Skip to main content

The carnivore diet: Is it right for you?

Is more animal-based protein right for you?

Raw steak on cutting board
Paras Kapoor / Unsplash

Taking the ketogenic diet to a new level is the newest diet trend, the carnivore diet. The carnivore diet, or all-meat diet, involves eating only animal products, or in some cases, only red meat. On this diet, a person completely avoids all plant products, including vegetables, fruits, grains, and any item that contains carbohydrates.

Different from the popular keto diet, which focuses on keeping carbohydrates under 20 to 50 carbs a day, the carnivore diet is a zero-carb diet. Proponents of the carnivore diet have touted dozens of benefits of this diet, from weight loss to improved autoimmune conditions. But is this all-animal protein diet right for you?

Steak
mali maeder / Pexels

Foods consumed on carnivore diet meal plan

The carnivore diet is a general term for this diet approach, however, there are a few different ways people can try this diet. Most people on the carnivore diet allow only animal-based proteins, including red meat, poultry, eggs, full-fat dairy, and any other food that comes from animal products. This “relaxed” form of the diet also allows spices, and in some cases, coffee.

Some people may take a stricter approach to the carnivore diet, consuming only water, salt, and red meat. Both forms of the carnivore diet are severely restrictive, requiring a person to be very careful about the foods they consume. Foods that typically make up a large portion of a healthy diet, such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits, must be completely avoided. In turn, this can make a carnivore diet meal plan difficult to stick to in the long term.

Cutting a brisket
Gil Goldman / Pexels

Benefits of a carnivore diet

While there is limited scientific research that investigates the power of the carnivore diet, many people have shared anecdotal evidence of their results on the carnivore diet. The carnivore diet benefits are similar to the benefits of the ketogenic diet, forcing the body into a fat-burning state of ketosis. However, on a carnivore diet, a person consumes more protein than a standard ketogenic diet ratio would allow.

Weight loss and blood sugar management

For many, weight loss is a driving force to begin the carnivore diet. With the power to effectively regulate blood sugars and reduce insulin levels, it’s clear that the carnivore diet holds the potential to be used as an effective tool for weight management. For people with type 2 diabetes, the carnivore diet may help reduce A1c levels, supporting the management of this chronic disease.

In addition to helping improve and stabilize blood sugars, the carnivore diet also eliminates foods notorious for causing weight gain, such as refined and processed carbohydrates and foods high in sugar.

Autoimmune disease support

While weight loss is a benefit, many people are drawn to try the carnivore diet for it’s other health claims. Many people who suffer from chronic autoimmune conditions have found this diet to be healing. For those struggling with inflammatory conditions, such as psoriasis, studies suggest that the carnivore diet may offer symptomatic relief. Others with autoimmune diseases have found that the carnivore diet improved skin health and energy levels and decreased chronic joint pain.

GI conditions

The carnivore diet also focuses on the idea that some plant foods may be inflammatory to people with specific gastrointestinal conditions. While fiber can be beneficial, the fiber found in plant foods may cause gas and bloating for those with conditions like IBS or IBD. Furthermore, compounds found in plants known as lectins may also lead to stomach upset and inflammation within the body.

Other carnivore diet benefits

In addition to weight loss, autoimmune disease support, and support for GI conditions, others who have tried the carnivore diet also noted improved mental clarity, better exercise performance, and even more restful sleep. However, these claims have not been backed by scientific research at this time.

Grilled chicken breast
Moving Moment / Shutterstock

Side effects and risks of the carnivore diet

As with any diet, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before diving in. For those suffering from severe autoimmune disease, trying the carnivore diet may provide worthwhile relief. With limited long-term research to support the carnivore diet, it’s difficult to say whether this diet is sustainable long term. The carnivore diet can also put people at an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies, which may require monitoring by a healthcare professional or supplements to prevent.

One major drawback of the carnivore diet is the commitment it takes to follow. Given its very restrictive nature, dining out and attending social events can be extremely difficult, yet not impossible, when following a carnivore diet meal plan. Individuals looking for a more sustainable, long-term diet plan may find the keto diet easier to follow, which allows low-carb plants, seeds, and nuts to be consumed.

It’s also important to note that the carnivore diet may not be suitable for people with specific medical conditions. The carnivore diet contains a high amount of animal protein, which isn’t recommended for those with kidney conditions, such as chronic kidney disease.

Broken egg with an egg beater on a black surface
stevepb / Pixabay

Is the carnivore diet right for you?

Trying this popular all-meat diet can certainly offer benefits, but should be attempted with caution. If you’re thinking of trying a carnivore diet meal plan, consult with your doctor first to ensure its safety. In the coming months and years, more research may help provide a clearer picture of the safety, benefits, and long-term implications of the carnivore diet. However, when done under medical guidance, the carnivore diet may be a useful tool to help people manage specific health conditions.

Emily Caldwell
Emily is a freelance writer with a special focus on health, fitness, lifestyle, food, and nutrition topics. She holds a B.S…
Level up leg day with calf raises: Everything you need to know
Sculpt stronger calves and boost athletic performance
man jogging in colorful shoes

Having strong, athletic legs that'll turn heads at the beach or on the field is a goal for many, but let's face it, leg day isn't always the most exciting part of a workout routine. The good news is that you don't have to spend hours in the squat rack to build impressive calves. Calf raises are a simple, low-impact exercise that can sculpt your lower legs and boost your athletic performance.
As Nate Osborne, certified fitness expert and CEO of Greatisfit Global Fitness, puts it, "Calf raises are like the cherry on top of leg day. They give your calves that pop and help you strut with confidence."

If you're ready to level up your leg game and add this simple but effective exercise to your routine, keep reading. In this guide, we'll break down everything you need to know about calf raises, from which muscles they target and the benefits they offer to how to perform them correctly with variations like standing, dumbbell, and seated calf raises. Your calves will thank you.
What is a calf raise?

Read more
Need an energy boost? Try these 12 foods high in vitamin B12
Try incorporating these foods to meet your daily vitamin B12 needs
Seafood that is high in vitamin B12

Fatigue, depression, and anemia are often blamed on an inadequate intake of iron, but a vitamin B12 deficiency may be to blame. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is required for energy production in cells, brain function, and the production of DNA and proteins. Because a long-term deficiency can lead to permanent damage to the central nervous system, making sure you eat plenty of foods high in vitamin B12 regularly is important.
Vitamin B12 is produced by gut bacteria as a metabolic byproduct of fermenting certain foods; however, this production is insufficient to meet your needs, so B12 must also be consumed in the diet. Because vitamin B12 can only be found naturally in animal products, vegans and vegetarians are particularly prone to deficiencies. That said, some foods are usually fortified with vitamin B12, such as breakfast cereals, milk, yogurt, nutritional yeast, and milk alternatives like soy milk.
The daily value for vitamin B12 is 2.4 μg per day, and excess vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, which means you can build up a reserve to tap into on days when you don’t meet your needs. To ensure you’re firing on all cylinders and have the energy you need, be sure to stock up and make room on your plate for some of the following foods with B12 vitamin.

Clams

Read more
How to do an upright row the right way: Your complete guide
Here's how to perform an upright row with proper form to lower your risk of injury
Adobe image man wearing black shorts doing upright row exercise with dumbbell in gym on wooden floor white background

When you want to bulk up your shoulders and upper back, the upright row is an effective exercise. It’s important you understand how to properly and safely perform an upright row. Without proper form, you won’t be able to achieve optimal results, and you risk injury to your shoulders. Most athletes and professional trainers consider this an advanced exercise and caution that it isn’t suitable for everyone.

You can incorporate upright rows into your upper body or shoulder training days; all you need is a barbell, kettlebell, or a pair of dumbbells. Alternatively, you can perform other variations of the upright row using a cable machine or resistance bands. 
What muscles does the upright row target?

Read more