In the continued search for better health, you’ll find that most people will turn to a plant-based diet. For some, becoming vegetarian or even vegan can help them drop pounds, lower blood pressure, and also prevent diseases like obesity and diabetes.
And then you have the opposite camp, people who opt for high-fat, low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet and the carnivore diet, which have been shown to lead to clearer thinking, fewer digesting problems, and weight loss1.
The carnivore diet is exactly what it sounds like: a diet where you eat almost nothing but meat for every meal. This means you’re getting a whole lot more protein, fat, and nearly zero carbs in your diet, making it fairly similar to the ketogenic diet.
This diet is based on the theory that our ancestors ate primarily meat for energy rather than lots of fruits and veggies, and as a result, our bodies have evolved to run optimally on a diet centered on meat.
In this article, we’re going to run through what you need to know about the carnivore diet, and why a meat-centric diet could be the next big thing.
Here is a quick breakdown of what exactly will be covered:
- What is the Carnivore Diet?
- Carnivore vs. Keto: What’s The Difference?
- Benefits to a Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet consists of eating only meat (mostly steak), eggs, butter (grass fed), fish, and cheese. You can also get away with eating some zero calorie foods like spices and coffee.
Let’s take a closer look:
Meat such as burgers, steak, and red meat in general are the primary food sources for carnivore dieters.
Since you aren’t consuming carbs or any plant foods, it’s important that you get enough calories to keep your energy levels up, so the best cuts of meat are the fattier ones.
Organ meats and poultry are also fine, as are processed meats like sausage and bacon.
On the carnivore diet, you can eat pretty much any kind of fish, but again, the best ones are fattier types like sardines and salmon.
Don’t shy away from eating the whole egg, yolk and all, for some fatty calories. Eggs have even been shown to have many health benefits, such as promoting weight loss and decreasing inflammation.
It has also been shown to protect brain health, as eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is essential for your brain2.
Dairy such as cheese, milk, yogurt, and butter are all derived from animals.
While they are technically acceptable on the carnivore diet, some carnivore dieters prefer omitting or limiting dairy intake, simply because they come from the keto diet, which generally does not permit yogurt and milk due to their lactose content.
Salt and pepper will be your friend on the carnivore diet. Despite many coming from plants, most sugar-free condiments do not contain substances that can lead to digestive issues in most people, so there isn’t any harm in using them.
With that said, meat is usually pretty flavorful on its own, so you won’t be needing much beyond salt and pepper, and maybe some butter.
You won’t be needing any supplements on the carnivore diet, as eating animals exclusively will provide your body with its daily protein needs. Additionally, red meat is naturally rich in creatine, leaving little no need for further supplements.
With that said, coffee or caffeine supplements can always come in handy for carnivore dieters who work out, as they can provide a pre-exercise energy boost.
If you’re concerned about not getting the right amount of micronutrients from food, a multi-vitamin, mineral supplement and/or greens powder supplement may be a solution for you.
The keto diet and the carnivore diet are pretty much siblings in the diet world, and both require you to eat plenty of fatty meats and protein, but the carnivore diet is a bit more extreme.
Unlike the keto diet, the carnivore diet restricts all plant foods, so your carb intake is nearly zero (meats have some traces of carbs). You can still count on your body having some carbs, however.
Just like the keto diet, the body will adjust and learn to produce its own carbs for fuel through a process called gluconeogenesis. So calling the carnivore diet “zero-carb” is kind of a misnomer.
On the keto diet, the priority is on fat, with protein being somewhat limited in order to prevent the excess of carbs through gluconeogenesis and getting kicked out of ketosis.
On the carnivore diet, you are encouraged to eat both fat and protein to your heart’s content. It doesn’t matter if you achieve ketosis because the main goal is to simply feel better and get more healthy.
Another difference between the diets is that, unlike keto, there aren’t any clear guidelines for carnivore dieters regarding percentages of total calories and macros. The idea is to simply focus on eating enough red meat, which should take care of your nutritional needs.
Since the carnivore diet is focused on foods sourced from animals, the coconut oil and avocados found in the keto diet have no place here.
Weight Loss: This might be hard to believe for an all-meat, high-fat diet, but just like the keto diet, severely restricting your carb intake will keep your blood sugar low at all times. Since you won’t be getting insulin spikes, your body has no reason to store calories as body fat.
Better Heart Health: While saturated fats have had a bad rap for being linked to heart disease by raising cholesterol in the blood, the truth is, no experimental evidence has ever directly linked saturated fat to heart disease.
In fact, saturated fats raise good cholesterol (HDL) and, overall, don’t harm the blood lipid profile like previously believed.
Lower Inflammation: In a 2013 study3, subjects who ate a high-fat and low-carb diet were compared to another group of subjects who followed a low-fat and high-carb diet.
The study found that after 12 weeks, the high-fat group had lower markers of systemic inflammation. As a result, the researchers involved concluded that a high-fat diet may be more healthy to cardio health.
The carnivore diet touts plenty more health benefits, such as a decrease in digestive problems, higher testosterone, increased mental clarity, and more!
Despite its restrictions, it’s still an all-around simple diet to follow since the rules are so easy: eat only meat, no carbs!
If you’ve been on the keto diet and want a change of pace, take the next step and give the carnivore diet a try to see how it compares and how you feel. However, the keto diet is great and full of benefits as well!
 Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: Friend or foe? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11:2092–107. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
 Zeisel SH, da Costa KA. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):615-23.
 Ruth M. R., Port A. M., Shah M., et al. Consuming a hypocaloric high fat low carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks lowers C-reactive protein, and raises serum adiponectin and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol in obese subjects. Metabolism. 2013;62(12):1779–1787.