When it’s time to talk diet, many like to keep it basic. Watch what you eat, count your calories, drink eight glasses of water a day. Does that work? Sure. Maybe. It can be that easy, but when everyone starts bringing their own individual genetics and epigenetics to the table, things can get complicated.
Dave for instance, could be prediabetic, with an insulin resistant metabolism that has a few extra tricks to fight off the ‘basic diet’. When he lowers calories, he just gets hungrier, and it becomes incredibly hard to ignore the cravings.
But perhaps you’re absolutely fine, undamaged and unblemished by the rigors of life. Should you keep things simple? Perhaps. It depends what you’re really after. If you’re happy shaving off the pounds and feeling better, the diet can really just boil down to a deficit. But say you’re looking to thrive, and get the best possible iteration of your genetics. In such a case, it’s going to take more steps. Here the diet can, and should get complicated.
So here’s what I’m getting at. The carnivore diet has an incredibly simple premise. Eat animal foods, ditch the ones with plant ingredients. It may well function perfectly fine by sticking to those rules. But there’s always a few reasons to try and figure out the optimal approach. That’s going to be based somewhat on your genetics, and what it is exactly you’re trying to get out of a programme.
You May Well Need The Optimal Diet To Get Results
These FAQs will give me a chance to blaze through a few classic topics that come up around carnivore, and help you form an idea of what could be your optimal approach.
Can You Fast On The Carnivore Diet?
Before I go into this, take the caveat that I’m heavily biased towards the benefits of intermittent fasting. If you don’t believe me, check out my complete guide to fasting here.
Carnivore is effectively a ketogenic diet. There’s next to no carbs, and you’d have to increase protein to the stratosphere before it starts to mess with insulin levels.
This means that you’re effectively spending most of your time on carnivore in ketosis, characterised by low insulin and high ketone levels. Guess what else does the same thing? Fasting. And you can absolutely add one on top of the other for more pronounced effects on ketosis.
Now there are many different versions of fasting, as I’ve covered in the guide, so it may feel confusing trying to find the right one. So to give you a general recommendation, fasting for 18-22 hours would let you enjoy your food, have larger meals, and speed up the process of becoming fat adapted.
The Verdict – Absolutely, yes. There are only upsides here.
Can You Have Bone Broth On Carnivore?
Bone broth is definitely permitted on this diet, but you’ll have to watch out for plant fillers in prepackaged versions. If you can make it yourself, using leftover bones from beef or pork, even better. Bone broth provides a great source of electrolytes and minerals, as well as collagen, a superfood that is pivotal for skin and bone repair.
Losing too many electrolytes is a real risk at the beginning of a carnivore diet. Not necessarily dangerous, but definitely a wrench in the wheels. The drop of insulin from carb restriction can result in the body flushing out salt and other electrolytes. The results can be felt in the form of headaches, lethargy,cramping, and dehydration. This is known as the keto flu, and you can check here for a list of easy remedies.
At least over the opening weeks, it would be worth supplementing with electrolytes as you wait for the body to adjust. You could always just throw in a teaspoon of mineral salt and chase it down with water, or you could make a delicious occasion out of it and add in all the extra nutrients.
The Verdict – It’s Pretty Much An Essential
What’s The Difference Between Carnivore And Keto?
As I mentioned over the matter of fasting, carnivore and keto both share the state of ketosis. But it’s not necessarily going to be that cut and dry. It’s quite easy here to end up shifting into a higher protein diet.
This change may make for suppressed ketones, which puts you in a tight spot where you’re not getting enough energy from fat or glucose. But this can be averted just by doing the sensible thing and always picking the full-fat options. Carnivore options like mince and eggs share a friendly 1:1 protein to fat ratio, and I don’t see a huge benefit to raising fats any further.
So the real difference is going to be in the extra omission that carnivore makes, ditching plants. Ketogenic diets still use a lot of these foods, and can still have quite a significant amount of fiber. For many, removing these sources of inflammation can be a game-changer. Otherwise, on keto, even small amounts of oxalates, lectins, can provoke immune reactions. Ending the cycle may require something more than restriction.
Verdict – Potentially a higher protein intake, which doesn’t have to be a problem. But the matter of plants is going to be the driving force that makes carnivore a potential upgrade over keto.
Where Can I Find Carnivore Recipes?
There aren’t exactly a wealth of carnivore guides online, and this is certainly the case with recipes. But that shouldn’t put you off trying, because ultimately all you need is a generous pinch of salt and some heat. Coming up with a mouth-watering meal can really be the simple.
Remember, you’re keeping the fats, and they’re packed with flavour. It’s not like you’re rocking up to a chicken and tuna diet.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a few ways of switching it up, I do have a few carnivore-style recipes that are little outside the box. Bacon waffles, carnivore ice cream, they’re a little bit more novel than your average steak.
More Carnivore Guides