Here you will find a carnivore diet food list to help you learn what you can and can't eat on a carnivore diet. I've also included a printable PDF with the foods that are allowed and not allowed to be eaten on a carnivore diet so that you can easily reference it at any time.
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.
Table of Contents
What is the carnivore diet?
Before we get to the carnivore diet food list and carnivore diet plan, I wanted to give you a quick introduction as to what the carnivore diet is, as it has been gaining popularity in the last few years and has been trending on social media.
The carnivore diet is where you only eat foods that come from animals, and avoid any foods that come from plants. It sounds pretty extreme, but this elimination diet has many positive reviews and testimonials.
Carnivore dieters and proponents of the carnivore diet like Dr. Shawn Baker (an orthopedic surgeon) and Dr. Paul Saladino (a psychiatrist and functional medicine doctor) swear it can help with many different health issues, has many health benefits, and that is has greatly improved their own health. Advocates of the carnivorous diet say a carnivore diet helps with many different health problems and that it can help with many things including weight loss, blood sugar regulation, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, mood, energy, sleep, digestive issues, focus and more.
Of course, like any other new diet or nutrition changes, before considering the carnivore diet, be sure to discuss it with your doctor and other healthcare practitioners.
The carnivore diet is based on the idea that our ancestors evolved eating mainly meat and fish, and that high-carb diets, plant based foods, and processed foods that are common now are responsible for many different health issues and diseases.
It is also based on the idea that the high intake of plants that is often recommended is not ideal for health. Plants naturally produce a number of different chemicals and compounds to help protect themselves from pray including things like oxalates, salicylates, phytic acid or phytates, lectins, and more. It is felt that these chemicals and compounds can be harmful to the human body by acting as anti-nutrients and by being hard on the gut, so by avoiding them by avoiding plant foods your health will improve.
The carnivore diet is different from other elimination diets or low carb style diets such as the paleo diet (although by definition a paleo diet isn't actually a low carbohydrate diet) or 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 in ketosis, this would happen naturally given the lack of carbs on the diet.
A carnivore diet is basically a combination of an extreme ketogenic diet, and elimination diet, both of which can help with various health problems. It is essentially the opposite of a high-carb diet. However, it should be noted that so far there have been very few studies specifically examining a carnivore diet to help prove or disprove the health claims associated with it.
By removing plant foods, carnivore diets contain little to no:
And this 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:
To date, 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 zero carbohydrate diet, will put you into a state of ketosis.
Similar to a keto diet, eating a strict animal food based diet can help you lose weight and lose body fat or help with fat loss because you are shifting your main energy source from carbs to fats.
This way of eating may also help decrease inflammation and many studies have shown that a ketogenic diet (and hence likely the carnivore diet too) can decrease inflammation and be beneficial for many different chronic diseases and health conditions which are driven by inflammation including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, epilepsy, depression, anxiety, inflammatory arthritis, psoriasis, pain, diabetes, migraines etc.
It can also help with digestion and studies have shown that a keto diet, or animal-based diet like the carnivore diet can be helpful for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Potential risks of a carnivore diet:
On this diet you could be at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This restrictive diet eliminates many different foods that are high in essential vitamins and minerals and other important nutrients. 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.
There is a lack of fiber on this diet. Fiber comes from plant foods, and fiber contributes to healthy bowel movements and healthy gut bacteria. 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.
It is high in red meat and some studies have shown that high red meat intake may increase the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease.
This diet can be stressful and hard to follow long term. Doing any type of strict dietary protocol, especially one that eliminates as many food groups as the carnivore diet does can be very mentally taxing and 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 it isn't right for you.
High-protein diets and high fat diets like this diet are not a good option for everyone. Certain underlying chronic disease like kidney failure or kidney disease can be made worse by these types of low-carb diets.
The long-term effects of this diet have not been studied, and there may be other risks that we have not yet identified.
Carnivore Diet Food List
In order to follow a carnivore diet, you need to stick to animal-based foods. But, not all animal products are allowed on a carnivore diet, so in this post I've included a carnivore diet food list that outlines which foods are allowed, and which foods aren't allowed on a carnivore diet to make following this type of diet that much easier.
The following sections review a comprehensive list of foods that you can eat on a carnivore diet.
Foods to eat on a carnivore diet:
- Meat - you can eat many types of meat and this includes any type of unprocessed meat including beef (including but not limited to steak, ground beef, beef liver, stew beef), lamb, pork (including ground pork pork chops, pork ribs, pork rinds), game meats, chicken (ground chicken, chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken wings etc.), turkey (ground turkey, turkey breasts, turkey thighs etc), duck, 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, mackerel, sardines, crab, scallops, shrimp etc.
- Other animal-based products including eggs, bone marrow, animal fat, lard, bone broth (made without vegetables), etc.
- Full-fat dairy and low lactose dairy products (in small amounts) including butter, heavy cream, ghee, hard cheeses, etc. - ideally full fat 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.
* If possible you want to choose grass-fed meat and pasture raised meat.
Foods to avoid on a carnivore diet:
- High-lactose dairy products such as soft cheese, milk, sour cream, yogurt, etc.
- All additives including but not limited to, nitrates, artificial flavours, natural flavours, nitrites, MSG, etc.
- Nuts and seeds
- Imitation meats or plant based meats
- Vegetable oils
- Beverages other than water
In general, you will need to avoid all plant-based foods on this meat diet.
In order to do the carnivore diet properly, and ensure you get enough essential nutrients you need to follow a nose-to-tail approach. This means that you are including 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.
Ideally, you also want to ensure that the meat and fish you are eating are naturally raised. This means pasture raised meats (ie. grass fed and grass finished beef) and wild fish. Because of this, the carnivore diet can be rather expensive to do and not everyone could afford to do it properly.
Carnivore diet shopping list:
If you are thinking of trying a carnivore diet, I've created a handy printable PDF carnivore diet shopping list or carnivore diet food list for you that you can take to the grocery store. Here you will find a complete list of the animal foods you can eat on this diet.
To get the list simply leave your email below and it will be sent to your inbox.
Carnivore diet meal plan:
If you are thinking about trying a carnivore diet, I highly encourage you to discuss it with your doctor or other healthcare provider first, as there are some people where this type of diet may not be ideal depending on your underlying health conditions, medical conditions, overall health, the medications you take etc. For example a diet with zero carbs, and that encourages a high fat intake and high amounts of protein is not ideal for everyone.
I also encourage you to do more research before just starting it on a whim. My favourite resource for the carnivore diet is the book The 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 really breaking down the science behind this diet.
But if you are thinking about trying a carnivore diet and aren't sure what you could even eat on an animal based diet like this, here is a sample 3 day carnivore diet meal plan:
Sample Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
- Breakfast: Steak and eggs
- Lunch: Salmon and fried duck
- Snack: Bacon
- Dinner: Ground beef patties
- Breakfast: Eggs with bacon
- Lunch: Tuna and hard boiled eggs
- Snack: Sardines
- Dinner: Bone broth and roasted chicken
- Breakfast: Chicken livers and scrambled eggs
- Lunch: Turkey burgers
- Snack: Hard boiled eggs
- Dinner: Roasted salmon
You'll 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 the 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, amino acids and fatty acids it would be a good idea to work with a registered dietitian to come up with the best ways to do this diet for you to ensure you maintain your energy levels and muscle mass. There are many different ways to make an animal meat based diet work for you that work with your own eating habits and the specific foods that you prefer.
I hope you found this helpful! If you have tried a carnivore diet please share your experience in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
Frequently asked questions:
Nope. The true carnivore diet only allows water. However, many people eat a more flexible carnivore diet where they will add beverages like coffee or tea.
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 omit the amount of carbs that you can eat, with the goal of getting your body into ketosis.
I highly recommend the book The Carnivore Code by Dr. Paul Saladino. It is the best resource I have found so far and is full of really great information.
Other information you will want to read:
- Why grains are not healthy
- Is there mercury in your mascara?
- Is there benzene in your sunscreen?
- How to choose safe cookware
- Are candles toxic?
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.