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The Carnivore Diet – Why Do Some People Decide to Only Eat Meat?

By Jiri Kaloc

Have you heard of the carnivore diet? You’re only allowed to eat meat and other animal foods, and no plant-based foods. Pretty clear dietary instructions, but why would anyone do that? Vegetables are healthy, right? Let’s explore what leads people to give up everything except for meat.

Who would do that?

There are people who have had a successful experience on the carnivore diet. Some have been on it only for the short term, others for years. We don’t have much scientific data on this meat only diet itself, so we have to rely on what people report to get a better picture of their reason for sticking with it.

Thankfully, the reports are in, and they are fascinating. People lose weight faster and experience improved mental clarity, healthier digestion, and even remission of certain autoimmune diseases. But keep in mind that for many of these people the carnivore diet was the last resort, not the first choice. Let’s take a closer look at how this diet could provide such benefits.

A huge chunk of red, raw meat on a cutting board.
There aren’t many better ways to get a large amount of quality protein intake than eating a big chunk of  red meat. © Profimedia, Depositphotos Inc.

The carnivore diet can help with weight loss

Based on current science, we know that protein-rich meals tend to be really good at satiating you and keeping hunger away. There aren’t many better ways to get a large amount of quality protein in than eating a big chunk of red meat. Now imagine that’s all you eat for each meal of the day.

Eating meat not only fills you up faster so you eat fewer calories, your brain also experiences less reward signals to other foodstuffs because you are eating the same thing over and over again. First-hand reports from the carnivore community are in line with this evidence. Carnivore diet followers are typically less hungry and claim to have fewer food cravings. And they often remark eating less frequently, commonly two or even just one meal per day. This helps people create a caloric deficit, which is key for weight loss and an eventual reduction in body fat.

It can help manage autoimmune diseases

Having a caloric deficit can be beneficial in other ways too. It lowers blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity and upregulates autophagy, a process that cleans up metabolic waste in the body. This in turn reduces inflammation and often alleviates autoimmune disease symptoms.

Studies also show that increasing meat intake by switching to a carnivore type of diet significantly alters the gut microbiota, the spectrum of beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, in only two days. We are only starting to understand the relationship between microbes and our health, but research so far has shown that a healthy microbiota correlates with a lower risk of various chronic inflammatory diseases. And it might have implications for autoimmunity too.

4 raw pieces of steak piled on one another with bits of salt.
Having a caloric deficit can be beneficial in some ways.

It is easy on the digestive tract

For most people, getting enough dietary fibre correlates with good digestive system health. Unfortunately, those who suffer from serious digestive issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may often feel worse after ingesting a lot of fibrous foods like vegetables.

If one’s gut is already inflamed, it can be mechanically bruised by fibre, which is why people with these conditions are often instructed to go on a low-residue diet. Residue is what goes through your whole gastrointestinal tract undigested, and fibre makes up most of it. People with such conditions do well on the carnivore diet because it is the ultimate low-residue diet – it contains zero fibre.

The carnivore diet can benefit neurological health

People on the carnivore diet usually gravitate towards fatty cuts of meat, as there are zero carbohydrates in meat, fat becomes their main source of energy. This, coupled with the fact that they tend to eat only one to two times a day, makes them more likely to get into ketosis.

Nutritional ketosis happens when the body doesn’t get enough carbohydrates from one’s diet and it switches to burning predominantly fat. Ketogenic diets have been shown to help with various neurodegenerative diseases and with diabetes, so perhaps the carnivore diet produces similar benefits.

These are some impressive potential benefits. But the question is, why do some cyclists only eat meat?And what are the risks of going on a diet like this? We will explore these questions in the following article.