6 Carnivore Diet Side Effects: Is This Meat-Only Diet Right for You?
Are you thinking of trying the carnivore diet?
You've probably heard of its potential benefits and how it can change your eating habits.
But you may have also heard about potential downsides. After all, the carnivore diet removes many food groups.
You might be thinking:
“Can I stick with this diet without missing out on essential nutrients?”
“Does it really deliver on its promises?”
“Are there any unwanted side effects to be cautious about?”
You want to make sure that you’re signing up for a healthier lifestyle, not a bad one.
That's why we're here to clear up your questions. We'll explore its basics, the reasons behind its popularity, and its potential side effects.
What Is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is a diet that primarily consists of animal-based foods. It focuses on meat, fish, and other animal products.
The core idea behind the carnivore diet is to mimic the eating habits of our ancestors.
Many of our ancestors primarily ate animal-based foods for sustenance, and advocates of this diet believe that it can also be beneficial for us today.
But what's driving the popularity of the carnivore diet? Let's find out in the next section.
Why Has the Carnivore Diet Become a Trend?
There are several reasons behind the carnivore diet trend, and it's not just because it sounds intriguing:
Simplicity and Focus
One of the primary reasons for the carnivore diet's appeal is its simplicity.
Unlike many other diets with complex rules and restrictions, this one keeps it straightforward.
You just have to eat only animal-based foods, and that's it. No need to tally up calories or measure portions.
Potential Health Benefits
The carnivore dieters claim that it can offer plenty of health benefits when implemented correctly.
These advantages include weight loss, improved mental clarity, and reduced inflammation.
We'll explore these benefits in more detail later in this blog. Stay tuned!
A Return to Ancestral Eating
The carnivore diet returns to the idea of ancestral eating.
It's a diet our ancestors followed for survival, emphasizing animal foods as a primary energy source.
6 Carnivore Diet “Side Effects” & How to Avoid Them
Now, let's address the main question: are there any potential long-term side effects of carnivore diet?
We will walk you through six main things to be aware of in the carnivore diet — and then show you how to side-step any potential issues.
#1: Nutrient Deficiencies
One concern with the carnivore diet is the risk of missing out on essential nutrients that come with a balanced diet.
To combat this, consider incorporating organ meats and a variety of animal-based foods to ensure you're getting a broad spectrum of nutrients.
#2: Digestive Changes
Your digestive system might experience some changes as you shift to the carnivore diet.
It's a good idea to ease into the diet gradually and allow your gut to adapt.
#3: Potential Constipation
Reduced fiber intake can sometimes lead to constipation. Because when you’re on a carnivore diet, you’re off the fiber foods.
So, staying hydrated and including magnesium-rich foods can help keep things moving smoothly.
The carnivore diet can also simply reduce stool volume, because the body is utilizing food better. Some may assume that decreased volume of stool on a carnivore diet means that they’re constipated, and that may not be the case.
#4: Social and Practical Challenges
Social situations and dining out can be a bit awkward when you're on the carnivore diet.
Planning ahead, communicating your dietary preferences, and carrying snacks can help you with these challenges.
#5: Increased Cholesterol Levels
Some people may see an increase in their cholesterol levels on the carnivore diet. Slightly elevated cholesterol levels may not be something to worry about, but always consult with your doctor. Elevated cholesterol could also be a sign of systemic inflammation.
Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are essential to monitor your cholesterol levels.
#6: Lack of Dietary Variety
With a diet centered on animal-based foods, you have limited varieties.
If you don’t want to get tired of what you’re eating, experiment with different cooking methods, spices, and cuts of meat to keep your meals interesting.
Of course, the carnivore diet is not all about concerns — it also has its benefits. Actually, you might find that the pros outweigh the cons.
But what are the benefits? Let’s find out.
7 Carnivore Diet Benefits that Outweigh the Concerns
Benefit #1: Weight Loss Made Easier
One of the key factors contributing to potential weight loss on the carnivore diet is its emphasis on high-protein and low-carbohydrate foods.
Here's how this diet can help you shed that unwanted weight:
- Protein is known for its satiating nature. When you consume protein-rich meals, you're less likely to experience strong hunger cravings between meals.
- Because protein is very satiating, you’ll naturally consume fewer calories without feeling deprived — a big factor in successful weight loss.
- Without carbohydrates, the body turns to fat as a primary energy source. This can promote fat loss over time, especially when combined with regular physical activity.
It's important to note that individual responses to the carnivore diet can vary. Some people may experience rapid weight loss, while others may see more gradual changes.
Weight loss is influenced by various factors, including genetics, activity level, and adherence to the diet.
Benefit #2: Simplified Eating
Unlike other diets that require meticulous calorie counting and tracking of macronutrients, the carnivore diet is very straightforward.
With this diet, there's no need to meticulously log every calorie you consume.
Instead, just focus on animal-based foods. This means you can enjoy your meals without constantly worrying about calorie targets, making it an easier diet to follow if you find calorie counting stressful or time-consuming (like we do).
Preparing meals on the carnivore diet is also pretty simple. Most dishes revolve around basic cooking methods like grilling, roasting, or pan-frying meat or fish.
No need to be a chef or spend hours preparing meals.
This can save you time and effort in the kitchen, making it perfect for a busier lifestyle.
Benefit #3: Improved Mental Clarity
This benefit is based on the idea that the quality of the food you consume can directly impact your brain's performance.
One of the core principles of the carnivore diet is the complete removal of processed foods from your meals. Processed foods are often loaded with artificial additives, preservatives, and high levels of sugar, which can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
These fluctuations can result in energy crashes and mental fog — as well as mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
The carnivore diet's strict avoidance of sugars and carbohydrates helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of these mood and energy fluctuations.
On the flip side, animal-based foods, such as meat and fish, are rich sources of essential nutrients.
These nutrients are extremely important for brain health and function. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon have been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced cognitive decline.
Benefit #4: Reduced Inflammation
To understand how the carnivore diet can reduce inflammation, we first have to distinguish between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods.
Inflammatory foods, often found in processed and high-sugar diets, often trigger an inflammatory response in the body.
On the other hand, anti-inflammatory foods, such as fatty fish and meat, have properties that can counteract inflammation.
The carnivore diet is an animal-based diet that includes fish and meats that are naturally anti-inflammatory.
These include fatty fish like salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and meat, which provides essential nutrients like B vitamins and zinc. These nutrients and healthy fats have been associated with a reduced risk of chronic inflammation.
The carnivore diet also removes known inflammatory triggers such as grains, legumes, processed foods, and sugars. These substances are often associated with increased inflammation in the body.
By eliminating them from your diet, you can minimize potential sources of inflammation and live healthier.
Chronic inflammation is linked to various health problems, such as cardiovascular disease.
So if you can reduce inflammation through the carnivore diet, you’re rewarding yourself for the long term.
Benefit #5: Potential for Better Digestion
One of the primary reasons why some people experience improved digestion on the carnivore diet is the elimination of foods that triggers digestive discomfort.
Grains, particularly gluten-containing grains like wheat, can be problematic for many individuals. They can lead to digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and discomfort.
Processed foods, which often contain artificial additives and preservatives, can also contribute to digestive problems. The carnivore diet completely removes these potential triggers, allowing the digestive system to operate optimally.
However, some people may experience a transitioning period when switching to the carnivore diet. Your gut microbiome adapts to the change in dietary composition.
While this adaptation phase can temporarily lead to digestive changes, many carnivore dieters report that their gut health improves over time.
This adjustment may involve a shift in the balance of gut bacteria towards strands that thrive on animal-based foods.
Benefit #6: Stable Energy Levels
Sugary foods and carbohydrates often lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.
With the carnivore diet, your body will have a steady and consistent source of energy. Let’s explore why.
The carnivore diet is inherently low in carbohydrates, especially those with a high glycemic index.
High-glycemic carbohydrates, like sugary snacks and processed foods, cause rapid increases in blood sugar levels followed by steep declines.
This rollercoaster effect can result in energy fluctuations and those mid-afternoon energy slump. By removing these high-glycemic foods, the diet helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, reducing energy spikes and crashes.
When you also consume more protein-rich foods, the cornerstone of the carnivore diet, it triggers the release of hormones that signal your brain to reduce hunger.
This satiety can help you maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day by preventing excessive snacking or overeating, which can lead to energy spikes and crashes.
The stable energy levels you’ll likely have with the carnivore diet can have a positive impact on focus and productivity. When your energy remains steady throughout the day, you're less likely to experience mental fatigue, brain fog, or the need for caffeine or sugar to stay alert.
You’ll likely have better concentration and better energy levels, and you’ll probably even get more work done.
Benefit #7: More Whole Foods
Whole, unprocessed animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, and organ meats, are inherently nutrient-dense.
The protein sources in the carnivore diet are often of high quality.
Grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, and wild-caught fish are preferred choices. These sources tend to have higher nutrient content, better fatty acid profiles, and fewer potential contaminants compared to conventionally raised or farmed counterparts.
They provide essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients in their natural form and balance.
On the other hand, highly processed foods contain artificial additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers, and synthetic colors. These additives are used to extend shelf life, enhance taste, and improve appearance.
However, it doesn’t mean that these additives are good for you. They often aren’t.
Processed foods can also contain common allergens like gluten, soy, and dairy, which can lead to adverse reactions for sensitive individuals.
If you’re on a carnivore diet, it also means eliminating these harmful additives and potential allergens.
Get a Wide Range of Nutrients on the Carnivore Diet
If you’re the type of person who loves simple eating that boosts mental clarity and helps you sculpt your body at the same time, this diet is probably right for you.
And if you like the added benefits of reduced inflammation, better digestion for some, stable energy levels, and a focus on whole, unprocessed foods… you’re probably feeling pretty excited about jumping in.
But remember — it’s important to get the right nutrients. If you’re still looking for the right plan for getting them, check out our Grass-Fed Beef Liver Supplement.
These capsules are a convenient addition to your carnivore diet. They provide you with the nutrients of beef liver but without the time-consuming meal prep.