The Carnivore Diet: Can Eating Only Animal Products Help You Lose Weight?

High-protein diets are a popular health trend right now, especially on social media, where influencers regularly share tips on how to incorporate more macronutrients into meals. A popular version of a high-protein eating plan is the carnivore diet.

The carnivore diet is pretty much what the name implies, lots of meat products and no carbohydrates. Its popularity is no surprise given the recent demand for other protein-focused diets, such as keto.

But is the carnivore diet too extreme? Does eating only animal products and no carbohydrates pose health risks? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the diet of carnivores?

The carnivore diet, created by Dr. Shawn Baker, revolves around animal products, especially meat, eggs, and some dairy as the only component. Following the carnivore diet means no vegetables, grains, or any plant-based foods.

There is some anecdotal evidence, according to its advocates, that the carnivorous diet can lead to weight loss and improve metabolism and autoimmune diseases. Baker has also said it can reverse diabetes. However, research has yet to prove these benefits.

Baker’s website and 2019 book are the go-to resources for those trying the carnivore diet thanks to her recipes, meal plans and other tools for following the eating plan.

List of carnivore diet foods

On the diet, you will eat:

  • meat

  • fish

  • eggs

  • Some animal products (such as yogurt and bone broth)

  • Condiments such as salt and pepper

ccarnivorous diet risks

One of the main risks of following a carnivorous diet is that it is highly restrictive and can be difficult to maintain. And if you’re using it to lose weight, be aware that research shows you need to make lasting lifestyle changes to keep the weight off. This means that more balanced diets tend to be better for long-term health.

The carnivore diet can also lead to nutrient deficiencies because you’re eliminating all plant-based foods, which are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and many other vitamins and minerals. Also, not eating enough vegetables can lead to poor gut health and gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation.

You’ll also have a lot of saturated fat if you eat a carnivorous diet, which can raise bad cholesterol and, in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Benefits of the carnivore diet

The diet eliminates any source of sugar, as well as refined grains and ultra-processed foods. Diets high in sugar, refined grains and processed foods have been associated with a risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and possible adverse mental health impacts.

If you’re considering a carnivorous approach, look for animal-based foods with the highest nutrient density. For example, consider organic dairy products, grass-fed beef and pork, antibiotic-free poultry, wild fish and shellfish, and pasture-raised eggs.

Carnivore Diet Meal Plan

The following five-day meal plan is an example of a carnivore diet approach.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled with butter, topped with a cup of cheddar cheese.

  • Lunch: 4 slices turkey breast rolled in mozzarella cheese, plus 1 cup bone broth.

  • Dinner: meatloaf

Day 2

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of natural yogurt and 2 hard-boiled eggs.

  • Lunch: Turkey burger and 1 cup bone broth.

  • Dinner: Bison steak with a side of sautéed shrimp.

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.

  • Lunch: Soup (1 cup heavy cream and 1.5 cups bone broth with shredded chicken thigh meat in broth).

  • Dinner: 6-ounce wild salmon fillet, baked or grilled, with 1 cup bone broth.

Day 4

  • Breakfast: 2 fried eggs with 3 turkey sausage links.

  • Lunch: 1 pound of ground chicken mixed with cotija cheese.

  • Dinner: 3 large meatballs (1 pound ground beef, 2 eggs, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper) plus 1 cup bone broth.

Day 5

  • Breakfast: 3 slices of turkey bacon and 2 hard-boiled eggs.

  • Lunch: Wild salmon and crab burger (1 can wild salmon and 1 can crabmeat mixed with 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper) sautéed in butter and topped with sour cream.

  • Dinner: Chicken Crust Pizza (1 pound ground chicken, mixed with 1 egg and formed into a round crust, then baked at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove crust and top with mozzarella cheese and turkey sausage, then cook for another 15 minutes).

Carnivorous diet snacks:

The Bottom Line: Is the Carnivore Diet Healthy?

The carnivore diet has many anecdotal benefits, but the scientific data still needs to catch up with the proposed benefits. Because the diet is highly restrictive and eliminates entire food groups, it may not be a viable long-term dietary pattern for many people. Also, the safety of the diet has yet to be rigorously tested. Diet can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes due to diets high in meat and low in plants. Talking to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits is a good first step before embarking on any diet plan, especially one that is highly restrictive and eliminates entire food groups.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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