What’s Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet, also called zero-carb diet, is based on the consumption of only all-animal foods such as poultry, red meat, bacon, organ meat, fish, sausage, eggs, milk, and dairy. It promotes weight loss, stabilizes blood sugar, and may cure autoimmune diseases. Shawn Baker, a former orthopedic surgeon popularized this diet in the publication, The Carnivore Diet.
The carnivore diet provides protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 in high quantities. It is an extremely low carbohydrate diet, or a zero carbohydrate diet, depending on your commitment to it. If you don’t eat dairy and other animal foods that contain carbohydrates, then you may just achieve the zero-carb effect.
Differences among carnivore diet, keto diet, and paleo diet
The low-carb approach of the carnivore diet is similar to the ketogenic diet, however, the former totally bars any food that is not derived from animals. Inasmuch as the keto diet emphasizes restricted carb intake, it isn’t as strict as the carnivore diet, in terms of carb reduction.
The paleo diet on the other hand, requires eating certain animal proteins; that’s not all to it, as you can eat some other foods.
Does the carnivore diet promote weight loss?
When you consume carbohydrates, they get turned into glucose, which is a source of energy. Leftover carbs which aren’t used up right away are stored as glycogen which will be used later to provide energy to the brain and body.
When you are on a zero-carb diet, the body taps into the glycogen reserves, and when it uses it up, the body loses water alongside, because water is stored with glycogen. This process leads to rapid weight loss. However, when you resume carbs-consumption, the water and glycogen get stored again, then the weight returns. So yes, the carnivore diet helps with weight loss; the downside is that it is not a sustainable weight loss.
An interesting angle to weight loss on the carnivore diet is that it may come through boredom. Funny, right? Well, this is because the diet permits only a few varieties of food, so there is a tendency to eat little or nothing sometimes, if one is committed to it. This leads to weight loss.
How to adapt to the carnivore diet
There is nothing as frustrating as being unaware of the side effects of a diet before starting it. If you intend to start the carnivore diet, congratulations. You are just a step away from being prepared. You need the mental preparedness so that as the challenges come, you can tackle them, head on. It just makes the process easier. So mental and physical preparedness is key.
Eat more meat
When you don’t get enough meat, you’ll be hungry. Eat as much meat as you can while on the carnivore diet; after all, it’s the major meal permitted.
When you divide your body weight by two, your answer should be the least amount of water you drink, when measured in ounces. You need to drink a lot of water, especially while trying to adapt to the diet.
Just as you lose a lot of water on the carnivore diet, the same way you lose electrolytes — sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride. Supplemental electrolytes can be extremely helpful. Adding pink Himalayan salt to your meat can be quite helpful to get some extra sodium and chloride.
In addition to drinking a lot of water, some meaty bone broth will add more potassium to your system. This is quite helpful.
Naturally, sweating is a detox mechanism. It helps you eliminate toxins. It is essential that you exercise often when you’re on the carnivore diet. You need the sweat.
Gastrointestinal issues are not strange with the carnivore diet, especially when the body system is not used to a low-fat diet. Even though you are ready to get into the diet fully, your gallbladder might not be ready to handle the increased fat intake. Eating leaner cuts of meat at the initial stage is usually helpful, for ease.
Insomnia is common during the early days of being on the carnivore diet. These tips may help you combat insomnia.
- Keep gadgets away, at least two hours before bedtime.
- Try not to eat some hours before sleep.
- Sleep before 11 p.m. to avoid a cortisol strike.
- Ensure your room is pitch-black before you sleep.
How do you deal with eating only meat in public? Say you’re experimenting.
To avoid all the funny reactions you may get from saying you’re on a “meat-eating diet”, you may simply say you’re experimenting for food allergy. Many people don’t have a problem with experimenting, so it makes your food choice less awkward.
Except you’re at a vegan restaurant, there is meat on every menu. Simply ask for steak or a burger patty.
What to eat on the carnivore diet
For the purpose of body differences, tolerance levels, and intensity levels, there are three categories for feeding on the carnivore diet.
Carnivore Diet: Level 1
What to eat:
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Supplements (while adapting to the diet): pink Himalayan salt, electrolytes
Carnivore Diet: Level 2
Eat meat and drink water only. Yes, you read right.
Carnivore Diet: Level 3
This entails grass-fed beef and water only. It is a total carb elimination diet. It is neither convenient nor cheap, however, it is effective in achieving optimal weight loss.
It is important that you don’t rush into any of these levels. Just take them a step at a time, starting from level 1. After you go through all levels, you will find the one you’re most comfortable with; when you do, stick with it.
Disadvantages of carnivore diet
Some nutritionists believe that the disadvantages of the carnivore diet are more than its benefits because eating only meat results in inadequacy of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your diet, among other health challenges.
The lack of plants and fiber in the carnivore diet may lead to the risk of cardiovascular disease from high amounts of saturated fats.
Because you are eating fewer carbs, your insulin levels drop, and this sends a signal to the kidneys to release sodium from the body. In the process of losing sodium, you may lose about 10lbs of water in a couple of days. After this, glycogen is converted to glucose, then there is a switch to mainly fatty acids.
Transitioning from sugar to fat for energy
As partly explained above, when on the carnivore diet, your body switches from sugar to fat for energy. This does not happen without reactions. How soon you adapt to this diet depends on your metabolic flexibility (your body’s ability to adapt to different fuel sources). People who consumed high carbohydrate foods before getting on the carnivore diet find this process almost unbearable. You might want to take a while to reduce your carbohydrate intake before you get on the carnivore diet, to aid survival.
Hormone response and rebalancing
While on the carnivore diet, you should expect side effects of withdrawing from some foods and sugar.
There will be some forms of alteration in communication between the brain and gut at your initial stage on the carnivore diet.
What about the stress on the kidneys in processing the protein and sodium? That too is an issue. Your kidneys may get overworked while on this diet.
How would you feel when you dine in public and you only have meat in your plate? The carnivore diet has its negative effects on social life.
Other side effects of carnivore diet
The body naturally responds to carbohydrate restriction in some ways such as brain fog, headache, dizziness, irritability, bad breath/smells, bad taste in the mouth, dry mouth, decreased performance, night sweats, nocturia, sugar cravings, muscle soreness, nausea, diarrhea, poor focus, chills, sore throat, digestive issues, rapid heart rate, and insomnia.
Also, because nutrients like calcium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K are missing because grains, fruits, and vegetables are not consumed, complications like poor blood clotting and constipation may be experienced.
Carnivore Diet FAQs
Can I switch from keto to carnivore diet?
A major difference in these diets is the absence of fiber in the carnivore diet. There are no plant-based foods in the carnivore diet, hence no fiber. This may cause a change in bowel movement. We can say that fiber makes the colon “lazy”, as it does a lot to aid digestion: from water absorption to creating bulk, and a number of other functions. In the carnivore diet, the colon does more work, as fiber isn’t there to help. This change will be evident in your stool.
So yes, you can switch from keto to carnivore, however, consider whatever reactions you get from your bowel natural.
Is it okay to eat sausages and bacon on the carnivore diet?
Bacon is great, however, some sausages contain added ingredients like wheat. You might need to be careful in your sausage selection.
Can I poop without fiber?
The truth about this is that you don’t need fiber to poop. On the carnivore diet, you will have fewer bowel movements. So you will poop, however, maybe not as often as you did before the diet.
Is the carnivore diet short-term or long-term?
It serves for both, really. It depends on why you’re doing it. For general health benefits, long-term is great, however, if you’re only concerned about weight loss, short-term is fine.
Can I take prescription medications on the carnivore diet?
This depends more on what your diet was before getting on the carnivore diet. A record of large metabolic diets could cause metabolic changes when you take certain medications. It’s best to seek the advice of your doctor. Let them know of your previous diet and the carnivore diet. The requirement of the medication may also be considered.
Benefits of meat
Now that you’ll be on a meat diet, it is important you know the benefits of eating meat.
Meat enhances muscle growth
Meat contains protein which is necessary for improving muscle growth. It is also required for building and repairing body tissues. Zinc in meat also grows and repairs muscles.
Meat Boosts Immunity
Zinc content in meat is necessary for boosting immunity. Zinc creates antibodies that fight free radicals which causes chronic diseases. Zinc also protects the body from infections.
Meat regulates digestion
Meat has some essential amino acids that enhance digestion. These amino acids are histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, leucine, lycine, tryptophan, valine, and isoleucine.
Meat improves blood circulation
Various kinds of meat contain iron content at different levels. Iron improves blood circulation and the movement of oxygen to cells.
Meat improves the eyes, hair, and skin
Side effects of eating meat
Here are the possible risks of excessive meat consumption.
There is an increased risk of bowel cancer from frequent consumption of red and processed meat. This is as a result of the type of iron and other compounds they contain.
A high meat consumption rate is linked to inflammatory arthritis.
Now that you know…
You’ve seen what the carnivore diet entails. It is just natural to have challenges when you get on a diet. No diet is entirely easy; the body will always react to change. And of course, adaptation is gradual and different for everyone. Frequent hunger is also natural while on this diet. Think about it, meat was only an extra on your meals, however, it is now your main meal.
The first thirty days of getting on the carnivore diet are usually for adaptation, while the next thirty days get much easier; it’s the period spent healing from body reactions from the first thirty days. During the next thirty days after this, that is the third month, you are likely to begin to thrive on the diet. During these stages, you should also experiment the three levels, and choose one which suits you.