Frequently asked questions
Questions I often get asked about the carnivore diet, along with my answers
What is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet by definition is a plant-free diet of only fatty meat and optional seafood, eggs and dairy.
Many people use it as an elimination diet for a few months, and gradually add plant foods back in to guage their body’s reaction to those foods.
Others feel so incredible eating this way and heal so many ailments that they choose it as a permanent way of life.
But we have an omnivore gut, do we not?
Take a look at these images:
Credit for images: Ann Childers MD
Do we need to eat organs on the carnivore diet?
When it comes to organs, I believe in using our taste buds as a guide.
The following is how I came to this conclusion.
- In 2014, after a lifetime of avoiding red meat (and often all meat), I started to follow the paleo way of eating. I craved liver and absolutely loved it.
- In 2018, I went keto. I no longer craved liver, but I continued to eat it because it tasted okay and I thought I should.
- In 2019, I went carnivore, and since then, liver tastes metallic and absolutely vile to me.
I take this to mean I no longer need such intense nutrition; similar to the zinc test that many health practitioners use, where zinc on the tongue tastes bad when you don’t need it.
So my advice is to eat organ meats if you love them, and avoid them if you don’t.
How much protein? How much fat?
The million dollar questions!
Because we are all at different stages/levels of metabolic health, of different ages and activity levels, and eat a different range of foods (eg meat only, meat and dairy, meat and a few plant foods, etc), these are now questions I avoid answering.
I prefer instead to focus on intuitive eating. This forgotten ability takes some time to master though. I don’t believe we can trust our body’s signals when we are running on carbohydrates, and even early on in a meat-only diet, it can take time to trust our body’s signals of “more protein”, “less protein”, “more fat”, “less fat”, but given time, I believe we do get there.
My advice: don’t skimp on either protein or fat, and be flexible and willing to adapt meal by meal to adding more or less of one or the other.
Why eliminate plants from the diet?
- Plants are not needed. All required nutrients are obtainable from meat.
- Plants take up space in the stomach that is better put to use digesting meat.
- Plants contain antinutrients (eg phytates) that inhibit absorption of valuable nutrients.
- Many plants contain toxins (eg oxalates) that accumulate in the body causing inflammation and damage to the gut lining and other body tissues.
- Many plants are high in carbohydrate, causing blood sugar imbalance, insulin spikes and weight gain.
- Plant fibre causes bulky stools that can lead to constipation and damage to the gut lining, as well as reducing absorption of nutrients.
How do we poop without fibre?
Fibre being needed to avoid constipation is a myth.
The carnivore diet does not cause constipation. As carnivores, we produce less waste.
If you are on the carnivore diet and have symptoms of discomfort and an inability to pass stools, even with the urge to, then that is true constipation. If that happens on carnivore, it is likely due to one of four things:
- Not enough fat
- Too much dairy (especially cheese)
- Dehydration or electrolyte imbalance (which can be common early on as the body loses water weight)
- An underlying issue that has yet to heal.
Read my blog post on fibre and constipation here.
Don't we need fibre to feed our gut flora?
No, this is another myth.
I’ve written a blog post on fibre and microbial diversity here.
What about vitamin C?
Fresh meat contains enough vitamin C. Any nutrition panel that says there is none just means they never measured it.
In addition, the need for vitamin C is much reduced when carbohydrates are removed from the diet. This is because vitamin C and glucose compete for the same cell receptor sites.
There is also less oxidation when burning fat versus burning glucose. Therefore less antioxidants are needed.
For a more detailed explanation and further information, see Amber O’Hearn’s post on vitamin C (be sure to read the entire thread).
Do we need salt or electrolyte mixes on carnivore?
When starting on carnivore, it is common to lose a lot of water weight, and along with the water, electrolytes. In addition, water along with electrolytes is no longer held in the digestive tract by dietary fibre. Because of this, some find it helpful to supplement salt or a clean electrolyte mix* to help support electrolyte balance early on. Over time, many find they no longer need to worry about it.
There are many long-term carnivores (10+ years) who feel their best avoiding salt and electrolyte mixes altogether.
Others feel their best salting their meals to taste.
Still others feel their best by adding salt or an electrolyte mix to water in addition to what they add to their meals.
It is a matter of finding what works for you and adjusting as necessary.
*If using salt, I recommend Celtic salt; if using electrolytes, I recommend a clean one such as LMNT.
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What supplements do we need to take on a carnivore diet?
Theoretically, supplementation is not needed on a carnivore diet because there is nothing lacking from animal-sourced foods, as long as we eat enough and do not restrict our portion sizes.
The exceptions are as follows:
- When starting on carnivore, some find it helpful to supplement salt or a clean electrolyte mix to help support electrolyte balance early on. See previous question.
- Many people coming to the carnivore way of eating are depleted in nutrients after a lifetime of eating ultra-processed foods, following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or restricting calories. In many cases, going 100% carnivore will be enough to replenish nutrient stores over a period of time. In some cases, however, supplementation may be required early on. If you are on the carnivore diet and are feeling depleted, I recommend consultation with a health professional who supports the carnivore lifestyle so that they can accurately interpret your bloodwork and other lab results in the context of a carnivore lifestyle. You can find a list of directories for low carb, keto or carnivore doctors here.
Do we need to drink 2–3 litres of water per day?
I don’t agree with drinking a set amount of water. What other animal does that in nature?
I drink to thirst. When we are eating our species appropriate diet, we can begin to trust our body’s signals for both hunger and thirst. It can take time though.
Many people drink too much water and flush out electrolytes, which results in dehydration!
I'm feeling sluggish on carnivore. What do I do?
Without seeing what and how much you are consuming in a day, here are some things to look into:
- Many find they need to eat more fat. (The body uses fat for energy.)
- Some find they need more food overall. (The body needs sufficient nutrients to function optimally.)
- Others find it is an electrolyte balance issue and need more (or less) salt. (See my answer to the salt and electrolyte question above.)
- Some find they are over consuming water and flushing out electrolytes. (See my answer to the water question above.)
If addressing the above has not helped, I recommend consultation with a health professional who supports the carnivore lifestyle so that they can accurately interpret your bloodwork and other lab results in the context of a carnivore lifestyle. You can find a list of directories for low carb, keto or carnivore doctors here.
I often experience meat aversion. What do I do?
I have only ever experienced meat aversion when not hungry enough. When I allow myself to develop a true hunger, even bland ground beef tastes good, and I notice I have an enthusiasm for the next mouthful.
What about coffee?
Coffee isn’t carnivore, but don’t stress about eliminating it. Many find it becomes easier to give up after a few months of strict carnivore.
Read my blog post for my views on coffee in general.
What about alcohol?
Most people understand that high-carb alcohol is detrimental to the carnivore lifestyle; however, some people ask about non-carb alcohol.
The carnivore lifestyle goes beyond counting carbs! It is about health.
Here are my views on alcohol.
Have you heard of people developing allergies or sensitivities to certain foods if they don't eat them for a period of time?
My thoughts are this: The same thing happens with alcohol. Many people on keto or carnivore report that their tolerance for alcohol decreases dramatically. They report suffering worse hangovers with less alcohol.
So the fact that it happens with plant foods does not concern me at all. I would rather avoid them forever. It is personal choice of course.
Now, with plant foods though, it could just be that the gut has to adapt to them again. The microbiome would need to change. Again, I would rather stay carnivore.
Have I helped you?
I don't do coffee, but I wouldn't say no to a bite of steak 😋
Advocating meat-based nutrition & support of meat, egg & dairy farming.
The information provided on this website is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice or used as a substitute for medical care.
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