This is a beginners guide on the carnivore diet that will help you find out what the diet is, and how to easily get started with loads of tips and links to resources.
- Did You Know that 1 January 2023 is the start of World Carnivore Month?
- Are you interested in Dr Shawn Baker’s carnivore diet?
- Did you listen to Mikhaila Petersons’ story on how much better she feels mentally & physically on a her type of carnivore diet called The Lion Diet?
What Is the Carnivore Diet?
On a strict carnivore dietary plan there are no plant based foods, like fruit or vegetables, or any processed carbohydrate foods like, cereals and grains.
The all meat diet is also known as the meat only diet, zero carb diet, beef only diet, or the carnivore diet, and is classified as a high protein diet.
How to Start The Carnivore Diet
Step 1: Do a 30-Day Meat Only Challenge
For most people who want to try start eating a diet of only meat; starting with a 1-month challenge is a good way to start.
For 30 days you will follow the recommended protocols rules and tips.
Use this time to see if you subjectively feel better (better energy levels, fewer aches and pain, better sleep, less hunger etc…), or you can see better objective health changes (weight loss, better blood results like HbA1c numbers for diabetes, thyroid levels etc…).
Taking before and after pictures, keeping a health diary or tracking these lab results will then help you know if this is the diet plan for you, or not.
Don’t worry, it is very easy to get started. This way of eating is not complicated, but just needs a little preparation.
Step 2: Eat Only Meat
The carnivore diet is based on eating only animal meats. This means you should only eat 100% meat and organ meats when on the diet.
You will not be eating plant based protein like, soy or pea protein.
The recommended types of meat you can eat will be any type of animal based protein. Some people will add in minimal dairy fat and protein products like some cream or cheese, but some choose not to.
Eat the fatty cuts of meat & not only lean cuts of meat.
Natural saturated and unsaturated animal fat on the meat provides additional daily nutritional needs that your body requires for staying healthy; along with the protein, minerals, vitamins & other nutrients you get from meat. Plus, adding fat makes any food more tasty (palatable).
Step 3: Drink Mainly Water
Choosing to drink only water depends how strict you want to be on your carnivorous way of eating.
Most people are recommended to try drink water only for the first 30 days. This can be regular tap water, mineral water, spring water or filtered water.
A tip is try to add some Redmond Real salt to your water for extra electrolytes. The salt fix book author Dr James DiNicolantonio recommends you do to avoid issues.
A full, or strict, follower will eat just meat and only drink water. Whereas, others may include drinks like, coffee and tea, or other sources of fat like dairy products.
Some long-term carnivore diet followers, like Amber O’Hearn, find they still wish to drink coffee or tea. Do this as long as you are not adding sugar or sweeteners into your hot drinks.
Avoid any hot or cold beverages with added carbs like: soda drinks, vegetable drinks, energy drinks, protein powder shakes etc…
Step 4: Eat Until Full
You will want to eat enough meat per meal until you feel full (satiated).
Your appetite will change during the course of the first month. Do not go hungry; eat to your energy needs.
Dr Baker mentioned on the Joe Rogan #1050 podcast interview how he has seen many people eat on average about 2 lbs (900 grams) of meat per day. However, since Dr Baker workouts out heavily, he likes to eat about 4 lbs (1.8 kg) of meat per day.
Step 5: Eat 1-3 Meals a Day
You can eat three meals a day, practice intermittent fasting (IF), or eat only one meal a day (OMAD). The key here is not to snack too often.
How often you eat depends on your daily schedule. If you want, try to add in more health benefits like practicing timed fasting.
If you follow circadian biology thinking then protein in the morning within the first hour of waking helps to set your body clock; so a carnivore breakfast would be an important meal.
If you follow the advice from protein researcher Prof Stuart Phillips then eating protein throughout the day, plus in the evening, is a good idea to help maintain lean muscle mass.
Step 6: Cook Your Meat How You Like It
On the carnivore diet you can cook your meat how you like it: blue, rare, medium rare, medium, medium well done or well done.
Some people also choose to eat only raw meat, but that is the exception.
High-end steak restaurants that value good tasting food cook red meat, like beef, to be medium rare and not well done.
If you are not a fan of steak that is still pink or slightly bloody; you might find your tastes will change over time when eating meat every day. You’ll likely come to start enjoying eating medium rare steak vs well done steak.
Cook other meats (chicken, bacon, fish) to make sure they are safe to eat; there are risks to eating some raw meats. I would not eat raw chicken, or raw bacon from a food safety point of view.
However, raw seafood is a must-try like, sushi sashimi salmon, tuna or fresh oysters.
Step 7: Do Resistance Training Exercises
Make sure you are doing some form of resistance training exercise to help maintain or improve your lean body, especially you muscle mass.
If you are starting a carnivore diet to help with weight loss, or looking to maintain a healthy weight, you need to be doing regular exercise.
Resistance training can be doing some form of lifting weights at the gym or at home. You don’t even need to lift weights; you can do body weight exercises (calisthenics).
I recommend you listen to and watch Jerry Teixeira who is a great resource for starting bodyweight exercising at home.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan for Beginners
- Eggs and bacon
- Minute steak and eggs
- Chicken livers and egg
- Bone marrow
- Ribeye steak
- Fresh oysters
- Grilled beef heart
- Burger patties
- Grilled ribs
- Pork chop
- Beef sticks
- Beef jerky
- Biltong or droewors
- Boiled eggs
- Bone broth
Approved Carnivore Diet Food List
Here is a list of what to eat on a carnivore diet.
|Type of Food||Example Foods|
|Red Meat||Beef, pork, lamb, wild game, birds|
|White Meat||Chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, sashimi sushi|
|Organ Meat||Liver, kidneys, tongue, heart, brain|
|Animal Fat||Bone marrow, tallow|
|Eggs||Chicken eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs|
Foods to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet
Here is a list of foods you are not allowed to eat on a carnivore diet.
|Type of Food||Example Foods|
|Dairy*||Heavy cream, cheese, butter, ghee|
|Vegetables||Cauliflower, broccoli, potato|
|Fruit||Strawberries, blackberries, banana|
|Grains||Bread, cereals, flour|
|Nuts||Peanuts, almonds, macadamia|
|Desserts||Chocolate, ice-cream, protein bars|
* Some people still choose to have some dairy products like cheese on the carnivore diet.
Before and After Results on the Carnivore Diet
My Personal 30 Day Carnivore Diet Experiment Before & After Results.
Nothing like doing something yourself so you try to learn and understand what effect the carnivore diet will have on your body. I love protein and eating meat, so to try this way of eating (WOE) was a good dietary challenge I was willing to give a go.
The summary of the pictures shows how I lost about 10 lbs (4.5 kg) in weight and my hip and waist measurements came down too. My goal wasn’t to lose weight, but I did end up shedding some excess pounds.
Doing the experiment I discovered a bunch of things like:
- How much it costs to eat this way per day?
- What kind of meat do I find easy and enjoy eating regularly?
- What would this WOE did to my blood glucose and ketone levels?
I documented my thoughts each day in my YouTube daily vlogs about my carnivore diet experience here and shared my blood ketone levels and glucose measurements on the Biohackers Lab Instagram, like this picture below. (Tip: Use the Keto-Mojo meter.
Good to know for those looking to do keto-carnivore.
What Are the Benefits of the Carnivore Diet?
There are lots of positive testimonials of how people are feeling better or seeing a positive change in their health within 30 days of eating this way.
- Simple eating plan
- No calorie counting food
- Eat until full
- Aid in weight loss
- Decrease inflammation levels
- Reduce glucose levels spikes
What Are the Problems on an Carnivore Diet
Some people experience unwanted side effects on the diet.
- Weight gain
- Food boredom due to lack of meat variety
These issues can normally be fixed by addressing the common mistakes do below.
Common Mistakes on the Carnivore Diet
- Eating too little food (this causes unwanted excessive weight loss or other symptoms)
- Not drinking enough water (drink to satisfy thirst and avoid dehydration)
- Not adding salt to food (you can experience same keto flu symptoms on this diet too)
- Eating a moderate all meat diet with added fruits, vegetables & other types of carbs
- Avoiding fatty meats (don’t fear the cholesterol it is good for you)
Where to Buy Meat for a Carnivore Diet
- Your local butcher shop (great place to learn & discuss anything meat)
- Local grocery store of supermarket
- Local farmers market (great place to meat the farmer & ask questions)
- Order meat online delivered to your home
- Order from Amazon
- Order from US Wellness Meats (Grass Fed Meat Supplier)
How to Cook on the Carnivore Diet
Use Meat Cooking Gear
Here is a list of cooking appliances and utensils that aid the pleasure of the carnivore cooking experience.
Get a Good Cutting Board for Meat
Get a butchers block or heavy duty carving board to cut & carve any types of meat on.
Get a Good Knife for Cutting All Cuts of Meat
Get a sharp knife designed to easily cut large chunks into smaller portions for cooking. I like this Victorinox Fibrox Pro knife at Amazon.
Get a Cast Iron Skillet or Grill Pan
Cook your meat on the stove top like a pro chef. I like this Le Creuset signature iron handle skillet at Amazon for cooking anything.
Get a Good Steak Knife Cutlery Set
Enjoy your plate of meat by easily cutting it on your dinner plate with a good steak knife like the KEEMAKE steak knives set.
Carnivore Diet Recipe Cookbooks
I’ve created a list of 10 meat recipe books here that go from beginner to advanced chef mode.
Here are three quick ones if you need.
- Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers – as the title of the book says loads of recipes for meat hungry carnivores. Get the book on Amazon here.
- Meathead: The Science of Great Barbeque and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn– Meathead is a famous cook who will take you on a gastro science journey on how to cook the best meat. Get the book on Amazon here.
- Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda – this is more a textbook on just about everything most of us will need to know about types of cuts, sourcing, and cooking different meats. Get the book on Amazon here.
Carnivore Diet Support Groups and Forums
If you need online support from others following this way of eating (WOE) then I would recommend the following resources:
- The Carnivore Training System online health coaching by Dr Shawn Baker
- The nEqualsMany experiment started by Dr Shawn Baker
- The World Carnivore Tribe public Facebook group
- The Zero Carb Health closed Facebook group
- The Principia Carnivora closed Facebook group
- The Zero Carb subreddit forum
Carnivore Diet FAQ’s
Q: Do I Only Need to Eat Grass Fed Meat?
No, grass fed meat has health and ecology benefits, but it does tend to cost more. There is no problem eating meat that doesn’t cost much and fits within your monthly budget available. Do not let choosing or trying to find only grass fed/finished meats stop you from starting.
Q: Can I Eat Processed Meats?
Yes, you can eat processed cold meats like ham, salami, chorizo, & pepperoni. However, they are best avoided in the first 30 days if possible. This is because you may be ingesting extra carbohydrate fillers unknowingly with these types of deli meats.
Q: What Snacks Are Carnivore Friendly?
Carnivore friendly meat snacks include Epic meat bars, plain beef jerky or South African biltong.
Q: Are Sausages & Bacon Ok to Eat?
Yes, bacon is great to eat how much you want. However, some sausages contain added ingredients like wheat to help fill them out. So watch out for eating only cheap hot dogs & pork sausages.
Q: Is This a Long-Term or Short-Term Diet?
It can be used for needed short-term health changes like weight loss or long-term general health benefits. You will find people like Kelly Hogan in the zero carb diet community forums on Facebook and Reddit who have been eating a meat only diet for several years or decades with no negative health effects reported by them. A good example of someone who has been eating an all-meat diet since 1998 is Joe Andersen and his wife. You can make only eating carnivore diet a new way of life for you if you feel & see the benefits in your body.
Q: What About the Risk of Constipation?
The most common question is the worry about becoming constipated. You’ll find you will likely have regular bowel movements with fewer stools (feces) per day. This is said because the meat is more easily broken down and absorb in the intestines and so there is less output vs a diet high in insoluble fiber. This stool chart is a good guide about consistency, which can change depending on many factors.
Q: Will Eating Too Much Meat Cause Kidney Damage?
No, eating more meat does not cause kidney or liver damage. There is good research that disproves the myth that eating the recommended daily allowance of protein or even more causes kidney function. In fact, the opposite can happen and kidney function might improve by removing excess glucose from your diet and improving insulin sensitivity.
Q: Do I Need To Take Supplements?
No, you should not need to take supplements on a carnivore diet. However, some people may find a benefit from taking some electrolyte support like a magnesium or potassium supplement.
Q: Will I Get Enough Vitamin C?
Yes, eating a diet of meat and organ meats will give you enough vitamin C and avoid scurvy.
Long-term carnivore, Amber O’ Hearn, explains this is not the case and why not. Strict carnivore eaters feel if you are eating the right types of meat, and enough of them, this should provide all your required vitamin and mineral needs.