Many diet programs like vegan diet, Mediterranean diet, plant-based diet, and Flexitarian diet are trending nowadays. Each diet plan boosts the success of losing weight and has many other health benefits. One of the diet plans which has recently become popular is carnivore diet.
But is it safe to eat only meat and no plants? Are there any side effects?
Let us dive a little deeper into the carnivore diet.
What Is Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet consists of a diet that only consumes animal food eliminating all plant-based foods. The diet only includes meat, fish, eggs, and certain dairy products. Food items like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds are completely out of bounds in this diet.
A carnivore diet is an extreme form of Keto, Ketogenic or Paleolithic diet, which are high in meat. Moreover, it is a high-fat diet, and all carbohydrate food items are cut out from this diet.
This diet is not sustainable in the long term as it is highly restrictive and prevents you from consuming different forms of nutrition. Also, there are no specific guidelines on calorie intake, the number of meals in a day, and serving sizes.
Some studies claim this also helps with weight loss, blood sugar control, mood issues, and other health issues.
Food items excluded in this diet:
- Grains – Wheat, Rice, etc
- Vegetables – Potatoes, Beans, Cauliflower, etc
- Fruits – Apple, Banana, Oranges, etc
- Nuts and Seeds – Almond, Cashews, Pumpkin seeds, etc
- Alcohol – Beer, Wine, etc
- Legumes – Beans, Lentils, etc
- Beverages – Tea, Coffee, etc. You can only consume water in this diet.
- Sugar – Any form of sugar
What Can I Eat On Carnivore Diet
You can consume all the things mentioned below.
- Meat in any form
- Fish and Sea Foods
- Animal Fats
Some variants allow dairy products such as butter, ghee, hard cheese, and heavy cream.
Benefits of the Carnivore Diet
Some of the benefits associated with this diet are as follows:-
1. Aids in Weight Loss
This diet focuses on consuming fat and protein, so the calorie intake is significantly less. You may feel full and enter the state of ketosis, where the body uses fat for energy, resulting in weight loss.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Following this diet can reduce inflammation for some people. It can also calm their digestive system and other parts of the body. The diet can also help people with autoimmune diseases.
3. Reduces Gastrointestinal Symptoms
A low residue diet can sometimes also help in reducing inflammation. Plus, it may also help resolve gastrointestinal issues.
This diet is beneficial in the short term, but long-term sustainability is difficult as it excludes a lot of nutrients like carbohydrates, which are needed by the body for growth and maintenance.
Side Effects Of Carnivore Diet
There are many side effects of consuming this animal-only diet.
1. Increases Heart and Chronic Diseases
Consuming only a carnivorous diet increases the risk of certain heart diseases. Moreover, the body is not getting proper nutrients which can only be derived from fruits and vegetables. Eating only animal-based food also increases acidic content in your body resulting in many chronic health conditions.
2. Digestive Health Issues
Consuming only an animal diet can raise health issues like constipation and other digestive problems. The diet lacks fiber and other vitamins, leading to many physical and mental health problems.
3. Can Complicate Existing Health Conditions
Following this diet can complicate existing health conditions like cardiac problems, diabetes, pregnancy, and nursing. You should seek medical advice if you are on medication for other health conditions.
4. Can Increase Bad Cholesterol and Sodium Level
Animal-based diet is high in cholesterol and saturated fats.
Saturated fat can increase your bad LDL cholesterol , resulting in heart issues. Also, restricting yourself to a carnivore’s diet can increase your sodium intake, resulting in health issues like blood pressure, kidney problems, and other negative issues .
5. Lack of Micronutrients and Compounds
There are many nutrients and minerals that are only available in plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Following only an animal-based diet can lead to deficiencies in some nutrients and overconsumption of others.
6. The Diet Lacks Fiber Intake
Fiber helps to improve gut health and healthy bowel movements. It also helps maintain proper balance in your gut. Fiber can be sourced from plant-based food only, but it is disallowed in this diet plan.
Thus, excluding fiber from your diet can impact your gut health.
Because of all the above reasons, a carnivorous diet should be avoided by the following groups of people:
- Those with thyroid issues shouldn’t consume carbohydrates as it puts a lot of stress on the body. If your thyroid is weak or unbalanced, it will add more stress to the body.
- People suffering from kidney diseases are advised to reduce protein intake if they have a chronic kidney problem. The carnivore diet is heavy on protein intake.
- People who have an eating disorder history. Restricting certain food items can be pretty stressful for their body.
- Females in their reproductive years should not restrict themselves to certain diets. Not consuming carbohydrates can impact their fertility.
If you have any medical conditions or are taking medications, be sure to seek professional health advice before changing your diet drastically. The same also applies if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Is the Carnivore Diet Good For Autoimmune Disease?
There are many health claims on the carnivore diet for autoimmune diseases. As per the research, below are 8 autoimmune conditions that may improve due to the carnivore diet. However, there is a need for more research on the said benefits.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – It is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints causing joint inflammation and pain
- Lupus – A condition that affects the skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and brain.
- Psoriasis – A skin condition that affects the skin. It stimulates excess skin growth.
- IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – This is a condition in which your intestinal lining is inflamed due to immune system dysfunction. IBD is split up into two distinct conditions: Crohn’s and UC (Ulcerative Colitis)
- Hashimotos – an autoimmune system in which the metabolism slows down. This is due to the immune system’s attack on the thyroid gland. The immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, producing too little hormone and slowing down metabolism.
- Celiac – Is an autoimmune condition that causes damage to the small intestine due to the immune system’s reaction to gluten.
- Pernicious Anemia – In this condition, the body cannot make healthy red blood cells due to a lack of B12 absorption.
- Multiple Sclerosis – This is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroy the fatty tissue (known as myelin) that protects nerve fiber. It can impact the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
Carnivore Diet For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Few research studies show that following a carnivorous diet can help with rheumatoid arthritis. Many people have benefitted from this diet plan. However, there is a need for more studies to confirm benefits in detail if consumed for a longer duration .
Bottomline: Pros and Cons of the Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet is an animal-based diet that strictly eliminates the consumption of plant-based food items. It lacks many nutrients and vitamins, only present in plant food. Hence, this diet is not suitable for everyone. People may face gastrointestinal problems and constipation due to a lack of fiber and other essential minerals for the body.
Although this diet is suitable for a short duration to reduce weight and enjoy other health benefits, consumption for the long term can result in many vitamin deficiencies. Pregnant and nursing women, females in their reproductive years, and people having any chronic health conditions should avoid this diet.
It is always best to consume a nutritious and balanced diet for a healthy body. Before consuming this diet, consult a medical practitioner to avoid medical complications.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Cappuccio F. P. (2013). Cardiovascular and other effects of salt consumption. Kidney international supplements, 3(4), 312–315. https://doi.org/10.1038/kisup.2013.65
- Grant W. B. (2000). The role of meat in the expression of rheumatoid arthritis. The British journal of nutrition, 84(5), 589–595. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007114500001926