The carnivore diet is a powerful elimination and anti-inflammatory diet that can significantly improve your life.
While the carnivore diet is a simple nutrient-dense diet, some common mistakes can derail your chances of getting excellent results and even leading you to quit the diet. Let’s explore these mistakes and how you can avoid making them so you can enjoy the full benefits of being on the carnivore diet.
Maintaining a well-balanced protein-to-fat ratio is crucial. One of the most common mistakes carnivore dieters make is over-consuming protein and including a little amount of fat in their diets. When you don’t consume enough fats, the body is forced to convert protein to glucose through glucogenesis for energy. This can put you in a state where you feel satiated due to the protein you’ve consumed but physically and mentally sluggish. This is because protein isn’t a great energy source, so the body doesn’t have enough fuel to function optimally.
You should aim for a protein to fat ratio of 2:1 grams. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, while protein contains 4 calories per gram, so this is a calorically balanced ratio. This ensures that your body has enough fat for energy use along with adequate protein to meet all your needs.
When on a carb diet, your body has to keep extra water to store the carbohydrates and manage the inflammation brought on by carbs. But when you start the carnivore diet, your body flushes out this water weight in the first few weeks, which is excellent for weight loss but presents some issues. By dropping this water weight, it means your body is now short of electrolytes since you have no excess reserve to pull from when you sweat or expel them.
You also need to bear in mind the low insulin levels that you experience on the carnivore diet. When your insulin is down, your kidneys excrete much more water and electrolytes like calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. These electrolytes are essential for your diet to be successful and for many bodily functions, including:
To maintain a healthy electrolyte balance, you can supplement your electrolytes through your diet. Here’s what you can do:
Nearly all processed meats such as beef jerky, ham, salami, turkey, and pepperoni have ingredients like sugar, carbohydrate-based fillers, and wheat-based flour. Avoid these meats, especially if you’re on the carnivore diet and trying to resolve your autoimmune condition or gluten intolerance.
Be sure to check the ingredients list next time you’re shopping for meat and stick to grass-fed unprocessed meats with essential ingredients of salt and pepper. If you want beef jerky, ensure it is grass-fed and doesn’t contain sugar or soy sauce.
We have been socialized only to eat muscle meats, but this isn’t the only way of eating meat, nor is it healthy. While muscle meats contain nutrients, they don’t have the same nutritional value as organ meats. The nose-to-tail carnivore diet ensures that you have access to all the nutrients an animal has to offer.
The kidney contains Vitamins A, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12 and iron, phosphorous, and copper. It also contains zinc, which is essential for thyroid hormone conversion, and selenium, which is vital due to its neuroprotective properties and its role in thyroid health.
Grass-fed beef heart is the number one source of copper while also providing other essential nutrients like collagen and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant, and an integral part of metabolism. The beef brain is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA, vital for brain health. It also contains neuroprotective nutrients and antioxidants like carnosine and carotenoids, critical in protecting neurological tissue.
You should also include liver meat in your diet as it contains high amounts of iron, vitamins A, B12, and D, and selenium.
This is a common mistake with carnivore dieters who only eat beef meat, bypassing the many benefits seafood offers. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, thrombosis, arrhythmias, and atherosclerosis. They also lower blood pressure, improve endothelial function, and significantly lower triglycerides. Although beef meat contains omega 3, fish is an excellent source of vital fatty acids. The omega 3 content varies in fish, with some having lower amounts. Eating salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and tuna provide you with adequate amounts of omega 3.
Protein is highly satiating, so you feel full for longer when you’re on the carnivore diet. While this is beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t want to go for long periods without eating. If you aren’t eating the requisite proteins and fats, your body starts to use the stored fat for energy.
This happens within 24-72 hours, but if you fast for longer, your body will start holding on to those resources leading to a drop in your metabolism. It will slow down your calorie burn by slowing down body processes like speech and motion. That’s why people who aren’t eating enough will start to experience symptoms like brain fog, poor focus, body aches, headaches, cravings, and low energy.
The general rule of the thumb is to eat when you feel hungry, but if you keep forgetting to eat, you might want to consider setting specific times for eating. Dr. Shawn Baker, a famous carnivore diet proponent, recommends 1.5 pounds of meat per day for women and at least 2 pounds for men.
Eating out can be convenient, but you need to be extra vigilant to ensure your food doesn’t contain any wheat products. Most chefs like to cook eggs and omelets with pancake batter, so don’t shy from ordering gluten-free eggs or omelets without batter.
You also need to remember that when you eat out, chances are you’ll exceed your caloric intake, and you’re more likely to make poor dieting choices. We understand how tempting it is to bite a delicious-looking burger or add sauces, marinades, or gravies to your food. But stay strong and resist these extra toppings.
Some people who try the carnivore diet quit too soon before their bodies adapt to diet changes. You’ll find comments like, “I’ve been on the carnivore diet for four days, and I haven’t gotten the amazing benefits everyone is talking about!” This is too early to give up as your body needs more time to adjust, especially if you’re switching from the standard high-carb diet.
Even if you’ve already been on keto or a low-carb diet for a while, it will take time for your body to get used to a zero carbs diet. Give yourself at least a month before deciding whether it’s working. For better results, stay away from tempting carb food visuals if you’re experiencing carb cravings, eat before going out and remove off-plan foods from your kitchen. Above all, have a strong will and maintain your resolve to stick to the carnivore diet.
The carnivore diet is a simple diet to follow, but you may experience sub-par results if you’re not mindful of some potential pitfalls. Now that you know what to avoid, you’re better placed to optimize your diet for better results.
Paul is a nutrition freelance writer contributing to carnivore dieting topics, trends, and recipes. He expresses his prowess in creating insightful and educational pieces. His content is a product of deep research, wide reading, and clear understanding. When not on his desk, he spends his time hiking and camping with his wife, son, and dog.