This post reviews the carnivore diet, provides a free 14 day carnivore diet meal plan including a printable PDF meal plan and shares carnivore recipes and tips to help you succeed on the carnivore diet.
Disclaimer: some of the links in this post are affiliate links whereby I make a small commission if you purchase the product through that link. This does not cost you anything extra and helps me to keep this website running.
In recent years the carnivore diet has been gaining popularity through advocates like Dr. Shawn Baker and Dr. Paul Saladino. Advocates of the diet swear it can help with many different health issues and that is has greatly improved their own overall health.
Now before we get to a carnivore diet meal plan, I thought it was important to explain in further detail, what exactly a carnivore diet is. And as always, like any other diet or nutrition change, before considering the carnivore diet, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or other healthcare provider to determine if this type of diet is right for you or not.
Table of Contents
- What is the carnivore diet?
- Potential benefits of a carnivore diet:
- Foods allowed on the carnivore diet:
- Foods to avoid on the carnivore diet:
- Carnivore diet meal plan:
- Carnivore diet recipes:
- Carnivore diet tips:
- Potential risks of the carnivore diet:
- Frequently asked questions:
- Other health info you will want to read:
- Our expertise:
What is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet is a diet where you only eat animal foods, and avoid all plant-based foods. It sounds extreme, but this elimination diet does have many positive reviews and testimonials. Proponents of the carnivore diet say it helps with many different health issues and that it can help with weight loss, blood sugar regulation, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, mood, energy, sleep, digestive issues, mental focus, and more.
The carnivore diet is based on the notion that our ancestors evolved eating mostly meat and fish, and that the high intake of carbohydrates and plant based foods that is now common is responsible for many different health issues and chronicdiseases.
A carnivore diet is also based on the idea that the high intake of plants that is often recommended today is not ideal for health. Plants naturally produce a number of different chemicals and compounds to help protect themselves from pray including oxalates, salicylates, phytic acid or phytates, lectins, and more. It is believed that these compounds can be harmful to the human body by acting as anti-nutrients and having other negative effects, so by avoiding eating them your health will improve.
In terms of phytic acid, it is the main storage form of phosphate in many plant tissues, especially the bran part of grains and seeds. It is found in grains, seeds, legumes and nuts. Phytic acid works to protect the phosphate by surrounding it in a snow-flake shaped molecule. Not only does this make it difficult for humans to utilize, but it also binds calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other minerals making them hard to use as well.
The carnivore diet is different from other elimination diets or low carb diets such as a keto diet in that the carnivore diet aims for a zero carbohydrate intake. So even though the goal of a carnivore diet isn't to put your body into ketosis, this would happen naturally given the lack of carbs on the diet.
The carnivore diet is also different than a paleo diet because on a paleo diet you are encourage to eat carbohydrates in the form of fruit and vegetables, while a carnivore diet does not allow any fruits or vegetables.
A carnivore diet is basically a combination of an extreme ketogenic diet, and elimination diet, both of which can help with various health problems.
By eliminating plant foods the carnivore diet contains little to no:
And the elimination of these various compounds is the reason why this diet is often cited to be so helpful for many different chronic health conditions and digestive issues.
Potential benefits of a carnivore diet:
Now, before we go through the potential health benefits of the carnivore diet I wanted to let you know that most of this is based on anecdotal evidence and reports, as so far there has only been one study that has been published on the carnivore diet.
However, there have been many studies published regarding the positive effects of a ketogenic diet so much of that information will translate to the carnivore diet too, as the carnivore diet, being a carbohydrate free diet, will put you into ketosis. For further reading on these topics please refer to the reference section at the end of this post.
1. Weight loss
Similar to a keto diet, eating a strict animal food based diet can help you lose weight and improve body composition because you are shifting your main energy source from carbs to fats.
When you are fat-adapted — also known as being in ketosis — your body can use both dietary and stored body fat for fuel. In other words, you can burn off your own body fat and use that as energy.
In addition, fat and protein are very satiating. This allows you to feel full for longer, and studies have shown that becoming fat-adapted improves your hunger hormones, further regulating your appetite.
2. Decreased inflammation
Multiple studies have shown that a ketogenic diet (and hence likely the carnivore diet too) can decrease inflammation and be beneficial for many different conditions which are driven by inflammation including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, epilepsy, depression, anxiety, inflammatory arthritis, psoriasis, pain, diabetes, migraines etc.
The decrease in inflammation is felt to be due to both the weight loss that tends to occur on the diet, plus the diet itself which leads to a decrease in inflammatory cytokines and markers.
3. Decreased pain
4. Improved digestion
Studies have shown that a keto diet, or low carb diets like the carnivore diet can be helpful for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Foods allowed on the carnivore diet:
*** If you are looking for a full carnivore diet food list, be sure to read my posts on the Carnivore Diet Food List and Carnivore Diet Snacks and download my free printable PDF food list.
- Meat - this includes any type of unprocessed meat including beef, lamb, pork, game meats, chicken, turkey, etc.- you would need to avoid processed meats like hot dogs and deli meats which include fillers, sugars and other ingredients which aren't allowed on a carnivore diet.
- Fish - any type of unprocessed fish such salmon, tuna, Mahi Mahi, cod, mackerel, sardines, crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp etc.
- Other animal products - including eggs, bone marrow, lard, bone broth (made without vegetables), etc.
- Full fat and low lactose dairy products (in small amounts) - including butter, heavy cream, ghee, hard cheese, etc.- ideally raw dairy is preferred on a carnivore diet.
- Seasonings - including salt, black pepper, herbs and spices. Be sure to avoid any seasonings with sugars or carbohydrates.
Foods to avoid on the carnivore diet:
- High-lactose dairy products such as soft cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
- All additives including but not limited to, nitrates, artificial flavours, natural flavours, nitrites, MSG, etc.
- Nuts and seeds
- Crop oils or vegetable oils
- Imitation meats or plant based meats
- Beverages other than water
In order to follow the carnivore diet properly you need to include organ meats in your diet to ensure that you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals. If you don't include organ meats you could become deficient in various vitamins and minerals. And in extreme cases even develop problems like vitamin C deficiency or scurvy. As I mentioned before, the carnivore diet is an extreme elimination diet so it needs to be approached with caution and done properly.
You also want to ensure that the meat and fish you are eating are naturally raised. This means pasture raised meats (ie. grass-fed meats, grass-fed beef etc.) and wild caught fish. Because of this, the carnivore diet can be rather expensive to do, although you will be saving money by not having to buy fruit and vegetables anymore which can also be costly. It is also typically harder to find grass-fed meat and pasture-raised meats at grocery stores. Not all local grocery stores will carry these types of meats.
Carnivore diet meal plan:
Now that we've discussed what the carnivore diet is and what you can and can't eat while doing it, I thought it would be really helpful to provide you with a sample meal plan. Now, if you are thinking about trying a carnivore diet, I highly encourage you to discuss it with your doctor first, as there are some people where this type of diet may not be ideal depending on your underlying health conditions, the medications you take etc.
I would also encourage you to do more research on the carnivore diet before just starting it on a whim. My favourite resource for the carnivore diet is the bookThe Carnivore Code by Dr. Paul Saladino. His book is full of great information, studies explaining how plants and plant chemicals can be harmful to our health, and he does a great job of breaking down the science behind this diet.
7 day carnivore diet meal plan:
- Breakfast:Eggs with bacon
- Lunch:Tuna and hard boiled eggs
- Dinner:Bone broth and roasted chicken
- Breakfast:Steak and eggs
- Lunch:Salmon and fried duck
- Dinner:Ground beef patties
- Breakfast:Chicken livers and scrambled eggs
- Lunch:Turkey burgers
- Snack:Hard boiled eggs
- Dinner:Roasted salmon
- Breakfast:Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
- Lunch:Beef burgers
- Snack:Pork rinds
- Dinner:Mahi Mahi and bone broth
- Breakfast:Chicken omelette
- Lunch:Beef liver
- Snack:Canned salmon
- Dinner:Pork chops
- Breakfast:Kefir and sunny side up eggs
- Lunch:Chicken with bacon
- Dinner:Bison burgers
- Breakfast:Sausages and scrambled eggs
- Lunch:Shrimp and scallops
- Snack: Bone broth
It's important to note that on a carnivore diet, counting calories and macros is not recommended. Portion sizes will also vary depending on the person. The goal is to eat when you are hungry, and finish eating when you are full.
What you actually eat on this diet is a matter of personal preference, but to ensure you are getting adequate calorie intake, food intake,and essential vitamins like vitamin e, vitamin d, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids it would be a good idea to work with a registered dietitian to come up with a plan for how to do this diet to ensure you maintain your energy levels and muscle mass. There are many different ways to make an animal-based diet work for you that takes into account your own eating habits and food preferences.
14 day carnivore diet meal plan:
Are you looking for even more ideas for what to eat on the carnivore diet? Then download my free 14 day carnivore diet meal plan below. Simply leave your email address and you will be sent a PDF 14 day carnivore diet meal plan.
Carnivore diet recipes:
Here are just a few recipes that are carnivore that you can enjoy:
- Air fryer frozen steak
- Chicken omelette - just omit the tomato
- Instant pot bacon
- Oven baked salmon
- Air fryer mahi mahi
- Instant pot chicken drumsticks
Carnivore diet tips:
Are you thinking about trying the carnivore diet? Before you do, here are few tips to help you succeed:
1. Talk to your doctor
Before starting any new diet or nutrition plan it is always best to speak to your doctor and other health care providers first. The carnivore diet is a very extreme diet and is not meant for everyone. For instance, high protein diets and high fat diets like this diet are not a good option for everyone. Certain underlying chronic disease likekidney failure or kidney disease can be made worse by these types of low-carbdiets.
2. Do your research and prepare
The carnivore diet is not something you can just start on a whim. The best way to ensure success is to do your research, and prepare for this diet before starting it. There are many books that can be helpful to read before you start including The Carnivore Code by Dr. Paul Saladino and The Carnivore Diet by Dr. Shawn Baker. You will also want to stock your fridge and freezer with pasture raised meat and wild fish so that you have all the food on hand that you will need.
3. Find a buddy
You will be much more likely to succeed on the carnivore diet if you do it with someone. Whether it's a friend, your spouse or another family member, there is power in numbers. Having a support system when you try any new dietary protocol can be extremely helpful and will help make the transition to this way of eating so much easier.
4. Clean our your pantry and kitchen
Before you start a carnivore diet I highly recommend going through your kitchen and pantry and getting rid of and donating the foods that you won't be able to eat. This way you won't be tempted by things like junk food, candy and other foods that you will no longer be eating.
Potential risks of the carnivore diet:
1. Nutrient deficiencies
Because you are eliminating a lot of foods with various essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals when on the carnivore diet plan you need to be very careful not to develop nutrient deficiencies. In particular, you could easily become low in vitamin C or develop scurvy. This is why you will need to ensure you eat organ meat and eggs while on the carnivore diet. Some carnivore diet advocates like Paul Saladino also advocate for some fruit intake while doing this diet to help prevent vitamin C deficiency.
Because there are such limited foods you can eat on this type of diet, it is also important that carnivore dieters ensure they are getting adequate calorie intake.
2. Lack of fiber
Fiber comes from plant foods, and fiber contributes to healthy bowel movements and good gut bacteria. Since the carnivore diet is basically a meat-only diet it is low in fiber. A lack of fiber could lead to constipation and some studies have also shown that diets low in fiber may increase your risk of colon cancer.
3. Loss of gut bacteria
Eating a diverse diet including one that is full of different fruits and vegetables can increase the diversity of the bacteria in your gut. By eliminating a number of foods, and by mainly only eating a meat diet,overtime, you can therefore lose some of the diversity of your gut microbiome. We don't yet know what implications this could have on your longterm health.
4. It can be stressful
Doing any type of strict dietary protocol or restrictive diet, especially one that eliminates as many foods and food groups as the carnivore diet does can be very stressful. We know that increased stress is not good for your health, so if the stress of doing this type of diet is more than the actual benefit you might see from the diet itself, it is likely a diet that isn't right for you. Because it is so restrictive it can also be very hard to maintain in the long term.
5. It is high in red meat
A carnivore diet is high in red meat andsome studies have shown that high red meat intake may increase the risk of breast cancer, colon cancerandheart disease.
Frequently asked questions:
Can I drink coffee on the carnivore diet?
No. Coffee is not allowed on a strict carnivore diet, however I do see some people advocating for a more flexible carnivore diet where people are allowed to consume coffee and tea.
Can I exercise on the carnivore diet?
Yes. On the carnivore diet, your body will go through a process called gluconeogenesis where some protein is converted into glucose which can be used for exercise and other body functions. If you exercise a lot or do a lot of cardio, some carnivore diet experts do allow people to consume some fruits to help compensate for this type of exercise, so be sure to listen carefully to what your body needs.
What is the difference between carnivore and keto?
A carnivore diet eliminates all foods from plants and only allows you to eat food from animals. By doing so it naturally eliminates all carbohydrates and would put you into ketosis. It is basically an extreme version of a keto or low carbohydrate diet which limits, but does not entirely eliminate carbohydrates, with the goal of getting your body into ketosis.
What is the difference between carnivore and paleo?
The paleo diet is a lot more flexible than a carnivore diet. Paleo allows you to eat many different foods including meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and certain sweeteners. It still allows you to eat carbohydrates and food from plants while the carnivore diet only allows you to eat foods that come from animals and eliminates all plant foods.
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Dr. Erin Carter, MD, FRCPC, is a physician with board certifications in internal medicine and rheumatology. She is passionate about nutrition, environmental health and low toxicity living and has been doing research and publishing information in this area for years. She is also a self-trained chef and has been creating and publishing recipes since 2015. Her recipes have been featured on many different websites and online publications.
- Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a "Carnivore Diet"
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- A ketogenic formula prevents tumor progression and cancer cachexia by attenuating systemic inflammation in colon 26 tumor-bearing mice.
- Inflammation-mediated memory dysfunction and effects of a ketogenic diet in a murine model of multiple sclerosis.
- The effects of ketogenic diet on oxidative stress and antioxidative capacity markers of Taekwondo athletes.
- Reduced pain and inflammation in juvenile and adult rats fed a ketogenic diet.
- Ketogenic diet exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
- The influence of ketogenic diets on psoriasiform-like skin inflammation.
- Ketogenic diets and pain.
- Ketogenic diet in migraine treatment: A brief but ancient history.
- A very low-carbohydrate diet improves symptoms and quality of life in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.
- Randomization to a low-carbohydrate diet advice improves health related quality of life compared with a low-fat diet at similar weight-loss in Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Serum levels of interleukin-6 and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate in response to either fasting or a ketogenic diet in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Diabetes, impaired fasting glucose and their relations to plasma pro-inflammatory cytokines: a population-based study in China.
- Dietary Fibre Protective against Colorectal Cancer Patients in Asia: A Meta-Analysis
- Dietary effects on human gut microbiome diversity
- Ketogenic diet for human diseases: the underlying mechanisms and potential for clinical implementations
- Effect of Anti-Inflammatory Diets on Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
DISCLAIMERS: The statements made on this website have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. You assume full responsibility for how you use this information. Always consult with your physician or other health professionals before making any diet or lifestyle changes. This post may contain affiliate links whereby if you purchase these products I receive a small percentage of the sale price. This allows me to keep the blog running and I thank you for allowing me to do that!
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or opinions, but I can provide information on the concepts used in this article. Let's dive into the key concepts mentioned in the article.
The carnivore diet is a dietary approach where individuals consume only animal-based foods and avoid all plant-based foods. This elimination diet has gained popularity in recent years, with advocates claiming that it can help with various health issues and improve overall well-being. Proponents of the carnivore diet believe that our ancestors primarily consumed meat and fish, and that the high intake of carbohydrates and plant-based foods in modern diets is responsible for many health problems and chronic diseases.
Potential Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
According to the article, proponents of the carnivore diet claim that it can provide several potential benefits, although most of the evidence is anecdotal. Some of the mentioned benefits include:
Weight Loss: Like a ketogenic diet, the carnivore diet may promote weight loss and improve body composition by shifting the body's main energy source from carbohydrates to fats. The high protein and fat content of animal-based foods can also increase satiety and regulate appetite.
Decreased Inflammation: Studies suggest that a ketogenic diet, and potentially the carnivore diet, may help decrease inflammation, which could benefit various inflammation-driven conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, depression, anxiety, inflammatory arthritis, psoriasis, pain, diabetes, and migraines.
Decreased Pain: Some studies in animals and humans have shown that a low-carbohydrate or carnivore-style diet may help reduce pain.
Improved Digestion: Certain studies indicate that a keto or low-carb diet, including the carnivore diet, may be helpful for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Foods Allowed and Avoided on the Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet allows the consumption of the following foods:
- Meat: Unprocessed meats such as beef, lamb, pork, game meats, chicken, and turkey.
- Fish: Unprocessed fish such as salmon, tuna, Mahi Mahi, cod, mackerel, sardines, crab, scallops, mussels, and shrimp.
- Other Animal Products: Eggs, bone marrow, lard, and bone broth (made without vegetables).
- Full Fat and Low Lactose Dairy Products: Butter, heavy cream, ghee, hard cheese (in small amounts), preferably raw dairy.
- Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, herbs, and spices without sugars or carbohydrates.
The carnivore diet requires avoiding the following foods:
- High-Lactose Dairy Products: Soft cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
- All Additives: Nitrates, artificial flavors, natural flavors, nitrites, MSG, etc.
- Nuts and Seeds
- Crop Oils or Vegetable Oils
- Imitation Meats or Plant-Based Meats
- Beverages Other Than Water
The article also emphasizes the importance of consuming organ meats to avoid nutrient deficiencies. It suggests that naturally raised meats (e.g., grass-fed) and wild-caught fish are preferred on the carnivore diet, although they can be more expensive and may require special sourcing.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
The article provides a sample 7-day carnivore diet meal plan, which includes various animal-based foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The portion sizes and specific foods can vary depending on personal preferences and dietary needs. It's important to note that counting calories and macros is not recommended on the carnivore diet, and the goal is to eat when hungry and stop when full.
The article also offers a free 14-day carnivore diet meal plan in a downloadable PDF format for additional meal ideas.
Potential Risks of the Carnivore Diet
While proponents of the carnivore diet claim many benefits, it's important to consider potential risks associated with this dietary approach. Some potential risks mentioned in the article include:
Nutrient Deficiencies: Due to the elimination of various plant-based foods, there is a risk of nutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin C deficiency (scurvy). It is important to ensure adequate intake of organ meats and eggs to mitigate this risk.
Lack of Fiber: The carnivore diet is low in fiber since it eliminates plant foods. A lack of fiber may lead to constipation, and some studies suggest that diets low in fiber may increase the risk of colon cancer.
Loss of Gut Bacteria Diversity: Eating a diverse diet that includes fruits and vegetables can contribute to a diverse gut microbiome. By eliminating many foods and mainly consuming a meat-based diet, there is a possibility of losing diversity in the gut microbiome, which could have long-term health implications.
Stress and Long-Term Sustainability: Strict dietary protocols, such as the carnivore diet, can be stressful to follow and may not be sustainable in the long term. Increased stress can negatively affect health, and if the stress outweighs the potential benefits of the diet, it may not be suitable for everyone.
High Red Meat Intake: The carnivore diet is high in red meat, and some studies suggest that high red meat intake may increase the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
The article addresses a few common questions about the carnivore diet:
- Can I drink coffee on the carnivore diet? Coffee is generally not allowed on a strict carnivore diet, although some advocates of a more flexible carnivore diet may allow coffee and tea.
- Can I exercise on the carnivore diet? Yes, exercise is possible on the carnivore diet. Gluconeogenesis, a process where protein is converted into glucose, can provide energy for exercise. Some carnivore diet experts may recommend consuming fruits for individuals who engage in excessive exercise to compensate for the lack of carbohydrates.
- What is the difference between carnivore and keto? The carnivore diet eliminates all plant-based foods and aims for zero carbohydrate intake, whereas the ketogenic diet allows for a limited amount of carbohydrates. The carnivore diet is an extreme version of a ketogenic diet.
- What is the difference between carnivore and paleo? The paleo diet is more flexible compared to the carnivore diet. The paleo diet allows for the consumption of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and certain sweeteners, whereas the carnivore diet strictly eliminates all plant foods.
Expertise and References
The article is written by Dr. Erin Carter, MD, FRCPC, a physician with board certifications in internal medicine and rheumatology. Dr. Carter is passionate about nutrition, environmental health, and low-toxicity living. She has been conducting research and publishing information in these areas for years. Additionally, she is a self-trained chef and has been creating and publishing recipes since 2015.
The article provides references to support the information presented. These references include studies and resources related to ketogenic diets, inflammation, pain management, digestive health, and more.
Please note that the information provided here is a summary of the concepts used in the article. For more detailed information, it's recommended to refer to the original article and consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet.