What Is The Carnivore Diet?

When I first heard the term ‘Carnivore Diet’, I thought… well… I didn’t think much really. I probably didn’t think at all!

In fact the first time I heard the term ‘Carnivore diet’ it was from my daughter. She mentioned it to me as she was considering giving it a go. This was probably about three or four years ago and at the time I basically dismissed it as a radical way of eating.

I guess I thought ‘eating carnivore’ sounded a bit nuts and went on my way.

My thoughts about this way of eating (WOE) were due to misguided beliefs which I’ll go into at a later date. But suffice it to say, I was basically ignorant and uninformed. I had an unwarranted judgement about this WOE due to my beliefs about what constituted a healthy diet, and so I didn’t look into it.

This was actually unusual for me. I’m normally pretty open to new ideas! In fact I pride myself on delving into new ideas and things I know nothing about, to at least gain some basic understanding.

And I generally do my best to NOT to allow my beliefs to stop me from learning….

So it’s interesting looking back at my attitude around this because I’d actually experimented briefly with an all meat diet years ago when I was weight training. I even remember discovering that I felt quite good on it!

PLUS I knew that I’d experienced incredible benefits when I briefly removed all plants from my diet in 2011 after a Graves disease diagnosis, and I used the GAPs diet to regain my health.

Isn’t it interesting how we can be swayed by fixed belief systems… A perfect example of cognitive dissonance for sure!

I Believed That Plants Were The Healthiest Foods

My beliefs about plants being healthy foods, and animal products being somehow LESS healthy were definitely deep-seated. The whole alkaline body and acid forming animal foods were ideas that had been a major part of my paradigm for most of my life.

In fact even though I’d gone back to eating meat fifteen years ago to help resolve thyroid issues, if you’d asked me, I’d still have told you that I believed meat was a healthy food – in moderation.

But here I am. Now aged 58, and finally open enough to investigate and actually trying eating this way to see how my body reacts. And I have to say, so far, so good.

So What IS The Carnivore Diet?

This is really, really simple. A carnivore diet is a diet where you eat only (or in some cases predominantly) animal products. It is a meat based diet.

At its basics, it really is that simple.

What Foods Can You Eat On The Carnivore Diet?

Now this is where it gets a little more complicated if you allow it. Because the answer to that question depends very much on who you talk to, or listen to.

The strictest carnivores consume only meat, salt and water. Some actually only consume beef and water! The focus in this case is often on ruminant meats, generally avoiding poultry, and pork, and sometimes even fish.

Other carnivores eat all types meats, eggs, poultry, and fish, along with salt and water.

Some eat offal. Others don’t. Some warn against eating offal (liver in particular). Others say it’s essential.

Then there are those who eat all of the above, but include dairy. Some just eat butter, some only raw dairy, while others eat all dairy products.

And then there’s another school of thought that allows honey and/or fruit (eg Dr Paul Saladino) in a carnivore diet.

Grab a copy of Paul Saladino’s book ‘The Carnivore Code’

But the first lot of carnivores on the list (the super strict ones) are often adamant that the last on the list (those eating fruit and/or honey) are NOT carnivore, and often furiously criticize those like Dr Paul Saladino who dare to (openly) consume fructose.

To me it makes sense to do what works for you. We’re all different.

Why Does The Carnivore Diet Work?

All animals have a natural ‘species specific’ diet, right? Lions eat meat, parrots eat seeds, cows eat grass.

If you feed an animal foods other than its natural diet, that animal will certainly not thrive, and in fact will generally become sick and eventually die.

If you tried to feed a lion fruit and veggies, what would happen? How about if you fed an elephant meat?

Obviously they wouldn’t voluntarily eat these foods, but hey, you could manipulate things and add some tricky flavourings, or blend them up and feed them through a tube. Right?

But would they thrive?

No. This has been seen in zoos years ago before we learned that all animals require their own specific diet. The earliest clue was when animals wouldn’t breed in captivity – until they got the diet right!

The theory behind the carnivore diet is that meat IS the natural human diet.

Humans were hunters for millions of years and meat was our main source of nutrition. Plants may have been eaten in small amounts when needed or available, depending on climate, but they were not our main source of food until the last 10,000 years when we began farming.

You only have to look at old cave paintings to see that hunting was important to our ancestors. Still today, those few tribes of humans who live traditionally still hunt and eat meat as the mainstay of their diet, with small amounts of plants eaten when necessary.

Why Don’t Carnivores Eat Plants?

The main premise behind the carnivore diet besides meat being the natural human natural diet, is that plants are trying to kill us.

Sounds bizarre right?

Well maybe that’s a little dramatic, but the truth is that many plants that humans commonly eat DO contain toxins that impact our health negatively and some CAN kill us!

For example cassava is one of the most widely eaten, but potentially toxic plants on the planet. It is a staple in many parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia, and it’s made into products such as Tapioca starch and Sago. Cassava products such as tapioca and cassava flour are also increasingly used in many processed foods.

But if cassava isn’t processed correctly before consuming, it is extremely toxic as it contains a form of cyanide.

The cassava example is kind of extreme, but it isn’t the only plant that is obviously dangerous to humans.

Many plants contain toxins of various types.

These include lectins which are common in legumes, phytates which are anti-nutrients commonly found in grains, and oxalates that are common in leafy greens, beets, nuts and seeds.

These are just a few of the known toxins in plant foods, and they do have common, but not well understood detrimental effects on health.

So How Many Of Your Health Issues Are Caused By Plants?

The truth is that you will never know unless you remove them from your diet. But common issues caused or exacerbated by these plant toxins are arthritis and joint pain, muscle pain, inflammation, weight issues, kidney stones, digestive issues, IBS, chrohns disease, colitis, and celiac disease.

How Long Should You Stay On The Carnivore Diet?

Well… The answer to this questions depends on your goals.

Carnivore as an elimination diet.

Some people use the carnivore diet as an elimination diet. To put it simply, an elimination diet is used to work out which foods you have sensitivities to. In other words which foods agree with you, and which don’t.

Because you can dial it right back to meat and water, that eliminates almost every food you might have a sensitivity to. Not a lot of people are sensitive to red meats.

By staying on a carnivore diet for 30 – 90 days, it gives your body a chance to calm down inflammation, and then by adding back one food at a time, you get to feel and see how your body reacts. But be warned! Once you’ve been on a strict diet without problem foods for that long, your body WILL react to foods it doesn’t like. Try one thing at a time and take it slow…. Seek help from a naturopath or functional medicine practitioner if needed.

Carnivore as a weight loss diet

Many people think of carnivore as a weightloss diet. But in actual fact it’s not really the best diet for weightloss.

Especially if you’re looking for fast weightloss.

Some people do lose quickly. Especially men! But many don’t.

In fact many carnivores (women in particular) will gain weight when they first start eating a carnivore diet.

But for long term body recomposition and healing, there doesn’t seem to be a much better way of eating than carnivore. Sustained weightloss and weight management often either happen gradually over time, or actual loss on the scales isn’t required as body fat has reduced and lean tissue increased.

Carnivore as a healing diet and way of life

Many who find their way to carnivore stick with it long term because they come to realise that this way of eating works. They feel good, they look good, and most of their health issues they may have had disappear.

Why would you go back to other foods when you know this works?

There are many long term carnivores around. Some keep to themselves, while an increasing number are sharing their lives and their results online, hoping to inspire others to take responsibility for their health via this way of eating.

Many of these are amazing doctors such as Dr Shawn Baker, Dr Ken Berry, Dr Robert Kiltz & Dr Paul Saladino.

Others are simply Mums and Dads, sons and daughters, who have found their way to better health with carnivore. Some of that I like to follow are Kelly Hogan, Bella the Steak and Butter Gal and Stephen Thomas.

My Story – Why The Carnivore Diet?

My story is too long to add to this post, but suffice it to say that I’ve tried just about every way of eating you can think of over the years in an effort to feel well and healthy in my body.

Nothing works.

My whole life has been plagued with anxiety, bowel and digestive problems brought on by anxiety, food sensitivities, and a constant battle with my weight.

I’ve had times where things improve a bit… for a while… but not completely. I’d lose weight and look good on the outside, but was almost always still struggling on the inside.

And then life would happen. Some stress. Some change in life or financial circumstances, and backwards I’d go. The relief when there’s positive change feels amazing, and it’s enough to keep me going while it’s good. But it never lasts.

So now as I age, a few other health issues were creeping in and concerning me. You can see my videos about those on my YouTube channel. I knew I needed to do something. I just wasn’t sure what. So I decided to try Keto again, and stumbled across Carnivore.

I think I’m here for the long haul. Time will tell.

P.S. If you have questions or comments fire away and I’ll answer as soon as I’m able. Also make sure to subscribe to my email list or YouTube channel for updates.

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