If you’re tired of trying to solve the puzzle of your lifelong health problems and painful or mysterious life-disrupting symptoms and have tried everything possible, then an elimination diet may be your best option.
Or the only option left!
And maybe you’ve tried an elimination diet already to get to the bottom of all the bloating, digestive distress, skin issues, lack of energy, or anxiety and depression.
Maybe it worked for a bit but was confusing. Maybe you couldn’t pinpoint exactly what foods were bothering you. Or you solved some issues but not all. Or not fully?
Where do you go from here?
There is a more extreme elimination diet that can tell you every food you’re sensitive to.
Fasting is the ultimate elimination diet but we can’t fast for long periods of time while we try reintroducing each food back into our bodies to see if we have a negative reaction.
So we’ve gotta eat something that is nutrient-dense and can keep us satiated without causing any immune reactions in the body. While everyone seems to be singing the praises of a whole foods plant-based diet low in fat and high in carbs, I was deteriorating, anxious, bloated, lethargic, and had chronic digestive issues eating this way.
So if “clean” vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, and grains aren’t working what can we eat?
A temporary zero-carb carnivore diet may be the answer.
Yes, a diet where you consume nothing but quality nutrient-dense animal foods.
I know it sounds a little crazy.
It goes against everything we’ve been told about nutrition so you probably have doubts and a lot of questions.
In this article, I’ll lay out all the doubts and questions I had when I was first introduced to this way of eating.
My first concern when I was first considering trying to go carnivore was where I’d be getting my fiber from.
We’ve been continually told that humans need at least 25 grams of fiber a day and that in the US we are rather deficient coming in at around only 12-15 grams of fiber a day. This lack of fiber is what’s blamed for everything from constipation to weight gain, fatigue to diabetes, and heart disease to colon cancer!
Sounds pretty important!
But what if I told you that there are people who are not only surviving on a no-fiber diet but actually thriving and reversing issues such as constipation, obesity, autoimmunity, and diabetes?
I went carnivore for a week and saw major improvements in my digestion and my skin! Digestion is not a problem for me in any way shape or form.
I can’t imagine the results if I went for a full 30 days.
What about vitamin C, polyphenols, antioxidants, and the gut microbiome?
A lot of people worry that without fruits and vegetables there’s no way you could be getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
The fact is that every nutrient the body needs is found in animal foods. Especially when you’re also eating organ meats like liver.
The same cannot be said of plant foods.
Actually, animal foods contain all the nutrients we need in a more bioavailable form.
In my case, it doesn’t matter that sweet potatoes contain provitamin A carotenoids if I don’t even have the enzyme in my body to turn that provitamin A carotenoid into a real vitamin A that my body can actually use. Like retinol, which is found only in animal foods.
It takes energy for our bodies to convert certain nutrients found in plants into forms we can digest, absorb, and use. Omega 3 is another example. Most of the omega 3 in plants is ALA which must be converted into EPA or DHA for us to use it. Bioavailable forms are abundant in fish and eggs as well as other animal foods.
This doesn’t even take into account all of the potential antinutrients found in plants that some people may be sensitive to. Antinutrients may be blocking vitamin absorption from the food you eat completely!
If you are sensitive to these toxic plant compounds, you may have developed problems associated with leaky gut, IBS, and autoimmune disorders – among other things.
What about heart disease and cholesterol?
All good questions!
And I was asking the same ones the past month. But after digging into the carnivore community and doing some reading I was shocked by the misinformation we have around cholesterol and heart disease.
It turns out that cholesterol is a very important part of every single cell in your body!
Some of the roles that cholesterol plays include:
- producing hormones
- synthesizing vitamin D
- absorbing fat-soluble vitamins
- maintaining cell structure
Most of the cholesterol numbers you see when you’re tested are actually created by your own body. You can get a small amount from the food that you eat but it usually doesn’t cause a significant change.
In fact, in 2015 the US dietary guidelines were changed quietly to reflect the serious lack of evidence to back up all we’ve been led to believe about cholesterol. There used to be a restriction on cholesterol of 300mg a day or 200mg if you have an issue – but no longer!
Cholesterol is not considered a serious threat anymore.
What we call “cholesterol” in a test isn’t even cholesterol. They are the lipoproteins called LDL and HDL that are carriers of cholesterol and are essential to our health.
I know LDL is supposedly “bad cholesterol” but looking at those numbers isn’t the best way to determine if you’re at risk for heart disease. Over 75% of people who have a heart attack have what’s considered to be normal LDL levels. So really, past studies that have shown the association between LDL and heart attack are just that – an association. Not causation.
In fact, there may even be an inverse association.
The point is that all the authorities have been taught false information.
We are all still learning about the complexities of the human body all the time.
Is The Carnivore Diet Right For You?
Only you can answer this question!
By no means am I telling you that this is a blanket solution for everyone. Eating this way does come with its own set of challenges. But people are finding benefits and discovering that everything we thought was true about health turned out to be based on false information.
Some people have been eating carnivore for years out of necessity or for the simplicity of it.
There is also no rule that says you must stick to a certain way of eating forever. Some people will go carnivore or ketovore (a mash-up of keto and carnivore) for a month or 3 months or 6 months and then add in more carbs and plant foods as their health issues clear up. Sometimes your gut just needs some time to heal before adding in your favorite fruits and veggies.
It all depends on your own gut health journey and your personal goals.
There is a lot more to be said about this zero-carb diet and many more questions to ask before you start. What are some questions you have? Have you tried a low carb or no carb diet before? Let us know in the comments!
I will be sharing my zero-carb carnivore diet details next week!
I just was reading through one of your other post about sugar cravings and the like so it only made sense to land here!
My main concerns of a diet which consists is zero carb carnivore used to be where are half the nutrients and vitamins going to come from but I have learnt there are many foods out there which provide at least a generous amount of essential nutrients.
By the way I wasn’t aware your diet can effect your mental health state.
That is usually a major concern of those just hearing about elimination diets. It’s usually a big surprise to people that animal foods contain all the necessary nutrients in the most bioavailable form for our bodies to utilize.
And yes, mental health is heavily influenced by diet. The food we eat and the nutrients we absorb determine our gut health and, therefore, hormone production. Most people don’t realize that neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are largely produced in the gut! Omega 3s, vitamin D, and B vitamins are some essentials that affect our mood and brain health. Physical health is tied to mental health:)
Loved reading your article, I feel like I learnt a lot, I didn’t know much about good and bad cholesterol. I feel like I am looking at this topic from a new direction. Carbs are my main issue. I just can’t cut back. but maybe I will give this a try.
Looking forward for the challenge
I’m glad that you found it informative! Good luck trying it out and let me know if you have any questions as this article doesn’t include a “how-to” for the diet. Thanks for reading!
Hi there, After reading this post, I am not sure what a carnivore diet is. Yes it is cutting out all carbohydrates like pasta, potato, rice, cakes, etc. all foods that I do not eat. But if I understand it correctly, you eat only meats? So no fruit, no vegetables, no diary, nothing else but meat. Am I right in saying that? Do you eat only red meats, or is chicken allowed? And what about fish? I can see this working for a short period of time, but long term I am not convinced that it is sustainable. But please correct me if I am wrong.
Thank you for pointing out that this article is not so much an explanation of what a zero-carb diet includes, but more of what it doesn’t include. I’ll be sure to give more detail around this in a future article.
But yes! This diet is the temporary elimination of all foods except animal products. So you could eat all the meat, fish, chicken, butter, and eggs you want. Some people are more strict usually because of a sensitivity to dairy or eggs and only eat red meat, but this is less common.
I agree that for myself and many others this diet is not sustainable and is only a temporary way to heal the gut, skin, an autoimmune issue, diabetes, PCOS, or any number of conditions. Once things have cleared (and it will vary on how long it would take for each person) then you can begin adding in certain foods and see how your body does.
However, I’ve heard of people eating only red meat, salt, and water for many many years and they are doing amazing. So it really is different for everyone.
Thanks so much for commenting!:)
This blog post was an interesting read. I am not sure I could switch off some vegetables and totally eat meat. I have a hard time digesting beef. I have no problem with chicken or pork, but beef sits on my stomach for hours. I also have concerns about the sustainability of the cattle and poultry business. I try the meat that is free from antibiotics and hormone-free. Labeling and marketing campaigns make it tough for consumers to know how the food they eat is what they say—best of luck with the blog.
Hi Jim! I wouldn’t recommend this diet to someone who has issues digesting beef. But perhaps you could ask your doctor how your stomach acid levels, bile production, and digestive enzymes (pancreatic health) are doing. Many times when people have a hard time digesting certain foods it comes down to these three processes.
I was having a hard time with digestion and bloating but taking an HCL (hydrochloric acid) pill before meals along with a digestive enzyme tablet really helped me. Ask your doctor about bile salts if you’re having a hard time digesting fats as well.
I think it’s great that you’re thinking about the horrors of the modern factory farming industry. I found a farm just 10 miles away from my house that raises cows humanely on the diet they are supposed to be eating. I love that I can see them eating and relaxing on the grassy hills as I drive by. Finding a humane, antibiotic-free, grass-fed, pasture-raised source of meat can be more challenging depending on where you live but there are companies now such as Butcher Box that will deliver them right to your home! Amazing. I hope you find what works for you and thank you for commenting:)