Before we discuss what to eat on a Carnivore diet, let’s just quickly touch on why you might want to try it; in fear of repeating myself, I won’t go into chapter and verse here, as we discuss it in other blogs. Read more here.
The main reason to go full-on carnivore for a period (ideally 1 to 3 months) is to perform what we call the “ideal elimination diet”. Many people living in the modern world suffer from food intolerances or are sensitive to certain ingredients, but most are unaware that they do.
Food intolerances may cause bloating, IBS, acne, psoriasis, rashes, joint pains, trouble sleeping, fatigue, headaches, and migraines, all conditions that many people have been unsuccessful in resolving with or without medicine.
The carnivore diet pretty much removes all things that you may have an intolerance with. Then, once you have been a carnivore for a period, should your ailments disappear, you can then start adding back different foods to your diet until your symptoms reappear. At this point, you will then know what it is that you have an intolerance to.
With your trigger food successfully identified, you can then just eliminate it and potentially other foods from the same group and return to a healthy Primal Diet, reintroducing other foods, but of course still steering clear of harmful ultra-processed foods. And if you are trying to lose weight, fix insulin resistance, or reverse diabetes, still avoid processed carbs and minimise all sugars.
What to eat on a carnivore program
The Carnivore Diet consists of meat (unprocessed), fish and animal products like cheese and eggs. It removes all vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, grains, and of course anything processed.
The strictest of carnivore diets is sometimes referred to as the “Lion Diet” – as all a lion consumes is meat, salt, and water. You may want to do a period of the Lion Diet and then move to other versions, or you may choose to mix and match to best suit your circumstances.
What else could you eat?
If most of your calories are coming from ruminant meat from cows, sheep, and goats, then adding eggs and full-fat dairy (butter and some cheese – see below), with plenty of salt to keep electrolytes up is fine. You can also add shellfish (muscles, prawns, scallops, clams, mussels, etc) and fresh salmon. If your aim is to totally avoid toxins for a period, then be careful of consuming deep-water fish.
What about chicken?
Meat, organs, and fat from ruminants are generally considered a better choice because they are generally raised better and therefore have a better nutritional profile. But yes, you can also add poultry, but be very careful of its source.***
What about organ meat?
Absolutely a big yes. But no need to overdo it. Think about our primal ancestors, who did eat their catch nose to tail, but think about what percent of that would have been organs. Do include them, but no need to make them the backstay.
What oil should I use?
Animal-derived oils only. Butter, ghee, lard, goose fat, etc. One tip; If you are cooking a piece of meat with the fat on, with a fork, hold the fat edge into the pan first, till it melts.
Almost any butter is better than oils from plants, seeds, or nuts, but raw or organic is obviously the pinnacle. We encouraged you to spread your steaks with it, mixed into ground beef, or melted and drizzled on seafood. If you are sensitive to dairy, you most likely could tolerate ghee.
What about processed meats?
As they are often processed with chemicals and toxins it is important to avoid them. What about bacon? If you are eating bacon make sure it does not contain nitrites as there is recent research linking these to cancer. If you can’t find any (most supermarkets sell a brand called Better Naked), why not try turkey bacon?
Does the meat have to be organic?
Of course, if you can that’s great, but it’s not a real issue in the UK as most ruminants live outdoors and are not force-fed and their 4 stomachs help to eliminate virtually all toxins anyway.
Which cut is Better?
Mix it up, and try different cuts, even minced meat is fine. Eat those you enjoy most.
What cheeses are best?
While cheese is a 100% animal product, it arrived only recently in the timeline of dietary evolution and therefore some people have allergies. Cheeses from goat, buffalo (mozzarella), and sheep (feta) have casein A2 and not casein A1 which some people have an intolerance to.**
However, if you are not worried about casein A1 and are also going carnivore for a period to lose weight, then the following have less than 1g of carbohydrates per 100g.
- Goats cheese (zero carbs)
- Creamy Blue cheese
- Cream cheese (but not cottage)
- Swiss Cheese
- Halloumi (zero carbs)*
Which eggs are best?
While chicken eggs are the most popular don’t rule out other types such as quail, or duck. When it comes to the quality of the eggs then here is a bit of info on the different types of labelling you might see.
- Free Range - EU egg legislation stipulates that for eggs to be termed ‘Free-Range’, hens must have continuous daytime access to runs that are mainly covered with vegetation and a maximum stocking density of 2,500 birds per hectare. But be careful, because it does not mean they eat outside, so there is no guarantee of what they are being fed.
- Organic - These eggs are always Free Range. But in addition, hens must be fed an organically produced diet and live on organic land.
- Pasture Raised - This is not an official label, so read to make sure that is also certified organic. If you can find organic and the farmer tells you more about being outdoors and eating off the land, then all is well and good.
* Halloumi can be made from goat, sheep, or cow, so if you are trying to avoid casein 1, then check the source first. It also has a lot of sodium, so you might not need as much on your steak.
** A1 casein from cows can be converted into an opioid in the body that can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal distress. Non-cow dairy sources (sheep, goat, buffalo) don’t have A1 casein (instead they have A2 casein) and therefore may be safer to consume for people with leaky guts or intolerances (known or unknown).
*** When buying chicken, it’s important to buy free range, and if it's within your food budget, organic. Not just for the sake of our own health, but for the sake of the bird too. Only organic birds offer a clean source of protein and healthy fat. It’s important to understand all of the nonsense on labels too. ‘Natural’, ‘Farm-Fresh’, ‘Premium Chicken’, and ‘Country Style’ are completely meaningless and just marketing foul play!
Organic. In the UK this is regulated by the Soil Association. Every bird must have continuous and easy daytime access to outdoor pastures, and each bird should have a minimum of four square metres to roam freely. The pasture must be covered with suitable vegetation, and the bird must reach a minimum age of 81 days. The chicken must be fed organic foods and antibiotics must not be used at all.
Free Range. Chickens must have outdoor access for at least half of their life, and there must be the equivalent of one square metre of land for each chicken. The minimum slaughter age is 56 days.