Just How Fast Can You Lose Weight On Carnivore?

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Fat Loss Vs Weight Loss

weight loss carnivore

It’s time we addressed the burning question that captivates warring diet tribes. And it’s a fair one. Thanks to the high performing standard western diet, most people dip into nutritional programmes with fat loss at the front of their minds. Most people also hate being forced into a deficit and away from their Krispy Kreme doughnuts, so it pays to know which one gets you over the line the fastest. 

As it happens, we’re in luck, because the carnivore diet has all the makings of the front-runner.

But let me throw in a quick caveat. Just remember that we’re discussing shedding ‘fat’ rather than ‘weight’, which is a mix of fat and muscle loss. Since we should like the idea of retaining great energy levels and holding shape in the right areas, lean mass should be protected at all costs. Through that logic, any fat loss programme worth its salt has to be able to tick the following boxes.

1. Maintain the performance needed to retain muscle mass.

2. Maintain the nutrition, AKA protein count, needed to repair muscle mass.

3. Lose fat as efficiently as possible.

Now that those criteria have been given much-needed airtime, let’s look at how the carnivore diet does just that, and more.

How Carnivore Puts The Rockets On Fat Loss

best of steak

1. There’s an obvious absence of carbs, leading to a low insulin state, leaving fat loss to happen in an unbroken fashion across the day.

2. No carbs also spells the inevitable depletion of liver glycogen, allowing ketones to work their fancy magic on enhancing fat loss and curbing appetite.

3. An abundance of saturated fat, which can result in further boosts to fat loss by wasting energy as heat.

4. Improvements in fat utilisation, reflected by lowering of blood triglycerides, which allows the body to pluck more of its energy needs from its own stores.

5. Lowering of systemic inflammation, curbing insulin resistance and releasing the brakes on fat loss.

6. High nutrient density, avoiding nutrient deficiencies that can wreck the metabolism and derail the diet.

7. Mammoth protein content, protecting against muscle loss that would otherwise come at the cost of more fat loss.

8. Ketones themselves are also anti-catabolic to the muscle, by replacing amino acids as a fuel source, freeing them up to combat protein breakdown.

9. Ketones go on to reduce ghrelin and suppress appetite, improving dietary adherence.

With all these points in mind, I’d be happy to step out and say that carnivore is the ultimate weight loss aid. It’s healthy, it’s sustainable, and it takes place at a rate of knots. But just how fast are we talking?

Why Rapid Weight Loss Can Do More Harm Than Good

One pound a week is actually a great pace, but it won’t impress the fanatics looking to lose three stone with a wedding rapping on the door. Two pounds a week is phenomenal, and completely possible on carnivore, but people can get greedy when the scale starts to plummet. So how about three? 

Over a short stretch, you might be able to get it done, depending on your baseline metabolic rate. Let’s go very basic and say that a pound of fat is worth 3500 calories, meaning a 500 calorie daily deficit across the week will result in roughly a pound lost. If your baseline metabolism, including the costs of both existing and activity, is up at 3000, then shaving it down to 2500 will be a walk in the park.

Then let’s try upping the rate to two pounds a week, which requires at least a 1000 calorie deficit. 2000 might seem like a measly amount, but it’s still a metric ton of nutrition when it’s composed of steak, eggs, and the occasional liver.

Over my last carnivore cut, I got down to 2000 calories and lead a comfortable existence while holding onto my 1:1 fat to protein ratio. That meant I had enough ketones to give me the energy to get by, even at a steep deficit. My lifts basically stayed the same and didn’t drop, making me pretty confident that I’d held onto my lean mass.

carnivore fat loss progress

Take that to three pounds, and you’re left with 1500 calories, which adds up to a 50% deficit. Now you’re forced to upset that precious  That’s with a very generous starting metabolic rate. Chances are, you’re starting well below that mark. Especially if you’re a 140 pound female. With a starting baseline of 2000 calories, two pounds a week pulls you down to a dangerously low 1000 calories. 

At the risk of painting with too general a brush, I generally wouldn’t recommend going below 1700 calories as a guy, and 1200 as a female. Or anywhere near, for that matter. That’s a floor that’s best busted open only if there’s a bodybuilding competition on the line, where you’re trying to bring fat mass down to the barest of margins.

Ignoring that floor can seriously compromise your ability to continuously fulfil the three golden rules of a healthy fat loss phase. You then have the choice of either lowering protein to subpar levels to maintain that golden macro ratio, or lowering fat to maintain the protein count. The former puts you at risk of muscle loss, and the latter puts you at risk of performance loss and appetite dysregulation.

The Dangers Of Rapid Weight Loss

With that being said, with carnivore’s unrivalled nutrient density to lose fat at a rate faster than the body would normally be comfortable with. If I tried 2000 calories of protein oats and chicken breast, I’d have a hard time keeping it up. In fact, that’s exactly what I used to do, and life was a struggle. That same quota with two pounds of brisket a day and I’m a completely different beast.

But my last cut came with some context, and I’d warn people against aiming for two pounds a week from the get-go. I was already fat-adapted, having spent more than a year going through variations of keto and carnivore. 

I’d also spent a good chunk of that time bulking on an exorbitant amount of calories, meaning I’d provided the body with all the nutrition it could possibly need, and more. All the holes were plugged. The metabolism didn’t need to heal. The coast was clear for me to just tunnel in on increasing fat loss.

So How Fast Should You Go?

bulking on carnivore

Most folks stepping into carnivore will be coming off the back of a high carb nutrient-deplete diet, and they’ll stand to benefit much from the healing powers of surplus steak. So they’d be best off finding out just how much they can get away with eating while shedding weight. More, the better.

So while carnivore might well be the most potent fast-loss enforcer on the market, I wouldn’t get too happy with the gas. A good rule of thumb would be to aim to lose between 0.5 – 0.75% of your starting bodyweight. If you want to speed things up, use that upper limit. 

For a 200 pounder like me, that works out at 1.5 pounds a week. 

If you’re 140 pounds, that’s just over 1 pound.

This formula scales with your bodyweight, making it a much better option than aiming for a flat 2 pounds a week while ignoring the fact that your metabolic baseline barely touches 2000.

With all this out of the way, you’ll probably end up beating my suggestions anyway, since the opening few weeks of decarbing will result in significant water loss and skewing the weekly average. Adding onto that, is the fact that both protein and saturated fat are highly thermogenic, wasting much of their energy as heat. Which equates to fewer calories absorbed and more fat loss. 

Nothing to complain about. But try and up the calories if your maths is off and the pounds are falling too rapidly.

Key Takeaways

  • The carnivore diet is practically unrivalled when it comes to fast and sustainable fat loss
  • However, you also need to capitalise on its ability to invigorate health and wellbeing
  • You can do that by eating the maximum amount while still forcing fat loss
  • If you’re in a hurry, aim to lose 0.75% of your starting bodyweight each week
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Chris T
Chris T
1 year ago

Thank you! Even though I haven’t started weight training yet, this is a great guide as far as expectations of weight loss per week. Intuitively, I was thinking exactly the same rate of for myself, with 1-2 lbs per week, since I had my initial 10 lbs ~4.5kg water weight loss over 2-3 weeks (12 lbs ~5 kg at 6 weeks, now). I figured that I might see up to 2 lbs per week for another couple of weeks, then slowly diminishing to 1 lb per week, 0.5 lbs per week, and so on. I was taking into consideration, the redistribution of fat/muscle, so weight may only change slightly, but body composition would be much more noticeable. As springtime occurs, I will be more active, with some type of exercise, so results should be better. I was a bloated 170 lbs, now 158 lbs, with a target of 145-150 lbs, depending on muscle mass. If I decide to train moderately, it could be slightly higher. 51 year old male-5′ 7″, small frame (bones/wrists). For comparison, at 22 years old, I was an athletic 137 lbs.

1 year ago
Reply to  Chris T

Averaging around 1lb lost a week would be a great result, since that implies you’ll be holding onto your muscle and saturated the system with nutrition. This is where waist / hip measurements can be great as an extra tool for gauging fat loss. If you’re holding onto your muscle, the drop in measurements can often be more drastic.

Also, you’ll definitely be primed for muscle growth by the time you start weight training. I envy you!

8 months ago

hI. im 5.1 Female and need to lose 6kgs and then maintain it. I was planning on doing the carnivore diet. However, my physical capacity for weight training is nil so I would like your honest opinion if you think training is necessary to achieve this weight loss goal within a month. I would rather not do it than to do it and achieve nothing. thanks

8 months ago
Reply to  lola

Hey, can I ask why you’re unable to train? Regardless, you don’t specifically need to, and you’ll make great progress with the diet even without the lifting.

8 months ago
Reply to  Sama

I have arthritis and a lot of issues with tendons and ligaments in general.
My objective for trying this diet is to lose 6 kgs and perhaps lessen the inflamation in the body. But Im extremely unsure of it as yet.

8 months ago
Reply to  lola

It’s your choice, and you’ll know all the context, but from what you’re telling me….a stint at carnivore is definitely worth the attempt. Especially since it will help massively with quelling the flames of arthritis, and therefore put you in a position where you can include weight training. The diet always comes first over exercise.

4 months ago

could I do meat and avocado and it would still be ok? also curious if you think you should have breakfast or stick to two meals a day?

4 months ago
Reply to  Jane

Two meals a day is fine if you’re looking to lose weight. And avocado is fine as long as the carbs are still kept under 50 grams per day.

4 months ago
Reply to  Sama

50 grams of carbs seems a lot especially if not eating vegetables. I need to lose about 10kg so I will be doing two meals. I am just curious as a lot of people saying to get protein first thing in the morning to reduce hunger. What are your thoughts ?

4 months ago
Reply to  Jane

50 grams would be the upper limit for ketosis, you can always shoot well under that. And you don’t need protein first thing. Protein is better utilised in the morning, but you can get away with pushing the first meal to 10-11am.