This post reviews the carnivore diet, provides a free 14 day carnivore diet meal plan including a printable PDF meal plan and shares carnivore recipes and tips to help you succeed on the carnivore diet.
In recent years the carnivore diet has been gaining popularity through advocates like Dr. Shawn Baker and Dr. Paul Saladino. Advocates of the diet swear it can help with many different health issues and that is has greatly improved their own health.
Now before we get to a carnivore diet meal plan, I thought it was important to explain in further detail, what exactly a carnivore diet is. And as always, like any other diet or nutrition change, before considering the carnivore diet, be sure to discuss it with your doctor and other healthcare practitioners to determine if this type of diet is right for you or not.
What is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet is a diet where you only eat foods that come from animals, and avoid all foods that come from plants. It sounds extreme, but this elimination diet does have many positive reviews and testimonials. Proponents of the carnivore diet say it helps with many different health issues and that it can help with weight loss, blood sugar regulation, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, mood, energy, sleep, digestive issues, mental focus, and more.
The carnivore diet is based on the notion that our ancestors evolved eating mostly meat and fish, and that the high intake of carbohydrates and plant based foods that is now common is responsible for many different health issues and diseases.
A carnivore diet is also based on the idea that the high intake of plants that is often recommended today is not ideal for health. Plants naturally produce a number of different chemicals and compounds to help protect themselves from pray including oxalates, salicylates, phytic acid or phytates, lectins, and more. It is believed that these compounds can be harmful to the human body, so by avoiding eating them your health will improve.
The carnivore diet is different from other elimination diets or low carb diets such as a 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 into ketosis, this would happen naturally given the lack of carbs on the diet. The carnivore diet is also different than a paleo diet because on a paleo diet you are encourage to eat carbohydrates in the form of fruit and vegetables, while a carnivore diet does not allow any fruits or vegetables.
A carnivore diet is basically a combination of an extreme ketogenic diet, and elimination diet, both of which can help with various health problems.
By eliminating plant foods the carnivore diet contains little to no:
And the elimination of these various compounds is the reason why this diet is often cited to be so helpful for many different chronic health conditions and digestive issues.
Benefits of the carnivore diet:
Now, before we go through the potential benefits of the carnivore diet I wanted to let you know that most of this is based on anecdotal reports, as so far 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 carbohydrate free diet, will put you into ketosis. For further reading on these topics please refer to the reference section at the end of this post.
1. Weight loss
Similar to a keto diet, eating a strict animal food based diet can help you lose weight because you are shifting your main energy source from carbs to fats.
When you are fat-adapted — also known as being in ketosis — your body can use both dietary and stored body fat for fuel. In other words, you can burn off your own body fat and use that as energy.
In addition, fat and protein are very satiating. This allows you to feel full for longer, and studies have shown that becoming fat-adapted improves your hunger hormones, further regulating your appetite.
2. Decreased inflammation
Multiple studies have shown that a ketogenic diet (and hence likely the carnivore diet too) can decrease inflammation and be beneficial for many different conditions which are driven by inflammation including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, epilepsy, depression, anxiety, inflammatory arthritis, psoriasis, pain, diabetes, migraines etc.
The decrease in inflammation is felt to be due to both the weight loss that tends to occur on the diet, plus the diet itself which leads to a decrease in inflammatory cytokines and markers.
3. Decreased pain
4. Improved digestion
Studies have shown that a keto diet, or low carb diets like the carnivore diet can be helpful for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Foods allowed on the carnivore diet:
*** If you are looking for a full carnivore diet food list, be sure to read my post Carnivore Diet Food List and download my free printable PDF food list.
- Meat - this includes any type of unprocessed meat including beef, lamb, pork, game meats, chicken, turkey, 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, Mahi Mahi, cod, mackerel, sardines, crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp etc.
- Other animal products - including eggs, bone marrow, lard, bone broth (made without vegetables), etc.
- Full fat and low lactose dairy products (in small amounts) - including butter, heavy cream, ghee, hard cheese, etc. - ideally 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.
Foods to avoid on the carnivore diet:
- High-lactose dairy products such as soft cheese, milk, 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
- Beverages other than water
In order to follow the carnivore diet properly you need to include 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 and done properly.
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 caught fish. Because of this, the carnivore diet can be rather expensive to do, although you will be saving money by not having to buy fruit and vegetables anymore which can also be costly.
Carnivore diet meal plan:
Now that we've discussed what the carnivore diet is and what you can and can't eat while doing it, I thought it would be really helpful to provide you with a sample meal plan. Now, if you are thinking about trying a carnivore diet, I highly encourage you to discuss it with your doctor first, as there are some people where this type of diet may not be ideal depending on your underlying health conditions, the medications you take etc.
I would also encourage you to do more research on the carnivore diet 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 breaking down the science behind this diet.
7 day carnivore diet meal plan:
- Breakfast: Eggs with bacon
- Lunch: Tuna and hard boiled eggs
- Snack: Sardines
- Dinner: Bone broth and roasted chicken
- Breakfast: Steak and eggs
- Lunch: Salmon and fried duck
- Snack: Bacon
- Dinner: Ground beef patties
- Breakfast: Chicken livers and scrambled eggs
- Lunch: Turkey burgers
- Snack: Hard boiled eggs
- Dinner: Roasted salmon
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
- Lunch: Beef burgers
- Snack: Pork rinds
- Dinner: Mahi Mahi and bone broth
- Breakfast: Chicken omelette
- Lunch: Beef liver
- Snack: Canned salmon
- Dinner: Pork chops
- Breakfast: Kefir and sunny side up eggs
- Lunch: Chicken with bacon
- Snack: Tuna
- Dinner: Bison burgers
- Breakfast: Sausages and scrambled eggs
- Lunch: Shrimp and scallops
- Snack: Bone broth
- Dinner: Steak
It's important to 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.
14 day carnivore diet meal plan:
Are you looking for even more ideas for what to eat on the carnivore diet? Then download my free 14 day carnivore diet meal plan below. Simply leave your email address and you will be sent a PDF 14 day carnivore diet meal plan.
Carnivore diet recipes:
Here are just a few recipes that are carnivore that you can enjoy:
- Air fryer frozen steak
- Chicken omelette - just omit the tomato
- Instant pot bacon
- Oven baked salmon
- Air fryer mahi mahi
- Instant pot chicken drumsticks
Carnivore diet tips:
Are you thinking about trying the carnivore diet? Before you do, here are few tips to help you succeed:
1. Talk to your doctor
Before starting any new diet or nutrition plan it is always best to speak to your doctor and other health care providers first. The carnivore diet is a very extreme diet and is not meant for everyone.
2. Do your research and prepare
The carnivore diet is not something you can just start on a whim. Before starting it you will want to do your research, and prepare for this diet. There are many books that can be helpful to read before you start including The Carnivore Code by Dr. Paul Saladino and The Carnivore Diet by Dr. Shawn Baker. You will also want to stock your fridge and freezer with pasture raised meat and wild fish so that you have all the food on hand that you will need.
3. Find a buddy
You will be much more likely to succeed on the carnivore diet if you do it with someone. Whether it's a friend, your spouse or another family member, there is power in numbers. Having a support system when you try any new dietary protocol can be extremely helpful and will help make the transition to this way of eating so much easier.
4. Clean our your pantry and kitchen
Before you start a carnivore diet I highly recommend going through your kitchen and pantry and getting rid of and donating the foods that you won't be able to eat. This way you won't be tempted by things like junk food, candy and other foods that you will no longer be eating.
Carnivore diet risks
1. Nutrient deficiencies
Because you are eliminating a lot of foods with various vitamins and minerals when on the carnivore diet you need to be very careful not to develop nutrient deficiencies. 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.
2. Lack of fiber
Fiber comes from plant foods, and fiber contributes to healthy bowel movements and good 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.
3. Loss of gut bacteria
Eating a diverse diet including one that is full of different fruits and vegetables can increase the diversity of the bacteria in your gut. By eliminating a number of foods, overtime, you can therefore lose some of the diversity of your gut microbiome. We don't yet know what implications this could have on your longterm health.
4. It can be stressful
Doing any type of strict dietary protocol, especially one that eliminates as many foods as the carnivore diet does can be very 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 isn't right for you.
Frequently asked questions:
No. Coffee is not allowed on a strict carnivore diet, however I do see some people advocating for a more flexible carnivore diet where people are allowed to consume coffee and tea.
Yes. On the carnivore diet, your body will go through a process called gluconeogenesis where some protein is converted into glucose which can be used for exercise and other body functions. If you exercise a lot or do a lot of cardio, some carnivore diet experts do allow people to consume some fruits to help compensate for this type of exercise, so be sure to listen carefully to what your body needs.
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 eliminate carbohydrates, with the goal of getting your body into ketosis.
The paleo diet is a lot more flexible than a carnivore diet. Paleo allows you to eat many different foods including meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and certain sweeteners. It still allows you to eat carbohydrates and food from plants while the carnivore diet only allows you to eat foods that come from animals and eliminates all plant foods.
Other health info you will want to read:
- Is ceramic cookware safe?
- The best non-toxic cookware
- The best non-toxic deodorants
- The best non-toxic laundry detergents
- The safest sunscreens that actually work!
- The best non-toxic bakeware
- Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a "Carnivore Diet"
- Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship
- Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Ketogenic Diet: New Perspectives for Neuroprotection in Alzheimer’s Disease
- The Effect of Ketogenic Diet on Inflammatory Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health in Rheumatic Conditions: A Mini Review
- The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: Ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism.
- Ketogenic diet decreases oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial respiratory complex activity.
- The ketogenic diet increases mitochondrial glutathione levels.
- The 1-week and 8-month effects of a ketogenic diet or ketone salt supplementation on multi-organ markers of oxidative stress and mitochondrial function in rats.
- A ketogenic formula prevents tumor progression and cancer cachexia by attenuating systemic inflammation in colon 26 tumor-bearing mice.
- Inflammation-mediated memory dysfunction and effects of a ketogenic diet in a murine model of multiple sclerosis.
- The effects of ketogenic diet on oxidative stress and antioxidative capacity markers of Taekwondo athletes.
- Reduced pain and inflammation in juvenile and adult rats fed a ketogenic diet.
- Ketogenic diet exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
- The influence of ketogenic diets on psoriasiform-like skin inflammation.
- Ketogenic diets and pain.
- Ketogenic diet in migraine treatment: A brief but ancient history.
- A very low-carbohydrate diet improves symptoms and quality of life in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.
- Randomization to a low-carbohydrate diet advice improves health related quality of life compared with a low-fat diet at similar weight-loss in Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Serum levels of interleukin-6 and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate in response to either fasting or a ketogenic diet in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Diabetes, impaired fasting glucose and their relations to plasma pro-inflammatory cytokines: a population-based study in China.
- Dietary Fibre Protective against Colorectal Cancer Patients in Asia: A Meta-Analysis
- Dietary effects on human gut microbiome diversity
- Ketogenic diet for human diseases: the underlying mechanisms and potential for clinical implementations
- Effect of Anti-Inflammatory Diets on Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis