What is a “carnivorous” diet and is it a bad idea?

  • Supporters of the carnivore diet, which includes eating only meat and animal products, claim that it is good for our health.
  • However, this dietary trend is likely bad for your health, one expert writes.
  • Most of the evidence for the benefits of a carnivorous diet is based on personal experiences.

You may have heard of the carnivore diet, and the claims that it is good for our health.

Many diet trends, such as the Paleo and Atkins diets, advocate high protein and low carbohydrate intake. But the carnivorous diet takes this trend to the extreme.

So what is it, and is it bad for your health?

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What is the carnivore diet?

As the name suggests, the carnivore’s diet involves only eating meat and animal products.

There is no official definition of this diet, but adherents of this diet advocate eating red meat, pork, chicken and other poultry, eggs, fish and seafood. Some low-lactose dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, can be included.

Usually all plant foods are excluded. So there are no fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts or seeds.

An example of what you can eat on a typical day might be:

Breakfast: eggs and bacon (without toast).

Lunch: beef burger (without bread).

Are there any nutritional benefits?

The short answer is no.

It may theoretically be possible to get all the essential vitamins and minerals from animal products. for example, Lean red meat A good source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12, while oily fish is a good source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3.

But unless your diet is well planned, eating only animal meat can lead to insufficient intake of some vitamins and minerals. This is particularly the case with vitamin C and folic acid, which are the main food sources the fruitvegetables and whole grains.

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Importantly, dietary fiber is noticeably absent from a meat-eating regimen. This is a problem because a Low fiber diet It can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

To avoid any deficiency in the diet, the The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating He recommends eating food from the five basic food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats and dairy products.

Is it harmful to your health?


Most of the evidence for the benefits of this diet is anecdotal – based on personal experiences, rather than scientific evidence.

newly Article – Commodity identified self-reported health benefits and higher satisfaction among adults who followed a carnivorous diet for six months or longer. However, because the study involved asking people how much they liked a diet they chose to put on themselves, we can’t conclude much from its findings.

Read more | Meat, fish and eggs – how much is enough?

When it comes to protein-rich diets in general, we know the importance of the quantity and quality of protein.

Search It tells us that maintaining a high-protein diet over a long period of time (six months or more) can impair the ability of the liver, intestines, and kidneys to detoxify ammonia, the waste products our bodies produce while digesting protein.

For example, 12 months random experiment I looked at how protein affects kidney function. The researchers prescribed adults either the Atkins diet (30% of total energy intake from protein) or a control diet (15% of total energy intake from protein, which is close to Typical Australian Diet).

Read more | How to replace meat with nutritious alternatives – and why it’s a good idea to do it

The trial reported an increase in creatinine clearance (a product of protein digestion) in adults following the Atkins diet at 12 months of age, but not at 24 months. This may indicate that after a while, the kidneys are less able to get rid of potentially harmful by-products from the excess protein, leading to Kidney injury.

However, due to limited food selection, the high cost of meat, the frequent nature of many high-protein diets, and concerns about whether they are ethical, there are not many long-term trials.

However, evidence from large, long-term observational studies tells us that diets rich in red meat and processed meat increase our risk. heart disease And a lot crabs.

While someone might be able to maintain a carnivorous diet for months, or even years, without any health complications, this certainly won’t be the case for everyone.

How much meat is too much?

For adults, a High protein diet It is generally defined as consuming 2 grams or more of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

So for an 80kg male, this would be 160g of protein per day. And what does 160 grams of protein look like in whole foods? Equivalent to approximately six medium-sized lamb chops per day (550 grams of meat).

Illustration showing six medium cuts of lamb weighing 550 grams and containing 160 grams of protein on one side, and 65 grams of lean lamb on the other side - the RDA.
ConversationAnd the CC BY-ND

When we compare this with national guidelines, Australian Dietary Guidelines We recommend that an adult eat a maximum of 455 grams of cooked lean red meat per week (or 65 grams per day, the equivalent of a small piece of lamb).

For heart health in particular, the Heart Foundation He recommends eating less than 350 grams of cooked, unprocessed red meat per week (50 grams per day).

So what is the ruling?

The strongest evidence Shows eating a diet rich in whole plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, with a moderate amount of lean, unprocessed red meat, poultry and fish. good for our health.

For this reason, the Mediterranean diet Everywhere a healthy diet.

If you are considering trying a high protein diet, it is advisable to consult a health professional first, such as Certified Practitioner Dietitian.Conversation

Katherine Livingstona NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University

This article has been republished from Conversation Under a Creative Commons License. Read the original article.

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