The Carnivore diet stems from the controversial notion that people eat meat and fish from the early human population, that is, when human civilization was started. But now high-carb diets are causing many diseases. Other popular low-carb diets, such as keto and paleo diet have limited amount of carb, but not zero. However, the purpose of the Carnivore diet is zero carbs. Shawn Baker, a former American orthopedic physician, is the most famous proponent of the Carnivore Diet. He believes that the evidence of adherence to the Carnivore diet is that, it can cure diseases like depression, anxiety, arthritis, obesity and diabetes, but it have some side effects.
However, many researches have still not analyzed the effects of carnivore diet. Nevertheless, Baker’s medical license in 2017 has been recognized by the New Mexico Medical Board.
How To Follow Carnivore Diet?
By removing all plant foods from the diet, especially eating small quantities of meat, fish, eggs and low-lactose dairy products, it is to follow in the Carnivore diet. Carnivore diet food list includes beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey meat, sardines, white fish, and a huge amount of cream and hard cheese, etc. Dietary proponents insist on fatty cuts of meat to meet your daily energy needs.
The Carnivore diet encourages drinking water and bone broth but discourages drinking tea, coffee and other drinks made from plants. It does not give any specific guidelines about calorie intake, serving size or how many meals or snacks to eat every day. Most of the proponents of the diet suggest eating as you wish. Carnivore diet have several pros and cons, those are as under;
Benefits of Carnivore Diet.
The benefits of carnivore diet are:
- Beneficial in Diabetes.
- Low Fat and High Protein Diet.
- Immune System.
- Muscle Building.
- Heart Health.
- Brain Development.
Beneficial in Diabetes.
It is very important for diabetic people to control blood sugar. This is because it can increase blood sugar levels. In fact, limiting foods containing refined carbs and sugars is often recommended to control diabetes.
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Low Fat and High Protein Diet.
As the Carnivore diet excludes carbs, it eliminates cookies, cakes, candies, soda, pastries and so on high-carb foods. These food stuffs are low in essential nutrients and often high in calories. Thus, they can be limited in a healthy, balanced diet.
While it has low-fat and high protein, this diet can be a balance diet for any person. Increasing your protein intake and reducing your carb intake can help you to lose weight. That said, the excessively high amount of protein on the Carnivore diet and the complete elimination of carbs, is necessary to lose weight.(3)
High amounts of zinc are found in different types of meats, which helps to strengthen the immune system. Due to its antioxidant properties, zinc is known to make antibodies, which are helpful in fighting free radicals. The protein derived from meats helps in the production of these antibodies to protect the body from infection.
Omega-3 fatty acids present in seafood are also good for increasing immunity. Another mineral found in seafood is selenium, which is also known to enhance the immune system. Vitamin A helps in the functions of the reproductive system.
Along with proteins, meats also have a wealth of essential amino acids that helps in digestion. Our body cannot produce amino acids by itself, so it should be obtained from food. Meats provide nine essential amino acids, namely histidine, leucin, lysine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, etc., so meat is called the whole protein. Vitamin D present in it also helps in strengthening the bones and is important for calcium absorption and metabolism.(4)
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The protein present in the meat helps to build and repair the body tissues as well as improve muscle activity. Tissues and muscles are made up of proteins. So, people who make muscle should increase protein intake in their diet. It helps in increasing and repairing the muscle as it contains nutrients such as protein and zinc.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood keep the heart healthy and reduce the anxiety of cardiovascular malfunction. Regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids also prevents heart attacks, strokes and arrhythmia.
Vitamin B found in meats assist in the production of niacin, folic acid, thymine, biotin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B12 hormone, and also effective for the formation of red blood cells and improve function of nervous system. These vitamins also help to generate energy in the body and keep the heart and nervous system healthy.
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Regular intake of meats rich in omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for the skin and hair. Fatty acids protect the skin from UV rays and helps to maintain moisture and natural brightness in the skin. Vitamin A found in meats ensures strong bones, teeth, healthy skin and eyes. Meat intake also helps in curing skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis.
Docosanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaeonoic acid (EPA) are found in various fishes that helps to enhance cognitive and brain development. It also improve the concentration and normal functions of the brain.
Pregnant women usually avoid the intake of fish due to mercury content that can affect the development of the unborn child. However, omega-3 fatty acids present in fish help in the development of the brain and eyes in children. It is also effective to prevent depression which is normal during and after pregnancy.
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Long Term Side Effects of Carnivore Diet.
Even though it has many health benefits, excess consumption of carnivore diet has side effects in the body too. Then lets see why carnivore diet is bad?
According to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, a compound found in red meat (called carnitine) can cause atherosclerosis, arteries hardness or clogging.
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health has revealed an increased risk of a shorter life span to excess intake of red meat. Healthy protein sources such as fish, poultry, nuts and legumes were associated with the risk of mortality.(5)
Meats are found in large quantities of uric acid. Which can accumulate inside our body and cause many diseases like arthritis.
According to a recent study by UCLA, a very good amount of iron is found in meat. Therefore, its excess intake can increase the level of iron in the brain and increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.(6)
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The use of meats can give you some special benefits and these benefits cannot be compared with a vegetarian diet. Excess consumption of carnivore diet also has a side effects on the body. Nowadays, due to changed routines and lifestyles, high cholesterol, sugar (diabetes), skin related diseases have been reported.
Therefore, it can be said that anything less or anything more is not at all good for health and body. Always right proportionate is better to maintain a proper health and stay fit.
- Experienced in the field of nutrition, health, fitness, and more. She earned Master Degree from National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad and currently serving in the Eastern branch of ICMR.