16 Reasons Why The Carnivore Diet May Work (The Science Behind it)
Acne. IBS. Rheumatoid arthritis.
Not to sound like an infomercial, but the carnivore diet cured these all for me.
Meatheals.com, World Carnivore Tribe and r/ZeroCarb are teeming with 10s of thousands of people who have reversed serious health conditions.
It’s almost too good to be true.
Carnivores are doing the exact opposite of all mainstream nutritional recommendations.
If your friends and family still look at you like you’re eating chloroform when you gobble down steak and eggs…This article is for you.
Here are the 16 reasons why the carnivore diet may work for you?
What is the Carnivore Diet?
First off, what is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet is a high fat, high protein diet where you eat only animal products. Yes, that’s right. No more grains. No more sugar. And no more vegetables.
It’s also a variation of the Ketogenic diet as cutting out the carbohydrates will put you into ketosis. This may sound wacky at first. But there are 16 reasons why it may work so well.
The carnivore diet took the world by storm when Shawn Baker appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast. He is an orthopedic surgeon and athlete. Dr. Baker is in his 50s and is absolutely ripped. He recently set two indoor rowing world records and he attributes his success to the carnivore diet.
Other prominent advocates include Mikhaila and Jordan Peterson, the clinical psychologist. Both have reversed lifelong autoimmune and mental health issues with the carnivore diet.
You’ve Been Fed a Bowl of Bulls**t
You’ve been lied to. Misled. Manipulated.
By replacing it with vegetable oils, carbohydrates and grains…a literal bowl of bullshit…you’ve destroyed your health.
The carnivore diet attacks this paradigm head on.
First, it cuts out the poison that causes insulin resistance and inflammation.
Next, it adds back in the nutrients you need for optimal health.
Simple as that.
The carnivore diet may seem radical, but that’s because almost every single thing you’ve been told to eat is junk.
Almost everything you eat is NEW. It’s like giving an iPhone to a Neanderthal that hasn’t even discovered fire yet. Your immune system can’t even begin to recognize many of these strange foods.
The safe assumption is for your immune system to react as if something new can kill you – the result is inflammation.
How do you determine the culprit? Start by cutting everything out.
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16 Reasons Why the Carnivore Diet May Work: The Science Behind it
1. The Carnivore Diet Cuts Out All Added Sugar
I’ll start with one of the least controversial points. Sugar isn’t good for you. If you still think sugar is okay to eat, that’s almost as bad as thinking Santa is real.
Sugar is damaging for four main reasons:
- It can stick to cholesterol particles, which can lead to atherosclerosis
- It’s highly glycemic. Sugar spikes insulin and can lead to insulin resistance over time.
- When metabolized, it produces AGEs which lead to aging, chronic disease and diabetes [*]
- Glucose is oxidatively stressful, causes inflammation and can produce reactive oxygen species [*]. Oxidative stress plays a role in almost every disease.
A study of 29 people found that those consuming just 40 grams of added sugar had an increase in inflammation, insulin resistance and weight gain [*].
Glucose can also feed tumor growth. This is explained by the Warburg Effect, which determined that cancer cells depend on glucose to grow [*]. Unlike normal cells, they cannot use Ketones. Just like you, your tumor cells are addicted to sugar.
Sure, some foods obviously have sugar that most people try to avoid: candy, sodas, gatorade, coffee with added sugar.
But it’s also hidden in a number of common foods people eat. Corrupt food companies have snuck this toxic crap into tons of foods to make them taste slightly better.
It’s not just junk food. Beef jerky, almond milk, coconut water…you name it. They all have added sugar.
And fructose is even worse than glucose. Fructose is like a missile that goes directly to the liver where it’s converted to fat.
It is 20x more likely to cause fatty liver than glucose alone.
2. The Carnivore Diet May Help Leaky Gut
Do you have:
- Skin issues like eczema or acne?
- Have you been extra irritable this week?
- Are you bloated?
- Autoimmune issues?
It turns out they may all have a similar cause. Leaky gut.
According to Zsofia Clemens at Paleomedicina, 90% of people have gut issues. Gut health is related to everything.
Leaky gut is a condition when the tight junctions of the small intestine open and allow proteins and toxins into the bloodstream.
The small intestine is ~50% of your gut. It is responsible for 90% of food absorption and has the largest mass of immune cells in your entire body [*].
Everything you eat directly touches this vital organ. And it’s very vulnerable.
The only barrier protecting what you eat from your bloodstream is just a single layer of mucous in the gut, linked together by proteins [*].
But this barrier can be broken, which creates gaps between the proteins in the cellular layers of your gut [*].
When the barrier breaks, toxins and proteins can invade the bloodstream causing your body to freak out. It’s like a bartender catching an underage drinker inside.
Your immune system is mobilized to expel it, which creates inflammation. Similar to when somebody gets kicked out of a bar, everybody stops and takes a look. Nothing functions properly in that moment.
If you have incessant chronic issues, this could be why.
So far, the carnivore diet has been one of the few clinically shown ways to reverse intestinal permeability and the attendant consequences.
Paleomedicina in Hungary has used the carnivore diet to completely reverse intestinal permeability. They’ve taken ‘incurable’ diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and metastatic tumors and used the power of steak to destroy them [*] [*]
3. The Carnivore Diet Removes Refined Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are converted to glucose in your body (sugar). Many foods on the bottom of the food pyramid are no different than candy. Thanks again for your services USDA!!
Refined carbohydrates are especially harmful. They’re processed carbohydrates that have had the few good bits stripped out of them. In contrast to a whole grain, a refined grain has had the bran and germ removed which house all the nutrients.
Because all the fiber has been removed, refined carbs are digested very rapidly and cause major blood sugar spikes.
This can lead to insulin resistance over time, especially when consumed with fat. In this study, an Asian population with a diet high in rice developed insulin resistance [*]
Refined carbohydrates also damage the gut. Sugar and carbohydrates are fermented by the gut and colon which can exacerbate GI issues and lead to leaky gut. This is why a well established treatment for IBS, recommends low carbohydrates to starve your bacteria [*]
Over time, refined carbohydrate consumption has been linked to inflammation and obesity [*].
Refined carbohydrates also increase blood triglyceride levels, which is a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease [*]. Fat hanging out in your bloodstream is a sign that something is seriously off.
Eating pasta is no different than eating straight sugar. Seven ounces of cooked spaghetti has the same amount of sugar as 4 12 oz cans of pepsi.
4. The Carnivore Diet Cuts Out Most Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates range from simple sugars to complex carbohydrates. But even unrefined carbohydrates can be bad for you. Many forms of starch, for example, raise blood sugar as much as eating glucose [*].
Below are some reasons why cutting out all carbohydrates may be beneficial (yes, even the “healthy ones”):
- High carbohydrate diets can lead to insulin resistance, especially if combined with fat [*]
- Many whole grains are loaded with antinutrients, like lectins
- Carbohydrates halt fat burning because of the insulin response. The more carbohydrates you eat, the less body fat you burn.
- Getting to < 50g a day allows you to burn fat and enter ketosis. Ketosis has a number of health benefits, described below. Fat is a less oxidatively stressful fuel than glucose [*]
- All carbohydrates break down into glucose, which can produce some of the negative effects mentioned above: AGEs, glycated LDL particles, insulin resistance, etc. [*]
- Carbohydrates and fiber are fermented by the gut, which can exacerbate gut issues like IBS
5. The Carnivore Diet May Help With Insulin Resistance
Good news and bad news.
Bad News first….
Insulin resistance is related to almost every chronic disease:
It may not cause them all. But at the very least, persistently high insulin levels exacerbates them.
Good news: you may be able to reverse insulin resistance. And reversing it is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Insulin resistance is an energy overload problem, whereby your cells become unresponsive to insulin’s action. They refuse to stuff more energy into the cells and thus insulin levels remain persistently high.
This is generally caused by eating a substantial amount of highly glycemic carbs and fats together. The carbohydrates shut off fat burning, and the fat you eat goes directly to your storage.
As a result, you’ll have both high levels of energy in your bloodstream and cells that are packed with energy. Your pancreas pumps out more and more insulin, but the cells throw up a middle finger and refuse to let any energy in. This cycle occurs over and over until insulin levels in your bloodstream persistently rise.
Your body is at war with itself.
All in all, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia have played a role in more deaths than WW1 and WW2 combined.
The carnivore diet may be an effective way to reverse insulin resistance.
6. The Carnivore Diet Removes Toxic Vegetable oils
There were two disastrous consequences of the Food Pyramid…also known as the “Lets Turn Americans into Lab Rats and Feed Them Food That Enriches Food Companies”.
- Substituting carbs for fat in our diets
- Persuading us to eat toxic vegetable oils instead of natural saturated fats
Hopefully this can convince you that cutting out vegetable oils is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Vegetable oils are one of the main vehicles that have driven our health off a cliff.
What are vegetable oils? First off, they’re not vegetables at all. A better name would be industrial processed seed oil sludge. They’re actually made from seeds and not vegetables.
When the AHA persuaded us that natural, delicious and healthy saturated fats were actually bad for us, we had to turn to polyUNsaturated fats.
And this was great for the big consumer companies. The seeds were traditionally a waste product, so they were cheap. Nobody knew what to do with them, and somebody had the twisted idea to turn them into cooking oils.
The manufacturing process is appalling [*]. It entails pressing them at high pressure and using toxic solvents like Hexane to extract the oil. If watching this video doesn’t dissuade you from eating them I don’t know what will.
It looks like something you’d be paid millions to eat on Fear Factor. Not an everyday staple in your diet.
The concentration of this toxic sludge has skyrocketed in your diet.
Soybean oil consumption increased 1000x in the 20th century. Linoleic acid now is 8% of calories. All because the USDA told us the foods we’ve been eating for millions of years are “bad for us” and we should replace them with this garbage.
What are the consequences of this shift? Just about every disease can be linked to vegetable oil consumption. Everything from Alzheimer’s to Cancer to Heart disease.
Most importantly, it turns out that the bad cholesterol, “LDL”, is only bad when it’s damaged by unsaturated fats [*].
Learn more about how vegetable oils cause so much damage here.
7. Carnivore Diet Increases Natural Saturated Fat Consumption
Saturated fats are those that have carbon atoms saturated by hydrogen atoms. This makes them stable and much less oxidatively stressful than unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are highly beneficial to health. Your body cannot function without them.
Diets high in natural saturated fats are associated with longevity. Hong Kong, for example, consumes more meat per capita than any other nation in the world.
People in Hong Kong consume 695 grams per day of meat. Holy steak Batman. That even puts Ron Swanson to shame.
At that rate, you’d expect them to be practically rolling down the street and dropping like fleas from heart disease. But they actually have the world’s longest life expectancy at 84.5 years [*].
This study pictured below depicted similar results. Saturated fat intake is negatively correlated to heart disease in Europe.
This can be explained a number of ways:
- Increased saturated fat intake tends to reduce carbohydrate consumption
- Saturated fats tend to be higher in fat soluble nutrients, Vitamins A, D, E and K. Increased Vitamin K intake is associated with lower rates of heart disease [*]
- Reduced vegetable oil consumption
- Half of the fat in your brain is saturated. It is indispensable to cognitive function.
- Caprylic acid, a saturated fat, strengthens the immune system [*]
- Saturated fats help build hormones [*]
- Cell membranes are 50% saturated fat
- Saturated fats increase HDL, the “good cholesterol”
- Scientists have now realized LDL particle size matters more than total LDL number. Diets high in saturated fat and low in carbs increase LDL size (which is a positive) [*]
- High fat diets leads to ketosis and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Because saturated fats don’t have double bonds, they’re more resistant to oxidative damage [*]
- Saturated fats have a glycemic index of 0
Lastly, studies continue to debunk the myth that saturated fat causes heart disease. This review from 2014 looking at 76 studies, found no link at all between saturated fat and heart disease [*].
8. The Carnivore Diet Increases Nutrient Density
Nutrients are vital for all cellular function. They play a role in everything from growth to immune support, to brain function. Many also have antioxidant properties that can protect against diseases like cancer and Alzheimers. [*] [*].
But most people are extremely deficient in vitamins. Some common ones are below:
- Vitamin D: 77% of American’s are deficient in Vitamin D [*]
- Vitamin B12: 3% of adults over 50 have extremely low vitamin D levels. 20% have borderline deficiencies. [*]. Amongst Vegan’s and Vegetarians vitamin b12 deficiency is much more common
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is only found in sufficient amounts that your body can absorb in animal products. It’s likely that if you’re not eating enough animal products, you’re deficient. Deficiencies amongst children and women are the most common. Approximately 127 million preschool-aged children and 7 million pregnant women are vitamin A deficient. [*]
- Iron: 25% of the world is deficient in iron [*]. Anaemia is even more common amongst vegan
- Calcium: Over 20% of moen and 10% of women over 50 are deficient in calcium [*]
- Zinc: 1.1 billion people are deficient worldwide [*]
This paints a disturbing picture. No wonder chronic disease is so prevalent. Adequate vitamin intake is necessary for optimal function.
The brain is a micronutrient hungry organ and deficiencies tend to make their mark there.
Zinc, another mineral many are deficient in, is critical for brain growth, serotonin synthesis and dopamine transport. Iron is also necessary for dopamine synthesis [*]. These minerals cannot be found in abundant quantities in plant products.
Meat and animal products have the most and most bioavailable form of every nutrient.
9. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a pivotal part of the carnivore diet. Nor is it prescribed. But people naturally tend to find themselves eating in a shorter window, which brings tremendous health benefits.
Dietary recommendations have destroyed your health by changing both:
(1) what we eat and
(2) when we eat.
If you want to improve your health, you need to restore both to your evolutionary ways.
We’ve already covered what to eat. What about when to eat?
In the early to mid 1900s, most people only ate 3 meals a day. But in the late 1900s, people started to eat 6-7 times a day. Doctors recommended many small meals to “speed up your metabolism”. But the only thing that sped up was how fast you get sick.
You can only get energy from two sources: Food or body fat. But you can’t get energy from both at the same time. When you’re getting energy from food, this is called the fed state. When you’re getting your energy from body fat, this is called the fasted state. Insulin regulates this process.
When you eat insulin levels increase, which signals to your cells to suck in energy from your bloodstream. And when you sleep, insulin falls, telling your body to use stored energy to run your vital organs. This is why you don’t die when you sleep.
But most people are eating all day, and not giving their bodies enough time to lower insulin levels and burn body fat. In fact, it takes ~12 hours to lower insulin far enough to actually burn body fat. But instead, most people shut this natural process off by eating a high carb meal first thing in the morning.
Instead, start intermittent fasting. Leverage your 8 hours of sleep time fasting and skip breakfast. Eat in an 8 hour window and fast from dinner to lunch time.
Intermittent fasting is restricting your feeding to a window less than or equal to 8 hours. Pretty much the exact opposite of what all American’s do today.
Fasting may be beneficial. It has been shown to:
- Reduce inflammation [*]
- Increase insulin sensitivity
- Promotes fat loss [*]
- Increases cognition, memory and focus
- Increases autophagy, the natural cellular cleansing process [*]
- Increases BDNF, which upregulates neuronal creation and maintenance
- Improves immune system
- Starves bad gut bacteria
- Can improve autoimmune symptoms like RA and Crohns [*]
One of my favorite ways of eating is one meal a day.
10. The Carnivore Diet Gets You Into Ketosis
Your body can use two types of fuels: glucose (from carbs) and ketones (from fat).
Everybody on the carnivore diet is in ketosis to some extent. When you stop fueling your brain and body with glucose, fat needs to take its place.
Triglycerides (fat molecules) cannot be used as fuel for all cells, so the liver converts some to ketones to be used instead. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is the most prevalent one, making up 70-80% of ketones in the blood [*].
Choosing between glucose and ketones is like deciding between rocket fuel and sludge that produces a massive amount of toxic waste.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a much better fuel than glucose. It has major benefits:
- Upregulates FOXO genes which regulate oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity and influence longevity. [*]
- Ketones improve mood and have antidepressant like effects [*]
- BHB reduces oxidative stress in the brain and may be beneficial in preventing neurodegenerative disease [*] [*]
- BHB lowers inflammation and blocks NLPR3 inflammasome [*]
- Increases endogenous antioxidant production [*]
- Ketones improve insulin sensitivity [*]
- Increased fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass and performance [*]
- Ketones can slow tumor growth by starving them of their preferred fuel, glucose, and lowering IGF-1 [*]
On the carnivore diet your ketones will usually be around 0.5 millimolar and higher.
11. The Carnivore Diet Increases Cholesterol
This may sound counterintuitive. The carnivore diet tends to increase cholesterol levels. And that may be a GOOD thing.
Scientists and doctors have cholesterol ALL wrong.
There’s no such thing as “good and bad” cholesterol. What’s bad is when your cholesterol gets damaged (or oxidized), and your immune system traps the damaged cholesterol in your artery walls.
Well, on the carnivore diet, you tend to have big fluffy and healthy cholesterol. It’s only when you damage LDL particles with sugar and vegetable oils, do they cause issues.
Additionally, LDL plays an indispensable protective role. LDL is protecting you from disease, not causing it.
LDL can actually bind to pathogens so that the immune system can expel them. When you have inflammation, LDL tends to increase because your body uses it as a protective mechanism.
So, the reason it’s high in those with heart disease is because LDL binds to pathogens! It’s getting rid of damage so that it doesn’t spread
LDL cholesterol doesn’t actually cause heart disease. Studies show that inflammation leads to heart disease and high LDL [*].
So low levels of cholesterol isn’t necessarily a good thing after all. This may explain why Zoe Harcombe found that there was a negative correlation between total cholesterol and mortality when she examined data from 192 countries.
We’ve had our eye on the wrong ball for far too long. Trying to lower cholesterol was completely counterproductive AND it persuaded people to eat foods that actually cause heart disease.
Cholesterol is also vital for brain health. The brain makes up 2% of our body weight, but stores over 20% of our cholesterol.
Weird that our brains are hoarding something that’s so damaging…right? How stupid of our brains!
This shows how backwards our perspective on cholesterol is.
The brain clearly needs cholesterol. Numerous studies show that those with low cholesterol levels have poor mental health and cognitive function.
This study showed that amongst those > 85, low cholesterol was associated with impaired memory [*].
Low cholesterol also damages mental health, which may explain the startling rise of mental health issues today. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of suicide and increased depressive symptoms [*] [*]
Read this article if you’re interested in cholesterol on the carnivore diet.
12. The Carnivore Diet Works Via Negativa
Many people try to add things to become healthy. The next big superfood. Exercise. Juice cleanses.
But often times the best way to improve is by removing your negative habits. The beauty of the carnivore diet is that it’s addition by subtraction. It first and foremost removes all the junk in your diet.
The first step to health, that I enumerated above, is asking yourself what do you NOT want to do. No refined cabs. No vegetable oils. No antinutrients. Etc.
And then you can start to figure out how to selective add to improve yourself.
There are a number of benefits to this.
The first is that removing things tends to not have side effects and unintended consequences. Whereas adding things does.
A lot of complicated things don’t need to be. It’s made to seem that way so people don’t notice it’s truly bullshit.
13. The Carnivore Diet is Simple
“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the biggest benefits of the carnivore diet is how simple it is. Simplicity is about identifying what is essential and eliminating the rest.
Food doesn’t need to be complicated. Most diets require a degree in “making shitty foods taste good” and suck up time and energy. Even on Keto, for example, people spend time counting their fat calories and devising ways to make their healthy dishes taste like the unhealthy ones they’re addicted to (like cauliflower pizza).
Sure, that’s fun. But food doesn’t need to be so complicated.
The more time you can free up from eating and thinking about food, the more you can spend energy on things in your life that are high ROI (return on investment).
Instead of spending hours preparing your meals and thinking about food, you can read a book. Start a business. Hang out with loved ones. Do the things that actually matter and use food as medicine to optimize your energy for the things that really matter.
14. The Carnivore Diet Increases Your Protein to Energy Ratio
Ted Naiman has described and popularized the protein to energy ratio of foods as a determinant of health. 85% of American’s are overfat, and according to Ted eating a low protein to energy diet is the reason why.
For millions of years of evolution, humans never had to worry about eating too much energy (carbs & fat). Protein was abundant from animals, but they were fairly low in energy.
This is why hunter-gatherers ate nose to tail. They needed the minimal fat stores that existed in the bone marrow and brains.
Now in one grocery aisle you can pick up more energy than hunter gatherers had in a year. Our brains are wired to stock up on energy, and grocery stores tap into this evolutionary programmed desire.
The reason the protein: energy ratio is important is because humans have a strong protein drive. Strong is putting it lightly. If we don’t get enough protein, we keep on eating and searching for food until we do.
So if you’re not getting enough protein, you continue to eat until you satisfy those needs. You overcompensate by eating too much energy.
This is exactly what happened. Now thanks to the introduction of big CPGs weapons of choice — sugar, flour and vegetable oil — all abundant energy sources – energy has gone up massively compared to protein
Now, over 40% of Americans don’t get enough protein [*]. It’s fallen to 10% or less of calories.
But, without knowing it, humans search for 15%+ protein intake. When we lower it, even just slightly, our body massively overcompensates with lower satiation and increased carbohydrate and fat intake. This study showed just a 1% decrease in protein led to 14% increase in CHO + Fat intake [*]
The reverse also happens. That’s why one of the fastest ways to lose weight is to increase protein. This study showed that a 5% increase in protein led to a 3 TIMES decrease in fat mass [*]
This study showed that 100% OF PEOPLE eating 30% of calories from protein reversed pre-diabetes.
But this will never be mainstream because there isn’t much money to be made in telling people to up their protein. The carnivore diet increases protein and may help to eviscerate body fat.
15. The Carnivore Diet Removes Inflammatory Vegetables
Everybody knows that vegetables are good for you. But as we’ve seen over and over again, just because people believe something doesn’t mean that it’s true.
Despite all of the other ridiculously controversial parts of the carnivore diet, this somehow tops it. Many vegetables are BAD for you.
Vegetables don’t want to be eaten, of course. And over millions of years of co-evolution with insect and animal predators they developed defense mechanisms.
Almost every vegetable has a toxin in it that can be irritating. The table below summarizes some of the toxins that you can find in plants.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussell sprouts and cauliflower produce sulforaphane when cut or chewed [*]. Sulforaphane can be damaging to health and even cause cancer [*]. Sulforaphane also competes for Iodine and can cause hypothyroidism [*].
Nightshades have alkaloids which damage fat and carbohydrate metabolism and DNA function. Limes, carrots and celery have photosensitizers which can irritate animals when they go in the sun. Reservatrol has been shown to inhibit androgen precursors [*]. Polyphenols can cause DNA damage [*].
I can go on all day….
There are also a number of what are referred to as anti-nutrients in vegetables.
Phytates, in both beans and tortillas, inhibit zinc absorption [*] and decrease nutrients’ bioavailability. If you consumed zinc with black beans, you will absorb only about half the zinc.
Cutting out vegetables was a game-changer for me and for many others.
For most people, you’ll probably be okay because you’re adapted to eliminate the compounds from vegetables.
But if you already have a damaged gut and autoimmune system, the vegetables can exacerbate this immune response and make problems worse.
16. The Carnivore Diet Increases Your Discipline
Successfully taking control of your diet gives you much more than physical health. It trains discipline.
To counteract all the prevailing influences of society and eat the carnivore diet, requires a tremendous amount of willpower. Every single person and being around you will try to push you in the other direction.
But your conviction, independent research and discipline will lead you to optimal health, while your doctor continues to be overweight and get rich from prescribing people disastrous medications.
Losing weight and getting fit will give you much more than a better body:
- A long term mindset
- Work ethic
Get fit and change your life
Ready to Start?
Adopting the carnivore diet was the best thing I ever did for my health. It’s not a fluke that it works so well.
The carnivore diet has supercharged the health of 10s of thousands of people.
If you’re interested in a more comprehensive guide, sign up for my weekly newsletter for access to the 30 Day Guide to Mastering the Carnivore Diet below.