The Carnivore Diet: Pros, Cons, and Meal Plans (2024)

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Carnivore Diet?

As its name suggests, the carnivore diet is an eating plan that focuses almost exclusively on meat and other animal products. Users claim it can boost weight loss, reduce inflammation, and increase testosterone levels, but the diet comes with significant drawbacks.

The 7-Day Diet Plan

On a carnivore diet, there are no parameters around when and how much you should eat. Instead, the diet revolves around approved animal foods. Here’s what a 7-day meal plan might look like:

Day 1: Scrambled eggs and bacon; chicken breasts with melted cheddar cheese; organ meat pie

Day 2: Smoked salmon and a sausage patty; turkey burger topped with fried egg; pork chops cooked in butter

Day 3: Ham steak and bone broth tea; crab and hard-boiled eggs; chicken thighs with mozzarella cheese

Day 4: Omelet with Parmesan; scallops sautéed in butter; grilled steak and chicken kabobs

Day 5: Turkey sausage patties; bacon and shrimp; lamb chops with cream sauce

Day 6: Ground beef and over-hard eggs; pork tenderloin; salmon filet with butter sauce

Day 7: Cheddar scrambled eggs; shredded chicken with bacon bits; beef roast

What You Can Eat

The carnivore diet is quite straightforward, consisting of meats and seafood, eggs, and small amounts of other animal products like dairy foods and bone broth. Users are encouraged to stick exclusively to these options.

What You Cannot Eat

If you choose to go full carnivore, several food groups won’t appear on your plate at all, including grains, starches, fruits, vegetables, and oils. You also won’t find sweetened beverages or alcohol on a carnivore diet.

What to Eat

  • Beef, ground beef, steak, beef liver

  • Venison, bison, and other game meats

  • Lamb

  • Chicken and turkey

  • Pork, bacon, ham, and sausage

  • Eggs

  • Seafood, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, crab, oysters, and scallops

  • Small amounts of dairy, such as milk, cheese, and cream

  • Bone broth

What Not to Eat

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Grains

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Plant-based oils

  • Plant-based meats

  • Alcohol and sweetened beverages

How to Prepare for the Carnivore Diet & Tips

Whereas some diets outline exactly how much to eat and when, a carnivore diet does not dictate the timing or amounts of food. It does, however, require you to stick to a very narrow range of foods.

To prepare for this diet, you’ll want to give some thought to your tolerance for eating an extremely limited menu. Because this way of eating can also be challenging in social settings, such as while restaurant dining or at family gatherings, it's best to assess how consistently you’ll be able to follow it. And since high-quality animal products can be expensive, consider how a carnivore diet will work with your budget.

Finally, contemplate how a carnivore diet could affect your health. Though many people who eat only animal foods claim they've experienced benefits like weight loss and steadier blood sugar, this way of eating could create health problems discussed below.

Pros of Carnivore Diet

In general, a carnivore diet comes with numerous drawbacks, many of which may even be dangerous for health. That said, there are a few possible positives to eating in this meat-heavy manner.

Provides Sufficient Protein

Protein is a necessary macronutrient that builds muscle, heals wounds, and provides the backbone for the body’s many enzymes and hormones. Getting enough of it is critically important for health. On a carnivore diet, you’re guaranteed to consume plenty of protein, which may serve as insurance against health issues like poor muscle tone, a weakened immune system, and a higher risk of bone fractures. However, this comes at a cost of under-consuming the other two macronutrients: carbohydrates and fats.

May Promote Weight Loss

The carnivore diet falls under the umbrella of low-carb, high-protein eating plans. Research shows that curbing your carbs and amping up on protein can reduce body weight and decrease fat mass—which likely has to do with protein’s satiation factor, among other contributors. Though research on the carnivore diet’s weight loss effects is minimal, a 2021 study on people following the diet found that those with diabetes reported greater weight loss than the overall group studied.

Suitable for People with Severe Food Allergies

Allergies to meat are so rare that there are no good estimates of their prevalence—so people with food allergies may find a carnivore diet allows them to eat without worry of adverse reactions. But even for those with severe food allergies, cutting out all food groups except animal products is probably neither necessary nor healthy.

Cons of Carnivore Diet

There’s a reason you won’t find the carnivore diet topping expert-approved lists of the best diets to follow. This eating plan has some serious red flags.

Difficult to Follow

Eating only meat and other animal products may sound simple on paper, but any diet that reduces your intake down to a single food group can prove quite difficult to follow. You may find your options on this diet are repetitive and boring, and it’s likely you’ll crave familiar favorites the diet doesn’t allow for. Meanwhile, depending on your choices of meats, seafood, eggs, and dairy, a carnivore diet could also quickly become expensive. Pasture-raised meats and sustainably sourced seafood are some of the highest-dollar foods around.

Low in Fiber and Other Nutrients

While proponents of the carnivore diet say it’s the way humans were meant to eat, it’s missing some key nutrients known to promote human health. One notable shortfall: fiber. Not only could a lack of fiber leave you extremely constipated, but it might also set you up for health problems in the long term. A higher-fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and colon cancer, as well as better blood sugar management.

Nutrients like vitamin C and plant-based polyphenols are also absent from a carnivore diet. A vitamin C deficiency puts you at risk of scurvy, and going without antioxidants could increase inflammation, diminishing overall health in the long term.

High in Saturated Fat and Sodium

What do beef, lamb, and pork have in common? These common meats are all high in saturated fat. While research is still teasing apart the connection between saturated fat and heart disease, public health organizations continue to recommend keeping your intake low. The American Heart Association advises eating no more than 6% of your daily calories from saturated fat (about 120 calories on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet). A carnivore diet will likely far exceed this recommendation.

Sodium is another concerning nutrient in many animal foods like cured meats (think bacon, sausage, and deli meats). Over-consuming sodium from these types of animal products could increase your risk of high blood pressure.

Socially Restrictive

Food brings people together—but if you’ve limited your eating to a small pool of food, you may find it challenging to socialize with others over a meal. Following a carnivore diet will probably limit your options for dining out and cause you to have to make tough decisions about when to deviate from your diet in the name of social nicety.

Could Harm Liver and Kidneys

Protein is, of course, a necessary nutrient for optimal health. However, the liver and kidneys have a limit on how much of it they can process. By eating only meat, you could take in so much protein as to tax these organs, potentially even causing damage.

Is the Carnivore Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

A carnivore diet could lead to some serious gaps (and excesses) in your nutrition. Eating exclusively animal products is likely to take you over recommended limits for sodium and saturated fat, as well as create deficiencies in nutrients from plant foods, such as fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Cutting out carbohydrates might also leave you feeling sluggish and mentally foggy since carbs are the preferred energy source for both moderate-intensity exercise and brain function.

And though a steady stream of meats, seafood, eggs, and occasional dairy is a guarantee of consuming enough protein, it might actually provide too much of this macro.

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.

A Word From Verywell

Completely cutting out major food groups is rarely necessary for weight loss or good health—and, like an expert butcher, a carnivore diet cuts entire swaths of foods. If you’re a fan of meat or are looking for a lower-carb eating plan, there are plenty of other diets to choose from that offer a more moderate approach. You’ll have more flexibility and may get more enjoyment from your diet by opting for something less restrictive.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

The Carnivore Diet: Pros, Cons, and Meal Plans (2024)


What is the downside of a 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 ( 13 ).

What is the carnivore diet plan? ›

On the carnivore diet you cut carbohydrates and eat nothing but meat and other animal products, like beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs. The idea is that by cutting all carbs, your body will burn fat for energy and you'll lose weight.

How many meals a day on a 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.

Do you really lose weight on the carnivore diet? ›

Since this dietary pattern is low in carb-rich foods and so high in protein, which is the most filling macronutrient, it's likely that the Carnivore Diet will promote weight loss, at least in the short term.

Who should not eat carnivore? ›

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.

Is carnivore diet cancerous? ›


red meat INCREASES the risk of colorectal cancer. processed meat INCREASES the risk of colorectal cancer. Cantonese-style salted fish INCREASES the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer.

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