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The Carnivore Diet: Social Media’s Favorite Weight Loss Fad?

The carnivore diet is all over social media, with claims that it helps with weight loss, inflammation and other ailments. We talked to doctors and nutritionists to find out if there's science behind the hype.


Similar to “fit tea” or mouth taping, the carnivore diet was popularized by social media, and backed by pseudoscience. With insubstantial medical support, the carnivore diet recommends that followers exclusively consume animal products and byproducts, while excluding all carbohydrates — including fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Lance Uradomo, M.D., M.P.H., an interventional gastroenterologist at City of Hope Orange County, tells Woman’s World that it’s yet another fad diet, popularized by influencers and celebrities: “Fad diets that promise significant weight loss or other health benefits are a fixture in American culture, and they can spark huge amounts of interest if they present a novel eating pattern — like consuming only meat,” he explains.

The carnivore diet’s popularity comes at least in part from celebrity endorsements, fitness influencers on social media, and the like. But a meat-based diet may not be worth the risks, particularly for people with high cholesterol or heart disease, and particularly given the evidence that a diet high in red and processed meats increases the risk of colon cancer.

Dr. Lance Uradomo

Carnivore meal delivery plans, snacks, cookbooks, sites and more to help you get started and stick with the carnivore diet.

Meal Plans & Subscription BoxesHungryroot, sustainable, tailored meal plans
Butcherbox, sustainable, ethically-raised foods
Crowd Cow, farm direct meats
Good Ranchers, local, independent farms
Diet BooksQuick Carnivore, top-rated how-to book
The Carnivore Code, MD author of The Keto Reset
The Carnivore Diet for Beginners, quick getting started guide
Carnivore-Friendly Snacks Chomps, sugar- and gluten-free snack sticks in 10 flavors
Jurassic Jerky, additive- and -preservative free
EPIC snacks, ethically-sourced bars and snacks
CookbooksThe Carnivore Cookbook, over 100 recipes
The Primal Gourmet Cookbook, Whole30-endorsed
Super Easy Carnivore Diet Cookbook, hundreds of recipes and meal plans
Online Diet Medicine PrescribersRemote Pharmacy, online GLP-1 prescriptions
Carnivore ArticlesCarnivore Diet Results: Top MD on What You Need to Know, Woman’s World
DWTS’ Alan Bersten Reveals How He Lost 20 Pounds in 5 Weeks, US Weekly
Sorry Vegetarians — Eating Meat Is Good for You, Study Suggests, First for women
SupportCarnivore Talk, diet forum and community
World Carnivore Tribe, 100K-plus Facebook group
Carnivore Diet For Beginners, 100K-plus Facebook group

The Carnivore Diet Is One of Few Diets That Bans Fruits and Vegetables

A woman on a kid's bicycle shops in the meat isle
Unlike the keto diet, the carnivore diet does not allow fruits and vegetables.Getty

A carnivore food plan is one of the most restrictive diets out there, as it eliminates nearly every non-meat and dairy food group. That being said, those looking to forgo fruits and veggies may be interested eating carnivore, as the regimen completely eliminates both.

Kimberly Gomer MS, RD, LDN, tells Woman’s World that for some, the fiber and carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables may aggravate certain health conditions: “It allows the gut and whole digestive system to rest along with preventing any potential reactions that a person has to eating fruits and vegetables,” she explains.

Potential reasons people might need to limit fruit and vegetable intake

  • For fruit — blood sugar and insulin spikes along with aggravating insulin resistance
  • For vegetables — the digestive upset from the fiber for some people

It may also improve metabolic health which includes both physical and mental disorders related to metabolism. Many people suffer from metabolic dysregulation that is caused from eating both processed foods and in some cases, they can be sensitive to fruits and vegetables. Removing them can provide a clean slate metabolically to heal.

Kimberly Gimer

WebMD elaborates on permitted and restricted foods on the carnivore diet. The list of permitted foods on the carnivore diet is quite limited — therefore it fortunately has no caloric restrictions.

Permitted Foods on the Carnivore Diet

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Some dairy

Restricted Foods on the Carnivore Diet

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Refined oils
  • Sugars
  • Alcohol

The Carnivore Diet Is a Type of Keto Diet

A plate features carnivore diet-friendly roast beef ribs on the bone cut in slices with some grilled rosemary leaves on the top. It also includes arugula salad.
Although a vegetable-forward diet tends to be considered most healthy, the carnivore diet eliminates all plants and grains from the diet.Getty

Although carnivore is a type of keto diet, it’s far more restrictive. Harvard Health explains that the goal of the carnivore diet is to put the body into ketosis. However, it does so by eliminating all carbohydrates — not by excluding solely low-sugar fruits and low-starch vegetables. And similar to the keto diet, cheat meals on the carnivore diet are not recommended, as it can kick the body out of ketosis. But because a cheat meal is bound to happen every once in a while, it’s important to keep in mind that the carbohydrate intake should stay under 50 grams.

The carnivore diet was created due to the belief that we should eat like our ancestors

Kylie Bensley, MS, RD, Certified Nutritionist, Clinical Dietician and Founder of Sulinu explains why the diet, which stems from keto, was created in the first place: “The carnivore diet was created due to the belief that we should eat like our ancestors: Meat, fish, and vegetables.” she explains.

It includes the belief that the carbohydrates we consume on the keto diet are the culprit behind the metabolic problems we face today such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease to name a few… The motivation behind the carnivore or ketogenic diet is often weight loss or blood sugar management.

Kylie Bensley

Short-Term, Dieters May See Some Benefits, Especially In Insulin Levels

In terms of short-term effectiveness, proponents of the diet claim weight loss is likely. This could be due to loss of water weight from lack of carbs; or from feeling satiated with fewer calories from a surplus of protein. But it isn’t guaranteed.

Senior woman checking wrinkled face in mirror
Many proponents of the carnivore diet claim it helps clear up skin, and lower inflammation.Getty

Lowered Insulin Levels Are a Potential Benefit

Bensley also notes its impact on insulin levels: “The one benefit to the carnivore diet is the elimination of processed carbohydrates such as pasta, colas, desserts, etc. This elimination should result in the short-term improvement of blood sugar levels and improved blood pressure as well as possible less inflammation, ” she says. “However, there are no formal studies to report on the long-term benefits of the carnivore diet.”

But, Bensley doesn’t feel it should be prescribed by any doctor: “Doctors are known to prescribe all types of diets with the hopes of seeing improvements of their patient’s health,” she adds. “However, given the lack of data behind the long-term effects, I believe physicians should not be recommending the carnivore diet.”

Other Benefits of the Carnivore Diet May Include:

However, Short-Term Side Effects May Be Unpleasant

Because the diet sends the body into ketosis (burning fat instead of carbohydrate storages), dieters often experiences a variation of the keto flu.. Forgoing carbohydrates can lead to unpleasant “flu-like” symptoms such as headache, moodiness, dizziness and fatigue. But long-term, it could be dangerous.

Crucially, meat contains no dietary fiber

“As a restrictive diet, the carnivore diet is going to deprive your body of important vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients found in plants,” Dr. Uradomo explains. “Crucially, meat contains no dietary fiber. In the short term, a lack of fiber can lead to constipation; in the long term, fiber consumption is vitally important for maintaining gut health and can lower a person’s risk of developing colon cancer.”

The Long Term Effects of the Carnivore Diet Are Largely Unknown

Doctor examines a masked woman, using a stethoscope
The health effects of the carnivore diet are largely unknown, however eating excessive amounts of meat without fruits or vegetables has many negative impacts.Getty

Because the carnivore diet is a fad diet rather than one that’s medically prescribed, there isn’t a ton of scientific information regarding any positive long-term results. With that in mind, though, there are many known disadvantages to eating excessive amounts of meat.

Cons of a Meat-Based Diet

As previously mentioned, there is limited information on how a carnivore diet may impact health long term. But there are many cons to eating a keto diet in general, and eating excessive amounts of meat:

  • Increased saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol
  • Increased fat levels can cause heart problems
  • More fat and fewer aminos can cause certain types of cancer
  • More protein and fat can cause kidney issues
  • Less vitamins and vegetables can cause bone density issues

“Over time, eating meat to the exclusion of other nutritious food groups can seriously impact your health,” Dr. Uradomo adds. “Research shows high levels of meat consumption are associated with colorectal cancers. High fiber diets also have beneficial effects on the gut microbiome — the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in our intestines.”

The Carnivore Grocery Haul Looks Quite Different

A package of raw fish sitting at the grocery store. Fish is one of the healthiest options on the carnivore diet
Although fish and meat may have been a regular part of your diet, shopping on the carnivore diet features an entirely different grocery list.Getty

Prior to starting the carnivore diet, a typical grocery haul might include some meats, fish and other animal products. However, the shopping list after starting the diet would look much more meat-heavy, as it limits most food groups.

A Typical Carnivore Diet Shopping List:

  • Meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken)
  • Fish (fresh fish, tinned fish, seafood)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (butter, cheese, milk, cream)

Carnivore Diet-Friendly Recipes Will Keep You Full

Carnivore diet-friendly grilled and roast chicken breast with seasoning in a cooking pan
Buffalo chicken breast is one of many popular recipes on the carnivore diet.Getty

Aside from any health controversies, eating meals with lots of protein and fat can signal to your body that you’re getting full, what doctors and nutritionists call satiation. “Proteins seem to be more satiating than other macronutrients; high-protein (vs. low-protein) preloads reliably lead to lower food intake and greater feelings of fullness,” said a review of literature in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. Paleo, carnivore, keto and other high-protein, low-carb diets all count on this as a core part of weight loss despite sometimes high-calorie meals.


  • Keto Egg Cups — combines ham, egg and cheese for an easy on-the-go breakfast
  • Carnivore Breakfast Sandwich — egg and cheese is sandwiched between two sausage patties
  • Beef and Egg Gratin — to tide you over for the week, this breakfast casserole is only made up of four ingredients: beef, cheese, egg and heavy cream



Picking a More Well-Researched Diet May Be the Way to Go

While many claim they have benefitted from the carnivore diet, picking a more practical regime with better research, such as the Mediterranean diet, may be better in the long run. The long-term impacts are largely unknown — however, the long-term impacts of both keto and red meat can be seriously dangerous. Regardless, speak to a doctor before switching your diet, to decide what’s right for you.

“There are many clients that I work with who do better with reducing processed foods first, than reducing carbohydrates in a stepwise fashion while focusing on nutrient dense protein, healthy fats, and vegetables with fruit and starches as tolerated,” Kimberly Gomer says. “They don’t need to be ketogenic or carnivore to get results but do great with a whole foods lower carbohydrate meal plan.”

Is the carnivore diet healthy?

There are many claims behind the carnivore diet, but not much of it is supported by medical information. Excessive amounts of protein can come with risks — which can actually do more harm than good.

What are the risks of eating an all-meat diet?

Increased amounts of fat can lead to increased LDL cholesterol levels, risk of heart attack and certain types of cancers, per a Harvard Health blog post. Too much protein can also cause kidney issues, while a lack of fruits and vegetables can cause a wide range of nutrient deficiencies.

Is seasoning allowed on the carnivore diet?

Seasoning is allowed. Meal plan site Primal Kitchen explains that salt and pepper are permitted in moderation. Meanwhile, other types of seasonings — such as turmeric, paprika and other spices — are encouraged.

Are cheat days allowed on the carnivore diet?

Cheat days are not recommended. However, for keto diets in general, an occasional meal with less than 50 grams of carbohydrates won’t likely kick the body out of ketosis.

Why do so many people eat sticks of butter on the carnivore diet?

Many TikTok videos have gone viral, showing people on the diet eating entire sticks of butter. According to a Healthline article it supposedly aids in weight loss and boosts mood, however, there is no science that backs that up.

Paleo and Carnivore: A Side-By-Side Look at Two Protein-Centric Diets
The Keto Diet vs. The Carnivore Diet: Is Increasing Meat Consumption Really Better?

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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