The Carnivore Diet has grown in popularity for a range of reported health benefits. Proponents claim that an all-meat diet can result in weight loss, fewer digestive issues, better mental clarity, higher testosterone levels, reduced inflammation, and decreased insulin resistance. In addition to these benefits, the Carnivore Diet is easy-to-follow.
What is the Carnivore Diet? This meat-only diet is a restrictive regimen that limits food intake to meat, fish, and other animal foods such as eggs and some dairy products.
The Carnivore Diet stems from the assertion that our ancestors operated at peak health through a diet of mostly meat and fish and the standard American diet of simple carbs and sugar is to blame for today’s high rates of chronic disease and illness.
The Carnivore Diet shares many of the same traits as the Keto Diet. Both elimination diets focus on removing carbohydrates and sugar. The Carnivore Diet takes the target macronutrient mix of the Keto diet—moderate protein, high fat, and minimal carbohydrates—to the next level with increased levels of protein and fat, plus almost no carbs. Through the avoidance of all carbs and using fat for fuel, both diets attempt to put the body in ketosis.
To date, there has been no clinical research on the health benefits of the Carnivore Diet. Moreover, the Carnivore Diet has never been studied in the long term or in isolation. The following benefits are sourced from thought leaders in the Carnivore Diet space, health and wellness publications, and registered dietitians.
Here is a deep dive into the 7 most-commonly reported health benefits of the Carnivore Diet.
1. May help with weight loss
Most people turn to the Carnivore Diet for weight loss.
The Carnivore Diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Studies have shown that this type of diet can promote weight loss (1). Low carb diets operate on the belief that reduced blood sugar levels push the body into a state of ketosis, or fat burning. Many people have enjoyed great success in losing weight through ketosis.
Additionally, a protein diet contributes to satiety (the feeling of fullness), which translates into reduced calorie intake and possible weight loss (2). The Carnivore Diet is an extremely high protein diet. Due to the high protein at every meat, most Carnivore Dieters report feeling fuller longer and requiring less meals.
Protein can also accelerate your metabolism, burning more calories (3).
The highly restrictive nature of the Carnivore Diet can also contribute to the avoidance of foods low in beneficial nutrients. These foods include those high in refined carbohydrates or sugar such as cookies, cakes, candy, sodas, pastries.
High-sugar foods have been directly linked to obesity and diabetes and the removal of them from a diet can lead to weight loss (4).
2. May cause fewer digestive issues
Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Stomach bacteria breaks down fiber which can cause bloating, gas, and other digestive-related issues in some people.
Contrary to common belief, some studies show that the elimination of foods that are high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and grains can reduce digestive issues in certain people. One study indicates that stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake can reduce constipation and associated symptoms (5).
The Carnivore Diet restricts all foods that contain fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and grains which can help with those that have sensitivity to fiber and associated digestive issues.
3. May increase mental clarity
Many proponents of the Carnivore Diet report increased mental clarity and focus after following the diet for a sustained period of time.
Similar to the Keto Diet, these proponents report a break-in period where the body works to figure out how to fuel the system without carbs, which results in feelings of lethargy and mood swings, but after a few days this passes.
With the increased fat intake and absence of carbs, the body starts to burn fats (ketones) instead of glucose and carbohydrates which can lead to mental clarity, greater focus, and energy.
There is no significant clinical research that addresses the claimed benefit of mental clarity, but many Carnivore Dieters report anecdotal evidence to suggest this could be a result.
4. May prevent loss of testosterone
Natural testosterone levels begin to decline in men as they age. One major benefit claimed by proponents of the Carnivore Diet is the prevention of dropping testosterone levels.
Diets high in protein and fat have been shown to boost testosterone levels (6). The large amounts of protein and fat you get on the Carnivore Diet can boost testosterone levels, increasing strength, libido, and motivation. (7)
5. May reduce inflammation
Several studies have shown that a low-carb, high-fat diet can lead to reductions in inflammation (8). For some, the Carnivore Diet can reduce inflammation in the digestive system and throughout the body.
A 2013 study compared subjects on a high-fat, low-carb diet to those following a low-fat, high-carb diet and discovered that the high-fat consumers had lower markers of systemic inflammation. (9) The researchers concluded that a high-fat eating diet could have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Some people might have a food sensitivity to some plants and removing them from the diet could remove low-grade inflammation.
6. May decrease insulin resistance
Insulin is the hormone responsible for migrating glucose from your bloodstream into your cells where it can be used as energy or stored as fat. Eating foods that are heavy in carbohydrates and sugar can cause spikes in your blood sugar and your cells become less sensitive to insulin (10).
A decrease in insulin sensitivity can have a cascading effect on health — increasing inflammation, disrupting hormones, and laying the foundation for a number of chronic health problems.
The Carnivore Diet restricts all consumption of foods that contain carbohydrates and sugar, which can regulate blood sugar and reduce insulin spikes.
7. Easy to Follow
One of the main reasons most diets fail is the difficulty of following the rules, requirements, and guidelines (11). No one can deny the simplicity of the Carnivore Diet.
Carnivore Diet practitioners don’t need to worry about counting calories or macros, weighing portions, or checking ingredient lists. The only rule? Consume only meat or animal products such as eggs and dairy products.
A common daily meal plan on the Carnivore Diet is a ribeye steak in the morning, afternoon, and evening. That’s it.
You can also see our Carnivore Diet Meal Plan article.
Advocates of the Carnivore Diet report a range of health benefits that include weight loss, fewer digestive issues, mental clarity, higher testosterone levels, reduced inflammation, and decreased insulin resistance. Plus, it’s an easy-to-follow restriction diet that removes all the guesswork.
It’s important to note that there are no long-term studies that have analyzed the benefits of the Carnivore Diet. Additionally, the majority of claims made about the Carnivore Diet are based on ancillary studies or diets that are similar to the Carnivore Diet. While these comparisons have value and could be true, they cannot definitively speak on the validity of these claims for the Carnivore Diet specifically.
Scientific clinical trials on meat-only diets are necessary to determine if the Carnivore Diet has health benefits isolated from other factors.
Nevertheless, the anecdotal evidence and testimonials by practitioners of the Carnivore Diet do speak to the potential power. Ultimately, diet and nutrition is highly personal, and each individual should decide the right approach for themselves.
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If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.