The Carnivore Diet: What You Need To Know

The Carnivore Diet - What You Need To Know

The carnivore diet is a surging new diet fad you may have seen making the rounds on social media. It is one of the more simple diets to hit the market in recent years, while still promoting amazing rewards and benefits. I’m going to cover all of the information you need to know about the carnivore diet before giving it a try!

In this video, Dustin Moore weighs in on the science behind this diet and provides you with his professional perspective on this new weight-loss craze.

Continue reading for more information. 

What is the carnivore diet?

The diet is incredibly simple to follow. You can eat any meat from any animal as often as you want — steaks and filets on the tamer side, with brain and organ meats on the more adventurous side. In addition, eggs, butter, lard, bone marrow, water, and light seasoning are allowed. You may include dairy products, but most hardcore enthusiasts of the diet discourage this.

In summary, if it did not come from an animal, it is off-limits. No vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, or grains of any variety. See? I told you it was an easy diet to follow.

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Positive aspects of the carnivore diet

Let’s start by pointing out what can be beneficial about this dietary lifestyle.

First off, if strictly followed, your appetite control will probably improve. All of the calories in your diet will come from fat and protein. In the stomach, these two nutrients create a feeling of fullness that will last longer than carbohydrates. As a result, you are less likely to feel hungry between meals. Even if you did get hungry, it’s not like there is a lot of snack options to choose from.

Second, although meats are calorically dense, most people who follow this diet tend to eat less overall. Realistically, that’s because there are so few foods to choose from, which means fewer calories each day. If you consume fewer calories, you lose weight. 

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How the carnivore diet gained popularity

The carnivore diet gained popularity by claiming it could treat autoimmune disease and anti-inflammatory states.

Followers state that it improves fatigue, helps fight obesity, and improves digestive health. It is also promoted on something similar to the keto diet – “it’s what our ancestors ate.”

In every instance, the only evidence offered to support these claims is personal testimonies. Any positive effects people claim from this diet can easily be explained by the placebo effect, or belief in the treatment causing the observed results.

Other people who tried the diet describe it as being a miserable experience. They report feeling extremely lethargic and unable to have normal bowel movements.

RELATED: Is the Ketogenic Diet Your Key To Weight Loss Success?

Meat on the grill

Concerns about the carnivore diet

Unfortunately, that is the end of the list of positive things about the carnivore diet. The list of concerns and drawbacks is extensive.

First off, this diet is completely devoid of essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, and fiber. Not only do you lose all of those nutrients, but you also miss out on antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are a potent source of phytochemicals, many of which are antioxidants that promote health and wellness.

Second, in just the past five years, dozens of studies have been published showing you are at a much higher risk for various forms of cancer if you increase your meat intake. More studies show how saturated fat, the fat present in animal products, improves your cardiovascular disease risk.

Third, your body, specifically your brain and nervous system, relies on carbohydrates as a primary fuel source. If all your body ever gets is meat, this will limit your primary energy source and make your body turn to less effective fuel sources.

The carnivore diet is restrictive

The worst part of this diet is how restrictive it is. The principle of variety in your diet, or eating a wide array of foods from all food groups, is overwhelmingly backed by science. Including a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and reduced-fat dairy products contribute to longevity in health and a reduced risk of chronic illness. Taking it one step further, recent studies show eating fruits and vegetables leads to increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being.

Conclusion

There is just not enough evidence to support this charade of a diet. For the few individuals that claim benefits from trying it, there is probably some underlying mechanism we have not yet decerned or it is just the placebo effect. A strong nutritional principal is a varied diet, limited in added sugar and unhealthy fats while focusing on whole grain products.

If you have questions about diets you have seen online, make an appointment to speak with a registered dietitian to discuss your health goals, and create a plan that works for you!

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Dustin Moore, MS, RD
My name is Dustin Moore and I'm a registered dietitian, lecturer and program director for a dietetic internship. I received my bachelor's degree in dietetics from Brigham Young University (BYU) and completed my master's degree and dietetic internship at California State University (CSU) Long Beach. In addition to teaching undergraduate courses at CSU Long Beach, I've also worked as an outpatient dietitian specializing in gastric disorders. Education of individuals - whether it's patients, students, dietetic interns, or the general population - gives me direction and drive. Whatever is related to the wellness and longevity in the life of individuals is something I'm interested in teaching and discussing. My role as a dietitian centers on the question of "What is the purpose of having good health?" And I believe the answer to that is to maximize the freedom there is to life! In resolving health issues and struggles, people are granted great freedom which allows them to pursue life to it's fullest. Of course, I love cooking! I also love spending time with family and loved ones, writing, and teaching. But, when I'm not playing the role of the food snob, I also enjoy sports, weight training, archery and generally working with my hands on projects around the house.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Ah Dustin. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Time to de-register yourself as a “Dietician”

    Vitamin C? Muscle meat contains plenty as long as you aren’t eating a bunch of fibre and other carbohydrates that compete for the vitamin C. If you are consuming very little carbohydrate, your vitamin C requirements are minuscule. Uric Acid takes over as a more powerful antioxidant anyway but you knew that as a “Dietician” didn’t you?

    Vitamin E? Heard of Eggs, Dairy, Cheese, fish roe?…… And even in good old muscle meat.

    Vitamin K? Meat, dairy

    Folic Acid? Eggs, liver, fish…… Are you not doing any research?

    Fibre? It’s not required. There’s more than one study showing that zero fibre is more beneficial especially for relieving constipation. Here’s one. Educate yourself. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/

    Need a little glucose for the brain? Did you learn about you Liver in dietician school? Maybe you weren’t paying attention during 1st year? Your liver can make more than enough glucose for your needs in the absence of dietary carbohydrates. Did you forget that lesson in school?

  2. The cancer studies were essentially either mice or rat studies which didn’t show much if any increase of association. Georgia Eade broke this down on what the IARC based their ideological position i.e. boards are made up of vegans and vegetarians. The studies done of humans are epidemiology ones which barely count of something we can rely on for anything. So much so you need to show at least 200% difference between the groups before you can even start looking at there might be a link not base the association on 16-17% from such weak studies. Cancer in general, colon cancer in particular is not seen in carnivorous tribes.

    Heart disease is even more a minefield of poor studies and ideology based decisions. We have known since 1973 that saturated fat is not the recent driver in heart disease. Two RCTs, the Minnesota Coronary Experiment ( https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i1246and ) and Sydney Diet Heart Study ( https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8707 ) both ran from 1966 – 1973 based on the idea of lowering saturated fat to reduce association with heart attacks etc but found a clear link to the opposite.

    There can be valid criticisms of any diet and/or lifestyle, bringing up that level of poorly researched material doesn’t help to show you know what you are talking about on the subject.

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