Carnivore Diet: Weight Loss, Food List, All Meat Risks (2024)

The carnivore diet is a fad diet focused on consuming only animal products and byproducts (e.g., dairy), resulting in fewer blood sugar spikes. In a study of this diet, participants reported seeing improvements in overall health, well-being, certain medical conditions, and average body mass index (BMI).

However, a diet primarily comprised of meat and animal-based foods comes with risks. These foods are high in saturated fat, which can raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Consuming only animal and animal byproducts limits your intake of essential nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals, and fiber for your overall health.

In this article, you will learn some of the potential benefits and risks of the carnivore diet compared to a traditional well-balanced diet.

Carnivore Diet: Weight Loss, Food List, All Meat Risks (1)

Besides Protein, What Are the Benefits of the Carnivore Diet?

There is limited research on the carnivore diet. The most significant study to date was conducted in 2021 by Harvard researchers. They interviewed 2,029 people who were on the diet for at least six months. Their reasons for adopting this diet included the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Focus and energy
  • Allergy or autoimmunity
  • Digestive health
  • Athletic performance
  • Mental health
  • Diabetes

Self-reported changes in health status included improvements in overall health, sleep, focus, energy, and mental clarity.

Participants also reported improvement in or resolution of the following chronic conditions:

  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Intestinal conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin or autoimmune conditions
  • Cardiovascular issues

The results of this study have one major limitation: self-reported data is unreliable. The study did not employ an independent interviewer or use health records to verify the health status of study participants.

Though many people report a substantial improvement in their health while on the carnivore diet, more rigorous studies are necessary.

What to Eat While on a Carnivore Diet

As the name suggests, a carnivore diet means eating primarily meat and animal products and avoiding all other foods. The diet's primary goal is weight loss by consuming minimal daily carbohydrates.

Noncompliant Foods

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Legumes

  • Grains

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Starchy vegetables

Foods to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet

People who follow the carnivore diet avoid fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Here's why:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These foods are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, they also have a higher glycemic index (GI), significantly impacting blood sugar for those with prediabetes and diabetes. For instance, watermelon, pineapple, and potatoes have a high GI.
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pinto beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans are examples of nuts, seeds, and legumes. Compared to fruits and vegetables, these foods are high in protein and fats and low in carbohydrates.

The goal of a carnivore diet is to eat only animal products (or byproducts such as dairy) and little to no carbohydrates, so the food groups listed are not recommended.

Who Shouldn't Do a Carnivore Diet

Talk to a healthcare provider before beginning any fad diet. Many people try the carnivore diet to lose weight or improve their health. However, if you have certain chronic conditions, consider the health impact of consuming only animal products before changing your diet. People with the following conditions should avoid the carnivore diet:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
  • Any history of cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity (a BMI of above 40) alongside other conditions (comorbidities)

Eating a great deal of meat high in saturated fat can increase bad (LDL) cholesterol, putting you at a higher risk of heart disease. Consuming too many processed foods, such as bacon, sausage, or high-sodium lunch meats, can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Constipation Risk

The primary source of dietary fiber is carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. The carnivore diet provides little to no fiber, increasing the risk of constipation. Fiber encourages regular bowel movements and helps create good bacteria in the gut. Quality gut health helps support a healthy immune system.

Carnivore Diet vs. Well-Balanced Diet

A carnivore diet is very restrictive because you only eat from one food group. For optimal health, consider a well-balanced diet. This means eating foods from every food group to provide complete nutrition from various sources.

A well-balanced diet includes various macro- and micronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. The following foods contribute to a well-balanced diet:

  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Protein from multiple sources, including lean red meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Foods low in sugar, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol


A carnivore diet only allows foods from animal sources. Most people who try the carnivore diet want to lose weight or manage chronic conditions. However, there is limited research on the health benefits of a carnivore diet. The carnivore diet can be risky, especially for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a history of heart disease. The lack of fiber can also cause constipation and poor gut health.

Consult a healthcare provider, such as a registered dietitian, before starting a carnivore diet. Follow a well-balanced diet to support your overall health.

8 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Lennerz BS, Mey JT, Henn OH, Ludwig DS. Behavioral characteristics and self-reported health status among 2029 adults consuming a carnivore diet.Current Developments in Nutrition. 2021. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzab133

  2. American Heart Association. Saturated fat.

  3. Kirwan R, Mallett GS, Ellis L, Flanagan A. Limitations of self-reported health status and metabolic markers among adults consuming a carnivore diet.Curr Dev Nutr. 2022;6(5):nzac037. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzac037

  4. Carnivore diet health benefits.

  5. MedlinePlus. Glycemic index and diabetes.

  6. MedlinePlus. Protein in diet.

  7. Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment. The carnivore diet risks and side effects.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy eating for a healthy weight.

Carnivore Diet: Weight Loss, Food List, All Meat Risks (2)

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Brewster is a freelance journalist with over 20 years of writing experience specializing in science and healthcare content.

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Carnivore Diet: Weight Loss, Food List, All Meat Risks (2024)


Carnivore Diet: Weight Loss, Food List, All Meat Risks? ›

An individual typically requires between 1-2 pounds of meat per day, though this will vary based on age, sex, weight, and activity level. For a person needing 2,000 calories daily, this might translate to about 1.5 pounds of ground beef (assuming 300 calories per 100 grams with a 75/25 lean to fat ratio).

What are 3 disadvantages of the carnivore diet? ›

Cons of the Carnivore Diet:
  • It's expensive (we all know how much the cost of meat has gone up)
  • It's restrictive.
  • It can cause health issues down the road.
  • Lack of fiber- bowel issues.
  • Lack of vitamins and minerals.
Nov 6, 2023

How much meat should I eat on a carnivore diet to lose weight? ›

An individual typically requires between 1-2 pounds of meat per day, though this will vary based on age, sex, weight, and activity level. For a person needing 2,000 calories daily, this might translate to about 1.5 pounds of ground beef (assuming 300 calories per 100 grams with a 75/25 lean to fat ratio).

Is all meat diet safe? ›

If you're healthy, it's probably OK to try this diet, as long as you don't stay on it for more than a week to 10 days. Lower the saturated fat by choosing leaner cuts of protein like skinless chicken instead of fattier steaks, lamb, and ground beef. Include seafood for the omega-3 fatty acids.

Is the carnivore diet bad for your heart? ›

Given that the carnivore diet consists solely of animal foods, it can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Saturated fat may raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol, which may increase your risk of heart disease.

What happens if you only eat meat for a week? ›

You can survive on a carnivore diet, but you'll miss out on important nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins C and E. It is not safe for certain groups, including those with kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, or those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Is carnivore diet safe yes or no? ›

“Even if you have digestive issues, this diet can make things worse with all that protein and fat, which takes a lot longer to digest.” The carnivore diet is high in saturated fats which can cause elevated LDL or bad cholesterol and put you at risk for heart disease.

What do doctors say about carnivore diets? ›

“The carnivore diet can increase the risk of disease because it is an acidic diet that is high in sodium that lacks in key nutrients responsible for optimal health,” Rydyger says. “The diet can also be high in saturated fat and LDL cholesterol.

Can you drink coffee on a carnivore diet? ›

Yes, you can drink coffee on a carnivore diet. Despite its plant origin, many followers of the carnivore diet still consume coffee, considering caffeine's stimulating properties. However, caution must be taken as excessive intake of caffeine may add stress to the body's metabolism and disrupt sleep patterns.

What is the 80 20 rule for carnivore diet? ›

Some carnivore enthusiasts even go for an 80/20 carnivore diet. This means 80% fat and 20% protein — no carbs at all. This fat-to-protein ratio carnivore diet is typically for experienced people on a carnivore diet.

How many eggs a day on a carnivore diet? ›

More eggs can support muscle gain, while fewer may be better for weight loss. You can also consider just consuming egg whites to lower your calorie and fat intake. In general, though, many on the carnivore diet consume between 2 to 6 eggs daily as part of their meal plan.

How to lose fat fast on carnivore diet? ›

How to Lose Weight on the Carnivore Diet: Additional Tips to Help You Shed Some Fat Fast
  1. Get a solid 8 hours of sleep each night. ...
  2. Increase your protein intake slightly if you're not seeing results. ...
  3. Add some intermittent fasting into your routine. ...
  4. Start incorporating more physical activity into your life.
Jan 12, 2023

What are the cons of the carnivore diet? ›

A carnivore diet isn't a sustainable, nutritious way to eat, and its disadvantages probably outweigh any potential benefits. This diet could lead to serious nutrient deficiencies or eventually increase the risk of health issues like heart disease and colon cancer.

What did Jordan Peterson eat on a carnivore diet? ›

Dr. Shawn Baker's carnivore diet includes chicken and fish and limited dairy products like cheese. The Jordan Peterson diet, however, includes just ruminant meat (beef, bison, lamb, and goat), salt, and water. Nothing else.

What are the long term results of the carnivore diet? ›

He said that the best available evidence suggests that a carnivore diet will increase risk of colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease compared to many other diets. “There's no way [Baker] doesn't know that people are going to take what he says and actually implement it into their lifestyle,” Dr Nagra said.

Why did Paul Saladino quit carnivore? ›

But in a recent interview with podcaster Thomas DeLauer, Saladino said that after five years on the carnivore diet his testosterone levels tanked. He also believes the diet is the cause of his sleep issues and joint and muscle pain.

Is carnivore diet carcinogenic? ›

Eating processed meat increases your risk of bowel and stomach cancer. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen which means it probably causes cancer. Did you know if you've had cancer, maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent it from coming back?

What are the risks of a high meat diet? ›

Red and processed meats do increase health risks.

In spite of what the Annals of Internal Medicine study suggests, Dr. Hu says that an accumulated body of evidence shows a clear link between high intake of red and processed meats and a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature death.

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