Pros and cons of carnivore diets | Fit and Healthy (2024)

I’m going to preface this article by saying one statement that sits deep in my mind from one of my teachers lecturing about nutrition back in college is “Any diet that cuts out whole food groups is no good.”

That statement alone might ruffle some feathers and I do think that is a very simplified way to put nutrition and even fad diets. If I could rephrase what this teacher was trying to say, it would be more like “Any diet that cuts out whole food groups is just using a different path to find caloric deficit.” What all these new diets from keto, Atkins, Paleo, mediterranean and whatever else is out there have in common that largely determines their success is…… Caloric deficit. For those who don’t know what caloric deficit is, it is simply burning more calories than you take in. Advocates for these trendy diets advise some plan that results in caloric deficit and use testimonials from clients to boast their stories of success. Now, is this success? In some aspects, sure! Weight loss, fat loss and better bio markers are great. If we look at playing the long game, however, are these diets sustainable?

Specifically with carnivore diet, some benefits may include a higher protein intake, inevitable decrease in carbohydrates (Good for some, but maybe not good for everyone!), and as said before most likely finding a caloric deficit. Also, I’ll note that lowering your carbohydrate intake can help with insulin sensitivity specifically, which I am a huge fan of. Assuming you are physically active and wanting to gain or at least maintain muscle mass, it can be a challenge to consume enough protein, which carnivore diet almost guarantees that you will hit your daily intake needs.

Carnivore diet enthusiasts often champion other benefits such as lower inflammation, weight loss and even lower blood pressure. However, I cannot, in good conscience, agree that this is a direct result of eating only meat every day. These benefits are likely due to the fact that clients are in a caloric deficit after having unhealthy eating patterns beforehand. Recent studies show that while in a caloric deficit, even if you are eating junk foods like chips, cookies, ice cream, etc. you can still lower inflammation, lose weight and have better biomarkers in some (maybe not all) areas. So why would carnivore diet yield any different results, and why would we give so much credit to the meat alone? I have to give my vote to eating lower calories, when necessary or when seeking positive health changes, equals a better functioning body.

Upon doing more research to write this article, I was really disappointed to hear many pro-carnivore experts stating that while eating only meat, you will eliminate “toxins” from fruits and vegetables. Look at it this way, we could take ANY food on the planet and break it down to molecular level and discover an ingredient that would become toxic if eaten in the right amounts. Too much vitamin D can become toxic too! Or even drinking too much water can dilute your electrolytes and stop your heart from beating. Study after study, and then after a few more studies prove that people who eat fruits and veggies are at lower risk for diseases and simply live better and longer lives.

I will say that I do think periods of fasting, or cutting out some specific foods will lead to a decrease in inflammation and some “cleaning out” of old, dead cells throughout the body. But diets and fasting, are not the only way, just one way to do it. Or sometimes elimination diets can be helpful for those who have unknown allergies or food sensitivities that often go undetected.

In most cases, those eating the carnivore diet are likely going to be eating plenty of fatty meats, and if you are going to eat only meat that’s actually a good idea to encourage a higher production of ketones.

Ketones are going to be the body’s preferred fuel for energy since carbohydrates are non-existent in carnivore diet. The downside is that over a long period of time, these meats that are high in saturated fats can drive up LDL cholesterol which is a huge risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Overall, I get that the carnivore diet might be helpful to someone who needs to shed some quick pounds and see some changes in insulin sensitivity. Or for someone who is needing a reset on their insulin sensitivity and wants to inquire what it feels like to run on ketones instead of glucose from carbs. Other than that, it’s about the same as any other trendy diet that cuts out food groups in a disguised effort to get people to lose weight resulting from restricting calories.


Nate Wilson is a certified personal trainer through NASM and is the owner of Elite Fitness LLC. He is certified for Fitness Nutrition and is a Behavior Change Specialist. Contact Nate at 640-0668

Pros and cons of carnivore diets | Fit and Healthy (2024)


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