Why Dr. Carnivore Changed His Mind About Meat-Only Diets (2024)

Home Health Why Dr. Carnivore Changed His Mind About Meat-Only Diets

Why Dr. Carnivore Changed His Mind About Meat-Only Diets (1)

The carnivore diet once piqued the interest of many in the biohacking community. Now, the biggest advocate is quitting for good.

  • ByRebekah Harding
  • December 27, 2023


unctional medicine doctor Paul Saladino, M.D.—aka Dr. Carnivore—made waves in the biohacking community with his strict diet beliefs. But in 2023, Saladino’s health took a turn, prompting him to turn away from the diet that shaped his career.

Saladino has been committed to a meat-only diet since 2018—selling books and diet programs to those interested in the alleged health benefits of the extreme, no-carb regimen. 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.

According to Sydney Greene, M.S., RDN, these health outcomes aren’t surprising—especially considering he followed the restrictive diet for half a decade.

“Dr. Saladino was possibly deficient in nutrients that are responsible for producing important hormones like testosterone and melatonin,” Greene says. “Second, low glucose levels (a result of irregular carbohydrate intake) can cause heart palpitations.”

When you eat a food with carbs in it, your body breaks it down into glucose, or blood sugar. It’s your body’s main source of energy and plays an important role in maintaining normal physiological functions and overall health (1).

About the Expert:

Sydney Greene, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. She specializes in nutrition for addiction recovery, eating disorders, and digestive struggles. She’s also passionate about debunking dangerous fad diets.

What Is a Carnivore Diet, Exactly?

A carnivore diet often consists of meat, fish and animal-based foods, such as eggs and certain dairy items. But, there’s a few variations of the carnivore diet, and Saladino followed one of the most intense of the bunch. For years, he exclusively ate organs and grass-fed ground beef. Saladino claimed that his meat-only diet cured him of his autoimmune issues, like asthma and severe eczema. He went as far as to say that vegetables and tap water are loaded with toxins and that carbs, in general, aren’t good for your health.

However, since he published his book The Carnivore Code in 2019, Saladino has wildly changed his views on carbs. Now, the former meat connoisseur incorporates 300 grams of carbs into his diet daily, largely by way of fruits.

“It’s humbling. You put your thoughts into cement. And then you change your thoughts,” Saladino tells DeLauer. “I’ve learned that including carbohydrates in my diet improved my health.”

Though, he reportedly still avoids vegetables.

Still, many biohackers—as seen in the 62,000 members in the r/carnivore subreddit—remain loyal to this carbless diet, arguing that it can balance hormones, increase lifespan, and even offset the development of gray hair. But, is there any science to back up any of these supposed claims?

“The major benefits that have been suggested [by dieters] include weight loss, improved blood sugar markers, and resolution of skin and digestive issues. But, there is little to no research to back up any of these suggested benefits,” Greene says.

She adds there’s minimal evidence that suggests a carnivore diet can improve your hormone health or increase your longevity. Not only does the carnivore diet lack science-backed benefits, butGreene says it could also pose a huge risk to your overall health if you choose to follow it.

“Those following the carnivore diet are more at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to the lack of variety in the diet,” Greene says. “Dieters are also at risk of having gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and acid reflux. The carnivore diet contains no fiber which [can damage] the gut microbiome by starving good bacteria in the gut.”

Saladino isn’t the only big-name biohacker that’s jumping ship from the carnivore diet. Dave Asprey, who is widely known as the Father of Biohacking and author of Smarter Not Harder, tried a meat-only meal plan for three months and says the lack of carbs and fiber wrecked his gut health and reduced his sleep quality.

Asprey says he initially felt fine on the diet. But then, after a couple of weeks, he noticed his sleep wasn’t as restorative as usual.

“I was exhausted every morning. According to my sleep monitor EEG equipment, I was waking up 10 to 12 times per night without knowing it,” Asprey says. (For context, EEG equipment measures electrical activity in the brain when you’re awake and asleep.) He also experienced gastrointestinal discomfort when following the diet.

Since developing negative health outcomes from the carnivore diet, both Asprey and Saladino both advocate for low-carb, but less restrictive alternatives. However, Saladino won’t be committing to a balanced omnivore diet anytime soon. He now incorporates fruit, honey, and raw dairy into what he calls an “animal-based diet.” But even that level of restriction isn’t recommended by most health experts.

“I would never recommend this diet to anyone. The fact that a medical doctor was singing the praises of this diet is incredibly unethical,” Greene says. “Part of living a healthy life depends on having a varied diet. Including all food groups is important for mental and physical health.”

1. Lappin, et al (2022). Physiology, Glucose.

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Why Dr. Carnivore Changed His Mind About Meat-Only Diets (2024)


Why did Dr. 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.

Why are doctors against the carnivore diet? ›

Criticisms and Risks of the Carnivore Diet

Heart health: Consuming large amounts of saturated fat from animal products can increase the risk of heart disease. Long-term sustainability: The restrictive nature of the diet may make it difficult to maintain in the long run.

What is the downfall of carnivore diet? ›

However, the diet is extremely restrictive and likely unhealthy in the long term. Plus, no research backs its purported benefits. The carnivore diet eliminates all foods except meat and animal products. Thus, it's lacking in numerous nutrients like fiber, loaded with salt and fat, and difficult to maintain.

What are the side effects of only eating meat? ›

Expect to experience nausea and other side effects that come with limiting your diet to only animal products. You may experience constipation as well, due to the decreased fiber intake since fruits, vegetables and whole grains are restricted.

Why did Joe Rogan quit the carnivore diet? ›

Rogan shared with Huberman, “The problem that I had with pure carnivore was that I workout very hard.” The main issue with this diet that the podcaster faces is his struggle and low-energy with his workouts. He continued, “And when I workout very hard with pure carnivore. I was struggling. I din't like it.

What happens if you eat carbs on carnivore? ›

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.

What are 3 disadvantages of the carnivore diet? ›

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.

Why is the carnivore diet unhealthy? ›

Animal products also contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. In addition to the potentially adverse health effects of the diet, Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, noted that industrial production of animal-based foods is harmful to the planet.

Are avocados allowed on a carnivore diet? ›

While strict carnivores eat ZERO fruits and vegetables, non-sweet fruits like avocados (a fat we love!) and cucumbers are usually considered permissible on more relaxed carnivore plans.

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.

Is carnivore diet bad for kidneys? ›

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.

Why can't you eat vegetables 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.

Why did I quit the carnivore diet? ›

Understanding Health and Balance

Health practitioners and individuals alike have contributed to the dialogue about the carnivore diet's sustainability and nutritional adequacy. A diet devoid of plant-based foods could potentially lead to deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

What is Joe Rogan's carnivore diet? ›

Joe Rogan's daily intake, while on the Carnivore Diet, primarily consisted of meat. He often mentioned consuming elk, bison, and other game meats, along with more traditional meats like beef. Organ meats, particularly liver, were also a part of his diet.

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 does Paul Saladino eat now? ›

Paul Saladino's diet is based on what he considers the most optimal foods for humans. At first, Paul Saladino only focused on animal-based foods, but in 2020, he experimented with incorporating honey and fruits like pineapple and mango into the Carnivore diet.

How much did Joe Rogan lose on carnivore diet? ›

Yes, the Carnivore diet can help you lose weight, as Joe Rogan could lose 12 pounds in only 30 days on a Carnivore diet and dropped from 205 to 193 pounds. “Having been fat-shamed several times, I'm proud to say that I lost all my fat around my face, belly, and waist area,” he said.

Where did Paul Saladino get his medical degree? ›

Saladino completed residency at the University of Washington and attended medical school at the University of Arizona where he focused on integrative medicine and nutritional biochemistry.

Why did Mikhaila Peterson go on the carnivore diet? ›

She went through several different diets before deciding red-meat—a beef only diet—worked for her. From an early age, Peterson suffered from health problems. At several points in her life, she attempted to change her diet to ameliorate her health. On her blog, Mikhaila detailed her many medical issues.

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