7 Fixes For When You’re Hungry On Carnivore

11 min read

Fighting The Diet Demons

carnivore diet hacks

The single biggest factor in a bungled diet isn’t the inability to weigh your overnight oats correctly. It’s a simple fact of life, rather than statistical error. When you deprive the body of energy for long enough, you get hungry. For many, the process doesn’t take long. After a few hours of torture, you’re trying to stave off those nagging craving with carrots drenched in hummus. That might get you across the line to the lunch hour, after which the dance can resume. In the standard caloric deficit, hunger is an ever-present threat. The diet, therefore, is largely a mind game. It shouldn’t be.

The carnivore diet is primed to fix the core issue with weight loss, and thereby radically improve your chances of successfully completing a transformation. To put it simply, there’s no diet quite like it when it comes to appetite control, and that’s not just down to the fact that your options have been narrowed down to five or six ingredients.

How Carnivore Suppresses Cravings

  • Ketones reduce ghrelin, the chief hunger hormone
  • The absence of carbs prevents rebound hunger from hypoglycemia
  • High nutrient density maximises satiety
  • Fulfills protein requirements, averting metabolic kickbacks from muscle loss

With all that being said, it’s not foolproof. There’s plenty going in its favour, but there are also a few scenarios where your hunger demons can sneak back in. Fortunately, in most cases, there are simple solutions close at hand to ensure your cravings get kicked to the curb.

1. Be Patient

bulking on carnivore

Sometimes, you just have to bite your lip and wait for father time to work his magic. When you’re early in the carnivore game, and especially if you’re jumping ship from the standard western diet, you better be braced for a few bumps. The metabolism is having to switch over from glycolysis to lipolysis and finally to ketosis. That transition isn’t going to wrap up overnight.

You’re looking at a few weeks to start effectively using ketones, and then another few months to master them. The first stage will generally be enough to dampen cravings, but you can expect further kickback if your gut is busy rescuing itself from dysbiosis. The bad bugs want their cake, and for them, it’s a matter of life and death. Hunger can come and go during that period, but there’s plenty you can do to keep them down to mild bursts.

See The Article – How Long It Takes To Become Fat Adapted

2. Pile On The Fat

butter on keto

Here’s where many raw recruits tend to trip up on the carnivore trail. They arrive off the back of their chicken breast and rice diet, swipe those carbs off the plate, and keep the chicken breast. When they add red meat, it’s lean ground beef, sirloin, flat iron, the usual low fat cuts. 

This puts the body in a pickle. With the carbs hovering around zero, your engine is left to fuel itself with fats and proteins. If the fats in the diet are low, the body is unlikely to make full use of the stores available in adipose tissue, since that requires a decent level of fat adaption. That leaves the engine with protein, and it’s a terribly inefficient energy source. It doesn’t oxidise easily, doesn’t store easily, and the amount you can absorb is capped.

If you want to see the repercussions of chicken breast and ground turkey diet, look no further than the cases of ‘rabbit starvation’ that waylaid the explorers of the old American frontier. When they couldn’t find enough plump prey to hunt down, they had to resort to lean options like rabbit, which often resulted in a form of malnutrition that exhibited itself in insatiable hunger and diarrhea. Then, eventually, death.

Not that we’re really dealing with death as a potential side effect, since it would need an extreme scenario to play out. What we are dealing with, is the fact that eating too little fat on a carnivore diet can result in excessive hunger and low energy levels.

This phenomenon was likely the driving force behind our ancestors departing their hunter-gatherer lifestyles and kickstarting the ill-fated first agricultural revolution. The mammoths had been virtually wiped out, alongside countless other megafauna, large blubber-rich herbivores. Instead, they had to settle for hunting smaller, leaner prey. Fat became scarce, protein alone wasn’t enough, and they had to make a hard choice to ensure their survival. They had to add carbs.

Luckily, you have the luxury of avoiding that choice. You can simply ditch the chicken breast for chicken thighs, with a side of butter. You can swap the lean mince for full-fat mince, with a side of butter. The golden ratio we’re aiming for is 1:1 protein to fat, by the gram. Manage that, and there are going to be plenty of fats coming in for the body to make use of.

3. Don’t Portion Control

carnivore diet weighing food

Another classic stumbling point for carnivore newbies. They go in with the express intention of limiting calories on a diet that’s already highly satiating, and thermogenic to boot. Meaning many of the calories get wiped out during the digestive process. As a result, they just don’t end up eating enough. 

They’ll lose weight, but it’ll be a grind. The body isn’t healing, it’s not repairing nutrient deficiencies, and it’s not getting enough fats to restore long-dormant fuel pathways. Limit portions on carnivore, and you miss the point of this way of eating. The goal is to provide the body with all the nutrients and energy it needs to heal and become revitalised. Hunger gets erased, and fat loss becomes a happy side effect. You don’t get there when you’re dropping straight into a 50% deficit with cardboard beef. That strategy might get you losing weight, but you’re going to have to battle through many periods of nagging hunger to get there.

Make it easy for yourself. Don’t treat carnivore like just another diet that boils down to calorie counting. Indulge, don’t restrict. Let the body get back to its ancestral baseline.

4. Don’t Overdo The Fasting

intermittent fasting carnivore

Intermittent fasting has numerous benefits. Reduced hunger, raised autophagy, improved fat loss, and better cognition, just to name a few. To make things even better, it slots in seamlessly with carnivore, since both effectively share the same fuel state. Ketosis is just another form of fasting, since insulin levels are kept low and the catabolic AMPK pathway remains open. There’s barely a bump when you make the transition from a fasted to fed, and you continue to pick up many of the same benefits even as you roll through the feeding window. 

The intense level of satiety from those nutrient-rich meals in turn make the subsequent fast that much easier. You can push it from 16, to 18, even as far as 23 hours without feeling a pang of hunger.

But you can have too much of a good thing, and going with the OMAD (One Meal A Day) format is often a step too far. Fasting is stressful on the body, and the dose makes the poison. By raising cortisol, it can compound the fact that carnivore already is a potent cortisol pump. Then there’s the question of protein absorption per meal, where practically all research at this stage agrees can be too much for OMAD to cope with.

All of which means that a large fasting window can increase stress to unhealthy levels, while hamstringing the body’s ability to digest and utilise protein. Which leads to loss of lean tissue, and subsequently raises hunger. 

We’re looking for fat loss, not starvation, and we need to be careful with the fasting switch. So let ketosis do the work for you, space the meals out, and maximise your protein absorption. You can still fast, but keep it under 18 hours.

5. Eat Salt Liberally

why you need salt on carnivore

A generous dab of salt is the simplest and most effective hack at your disposal on the carnivore diet. Many of the initial issues with hunger and lethargy can be put down to keto flu, a state of dehydration brought about by the body flushing out excessive amounts of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The quartet otherwise known as electrolytes, with sodium having an outsized effect on the others. 

Raise your sodium levels through the consumption of salt, and the body can start to retain and balance the other electrolytes, subsequently restoring insulin sensitivity, quelling hunger, and revitalising the system. To put it simply, you have to more to lose from eating too little salt, than eating too much. The body’s perfectly capable of excreting excess salt, but it can’t create some out of thin air.

Salt also happens to be your number one workout supplement on carnivore, as it maintains performance by preventing dehydration and promoting better blood flow. A teaspoon of a good mineral salt or electrolyte blend can be a gamechanger provided you’re training hard enough to use it.

Salt Recommendations

  • 1.5-3 tsp of salt per day
  • + ⅔ tsp to minimal requirement for hard exercise
  • + ⅔ tsp to minimal requirement for keto or carnivore induction
  • ⅔-1 tsp of salt per day for carnivore
  • Maintain at least 3500mg of potassium per day, ideally in a 3:1 ratio to sodium.

6. Supplement With Liver

liver on carnivore diet

When your hunger doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how big your steaks are, or how much butter you’re slabbing on, then there’s a good chance that you’ve got a nutritional deficiency that isn’t getting quenched. That’s where you need to be taking your carnivore multivitamin, otherwise known as liver, an incredibly nutrient-dense and diverse organ meat that can taste surprisingly delicious.

Liver is loaded to the brim with Vitamin A, B5, biotin, folate, and a whole cluster of other critical micros. When coupled with steak, you can pretty much tick off all of your nutrient requirements. And you don’t need much, just a few ounces a week will be more than enough to cover your bases. So all you have to do is flash it for a few seconds in the pan over some butter, chop it into small pieces, down the hatch, and chase it down with mineral water.

But if you want to make a meal of it and get fancy, check out my Liver Pate Recipe.

7. Prioritise Recovery

In other words, make sure you’re spending the biggest chunk of your time in parasympathetic dominance. Get your sleep in, practice regular breathwork, keep a meditation routine, and take regular walks in nature.

If you’re not able to de-escalate, then you’re going to pay some heavy prices, not the least of which will be raised hunger levels. Insomnia gives you insulin resistance and a spike in cravings. Chronic cortisol impedes digestion. Lack of regular activity compounds all these problems. An apex lifestyle shouldn’t be condensed down to a few narrow windows around training and mealtimes, it has to be allowed to span the day.

Summing Up The Hunger Hacks

  • Give it two weeks to get over the initial keto flu
  • Maintain a 1:1 fat to protein ratio (g)
  • Don’t opt for a caloric deficit over 20%
  • Don’t fast for longer than 18 hours
  • Add plenty of salt to both food and workouts
  • Include 2-3 ounces of liver a week
  • Add in stress management practices
5 10 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
31 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mc dougall
Mc dougall
1 year ago

idiot! …eat grains fruits and veg!

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Mc dougall

I’ll pass on the constipation and inflammation, thanks.

Lisa
Lisa
1 year ago
Reply to  Sama

I don’t have comstipation. My digestion and digestive system is way better on carnivore. Also my
Inflammation is dramatically lower. I no longer have migraines.

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Lisa

Well done Lisa! How long have you been on it?

Matt
Matt
1 year ago
Reply to  Mc dougall

Idiot!

Marie
Marie
1 year ago
Reply to  Mc dougall

Do you mean like the Mc dougall diet? Which I followed and could not lose pound even though I power walked 5 miles per day and worked out 3 times per week. And suffered joint pain, fatigue, cravings and looked like a cow being fattened up for slaughter? Been there done that. Added more protein and still felt terrible with fruits and grains, with hypoglycemia as well. Carnivore is perfect diet for resolving autoimmune issues and then later adding in some other foods/veggies to see if they work for you. Grains? Never for me. Also very little dairy works for me. I thrive on Carnivore. Better than I have felt in decades. Studied nutrition for 40 years.

Arndt
Arndt
1 year ago
Reply to  Marie

Over a period of 5 years I have gradually moved from the SAD to no sugar, no processed foods, low carb all the way to Keto. But all has been based on veggies, oils, avocados, nuts, etc. with some raw fish and very little meat. Sometimes I did OMAD, but usually 16:8 or 18:6.

And then I discovered carnivore.
I eat meat (rather fatty), fish, eggs and goat & sheep cheese and a lot of butter.
To that I add, as kind of a relict from my plant-based past, raw garlic, raw ginger, slices of lemon, avodado and MCT oil. I have 2-3 espressi per day too.

Wow, what a difference.
I had been already happy and in good shape based on my plant-based diet, but with carnivore I had the following improvements:

  • the 3 year long joint pain in my right shoulder went away
  • 48 and 72 hour fasts are easy
  • my blood ketones are around 2 and peaked at 3.1
  • the pain in my middle foot and in one of my fingers went away
  • I have no backpain anymore
  • I feel very motivated, energetic and always positive
  • I can concentrate much better, like when I was a student

I had been an advocate for “mainly plant based low carb”, but now I have switched to “meat based low carb”.
I can imagine for the future to add some plant-based food, like asparagos or grilled veggies.

And I think that every once in a while it will be a good exercise for my methabolism to eat that loverly cake my mother bakes and have a beer or two when going out with friends.

But not more often than once a week…

We should train our muscles, our brain and our metabolism.
I am very glad to have found the carnivore diet.

From the reactions I received, I think that this is a “religious thing”. The vegans and the SAD people will often fight carnivore like an evil religion. There is no reasoning, there is just dogmatic bias… Just normal human behavior – “The earth is in the center of the universe” – If you oppose, the inquisition will go after you.

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Arndt

That’s an amazing story, and I like that you’re not being dogmatic with the diet. There’s nothing wrong with adding a cake on a weekend if you can tolerate it. Personally I allow myself leeway on social outings, and it generally doesn’t set me back the next day.

Conan
Conan
1 year ago
Reply to  Mc dougall

Lol. You are the brainwashed clown here Mc D. We have been adapted to eat giant herbivores. You do you and enjoy your medications and over emotional life. Don’t forget all those brightly coloured nightshades with their “cancer fighting” pigments that the parroting circular tautology of ubiquitous nonsense declares as “nutrients”.

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Conan

This tickled me, I need to say!

James
James
1 year ago
Reply to  Mc dougall

Funny ,…that’s why I got fat in the first place eating plants and fruit!
Eat Meat get well!!!!

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  James

It’s a very simple solution if you can get past the nutritional dogma!

Starlight
Starlight
1 year ago

This is a wonderful and informative article! I wish I would have found this two months ago when I began a mostly Keto diet. I eventually went pretty much full carnivore three weeks ago and I feel fantastic. I’ve lost a total of 30 lbs in 8 weeks. I didn’t push myself to exercise too much, other than daily chores, etc. I gave myself time to heal and develop the energy that I needed. I am still not completely comfortable with eating the “fats” but I cook everything in a little butter. This has explained so much about the hunger I’ve been feeling lately. Thank you for this!

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Starlight

Glad I could help, and well done for taking the plunge into full carnivore. The longer you can stick at it, the better the metabolic benefits, and the better your results will become! Just don’t let your calories get too low. If anything, you should be able to lose weight on more calories than you would on a standard diet, thanks to the thermogenics of saturated fat and protein.

Marie
Marie
1 year ago

Curious to ask….Once a person is fully adapted to burning fat for energy, and has a lot of body fat as in overweight/obese, can lowering some dietary fat help them burn their body fat rather than needing to first use excessive dietary fat? I’ve heard this from certain carnivore nutritionist. They caution to still get enough good animal fat for all hormonal and body processes. But lowering diet fat some so that body fat is accessed for fuel. Also they say to make sure you are getting all the protein you need as well. This would lower calorie intake as well. Thoughts?

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Marie

I don’t think there’s any harm in tinkering with the fat ratio once you’ve already done the hard work by becoming fat adapted. Especially if you can get there by reducing rendered and dairy fats, and just sticking with the fat already in the meat. The bodyfat should be melting off at that point.

I just don’t think it should be done by sacrificing energy and wellbeing, so you’d have to be careful dropping it too low.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago

Your section 6 is the same as section 4. I think you need to work on editing first before I’ll credit you as a reliable authority. 😉

Sama
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

Can’t believe that’s evaded my attention all this time. Just fixed it, thanks!

Joel B
Joel B
10 months ago
Reply to  Sama

I jumped on the Carnivore diet going to try to be more strict. Now I am a person who suffers from gout flare ups 34 years old. Find more flare ups on the carnivore diet than before. Any suggestions?

Sama
10 months ago
Reply to  Joel B

If you have issues with uric acid, I’d suggest avoiding organ meats and fish, since they’re high in purines.

Joel B
Joel B
10 months ago
Reply to  Sama

Ok thanks. For the heads up.

Sama
10 months ago
Reply to  Joel B

No problem chief, good luck

Nick B
Nick B
10 months ago
Reply to  Joel B

This isn’t “carnivore,” but my mom has had really extreme gouty arthritis for years and is asymptomatic when taking tart cherry as a supplement. She still has flare-ups if she eats shell fish or any foods that cause said flare-ups, but the tart cherry helps flush the uric acid. I myself have been carnivore for 2 weeks and am just now struggling with excessive hunger. I have a host of issues and don’t feel like listing them all, but just wanted to share something that may help.

Sama
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick B

Tart cherry seems to have a few different benefits, like promoting melatonin release as another example.

Steven D
Steven D
6 months ago

Exercise on Carnivore diet?
I am new to Carnivore and must say I am struggling through the first week. I’ve been trying to walk every day for 30-45 minutes when I have the energy. What exercise do you recommend for someone starting out on this? – Thanks!

Sama
6 months ago
Reply to  Steven D

Hey Steven, welcome to carnivore! Well done for taking the plunge, you just have to push through the adaptation period while making sure you’re not low on fat or calories.

As for exercise, I’d keep the walking, but also add some strength training. Keep it low volume, use the machines if you’re struggling for energy, and focus on pushing to failure in the 4-6 rep range.

If any of this is confusing, feel free to fire more questions at me. I’m an open book.

Steven D
Steven D
6 months ago
Reply to  Sama

Thanks for the advice. I’m not a member of a gym so machines aren’t an option sadly. Would body weight exercises do the trick? What would you recommend?

Sama
6 months ago
Reply to  Steven D

Exercises like dips and pushups are great for building upper body strength, and bulgarian split squats are insane for the legs.

But I’d also consider getting some resistance bands and a door anchor. So you can strap them to a doorway and mimic machine exercises with them.

Steven D
Steven D
6 months ago
Reply to  Sama

I probably should also mention that my goal on this diet is weight loss and reduced belly fat.

Marli
Marli
1 month ago

On day 37 of Carnivore and still experiencing hunger (especially early in the mornings) and also some lethargy after eating. Should I just give it some time and wait until the magic starts happening? Weight is also stalling and even gaining here and there. Took some photos yesterday and there isn’t a major difference. We add some butter to most of our meals to ensure we get enough fats. I’m a bit frustrated but still pushing on. Very happy to be rid of all my cravings though