Part of what makes the carnivore diet so promising for your average dieter, is the fact it’s a simple beast. The starting rules draw some pretty fine lines that are hard to stray from. Drop plant products. Eat animal products. But despite that, I’ve still good reason to draw up a few FAQs to cover the fundamentals of this emerging diet.
Right now, most people are still on the outside looking in. Carnivore is ultra-restrictive, and that makes it look decidedly unattractive for people who aren’t interested in joining cults. So by showing how the carnivore diet isn’t remotely dangerous, and by suggesting the optimal way to approach meat-based nutrition, I might be able to make it look slightly more appealing.
Now I’ve already written a couple of FAQs on this topic, and a few of your questions will likely have already been answered. In case you’ve missed out on reading them, you can check them out after you’re done with this article. There’s no chronological order taking place here.
Can You Add A Little Bit Of Fiber?
This is a step out into the unknown, and there’s no way of ignoring this. Not only are you being forced to cast out foods that have been widely proclaimed as ‘healthy’ and ‘essential’, but you’re also being told to eat huge quantities of red meat, a seemingly potent carcinogen. Is this a leap too far? Would you be better relaxing on the red meat, switching to chicken, while adding some green fiber every now and then?
Unfortunately these are ground rules that have to be followedin order to see the best effects of the diet. The fact is, carnivore has a few perks that are exclusive to this style of eating, especially by improving digestion and promoting intense levels of nutrient density. And in order to get them, you have to stick with the steak and no-fiber rulebook. Otherwise you’d be better off rolling with a keto diet.
While you might think adding a few green vegetables will let you cover the nutritional bases, it’s more likely to accomplish the opposite. Fiber is a potent nutrient blocker, and is often the chief perpertrator of digestive problems like leaky gut. Even small amounts of the culprits can cause significant issues to the immune system, energy, and skin.
The Takeaway – In order to weigh the carnivore diet up and see whether it’s really worth the sacrifices you’ve been putting in, then the first couple of weeks at least should be done with no cheating. Meat, water, and not much else. Definitely no fiber.
Is The Carnivore Diet Potentially Dangerous?
Here are the classic accusations that get weighed against all-animal nutrition. I’m going to pass on the whole global warming thing, because that’s a completely separate topic. This article is entirely about the diet itself, not its wider planet-busting implications.
Red Meat As A Carcinogen – Despite how much this has been blown up, there are actually only two studies that show any possible connection from overconsumption of red meat to cancer. And even then, you have to keep this fact at the front of your mind: most people who eat red meat aren’t in it for healthy reasons. They’re not on a carnivore diet. Each steak is either wedged between two buns or saddled with a bunch of oil-dipped fries. As such it’s really hard to draw a line between the two, not when they’re muddied by the whole issue of context and ‘reading into the lines’.
Nutritional Deficiencies – This is another issue that just gets assumed with no real attempts made to look into the topic. As it happens, you can absolutely survive, and thrive, on one animal alone. It makes sense that we’d be able to get all our nutrition from that one hefty mammoth that the tribe spent a week chasing down. Would we really have to then forage under the snow to find a few berries to cover the bases? Probably not. But you don’t have to make the decision by figuring out what our ancestors used to get up to. In terms of actual of evidence, I’ve written an article here showing how you can hit all your RDA needs from a mashup of muscle-meat and liver.
No Fiber So You Can’t Poop – The human need for fiber is one of the biggest myths doing the runs these days. And that has been the case since the 1950’s. As it happens, you absolutely don’t need fiber to pay the bathroom a visit, although it stands to reason that you’ll be going several days at a time without having to pay the toll. But is that a bad thing? You won’t be constipated, because there’s not going to be a bunch of fiber wedged in your large intestine. Without the fiber, the issue of constipation is no longer a thing. If anything, the net result is a lighter stomach and a few minutes saved every other day.
The Takeaway – The carnivore diet isn’t for everyone, that’s just common sense when weighing up the sheer variability across the world’s population. Not everyone is going to take to it in the fantastical way I sometimes am guilty of painting it out to be. But there are no obvious downsides besides the risk of not having the genetics to adequately digest red meat.
Is The Carnivore Diet Mainly For Those With IBS?
One of the biggest selling points of this diet, is the fact that it’s the ultimate evolution of the elimination protocol. Like the Low FODMAP diet, carnivore cuts out the foods that cause digestive distress and potential immune and skin problems. Except it goes the distance and leaves you with only the non-inflammatory foods. Barring possible Omega-6 content in badly farmed meats, carnivore is the saviour for anyone suffering out the classic IBS symptoms.
The worse your stomach is, the better you’re going to feel on all-animal nutrition. But if you’re running free without any symptoms, don’t let that hold you back. Digestion is always going to be a process that can be improved, because at the end of the day, you’re a machine that’s made up of whatever you’ve been eating over the past few decades. The cleaner those calories are, the better you’re going to run.
The Takeaway – IBS victims will likely thrive on this diet, but it’s not exclusive to them by any means. Eating carnivore means dining on total nutrition with next-to-no toxins. That’s pretty much the formula for an apex diet.
Can The Carnivore Diet Be Expensive?
Go into this diet with too many fancy ideas and you’ll probably be drawing out a second loan by the end of the month. And that would be a shame, because there’s plenty of ways to do a budget-take on carnivore. Just follow these three rules.
Don’t Eat Out Often – Ordering a steak everywhere you go will quickly rack up, as the prices will usually be extortionate.
Don’t Pick The Lean Steaks – There’s no reason to pick the reduced-fat options. It’s hare-brained. Not only are they at the higher end of price-points, but they’re lacking in the bits that you’re relying on for energy. Protein are building blocks, fats are the boosters. A simple fact of carnivore that will make sure you don’t feel like a zombie after a few days.
Eat Plenty Of Ground Beef – That’s not to say that all you should be eating is ground beef. It’s perfectly healthy, sure, but it can get boring, and there are potential issues for people sensitive to histamine. It’s also incredibly cheap, so it should be a staple for any students trying to carnivore and get by.
The Takeaway – It can cough up a few crazy bills when you’re dining at the finest steakhouses, but if you keep that to the odd occasion, carnivore will likely be cheaper than your average vegetable-heavy diet.
How Much Meat Should You Eat Per Day
There’s no real upper limit to work with here, as having excessive protein won’t put your kidneys out of commission. And while we’re on that topic, is it really possible to have too much protein? The possibilities of excess protein being converted to fat are incredibly remote as it’s a long-winded process. As for protein being converted to glucose and messing with your ketone numbers, the effects are going to be minimal without the added presence of carbs. Which isn’t a thing in the carnivore system. When it comes to overeating on calories, that’s also highly unlikely given that protein is highly satiating. It would take a very conscious effort to attempt that, and you’ll feel miserable enough in the aftermath to not try that again.
But moving the non-existent risks aside, you could quite easily skip calorie tracking, and just go by meat portions instead. Since a fatty piece of red meat is going to be in the ballpark of 220 calories per 100g, eating two pounds would give you 1980 calories. Which for most, will be a decent number to aim for. At least to begin with, and start adapting to the diet. Then you can pick your goal from there.
Want To Gain Muscle? – Eat 2-3 lbs of fatty meat
Want To Lose Fat? – Eating 1-2 lbs of fatty meat
The Takeaway – You can eat as much as you like without encountering risks, although you can adjust the intake up or down, around 1-3 lbs, in order to manipulate body composition.
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Carnivore Diet Coach And Personal Trainer