So what is all the hype over Carnivore? The zero-carb, somewhat “keto-ish” diet that lots of people are really enjoying and loving the results.
A carnivore /ˈkɑːrnɪvɔːr/, meaning “meat eater” (Latin, caro, genitive carnis, meaning “meat” or “flesh” and vorare meaning “to devour”), is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue.
The carnivore diet – also known as the all meat diet or the carnivorous diet; entails eating almost nothing but meat for every meal, every day. That means a lot of protein, fat, and almost zero carbs. Any carbs come from non plant sources such as any trace amounts found in various curing methods in foods like bacon, pepperoni etc.
The carnivore diet is based on the theory that our ancestors ate mostly meat because it wasn’t energy efficient to gather a lot of fruit or vegetables. As a result, our bodies have evolved to run optimally on a meat-centric diet. So the theory goes.
From my experience it seems carnivore achieves a few things:
Better gut health
Relieves constipation (yup without needing to add fiber)
Drops water weight – reduces cortisol and inflammation
Better gym performance
Easier “weight” loss.
Solves digestion issues
…and some other non fat loss related things
Coming from 20+ yrs Keto to Carnivore this is the changes I made:
My keto foods:
Meats, some fish, no veggies (hate them), cheese, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, turkey, chicken, eggs, whey, casein protein powder, almonds, mixed nuts etc, nut butters, mayo, low cal ketchup, cottage cheese, powdered peanut butter from time to time to add to my whey protein, flax/chia/hemp seeds/meal etc.
My carnivore foods:
Meats; fish, bacon, pepperoni, turkey, chicken, sausage, etc
If you like to use protein powder supplements to meet your protein needs for the day you can use beef protein isolate and egg white or whole egg protein powder. Though many people who follow carnivore just opt for zero carb protein powders like these: Zero Carb Protein Protein
Eggs and cheese are okay for some and not for others; I did not incorporate them. So my food choices are simple. Meat and water.
I have been keto for over 20 years and started carnivore on 3/22/18. After starting strict carnivore for 7 days and I felt amazing, down 8lbs (lots of water) and just feel darn good. Coming from an already great feeling you get from keto, this was also unexpected since I already lost all the water weight from keto a long time ago.
Other notable things I experienced:
Great digestion/never any issues (whey and dairy and nuts would bloat me)
Never feel bloated or full, always feel good/empty in the stomach but not hungry.
VERY good workouts, great pump and energy.
Need less sleep
Don’t need as many electrolytes as I did on keto and less occurrence of headaches.
Why carnivore “works” for some
Helps breaks a “keto stall” (which is not really a stall just bad calorie tracking; read more HERE to learn why).
Since there are no foods to snack on or really over eat on, those foods that you forget to account for that add up to hundreds of calories a day are removed so weight loss starts again. You also lose water from reduced cortisol and inflammation and expelling all the bulk from veggies.
Helps digestion and inflammation, cortisol issues; possibly the biggest reason people do the diet. These things mostly cause water retention.
I decided to go strict carnivore mid March 2018 for a few reasons. I had been dieting since Thanksgiving 2017, a good solid 4 months. Weight was moving down but not as fast as prior dieting phases. Then for 6 weeks I kept losing and gaining the same 2 to 3 lbs. It was very odd because the way I diet is I lose a consistent 1 pound of fat per week.
It was odd because I NEVER stall. Me, stall? HA! cmon now I am a pro at dieting. Interesting tidbit: I also started doing less and less carb ups in fact I was maybe doing once a month and I still believe that’s one of the reasons why I was “stalling”. I had doing a CKD (Cyclical Ketogenic Diet) for over 20 years I never stalled, not once and I owe that to the switching it up with the sporadic carbohydrate refeeds and I was not doing that for the past 4 months. Agree or not I felt that was a factor for the problems I was experiencing.
I was also thinking maybe I was suffering from the perils of Adaptive Thermogenesis: stress, cortisol inflammation, water retention – which in fact doesn’t mean you’re not losing fat but it’s not seen in the mirror or scale because of the water weight you’re holding onto while you’re losing fat (scale doesn’t move). *Trigger warning*: carbs as well as a diet break are one of the handful of tools used to help offset this for those who try to fix it.
Adaptive Thermogenesis often kicks in after you have been in a caloric deficit too long, too low, it’s a response to the stress of dieting. You’re body is trying to maintain homeostatic often referred to “set point theory”. The biggest side effect seen other than inability to lose weight is holding onto a lot of water. I may or may not have experienced true Adaptive Thermogenesis but one of the side effects was the same, I was looking soft/holding water.
To fix this and drop the water etc I figured let me do what I used to do back in the 90s which was an Atkins “Fat Fast” (silly name but people know it) which is basically strict carnivore: meat and water and nothing else. I have people that I help that are stalled do these and it works wonders but I haven’t had to do one myself in decades.
As I mentioned about it works for a couple of reasons; it can help with cortisol issues, removes any sort of inflammation and water retention you’re having from any potential food allergies or sensitivities to dairy etc. Veggies often cause issues with people (no veggies on carnivore).
It also works for another reason: it’s a 100% strict tracking because you’re not snacking on anything because those snacks are not part of carnivore it’s meat and water and that’s it. No sneaking in some nuts or nut butter here and there, no cheese even whey protein is eliminated (replaced with beef protein isolate and egg and egg white protein powder if need be). So the biggest snack foods (calories) and water retention, inflammation offenders are eliminated.
Cyclical Carnivore Diet
In 2+ months doing this I have adapted it to my style and been having great success for what I coined the term “Cyclical Carnivore Diet” aka CCD.
In fact it’s quite genius because on a regular keto diet (or any diet) you’ll find a couple of things; you’ll find people like me that cycle carbs sporadically (CKD) and then you’ll find people like me or just your average keto dieter who does not cycle carbs but that has episodes where they’re craving carbs very bad. The great thing about carnivore; I don’t crave carbs but once in awhile I do crave standard ketogenic macros/foods which is such a beautiful thing because if you go off plan for one day – who cares because you’re eating standard ketogenic macros within your caloric limit and can still lose fat. Your “cheat meal” is not a cheat at all.
So what I’ve been doing is 5 days on 2 days off for 6 days on 1 days off where I go super strict carnivore all week (meat and water) and then one or both days over the weekend I just eat my standard keto macros. I don’t add veggies back since I never ate them anyway but typically involves a lot more cheese and nuts, flax meal, whey protein for my “protein sludge”.
It gives the same effect that I had on a cyclical ketogenic diet with regards to mentally staying the course and always looking forward to the weekend and not eating junk on the weekend. It does wonders for diet adherence. In fact this is the longest I have gone in decades without a “carb up” and I will see how this goes and how long I will do it.
So for those looking to change things up or maybe you feel you are having some food intolerance issues, holding water or just stuck at a certain bodyweight for too long; going carnivore, even if for only a short while may be just the thing you need.
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