Taking a Bite Out of the Carnivore Diet (2024)

Breakfast: Bacon with eggs

Lunch: Ground beef cooked in tallow

Dinner: Venison steak with a side of bone marrow

It sounds like the diet of someone yearning for double-bypass surgery. In reality, it’s just one day of the Carnivore Diet, an extreme eating regimen that includes exclusively animal products. While your intuition might tell you that the Carnivore diet surely can’t be good for you (where are the veggies??), celebrities like Joe Rogan have touted it to millions of listeners. Rogan has claimed that the Carnivore Diet has helped him lose weight, reduce aches and pains, improve his mental health (hmmmm), and has even helped control his vitiligo, an autoimmune condition that causes patches of skin to lose color. Similarly, pop-academic Jordan Peterson has credited his all-beef and salt diet to alleviating his anxiety and depression—not to mention helping him lose 60 pounds.

But does the science beef up the claims?

The Carnivore Diet is an extreme ketogenic diet that involves minimizing carb consumption in exchange for high-fat foods. Usually, our bodies use directly-available glucose from carbohydrates for energy. But when carbs are cut out of the diet in exchange for fats, there’s no immediately available glucose in the bloodstream, and so the body switches to using fat for fuel. In a process called “ketosis,” stored fat is broken down into molecules called ketone bodies. In ketosis, blood-sugar is more stable, there is less hunger, and energy levels are more consistent, Advocates of ketogenic dieting report reduced inflammation, increased energy and mental clarity.

Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a ketogenic diet in weight loss, and even as a treatment option for epilepsy. Emerging research is even investigating the benefits of a ketogenic diet on other neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. That said, a ketogenic diet is restrictive, and certainly not for everyone. With such an elimination diet it can be more difficult to get the right nutrients. Furthermore, many people report experiencing “keto flu,” days of headaches, fatigue, and brain-fog. After all, forcing the body to use stored fat for energy, a ketogenic diet is effectively emulating a state of starvation.

So what does this have to do with the Carnivore Diet? As mentioned, the Carnivore diet is an extremist cousin of the keto diet, and its advocates often back it with studies supporting keto diets. On a strictly Carnivore Diet, the body will enter a state of ketosis, in which it opts for fueling with stored fats because there's no glucose at-hand in the bloodstream–this may explain claims of dramatic weight-loss. But as we very well know, weight-loss is not always a useful metric for the healthiness of an eating routine. In fact, extreme weight-loss is often an indicator of the opposite. Beyond anecdotal evidence of miraculous effects of an all-meat diet, science does not back up the other claims of the Carnivore Diet, and most doctors recommend avoiding it. While a diet that induces ketosis may be beneficial for some people, changing the way the body burns fuel is not the only factor in a diet. Experts say that eating exclusively meat (unsurprisingly) misses the mark on several other important diet factors.

First, the Carnivore diet is radically different from typical ketogenic diets because it calls for the complete elimination of carbohydrates–not just a reduction. With this complete elimination, as with other keto diets, there are increased risks of nutrient deficiencies. It’s extremely difficult to get enough of the necessary vitamins and nutrients from a strictly Carnivore diet. For even a chance of the Carnivore diet being remotely healthy, it can’t include just bacon and steak, it must also include a significant amount of nutrient-dense animal organs. Even then, experts worry about deficiencies, particularly fiber. The lack of fiber in the Carnivore Diet can cause severe constipation, which, besides being uncomfortable, can have serious complications. In short, the more restrictive a diet is, the greater the risks that you will be missing something, and the Carnivore diet is very restrictive.

The Carnivore Diet is not just risky because it’s lacking important vitamins, nutrients, and fiber–it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing. Eating lots of meat can cause serious digestive issues, and eating lots of saturated fats, which are plentiful in the Carnivore diet, can elevate LDL cholesterol (the bad kind!) and increase risk of heart disease. The additional sodium that comes from a diet high in salty meats can cause high blood pressure and put extra pressure on your kidneys.

Despite the risks of the Carnivore Diet, anecdotal evidence for it is in no short supply. Still, the long-term effects of an all-meat diet are vastly understudied, and the risks are high. For these reasons, medical professionals do not recommend trying the Carnivore diet, especially by anyone having a pre-existing condition like high blood-pressure or elevated cholesterol. Whether or not a diet is healthy for someone comes down to far more than just whether the body is burning fats or carbs. For some people, there may be nothing wrong with eating a high fat, low carb diet. But the vast majority of people will likely experience some problem if they stick to a meat only diet.


Elliot Durkee is a third-year honours undergraduate student studying Cognitive Science at McGill University.

Taking a Bite Out of the Carnivore Diet (2024)


Will one cheat day ruin a carnivore diet? ›

Cheat days on the carnivore diet can lead to various disruptions, such as increased cravings and changes in energy levels. The focus is to minimize guilt, manage fatigue, and maintain progress without falling off the wagon.

How long does it take to see benefits from a carnivore? ›

Long-term adaptations and benefits can take months or even years to fully materialize. You may continue to see gradual weight loss and muscle gain, and the benefits to your focus and energy levels may increase as your body becomes more efficient at using fat for fuel.

How to reintroduce foods after a carnivore diet? ›

Here's how reintroduction works: DAY 1: Reintroduce one food, eating at least two servings of it at different times of the day. For example, you might reintroduce Greek yogurt by having it at breakfast and lunch. DAYS 2 & 3: Stop eating the new food.

What happens if you eat carbs on a carnivore diet? ›

Do the carnivore diet and carbohydrates mix well? Digestion problems can arise if you eat carbohydrates on the carnivore diet. This can result from a spike in blood sugar, which can cause heartburn, bloating, or nausea, affecting how food is digested.

Can you go on and off the carnivore diet? ›

You can choose to stay carnivore until you meet your weight goal and then transition to a whole-food based, balanced food plan. Some people use carnivore as a strict way to jump start a new healthy eating plan. For example, you can try 10 days of carnivore before moving to keto or paleo (or a combination.)

How can I speed up my weight loss on carnivore? ›

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

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.

What are the negative symptoms of the carnivore diet? ›

Nausea and flu, are some of the temporary side effects you'll likely experience, but they generally go away after 2-4 weeks. Other symptoms to expect during the adaption phase include brain fog, irritability, cravings, decreased focus, and headaches.

What are the cons of the carnivore diet? ›

High in fat, cholesterol, and sodium

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.

Does the carnivore diet get rid of inflammation? ›

Carnivore diet for inflammation

Ovadia, much like the Petersons, says the diet is great for reducing inflammation. “It's clearly anti-inflammatory,” he says. “We now have, in large experience, many, many people who have had inflammatory conditions, autoimmune conditions that healed themselves with a carnivore diet…

How do you keep your bowels moving on a carnivore diet? ›

The reduction in fiber could be one reason why some people develop constipation when following the carnivore diet. People can help treat constipation by exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and setting aside a time and place to pass a stool each day.

What happens when you stop eating meat then start again? ›

If you suddenly switch back to eating meat, you might not have sufficient digestive enzymes to handle meat, which can cause some physical discomfort. Going slowly and starting with small portions of meat will make the process easier.

What are the best carbs for a carnivore diet? ›

Animal-based eating is a more flexible variation of the Carnivore diet. When you eat an animal-based diet, you consume meat and organ meats (like on Carnivore)—but you're also allowed a small amount of “nontoxic” carbohydrates like fruit, some tubers, and honey.

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.

What happens if you don't eat fat on carnivore diet? ›

Meeting your fat carnivore diet macro goals will protect you from protein poisoning. If you eat too much protein and not enough fat you will get protein poisoning. This condition occurs when your liver can no longer upregulate urea synthesis needed to metabolize protein.

Will one day of cheating ruin my diet? ›

While your metabolism may go up in the immediate aftermath of a splurge, it doesn't stay that way for long enough to make a significant difference. “Cheat day calories can add up fast and bring your weight loss progress to a screeching halt — or even reverse it,” Taylor warns.

How long does it take to get back into ketosis after a cheat day? ›

If you've cheated on keto, you're likely out of ketosis. Once out, you'll need to strictly follow the keto diet to reenter ketosis. This process takes several days to 1 week, depending on your carb intake, metabolism, and activity levels ( 6 , 7 , 8 ).

How many times a day can I eat on the carnivore diet? ›

Here's the short version: because a carnivore diet is so satiating, most people find that eating two times a day, or even once per day (known as OMAD) works better than three meals per day. This also makes time restricted eating much easier by allowing for a more compressed eating window with less meals.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Last Updated:

Views: 5712

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Birthday: 1992-06-28

Address: Apt. 413 8275 Mueller Overpass, South Magnolia, IA 99527-6023

Phone: +6824704719725

Job: District Real-Estate Facilitator

Hobby: Letterboxing, Vacation, Poi, Homebrewing, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Mrs. Angelic Larkin, I am a cute, charming, funny, determined, inexpensive, joyous, cheerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.