The Carnivore Diet – As Dangerous As It Sounds?
In the wake of ketogenic, paleolithic and mediterranean diets, a contender has appeared. The ‘carnivore’ diet is just as it says, a diet compromised either entirely or almost entirely of meat. There are many vocal critics of this lifestyle, many of them are ironically vegans/vegetarians.
In terms of deficiencies, carnivorous diets are actually a little bit easier to maintain. Zinc and Iron are found in copious amounts inside red meat, as is creatine, meaning you are going to notice an increase in your strength. Many vegans need to eat food or supplements that has been specifically formulated to compensate for the incomplete amino acid profile present in vegan diets, luckily meat doesn’t have to be tampered with in the same way to have a complete amino acid profile. One of the only nutrients you may struggle to get enough of on the carnivore diet is Vitamin C. This is not particularly abundant in meat and should be kept into consideration. If you are worried about short term vitamin C deprivation, you should consider ingesting it naturally via something like the occasional glass of orange juice.
So what are the benefits of eating exclusively meat vs other food groups, and what are the negatives?
It is much easier to track your calories as generally speaking the variety of food you’ll be consuming will be restricted to very specific things such as ribeye cuts of beef (high in fat, which is vital for energy during a diet this restrictive.), fish for important omegas, and chicken/turkey/ham for some lean protein.
Meat is incredibly high in protein.
Meat is MUCH leaner than other foods and generally has far less calories than carb heavy foods such as potatoes and bread.
The high fat in this diet may cause a significant testosterone boost. So much so there are individual accounts of people assessing the presence of the hormone in their blood and finding up to a 290% increase of its presence.
High levels of saturated fat can be present in non-fish based meats, so it’s important to take a break from the intense levels of fat occasionally, however don’t forego the fat altogether as you need it to maintain some level of energy. Maintaining a careful balance is important as saturated fats are believed to be linked to heart disease. (however there is a huge diversity of opinion surrounding this information and numerous studies tend to have mixed results)
Whilst a lot of the studies around saturated fat have turned up with mixed results, there is a reasonable enough amount of suspicion surrounding it.
It is an incredibly restrictive diet, as such it can be hard to stick to or follow. This diet is recommended for people who have experience dieting in the past or people who have a fairly strong level of mental constitution.
This diet commands a relatively higher level of involvement in terms of keeping an eye on how you feel/your mood/your sleeping patterns as the drastic change in the composition of your macronutrient profile will most certainly cause some fluctuations in your hormones at first.