Hey Angels and Alphas,
Throughout the nutrition world, you will see countless trends in terms of diet and eating methodologies. Some of them will focus on eliminating certain foods, maybe even certain food groups, while some will be focused more on a holistic variety of macronutrients to fuel your body.
One trend that has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and one that many proponents of the vegetarian/vegan community may not be very fond of, is the carnivore diet.
The carnivore diet looks exactly how it sounds – complete focus on animal products, meats, and dairy products, whereas a “strict” carnivore diet consists entirely of meat, salt, and water. While it may sound ridiculous at first, countless people across the Internet have been talking about this way of eating for years, and since they’re so many of them now, their voice is finally being heard.
Let’s explore this super strict diet and see if there’s any merit to its health claims.
Foods you can’t eat while you’re on the carnivore diet:
This plan essentially eliminates all plant-based foods. This means the following items are not allowed:
- Fruits and veggies: Every fruit and vegetable is essentially off-limits on a strict carnivore diet. That means the carnivore plan also reduces all benefits of plant-based eating, such as high antioxidants and reduced risk of chronic disease. Greens and fruits do appear in less strict forms of this diet.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils and peas are prohibited on the carnivore eating plan. That’s unfortunate since they’re high in fiber, one nutrient that improves overall health.
- Whole grains: The carnivore diet does not allow consuming whole grains, this includes brown rice, whole-wheat bread, pasta and even oats.
- Nuts and seeds: Everything from cashews to sunflower seeds are forbidden. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Refined grains and sugars: The refined grains usually found in many cereals and breads, as well as the added sugars found in desserts, are totally off-limits.
The proposed health benefits of the carnivore diet
Few studies have been conducted on the carnivore diet, but this hasn’t stopped its supporters from touting countless health perks in books and online case studies. Let’s take a closer look at their claims:
#1 MOOD, FOCUS, CLARITY, STRESS REDUCTION
Science hasn’t yet supported cutting out carbohydrates to treat such symptoms. If anything, complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, oats, and whole-grain breads could boost our mood by delivering tryptophan, an amino acid that the body utilizes to produce serotonin. It’s also worth noting that many animal products such as eggs, fish, and meat are rich in tryptophan.
#2 WEIGHT LOSS
Given that the carnivore diet will take two major food groups off your diet, it could lead to weight loss. Temporarily, that is. For starters, having fewer foods to choose from means you will likely consume fewer calories than normal. This is true with all restrictive meal plans. And just like any other diet, when you cut out calories, you’ll lose weight.
As part of its restrictions, the carnivore diet will eliminate carbohydrates. When the body is deprived of carbs, it goes through a short period of burning all your stored sugar (glycogen.) This process releases water from your body, resulting in quick weight loss. Once glycogen runs out, the body switches to deriving energy from fat, inducing what is known as ketosis.
Other low-carb diet options
While they’re not as restrictive as the carnivore diet, the following eating plans may be similar in that they sharply reduce your intake of carbs, leading to various health benefits. Many dieters find low-carb diets to be challenging to maintain.
- Keto diet: The keto diet is a famous high-fat eating plan that emphasizes most animal-derived foods including red meat, butter, and cheese. This means most carbs are off-limits, leafy greens, low-starch veggies, and small portions of fruits such as berries are usually allowed. Similar to the carnivore diet, keto diet relies on inducing ketosis, a process that completely depletes glycogen stores so the body starts using stored fat as energy.
- Paleo diet: With countless variations out there, the Paleo diet generally allows most whole and unprocessed foods, including fruits, veggies, nuts, most seeds, a lot of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, as well as plant oils. That being said, some whole foods such as tomatoes are usually off-limits as supporters of the diet claim they might contain toxins. Because it basically limits what you can eat and therefore likely produces a calorie deficit, the Paleo diet usually results in achieving weight loss.