Dr. Shawn Baker, crowned the King of a carnivore, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and a big advocate of the carnivore diet. He attended the University of Texas, where he graduated with a degree in biology and went to medical school.
However, he dropped out in his second year of study to play rugby in New Zealand. He then joined the US Air force and was a Lieutenant Colonel serving as a Nuclear Weapons Launch Officer and played the armed forces rugby team.
While he was in the air force, he went back to medical school at Texas Tech Health Science University and graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001. Dr. Baker completed his five-year orthopedic residency at the University of Texas in 2006. He was the Chief of Orthopedics and a trauma surgeon at various air force bases in the Air Force.
After retiring from the Air Force, Dr. Baker joined a private practice as a lead surgeon in New Mexico. However, a dispute with the hospital ensued, and he was forced to surrender his medical license pending an independent evaluation.
The hospital took issue with Dr. Baker recommending a low-carb high-fat diet to patients since it had so much success and cut into their profit margins. Dr. Baker says his experience with the hospital revealed how the hospital system is skewed towards surgical procedures instead of lifestyle-based interventions.
This was a major contributing factor that led Dr. Baker to shift focus from orthopedics to nutrition and is now looking to make a bigger impact on his patients and other people with lifestyle-related solutions.
The evaluation, which happened at the end of 2017, found that Dr. Baker had done nothing wrong and that he’s completely competent to practice medicine. His medical license was restored in 2019.
Dr. Baker is currently operating locum tenens in California and is looking to do more research on the carnivore diet’s impact. He’s currently consolidating anecdotal reports on how the diet affects people and conducts a study on the carnivore diet. The study will focus on people consuming different levels of meat to see the difference between the groups.
Dr. Baker is the CEO and co-founder of Meat RX, the biggest carnivore community where people can share their carnivore diet experiences and learn more about this all-meat diet. He also has a podcast, Human Performance Outliers Podcast, which he hosts with Ultra Runner Zach Bitter. Dr. Baker has also been interviewed on numerous podcasts, including the famous Joe Rogan Podcast.
Dr. Baker has been a high-level athlete his whole life. After playing professional rugby, he transitioned to powerlifting, where he set a couple of American records with a 772-pound deadlift. In his mid-thirties, he went on to do strongman competitions and won a couple. He also participated in the Highland Games and won the Masters World Championship and recently became a 50+indoor rowing world champion. He is the top-5 fastest rowers in the world at any age. His titles include:
By age 45 years, Dr. Baker found himself maxed out at the gym. Even though he was still training a lot at the gym, he started noticing that he was developing metabolic disease symptoms. At this point, he was at 300 pounds, he had sleep apnea, back pain, joint issues, his blood pressure was high, and it was getting much harder to recover after a training session.
So he decided to go on a nutrition journey to lose weight and get leaner. He experimented with diet and cut his caloric intake significantly, eating many vegetables, low fat, and high fiber, which worked to get him leaner.
However, he was always hungry, tired, irritable, grumpy, and generally miserable. So he transitioned into a paleo diet, which included more animal foods. He then tested a high-fat ketogenic diet and lost nearly 50 pounds, but he still felt sluggish.
Dr. Baker wanted to the extremes of performance, which prompted him to start researching nutrition in earnest, and this is where he stumbled on Vince Gironda, a bodybuilding champion from the 1960s who advocated for a curious approach to diet; eggs and steak with a small amount of carbohydrates mixed in. Dr. Baker jumped on this and started a steak and eggs diet. He says this was the first time he felt better.
Dr. Baker continued with his nutrition research and stumbled across people talking about the carnivore diet. He was hooked, started engaging with the carnivore community, and concluded that it was the healthiest group he’d seen.
So in 2016, he decided to try the carnivore diet for a week, then 2 weeks, then a month. After that, he went back to his ketogenic diet, which included dairy and greens, but he didn’t enjoy it anymore and started noticing digestive discomfort and the aches and pains came back.
In 2017, Dr. Baker went back fully to the carnivore diet, and he’s stuck with it to date. He says that his experience as a carnivore has been all wins, and he now enjoys great health.
A few months after starting the carnivore diet, Dr. Baker lost weight, digestion issues and hypertension resolved, and age-related skin issues completely went away. His sleep apnea also resolved, and the joint pain reduced, which he attributes to the carnivorous diet saying certain foods in the keto and vegan diets cause inflammation. By eliminating them from his diet, he’s been able to reduce inflammation.
Dr. Baker was so impressed with his results that he started sharing his experiences with patients suffering from osteoarthritis and other conditions and put them on a high-fat, low-carb diet. In some cases, he was so successful, and their joints improved so much that they canceled surgeries.
Dr. Baker started telling his story and the success he was experiencing with his health and his patients on Instagram. During this time, he became known as the Carnivore King, something he says happened spontaneously and organically. It wasn’t until he started MeatRX that he saw the impact the carnivore diet has had on thousands of people.
The site has many success stories of people reversing their metabolic syndrome, restless leg syndrome, lupus, depression, anxiety, eczema and other skin conditions, high blood pressure, gout, Lyme disease, sleep apnea, type-2 diabetes, thyroid disease, and other medical conditions.
While Dr. Baker is a happy carnivore dieter, he isn’t a zealot and doesn’t push people on an all-meat diet. For example, he doesn’t push his three kids to be a carnivore, but he favors them eating meat first, and if they’re still hungry, they can eat cheese, eggs, or a ketogenic dessert. He also lets them eat fruit and dairy but minimally processed sugar. Dr. Baker believes it’s important for children to understand that food impacts their health and tries to educate his children on nutrition.
He doesn’t believe you should be a strict carnivore to get results, saying a carnivore-ish diet comprised of 90% meat and 10% other foods works pretty well. Dr. Baker recommends a pure-meat diet to people with severe medical issues with serious sensitivities like GI diseases and auto-immune conditions. He says that making meat a big part of your diet can help you get out of the illness stage.
Other benefits of the carnivore diet that Dr. Baker has personally experienced and from anecdotal reports from his patients include:
While Dr. Baker believes the carnivore diet would be beneficial to most people, he doesn’t think everyone needs to do it. He acknowledges that some people have financial, social, or cultural restraints that’ll keep them from adopting the carnivore diet. He believes people should try out different foods to identify those that work best for their bodies. He believes you should find a diet that they enjoy is palatable and doesn’t leave you hungry.
Dr. Baker believes the carnivore diet is different from a zero-carb diet. While people on a zero carb diet avoid eating anything derived from plants, they eat some carbohydrates through certain meats, eggs, and cheeses. His carnivore diet consists of 95% red meat, typically steak or hamburger meat, and the rest is seafood, eggs, and cheese.
Dr. Baker prefers rib-eye steak over organ meats as he believes it’s more consistent with what humans have evolved to consume. He says other meats can’t compare to how he feels when he’s eating red meat, and his satisfaction and satiation on red meat is off the charts. He says fish and chicken are too lean to the point that they don’t appeal to him taste-wise. The only seasoning he uses is salt.
Unlike most carnivore dieters, Dr. Baker eats both grain-fed and grass-fed meat as part of his research to see how affordable it is and what’s available to people. He believes that while grass-fed beef is more nutritious, the difference between the two types of meat isn’t that significant. He also believes buying organic, grass-fed beef is not doable for most people, and it’s better to eat cheaper grain-fed meat than eating processed packaged foods.
Dr. Baker follows a time-restricted (TRE) eating schedule and eats two times a day, starting with breakfast between 8 to 9 am and dinner at around 5 to 6 pm. He only eats when he feels hungry and believes the general population eats two frequently and has some benefits to keeping to infrequent meal patterns.
Occasionally, Dr. Baker strays from the carnivore diet during special occasions such as his son’s birthday party.
One of the major concerns many people have with the carnivore diet is nutrient deficiencies. But Dr. Baker believes there’s no need for concern. While he thinks it’s important to pay attention to nutrient deficiencies, he believes there’re significant problems using the standard RDAs while on the carnivore diet.
That’s because these RDAs are established for people on a grain-based diet and are based on the lowest level of evidence. Dr. Baker believes there’s robust science that demonstrates appropriate nutrient RDAs and that a radically different diet like the carnivore diet requires different nutritional needs.
Dr. Baker finds it difficult to believe the standard nutritional advice to eat vegetables to avoid nutrient deficiencies, saying he hasn’t had any fruits, grains, or vegetables since he started the carnivore journey a few years ago, and he isn’t nutrient deficient.
On the contrary, he believes that most people on a modern diet are under-nourished and miss many nutrients and protein. He cites the prevalence of magnesium deficiency in the general population, saying it’s due to the largely carbohydrate-based diet.
This is because the body uses magnesium in the metabolism of carbs, which interferes with magnesium’s absorption in the body, driving up the required amount. Carnivore dieters, on the other hand, rarely experience magnesium deficiencies.
He also believes there’s no cause for concern for Vitamin C deficiency on the carnivore diet, saying you can get the necessary Vitamin C from consuming animal meat and fats. And since there’s no interference from plant anti-nutrients and the higher bio-availability of nutrients from animal foods, the body can absorb all nutrients from his diet.
Dr. Baker says it may take several years to reverse the effects of under-nourishment on the standard diet, but eating meat will help speed up the process as it helps restore tissue.
According to Dr. Baker, the standard nutritional research, especially population-based studies, is poor quality evidence. He argues that most nutritional studies contradict each other, with some saying certain foods are bad, while other studies say those same foods are good for you. He points out the World Health Organization study that says that red meat is a type-2 carcinogen and increases the risk of getting colorectal cancer by 17%. Dr. Baker says this percentage is highly exaggerated and only serves as a scare tactic.
He questions the credibility of such studies saying that these epidemiology studies are based on food frequency questionnaires, which ask respondents what they ate over the past 6 months. As such, they’re highly inaccurate. He believes many research studies hide raw data and manipulate the conclusion, citing this study published in the Journal of Anaesthetics that was retracted due to data fabrication and inadequate ethical approval.
According to Dr. Baker, conducting a study that’s not biased by industry stakeholders will allow people to access raw data to make their own conclusions. He believes there’s too much at stake to rely on bad evidence to make important nutrition decisions that affect our health.
Dr. Baker believes the standard nutrition advice and diet are the leading causes of chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. He believes that phytonutrients from vegetables and plant food aren’t essential to your health but instead contain anti-nutrients that make it harder for these nutrients to be absorbed and contain chemicals like lectins that can cause inflammation. Dr. Baker says meat contains all the nutrients you need to be healthy.
Dr. Baker vilifies the standard American diet, which is more than 70% plant-based, saying it’s unhealthy. His solution is that people need to eliminate junk food and make the diet more animal-based. He says people on vegan or ketogenic diets are hungry, making it harder to adhere to the diet. But a carnivore diet is highly satiating, and you’re not constantly craving junk food.
Dr. Baker also disputes the traditional advice that dictates that performance decreases as we age, and it becomes more difficult to train intensely or recover efficiently. He uses his own experience saying his athletic performance has drastically improved while on the carnivore diet, and he’s continually becoming faster, stronger, and better.
He says that he took two seconds off his rowing time after a month on the carnivore diet. He believes the carnivore diet is enough to fuel his grueling exercise regime without needing carbs for energy. He says that his body has adapted to efficiently convert fat and protein into energy.
mTOR (Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin) is the main pathway that stimulates protein synthesis and anabolism and is activated by insulin, glucose, and amino acids. It is a major growth regulator and affects the aging process.
High mTOR activity is great for growth but bad for longevity, and too little activity can disrupt insulin sensitivity and disrupts healing. mTOR activity is high on the carnivore diet because of the high protein amounts.
While this is a concern for many, Dr. Baker isn’t concerned about excess mTOR activation on his diet, saying several factors affect mTOR activation, with the most important factor being insulin. Dr. Baker explains that while on the carnivore diet, insulin production is greatly reduced, resulting in lower mTOR activation.
He further says mTOR activation in certain tissues is beneficial and detrimental in others. For example, activation in the muscles increases muscle mass, and health and activation in the brain improve cognition. However, mTOR activation in liver tissues and peripheral fat can cause concern.
Dr. Baker believes that resistance training coupled with a low-carb, high-protein diet stimulates mTOR activation in the muscles, which is good for the body. Dr. Baker recommends intermittent fasting, saying you shouldn’t eat more than 2 times and do resistance training.
Dr. Baker is also an author of the bestseller The Carnivore Diet, which examines the carnivore diet. Dr. Baker took a common-sense approach to write this book to make it accessible to as many people as possible. It reviews the historical, evolutionary, and nutritional sciences that explain why so many people have had success with the carnivore diet. Dr. Baker also explores the benefits of the carnivore diet and details the dramatic transformations experienced by carnivore dieters.
The book also delves into the problems with the western diet and the common diseases that are usually thought to be progressive and lifelong but have been reversed on the carnivore diet. The book also discusses the most common misconceptions about the carnivore diet and covers problems people often face when transitioning. Finally, it outlines a comprehensive strategy to start a meat-only diet.
Dr. Baker is very passionate about educating people on the carnivore diet and its benefits. His focus is to use nutrition as a tool for performance, health, and overall well-being.