Everything About Carnivore Diet

carnivore diet

The carnivore diet is a relatively new diet that was created based on the controversial theory that ancestral humans ate primarily animal foods such as meat and fish.

The carnivore diet is an extreme form of the ketogenic diet in which many low-carbohydrate foods come from animal sources. However, in a carnivore diet meal plan, all plant-based foods are eliminated, even low-carbohydrate foods.

So, is the carnivore diet healthy? What are its potential benefits? What is the science behind it? To find out the answers to these questions and more, read on!

What is the Carnivore Diet?

The highly restrictive carnivore diet is loosely based on the purely animal diet of indigenous people. Interest in it has ebbed and flowed over the decades, but in 2019 the diet gained a huge new following with the publication of The Carnivore Diet by osteopathic physician Shawn Baker. In his book, he touts the benefits of eating only meat, fish and other animal products, such as dairy products and eggs, and not including foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, bread, pasta and grains.

Baker says the weight-loss selling point of the carnivore diet can be boiled down to one concept: everything you eat will be high in protein, which makes you feel full, and low in total carbohydrates, which makes you feel more fatigued.

“Frankly, this diet is neither desirable nor fun,” says San Diego-based registered dietitian Sandy Unan Brickhow.” Ultimately, I think if it works, it’s because there are very limited options for eating, which reduces the likelihood that people will overeat.”

Why does it Work?

In many ways, the carnivore diet shares many attributes with other popular low-carb diets, such as the keto diet and the paleo diet. The main difference is that the carnivore diet aims to eliminate carbohydrates and plants altogether, rather than just restricting them.

Excessive consumption of carbohydrates and processed seed oils is strongly associated with many metabolic diseases, ultimately leading to problems such as diabetes, anxiety, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, plants contain phytotoxins that act as defense mechanisms, and these phytotoxins can wreak havoc on some people, especially those with intestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut.

Eliminating all plant-based foods over a period of time has proven extremely beneficial for people with autoimmune diseases, and has even completely reversed some diseases.

Another key factor to consider is the timing of the foods eaten. While some people may want to count calories, the carnivore diet focuses on the simple idea of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you feel satisfied. Listening to your body’s natural response is the key to managing meal timing and portion size.

Simple food timing and food choices may be one of the reasons the Carnivore Diet works so well for so many people.

Potential Benefits of Carnivore Diet

carnivore diet benefits

1. May Promote Weight Loss

One of the biggest benefits of a carnivore diet is that it eliminates high-carbohydrate, heavily processed ingredients, many of which are also high in calories. Reducing the intake of these high-calorie foods, such as potato chips, candy, cookies and crackers, has the potential to help promote weight loss.

While specific research on carnivore diets is limited, some studies have found that low-carbohydrate diets may be effective for weight loss.

For example, a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that following a very low-carbohydrate diet promoted long-term weight loss in participants compared with a low-fat diet, suggesting that cutting carbohydrates may be a useful strategy for fighting obesity.

2. Low in Added Sugar

Many of the foods restricted in a carnivore’s diet plan contain high levels of added sugars, including sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, candy and desserts.

Added sugars have adverse effects on almost every aspect of health, and some studies have linked the consumption of added sugars to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, liver problems and even cancer.

Eliminating these foods from your diet has the potential to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases to support overall health.

3. High in Protein

Meat, fish and poultry are key components of a carnivore’s diet, all of which contain protein.

Protein plays a central role in tissue repair, muscle building, growth and immune function. Protein deficiency can have serious consequences and can lead to symptoms such as weakness, vascular problems, stunted growth and anemia.

High protein diets have also been shown to enhance weight loss and lower levels of gastrin, a hormone that stimulates hunger and helps suppress cravings and keep appetite at bay.

What are the Risks of the Carnivore Diet?

The core of a carnivore’s diet is extremely strict. When you omit entire food groups from your diet, there are bound to be consequences.

The carnivore diet is super low in fiber, which will lead to a lot of constipation. And the risk becomes much more serious than not being able to poop.

If you have a history of pre-existing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, any stroke or other cardiovascular disease, you should never try this diet. Even if you have digestive problems, this diet can be made worse by all the protein and fat, which take longer to digest

A carnivore diet is high in saturated fat, which can lead to elevated LDL, or bad cholesterol, putting you at risk for heart disease. What’s more, many different types of processed meats, such as bacon and some lunch meats, contain sodium and have been linked to certain types of cancer. And, a diet high in sodium can lead to kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Should You Try the Carnivore Diet?

There is no ideal, one-size-fits-all diet. When it comes to carnivore diets, this diet is probably unnecessarily restrictive for most people. There is also very little research behind its efficacy and potential long-term effects.

Those who need to restrict their protein intake, including those with chronic kidney disease, may need to be cautious about the carnivore diet. Those who struggle with eating disorders or are anxious about food restriction may also want to avoid this diet.

Diet customization is best guided by your physician or registered dietitian. Working with a trained nutrition or health care professional can also help you discover the right diet for you and your specific needs

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