These days there is a lot of interest in the benefits of following the so called carnivore diet, which is mainly a meat only diet. Having grown-up with a Mediterranean diet and always having a "balance" between days where meat was served and days where we mostly eat vegetable and legumes I find this type of diet very intriguing. What would the benefits be to only eat meat?

As with most research out there we should start with the question. "What problem are we trying to solve". Are there health problems which people are facing and don't know how to fix? Seems so. About 50M Americans are struggling from some sort of auto-immune, gut condition or deficiencies such as IBS, psoriasis, megnesium deficiencies and so forth.

The Carnivore diet nutritional profile

A nutrionally diverse eating plan which includes eating different parts of the animal such as liver and bone broth, fish, eggs and some diary will cover all your daily needs. Reduced levels of glucose and insulin will also help the better utilization of certain electrolytes and minerals which means that you don't need so much of them (e.g. Thimian). As shown in the graph above eating only steaks will not cut it. Essential nutrients are missing especially the Vitamins.

This is where nutritional density comes into play as with any diet. Feeling satiated when eating with the least amount of food while getting all the nutrients you need. On the satiety level as already discussed meat is up there so you can't go wrong. Additionally by reducing the type of foods and simplifying the meal plan the bioavailability of certain nutrients increases. For example Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. Other nutrients, such as zinc and iron, can act against each other. In addition, some substances in foods, sometimes called anti-nutrients, interfere with the body’s use of vitamins and minerals. Thus oxalates, found in some dark green leafy vegetables, interfere with the absorption of some minerals (including calcium, zinc, and iron), as does the phytic acid found in some high-fiber foods.

The lack of Fiber

We all know how important is fiber. Whole meals (see breakfast) are structured around getting enough fiber content. Surprisingly enough recent studies show high fiber diets promote constipation rather and hinder bowel movement.

The plant aspect

Plants don't want to be eaten but can't run away like a zebra can! So they have developed certain mechanisms to defend themselves with natural parasites (or toxins). The pesticides have not be in detail studied but now studies are starting to show that some of them are carcinogens. Part of the plant defence mechanism is to either have or produce compounds that depending on the amounts are very toxic. Cabbage alone seems to have 42 such pesticides. An example on how the mechanism works is that when chewing some plants there is a chemical reaction between stable compounts which interact with enzymes and produce oxidative/toxic substances (e.g sulforaphane) which depending on the consumed amounts can cause various gut disorders. This is why certain people have less tolerance to certain vegetable categories such as cruciferous vegetables ( cabbage, brocolli etc). The other dimension of consuming such toxic pesticides is that the hermetic effect, which states that small amounts of something toxic can make you stronger. Same logic as with vaccination. However the tolerance to toxins widely depends on the person and the amount consumed.

Conclusion

A Carnivore diet is aiming to address health and mostly digestive issues in a simple but nutritional dense meal plan, but removing categories of foods that are seen as potentially problematic. My personal opinion is that in the era of technogoly and information maybe we are over-thinking and over-analyzing certain situations as stand alone problems and we might be losing the big picture. In the same way over-consumption of plants has an ill effect on some of us, it could be that eating every day a low quality meat diet will also have a bad effect of some sort. Metabolic flexibility is key for all type of eating plans.

Key Takeaways

Further reading

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