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Keto vs Carnivore – What’s the best option for your Health

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What is the Keto diet? | Benefits & Drawbacks to the Keto Diet | What is the Carnivore diet? | Benefits & Drawbacks to the Carnivore Diet

There’s been a lot of buzz recently around both the ketogenic (keto) diet and the carnivore diet. Keto vs Carnivore – which one is better? Advocates for each diet make some big claims as to what these diets can do for your health. 

Both keto and carnivore share similarities, but there are also some pretty big differences as well. Many have debated if the carnivore diet vs keto is better for your health. 

People try the keto and carnivore diets for different reasons, whether it’s for weight loss, more energy, or wanting better overall health. A quick Google search on either one of these diets and you will find many have had success on both diets. The real question is, which is the best option for your health? 

In this article, we’ll go over what these diets are, the benefits and drawbacks of keto vs carnivore diet, and discuss the reasons one may be the best option for your health. 

Keto vs Carnivore

What is the Keto diet? 

Before we can decide if the keto diet vs carnivore diet is the best option for your health, we must understand the ins and outs of each diet. The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carbohydrate moderate protein, and high fat diet. 

This balance of macronutrients causes metabolic changes within the body to induce ketosis. During ketosis, the body’s primary energy source (glucose) is depleted so it turns to stored fat as an energy source. By being in ketosis, the body will burn through more stored fat which can result in weight loss and improved metabolism. 

Generally, about 5-10% of total calories will come from carbohydrates on a keto diet. Protein will consist of 5-20% of total calories and fat will be 70-80% of calories. A majority of calories will be from fat, as carbohydrates are very limited in order for the body to enter ketosis. 

A keto diet consists mainly of foods like meats, fish, eggs, avocado, butter, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and occasionally berries. Foods such as breads, pastas, cookies, cakes, and other desserts are generally off limits due to their higher carbohydrate content. Sugary drinks are also off limits, but there are several keto-friendly drink options

Keto vs Carnivore

Benefits & Drawbacks to the Keto Diet

When looking at the keto vs carnivore diet, it’s important to highlight the potential benefits and drawbacks to each one. There are many research studies that have looked at the effects of the keto diet. 

The following are potential benefits that can occur while on a keto diet: 

  • Weight Loss. There is evidence to support the keto diet as an approach to weight loss and diabetes. The keto diet is effective because of reduced carbohydrate intake and the changes in metabolism that promote fat burning. It is also a quick way to jumpstart weight loss if followed consistently. 
  • Improved Mental Focus. Many people on the keto diet report improved focus and clarity. Some studies do show there could be a link between following a keto diet and improved cognition. 
  • Better Blood Sugar Control. By reducing carbohydrates and focusing on protein and fiber, blood sugar levels are more stable. High carbohydrate intake (particularly refined carbohydrates) causes greater fluctuations in insulin levels. The keto diet has been shown to be an effective strategy to improve blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. 

While there are benefits to the keto diet, it’s also important to look at the potential drawbacks of the diet when making a decision if it’s the right fit for you.

The following are potential drawbacks to the keto diet: 

  • Initial Side Effects. Oftentimes called “keto flu”, some people experience uncomfortable symptoms while trying to achieve ketosis. This can range from irritability, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. These symptoms usually subside after a few days, but can be a challenge for those starting a keto diet. 
  • Rigid Guidelines. In order for the keto diet to be effective, you have to follow strict rules when it comes to your macronutrient intake. If your carbohydrate intake is too high, for example, you won’t be able to go into ketosis. You also have to plan your meals to ensure that you are meeting calorie requirements through high fat and protein containing foods. 
  • Sustainability. The limited food choices and strict macronutrient ratios are difficult for some to maintain long term. Not only does the keto diet require careful planning and monitoring, but it may also present social challenges as well. It can be hard to find foods allowed on the keto diet in certain social settings like family gatherings, parties or restaurants. 

Overall, the keto diet is a popular choice and many have found success while on the diet. The keto diet can be combined with other diets like intermittent fasting for enhanced results. 

Keto vs Carnivore

What is the Carnivore diet? 

When comparing carnivore vs keto, both follow a low-carbohydrate approach to eating. While keto allows for a limited amount of carbs, the carnivore diet essentially allows zero carbs. 

Although both the keto diet and the carnivore diet encourage the body to enter ketosis, the carnivore diet is a more restrictive form of the keto diet. Cutting out many food groups, the carnivore diet consists of eating only animal products. 

While there are different variations of the carnivore diet (including one that allows fruit), the basic foods that someone would eat while on the diet would be all types of meat, eggs, fish, and some dairy. 

All plant-based foods are restricted as well as all carbohydrates. Typical carnivore diet snacks would include hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky, cheddar cheese, and sardines. 

The general idea behind the carnivore diet is to eat the way our ancestors ate. By eliminating a variety of foods, advocates of the carnivore diet claim that gut function improves. 

Some even use the carnivore diet as a type of elimination diet to see which foods they may have sensitivities towards. This will often be for a short period of time and then other types of foods will be reintroduced to the diet. 

Keto vs Carnivore

Benefits & Drawbacks to the Carnivore Diet

Although not well studied, carnivore dieters claim the carnivore diet has more benefits when comparing the carnivore diet vs keto. 

Let’s take a look below at some of the potential benefits to the carnivore diet. 

  • Weight loss. Many people try the carnivore diet for reasons surrounding weight loss. Since the body undergoes ketosis and burns stored fat, weight loss does occur. The fact that the carnivore diet doesn’t allow any carbohydrates will speed up weight loss results compared to the keto diet.  
  • Simplicity. This diet is pretty straightforward in that you don’t have to think about elaborate meals. You know you will be eating some type of animal product for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Things like breads, pastas, rice, fruits and vegetables aren’t allowed which makes for a simple grocery shopping list as well. You can explore variety through different types of meat as well as different cuts of meat. For more ideas on what to eat on the carnivore diet, check out this ultimate carnivore diet shopping list
  • Stable energy levels. Since carbohydrates are primarily responsible for raising blood sugar levels, blood sugar levels will remain relatively stable. This results in stable energy levels while avoiding the low energy levels that can occur after a high carbohydrate meal. 

Despite the amazing success stories from those that follow the carnivore diet, there are certainly drawbacks to following an extreme diet like this one. 

Below are common drawbacks to the carnivore diet. 

  • Potential nutrient deficiencies. When cutting out major food groups, nutrient deficiencies can easily develop. Since many vitamin rich foods are not allowed (like fruits and vegetables) supplemental vitamins may be necessary. Careful monitoring must be done in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies while on the carnivore diet. 
  • Digestive Issues. There have been reports of digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea while following the carnivore diet. As with any high fat diet where minimal fiber is consumed, digestive issues can occur. 
  • Long-term safety. There is limited research on the carnivore diet. There are concerns with the long term outcome of consuming only animal products. It is well documented that plant-based products have been associated with better health outcomes, so cutting out fruits and vegetables long term may have associated risks with overall health. 

Keto vs Carnivore: What’s the Conclusion?

So, now that we know more about the carnivore vs keto diet pros and cons, we can begin to evaluate which one is the best option for your health. 

Which one is the best option for your health? Ultimately the best diet for you to choose is one that you can consistently stick with, fits with your health goals, and one that is balanced. 

These factors are the best predictors of success when starting a new diet regimen. If the keto diet fits the bill for your individual goals, then that’s the best option for you. And vice versa. 

It’s also important to remember that there are plenty of other tools and strategies out there to help you meet your goals. 

In conclusion, maybe we shouldn’t be asking, Is keto healthier than carnivore? Maybe a better question would be, what is the best option for my own personal health goals and lifestyle? 

Both keto and carnivore offer different benefits and drawbacks. While similar in some ways, the keto diet has more evidence-based research to back up the potential benefits. 

The carnivore diet is a more extreme version of keto and has not been well studied for long term health outcomes. There are lots of different things to consider when starting a new diet regimen, but only you know what is best for your lifestyle and health goals. 

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