Exploring the Carnivore Diet

Reviewed by Carolyn Nicholas, FDNP Written by Our Editorial Team
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The carnivore diet, which consists of eating only animal products and eliminating all plant foods, has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the biohacking community. Proponents like Dr. Anthony Chaffee and Dr. Shawn Baker argue that this way of eating can lead to significant health benefits. However, it's crucial to carefully examine the potential advantages and drawbacks before making drastic changes to your diet. 

Potential Benefits: 

1. Weight Loss: Many people report rapid weight loss when starting a carnivore diet. This may be due to the high protein and fat content, which can promote satiety and reduce overall calorie intake.[1] 

2. Improved Hormonal Health: Some evidence suggests that a high-fat, low-carb diet like the carnivore diet may help regulate hormones, particularly in women with conditions like PCOS.[2] Dr. Chaffee argues that eliminating plant toxins and anti-nutrients can further support hormonal balance. 

3. Reduced Inflammation: Dr. Baker asserts that by eliminating potentially inflammatory plant foods, the carnivore diet can help reduce systemic inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases.[3] 

4. Improved Gut Health: The Lion Diet, a variation of the carnivore diet, is promoted as a healing elimination diet that may help address leaky gut and autoimmune diseases by removing all plant-based irritants.[4] 

Risks and Considerations: 

1. Nutrient Deficiencies: Eliminating all plant foods may lead to deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's essential to ensure you're getting enough nutrients from animal sources or consider supplementation under medical supervision.[5] 

2. Digestive Issues: Some people may experience digestive discomfort, such as constipation when transitioning to a carnivore diet due to the lack of fiber. Gradually increasing your fat intake and staying hydrated can help mitigate these issues.[6] 

3. Sustainability and Variety: The carnivore diet can be challenging to maintain long-term due to its restrictive nature and potential for monotony. It may be more suitable as a short-term intervention rather than a lifelong eating pattern. 

4. Heart Health and Cancer Risk: While some studies have linked high red meat consumption to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, it's important to note that these studies often don't differentiate between processed meats and high-quality, pasture-raised sources.[7] Dr. Chaffee and Dr. Baker argue that when focusing on nutrient-dense, ethically raised animal products, these risks may be mitigated. It’s important to remember that you are what you ate, ate!  

Implementing the Carnivore Diet: 

If you're considering trying the carnivore diet, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider first, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions. They can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks and monitor your health throughout the process. 

When starting the carnivore diet, focus on high-quality, pasture-raised animal products, including: - Red meat (beef, lamb, bison) - Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck) - Fish and seafood - Eggs - Organ meats - Bone broth - Full-fat dairy (if tolerated) 

Gradually increase your fat intake to support satiety and energy levels. Stay hydrated and consider electrolyte supplementation, especially during the adaptation phase. 

It's important to listen to your body and pay attention to any negative symptoms. If you experience persistent digestive issues, fatigue, or other concerning symptoms, it may be a sign that the carnivore diet isn't the right fit for you. 

Ancestral Eating Patterns: 

Looking back at our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it's evident that they consumed diets high in animal products, including saturated fats from pasture-raised animals[8]. These ancestral eating patterns have been studied extensively, with some researchers suggesting that they may be better suited to our genetic makeup than modern, processed diets[9]. 

It's worth noting that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed diets high in animal products and saturated fats, and they were largely free from the chronic diseases that plague modern society.[10] While their lifestyles and food sources were quite different from ours, this evidence suggests that saturated fat from high-quality animal sources can be a healthy part of the diet. 

In fact, saturated fat plays important roles in the body, including:[11] - Building cell membranes - Supporting hormone production - Aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins - Providing energy 

The key is to focus on high-quality, minimally processed sources of saturated fat, such as those found in pasture-raised animal products. 

However, it's crucial to recognize that our ancestors also consumed a variety of plant foods, depending on their geographical location and seasonal availability[12]. While the carnivore diet may mimic certain aspects of ancestral eating, it's a more extreme approach that eliminates all plant foods. 

The biohacking community has shown interest in the carnivore diet, with some individuals reporting improved cognitive function, increased muscle mass, and reduced inflammation[13]. 


The carnivore diet is a controversial approach that may offer benefits for some individuals, particularly those struggling with weight, hormonal imbalances, and certain autoimmune conditions. However, it's essential to weigh the potential risks and challenges before diving in. 

If you decide to try the carnivore diet, work with a knowledgeable healthcare provider, focus on high-quality animal products, and listen to your body. Remember that this way of eating may be best suited as a short-term intervention rather than a lifelong diet. 

Ultimately, the best diet is one that is sustainable, nourishing, and tailored to your individual needs and preferences. By staying informed and attuned to your body's responses, you can make empowered decisions about your health and well-being. 


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413294/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509367/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5981249/
  4. https://liondiet.com/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK396513/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024687/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024687/
  8. Eaton, S. B., & Konner, M. (1985). Paleolithic nutrition: a consideration of its nature and current implications. New England Journal of Medicine, 312(5), 283-289.
  9. Cordain, L., et al. (2005). Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(2), 341-354.
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257695/
  11. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saturated-fat-good-or-bad
  12. Hardy, K., et al. (2015). The Importance of Dietary Carbohydrate in Human Evolution. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 90(3), 251-268.
  13. Asprey, D. (2021). The Carnivore Diet for Biohackers. Bulletproof Blog.

Baker, S. (2019). The Carnivore Diet. Victory Belt Publishing. Baker, S. (2021). The Carnivore Diet and Autoimmune Disease. Revero. Chaffee, A. (2020). The Carnivore Code Cookbook. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Chaffee, A. (2020). The Importance of Saturated Fats in the Diet. Revero. Carnivore Aurelius. (2021). The Lion Diet: Benefits, Food List, and Meal Plan. Carnivore Aurelius.

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