The carnivore diet has become popular in recent times, so much so that celebrities like Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan implement it on a daily basis. In this article we will try to see the possible benefits and risks of the carnivore diet, and with what objectives it could be carried out.
The carnivore diet is becoming increasingly popular in the field of nutrition. Professionals like Pau Ninja have been following her for months and, according to them, maintain excellent results.
However, it is important to be fully aware of its potential benefits and risks because it is a highly restrictive diet. In this article we will try to see the possible benefits and risks of the carnivore diet, and with what objectives it could be carried out, although it is always good to get information from reliable sources, books on the subject or by asking your trusted doctor.
What is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore (carnivorous, or meat) diet is a very restrictive diet since all kinds of fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, tubers and cereals are excluded from the diet.
In such a way that only meat, fish (both white and blue), eggs, dairy derivatives such as cheese (semi-cured and cured), and internal organs (such as kidneys, liver, intestines, etc.) are included.
There are more exclusive versions of the carnivore diet that also eliminate dairy, eggs or even fish, limiting the intake only to meat intake.
As can be seen, the carnivore diet is a diet in which the intake of carbohydrates is minimal.
Hence, it is also known as “Zero carb diet” because the foods included have minimal amounts of carbohydrates.
What are the “benefits” of this diet?
The first thing we should know is that the carnivore diet is a poorly studied diet, although there are some professionals who defend it, such as Dr. Shawn Baker, who has success stories on his website, among other things.
It is based more on hypotheses than on studies that confirm its efficacy or benefits in different contexts.
Eliminate ultra-processed products. Thanks to the exclusion of a large number of food groups and foods, it indirectly eliminates a large part of unhealthy ultra-processed products such as refined grains, sugars, etc.
His followers affirm that this diet helps to lose weight since it is a very high-protein diet. Protein is considered the most satiating macronutrient, which helps keep us from abusing food intake and overeating.
Thanks to the high protein intake, if it is also accompanied by physical strength exercise, the loss of muscle mass will be less, which helps to make weight loss more effective.
In other words, there will be a greater loss of fat with minimal or very low loss of muscle mass, which translates into better health and less probability of having a rebound effect after losing weight.
Possible improvement of mental health. A recent systematic review of studies that investigated the relationship between people who eat meat and those who do not consume with their mental health.
It has been observed that those who avoid meat consumption have a higher risk of depression, anxiety and/or self-destructive behaviors; however, the mechanisms that can explain these results are not known, so more evidence is still needed to establish a causal relationship.
What foods are consumed in the carnivore diet?
The foods included are beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, organ meats, salmon, sardines, white fish and small amounts of cream and cured cheese.
The Carnivore Diet includes only animal products and excludes all other foods; although some people include small portions of plant-based foods.
Specifically, someone who implements the carnivore diet may eat:
- Meat: beef, chicken, turkey, organ meats, lamb, pork, etc.
- Fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, crab, lobster, tilapia, herring, etc.
- Other animal products: eggs, lard, bone marrow, bone broth, etc.
- Low-lactose dairy (in small amounts): heavy cream, hard cheese, butter, etc.
The carnivore diet does not include refined carbohydrates and sugary foods that can increase blood sugar levels. Still, it’s not necessary to completely avoid carbohydrates to control your blood sugar.
What are the risks?
The main risk presented by the carnivore diet is the exclusion of food groups that provide a large amount of nutrients and bioactive compounds that are not provided through the foods included in this diet.
The exclusion of food groups such as fruit or vegetables is not justified, except in specific cases where there is a pathology, disease or allergy that prevents their consumption.
Although meat, eggs and fish are foods with a high amount of nutrients, they are still deficient in other nutrients such as vitamin C, folate or magnesium, in addition to not containing other beneficial compounds such as soluble fiber or bioactive compounds that help to have a better state of health.
In addition, the carnivore diet does not exclude processed meats, which are linked to an increased risk of cancer, specifically colon cancer.
According to the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), processed meat is classified in group 1, that is, it is considered carcinogenic to humans.
In relation to the consumption of red meat there is less evidence than with processed meat, although there is also a tendency to see that it increases the risk of cancer.
In fact, there are studies that question the recommendations regarding the intake of red meat, describing how many of the studies that observe that meat is harmful have many limitations and that they also justify it by showing only those studies that observe the results they want watch.
They produce a great environmental impact. Currently it is undeniable not to think that meat consumption has a significant impact on the environment.
A greater amount of resources (water, land, fertilizers for the land, among others) is needed for the production of meat than for the production of other foods such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, etc.
Conclusions about this diet
The carnivore diet is a diet that is gaining popularity, however there are still many unknowns about its implication in health. Given the great restriction of food, it is not a diet that can be maintained in the long term.
In addition, scientific research on this nutritional strategy is very limited, so it would be of interest to carry out controlled studies in which its potential use in different contexts can be investigated.
Therefore, there is currently not enough information to make recommendations, so care must be taken. If you are interested in starting this diet, we recommend that you visit your trusted doctor first, and think twice.