The Carnivore Diet and Fat Loss: 9 Reasons Why it May Work
You’re not overweight because you’re lazy. You’re not overweight because you were cursed with bad genes.
New science shows that you’re overweight because junk science and junk food have messed up your natural hormonal mechanisms.
Weight loss all comes down to two things…and the carnivore diet might be a great way to tackle both.
Many people on the carnivore diet are eating steaks to satiation and effortlessly burning body fat.
And the most shocking part is that people are losing 50-100lbs WITHOUT EXERCISE.
How is this possible?
Quick Summary: Why You Gain Weight
There are two predominant theories on why you gain weight.
(1) Calories in, Calories out (CICO for short)
(2) Hormonal theory of obesity.
The caloric theory of obesity is not the correct way to think about weight loss. It’s a tool made for train engines, and pushed by processed food companies. It allows processed food companies to absolve themselves of any responsibility when you gain weight.
Instead of people realizing it’s their junk making you gain weight, you think it’s because you’re lazy and don’t exercise enough.
CICO is faker than imitation meat.
The hormonal theory of obesity is a much better explanation of why you gain weight.
It’s Hormones, Not the Calories
New evidence shows that weight gain is primarily hormonal. Similar to your heart beat, your body fat % is not under conscious control. It’s more tightly regulated than Fort Knox.
Why? During evolution, if you were too fat you wouldn’t be able to hunt and you’d die. On the other hand, if you were too skinny you wouldn’t be able to survive a few days without food.
If you gain weight, it’s because you disrupted the innate mechanisms that regulate this process. Let me briefly touch on why.
Chronic Hyperinsulinemia Torches This Mechanism
This is where the turf wars begin over what foods to eat. What do you eat to control weight gain?
Here’s a claim that may be shocking to you: I don’t think carbs necessarily cause weight gain. Persistently high levels of insulin do.
Carbohydrates alone are not the devil. Neither is any one macronutrient.
In fact, there are a number of very healthy societies that subsist on high carbohydrate diets, like the Kitavans. And it’s possible to feed someone a diet of pure sugar where they do not gain weight.
The same goes for high fat consumption and societies like the Inuit and Maasai. Neither high fat diets nor high carb diets necessarily cause weight gain.
The real enemy is persistently high insulin levels.
Chronic Hyperinsulinemia Causes Weight Gain
Insulin is necessary for survival. But persistently high levels of insulin is a recipe for disaster.
When insulin is released, it shuts off all fat burning. This is normal. Insulin signals that you’ve taken in energy and puts it into the cells that need it. It doesn’t make sense to both create fat and burn fat at the same time, so when insulin levels are high, you don’t burn any fat
However, issues arise when insulin levels are persistently high. If insulin is always elevated, you can never burn the fat that insulin pushed into storage. Therefore, every time you eat you end up dumping more and more energy into your system that you don’t actually need.
Remember, body fat isn’t just a fashion statement. It serves a purpose. During evolution when we didn’t constantly have an IV drip of food all day long, we needed to store food for times of famine. Insulin is what regulates this process.
When insulin levels are high, you’re in what’s called the fed state — using ingested food for energy. When insulin is low, it signals that food is scarce and you should mobilize your body fat for energy.
But unfortunately, most people today are always in the fed state, preparing for winter and never burning body fat for energy.†suga
In fact, if you want to make people fat, the easiest way is to inject them with insulin. This study showed that Type 1 diabetes patients who received a higher dose of insulin gained 10 pounds more than participants who received a regular dose [*].
The proof is in the (carb) pudding. If your insulin levels are constantly high, you will gain weight.
Over time, your fat cells become less sensitive to insulin and require more insulin to open their doors and let energy in. Chronic hyperinsulinemia leads to more chronic hyperinsulinemia. It’s a vicious circle that ultimately leaves your endocrine system looking like Chernobyl.
High insulin levels lock body fat into storage and prevent you from ever burning it.
When insulin is persistently elevated, fat cells become overstuffed with energy. In response, they secrete leptin which tells you to stop eating. But if leptin is persistently high, its efficacy will decrease over time. Ultimately, you approach a stage of leptin resistance.
Now strap in for the roller coaster. This habit of constantly eating insulinogenic foods creates persistent hyperinsulinemia and an ineffective leptin response.
Leptin is like a stop sign. Because it no longer works, this makes you even hungrier for the same foods that destroyed your health in the first place.
Therefore, any diet that increases your insulin levels persistently will lead to weight gain. And the best way to reverse the weight gain is to lower your insulin levels. The carnivore diet is the best way.
8 Reasons Why the Carnivore Diet May Accelerate Weight Loss
Weight loss comes down to two things. What to eat and when to eat. A properly formulated carnivore diet might be a great way to tackle both.
#1 The Carnivore Diet May Reduce Insulin Levels
In my opinion, the best step to reduce insulin levels is to cut the foods that significantly spike it. It seems obvious, but given mainstream nutrition is like an ostrich with its head in the sand. It’s not yet common practice.
For most of evolution the foods we were eating did not raise insulin much at all. Everything on the Mt. Rushmore of the glycemic index is a new addition to your diet: grains, cereals, sugars and starches.
A properly formulated carnivore diet is the least insulinogenic diet in the world that’s nutritionally complete. Protein and fat do increase insulin. But the impact is negligible compared to the response to carbohydrates.
However, as Ben Bikman shows below, in the context of a low carb diet, protein does not raise insulin levels.
Ultimately, the first simple step of lowering high glycemic foods, will dramatically reduce your hyperinsulinemia. Virta health has shown that when people with Type 2 Diabetes are put on a keto diet, almost 100% of them decrease or eliminate their insulin dosage.
The Reduction of Insulin Burns Body Fat as Fuel
When insulin falls, you’ll start to use your body fat as fuel instead of the sugar in your diet. Because, as described above, low insulin puts you in the fasted state. And the fasted state signals that it’s time to eat your body fat for fuel.
This is a big reason why low carb diets are powerful for weight loss.
The low insulin signals to your body that it should use body fat as fuel.
A weight loss study called “A to Z” examined this relationship. 311 participants were randomized into four dietary groups. Subjects who ate according to the Atkins diet, which is a low carb diet, lost around twice the weight of any of the other higher carbohydrate groups. [*]
An analysis of 13 randomized controlled ketogenic diet studies came to a similar conclusion: that restricting carbohydrates increases weight loss. [*]
The carnivore diet helps to lower your insulin levels and increase how much body fat you burn.
#2 Ketosis Increases Your Metabolism
Instead of fighting your body, the keto diet is the best way to work with it.
One of the other main benefits of going low carb is that your metabolism actually increases. (This is another reason why approaching weight loss from the CICO perspective is so backwards.)
The calories you burn on a daily basis is not constant. Your metabolic rate fluctuates based on what you eat. And when you’re in ketosis, your metabolic rate increases.
How? Your body upregulates something called mitochondrial uncoupling and creates brown fat. Brown fat wastes energy as heat, burning more energy than you require for normal use.
It’s like a cheat code.
This study showed that participants on a low carb keto diet actually burned 300 calories more per day at rest. That’s like jogging for 30 minutes, just because you reduce carbohydrates.
This gives you more wiggle room in your caloric intake and allows you to eat to satiation and still lose weight. This is a big reason why people on the carnivore diet have lost 50% pounds without exercise.
Insulin has the opposite effect, shutting off fat burning. This study showed that Type 1 Diabetics had a faster metabolic rate when they went off insulin [*].
#3 Carnivore Diet Can Reset Hunger Mechanisms and Improves Satiety
As discussed extensively, controlling hunger is one of the most important aspects of weight loss. The carnivore diet is able to reduce your incessant hunger and improve satiation through several mechanisms.
Fat and Protein Satiation
The carnivore diet is high in fat and protein, which are the two most satiating macronutrients. As discussed below, humans have a strong protein drive and will eat more calories than necessary if they don’t get enough protein. Protein also releases peptide YY which signals that you’re full. Fat is also highly satiating from the CCK release in your gut.
Many people report that when they up their fat on the carnivore diet, their overall caloric consumption drops substantially.
May Reverse Leptin Resistance
Additionally, by reducing insulin levels you may be able to reverse your leptin resistance. Leptin is a satiation hormone, and obese people are uniformly resistant to its action because it’s persistently high.
The carnivore diet will help to increase the Leptin signal. According to Virta Health, the brain’s response to leptin goes way up on keto [*].
Ketones Improve Hunger
This study showed that a Ketone Ester lowered ghrelin, the hunger hormone [*]. One explanation is that beta hydroxybutyrate — the main ketone — is a very efficient fuel. When levels are elevated, you need less exogenous fuel to power your metabolism.
The carnivore diet will lead to elevated ketone levels as you switch your metabolism to fat powered.
High Nutrient Density
The carnivore diet is the most nutrient dense diet in the world. It has every nutrient you need in their most optimal ratios and without the antinutrients and inflammatory factors from plants.
One reason people are hungry all the time is because they’re nutrient deficient. 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 [*]
When I eat liver, I find that I’m less hungry because of how many nutrients it provides.
The carnivore diet is also low glycemic. Carbohydrates have been shown to decrease hunger initially, but increase it more later on.
This is referred to as biphasic hunger.
Think about bread at a meal. Every wonder why restaurants always serve it to you at the beginning? Does it ever really fill you up? No. Most people turn into a bottomless pit, deeper than the Grand Canyon when they start eating bread.
The carnivore diet is a shock to you system that resets your broken satiety.
Whereas the SAD weight gaining diet puts you on a treadmill of constant hunger.
#4: The Carnivore Diet is Low in Omega 6 LA
One of the most disastrous recommendations from the USDA and AHA was to increase seed oil content. This flooded people with inflammatory, unstable and toxic omega 6 fatty acids.
Recent studies have shown that exposing mice to a high omega 6 diet results in the accumulation of body fat across generations. This study showed that each generation that consumed omega 6s became fatter than the previous.
Seed oils, which are part of the Mt. Rushmore of foods on the western diet that lead to weight gain.
#5: High in Protein & the Protein Leverage Hypothesis
Humans have a protein drive. But protein has been massively diluted in our diets because it is one of the most expensive inputs. Carbohydrates and fats (largely from seed oils) have been dumped into our diets over the last 30 years, but protein has not increased.
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 [*]
One of the fastest ways to lose weight: Increase protein
This study showed that a 5% increase in protein led to a 3 TIMES decrease in fat mass [*]
#6 Glucagon to Insulin Ratio
The carnivore diet increases your glucagon to insulin ratio, which can help burn more body fat.
As I constantly preach, obesity is a hormonal disease not a caloric one. The two major hormones that regulate body fat storage and mobilization are Insulin and Glucagon. The two are antagonistic …like Carnivore Aurelius and the Vegans.
Insulin tells your body to store away nutrients. Glucagon signals to your body to mobilize them out of storage for energy. When the glucagon : insulin ratio is high, you burn your body fat and enter ketogenesis.
Protein increases both insulin and glucagon. Whereas fat is the only macronutrient that only increases glucagon. Remember, to burn more body fat you want to increase the glucagon to insulin ratio. The more fat you eat, the higher this goes.
If you’re already metabolically unhealthy, this is especially pertinent. Your fasting insulin is likely abnormally high, so your body most likely releases even more insulin in response to protein than what’s normal.
If you want to learn more about insulin and glucagon, watch this great presentation by Dr. Ben Bikman.
#7: Fasting Can Help Burn Fat
We covered what to eat. What about when to eat?
Fasting is one of the most effortless ways to eviscerate body fat.
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.
Insulin shuts off all body fat burning, so all the fat you eat goes straight to storage, instead of being used for energy.
In a fasted state, you can finally unlock your body fat as fuel. This was a vital mechanism for survival when we didn’t have constant access to food. But most people have trained their bodies to lose this mechanism. If you don’t use it you lose it.
In this study, participants were encouraged to intermittent fast for 18-20 hours. They were allowed to eat whatever they chose. After just two weeks, the mean fat loss was 3lbs [*]. 6/10 stated they’d continue fasting after the study.
Additionally, fasting triggers epigenetic changes in your body that promote more fat burning. This study showed that fasting increased UCP3 gene expression by 5x at 15 hours of fasting [*] This gene is responsible for fat burning in muscle cells.
My favorite way of eating is one meal a day.
#8 The Carnivore Diet Allows You To Eat Until You’re Full…No More Fighting Hunger
The carnivore diet doesn’t fight your hunger mechanism. It works with it.
What do I mean?
Well the assumption with most weight loss is that your caloric expenditure remains constant. Thus, if you lower your caloric intake, you’ll lose weight.
Yes, it’s true that caloric intake needs to be below caloric expenditure to lose weight. However, attacking weight loss from this perspective by simply reducing calories will lead to disaster.
Why? Our body’s are too smart to fool them with calories alone.
If you cut calories but do not reduce your insulin levels, you can’t burn your stored body fat for fuel. One of two things will happen as a result. Either you’ll get so hungry that you’ll increase your intake back to baseline. Or your basal metabolic rate will slow down and meet the lower caloric expenditure.
What happens next is something we’re all too familiar with. Jason Fung puts it well:
“Weight plateaus, and you feel like crap, because you are used to burning 2000 calories and now are only burning 1500. So you are generating less body heat (feel cold) and are more tired” [*]
Without cutting carbohydrates sufficiently, you can’t actually burn any fat. Your body fat is frozen in place by the insulin.
Instead, however, if you tackle the elevated insulin levels first, you’ll be able to utilize your body fat to make up for the caloric difference.
When you drop your calorie intake to 1500, you can still burn 2000 a day, and the remaining 500 will come from stored body fat.
Why do you think nobody loses weight on their diets? Becauase when you fight your innate mechanisms, THEY WILL WIN. It’s almost like trying to slow your heart beat. You can’t win over the long run.
Whereas if you leverage your innate mechanisms to bring you back to body fat homeostasis, fat will melt off your body.
Examples of Weight Loss Warriors
When you feed your body the right foods it’s jaw dropping what happens.
Guess how many of them cited their caloric intake? 0.
The real Bigger Loser TV show needs to be remade. It wouldn’t follow people as they starve themselves eating like rabbits and running on the treadmill for 5 hours a day.
It’s as simple as that.
Don’t believe me? Try it yourself and you may be surprised.
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DISCLAIMER: The goal of Carnivore Aurelius is to educate and motivate others to take charge of their health. I am not a medical doctor, registered dietitian, or qualified to give individualized recommendations regarding health, nutrition or fitness. All views expressed are based on my own personal research and experiences. For specific health-related questions, please consult your doctor.