The ‘Carnivore Diet’ has been attributed by many to Shawn Baker, a former American orthopaedic doctor who promotes the diet as the best and only way to eat and live.
However, the original idea of the carnivore diet can be traced back to German writer, Bernard Moncriff who authored The Philosophy of the Stomach: Or, An Exclusively Animal Diet, in 1856.
With time and many individuals looking for alternative weight loss methods, people have tried the carnivore diet in an attempt to help with physical health, as well as mental health and autoimmune diseases.
What is the 'Carnivore Diet'?
In its basic form, a carnivore diet is a restrictive diet that only allows the consumption of animals and animal products. This would be for example meat, fish, eggs and other dairy products like milk.
In complete contrast to veganism, it excludes all other foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts and legumes.
In many cases people follow the carnivore diet to differing extremes. Some people may follow it around 70% of the time whilst others may just have a more protein based diet.
The aim with the carnivore diet is to have a zero carb diet, and is therefore seen as the next level of dieting compared to mainstream diets such as keto or paleo.
How does it affect the body over time?
The carnivore diet is marketed as being able to treat anxiety, depression, obesity, arthritis and more, but little to no research has been done on the effects of following the diet over long period of time.
In the short term, people can experience incredible weight loss results due to protein being more filling and in turn resulting in less calories being consumed.
A study by Lennerz and colleagues in 2021 found that those people who followed the carnivore diet experienced few negative effects and actually reported health benefits and high satisfaction.
However, many health and dietary professionals agree that the increased meat consumption can result in high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol levels in the body. And in the long term some effects may include a lacking in basic nutrients.
Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine believes in the long term it may have serious health implications including the development of a poorly functioning immune system, meaning people following the diet could catch illnesses easier.
What drives us to try these extreme diets?
In many cases people are trying to avoid the arduous task of exercising on a regular basis and trying to keep a balanced diet in order to lose weight.
Instead they give in to this ‘quick fix’ mentality that diets can sort the issue of excessive weight gain in a short space of time.
The problem with this mentality is that it is temporary and cannot be sustained over the long term. As humans our bodies naturally crave the food we restrict ourselves from, and often this can make dieting quite a miserable experience.
As well as this when we diet our bodies believe that we are going into a potentially threatening situation and instead of losing the fat, it will try to retain as much of it as possible.
As a result, despite the initial drop in weight the body will suddenly experience a plateau and unless taken to the next ‘level’ will not display any further weight loss.
A lifestyle choice rather than a diet
Speaking from experience, it is much better to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than following a diet.
Doing even a small amount of walking a day can help with trying to shift the excess weight and help you feel better physically and mentally.
As well as this, building healthy eating habits can help create a proactive choice to remove excess sugar and saturated fats from your diet in the long-term lead to a healthy reduction in weight.
- Do not skip breakfast – it sets you up for the rest of the day
- Eat regular meals – to keep you full throughout the day
- Eat plenty of fruit and veg at least a minimum of 5 a day
- Get more active – to help you physically and mentally
- Drink plenty of water – so that you don’t confused thirst with hunger
- Eat high fibre foods – to keep you full and aid weight loss
- Read food labels – to understand how healthy the food is for you
- Use a smaller plate – to reduce portion size and avoid overeating
- Do not ban junk food – it only makes you crave them more
- Do not stock junk food – to avoid the temptation