On paper, the carnivore diet sounds like a pretty easy one. The basic tenet of the carnivore diet is straightforward and primal: eat meat and drink water. That should take a whole lot of the guesswork out of making dinner, right? But what looks good on paper isn’t always the best diet solution when you’re trying to develop a healthy daily eating plan.
The carnivore diet—sometimes called the “zero-carb diet”—consists entirely of animal products. That means no fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, or starches. This differs from other diets such as keto (high fat, low carb) and Atkins (high protein, low carb), which is low-carb eating but still allows for carbohydrates. The diet’s focus is on beef, but you can also eat lamb, chicken, pork and fish. The carnivore diet also allows you to eat eggs and high-carb dairy.
What Not to Eat
Like most diets, the carnivore diet comes with a long list of foods you can’t eat and beverages you can’t consume. Avoid putting seasonings and sauces on your meat. Avoid alcohol entirely. Leave the vegetables off your plate completely. Basically, the carnivore diet is a 100 percent animal diet—truly the stuff of vegan and environmental nightmares.
Why Try It?
People who follow the carnivore diet say it helps to kill cravings for sugar and carbs. They say it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight while following this diet regimen. Some even say that a carnivore diet can improve different health issues, though this evidence is anecdotal.
Experts warn that the carnivore diet is a dangerous choice, but no major studies have examined the carnivore diet’s impact on health and wellness yet. It’s not a science-backed diet, meaning that hard facts are scarce. But we do know a lot about meat in general. For all its protein-packed positives, red meat is considered “probably carcinogenic to humans” per the World Health Organization. Large studies performed in the United States and Europe have shown that those who ate the most red meat and processed meat were significantly more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate the least. As this is a relatively new diet trend, there is little to no research or long-term studies showing the effects of eating a carnivore diet. And because it’s such a limiting diet plan, the carnivore diet deprives you of carbs, sugars and plenty of other nutrition your body needs to function properly. Eating a diet that’s completely free of plants sounds good to some, but experts agree that it’s much better for your body if you eat a diet that’s well-balanced — including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Should You Try It?
If you’re going to try being a carnivore, do it in the healthiest way possible. Get supplements and vitamins to replace the minerals you won’t be getting in the food you consume, and set a limit for how long you’re going to stay on this diet.
Staying on a meat-only diet for an extended period of time isn’t a good decision when there’s so much that’s unknown about the overall effects of eating this way. As always, consult with your doctor before you give any diet trend a try.