Introduction to the controversial carnivore diet
You may have heard about this diet before as it has not long ago been popularized by many public figures like Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Paul Saladino, and more recently, Georges St. Pierre (one of the greatest combat athletes of all time in case you haven’t heard about him). These folks as many others claim the big benefits of sticking to an animal-based diet and the results that they have been showing are quite remarkable as shown below, the photos taken while they are or were on a carnivore diet.
As a side note, GSP photo is just a few days ago on a carnivore diet, Paul Saladino has been consistently eating mostly meat and Joe Rogan tried the diet for a month and the photo shows the results achieved on a post he did on February 2020 on Instagram.
▍What Does It Consist Of ?
The carnivore diet is a restrictive diet in which people eat only meat products including, fish, eggs, and some dairy products. Some proponents of the carnivore diet also suggest limiting or cutting out dairy products as these products have carbohydrates in them. The recommendations on carbohydrates are only a few and, these are limited by what its advocates define as the least toxic carbohydrates to consume. A carnivore pyramid diet looks something like this.
Many diets are trending at the moment with very different approaches while diets suggest cutting almost all carbohydrates of the equation like a low carb diet or the keto diet, others go to a different side of the spectrum by suggesting the elimination of animal base products (vegan diet). The carnivore diet gives yet another different turn stating that all you need meat and that consuming plants might even be toxic for you.
What do carnivore diet advocates eat then? Well, here we have some of the products that are okay to eat according to the carnivore diet.
Salt and pepper
▍What is it based on?
The carnivore diet is based on the way of eating of ancestral populations which rely only upon eating meat as a primary source of food and eating it as long as it was available however, this stand is controversial. Carnivore diet adopters blame coronary diseases on the high amount of carbohydrates and sugars found in a regular western diet. One of the main goals of the carnivore diet is to eliminate carbohydrates on the diet and yes, this includes plants as well.
▍What are the benefits of it?
Although this diet is not considered a rigorously tested and new diet in terms of research, the proponents of the carnivore diet claim various health benefits.
Regulation of blood sugar
Lean mass gain
Potential treatment for depression, obesity, anxiety, diabetes, and more.
Easy to follow, no need of counting macros
▍Eating only meat will make me fat ?
Because meat is mostly protein it will help with weight loss as protein helps us feel full longer, our bodies release more satiety hormones when we consume higher amounts of protein and this will also help us regulate our blood sugar levels. A higher protein intake also speeds up the metabolic process which helps us burn more calories.
The carnivore diet eliminates most of the processed foods that exist in regular diets as well as eliminating the high sugar foods such as cake, cookies, cereal, sodas, etc. This could be a contributing factor in the health benefits of people that stick to a carnivore diet as they are already eliminating foods that we all agree are not considered healthy.
▍Isn’t that too much fat for a diet?
A study conducted in 2013 by the journal of nutrition compared two subjects: subjects in group one ate a high-fat, low-carb diet while subjects in group 2 ate a low-fat, high-carb diet. Although calories were restricted for both groups, the high-fat eaters had lower markers of systemic inflammation after 12 weeks compared to the low-fat group. As a result, it was concluded that high-fat diets might be beneficial for cardiovascular health.
▍Can it boost testosterone?
Diets high in saturated fat have been shown to boost testosterone levels. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who followed a high-fat, low-fiber diet for 10 weeks had 13% higher total testosterone than subjects who ate low fat and high fiber.
▍What about the bad cholesterol ?
It was a common statement that saturated fat may increase LDL or commonly known as bad cholesterol, however recent studies found no correlation between saturated fats and a higher risk of heart disease. It must be taken into consideration that there are not sufficient studies of people eating only animal-based products.
▍Downsides Of The Carnivore Diet
Carnivore diet consists of no fiber, fiber is essential for our digestion and it has various benefits such as; normalizing bowel movements, lowering cholesterol levels, control sugar blood levels, achieving a healthy weight, and reducing the probability of colon cancer and heart disease. Some carnivore enthusiast that decides not consuming any fruits or vegetables at all may find benefits in including a fiber supplement in their diets.
2、Benefits of plants and vegetables
Not including fruits and vegetables in the diet can have different side effects, although animal foods are not carcinogenic vegetables and fruits are beneficial in preventing colon cancer. Eating meat is not unhealthy but eating eggs and steak 3 times a day is a different equation that has not been researched enough. The consumption of fruits and vegetables offers benefits for eye health, brain health, and overall longevity and these are factors that should not be taken aside in any dietary decisions.
It is not crazy to say that if every person decides to go all in a carnivore diet we will most likely run out of animals to eat pretty soon. The best available meat is organically farmed and free range but the consumption of more meat per capita will only lead to more factory farming and we know how dangerous that could be. If you are looking for a sustainable eco-friendly diet, the carnivore diet will be the better alternative.
4、Some doctors even went public on the risks of the diet
"Especially for somebody who's untrained and not very knowledgeable, I think it's dangerous for [Mikhaila Peterson] to be pushing this as a lifestyle," cardiologist Ethan Weiss from the University of California, San Francisco told BuzzFeed.
Cardiologist Jennifer Haythe from New York-Presbyterian Hospital also told the New York Daily Post that it could be potentially dangerous for those who already have high-levels of cholesterol.
5、Not enough research
There is no clear evidence-based research on the claimed benefits of the carnivore diet and most of the benefits that come from the carnivore diet claims are mostly anecdotal and also present in other elimination or caloric restriction diets.
Lastly, the carnivore diet became popular and a hot topic in recent times by health benefits claimed by 3 different doctors: Dr. Shawn Baker (an athlete and orthopedic surgeon), Dr. Paul Saladino (a psychiatrist), and Jordan Peterson (a psychologist).
Communities to learn more about the diet.
The Carnivore Code by Paul Saladino
Recommended Instagram accounts:
HVMN Podcast #132 Mikhaila Peterson
The Joe Rogan Experience #1551 Paul Saladino
The Ultimate Health Podcast #3721 Shawn Baker