Carnivore Diet Basics | Carnivore Diet Food List | Foods to Avoid | Tips for a Successful Carnivore Diet | Carnivore Diet Meal Ideas | Intermittent Fasting and the Carnivore Diet
You’ve probably been told to eat your fruits and vegetables at some point. But, what happens when you completely stop eating fruit and vegetables and only consume a meat diet? According to carnivore dieters, the weight loss and health benefits are remarkable.
What to put on your carnivore diet shopping list? The carnivore diet is a strict diet that only allows animal-based foods and completely eliminates all other food groups. Think of it as the exact opposite of a vegan diet.
This zero-carbohydrate diet includes a high proportion of animal fats and high protein. It has gained immense popularity due to well-known advocates such as Joe Rogan and Shawn Baker. The proposed health benefits of the carnivore diet range from improved digestive issues, increased energy levels, and decreased body fat.
The basic idea behind the carnivore diet is to “eat like our ancestors ate”. However, what does that look like in today’s modern society? With a little planning and cooking at home, the carnivore diet can fit in with a variety of lifestyles.
Below, we will go over what the carnivore diet is, a carnivore diet shopping list, and meal ideas as well as tips for a successful carnivore diet. Finally, we will see how the carnivore diet can fit with an intermittent fasting schedule. Let’s get started!
Carnivore Diet Basics
The carnivore diet is pretty straightforward: only eat animal-based foods. All types of meat are allowed and certain dairy products (including some types of cheese such as cheddar and parmesan).
There are no carbohydrates consumed which will put your body into ketosis. This is very similar to the keto diet, however the keto diet does allow a small amount of carbohydrates and encourages some fruit and vegetable intake.
There have been reports about the benefit of eating a carnivore meal plan, however no long term studies have been conducted to evaluate the validity of these claims. In a self-reported study, the participants reported very few side effects from following this diet and were largely satisfied with their results.
It has also come into question as to whether the carnivore diet can provide all essential nutrients since this diet eliminates fruits and vegetables. While it does provide the essential amino acids, certain vitamins like vitamin C and other electrolytes may need to be supplemented while following the carnivore diet.
Some choose to do a modified version of the carnivore diet which is the Meat and Fruit Diet.
By allowing fruits into a carnivore meal plan, there is less of a risk for nutrient deficiencies and those with more strenuous exercise routines may benefit from a small amount of carbohydrates.
Even though it’s a simple concept, it can be a difficult diet to stick with long term. During the first week, some experience symptoms similar to the keto flu, which can include dizziness, fatigue, and irritability.
Once these symptoms subside, there is often an increase in energy levels and mental clarity. There are many individuals who try the carnivore diet out for 30-days as a challenge to achieve either better overall health or weight loss.
Read here to see amazing 30-day results from the carnivore diet.
The carnivore diet is also used as an elimination diet for some individuals. By restricting food groups to eating only red meat, you can slowly start to reintroduce a few foods (like dairy products) if tolerated. This has been reported to help individuals figure out which foods could be exacerbating autoimmune disease symptoms or skin issues.
Critics of the carnivore diet have voiced concern over the amount of saturated fatty acids that are consumed on the diet which has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Advocates of the diet state that grass-fed meat and fatty fish are a good option to obtain healthy fats and may in fact reduce certain markers of heart disease. More research needs to be conducted in order to come to a clear conclusion on this issue.
Carnivore Diet Shopping List
Below, you will find a standard carnivore diet shopping list of foods to buy while on the carnivore diet. This is not a complete list, so feel free to customize to your preferences.
However, this list is a good place to start to ensure you have all the right foods on hand before starting your carnivore diet meal plan. Remember, you will only buy animal foods and avoid any plant-based foods.
Low lactose dairy products are allowed, as long as you can tolerate them.
- Ground beef (aim for grass-fed beef if possible)
- Organ meats like beef liver
- Steak (ribeye, sirloin, T-bone, New York strip)
- Chuck roast
- Ground bison
- Chicken thighs, chicken breast
- Bacon, sausage, pork belly, pork chops
- Wild game
Other animal products:
- Duck fat
- Bone marrow
- Bone broth (can be made at home using animal bones)
- Fatty fish like salmon and sardines
- Heavy cream
- Hard cheeses (like cheddar and parmesan)
- Other full-fat dairy products like yogurt if tolerated (optional)
Foods to Avoid
Now that we have an idea of what foods to buy for your carnivore diet plan, let’s review some foods that you should avoid.
Since this is an animal-based diet, you will avoid anything that does not come from animals.
The following are general categories of foods to avoid while on the carnivore diet:
- Vegetables: carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, mushrooms, etc
- Fruits: Strawberries, bananas, apples, peaches, etc
- Grains: rice, oats, wheat, barley etc
- Legumes: benas, lentils, etc
- Processed foods: protein bars, chips, cereal, etc
- Baked goods: cakes, cookies, pastries, etc
- Alcohol: beer, wine, etc
- Other beverages: coffee, tea, soda, juice
Tips for a Successful Carnivore Diet
- Opt for high-quality animal products. If possible, choose grass-fed meat options as well as less processed meats most of the time.
- Supplements may be necessary. Since most food groups are eliminated, supplementation may be necessary to avoid nutrient deficiencies. Adding electrolytes or a multivitamin to your meal plan could be beneficial.
- Different cuts of meat. Since there will be repetition in meals and flavor, different cuts of meat can increase the variety of flavor. Look for cuts of meat with higher fat content which will be beneficial to maintain calorie intake.
- Proper hydration. It’s especially important to keep your body hydrated while on this diet particularly if you experience any digestive issues.
- Experiment with different cooking methods. There are so many different ways to cook your meat such as roasting, slow cooking, and frying or using various appliances such as an Instant pot or air fryer. These can help to add variety while sticking with your plan.
Carnivore Diet Meal Ideas
There are different ways to break up your meals and many people stick with the traditional three meals per day approach. However, well-known advocates of the carnivore diet, such as Joe Rogan, prefer a two meal per day approach.
Below are several different meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These can easily be interchanged between meals and meal times. Feel free to customize these meal ideas based on your own personal dietary needs and preferences.
Note: The food amounts given within the meal are approximate. Adjust as needed to fit your own calorie needs or calorie goals. If you are unsure of your calorie needs, a Registered Dietitian can work with you to figure this out as well as give you personalized and actionable steps in order to achieve your health goals.
- Option 1: Eggs, bacon, and salmon
- Option 2: Trout cooked in butter and pork sausage
- Option 1: Burger patties with 1 slice of parmesan cheese
- Option 2: Beef liver and chicken wings
- Option 1: Slow cooked beef roast and sardines
- Option 2: Ribeye steak cooked in butter and bone broth
- Option 3: Shrimp and pork chops
- Option 1: hard-boiled eggs
- Option 2: beef jerky and cheddar cheese
- Option 3: Pork rinds and bone marrow
There are many benefits to having a well-thought out food plan. This will ensure that you know exactly what to eat each day, and have it on hand in your pantry or refrigerator.
It can help keep you on track with your goals and make it through the more challenging days while on the carnivore diet.
Intermittent Fasting and the Carnivore Diet
We often get the question of which diets can be combined with intermittent fasting? You probably have heard of the benefits of intermittent fasting such as weight loss, improved sleep, and better metabolic health.
It’s a popular eating pattern because it is a schedule of WHEN to eat and not WHAT to eat. There are no official food restrictions while following intermittent fasting, however a generally healthy diet is encouraged. This is why intermittent fasting is compatible with many other popular diets such as the keto diet, paleo, and vegetarian.
The same is true for the carnivore diet. The carnivore diet can be combined with intermittent fasting as a way to enhance the results of both diets. It is recommended, however, to start with one diet and then introduce the other diet once your body has had time to adjust.
The carnivore diet has become a unique and popular diet trend over the last few years. Many report significant weight loss, higher energy levels, improved digestion, as well as better overall health while following the diet.
Contrary to traditional nutrition advice, this diet eliminates all fruits and vegetables to focus on consuming animal products only. Adhering to the carnivore diet requires a well-thought out shopping list and meal plan in order to be successful.
It’s important to include as much variety as possible in the animal products such as organ meats, fatty fish, red meat and some dairy. Using the above shopping list and meal plans can give you a good start if you are trying the carnivore diet for the first time.
However, adherence to the carnivore diet long term may be challenging as there is limited variety and risk for certain nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin C. This is why it is a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to address any individual health concerns before starting this diet.