Is it a good idea to eat only meat?

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Interest in the carnivore diet, a no-plants zero-carb diet, is increasing. And perhaps for good reasons – some people report a lot of benefits from it.

Here’s a good article looking into the phenomenon:

Optimising Nutrition: Dr. Shawn Baker’s carnivore diet: a review

If you don’t feel like reading the whole article, you can skip to the summary. Here are the main points:

  • Some people seem to benefit from a zero carb/carnivore diet, particularly if they have pre-existing gut permeability or bacterial overgrowth.
  • Cutting out nutrient-poor processed inflammatory foods is a common denominator in many successful diets.
  • It is harder to get some nutrients without plants, however, some of these nutrients may not be such a big deal if you are not eating a lot of carbohydrates.
  • While there are plenty of anecdotes, there is not yet a lot of large-scale quantitative research into the long-term impacts of a carnivore diet.
  • It’s still a good idea to maximise the micronutrients in your diet irrespective of your overarching dietary template.

Meat

Earlier

Carnivory – Could you benefit from eating an all-meat diet?

A diet of steak, bacon and water – why techies are turning to ‘carnivory’

12 comments

  1. Gunnar Isaksson
    If you eat liver once a week and at least 3 eggs a day you will get all the nutrients that you otherwise would get from plants.
    Reply: #2
  2. Mattias
    "...her carnivorous diet with plenty of organ meats, and is meeting the daily intake levels for everything except vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K1, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and vitamin D ". So clearly no, you do not get all nutrients that you would get from plants. However, you -might- not need them as much on that specific diet.
  3. BobM
    Also, how were those daily intake levels determined? Using a high carb diet?

    Personally, I've found going to mostly meat has had benefits for me, though I have not yet transitioned to all meat. I take magnesium and vitamin D (never in sun). Mg infrequently, vitamin D daily. The Mg I also took while on low carb but with lots of vegetables, nuts, dairy. So, it's unclear whether I have an issue and not the diet. I feel great and don't have any issues I know of.

  4. L. Amber O'Hearn
    Those values are based on one person's carnivorous diet, and I agree that the analysis seems unlikely to apply.

    As Bob pointed out, those RDAs are based on high carb diets. When you change what metabolic pathways are most prominent, you change your nutritional needs, sometimes a lot. Further down in the article, Marty links to my research into the changing need for vitamin C on a low carb diet, for example.

    Not only that, but the USDA table for vitamin C in meat is wrong. If you look at their paper documenting their measurements, they didn't measure it at all, but assumed it was zero, which it's not. I've written about that here: http://www.empiri.ca/2017/02/c-is-for-carnivore.html

    A second problem is that plants often interfere with absorption of nutrients. This artificially inflates the RDA. That can't be accounted for in this counting system.

    Livestock conditions may also be pertinent. For example, pastured pig fat is purportedly very high in vitamin D. So sourcing might matter.

  5. Mauro
    There is also the fact that the researches that investigated epidemiologically nutrition failed to assess which diet leads to the better outcome.
    We know that no large trials have been done on low or no carb diets, and high fat, while we know that every high carb low fat trial/epidemiological study have achieved abysmal results and often at the expense of other health markers. Lowering the colesterol often meant more cancer, more mental issues and general decay of health, even if heart attack risk was lower.
  6. Louise
    Is this not too much protein?
  7. Mark
    I did carnivore for a month - lost 10 lbs and anxiety issues I didn't realize I had went away.
  8. Vicky
    So, Mark, why did you stop?
  9. Tobias
    The problems with the carnivore diet lies not so much in the nutrients, but in the joy of your meal. Eating only meat without spices and anything added is extremly tastless, boring and frustrating. That means that no one with a really good health reason will do it long-term. While LCHF is very joyful and can be done without any problems a whole live, a carnivore diet is only for people with very strong health issues and motivation.

    I did LCHF for 3,5 years and improved my health dramatically, but still had ups and downs during the day depending on what I ate. Switching to a carnivore diet under supervision of http://www.paleomedicina.com stabilised my condition. I have a high intestinal permeability that creates strong autoimmune reactions. With a carnivore diet I am almost symptom free and stable. But I couldn't do it if I would not feel immediate punishment if I eat different.

    Reply: #10
  10. John
    In all fairness, the joy of the meal/variety is incredibly individual. I'm following a carnivore diet & the simplicity is actually part of what I enjoy about it most. I have no strong health issues to act as motivation, though there are numerous benefits I have noticed. The minimalism is, in fact, one of the top motivating factors that keep me carnivore.

    P.S. I also really enjoy beef. I'm not sure I could ever grow tired of it. Again, it's subjective/individual.

  11. Natasha
    My cravings have gone completely by eating a carnivores diet for 30 days. I feel on keto I have to count calories and this makes me crazy, there is not really freedom to eat as you will. Calories do count on keto. The carnivores diet I am consuming double the calories without any weight gain. I am still in adaptation because I have some of the simptoms like a headache and some fatigue. I am not sure yet if this is a life style but is going to do it for 90 days to see what happens. People consume still to many sweets on keto ( even if healthy) and for me it keeps the cravings alive. I rather forget about it. This is freedom from that because I have not thought about any sweets in this period of 30 days. Like I say I am learning and will see what happens and how I feel.
  12. Rick
    I think we should be cautious. Maybe it is a good short term strategy for some people but at the same time could be horrible in the long term. The vegan diet is arguably like that. Dr. Rhonda Patrick was on Joe Rogan's podcast musing over the carnivore diet, contributing her deep knowledge of what we actually know and possible undesirable outcomes. It is worth a listen.

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