The carnivore diet has become a hot topic in the nutrition world recently. It’s claimed to aid in fat loss, blood sugar regulation, cognition, and more.
But is adopting an all-meat diet a wise choice, both in the short and long term?
The Carnivore Diet 101
The carnivore diet is quite simple - eat only animal-based foods and avoid everything else. It’s more or less the ketogenic diet in disguise, but with a few extra restrictions. For example, all plant foods are off-limits.
And much like the keto diet, you are primarily getting your calories from protein and fats with almost zero carbohydrates.
Reported Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
Thousands of people have reported impeccable benefits such as easy and fast weight loss, mental clarity, satiety and lack of cravings, better digestion, and a steady stream of energy throughout the day.
These benefits are certainly possible. For one, meat - both fatty and lean - is very satiating. You don’t have to eat a lot of calories to feel full throughout the day. This normally leads to quick fat loss.
Second, a diet that lacks fibrous foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, seeds, and nuts tends to be easier on the digestive tract.
Third, due to the lack of carbs, many people feel a steady release of energy and no crashes (which can often be the case after a high-carb meal). The almost non-existent carb intake also curbs sugar cravings, which is a huge plus when dieting to lose weight.
A Significant Problem With The Carnivore Diet
I would first like to preface the point with the fact that we still don’t know if the carnivore diet is safe in the long run. We need more research before we can draw any conclusions.
Now, the big (and frankly apparent) fault with the diet is the lack of diversity. Sure meat and other animal foods tend to be nutritious, but they don’t offer all the nutrients we need to stay healthy.
More specifically, the carnivore diet can lead to deficiencies in vitamins C, E, and K2, as well as calcium. Also, if you don’t regularly consume organ meat (kidney, liver, heart, etc.), you’ll face deficiencies in other nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, vitamin A, and folate (a B vitamin).
Perhaps a somewhat modified carnivore diet that includes some plant foods which cover these nutrients would be a good middle ground for us.