Should You Only Eat Meat?
Over the course of the past few years, a growing body of celebrities as well as an increasing number of average people have begun eating only meat.
When I first heard about this kind of diet, dubbed the “carnivore diet” I was skeptical that anything positive could be derived from eating in this way.
However, (and this is not an endorsement for the diet) as I’ve looked into it a bit more, I do believe there might be some merit to using this kind of diet to help reset your body and help to relieve the symptoms of some auto-immune conditions.
Today I’d like to talk about the carnivore diet.
Remember, I’m going on record as a physician who doesn’t recommend this diet.
That being said, I’m not telling people to steer clear of it, either.
I believe that so long as you’re working with a healthcare practitioner, eating high-quality foods, and being meticulous and reasonable in the pursuit of improving your health, then no reasonable option should be withdrawn from consideration.
So, if you’re already investigating this diet, or this article tickles you enough for further investigation, then I’d suggest you do a bit more reading past what I write and find if utilizing this dietary approach will solve some of your health woes.
Now, let’s get into eating mostly, or only meat, can supposedly do for you.
How the Carnivore Diet Is Changing Lives
One of the more well-known instances involving the carnivore diet helping to heal someone has to do with how Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of best-selling author and clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, used the carnivore diet to heal herself from serious autoimmune issues.
Now when I say serious issues, I do mean serious.
From an early age Mikhaila had been riddled with heinous health issues. The list of conditions she dealt with included:
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (onset age 7)
- Depression (onset age 12)
- Bipolar type II
- Idiopathic hypersomnia
- Lyme disease
- Dyshidrotic eczema
Her conditions were so severe that she had to have several joints replaced.
Additionally, even when she was eating “clean” and healthy, almost all meals she ate would result in some kind of flare up that she couldn’t stand.
Upon taking up an all-meat diet (in her case, only beef, water and salt) she said almost all of her symptoms resolved themselves.
Her father followed suit a year later, and also reported back that he felt better than he had in almost all of his life.
And from there the lore about the carnivore diet began to spread.
Most of this fascination about the carnivore diet was served to the general population by podcaster Joe Rogan whose episodes featuring the Petersons and their discussion of the carnivore diet are estimated to have been heard by more than 15 million people.
So far, almost everything we know about the carnivore diet is anecdotal as there are not many stories centered around people who eat only meat.
Yes, there are some populations whose diets are almost all meat (the Inuit and the Masai in Kenya). But serious study on how an all-meat diet helps them have not been done.
And thus far, there are no rigorous studies on study participants to see how an all-meat diet will work.
That being said, anecdotes are aplenty, and more than a fairshare of prominent authors and bloggers who’ve engaged with the diet have shared how they feel, and shared data points like cholesterol, blood pressure, hormone levels and more. In most cases, these tests show that those who adhere to the diet are quite healthy.
I expect that over the next few years we’re going to see serious scientific inquiry into an all meat diet. This eating style is a natural continuation of the paleo diet and the keto diet, and we as species are continually trying to refine our health and improve performance, and there’s a chance that thousands of people will attempt this diet.
Now that I’ve offered a brief summary of what the diet is for and how it’s worked for some, I’ll get into the specifics of this odd, but promising diet.
The 5 Tiers of the Carnivore Diet
The all meat diet, or the carnivore diet, wasn’t made up by anyone in particular.
As I mentioned, tribes that are alive and well today rely only on meat for sustenance, and for hundreds upon thousands of years other people have used only meat as their primary source of nutrition.
In recent years a medical doctor by the name of Dr. Paul Saladino has helped to both popularize as well as systematize the diet.
In his book “The Carnivore Code” Dr. Saladino popularized 5 different styles of carnivore.
Now the first thing you must understand is Saladino’s opinion isn’t just that eating meat is better for us… he actually believes that plants and plant-based foods are harmful.
Personally, I’m not sure I buy that.
And yet, there are thousands of people, and I know many, who don’t tolerate most fruits and vegetables. So, with that being said I can’t reject his contention wholesale.
In his tiered program, Saladino offers people the chance to transition to “carnivore” while eating less toxic plant foods.
I’ve taken the names of his tiers and then offered a brief summary of them below.
I will say that if you were to eat tier 1, or tier 5, I could see how your diet would still provide you with many of the nutrients that you need to live well… it’s the middle tiers that I struggle to make sense of, much less endorse.
1 - Carnivore Adjacent:
In this diet, Dr. Saladino would have you eat mostly animal products, which would mean meats and animal byproducts like milk, as well as the least-toxic kinds of plant foods.
That means if you were to eat plants, it’d be lettuce leaves, olives, avocado, cucumbers, and steering away from seeds, and other toxin collecting plants.
2 - Meat/Water:
This is what Saldino considers the gateway to the carnivore diet. It’s also what Dr. Peterson did for 30 days to help reset his health.
Here you are only eating popular cuts of meat (no spices or anything other than salt), some eggs, fish, and that’s it.
Saladino contents, and I would agree, that long term this diet isn’t sustainable as you’ll certainly run into nutrient deficiencies.
3 - Basic Carnivore Diet:
To be perfectly honest, this is probably the easiest place to start as it offers the most variety, but does not require going off the deep end and eating testicles.
In the basic carnivore diet you’ll consume meat (no spices or anything other than salt), eggs, seafood, and dairy, if tolerated.
4 - Junior Varsity Organ Meat Eating And Real Animal Fats:
A step above tier 3, you’re now including organ meats like liver, and beef suet (which is the trimmed fat from around the kidneys). That’s about it.
Saladino calls this the “organ curious” tier, and then full-blown carnivore is next where you eat everything an animal is!
5 - Optimal Nose To Tail Carnivore Diet (Varsity Organ Meats):
No surprise here, you’re eating everything meat, and nothing else. Some dairy products if you tolerate them.
What exactly are we talking about here?
Marrow, kidneys, the fat behind the eyeballs of animals, liver, bile ducts (yuck), testicles, tongue, throat, heart.
ALL of it.
We know that for thousands of years many cultures ate everything from an animal and didn’t waste a bit. This is what you’d encounter eating this diet.
While it sounds daunting, I will say this…
If you ate this way your nutrient profiles would probably be just fine. Saladino reports that most of his panels show that he isn’t just in the healthy range… but far exceeds healthy biomarkers and is in the superstar range.
So, now that you’ve seen all of the options for eating nothing but meat, I’d imagine you still have questions.
If you do, I’d recommend either reading some of Dr. Saladino’s blog, or getting his book at Amazon - “The Carnivore Code”.
The truth is if you have a persistent health issue that you can’t solve, and that no one else can solve, there may be some merit in trying tier 3.
I’d obviously consult a doctor before doing this, and making sure you have a good supplement regimen to make sure you maintain proper nutrient levels and still maintain strict adherence to the diet.
However, just because I’m not on the carnivore train, doesn’t mean I’m going to tell someone else they shouldn’t take the ride (mainly considering there are other doctors who support it, whose work is bonafide and well-informed).
There you have it. :)