Carnivore Diet Meal Plan: Master the Zero Carb Diet in Just 14 Days (+ Shopping List)
You’re starting the carnivore diet.
Whether you’re just annoyed by vegans or trying to cure a chronic illness, the carnivore diet may be the remedy.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not someone who can slurp down 2 bowls of pasta and a beer and feel totally fine the next day. If you are, well screw you, I’m jealous.
Countless times I woke up feeling like I had just been run over by a steamroller after the wrong meal. Eyes red with eczema flare ups and an impending date with my toilet.
I was tired of it. I was always tired in general.
It was time for a change.
It can be a big change to move to such an extreme diet. This is the guide I would have loved. Here are some tips that I discovered that will help you transition to the diet.
Behold…the carnivore diet meal plan.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan: What Type of Animal Products to Eat on the Zero Carb Diet?
The carnivore diet is a radical elimination diet
By centering the diet around foods we’ve physiologically adapted to eat over 100s of thousands of years, it can reduce inflammation.
Reducing inflammation is one of the core pillars of the diet. Inflammation is linked to leaky gut, and a myriad of other “incurable” issues that the carnivore diet has successfully cured like Crohn’s disease and Rheumatoid arthritis.
So, the key is to start as simple as possible and then add in other foods later once you see improvements.
The Ruminants. #The Ruminati
Think of your favorite machine on earth. Is it the iPhone? The car? Wrong and wrong.
The best machine on earth is the ruminant. Objectively.
They are machines that convert cellulose, which is indigestible by humans, into energy and nutrient dense and TASTY food for humans. This cellulose covers a substantial portion of the globe and would just be wasted without the ruminant digestive system.
1 cow + water + ambient sunlight can feed a human for an entire year. Take that Edison!
The diet is centered around these four legged magical creatures.
Ruminants are the Holy Grail of the Carnivore Diet
How do they conduct this sorcery?
Digestion occurs sequentially in a four-chambered stomach. The cellulose and plant material is initially taken into part of the digestive system called the Rumen. Here it is processed mechanically and exposed to bacteria that ferment and break down the cellulose. Hence the name Ruminant.
Cellulose actually contains a lot of energy, but most animals do not have the enzymes to break it down. This is where the bacteria come in.
Fun fact: One drop of rumen fluid has 10x more microbes than all of the people on earth.
The rest of their digestive system processes and breaks down the plant matter further. The ruminant digestive process takes cellulose plant matter, ferments it into short chain fatty acids to energize the cow and ultimately stores that as bioavailable nutrients for humans to eat.
Even though the cows are not eating a high fat diet, they’re actually getting all of their energy from the fat that the bacteria creates.
This digestive process results in the best combination of nutrients and energy for humans to eat.
Unlike pigs, fish and fowl which do not have a rumen (they’re “simple stomached”), ruminants are better suited to handling the plant waste.
Ruminants are able to eliminate plant based chemicals and toxins from their digestive systems so that the food we eat is free of them.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is also only found in ruminants. The bacteria in their digestive system are key to the formation of CLA, which is why it’s found almost exclusively found in ruminants.
Studies show CLA has benefits including [*]:
- Reduced atherosclerosis
- Enhanced immune system
- Prevention and treatment of diabetes
- Weight reduction; reduced body fat and increase body protein
- Enhanced bone formation
CLA cannot be manufactured in the body. So if you want the benefits, you need to eat beef.
Fatty Steaks Are the Perfect Food on the Zero Carb Diet
What is a perfect food?
Diets should be optimized around three things:
- Energy: Fat / Carbs
- Nutrient density: Micronutrients
- Lean Mass Gain: Protein Targets
(I’ll assume that everybody on this diet is trying to gain lean muscle mass. It is one of the most important ways to improve health and extend longevity. If you’re not yet, start now.)
Because of the ruminant digestion process, beef checks all three of these boxes.
Consuming a cow is the best and most bioavailable source of every single nutrient.
Fatty cuts of steak have a great fat:protein ratio and high nutrient density.
Beef ribeye has equal grams of protein and fat, which equate to about 70% fat and 30% protein by calories. This ratio is close to our hunter gatherer ancestors who ate anywhere from 20% – 35% of calories from protein [*]
A common issue on this diet is not getting sufficient fat. I benefited when I started eating closer to 80% fat.
If you’re eating too little fat, you may suffer from what Viljammur Stefannson called rabbit starvation, which can result in headaches, lethargy and diarrhea. [*]
You want to look for cuts of beef that are close to equal grams of fat and protein.
The best cuts of beef to eat are:
- Ground beef
If you’re on a budget, go for the ground beef and roasts over steak. However, experiment with fat intake because with ground beef you may be getting substantially less fat.
Compared to other animals, ruminants and beef have a better omega 6 : omega 3 ratio which affects inflammation. Pork bacon has 8000mg of Linoleic acid whereas there is only 159mg for beef.
Beef is also much higher in almost every single nutrient than pork bacon.
This is a controversial topic, but you may need to be eating organs on the carnivore diet. Optimal nutrition comes from eating an entire animal, nose to tail. One part of it does not contain sufficient nutrients.
This should make sense intuitively. A full animal contains all the nutrients it needs to function. Eating the full animal provides us with all of those nutrients.
Beef liver is nature’s multivitamin. It’s by far and away the most nutritious food you can eat. It stores and filters some of the most important nutrients.
Beef liver is packed with Vitamin A, B, C, K and other essential nutrients for the brain.
At first I was terrified of eating beef liver. There were horror stories about the taste.
But adding it to my diet, supercharged my energy and made my skin look better than someone fresh out of botox treatment.
If you’re just eating steaks, you may be deficient in Vitamin A, C, K and copper.
(However, with that being said, our RDAs are completely wrong. There are many carnivores who have survived without beef liver. BUT, for optimal health I’d add it in)
As you’ll see below, we can work it in gradually.
Carnivore Diet Food List
Above is a carnivore diet food list.
Ruminants are king on this diet. As much as possible, I suggest to eat fatty ruminant cuts. =
However, when adapting I found that it was helpful to add in other animals too. I know, I’m a real daredevil.
This helped me transition gradually to the ultimate carnivore lifestyle. On an ongoing basis, I know stick to beef and lamb 95% of the time.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan and Shopping List
Now for the fun stuff. What should your week of eating actually look like?
The goal with this plan will be to transition you from more variety in meat to less. But still cut out the inflammatory foods.
My philosophy is to just jump right in and go cold turkey on the vegetables and carbohydrates.
If you’re addicted to something, it doesn’t make sense to have a little bit of it. You don’t tell an alcoholic it’s okay to have a shot of vodka before bed.
However, when it comes to meat, you may want to try starting with more variety so that you don’t quit out of boredom as you transition. Over time, however, you’ll come to love beef and most cravings can and should go away.
These are just suggestions. Use this as a template. You don’t need to follow it to a tee.
We traded in our colon size and our ability to ferment fiber into fat to increase our brain size. This gave our brains the necessary energy to grow.
“In this regard, hominids, like felines, have experienced a reduction in gut size and metabolic activity along with a concurrent expansion of brain size and metabolic activity as they included more and more energy-dense animal food into their diets [*]
Our digestive system adapted as a result and is more similar to a wolf than it is to our herbivore ancestors.
Week 1 Shopping List
When I shop, I open up an excel and map out how many meals I plan to eat of a certain food and the amount per meal.
Assuming that each meal consists of ~16oz of beef (you’ll figure this out over time), I calculate the total amount to bulk buy.
This is exactly how our hunter gatherer ancestors did it too….lol kidding.
Based on the calendar above, you’ll need to buy the following amounts in the right hand column:
Week 2 Meal Plan
The distinguishing factor between humans and our primate ancestors is our brain size.
Some of us don’t have this distinguishing factor unfortunately…
Between 6 million and 2.5 million years ago, our brain size was fairly consistent. Since then, it has quadrupled in size. [*]
Week 2 Shopping List
Other Shopping to Do
A superhero is nothing without his superpowers. You need your carnivore toolkit
Where to Shop for Food on the Carnivore Diet?
- Local grocery store or butchers shop
- Farmers market
- Chain: Trader Joes, Whole Foods,Costco
- Eatwild.com and Localharvest.org are a good source for local farms
- Us wellness meats
- Butchers box
What to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet?
At first, we want to keep the diet as simple as possible so you can get to a good baseline.
Avoid the following:
- Anything that’s not meat or salt
- Vegetable oils.
- At first, don’t eat chicken. The fat and nutrient profile is inferior to the other options above
- Processed meats: They contain too many additives Look out for nitrates and nitrites, and avoid them.
- No dark chocolate at first. Sorry.
- Bitching and moaning
Wait, vegetables? Yes, you read that right. Vegetables are loaded with endogenous pesticides that can irritate you. Abrasive compounds like oxalates, which can cause kidney stones. Goitrogens which damage your thyroid. And lectins which destroy your gut.
The goal is to cut out as much as possible, then do a controlled test by adding back later to see if you can tolerate it
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Grass Fed or Grain Fed?
“You should eat grass fed beef because it’s higher in Omega 3’s”. I hear this all of the time.
But from an omega 3 / omega 6 perspective it’s not necessary. Grass fed beef is indeed higher in omega 3’s but the absolute differences are miniscule. If you’re really concerned about omega 3’s, you shouldn’t be getting them from beef anyways. You need salmon roe and fish instead.
The omega 6 quantity is dwarfed relative to the other foods in most people’s diets. By cutting out foods like Tofu, Walnuts and most importantly, soybean oil, your omega 3 / omega 6 ratio will be better than 99% of the population.
When it comes to nutrients, I wouldn’t worry either about the feed of the steaks and cuts of beef you consume. Red meat, regardless of feeding regimen, is highly nutrient dense. Grass fed fat is higher in nutrient concentration but grain fed beef tends to have more fat which may even things out.
Long time carnivore Amber O Hearn, for example, doesn’t go out of her way to consume grass fed steaks.
However, with that being said, when consuming fat directly (like bone marrow or beef tallow) and beef liver you should eat grass fed.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble and thus are largely stored in the fat of the animal. When you’re consuming fat directly, for both taste and nutrient density, I recommend grass fed.
Additionally, Vitamin A retinol is converted from the carotenoids in the plant matter and tends to be more concentrated in grass fed meats [*]. Given you’ll be getting the bulk of vitamin A from beef liver, I also recommend grass fed beef liver.
Hormones are also not something to worry about either. Cattle metabolizes and expels them rapidly and does not store substantial quantities relative to the other foods in our diet.
However, with all this being said, from an environmental and ethical perspective, grass fed, and pasture raised beef is better. If you can afford it, you should support local farmers.
- Don’t worry about buying grass fed steaks, unless money is not an issue and you care about it from an ethical perspective
- Eat grass fed beef tallow, bone marrow and beef liver. Nutrient density and taste are better.
Learn more about grass fed vs grain fed beef here.
What About Coffee and Tea?
Some carnivores still drink coffee, but both tea and coffee have shown to cause some inflammation and gut permeability issues.
However, some people have a crippling coffee addiction. If this is you, don’t cut it out at first. It will cloud the results of the carnivore transition.
If you think you can go a week without coffee and tea without ripping your bosses head off, try slowing consumption and transitioning out. Especially if there’s something specific you’re trying to treat.
Eggs and Dairy?
Both eggs and dairy can be inflammatory triggers for some people. But you know your body best. It’s up to you to tell.
Egg whites contain protective proteins that can irritate the gut, trigger autoimmune disease and cause acne. Egg whites are actually one of the most prevalent allergies, affecting 1-3% of the population [*]
When I eat eggs, I try to filter out the yolk and eat that alone. The yolk is much more nutritious anyways. And the funny part is that it’s the exact opposite of what most people try to do.
Dairy can cause inflammation for two reasons: lactose and dairy proteins. If you’re just lactose intolerant, you can try hard cheeses and fermented products that have had lactose fermented away. If that still irritates you, then you should drop the dairy altogether because it’s likely the proteins that bother you.
On the first 15-30 days of carnivore, given how frequently eggs and dairy cause inflammation, you should not eat either. If you feel great after your first month, then experiment with adding them back.
When to Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
At first, eat when you’re hungry. Over time, you’ll probably find that you only need 1 to 2 meals a day. But experiment with this later on.
However, I’m also a proponent of intermittent fasting. In addition to lowering insulin (which you already do on this diet), it activates the AMPK pathway and down regulates mTOR.
This is why the carnivore diet may be able to reverse insulin resistance. And reversing insulin resistance is the MOST important thing to do if you want to prevent disease.
Intermittent fasting is something to experiment with later on after transitioning to the carnivore diet.
My schedule is the following:
- Eat for 8 hours a day
- Fast for 16 hours a day
How Much to Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
Throw away your calorie counter with the veggies.
Eat until you’re full. The only tip that was helpful for me is to eat sufficient fat.
If you find yourself with an insatiable hunger, you may not be eating enough fat. If this is you, try eating fat first to satiation, then adding in the muscle meat after.
Most people end up eating 1-2 lbs of meat a day. Mine was much higher with lower fat, and vice versa
How to Cook your meat?
Cooking? That’s for modernized losers?
Yes, some people do eat raw. But that’s not what I recommend.
There are many options for how to cook your meat. Cook to your own taste.
But you should make sure to not overcook your food. Treat your steak with love and care. You want your steak to stay juicy when it’s finished.
If you overcook your food, you can reduce the nutrient content. The following nutrients are sometimes reduced during cooking:
- Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamin C and the B vitamins
- Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Minerals: Primarily potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.
I prefer rare to medium rare. It allows more flavor to come out
What About Vitamin C?
The RDAs for carnivores are completely wrong.
For all intents and purposes, carnivores and people on the standard American diet are different species. Using the same RDA is like trying to pour gasoline into an electric car. We need different types of fuel to function.
A carnivore diet uses different metabolic pathways and coenzymes. Additionally, the carnivore diet cuts out many anti-nutrients that block vitamin and mineral absorption.
Scurvy is one of those scary sounding diseases that nobody can actually define. But many are afraid of it on the carnivore diet, partially because vitamin C is one of the only vitamins that is more prevalent in plant foods.
However, despite that meat has been known since early times to cure scurvy. Humans are carnivores, and no populations that have subsisted on a largely meat diet (Maasai, Mongols, Chuktoka, Comanche) have any signs of scurvy.
Yet based on the RDA, meat is woefully deficient in Vitamin C.
How is this possible?
Vitamin C is almost identical to glucose biochemically.
With that being said, there may be benefits from increasing Vitamin C intake beyond what you can get on the carnivore diet. We still need more studies to test this.
Glucose and vitamin C compete for absorption. So, the lower your blood sugar, the higher bioavailability of the Vitamin C that you do have [*].
Other Minor Optimizations to the Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
A few other notes on what to eat that helped me:
- Upping fat intake to 80%
- Bone marrow is a great source of DHA
- Salt foods copiously when transitioning. This will help with dehydration and keto flu. Over time your electrolytes will normalize and you can reduce electrolyte supplementation.
Other Animal Products to Add Later
Beef is highly nutritious, irritates people the least, has a great fatty acid profile and fat content, and most importantly is TASTY.
At first, I stuck almost entirely to beef. BUT…you may get bored.
However, as mentioned, the diet should be centered around beef and ruminants. Especially at first.
After the first 30 days on the carnivore diet, you can experiment with adding these foods in more to your diet
(I’d also add eggs, dairy and bacon to the list below).
You’ve got this.
If you feel like quitting, message me immediately. Remember how much of a badass you are.
Wait, why am I even wasting my time. You’re a badass. You wont even think about quitting
If you’re interested in a more comprehensive guide, sign up for my weekly newsletter for FREE access to the 30 Day Guide to Mastering the Carnivore Diet below.