If you are curious about the carnivore diet and want to see what it is all about then you are in the right place. We will dive into what it is, its benefits, considerations, and more!
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is simple. It is an animal based diet that removes the crap, including plants. It primarily focuses on meat and fish. Eggs and (minimal) dairy are common as well. The carnivore diet is an elimination diet of sorts. Because, well, it eliminates most things!
The purpose, however, is not to be an elimination diet per se, but rather to bask in the health benefits of what this way of eating provides. To some, that might sound counter-intuitive, right? How can eating only animal products have any possible benefit?
Well, it turns out the risks pale in comparison to the benefits. Let’s dive into it!
Carnivore Diet Benefits
There are a huge number of benefits of the carnivore diet. It should be noted, however, that there are a large number of benefits from just switching away from the Standard American Diet (SAD). While I am not in favor of Vegan at all, if one switches from the SAD to a Vegan diet, even they will see positive changes (at least initially).
So for the carnivore diet, simply removing things like grains, sugar, processed crap, plant toxins, and vegetable oils will give you a huge boost!
Some of the most common benefits reported by followers of the carnivore diet include:
- Improved Nutrient Absorption and Digestion: The carnivore diet has been reported to enhance nutrient absorption and digestion due to the elimination of potentially problematic plant-based foods. 
- Weight Loss and Body Composition: Following a carnivore diet, similar to keto or even low carb, may lead to weight loss and improved body composition, as it eliminates high-carbohydrate and processed foods. 
- Reduced Inflammation: Some studies suggest that the carnivore diet can help reduce inflammation in the body, potentially benefiting individuals with inflammatory conditions. 
- Mental Clarity and Cognitive Function: Anecdotal evidence suggests that the carnivore diet may improve mental clarity and cognitive function, possibly due to the removal of foods that some individuals may be sensitive to as well as benefits directly from the diet itself. 
- Stable Blood Sugar Levels: By eliminating carbohydrates and relying on protein and fats for energy, the carnivore diet may help stabilize blood sugar levels and support metabolic health. 
- Increased Energy Levels: When the body no longer relies on glucose for energy, which can cause roller coasters, people tend to have increased energy. 
- Improved Digestion: Often improved digestion comes from removing plants from the diet that interfere with the gut and intestinal lining. 
- Improvement with Autoimmune Conditions/Symptoms: Many people report an improvement with their autoimmune conditions.  There is a huge list of chronic diseases that doctors that witnessed resolved or improved with the carnivore diet. A small handful include ADHD, anxiety, depression, eczema, fatty liver, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and so many more. 
- The list could go on, but we’ll stop there for now!
Carnivore Diet Critics
The carnivore diet critics will be the first ones to say “What about the plants? You need plants”. Or something like “How can you possibly eliminate an entire category of food?”. Yet these are often the same people who don’t bat an eye at the vegan diet.
The fact is that we’ve been told for our whole lives that we need to eat plants. We have been told that we need the grains, the seeds, the leaves, the fruit, the stems, all of it, for a healthy diet.
But if you think about it, nature is incredibly smart. Way smarter than we think we are. Plants can’t just run away or hide from danger. Therefore, they need quite a powerful way of defending themselves from danger. Nature is driven and designed for survival and procreation.
For plants, this presents in the form of anti-nutrients. Things like oxalates, tannins, lectins, phytates, and more. These things destroy the gut and can interfere with things like nutrient absorption.
Now, some argue that the benefits outweigh the harm done by these anti-nutrients, but many don’t agree with that.
Cholesterol, Saturated Fat, and Heart Disease
I could write a book on the topic of cholesterol. The diagnostic science used to determine “good or bad” when it comes to cholesterol is outdated and archaic at best.
As for the actual data itself, there is much controversy around a lot of it. Let’s just go through a few basics.
Cholesterol is essential for life. It helps make hormones, Vitamin D, cell membranes, and more. Much of it is made by the body and some of it is from our diet. Then there is LDL (labeled “bad”) and HDL (labeled “good”). These are lipoproteins that act as a taxi and cart around the cholesterol. LDL carries it to places in the body and HDL carries it back to the liver.
So while HDL and LDL are called good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, they aren’t cholesterol. They are lipoproteins.
Here is the chain: saturated fat is blamed for raising LDL and LDL is blamed for heart disease, therefore it is concluded that saturated fat causes heart disease.
However, in 2016, a meta-analysis concluded that “studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD”.
In addition to that, many of the studies about cholesterol and heart disease show associations vs causation. And in the grand scheme of things, there are many other thing that are higher on the list of importance than cholesterol when it comes to heart disease. 
What About a Balanced Diet?
The critics go on to complain about the need for a balanced diet. Balance is in the eye of the beholder. Often their idea of balance is what I would call crazy.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that carbohydrate intake should be between 45-65% of daily calorie intake, protein should be between 10-35%, and the rest fat for most Americans.
Everyone screams BALANCE. But if you take a step back and understand that they are recommending half our daily calories come from a nonessential nutrient. That is downright crazy.
So, again, we go back to what balance means and for whom. The above idea of “balance” was the catalyst for Americans predominantly becoming obese and diabetic.
What About Vitamins and Minerals?
There is, of course, the question of vitamins and minerals. This review of plant free diets concludes that you can get whatever you need nutrient-wise from animal based products. Furthermore, while all nutrients are present, some may be present in small amounts yet their review did not uncover any plant-free diet humans that presented with a nutrient deficiency. 
They also interestingly note when not consuming all the anti-nutrients found in plants that the requirements for daily intake may change. That is an interesting thing to consider for sure!
Yet, there is the question about vitamin C. The U.S. Department of Agriculture claimed that meat does not contain Vitamin C yet Amber O’Hearn discovered that they actually never tested for it and, in fact, meat does contain a small amount of vitamin C! Go figure! 
How to Get Started on the Carnivore Diet
This is a whole program and process in and of itself. Or at least a whole article! But for now, let’s just give the high level steps to succeed on a carnivore diet.
While supplementation is dependent on individual health, I do like to take bio-available multivitamin and mineral supplements every day. Whether or not I need is up in the air, but that is what I do.
If you are coming from a Standard American Diet, then you basically have 2 choices: rip the bandaid off or ease into it. A few things to consider either way is to make sure you are getting daily electrolytes. Whether you are carnivore, keto, or low carb, the body needs additional electrolyte support.
This is going to help ward off what is commonly referred to as the “keto flu”. More often than not, it is just an initial electrolyte imbalance.
The other thing to consider is that your body is probably going to go through a pretty significant withdrawal from gluten and sugar. Some people like to ease their way through it and others just want it over with. It isn’t fun, but is a reminder that sugar addiction is REAL. Or rather, carb addiction is real.
So here are the two options!
Ripping the Bandaid Off
Well, then just do it! There are some things you can expect:
- Peeing a lot – as the body works through its glycogen stores, it is going to release water. This is in part why you need more electrolytes!
- Withdrawal – as we talked about, your body needs to adjust to real food vs fake food.
- Initial feelings of being tired – your body is just adjusting, give it love.
I find that it takes my body about 3 days before I’m in ketosis and the peeing levels out and then a few weeks before I am properly burning fat for fuel and getting efficient at it. This is not an overnight thing, so be patient.
Easing Into The Carnivore Diet
Another way to begin the carnivore diet is to ease into it. I have a 3 step process for those that want to do it gradually:
- Eat Primal (which is basically Paleo plus dairy if you want) for 1-2 weeks.
- Eat Keto (start minimizing dairy) for 1-2 weeks.
- Eat Carnivore (minimal dairy)
This will help your body work through the withdrawal and electrolyte issues before even making the major switch to carnivore.
Carnivore Diet Foods List
There are so many delicious foods on the carnivore diet food list. And there is not just one list. As with any way of eating, it should be modified to fit your nutritional needs and requirements as well as your personal goals. Here is a category list to get you started.
- Organ Meats
- Dairy (be careful here as some can be high in sugar and carbs)
As to what to avoid – everything else! Most importantly, the carnivore diet food list most certainly does not contain any of the following:
- Sugary stuff (muffins, cakes, pastries, cakes)
- Grains (wheat, oats, barley, rice, etc..)
- Plant products (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, etc..)
The carnivore diet is not for everyone. That is not to say that it couldn’t benefit everyone. But there is a large group of people that think eating healthy or eating the way nature intended is depriving oneself.
Personally, I don’t think not consuming toxic non-food products is in any way restrictive. But for everyone else, it is definitely a way of eating to consider!
 Baker, S. (2019). The carnivore diet. Victory Belt Publishing.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents of this article, made available via Holistic Fit LLC, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The Content presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by Holistic Fit LLC. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never use an herb or essential oil without first reading the label, doing your research, or checking with a local expert.
Trina Krug is a Holistic Nutritionist, Integrative Health Coach and host of the Carbless Conversations Podcast. With a Master’s Degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, her single mission in life is to facilitate self-healing in herself and those around her through awareness, lifestyle shifts and low-carb eating. As a current Doctor of Science student, she continues her studies in functional nutrition.