It’s arguably the most politically incorrect diet on the planet. But forget about how it sounds. Does it actually work?
The obvious “up” side of the Carnivore Diet — the latest fad sweeping the nation, especially among men — is that it bans carb products as well as snacks and sodas and most lactose products. Other restrictive high-protein diets like Paleo, argue for reduced carbs, but Carnivore is truly hard-core — no carbs of any kind are allowed.
And it’s not just carbs. Carnivore bans on all fruits and nuts — and even vegetables. Some fruits, like bananas, are indeed fattening, but they offer real benefits — potassium, for one. Some nuts are fattening, too, but they’re loaded with nutrients and anti-oxidants. Carnivore bans them all.
Under Carnivore, even consumption of coffee and tea is strongly discouraged. Why? Because they are plant-based products. Water or bone broth are the only allowable liquids for true devotees of this diet.
We’re talking caveman here. The real question is whether you can eat only beef, fish, poultry and eggs and lose weight and stay healthy. Is a high-protein, no-carb diet all that good for you?
Available research suggests that it is, in fact. A number of studies published since 2008 have shown that an increase in protein, especially when combined with reduced carb intake, will result in significant weight loss. Part of the way the process works is that eating high-protein foods provides a stronger feeling of being “satiated or “filled up” by a meal, reducing the perceived need to eat more.
In theory, a potential downside of the Carnivore Diet — since it’s based exclusively on animal foods — is that it can be high in saturated fat. It’s long been thought that saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), which, in turn, increases your risk of heart disease.
However, recent studies have shown that high consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol is not strongly linked to a higher risk of heart disease. So this downside may well be overstated, in fact.
The lack of fiber in the Carnivore diet concerns some dieticians because fiber is thought to facilitate healthy digestion. And so does the lack of vegetables, which contain some vitamin sources you can’t find in meat. But there’s also evidence that some vegetables, especially those with lectins, can contribute to inflammation, so Carnivores may well have a valid point.
For some individuals, the traditional idea of consuming “balanced” food groups may not be as healthy as it sounds. But for others, an over-reliance on protein could be harmful.
In the end, as with so many fads of this kind, there’s simply not much good research available on the long-term effects of a Carnivore Diet. For now, one has to rely on anecdotal accounts, and invariably those are mixed, depending on the individual. So far, no one seems to have rejected the Carnivore diet, having tried it. But a growing number of people, including some ex-vegetarians, are beginning to come out in favor of it.
In early December, a YouTube video posted by an avowed “vegan influencer,” Alyse Parker, showed her eagerly gobbling on beef and extolling the virtues of the Carnivore Diet. “I woke up feeling more mentally clear, focused, wholesome, and healthy than I had felt in years,” she proclaimed.
It caused an overnight sensation. The video has already received nearly a half-million views in just over three weeks’ time. A number of other videos, usually featuring men, have been watched by millions.
There are also a few high-profile celebrity endorsers fueling the Carnivore trend. The most notable is Mikhaila Peterson, the daughter of renowned clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. Peterson claims she overcomes her autoimmune disorders, brain fog, depression, anxiety, and fatigue by cutting everything out of her diet except beef.
Most Carnivore dieters swear by it, and its popularity is growing, according to surveys. Testimonials from those that have shed dozens of pounds — often more than a hundred, and fairly rapidly — abound. And the fact is, critics haven’t found all that much about Carnivore to carp about, other than to suggest that killing animals is immoral or that the diet might be unduly restrictive, and therefore, difficult for some to sustain.
My advice? If nothing else has worked, you might want to try it. You don’t have to fast, just focus on eating meat. And maybe throw in an apple or baked potato now and then. Or even a milkshake as a reward. We can’t all be hard-core. Live a little. `
Just don’t tell another diehard caveman — or woman — about it.