The “science” behind the carnivore diet comes from the essence of our ancestors’ food. It is believed that they mainly ate animals they hunted, such as fish and meat.
On top of that, the carnivore diet started to occur among hominids about 500,000 years ago, which incorporated meat and marrow into their lifestyle through hunting.
The Carnivore diet is also believed to cause weight loss, improve anxiety, pain, digestive issues, diabetes, skin complaints, and many more.
Many advocates of the diet claim that the carnivore diet is the best diet they tried, such as Joe Rogan. However, studies have proven that the carnivore diet might be unhealthy for a number of reasons.
But first, let’s take a look at the core of the diet.
- 1 What Is The Carnivore Diet
- 2 Carnivore Diet Side Effects
- 3 Why Follow Carnivore Diet
- 4 Is Carnivore Diet Good For Athletes?
- 5 Takeaway Message
What Is The Carnivore Diet
As we mentioned above, the diet consists mainly of fish and meat. Moreover, eggs and low-lactose foods may also be consumed. Foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, sugar, plant-based oils are totally excluded from the diet.
At first glance, the carnivore diet might look like the keto or paleolithic diet, where carbohydrates are limited, but the difference is that they are not completely excluded.
The logic behind the diet is that our ancestors were healthy and active while eating high-protein, high-fat foods.
Carnivore Diet Side Effects
A strong diet proponent is a stand-up comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who followed the carnivore diet for 30 days.
He shared that he ate nothing but meat, eggs, and fish for this period. A primary side effect he experienced was diarrhea for the first two weeks.
This is because our fiber consumption is limited on the carnivore diet, and fiber is a vital nutrient for our digestive system.
Other side effects of the diet might be:
1.Cravings for your favorite foods
When we limit ourselves from certain foods, we experience cravings. Think about the last time you started following a diet, and after a week of commitment, you really wanted to grab a piece of your favorite cake or a cheeseburger.
Carbohydrates are responsible for the glycogen in our blood. Therefore, when we limit our carbs consumption to 0, our glycogen levels drop, and we experience dehydration.
3. Mood swings
Every major change in our life, such as a diet, could affect our mood because of the rapid change in the hormonal environment.
Meal timing is important when we follow the carnivore diet, so missing out on a meal or two could result in experiencing nausea.
Trouble focusing or brain fog is typical before we enter ketosis (the moment when our bodies start burning fat as a fuel because of the lack of carbs)
Experiencing occasional headaches is quite normal due to the dehydration in our body.
7. More visits to the toilet
The need to pee will increase due to the increased protein intake.
When our bodies’ accessible glucose is limited due to the decreased carbs consumption, fatigue is likely to occur at the beginning.
9. High Cholesterol
Due to the essence of the carnivore diet, it’s high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. For this reason, an increase in cholesterol levels might occur for some people.
Yet, cholesterol isn’t so bad as the media tries to put it. The main tip we can give you is to always test your cholesterol levels before making any significant change in your eating schedule.
Another trick that you can try is fasting for more than 12 hours. It is believed that this will reduce your cholesterol levels.
10. Muscle Cramps
It is very common for muscle cramps to result from a mineral imbalance, mostly magnesium deficiency.
New carnivore dieters report that they experience leg cramps when they start the diet.
Although lack of magnesium is the primary cause of muscle cramps, sodium and potassium could also play a role.
So, what you can do to prevent the cramps is increase your sodium and potassium intake.
You can do that by simply adding more salt to your food to prevent the loss of minerals.
Supplementing with magnesium is another thing you can do to limit the cramps.
Last but not least, take your time. Your body may require more time to adapt to your new routine.
If you still experience cramps after all of these steps, you might load your body with some carbs for a few days, then slowly decrease your intake and return to the carnivore regime.
We saved “the scariest one” for the last place.
Many proponents of the diet claim that they experience diarrhea at the beginning. The simple explanation behind this is because the food passes through the digestive tract too quickly.
Typically, there are fibers in our stomach, which slow down the water and nutrients and absorb them.
On the other hand, when we don’t consume any fibers, the transit time is disrupted, and diarrhea might be triggered.
We hope now you know what the carnivore diet is and are aware of all the possible side effects of the diet.
But you probably wonder why someone would follow it while there are so many risks included.
Let’s find out in the next paragraph.
Why Follow Carnivore Diet
Even though the carnivore diet may result in side effects, let’s look at the main benefits “the meat diet” offers.
1.It Eliminates High-Sugar foods.
Cookies, cakes, pastries, and candies are forbidden on the carnivore diet.
As you are aware, high-sugar foods increase blood sugar levels. In fact, people with diabetes could benefit from the diet because refined sugars consumption is reduced to a 0.
However, eating small portions of whole, unprocessed food that doesn’t increase blood sugar is recommended.
2. Increases Testosterone
As men age, their testosterone level decreases. However, carnivore advocates claim that eating meat and fish keeps their testosterone level steady and feel more energetic.
The logic behind this conclusion is probably because of the lack of carbs within the carnivore diet.
In fact, the excess consumption of carbohydrates makes us sleepy and unenergetic.
While eating a high-protein, high-fat diet, our energy levels might rise, which leads to our testosterone level increasing.
3. Improved Heart Health
Some advocates of the diet claim that eating a meat-only diet may reduce inflammation and improve the good to bad cholesterol ratio.
Science, however, has failed to support these claims due to contradictory studies.
A study from 2018 shows no correlation between Inflammation and the consumption of a high red meat diet.
Another study from 2013, however, showed that a low-carb, high-fat diet helps improved blood lipid levels and Systemic Inflammation.
As you can see, there is a big contradiction between the studies, so we will leave the conclusion to you.
4. Weight Loss
Losing weight is possible under one condition – being in a calorie deficit. This means that you have to consume fewer calories than you burn.
As you might guess, eliminating a whole macronutrient from your lifestyle, such as carbs, decreases your caloric consumption.
Unless you are physically inactive, it is almost certain that you will lose weight if you consume fewer calories than before.
Moreover, your limitations on all the “allowed” foods make it impossible to overeat and exceed your calories into a surplus.
5. Lowers Inflammation
Research conducted in 2013 compared people on a high-fat, low-carb diet versus people eating a high-carb, low-fat diet for 12 weeks.
The researchers found that the first group had given low markers of extensive Inflammation compared to the second group.
It was concluded that a high-fat, low-carb diet might be better for overall cardiovascular health.
On top of that, lower Inflammation leads to healthier joints.
6. Increased Focus
If you get through the phase where your body adapts to using fat as a fuel instead of carbs, you might experience mental clarity.
Those who advocate the carnivore diet claim that the lethargic feeling they experience will be replaced by a clearer mind and sharper senses shortly after starting it.
Increased focus leads to being more productive and then making better decisions.
7. It is simple to follow
You don’t have to track macronutrients or measure your food. With most foods forbidden from the diet, you won’t be spending much time in the supermarket.
Put meat, fish, and eggs in the shopping cart, and you will be ready to go.
Is Carnivore Diet Good For Athletes?
We want to stress that the carnivore diet has not been researched so much yet, so everything in this paragraph is just a claim by advocates of the diet plan.
Some case studies show that the carnivore diet is good for some athletes and not good for others.
For instance, endurance athletes such as long-distance runners, swimmers, tennis players, and boxers need glycogen for their bodies to function well and keep up with the workouts.
However, Shawn Baker, an orthopedic surgeon, and an indoor row champion wrote a book on the carnivore diet, in which he shares that the diet fueled his athletic accomplishments.
Moreover, he is one of the top promoters of the diet. He has his own website where he helps people get more healthy by eating animal products.
Pete Jacobs is a triathlete who competed in the ironman triathlon and became a world champion in 2012. He reports he suffered from chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome.
He eliminated most of the triggering foods, and eventually, he was left with tuna, white rice, and oil. He shares that he was feeling depressed and had chronic pain in his joints.
He turned vegan in 2017, but that didn’t help as well. After doing good research and talking to sports doctor Phill Maffetone, Jacobs decided to cut down all the carbs.
He felt better, but still, he had some pains.
Later in 2019, he contacted the sports director Paul Mason, who convinced him that he should get rid of all nuts and seeds because they could be inflammatory.
That was the turning point for Jacobs because not only his condition improved drastically but that of his mother as well.
He went to training full time, and even in his forties, he is ready to return to the big events because of the carnivore diet.
Bodybuilders also report that they feel good on the carnivore diet. Some of them even made a significant increase on their PR’s for the main 3 lifts.
The Carnivore diet has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the homo-sapiens who primarily ate meat and fish.
The diet plan’s side effects differentiate, but the primary ones are diarrhea, muscle cramps, fatigue, loss of focus.
The positive things people report are an increase in testosterone, improved heart condition, and expanded concentration after the initial period.
If you are an athlete, you may try and experiment with the diet and see how your body reacts.
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