Health and Fitness

Health Coach, CPT & FNS 

Health Coach, B.S. Dietetics

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Is Carnivore For You?

Recently, the carnivore diet is growing in popularity. Perhaps more than just the weight loss benefits, many are turning to the diet to heal a history of chronic illness; myself included. Many on the carnivore diet, claim this lifestyle has put their autoimmune disease into complete remission. Some are completely off of medications they have been taking for years. Other perks include, better digestion, reduced cravings, improved blood sugar levels, no longer suffering from joint pain, better sleep, increased libido, and even a significant reduction in anxiety and depression. 

What is Carnivore?

A carnivore diet is essential a diet that is void of plants. The focus is on animal products such as beef, game meat, poultry, pork, fish, and dairy. A true carnivore diet does not include any plant foods, and is strictly meat, water, and salt. From there, we have more carnivore-ish versions of the diet. Some will be strict, but also include coffee. Others will include some plant foods such as spices, mushrooms, or avocado. The point being to focus on animals as the base of the diet, with as little plant food as possible.

Why would someone exclude plants from their diet?

I’ll be as brief as I can here, but like all living things, plants do not want to be eaten. Their “fangs” come in forms of plant antinutrients such as phytates, oxalates, lectins, saponins, and salicylates. This is how plants bite back. These antinutrients reduce the bodies ability to absorb nutrients from food, specifically iron, zinc, and calcium. Phytates are one of the leading causes of delayed growth, anemia, and a compromised immune system. Oxalates are one of the leading contributors to kidney stones . Lectins contribute to leaky gut by damaging the cell wall of the small intestine. Salicylate sensitivity can cause allergy like reactions such as headache, hives, and even bed wetting. Protease inhibitors in plants can damage the pancreas and contribute to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. And to top it off, cooking doesn’t always destroy these antinutrients, and when eaten daily in the ridiculously high amounts the USDA recommends, it’s no wonder so many chronic diseases are on the rise. 

SO, is carnivore right for you?

  1. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, you may want to consider a carnivore diet for healing mainly, and weight loss second. Many people who turn to a carnivore diet for health reasons, find that they initially gain weight on the diet. This can be in the form much needed bone and muscle growth. Weight gain can also be in the form of fat, as many feel extremely hungry, as they crave the more of the nutrients from animal fat and protein. As many continue with the diet and heal, they find any extra fat they have gained begins to come off as the body heals and is well nourished. Appetites usually regulate. 
  2. If you have any gut related diseases or IBS, you may choose a carnivore diet because the diet is void of fiber, which can be very irritating and aggravate gut issues. Other conditions such as SIBO, histamine intolerance, dysbiosis, fatty liver, and food intolerances often greatly improve on a carnivore diet. Again healing is key to any weight loss diet. 
  3. If you are already healthy, and looking to getting very lean, there are hacks to a carnivore diet that can get you to a pretty low body fat, if that is the goal. 
  4. Some people do find that carnivore is much too restrictive for them, and if a diet isn’t sustainable, it’s not going to work for you.
  5. Some people, such as bodybuilders, struggle to eat enough on a carnivore diet in order to increase muscle mass. If this is the case, you could try eating more frequently. Ultimately, some feel they don’t get the results they want without some carbohydrate in their diet. A carnivorish diet might help these people.
  6. A carnivore diet is very satiating because of its high level of protein. This is great for people looking to lose weight and/or reset their leptin levels.

Again, sustainability is key. For many, including myself, I look forward to every carnivore meal. It’s delicious, I don’t get bored, and most importantly I feel my absolute best. However, if you can’t handle always eating meat, and you do not have an underlying condition, then perhaps this is not the plan for you. If you do have any sort of condition, disease, illness, pain, etc. I do urge you to at least give the carnivore diet a shot. Many are surprised to find they no longer feel the need for certain foods they thought they couldn’t be without. 

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