In 2019 Dr. Shawn Baker’s controversial book Carnivore Diet entered the health and wellness arena with a roar, getting the attention of nutritionists, doctors, health coaches, fitness trainers, and wellness gurus of all stripes. Much of that attention wasn’t positive, yet those willing to pause, research, and consider Carnivore Diet pros and cons couldn’t dismiss it as easily as they first thought. Some health professionals are admitting that its claims are not as preposterous as they seem, and that thousands of people say they’ve improved their health by implementing this diet.
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What is the Carnivore Diet?
In the simplest terms, the Carnivore Diet is a zero-carbohydrate animal-based diet and is classified as a monotrophic diet. Any diet that involves eating only one food item (like potatoes, cabbage, apples) or one food group (such as fruits or meats) is a monotrophic diet. Another example of a monotrophic diet is the Fruitarian diet.
Strict adherents to the Carnivore Diet consume only animal-based fats and proteins such as meat, eggs, fish, and some dairy. Since this is a zero-carb diet, it’s plant-free – no vegetables or fruits are allowed.
The concept underlying this diet is based on the idea that early humans (hominins) ate mostly meat until they discovered agriculture, so it’s meat, not plants, that should be the basis for a healthy human diet. There’s physical evidence that humans started eating meat around (2.6 million years ago) indicating that an animal-based diet is “species appropriate” to humans.
Humans had to eat what was in their environment; sometimes, that environment had fewer plants and more game. Here are examples of primarily meat-eating cultures:
- The Inuit of the Canadian Arctic – ate fish, seal, walrus, and whale meat.
- The Chukotka of the Russian Arctic – ate caribou, marine mammals, and fish.
- The Masai, Samburu, and Rendille warriors of East Africa mainly lived on milk and meat.
- The steppe nomads of Mongolia mostly ate meat and dairy products.
- The Sioux of South Dakota ate a lot of buffalo meat.
- The Brazilian Gauchos loved their beef.
Why are no plants, nuts, or seeds allowed?
Carnivore Diet enthusiasts believe that most of the health problems people experience today stem from overconsumption of processed and natural carbohydrates. They state that the natural toxins and anti-nutrients plants contain can potentially cause inflammatory disease and chronic illness in humans by interfering with our nutrient absorption; lectins and phytates are two of the most cited anti-nutrients. Additionally, carnivore dieters are concerned about the number of chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in modern farming and GMO plants.
Carnivore Diet Pros and Cons: Could the Carnivore Diet be Right for You? is an original (HealthXWire) article
Carnivore diet pros and cons:
Everything old is new again.
Have you heard of Salisbury Steak? It’s a fancy name for a ground beef steak (hamburger) covered with brown gravy that was developed as an “ideal meal” in the 1850s by Dr. James Salisbury, a New York physician. Dr. Salisbury proposed a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss which included a regime of eating Salisbury steak three times a day with hot water to cleanse the digestive system. His Salisbury Diet (meat-based) saw successful results in America and Great Britain and is a precursor of the carnivore diet.
The 20th Century saw more proponents of a meat-based diet.
Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879 – 1962) was an Icelandic-American ethnologist and Arctic explorer. When he became stranded without supplies, he was forced to depend on a local Inuvialuit
family for food, and they mainly ate boiled, frozen, and fermented fish. When he found himself healthier because of eating their diet, upon his return to the United States, he began experimenting with it on himself and a friend. The results were so good that he continued eating this way for the rest of his life (he died at age 82) and promoted meat-based eating.
Today, these names are well-known in the carnivore diet circle:
Dr. Weston A. Price
And you’ve probably heard of Dr. Robert Atkins and the Atkin’s Diet, a low-carb, elimination diet that includes a lot of meat during its first phase.
Point by point Carnivore Diet pros and cons
- Lowered blood sugar
- Decreased intestinal discomfort (such as gas and bloating)
- Decreased inflammation
- Stronger mental acuity
- Weight loss
- Reduced symptoms of chronic diseases (especially autoimmune diseases)
This 2021 Self-Reported Study is worth looking at if you’re considering trying this diet.
The participants described a range of benefits, including:
- Fewer hunger cravings and kicking carb addiction
- Mental clarity and better mood
- Improved markers of heart health
- Improved fertility
- Clearer skin
- Better digestion
- Reducing inflammation and decreasing symptoms of various inflammatory disorders
- Claims of health improvements are anecdotal – not clinically tested.
- The concern about plant toxins and anti-nutrients is considered exaggerated by most dieticians and nutritionists.
- Concerns about pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs are valid, but healthier options such as organically grown foods, shopping local farmers’ markets, or choosing foods least affected by these issues are available.
- Could be a health risk due to its restricted nutritional profile- missing critical vitamins and minerals provided by plants
- Increased risk of high LDL (cholesterol) – risk for heart disease
- Low fiber may cause constipation
- Hard to maintain Ultra Restrictive- (boredom could undermine adherence) and expensive.
- Humans are omnivores, and variety in diets keeps most people healthier.
This article “Carnivore Diet Pros and Cons: Could the Carnivore Diet be Right for You?” is originally published in HealthXWire.
Weighing Carnivore Diet:
Pros and cons – is it right for you?
Suppose you have allergies, food intolerances, inflammatory disease, brain fog, or other ailments that have persisted even with medical treatment. In that case, the carnivore diet could serve as a short-term elimination diet to uncover the foods that disagree with your body and then reintroduce new foods slowly. Or perhaps you’ll become a committed carnivore.
The Carnivore Diet may not be a good idea for you if you fall into any of the following groups:
- People with kidney disease
- Pregnant or lactating women
- Those with eating disorders (elimination diets, in general, can be triggering)
- Cholesterol sensitivity
Food sourcing for the Carnivore Diet
If you’re considering trying the Carnivore Diet, you’ll want to find a reliable source of quality meat, poultry, and fish. A company called Crowd Cow provides online meat and seafood delivery. Crowd Cow is unique because they connect consumers to small farms, co-ops, and independent beef, pork, chicken, and seafood producers. They claim to have the widest selection of sustainably raised meats and wild-caught seafood of any online retailer. Customers can choose any mix of cuts from their product list, which includes beef, chicken, pork, bison, and seafood.
Co-founder, Joe Heitzeberg is about bringing quality to your table and not trying to compete with grocery store products, as his items are for consumers that want to know what they are eating. Joe invites you to “Come check out Crowd Cow.”
Carnivore Diet Pros and Cons: Could the Carnivore Diet be Right for You? is the (HealthXWire) report.
Final thoughts on Carnivore Diet:
Pros and cons
Perhaps learning that carnivore eating stretches back to our prehistoric roots and has been advocated by physicians and those concerned with their health through history provides a foundation for you to decide if it’s an eating style that could benefit you. Or maybe the cons outweigh the pros for you – the good news is your health is in your hands, and you get to choose.
For your further research:
What Is the Carnivore Diet? Benefits, Risks, Food List, and More | Everyday Health
Where Did Agriculture Begin? Oh Boy, It’s Complicated : The Salt : NPR
Evidence for Meat-Eating by Early Humans | Learn Science at Scitable
Links for Pro-Carnivore Diet Doctors
Dr. Paul Saladino The Carnivore Code
Dr. Ken Berry Lies My Doctor Told Me
Important Note: The information contained in this article (Carnivore Diet Pros and Cons: Could the Carnivore Diet be Right for You?) is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet, fitness regimen, or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.