Carnivore Diet Side Effects
- A 2020 study by Ko et al. indicates that consuming high amounts of protein for weight loss or glycemic control should be considered with care in those at high risk for kidney disease (source).
- A 2020 study by Sjödin et al. indicated that a ketogenic LCHF diet can negatively impact muscle fatigue and perceived exertion during daily life activities in young and healthy women (source).
- A study conducted by Burke in 2017 suggested that following an LCHF diet may impair performance in elite endurance athletes despite significantly improving their peak aerobic capacity (source).
- In 2018, Retterstøl et al. conducted a study that indicated going on an LCHF diet for three weeks can increase LDL-C by 44% (source).
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Limited studies indicate that lack of fiber, vitamins, and minerals can increase the risk of constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and other health issues in some people.
- Chronic Diseases: Consuming animal products in excess can increase the risk of some chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Microbiome Disruption: A lack of plant-based products may disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and cause some digestive problems.
- Increased Cholesterol Levels: Consuming too many animal-based products may increase LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Needless to say, the potential side effects of the carnivore diet vary from person to person and are dependent on various factors, including each individual’s health status, genetics, and the quality of the diet.
So, based on these benefits and side effects, how healthy is a Carnivore diet? Is it worth trying? Scroll to find out.
How Healthy Is the Carnivore Diet?
No health institute has conducted a survey on the Carnivore diet’s long-term benefits or risks yet. However, some dietitians claim that consuming too many animal-based foods without being accompanied by plant-based foods may lead to nutrient deficiency in some individuals.
On the other hand, many other dietitians and Carnivores report that cutting plant-based foods has improved their digestive health and boosted weight loss.
Anyhow, consulting a healthcare professional and avoiding the common mistakes that beginner and even experienced Carnivore dieters make can help you make the most of the Carnivore diet and minimize the potential risks.
Here, you can watch my interview with Dr. Anthony Chaffee about the 10 worst Carnivore mistakes to avoid.
Why Is the Carnivore Diet So Good?
The Carnivore diet is favored and followed by numerous individuals, including dietitians, medical doctors, and coaches, for the reasons below.
- Simplicity: The Carnivore diet is easy to follow, as you don’t have to do complex meal planning or count calories and macros.
- Weight Loss: Minimizing or avoiding carbohydrates and processed foods results in initial weight loss, which is motivating.
- Digestive Health: Eliminating plant-based foods can alleviate digestive discomfort in some individuals, especially if they have sensitivities or intolerances to these foods.
- Better Mood and Focus: Removing carbs and consuming more protein can improve mood and focus. There have been personal reports on improvements in mental clarity following a Carnivore diet.
- Reduction in Inflammation: Chronic inflammation causes different health problems. Eliminating plant foods perceived as inflammatory agents can decrease overall inflammation in the body.
- Management of Autoimmune Conditions: A Carnivore diet can help alleviate symptoms of some autoimmune diseases. However, limited studies have been conducted in this regard.
- Satiety and Reduced Cravings: Consuming protein and fats can increase fullness and reduce cravings, which can decrease the overall caloric intake.
Why the Carnivore Diet Can Be Bad?
If you have underlying health conditions, including the following, you need to approach the Carnivore diet carefully. Consulting a healthcare professional before making drastic changes to your eating habits is necessary.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Avoiding fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes in people with eating disorders can cause nutrient deficiencies, scurvy, and compromised immune function.
- Digestive Issues: Avoiding dietary fiber from plant foods can cause severe constipation and other digestive issues for sensitive individuals.
- Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Consuming fat and protein in excess can increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
- Kidney Strain: consuming high amounts of protein can negatively impact kidneys, especially in people with previous kidney problems.
- Bone Health: Lack of plant foods may cause imbalances in the body's pH, making the body leach calcium from the bones to maintain an optimal pH level, which can weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis over time.
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Those with gastrointestinal disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn's disease, may experience aggravated symptoms due to consuming excessive animal products, which can increase inflammation and discomfort.
- Lack of Antioxidants: Plant foods contain high amounts of antioxidants, which help decrease oxidative stress in the body.
- Mental Health: Since the Carnivore diet is restrictive in nature, you may experience social isolation, which can have negative effects on your mental health.
Learn More: Carnivore vs. Atkins Diet: Which One Boosts Weight Loss?
What to Eat on a Carnivore Diet?
Here, you can learn about the Carnivore diet food list. Also, I’ve listed the top foods to eat below.
- Beef (steaks, ground beef, roasts)
- Pork (bacon, pork chops, pork ribs)
- Organ Meats (liver, kidneys, heart)
- Game Meats (bison, elk, or wild boar)
- Chicken (breasts, thighs, wings)
- Turkey (breasts, legs)
- Game Birds (quail or pheasant)
Fish and Seafood:
- Fatty Fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines)
- Whitefish (cod, haddock, and halibut)
- Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, and clams)
- Cheese (high-fat, low-carb options)
- Heavy Cream
- Beef Tallow
- Lard (from pork)
- Duck Fat
- Chicken Fat
- Bone Marrow
Learn More: Lard vs. Tallow: How To Use These Fat Sources?
What to Drink on a Carnivore Diet?
- Water: Plain water, whether still or sparkling
- Bone Broth
- Coffee: Black coffee without any additives like sugar, milk, or cream
- Tea: Herbal teas or plain tea
- Salt Water: For electrolyte balance
Avoid these Foods on a Carnivore Diet
- Vegetables: Leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, and potatoes
- Grains: Wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, and other grains
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and other nuts and seeds
- Plant-Based Oils: Olive oil, coconut oil, and vegetable oil
- Sugars and Sweeteners: All forms of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and artificial sweeteners
- Dairy: Milk
- Processed Foods: Chips, candies, and snacks
- Beverages: Sugary drinks, fruit juices, and beverages containing carbohydrates or artificial sweeteners
Learn More: Steak and Eggs Diet: Is It Good for Losing Weight? [Tips for Females]
Carnivore Diet Sample Meal Plan
Here is your three-day Carnivore diet sample meal plan. You can make modifications and use your creativity to include other Carnivore-friendly options.
- Scrambled eggs cooked in butter or bacon fat
- Bacon or sausage (without additives or sugar)
- Grilled ribeye steak
- Salted bone broth
- Baked or grilled salmon
- Buttered shrimp
- Duck eggs cooked in duck fat
- Pork belly slices
- Lamb chops cooked in lamb fat
- Salted bone broth
- Ground beef patties cooked in tallow or lard
- Organ meats (such as liver or kidneys)
- Chicken eggs cooked in chicken fat
- Sausages (check labels for any non-carnivorous additives)
- Pork ribs cooked in lard
- Salted bone broth
- T-bone steak
- Fatty cuts of pork cooked in pork fat
You can drink plenty of plain water, black coffee, or herbal teas without any additives during the day to stay hydrated.
Here is your Free Carnivore Diet Meal Plan with Easy and Cheap Recipes, where you can find Carnivore diet meal plans for each day of a whole month, plus the recipes and the Carnivore food list.
Can A Carnivore Diet Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, a Carnivore diet can help you lose weight because it focuses on increasing the fat intake and decreasing carbohydrates by allowing animal-based foods and avoiding plant-based foods.
You may ask why you must minimize carbohydrate intake. Well, by reducing the intake of carbs found in grains, fruits, and vegetables, your body is forced to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose, which is how this diet leads to weight loss.
Another benefit of using this diet for fat loss is that the high protein and fat content of the Carnivore diet increases satiety and decreases overall calorie intake, which again results in weight loss over time.
Also, studies have shown that high-protein diets are useful in preserving muscle mass during weight loss, which is also super beneficial for maintaining metabolic health. Additionally, early studies by Skov et al. indicated that dietary protein can help manage body weight.
- Also, in a 2018 study by Ojha, 65 healthy, overweight, and obese participants started a high-carbohydrate, high-protein. Six months' results suggested weight loss was more significant among subjects on the high-protein diet (Source).
- Another study by Pesta and Samuel in 2014 showed that satiety was significantly higher after a 60%-protein meal than after a 19%-protein meal (Source).
Having said all this, don’t forget that weight loss is a complex process affected by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and individual metabolic differences.
How Long Can I Stay on A Carnivore Diet?
Some individuals go on the Carnivore diet for a short time and use it to lose weight, reset their eating habits, or take care of some health problems like gastrointestinal concerns. However, there are others who follow a Carnivore diet for a longer period and as a lifestyle choice.
The only important factors determining the length of a Carnivore diet are your health and preferences. You need to keep it as long as you’re maintaining the necessary nutrients from animal-based products or supplements prescribed by a healthcare professional.
So, whether I follow a short-term or long-term Carnivore diet, when can I see the weight loss results I’m looking for? Let’s find out in the following section!
How Soon Do You See Results on The Carnivore Diet?
Your current health status, weight, physical activity level, eating habits, goals, needs, and preferences affect the time it takes to see the results of the Carnivore diet.
Many people start spotting the changes in their body composition, energy levels, or digestive symptoms in the first few days or weeks of going on the Carnivore diet.
Others may take longer to adapt to the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or constipation during the initial transition period.
Constipation on Carnivore Diet: How Long Does It Take? [Cause and Remedy]
In terms of weight loss, some dieters experience significant changes within the first few weeks of following the Carnivore diet, while others’ bodies may take a more gradual or moderate approach to weight loss using this diet.
So, the question is, how much protein and fat should we consume on a Carnivore diet to see the fastest results? Does taking more protein and fat lead to faster weight loss? We’ll find out in the following section.
By the way, you may not know that some of your actions may negatively impact your Carnivore results. Dr. Chaffee explains the 10 things killing your Carnivore diet results.
How Much Protein and Fat Should I Eat on a Carnivore Diet?
We can’t say if you consume more protein and fat, you lose weight sooner, and similar to other factors mentioned above, determining the amount of protein and fat you should consume on the Carnivore diet depends on each individual’s needs and preferences.
But as you know, the Carnivore diet needs the dieters to consume high amounts of fat, go moderate with protein, use low or zero carbohydrates, and supply most of the calorie intake from animal products.
Some recommend consuming 70-80% of your daily calories from fat and the rest from protein, i.e., you can eat about 1-2 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight per day and adjust your fat intake to meet your calorie needs.
Again, remember that the ideal macronutrient ratio varies from person to person and depends on age, gender, activity level, metabolic health, etc. Also, remember to have variety in the kind of animal products you use to get a wide range of nutrients necessary for your body's health.
If you’re still confused about your daily fat and protein intake, you can simply use this free Carnivore Diet Macro Calculator.
It’s no secret that to see results on a Carnivore diet and to provide the necessary protein and fat, you need to follow Carnivore diet recipes that contain meat, but what kind of meat is the best? The following section will let you know!
Meat on The Carnivore Diet
The Carnivore diet lets dieters consume various kinds of meat like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood. Organ meats like liver and kidney are also allowed on this diet as sources of essential nutrients.
The "best" meat on the Carnivore diet is the one that best suits your health condition and goals. But usually, beef is considered a staple in the Carnivore diet as it’s rich in nutrients and fat content.
Grass-fed beef is a high-quality meat preferred over grain-fed beef for containing higher omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of antibiotics and hormones.
Again, the needs and conditions of each individual is the most important factor determining the amount of meat a Carnivore dieter should consume every day.
Some people eat two to three meals a day, while others practice intermittent fasting or have one meal. In terms of portion sizes, some prefer 1-2 pounds of meat every day, while others recommend eating until you are full.
Needless to say, you need to listen to your body, consult a healthcare specialist, eat enough to meet your energy needs, stay healthy, and avoid eating in excess. Also, remember to consume different types of meat to get a wide range of nutrients.
How to Eat?
There are many ways to eat meat on a Carnivore diet. You can use the following methods based on your preferences.
- Slow Cooking
Learn More: What Is Ketovore Diet? Meal Plan, Food List
Dairy on The Carnivore Diet
Some people include high-fat dairy on a Carnivore diet, while others avoid dairy altogether due to digestive sensitivities/ lactose intolerance. Let’s learn more about dairy on a Carnivore diet.
Choose high-fat, low-carb types of dairy products. The following dairy products are the most popular and nutritious on the Carnivore diet.
- Heavy Cream
- Sour Cream
There is no specific amount of dairy on a Carnivore diet. You can decide on the portion sizes and the kinds according to your goals and preferences. Also, pay attention to your daily caloric intake.
How to Use?
You can use dairy in various Carnivore recipes for main dishes, snacks, and desserts. Here are free Carnivore diet recipes.
Drinks on the Carnivore Diet
Alcohol on Carnivore diet: Best alcoholic drinks for Carnivore diet
Generally, you can drink plenty of water, herbal tea, bone broth, electrolyte drinks, and black coffee without sugar or other additives.
There is no limit to the amounts of beverages you can drink on a Carnivore diet. Just pay attention to the amount of calories and carbohydrates in the beverages you drink.
Eggs on The Carnivore Diet
Eggs are an integral part of the Carnivore diet as they are rich in protein and fat, and luckily, there is no upper limit to the number of eggs a typical person can eat on a Carnivore diet, as again, your individual needs and preferences are in between.
Some may choose to use eggs as their main source of protein, i.e., many eggs a day, but others may limit their intake to a few eggs per week or avoid them altogether in case of allergy or sensitivity.
You can consume chicken eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, and other low-carb, low-calorie bird eggs.
You can start with 2 - 3 eggs a day and see the results. It’s important to listen to your body, monitor changes, and stay alert to any unwanted effects. If you see your body is taking eggs fine, then go with it! Talking to a healthcare specialist is also a safe way.
How to Eat?
You can make various kinds of eggs for different meals throughout the day. Eggs make a yummy part of the Carnivore breakfasts.
Apart from protein and other nutrients we consume in our diet, do we need to use supplements on the Carnivore diet? Scroll to find out!
Learn More: All Meat Diet: Is It Healthy? Benefits and Result [Meal Plan]
Supplements on the Carnivore Diet
Some believe that taking no supplements is necessary on the Carnivore diet as the animal-based foods are nutritious enough, but others believe that as the diet won’t allow plant-based products, dieters need some supplements to avoid any health issues.
In either case, you need to consult a nutritionist or healthcare professional to see if you need any supplements and, if yes, which ones. Anyhow, the following supplements are among the most popular ones used by Carnivore dieters.
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
So far, we’ve covered the most important foods allowed and banned on the Carnivore diet. But what about salt and sugar? The following section tells us what the Carnivore diet’s attitude toward salt and sugar is.
Learn More: How to Get Vitamin C on a Carnivore Diet? [Best Meat to Avoid Scurvy]
Salt and Sugar on the Carnivore Diet
Carnivore dieters are free to consume salt, as it is an essential mineral for many bodily functions. However, some Carnivore dieters tend to cut back on salt or avoid it altogether.
In contrast to salt, sugar is not allowed on the Carnivore diet, as it is a plant-based product found in processed foods, which are both banned on this diet.
However, some individuals with sweet tooth prefer to use limited amounts of sugar in the form of honey, maple syrup, or other natural sweeteners.
The Carnivore diet is a simple and practical eating approach that brings various health benefits, including weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved digestive health, and more.
If you wish to start a Carnivore diet, you need to learn its rules and principles. Also, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before starting the diet to ensure it won’t cause any problems and helps you achieve your health and fitness goals.