The carnivore diet is exactly what it sounds like: a meat-based meal plan that focuses your entire menu around animal products. It's similar to the ketogenic diet, but rather than working with a low-carb, medium-protein diet plan, you're typically working with an ultra low-carb, high-protein diet plan. In this lifestyle, the allowable foods are meat, offal, animal fats, eggs, fish, shellfish and high-fat dairy. So with the exception of the tiny amounts of carbohydrates you'll find in muscle meat, high-fat dairy and eggs, you're taking in nearly zero carbs.
We'll go over the basics as we build a meal plan with you, but if you want the full story of exactly how it all works, check out this overview of the carnivore diet. It gives a detailed description of the various forms of this diet and how it works. On a deep investigation of this diet, you might be surprised to learn that you can get all the micronutrients you need by eating a nose-to-tail animal-based diet.
The goals of an eating strategy like this are many — weight loss (excess fat), mental clarity, blood sugar regulation, increased performance, allergy and autoimmune relief and more. Much like the keto diet, the mainstream nutrition community is skeptical of the health benefits of a diet like this, but when done correctly, this diet can provide everything you need just by focusing on two macronutrients: fat and protein. And there are a few different ways to tackle it.
Keep reading to find out why the carnivore diet could be right for you, some of the guidelines you’ll need to follow for success and how to get started.
Why Try the Carnivore Diet?
Raise your hand if you have memories of being made to eat your vegetables as a kid! Pretty much everyone, right? That's because conventional nutritional wisdom says that colourful vegetables are where you'll find most of the nutrition in your diet — vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Because plants can't pick themselves up and run away at the sight of a predator, they contain all sorts of chemical defenses that can make it difficult to access their bounty of nutrition. Chemicals like lectins, tannins, saponins and phytic acids, which are found in many fruits and vegetables, make them more difficult to break down and assimilate for nutrients and can even lead to malnutrition even when consuming ‘enough calories’. They can also damage your gut lining, leading to a leaky gut and the host of issues that come with it .
While there's insufficient large-scale evidence to show that a fully carnivorous diet solves all your nutritional problems, noteworthy anecdotal evidence is promising. Human populations on the extreme poles of planet Earth subside entirely on animal products for most of the year with no negative health consequences.
And Western carnivore dieters make similar, if not greater, claims as keto diet advocates. The claim is that by relying on a wide array of animal products and focusing on healthy fats and proteins, the carnivore diet will put you in a state of optimal metabolic function and flexibility, offering the same spectrum of benefits as keto:
- Promoting rapid and sustained body fat loss 
- Decreasing inflammation in your body and brain 
- Supporting enhanced mental clarity and cognition 
- Promoting healthy cardiovascular function 
- Sustaining healthy muscle mass 
Furthermore, an all-meat diet is a type of elimination diet, meaning that it cuts out a wide array of foods that could cause an allergic/intolerance reaction like soya, nightshades, gluten, fibre, nuts and legumes. It's a great way to hit the reset button on your eating habits and find out which foods actually enhance your quality of life, and which ones make you feel terrible or even just sub par.
Your comfort level with animal products, like offal and organ meats, and how well you tolerate certain foods like eggs, shellfish and dairy, will help you determine which version of the carnivore diet is right for you. In some versions of this lifestyle, a few very small portions of plant foods are included, but you can play with that to see what works best for you as you gain familiarity with this way of eating.
A Word on Dairy Products
Not all dairy products are included on the carnivore diet. That's because a key component of this diet is to keep your carb count as close to zero as possible, and high-lactose products don’t do that. So just like the keto diet, your goal is to stick with the high-fat forms of dairy — including butter, ghee, full-fat yogurt, hard cheeses, sour cream and heavy cream — and avoid the low-fat versions like any form of milk, high-lactose cheeses or low-fat yogurt or sour cream.
If you have a known lactose or casein sensitivity, don't force dairy into your diet. You can still be successful on this diet without dairy products. Not everyone can tolerate them, and that's OK.
How To Build Your Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
Building your carnivore diet plan isn't just about your macronutrients: proteins and fats. Much like any other nutrition-focused diet plan, it's also about your micronutrient intake. That's why it's important to find a way to include as many different parts of the animal in your eating plan as possible.
Organ meat is a vital part of this meal plan because of its incredibly high nutrient density. And drinking bone broth is a great way to reap the benefits of animal collagen and bone marrow. So in short, this isn't just a steak diet. It's a combination of high-quality animal food sources that are aimed at keeping glucose levels low, your body weight in check and your nutrition in tip-top shape.
Macronutrient Balance on the Carnivore Diet
On the carnivore diet, there are only two macros you need to worry about: fat and protein. Much like the ketogenic diet, the carnivore diet is a high-fat diet plan, but unlike the keto diet, it's also high-protein.
However, proponents of the lifestyle disagree about whether or not to count macros.
Shawn Baker, author of ‘The Carnivore Diet’ and leader of the MeatRx online community argues that there's no need to worry about macro counting or portion control at all on this diet, as long as you stick with animal products and avoid carbohydrates.
Dr. Paul Saladino, author of ‘The Carnivore Code’, advocates for a fat-to-protein ratio of between 1.5-to-1 and 2-to-1. In other words, you'd eat between 1.5 and 2 times more fat than protein at every meal.
Whether or not you decide to track your macros, choosing cuts of fatty meat and cooking with healthy animal fat like ghee, tallow or lard will get you where you need to go.
Not all meats are created equal. Big agribusiness has changed the diet of grazing animals like cows and sheep and foraging animals like pigs, chickens and even salmon.
Conventional livestock farming and commercial fish farms rely on soya and corn-based feed with unhealthy additives to fatten up their livestock, but that shift in diet comes at a price. The result is a potentially less nutritious meat source with the wrong omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and fewer total micronutrients. In fact, grass-fed beef can have up to 50% more omega-3 fats than its grain-fed counterpart, which can have a massive impact on your inflammatory response and blood pressure .
Since foraging animals aren't meant to eat only grasses, choosing pasture-raised domesticated foragers, wild fish and game, along with grass-fed beef is the best way to go when planning your carnivorous lifestyle. This includes wild fish and shellfish as well as game animals like deer, wild boar, bison, elk, rabbit, duck, goose and other fowl.
When you choose wild and pasture-raised animals who are eating what they evolved to eat — rather than what's most economical for the farmer or big corporates — you get healthier animals who lived in the sunshine, roamed freely and experienced an enriched life. And this translates to a better meal for you with more healthy fatty acids and more vitamins and minerals in every bite.
You'll also want to skip processed meats like sausage and deli meats on this diet. Processed meats may contain unwanted additives, allergens or hidden carbs. Avoiding these could also help protect against heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol .
Sample 3-Day Carnivore Diet Plan
Most proponents of the carnivore diet claim that eating this way leads to a greater level of satiety and therefore a need for fewer meals per day, but there's no hard rule about how many meals you should eat per day.
Dr. Saladino claims that most carnivores eat twice a day, but we’ve given you three meal choices for each day of our plan. This way, you can pick and choose what’s right for you based on your hunger level. Much like when starting a keto diet, your level of hunger can swing back and forth a lot as you adjust and eventually reach optimal metabolic function. But you should not be going hungry on this eating plan. Eat to satiety.
Some carnivore dieters advocate for intermittent fasting on this diet, some say that it doesn't matter. How you time your meals and how many you eat will be up to you, as long as you're not left feeling hungry afterward.
There's also a bit of a grey area around caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea. Purists say they're off-limits since they're sourced from plants, while others claim it doesn't matter whether you consume them or not. We'll leave it up to you whether or not you choose to include coffee or tea in your plan.
This meal plan will help you get started on your carnivorous journey.
Day 1 Breakfast
- 3 eggs cooked in ghee with sea salt
- 120 grams organic beef mince
- Hunter & Gather Liver Capsules
Day 1 Lunch
- 8-10 large shrimp cooked in tallow
Day 1 Dinner
- 225 grams ribeye topped with a generous pad of butter and sea salt (organic beef mince is fine if ribeye is too pricey)
- 1 can sardines packed in water
Day 2 Breakfast
- 3 eggs cooked in tallow or lard
- 5 slices smoked bacon
- Hunter & Gather Kidney Capsules
Day 2 Lunch
- 160 grams wild salmon cooked in ghee with celtic sea salt
Day 2 Dinner
- 210 grams sirloin steak
- 6 large shrimp cooked in tallow
Day 3 Breakfast
- 6 sea scallops cooked in butter
- Hunter & Gather Heart Capsules
Day 3 Lunch
- 1 can of sardines in water
- 4 eggs
Day 3 Dinner
- 6 lamb chops or loins sautéed in ghee
- 2 eggs fried in lard
A Tailored Plan
No diet is a one-size-fits-all solution for fat loss or optimal health. If you've tried paleo, keto, Whole30 or another version of a low-carb diet with success and would like to optimise your health further, you might consider the animal based carnivore diet.
But it's not for everyone. Nearly every proponent of the carnivore diet recommends that you obtain a blood test before you start this plan and then again two to three months after you've started to ensure that you're in good shape on this lifestyle. Remember to listen to your body and the advice of trained medical professionals — just ensure they question the conventional dietary wisdom!
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.