The Carnivore Diet: Healthy Or Hype? Part III
In parts I and II of this series we covered the basics of the Carnivore Diet (eating nothing but meat, eggs, and possibly dairy); what benefits people who follow it are reporting; and why, scientifically speaking, it’s achieved such undeniably good results for some – at least as a way to detox the body, and reduce inflammation. If you’re thinking of testing out going carnivore, talk to your physician first, and read these frequently asked questions…
Should I Only Eat Steak, Or Incorporate Other Kinds Of Animal Foods As Well?
What you’re trying to accomplish will determine what you should eat. For Mikhaila Peterson, who experienced debilitating autoimmune diseases from childhood and is sensitive to almost every food besides beef and salt, steak was all she could consume to make sure her symptoms didn’t return. Now she sometimes experiments with adding chicken or salmon back into her diet, but finds variations still affect her body negatively.
If your goal is just to lose weight, feel healthier, and decrease inflammation, you can technically eat anything that comes from an animal. This includes meat, fish (salmon is best because of the high fat content), eggs, some cheese, some milk or cream, and salt/pepper. You can cook things in butter or tallow – not oil. And you can drink water, tea, or coffee with cream. Organ meat is high in vitamins and minerals, and could be worth considering as well.
Is There An Adjustment Period?
People report different things when they start eating nothing but meat. If you’ve been a loyal keto follower, you may not feel any negative effects from eliminating plant-based foods. The less healthy your diet has been lately, the higher the chance you’ll get what they call “the keto flu,” which is an adjustment time in which your body learns to convert protein into energy instead of carbs and sugar. You might feel tired, irritable, or moody, and have cravings for food not in the plan.
You might also experience diarrhea within the first week, and should stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. This can last for up to a week but if you can tough it out, the cravings should dissipate and you should start feeling the positive changes people are reporting.
Don’t I Need Fiber To Have Regular Bowel Movements?
This is a debated subject, in large part because of the emergence of the Carnivore Diet. It’s generally accepted that eating more fiber leads to better bowel movements, but some claim that lectins from legumes, vegetables, and fruits cause inflammation and increased bacteria in the gut – not good for the morning trip to the toilet.
It’s helpful to find out what foods you’re sensitive to by doing a blood test. If you don’t tolerate lectins well, it might benefit you to attempt an all-meat diet to try and regulate your system.
Should I Supplement While On The Carnivore Diet?
It might be surprising, but you can technically get your daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals from meat. Red meat is chock full of zinc and iron, and seafood and dairy products can supply you with plenty of vitamin D. Organ meats are the true powerhouses of nutrition, and actually contain more micronutrients than vegetables. Responsible carnivores cover all their bases to make sure they don’t suffer the consequences of nutrient deficiency. If you don’t want to risk it, take a reputable supplement.
Does The Quality Of Meat Matter?
Yes. Everything you put in your body causes a reaction. Eating animals that were fed a poor diet – or given hormones – can negatively affect your health. It’s important to buy quality meat from reputable sources to ensure you’re getting the most nutrients possible without harmful additives.
Where Can I Learn More?
Googling “Carnivore Diet” will lead you to a myriad of videos and articles, both for and against. In the absence of real scientific studies and long-term research, it’s best to examine any health advice from all sides, and carefully weigh your options.
Dr. Shawn Baker’s website goes into depth about his experiences with pain and food sensitivity, and all the benefits he attributes to the Carnivore Diet. Mikhaila Peterson’s site documents her struggles with severe autoimmune conditions, and how eating meat has essentially allowed her to live a normal life free of pain. There’s even an entire online forum dedicated to people using the Carnivore Diet to live a healthier life.
That’s for you to decide. Considering only the large amount of anecdotal evidence, it seems to be that the Carnivore Diet can help reset the gut – decreasing inflammation, and increasing energy and mental clarity. It also seems to cause weight loss and increased energy due to the elimination of carbohydrates, which spike blood sugar levels.
If nothing else, it can serve as an “elimination diet,” meaning it removes all but one food for an amount of time, allowing a cleansing to occur. Then, foods can be slowly introduced to determine which ones cause discomfort and should be avoided.
Every person is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet. Some people do well eating meat, others swear by veganism. The key is to experiment with your own diet, be patient, and decide what makes you feel your best. It also helps to monitor your blood often to make sure you’re healthy, and meeting your nutritional needs. Only time and further research will tell if the Carnivore Diet is health or hype, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.