Have you heard about the carnivore diet? If you're a fitness enthusiast looking to add muscle, this might be the diet for you. Many people claim that this is the easiest way to gain muscle, lose fat, and improve overall health. But can this diet be healthy in the long term? And, is it safe for everyone?
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is a type of zero-carb diet where you eat nothing but meat. You can think of this as a more extreme version of the Paleo diet, but you’re only permitted to eat meat instead of eating a range of meats and some vegetables.
When you're on this diet, you must eat red meat (beef, lamb, bison, chicken), fish, and eggs. Carbohydrates and other sources of protein must be excluded from your diet.
This is why this diet is also called the all-meat diet or the zero-carb diet. But, before you jump on the carnivore diet bandwagon, you'll want to consider all the facts.
Does The Carnivore Diet Help You Lose Weight?
Weight loss is often triggered by ketosis, so the carnivore diet is recommended by many in the paleo community. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state where the body burns its own fat for fuel, instead of glucose from carbohydrates. When you eat a high protein and fat diet, your body starts converting fat into fatty acids and ketones. Ketones are produced when there is not enough food to supply the body with energy and, as a result, the body burns its own stored fat as fuel – which results in weight loss.
The carnivore diet is good for those looking to jumpstart their weight loss goals. If you're on a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high-fat) and still not seeing results, switching to the Carnivore Diet could help.
However, the carnivore diet is not a sustainable weight loss diet. It's not recommended by health professionals and is definitely not for those with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. Consuming high amounts of fat and protein on an empty stomach can cause hypoglycemia, a condition in which you have low blood sugar. It can be a serious side effect of the carnivore diet, and one you should pay attention to if you're considering it.
The Carnivore Diet: Good or Bad?
There are many positives about the carnivore diet. First, it's said to be easier than other diets. Since you can eat as much meat as you like, you're less likely to feel hungry. You're also getting a lot of protein on this diet, which is important for building muscle. In fact, many people on the carnivore diet have reported gaining a lot of muscle quickly.
The main benefit of this diet is that it can be very effective for weight loss. Since you can eat as much meat as you like, there's no need to count calories. Meat is also very satisfying, so you're less likely to snack between meals.
Another proclaimed benefit of the carnivore diet is that you eliminate many processed foods from your diet. However, many types of meat are over processed, so this may not be as much of a benefit as you'd think.
Your body needs a variety of foods to function correctly. When you eliminate carbohydrates, you're decreasing your intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Those on the carnivore diet who do also eat small portions of vegetables are on a healthier track, but it’s still not enough to provide their bodies with adequate nutrition.
The carnivore diet doesn't provide you with a lot of fiber, which is important for your digestive system and overall health. Some people have reported experiencing constipation issues on the carnivore diet. You also won't be getting any probiotics, which are essential for a healthy gut.
You'll also be missing out on carotenoids and flavonoids, two nutrients that fight cancer and reduce inflammation. A balanced diet contains many sources of nutrients, so you don't have to worry about getting all your nutrients from meat alone.
Here are some of the risks associated with the carnivore diet:
1. A lot of meat leads to clogged arteries and high cholesterol. Excessive consumption of saturated fat can lead to elevated cholesterol levels. This is especially true if you're consuming more than four servings of animal products per day.
2. Eating too much meat increases your risk of heart disease. People who consume a lot of meat (especially processed meat) are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions.
3. Eating too much meat can cause kidney damage. Studies have shown that eating too much red meat can lead to kidney stones, which may become a serious issue if left untreated.
4. This diet isn't sustainable in the long term. You'll eventually get bored eating the same thing every day.
5. There's a higher risk of developing dementia later in life if your diet only consists of meat. Research suggests that high levels of protein may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
6. You're at an increased risk of developing gout. Since animal products are naturally high in purines (the precursor to uric acid), you're more likely to develop gout if you eat a lot of them.
7. It's very hard to get all the nutrients you need on this diet. The carnivore diet doesn't provide you with enough fiber, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids or antioxidants.
8. You may experience constipation. Since the carnivore diet doesn't contain a lot of fiber, you're more likely to have constipation issues.
9. You'll miss out on a lot of essential nutrients. The carnivore diet isn't a complete diet, so you'll be missing out on a lot of essential vitamins and minerals.
10. This one is unrelated to your body, but meat (and animal agriculture in general) is a leading cause of climate change.
Pros of the Carnivore Diet:
- Great for weight loss, even if you don’t exercise
- It helps reduce blood sugar and insulin levels
- May improve your energy levels
- May lead to better sleep
What Supplements Would You Need To Take?
If you're planning on trying out the carnivore diet, you may be wondering what supplements you would need to take. You’ll need to take a few different things to ensure that you're getting all of your daily nutrients.
1. Vitamin D — This is one of the most important supplements that you'll need to take on the carnivore diet. This is because not a lot of foods in the diet contain a large amount of vitamin D. Foods such as fish, eggs, and cheese contain a small amount of vitamin D, but it's not enough to keep your body running smoothly. You'll need to take a supplement with Vitamin D in order to ensure that you're getting enough.
2. Vitamin K2 — Vitamin K2 is another diet supplement that you should take if you're following the carnivore diet or any other high-fat diet. This is because Vitamin K2 helps your body absorb calcium. If you don't take Vitamin K2, you'll be at risk of getting osteoporosis.
3. Multivitamin — This is another supplement that you should take if you're following the carnivore diet. This is because this supplement will help you get enough of all of your other vitamins and minerals that you would normally get from fruits and vegetables.
4. Fiber — You'll also need to take in some fiber if you're following the carnivore diet. This is because most carnivore dieters don't consume any vegetables or fruits, which contain large amounts of fiber.
5. Creatine — If you're exercising regularly, then you might want to take creatine while on the carnivore diet. This is because creatine will help you get more out of your workouts.
6. Collagen — It's also good to take collagen supplements while on the carnivore diet. This is because it can help repair any damage done to your joints and connective tissues.
The carnivore diet is a trend that has a lot of drawbacks. It may be good for losing weight, but it is also an unhealthy diet when practiced long-term. It lacks many essential nutrients and vitamins and can be potentially dangerous to your health, and cause you to develop deficiencies over time.
Remember that even if you lose weight on this diet, you might gain it back when reverting to your regular diet. A better solution is to find healthier staples in your diet and exercise often.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.