Elimination diets are particularly popular for the last couple of years, with entire subreddits springing up, writing anecdotal stories galore. But when a significant number of these stories pile up, it is very hard to ignore the implications, even in the absence of randomized clinical trials. For this reason, today we are looking at the benefits of carnivore diet, which is one of the most popular and fastest growing elimination diets.
A true counterpart of the raw vegan lifestyle, the carnivore way of living embraces all animal dietary products. But it is not only this embrace that is characteristic of the carnivore diet, but rather a complete abstention from carbs. That is the reason why this diet is also referred to as the zero-carb diet.
We have written about the carnivore diet in length, but we recently felt that a standalone article going over the potential benefits of this lifestyle is equally necessary, as a way to summarize an entire volume of anecdotal stories posted on Reddit or elsewhere around the internet.
So, without further ado, let’s consider some of the theoretical precepts that underpin most of the wild claims associated with this diet. And boy-oh-boy, these are wild claims indeed.
Benefits of the carnivore diet
The proposed benefits when you abandon all plants and carbohydrates altogether are numerous, although few have been adequately documented. The rest exist in the realm of anecdotal stories, accessed individually through a series of health markers to which we can either grant some good faith and believe, or disregard completely.
Management of type 2 diabetes
When we talk about this diet, an obvious prediction which goes right out of the gate is the management of type 2 diabetes. Simply put, with a total reduction in carbohydrates, insulin sensitivity and insulin production are both significantly affected. The reported outcomes are so severe and sudden, that proponents of this diet often describe their inability to cope with low and unprecedented levels of blood glucose as bewildering.
After all, the carnivore way of eating is following all guidelines for reducing blood glucose to the letter, since there is no carbohydrate intake whatsoever.
Furthermore, carnivore eaters strongly insist that inflammation markers are greatly reduced weeks, and sometimes even days, within the beginning of this dietary routine. Many plants are toxic, and some nutrients found in carbs are known irritants, so this does not come as a particularly strong surprise. Again though, randomized control trials are lacking from the relevant literature.
The obvious benefits of carnivore diet are weight loss and reduced blood glucose. We already explained one, and I believe that the second is pretty much self-explanatory. You see, when carbohydrates and processed food in general are both heavily reduced, the body can only rely on protein and animal fats. Although these are cause for concern when coupled with processed carbs and the overall western diet, they are nothing to worry about when all on their own.
Lacking carbohydrates, the body turns to stored fat for its energy production, and thus a dramatic weight loss occurs in a matter of weeks. As this study concludes, the effect is notable and maintained.
Improved mental health
Georgia Ede MD, a Harvard-trained board-certified psychiatrist, based in Northampton, and a strong proponent of the carnivore diet, talks about the vitamin and mineral deficiencies associated with lack of meat in our diet, and particularly about the way in which they affect our brain.
Of these, serotonin synthesis, myelin synthesis, calcium regulation, neural signaling and neurotransmitter synthesis are directly affected by abstaining from meat.
She posits that the carnivore diet is about following our biology. Additionally, she believes that many of us often lose ability to manage toxic plant components which usually manifest through a garden variety of ailments, both physical and mental.
For this reason many neurological imbalances are slowly introduced, and they persist making us miserable for months or years. Coupled with inflammation and insulin resistance, these processes contribute to an overall deterioration of our mental health, which is notably improved when returning to a protein and fat rich diet.
Lowered blood pressure
Contrary to what common sense would have you think, proponents of the carnivore diet are adamant that eating meat and no carbs can lower your blood pressure. So much so, according to some, that BP medication is quickly thrown away, as systolic readings settle in the lower 110’s and 120’s.
Reduced bloating, irritability, heat intolerance, brain fog
Reading about these miraculous health improvements is akin to reading the sermon of a snake oil salesman. However, unlike shady individuals with a program to sell, proponents of the carnivore diet are of high credibility and without a monetary agenda.
While it takes time, and resources, to conduct independent trials for these claims, there is a mountain of anecdotal evidence piling up, though mostly on forums and obscure parts of the internet.
There are theoretical precepts behind most of these claims, but it is hard to go from theory to applied medicine with such wide strokes of the brush and the typical bravado of an elimination diet evangelist. Nevertheless, it costs nothing to eliminate carbs and stick to a simple regimen of muscle and organ meats, eating only beef, lamb, sea food and some butter.
Possible side effects of the carnivore diet
Talking about the benefits of carnivore diet, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the side effects. While low blood glucose can lead to serious health consequences, or what carnivore proponents describe as the “carnivore flu”, with enough caloric consumption, and a careful eye on water intake, most carnivore dieters believe that it is manageable.
High cholesterol is another reason to be cautious, so make sure to make proper analysis once you dive into this diet.
Electrolyte imbalances are often pronounced when plan foods are eliminated, so make sure to consume enough magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium. For this reason, it is vital to consult a medical professional, with any plans about going completely carnivore, as certain supplements might be prescribed, at least during the transition phase and before more serious blood work analysis comes to light.
In conclusion – benefits of carnivore diet
If anecdotal stories (and credible professionals) are to be believed, then the carnivore diet may easily be one of the simplest remedies for a palate of ailments. However, considering how radical of a lifestyle change it is, it is best to talk to a certified medical professional, who is familiar with your medical history, before embarking on such a journey.