Dr. Paul Saladino is one of the most popular carnivore diet activists. He graduated from The College of William and Mary in Virginia with a degree in Biology and Chemistry. He experienced burnout in college, which led him to travel around the world for six years.
Growing up in a medical family instilled in him a passion for medicine. When he finally decided to come back from his travels, he got a job as a Physician’s Assistant in Cardiology. During this time, he experienced first-hand the shortcomings of conventional western medicine with its symptom-focused, pharmaceutical-based model.
His experience in the cardiology department prompted him to go to medical school with the hope of better understanding the true roots of chronic illness and disease and how to treat and reverse them. He attended medical school at the University of Arizona, where he majored in integrative medicine and nutritional biochemistry.
He completed his residency at the University of Washington and is a board-certified Physician Nutrition Specialist. He’s also a certified functional medicine practitioner and board-certified in psychiatry. He now runs a private practice in Austin, Texas, treating patients from all over the world in person and virtually.
Throughout his medical career, Dr. Saladino heavily researched the connections between chronic disease and nutritional biochemistry and realized that food was a huge lever in health. He also discovered a potential for concordance or discordance between our genetics and the food we eat. He believes that the kind of food we eat significantly impacts our lives and that eating a diet compatible with our genetics is the key to living a healthy life.
Dr. Saladino has a personal podcast, Fundamental Health, discussing nutrition and health to educate people on how they can live their most radical and healthy lives. He has also been featured on several podcasts, including The Minimalists, Mark Bell’s Power Project, Bulletproof Radio, The Model Health Show, Dr. Mercola, The Dr. Gundry Podcast, Health Theory, The Ben Greenfield Podcast, and many more. He also appeared on The Doctors TV show to discuss the carnivore diet.
From a young age, Dr. Saladino struggled with asthma and atopic dermatitis, but he was finally able to grow out of his asthma. On the other hand, dermatitis persisted throughout his life, which led him to believe that something in his environment was consistently triggering his immune system. He tried everything from drugs to treatment therapies, but nothing worked. He then started experimenting with his diet, switching between vegan and organic-paleo diets for years, but he saw little improvement.
Dr. Saladino described a seven-month period when he was on a raw vegan diet in this YouTube interview with Josh Trent. He says that the diet affected his life so deeply. He lost 25 pounds of muscle mass, and his digestion was so poor that he consistently had bloating and gas issues for the whole time he was vegan. He also says that he got severe breakouts on his knees and elbows, and his autoimmune condition got worse when he was on a vegan diet.
After further research, he discovered that plants have many toxins such as lectins, oxalates, phytic acid, saponins, and phytoalexins that were triggering his condition. So he started simplifying his diet, slowly eliminating some foods, but it still didn’t work, and his eczema persisted.
So when he heard Jordan Peterson on the Joe Rogan podcast talking about a diet that excluded all plants, he was intrigued but skeptical. Throughout his medical training, he was taught that plants are essential for a healthy body. But after hearing how Jordan and his daughter Mikhaila were able to reverse their autoimmune issue with the carnivore diet, Dr. Saladino decided to give it a chance, and he’s stuck with it to date.
Dr. Saladino immediately noticed a difference after starting a carnivore diet. His eczema resolved within a few weeks, his energy levels were through the roof, and psychologically, he felt calmer and more focused. He says his overall health is much better now that he’s on the carnivore diet. For the past few years, Dr. Saladino has dedicated himself to researching the carnivore diet to learn as much as he can about this diet that drastically improved his life in so many ways.
He enjoys being able to present information he’s found on the carnivore diet to those who are curious and want to try it. Most people are misinformed or ignorant of the benefits of going carnivore. He believes it’s important to collect data about the carnivore diet.
Dr. Saladino’s carnivore diet research has led to so many discoveries, which he decided to share in his best-selling book, The Carnivore Code: Unlocking The Secrets To Optimal Health By Returning To Our Ancestral Diet. In this book, Dr. Saladino dives into the carnivore diet to create a comprehensive guide for anyone interested in the science behind the diet.
He discusses our ancestral origins as hunters and how eating meat made us human. The book also covers plant toxins of all types, where they’re found, and how to avoid them. Dr. Saladino discusses animal foods’ superiority regarding nutrient bioavailability and debunks myths about animal foods being bad for us and the environment. The Carnivore Code contains a detailed guide for eating a nose-to-tail carnivore diet and covers the common carnivore diet mistakes and how to avoid them.
The Carnivore Code covers the following topics:
Where we’ve come from
Plants are not always our friends
Debunking myths about animal foods
Returning to the ways of our ancestors
Dr. Saladino believes that eating animals has been an integral part of our existence as humans for at least 4 million years. He points to primate evolution, which preceded humans’ by about 60 million years, yet their brain size stayed relatively constant throughout. About two million years ago, the brain size nearly quadrupled in size, and their intelligence also notably increased. Their sensory perception, language, and conscious thinking part of the brain became more complex, allowing for better communication and more sophisticated group behaviors such as hunting.
According to Dr. Saladino, humans previously scavenged for meat from animals, which meant that they only accessed the leftovers which weren’t rich in nutrients. When they started hunting, they could access the most valuable parts of the animal; the fat and abdominal organs. He theorizes that eating these animal parts, which have a unique caloric density and contain many micronutrients allowed the human brain to grow, making us who we are today. Dr. Saladino strongly believes that eating meat nose-to-tail is what made us human.
Dr. Saladino’s nose-to-tail practice of eating meat goes against the westernized culture of only eating muscle meats. He refutes this notion saying that it was natural for our ancestors to eat the meat they hunted in its entirety; we should also eat all parts of the animal. He also points out that animals in the wild don’t just eat muscle meat from the animals they hunt but actually start with the abdominal organs first. Additionally, he references the historical accounts of people who eat meat and practice nose-to-tail eating like the Inuit and currently living Indigenous people such as the Maasai, Hadza, and Kung.
Dr. Saladino believes that you miss out on the nutrients that organ meats contain in plenty by only eating muscle meat. This doesn’t mean that muscle meat doesn’t have many nutrients, but it just doesn’t have all the nutrients humans need to function optimally, resulting in major nutrient deficiencies.
He recommends taking desiccated organ capsules from high-quality grass-fed animals for those who can’t access organ meats. This is because desiccation’s free-drying process involves low-temperature dehydration, which preserves the nutrients in the organs extremely well.
Dr. Saladino’s nose-to-tail diet is fairly simplistic. He only has two meals a day during a time-restricted window of eating. Here’s his general diet template, but he occasionally adds various bone marrow, scallops, salmon eggs, lamb testicles, seafood, and kidneys.
There’re so many variations of the carnivore diet. Dr. Saladino‘s five tiers of carnivorism are suitable for everyone, from beginners to seasoned carnivores. Dr. Saladino firmly believes that the carnivore diet is for everyone, and it’s a sustainable way of eating for those who’re motivated to stay on it. His diets mostly consist of 80%-90% of animal foods, including ruminant meat (bison, beef, and lamb), fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy.
In addition to these foods, Dr. Saladino includes low toxicity plant foods for preference, color/texture, or flavor. He views plant foods as survival foods as they don’t provide unique nutrients that we can’t obtain from animals. He reiterates that many of the plants which have been misconstrued as beneficial contain toxins that irritate the immune system and the gut, leading to a resurgence of autoimmunity and inflammation.
These toxic plant foods include plant seeds, which are heavily defended by plants, and the nightshade family plants. They contain lectins, digestive enzyme inhibitors, and high amounts of phytic acid, limiting the absorption of minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, and selenium. These plants include:
According to Dr. Saladino, genetic variability determines which plant foods and some animal foods an individual will tolerate, for example, people suffering from lactose intolerance. He says dairy can be triggering for many people, especially those who have an autoimmune problem or are trying to lose weight. He recommends adopting the carnivore diet to your unique situation.
Here’re the five tiers:
This is also known as a carnivore-ish diet that emphasizes animal foods as part of the majority of the diet but allows room for the least toxic plant foods. Dr. Saladino believes non-sweet fruits, including:
However, squash has higher amounts of carbohydrates and will interfere with ketosis, if that’s your goal. But if you’re interested in incorporating carbs into your diet for intense and long athletic efforts, squash is ideal for you.
Here’s Dr. Saladino’s recommended meal plan for Tier 1 carnivore diet
According to Dr. Saladino, this is the simplest and most basic version of a true carnivore diet. However, he doesn’t think it’s ideal for most people in the long-term but could serve as a simple introduction to the carnivore diet. In this tier, you only eat meat and water.
The Tier 3 meal plan is where most people start on the carnivore diet. It includes meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy if tolerated. Here’s the meal plan for tier 3:
Dr. Saladino believes this tier is for those carnivore dieters who love the carnivore diet and are organ curious. He says that most people notice significant improvements in athletic performance, satiety, and mental clarity by eating animal fats and organs. His meal plan heavily incorporates liver since he believes this is where most nutrients are found. The liver is rich in minerals and B vitamins, which complement those found in muscle meats, effectively balancing your diet. Some of the nutrients you can get from the liver include:
Here’s the tier 4 meal plan:
Dr. Saladino believes this is the best diet for anyone who’s focused on optimizing their diet for the best results in resolving inflammatory issues, metal, physical performance, and weight loss. He says the tier 5 diet is how he eats every day. It includes a lot of animal fats and organ meats, including liver, testicles, pancreas, kidney, heart, spleen, and brain. He eats only two meals a day on this diet. He doesn’t eat breakfast but opts for an early lunch at around 10 am.
Here’s Dr. Saladino’s tier 5 diet plan:
Here’s what he recommends for tier 5 beginners:
The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C is 60 mg. Dr. Saladino doesn’t believe it needs to be that high, saying that studies used to back this recommendation aren’t scientifically sound. He points out that the scientific study healthy-user bias common in most epidemiologic studies, saying that people participating in these studies are already healthier than the general population.
According to Dr. Saladino, you can get all the Vitamin C your body needs to stay healthy from consuming animal meat and fats. He’s had his blood tested every 45 days since he started the carnivore diet, and his lab tests show that he has optimal amounts of minerals and vitamins. This is because animal foods represent the most nutrient-rich sources of bioavailable minerals and vitamins. His body can absorb all the nutrients from his diet, ensuring that he doesn’t suffer from any deficiencies.
Dr. Saladino’s take on supplements on the carnivore diet is that the general quality of supplements available to the public is poor, and there’s an increased risk for over-supplementation. He’s also wary of the potential toxicity since the form of nutrients found in supplements is generally different from those found in food. He suspects that most nanoparticles (titanium and silicon dioxide) found in multivitamins contribute to gut irritation and a leaky gut. He also points out the fact that nutrients in supplements also have lower bioavailability than animal foods.
However, Dr. Saladino is still open to supplements and even recommends them to his patients for short periods of time. For example, he recommends supplementing glutathione or heavy metal detoxification.
Dr. Saladino believes that the prevailing nutrition advice of plant foods is vital for our health is misleading. For years, doctors have been recommending vegetable oil consumption over saturated fat, resulting in chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
He believes consuming polyunsaturated fats, especially linoleic acid found in canola oil, is the main driver for metabolic dysfunction. Diseases associated with metabolic dysfunction include cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and autoimmune disease.
He points out that linoleic acid is harmful to your health because of its thrombogenic and pro-inflammatory properties. It can cause metabolic disease, joint pain, heart disease, and skin conditions like eczema. Linoleic acid also causes the body to store more fat, whereas stearic acid found in meat reduces body fat and even lowers cholesterol. He recommends that you avoid foods such as nuts, grains, seeds, and animals that are fed corn and soy.
Dr. Saladino believes there’s no correlation between cholesterol LDL levels and heart disease. He says that his LDL level is 181, which is much higher than the recommended levels, but he has no calcified plaque in his heart. Instead, he says that high LDL is beneficial to the body and can help boost your immunity. Cholesterol is also important for our health as it helps make vital hormones such as estrogen, cortisol, testosterone, and other steroid-based hormones.
Dr. Saladino’s mission is to help people understand why red meat and organs have been a crucial part of the human diet for centuries. He’s also passionate about educating people on the dangers of consuming a plant-rich diet and processed vegetable oils.