body releases insulin to help cells absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream for energy or storage. Eating carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and processed foods increases insulin resistance, which makes cells become less responsive to insulin signals, so the body produces more insulin to manage blood sugar levels. Higher insulin levels increase fat storage, which the body needs to burn [25] [26].
  • Physical Activity: Not having physical activity can directly affect your weight loss results. Regular exercise helps create a caloric deficit, leading to weight loss [27] [28].
  • Energy Density: Fats are calorie-dense, providing more than double the calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. Consuming high-fat foods without considering portion sizes can cause weight gain if they exceed your energy needs [29].

So, how can we balance our fat consumption to lead to weight loss, not gain?

Learn More: Can I Lose Weight on a Carnivore Diet? How Much? How Fast?

High-Fat Carnivore Can Improve Cholesterol

A 2020 research published in the National Library of Medicine indicated that the Carnivore Diet can lead to changes in lipid profiles, including increased LDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides in some individuals. This effect varies widely among different studies and individuals.

How Much Fat Should a Carnivore Eat a Day?

Generally, those on a Carnivore diet need to provide 70% of their caloric intake from fat. On a high-fat Carnivore diet, this number increases to 80% (or more), which is called the 80/20 rule.

The other 20% of the caloric intake should be gained from high-quality protein from animal sources.

Also, you can eat about 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight, as there are 9 calories in a gram of fat and only 4 calories in a gram of protein.

For example, if you should consume 1800 calories a day, you need to eat 90 grams of protein and 160 grams of fat. Calculate your macronutrient needs with this free Carnivore Diet Macro Calculator.

So, how can we provide the high amounts of fat we need on the high-fat Carnivore diet?

Learn More: Steak and Eggs Diet: Is It Good for Losing Weight? [Tips for Females]

What Is the Best Fat Source? Or How Do You Eat Fat on a Carnivore Diet?

To increase your fat intake on a high-fat Carnivore diet, you can consume:

  • Grass-fed Butter: It contains the nutrients (vitamin A, the antioxidant Beta Carotene, healthy unsaturated fats, and CLA) of grass-fed meat but is cheaper.
  • Bullet-proof Coffee (AKA butter coffee or fatty latte)
  • Beef Tallow/ Beef Butter
  • Lard
  • Bacon Grease
  • Chicken Fat
  • Ghee
  • Egg Yolks: Some add them raw to burgers or meat, others use them in Carnivore Hollandaise sauce or make egg drop soup. You can also separate egg yolks from egg whites and just eat the yolks, as they have various nutrients like B12, B2a, folate, and natural vitamin D, which is great for bone and teeth).
  • Whole-fat Dairy: Cheese, sour cream, heavy cream

Learn More: What Is The Best Butter for The Carnivore Diet?

The following table summarizes the average nutrients in 100 grams of the best fat sources for a high-fat Carnivore diet [30] [31] [32] [33].

High-Fat Food SourceTotal FatProteinCaloriesCarbohydrates
Butter 81.1g 0.85g 717 0.06g
Bullet-proof Coffee 5.7g 3.3g 100 8.7g
Beef Tallow (Beef Butter) 100g 0g 902 0g
Lard 100g 0g 902 0g
Bacon Grease 99.5g 0g 897 0g
Chicken Fat 99.8g 0g 900 0g
Ghee 99.5g 0.28g 876 0g
Egg Yolks (raw) 26.5g 15.9g 322 3.6g
Sour Cream 16.7g 3.3g 200 3.3g
Heavy Cream 33.3g 0g 333 6.7g

If you’re transitioning to Carnivore and are not a pure Carnivore and find it hard to stick to only meat, salt, and water and try to minimize carbs gradually, you can also eat limited amounts of avocado, mayo, or avocado oil to consume more fat, as the important thing is to start a healthier lifestyle, not perfection!

You can also use high-fat meats as a great source of fat on the high-fat Carnivore diet.

Learn More: Coffee on a Carnivore Diet: Is It OK? The Best Coffee and Alternatives

What Are High-Fat Meats?

  • Pork Ribs and Pork Belly (have a 70 to 80% fat-to-protein ratio)
  • Chicken Wings
  • Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks
  • Brisket (Beef Back Ribs)
  • Chuck Roast
  • Fattier Blends of Ground Beef (70/30 or 80/20): Pork Sausages or Ground Lamb
  • Fatty Steak: Ribeye (has a 70% fat-to-protein ratio or 1g of protein to 1g of fat), New York Strips, T-Bones, or Chuck Eye Steaks
  • Organ Meats: Kidney, Heart, Liver (even cod liver that contains 90% fat, 7% protein, 4% total carbs in 1 can)
  • Bacon
  • Sausages: Bratwurst, Chorizo, and Italian Sausages
  • Lamb Ribs
  • Duck and Goose
  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, Mackerel, and Sardines
  • Chicken Skin, and
  • Beef Crisps (made with beef fat trimmings)

The following table shows the average nutrients in 100 grams of fatty meats [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40].

Fatty MeatsTotal FatProteinCaloriesCarbohydrates
Roasted Pork Ribs 29.5g 21.8g 359 0g
Pork Belly 9.8g 20.5g 170 0g
Roasted Chicken Wings 16.9g 23.8g 254 0g
Roasted Chicken Thighs 14.7g 23.3g 232 0g
Chicken Drumsticks 10.2g 23.4g 191 0g
Beef Brisket 7.7g 8.4g 148 12.1g
Chuck Roast 6.2g 21.2g 142 0g
Pork Sausages 30.8g 20g 446 21.5g
Broiled Ground Lamb 19.7g 24.8g 283 0g
Ribeye Steak 7.6g 29.4g 186 0g
New York Strips 6.3g 23.2g 152 0g
Grilled T-Bone Steak 10.4g 27.9g 212 0g
Braised Chuck Eye Steak 8.9g 32.1g 208 0g
Kidney 4.6g 27g 157 0g
Heart 4.7g 28.2g 164 0.15g
Lamb Liver 12.7g 25.5g 238 3.8g
Bacon (Pan-Fried) 35.1g 33.9g 468 1.7g
Pork Bratwurst 29.2g 13.7g 333 2.9g
Chorizo 25.1g 13.6g 296 3.8g
Lamb Ribs 29.8g 21.1g 359 0g
Roast Duck 11.2g 23.5g 201 0g
Canned Salmon 7.4g 23.6g 167 0g
Cooked King Mackerel 2.6g 26g 134 0g
Canned Sardines 11.5g 24.6g 208 0g
Fried Chicken Skin 57.1g 14.3g 643 28.6g

To help you get started, I’ve provided a sample 3-day high-fat Carnivore meal plan so you can learn how you can add these fat sources to your everyday meals.

Learn More: Suet vs. Tallow: How Do These Dietary Fat Resources Differ?

High-Fat Carnivore 3-Day Meal Plan

Here is a sample 3-day high-fat Carnivore meal plan. You can modify it based on your needs and preferences but remember to use high-fat sources.

You can use these Carnivore diet recipes to get ideas and make yummy, fatty Carnivore meals.

Day 1

Breakfast

  • Scrambled eggs cooked in butter or beef tallow
  • Bacon or sausage omelet

Lunch

  • Ribeye steak cooked in beef tallow or lard
  • Side of organ meats (e.g., liver) cooked in butter

Dinner

  • Fatty fish (e.g., salmon or mackerel) grilled or baked with butter
  • Butter bite
  • Cheese or pork rinds
High-Fat Carnivore Can Boost Weight Loss

A 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine suggested that a high-fat carnivore diet may lead to initial weight loss due to its restrictive nature and potential impact on appetite regulation.

Day 2

Breakfast

  • Omelet with eggs, cheese, and cooked bacon
  • Coffee with heavy cream

Lunch

  • Ground beef patties cooked in butter or ghee
  • Side of bone marrow or fatty cuts of beef

Dinner

  • Grilled lamb chops
  • Hard-boiled eggs or slices of high-fat cheese

Day 3

Breakfast

  • Steak and eggs cooked in bacon fat or lard

Lunch

  • Chicken thighs roasted with skin-on, cooked in duck fat
  • Pork belly slices or pork rinds

Dinner

  • Beef liver cooked in butter
  • Fatty cuts of beef or pork, slow-cooked or roasted

Snack

  • Smoked salmon or other high-fat fish
  • Bone broth

What about plant-based fats? Can we have them on a high-fat Carnivore diet?

Learn More: Carnivore Diet Meal Plan: Your 30-Day Free Beginner Guide

Can You Eat Plant-Based Fats on the Carnivore Diet?

The short answer is no, as the Carnivore diet excludes all plant-based products. The reason is that seed oils and polyunsaturated fats like soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower, safflower, cotton seed, rape, peanut oil, and similar plant-based oils cause inflammation in our bodies.

You may wonder how animal fats differ from plant-based fats so we can include them in our Carnivore diet. Let’s find out.

Learn More: 15 Simple Carnivore Soup Recipes with Chicken, Beef and Pork

Animal-Based Fats vs. Plant-Based Fats

Basically, Animal fats and plant-based fats differ in their composition and nutritional profiles. The following table compares the most common animal and plant fats.

TypeAnimal-Based FatsPlant-Based FatsRemarks
Saturated Fats Vary among sources Generally lower in saturated fats Have been thought to cause health problems, but recent research denies it
Monounsaturated Fats Present in some animal-based fats Abundant in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil Are heart-healthy and bring various health benefits
Polyunsaturated Fats Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish Found in various plant-based sources -
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Abundant in fatty fish; include EPA and DHA forms Present in some plant-based sources (ALA); less efficient conversion to EPA and DHA Are essential for heart and brain health
Nutrient Density Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), B vitamins, zinc, iron Phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, and minerals (depending on the source) -
Calories Vary among sources Varies but often lower than animal-based fats -
Protein Found in many animal fats Generally low, but nuts and seeds may have moderate protein content -
Carbohydrates Vary among sources but is negligible in pure fats Vary but some sources (nuts, seeds) contain moderate carbohydrates -

You must consume animal-based fats on the Carnivore diet because of the following reasons:

  • Fats are nutrient-dense.
  • Fats contain complete protein, which provides all essential amino acids
  • Fats increase energy levels and are satiating.
  • Fasts are easier to digest, so a good option for sensitive individuals.

So, are there any disadvantages to going on a high-fat Carnivore diet?

Learn More: Carnivore Diet and Psoriasis [All You Need to Know]

The Side Effects of the High-Fat Carnivore Diet

  • Nutrient Deficiencies: Some may think cutting plant-based foods may cause nutrient deficiencies. However, you can gain the necessary nutrients from animal products. You can also take supplements if needed.
  • Digestive Issues: Some Carnivores may experience digestive issues, like constipation or diarrhea, when transitioning to a high-fat Carnivore diet. Drinking enough water and consuming fiber from animal products (such as organ meats) help with these issues [41].
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: As the body adapts to a low-carbohydrate intake, there may be shifts in electrolyte balance, causing dizziness, fatigue, or muscle cramps. Consuming enough sodium, potassium, and magnesium will help.
  • Keto Flu: Transitioning to a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet may cause keto flu, which shows itself with symptoms like headaches, nausea, irritability, and fatigue. These symptoms are usually temporary and can go away by staying hydrated and consuming enough electrolyte drinks.

What about cholesterol? Will eating animal fats negatively impact our cholesterol levels?

Will Eating Too Much Fat Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?

Individuals respond differently to dietary fats. Some individuals may experience increased total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and HDL (good) cholesterol, but others may not notice significant changes.

Genetics, metabolic health, and other factors affect how dietary fats can impact cholesterol levels.

Learn More: Carnivore Diet and Cholesterol: Everything You Should Know

The Bottom Line

Although going on a high-fat Carnivore diet can help you manage weight and reach your health goals, you need to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions, before making big dietary changes.

If you have decided to go on a high-fat Carnivore, you can check the labels when you’re shopping for Carnivore foods to find high-fat animal products. Also, choose grass-fed animal products, as they’re healthier.

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