The Carnivore Diet: Healthy Or Hype? Part I

The Carnivore Diet: Healthy Or Hype? Part I

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There’s a lifestyle that’s been stirring up controversy in the health and fitness sphere (disrupting it, if you will) for the past few years. It’s called the Carnivore Diet, and it’s more or less what it sounds like – meat, meat, and more meat. This is the first in a three-part series on the Carnivore Diet, and what it’s all about.

Casual proponents of the Carnivore Diet say that they experience high energy levels without crashing, increased focus, more stamina during workouts, and weight loss. Carnivore enthusiasts such as psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter Mikhaila report that they’ve used the diet to cure depression, anxiety, and even severe arthritis.

There are also those who refute this way of eating, claiming that consuming animal products causes cancer, and could never replace plants in terms of nutrition. Some say humans are naturally omnivores. Some say we should only eat plants.

The facts are messy, no matter which way you look at them. The purpose of this three-part series is to break down the data to try and answer the question: Is the Carnivore Diet healthy or hype?


Where Did It Start?

Carnivore Diet proponents will often say that it started at the beginning of mankind, when we ventured down from the trees and began eating other animals. They were more nutritious than the vegetation available, and gave more prehistoric bang for the buck in terms of energy. Most scientists agree that it was our change from herbivore to omnivore that facilitated our increase in brain size – putting us on the fast track to language, reasoning and, eventually, the smart phone.

It was Dr. Shawn Baker, an orthopedic surgeon, who began the movement as we know it today. Crowned “the Carnivore King”, Dr. Baker has been eating this way for over three years, and claims that it provides all the effects we want from a diet: reduced inflammation, pain and fatigue. As an athlete, he’s even managed to break three world records while not consuming plants.

Dr. Baker has accumulated an enormous following (140,000 followers on his Instagram account alone) of people looking to heal their own bodies with a meat-only diet. You can see testimonials from hundreds of people praising the effects the lifestyle has had on both their physical and mental health.

From there, the movement has spread, making waves all across the health world. Dr. Baker was featured as a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience and the Human Outliers Podcast with Ben Greenfield. His unique approach to health also got the attention of controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, when his daughter Mikhaila began getting incredible results with it.

Mikhaila Peterson suffered from severe depression, inflammation, and rheumatoid arthritis her entire life. Now, she eats nothing but steak, salt, and water, and claims to be free of health complications. Her blog, Don’t Eat That, chronicles her story of healing with meat, and has led thousands of people to try to do the same.

Photo: O’Connor

What Do You Eat On A Carnivore Diet?

Meat – and lots of it. Dr. Baker reports eating around four pounds a day.

But you don’t have to stick with only meat. The idea behind the Carnivore Diet is to eliminate anything other than animal products – this means eggs, fish, organ meat, and dairy are also permissible. Water is all you drink. Salt and pepper are your friends – no sugary ketchup or barbecue sauce here.

It’s important to understand that the Carnivore Diet has not been adequately tested by scientists or nutritionists. All of the data collected is based on keto or low-carb diets (which do contain plant foods), or is purely anecdotal. Therefore, it’s best to let your doctor or nutritionist know your intentions before beginning the Carnivore Diet, especially if you have any medical conditions.

That said, anecdotal evidence does count for something. Some people’s health is improving on the Carnivore Diet, there’s no doubt about that. Does that mean it’s right for everyone, though? No. More on this to come in just three days’ time, in the second part of this Carnivore Diet deep-dive…