Believe it or not, January is World Carnivore Month.
Now I have no idea who started that, but one of the trends on the edges of the fitness community that has come to more prominence in the last few years is the carnivore diet.
That being the case, it's worth looking into what it is, how to do it, and the health benefits (if any) that result.
What Is The Carnivore Diet?
You are probably not going to find a simpler diet than the Carnivore Diet.
You eat meat.
Now, there are varying degrees within this. Some proponents say you should only eat red meat, water, and salt.
Others are cool with getting some full fat dairy in there, i.e. some grass fed butter on your steak.
Still another faction allows for sampling a wider variety of meats including fish, chicken, eggs, etc.
Is The Carnivore Diet Healthy?
Here's where things get murky.
Unfortunately, the Carnivore Diet has become the mirror image of the vegan diet.
Acolytes are just as entrenched in their beliefs and if you go on Twitter (which I caution you against, lol) you will see folks battling over these ideas with a religious fervor.
Adherents to the Carnivore Diet list a number of benefits:
- Lower inflammation
- Weight loss
- Better brain function
- Consistent blood sugar levels
And that is the short list. As you can imagine with something to which people attach their identity, they will claim benefits that seem impossible, or at the very least too good to be true.
The Carnivore Diet is essentially an extreme elimination diet.
Much like people who experience an immediate benefit after going vegan, carnivores are eliminating everything except for a few foods.
This allows the body rest from irritating foods causing inflammation and gut issues. The benefits they feel after making the switch likely have much more to do with that they are NOT eating, than what they are.
The Carnivore Diet is likely missing several micro nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, and will lead to the over consumption of others.
Another beneficial compound that will be MIA on the diet is fiber.
Currently, there are no real studies on modern adherents to the carnivore diet.
Proponents will point to indigenous populations such as the Inuit, some African tribes, and some South American tribes as evidence that we evolved to be carnivores.
The counter point to that is that they evolved to be carnivores, and have lived that way largely unchanged for thousands of years.
That doesn't apply to every human on earth though.
Should You Try the Carnivore Diet?
The point of this article is not to endorse or debunk the carnivore diet. Whether or not you should give it a go is completely up to you.
If you are curious, go for it. Make yourself and N of 1 and run an experiment.
In general, I would say it's probably a good idea to use it intermittently throughout the year as a metabolic reset. You could try it for a week and then add some things back in to your diet and see how you react and tolerate the new additions.
The Carnivore Diet is probably here to stay, albeit on the fringes of the health and fitness community. I for one am looking forward to some studies on strict adherents but until then, I will probably keep eating plants too.