Carnivore Diet: Benefits, Risks, and How It Works

The Carnivore Diet is a very restrictive eating plan that eliminates most plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Those who follow it depend exclusively on animal products to fulfil their nutritional needs.

This diet has gained popularity among individuals aiming for weight loss and improving medical conditions like diabetes. Despite numerous health concerns associated with this dietary pattern, some proponents argue that the Carnivore Diet can be healthy.

This article provides an in-depth look at the Carnivore Diet, explaining what it is, how to follow it, and how this unconventional eating approach impacts health.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Following the Carnivore Diet

Step 1: Understand the Basics

Before starting the Carnivore Diet, it’s very important to understand its fundamentals. The diet involves consuming only animal-based products and eliminating all plant-based foods. This includes fish, meat , eggs, and dairy products like cheese and butter.

Step 2: Plan Your Meals

Start planning your meals to ensure you have a variety of animal-based foods. Common options include:

  • Beef: steaks, ground beef, roasts, brisket
  • Pork: chops, bacon ( the good stuff ), sausage 
  • Poultry: Turkey, chicken, duck
  • Seafood: sardines, tuna, shrimp, salmon
  • Eggs: scrambled, boiled, omelets, poached
  • Dairy: full-fat cheese, butter, cream 

Step 3: Stock Your Kitchen Full of it

Ensure your kitchen is stocked with carnivore-friendly foods. Visit your local butcher, fishmonger, or grocery store to purchase quality animal products. Consider buying in bulk and freezing portions for convenience.

Step 4: Eliminate all the Plant-Based Foods You Have

Remove plant-based foods from your diet, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Plant-based oils

Step 5: Focus on Staying Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Some people on the Carnivore Diet also consume bone broth for additional hydration and nutrients. You can also include coffee and tea, but avoid adding plant-based sweeteners or flavourings.

Step 6: Adapt to The Diet

Transitioning to the Carnivore Diet can take time. Initially, you may experience symptoms like fatigue or digestive changes as your body adapts. These symptoms, often called the “keto flu,” typically subside within a few weeks.

Step 7: Always Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to how your body responds to the diet. Adjust portion sizes and how often you eat based on your hunger and energy needs. Eating two to three meals per day is common, but some people thrive on one larger meal.

Step 8: You Have to Incorporate Nutrient-Rich Foods

Include various nutrient-dense animal products to ensure you get a broad spectrum of essential nutrients. Organ meats like liver and kidney are particularly rich in vitamins and minerals.

Step 9: Make Sure to Monitor Your Health

Monitor your health markers regularly, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have health conditions or are taking medications.

Step 10: Join a Community

Connect and search for support and advice for others who follow the Carnivore Diet. Online forums, social media groups, and local meetups can provide valuable resources and motivation.

Step 11: Evaluate and Adjust Your Diet

After several weeks on the diet, evaluate how you feel. Adjust your food choices and portion sizes as needed. Some people may include small amounts of plant-based foods, while others remain strictly carnivores.

What Are The Benefits?

Currently, limited research explicitly investigates the health benefits of following a Carnivore Diet.

However, there is substantial evidence that very low-carb diets can benefit specific individuals, particularly those with type 2 diabetes.

While the Carnivore Diet doesn’t have strict macronutrient ratios, it is generally a high-protein, very low-carb diet. 

Studies have shown that some very low-carb diets, like the ketogenic diet, can be very beneficial for certain health conditions. 

It’s important to note that while these diets share similarities, the Carnivore Diet is distinct, and there is currently limited evidence supporting its specific health benefits.

May Improve Blood Sugar Regulation

Low-carb diets have proven effective in improving health outcomes for people with diabetes. These diets minimize carbohydrate-rich foods, significantly impacting blood sugar and insulin levels.

By reducing carb intake, individuals can achieve better blood sugar control and potentially reduce their need for diabetes medications.

When following a Carnivore Diet, carbohydrate intake is nearly eliminated, as the diet consists solely of animal products. 

This drastic reduction in carbs can lead to more stable blood sugars and a decreased reliance on diabetes medications. 

The high protein and fat content of the Carnivore Diet can help maintain satiety and support metabolic health, further benefiting individuals with diabetes. 

However, monitoring these changes under medical supervision is crucial to ensure optimal health outcomes and adjust diabetes management plans as needed.

May Promote Weight Loss

The Carnivore Diet, a unique approach to weight loss, eliminates many foods and beverages associated with weight gain, such as ultra-processed foods and added sugars. By exclusively focusing on animal products, this diet is low in carbohydrate-rich foods and high in protein, the most satiating macronutrient. 

Consequently, the Carnivore Diet will likely promote weight loss in the short term.

However, it’s important to note that the Carnivore Diet is highly restrictive and may not be sustainable for most people. Similar diets, like the ketogenic diet, have also demonstrated effectiveness for short-term weight loss. 

Yet, these diets exclude numerous healthy foods and are notoriously difficult to maintain. Most evidence suggests that their long-term efficacy is comparable to that of other, less restrictive weight loss diets.

Although the Carnivore Diet may initially lead to rapid weight loss, more inclusive diets that are easier to adhere to are just as effective for long-term weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. 

It’s reassuring to know that sustainable weight management is best achieved with a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods. This knowledge empowers you to make informed choices about your diet and health.

Other Possible Benefits 

People who follow the Carnivore Diet have reported improved overall health, physical and mental well-being, and some chronic medical conditions.

This may be because the Carnivore Diet eliminates foods and drinks that are linked with poor physical and mental health, such as ultra-processed foods and added sugars.

However, it’s important to note that these observations are based on relatively short-term experiences, typically between nine to 20 months. The long-term effects of the Carnivore Diet on health and disease risk remain unknown.

Overall, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of the Carnivore Diet on overall health.

Risks and Side Effects

Though proponents of the Carnivore Diet claim it can boost weight loss and improve chronic diseases, this eating pattern has several significant downsides.

Firstly, this extremely restrictive diet eliminates foods known to improve health and provide essential nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables. 

Diets low in produce have been consistently linked with an increased risk of several diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and overall mortality.

Additionally, a high intake of red and processed meats has been linked with an increased risk of various health conditions, including colorectal cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease.

Another concern with the Carnivore Diet is its environmental impact. A dietary pattern high in red meat and other animal products significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change.

A diet low in other types of foods can lead to unpleasant side effects such as constipation, fatigue, low mood, and nutrient deficiencies.


The Carnivore Diet is a very restrictive eating plan that eliminates all plant-based foods, focusing exclusively on animal products. While proponents claim it can promote weight loss and improve certain health conditions, it has significant downsides and potential health risks.

On the positive side, the Carnivore Diet may help with short-term weight loss and blood sugar control due to its high protein and low carbohydrate content. However, the lack of variety and essential nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods raises concerns about long-term health impacts. 

High consumption of red and processed meats has been linked to increased risks of various cancers and heart disease. Additionally, the environmental impact of a meat-heavy diet is considerable, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Given these factors, it’s crucial to approach the Carnivore Diet with caution. More research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects on health. 

Individuals interested in this diet should consult with healthcare professionals to ensure they meet their nutritional needs and evaluate whether this dietary approach aligns with their health goals and lifestyle.

In summary, while the Carnivore Diet might offer some benefits, its restrictive nature and potential risks suggest that a more balanced and inclusive diet will likely be a healthier and more sustainable choice for most people.