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The Carnivore Diet – What to Eat

What Can I Eat on The Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet

Carnivore Diet – What to eat? The Carnivore Diet Equation is deceptively simple:

The Carnivore Equation

Meat + Water = Carnivore Diet

Who would have thought so many questions could arise from such a simple equation.

It’s best to start with a simple framework, and expand from there.

Let’s dive into what to eat on the carnivore diet.

What to Eat on the Carnivore Diet

Your primary focus should be on fatty meat, especially BEEF (ruminant meats).

Next on the list is other meats like pork and chicken as well as some seafood.

And…if you’d like…eggs, and low carb dairy.

Your Go-To Beef Cuts:

  • Steaks (ribeye, sirloin, strip, chuck eye)
  • Roasts (Prime rib, chick, brisket)
  • Ground beef (aka “mince”)
  • Organs as you desire

More Meats

  • Lamb
    • Chops
    • Ribs
    • Shank
  • Pork
    • Shoulder
    • Pork Belly
    • Butt Roasts
    • Ribs
  • Poultry
    • Wings
    • Thighs
    • Drumsticks
    • Chicken breasts (can be quite lean so eat sparingly or with other fatty meats)
  • Fish
    • Salmon
    • Trout
    • Mackerel
    • Sardines
    • Crab
    • Lobster
    • Shrimp
    • Scallops
    • Oysters
    • Tuna

Beverages

  • Water (with or without carbonation or minerals)
  • Bone Broth

OK, but test without for at least some time:

  • Coffee
  • Tea

Sides and Exceptions

Coffee

Coffee is a plant extract and caffeine is a natural insecticide.

But, if everyone tried to get through the carnivore adaptation plus caffeine withdrawal, carnivores would likely become endangered or extinct.

If you are a coffee drinker, I recommend you keep drinking it for the first 30 days.

Coffee is an “OK’d” exception for most carnivores, though I do recommend starting to wean off towards the end of the month after adaptation symptoms resolve a bit.

Though most people do fine with coffee, for some people cutting it makes all the difference. It’s worth it to find out if that’s you.

Technically most carnivores “OK” eggs and some dairy like butter, hard cheeses and heavy whipping cream. It’s best to think of these as “sides” and not main dishes.

Since intolerances to these are actually quite common, I personally recommend going without for at least some time.

After removing them for a time, if you desire, you can reintroduce them later and evaluate how you feel.

What Foods to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet?

Everything that is not meat.

  • Seasoning and Sauces (except salt)
  • Alcohol
    • Sorry it’s just not a health food as bad as we may wish it were.
    • If you can’t give it up that’s an important thing to know.
    • I’ve seen a carnivore diet not only curb carb cravings but also things like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. Might be the perfect way to start cutting back.

Minimize processed meats.

  • It frequently contains additives you don’t want added.

NOTE: Aged meats can be high in histamines, which increase sensitivities, intolerances, and inflammation – histamine intolerance tend to go away as one’s gut heals, but something to keep in mind early on.

How Much to Eat on the Carnivore Diet

Eat when hungry.

Eat until full.

  • Listen to your body.
  • The majority of people average 2 meals per day.
    • Some people do best on 3 meals a day, while others do best on 1 meal per day. Neither 1, 2, 3, or 4 is better than the other.
  • Let your appetite guide you.

While your body is adapting and healing from years of malnutrition, it is common that you will eat twice as much as you will once healed.

Eat. Your body has been dying for it.

2-4lbs of fatty meat per day can be a guide for shopping purposes.

It is important that you do not intentionally restrict calories or food intake or force fasting as you adapt.

Most people eat somewhere between 2-4 lbs/day on average. The amounts depends on so many variables (kind/cut of meat, fat content, your activity, height, weight, genetics, metabolism), so eat until satisfied.

How Often to Eat on the Carnivore Diet

You should drop your preconceived notions of how many meals to eat per day.

You should eat when you are hungry. You should eat until you are full.

That said, I did a bit of research and investigating and found that on average:

  • 70% 2 meals/day
  • 20% 1 meal/day
  • 10% 3 meal/day

1 meal per day is not better than 2, nor 3 better than 4.

Carnivore Diet Snacks

If you eat enough fatty meat at your meal, you should not feel like snacking.

If you feel continually hungry after eating you need to:

  1. Eat more during meals
  2. Eat more meals

Many people have a habit of snacking, and find they have an urge to snack even when not hungry. If it is something you can’t or don’t want to kick, pork rinds can be used to snack on. Be careful what they are cooked in. No vegetable oils.

I’ve found that this snacking habit fades for most carnivores over time.

Next Steps

carnivore dietAfter 30, 60, or 90 days of focusing on fresh meats, some people need to go a step further to try and identify any troublesome foods.

For example, some people have issues with pork or eggs or seafood. So doing a pure carnivore elimination diet can help identify any potential troublesome animal-based foods.

Beyond the Elimination Protocol

After completing the elimination protocol, by removing everything but ruminant meat, water, and salt, you are in a prime position to personalize and perfect your diet. From here you slowly and systematically add back in “test foods” and evaluate how you feel and react to them.

  1. Start by adding back in other meats
  2. Then test eggs
  3. Then test “ok’d” dairy
  4. Then test coffee/tea

Example:

If you try adding back in pork and notice ill symptoms, keep it out of your regular diet. If you test back in dairy, like cheese, and notice bloating – cut it. But you may try adding eggs back in, and you feel good with them and like having them as a side. Keep them. You may try having your morning coffee again, and enjoy it and feel great with it. Add it back in. Personalize your plan.

The best way to do this is complete the elimination protocol, and then only add back in 1 “test item” at a time using ruminant meats as your baseline to test everything against.

Beyond the Carnivore Diet “Experiment”

If you want to experiment adding back in plants or fruits or sugars, I’d recommend doing this with intent and care (see the Meat Health Masterclass at the end).

While most people get great feedback 30, 60, and 90 days into a carnivore diet, for some people reversing the years of damage takes months to years. The longer your “test experiment” the better gauge you’ll have knowing if this diet is for you.

If you survive the experiment CONGRATULATIONS!

The Meat Health Masterclass

If you want to learn exactly how to do a meat-based / carnivore diet, everything from what to eat, when, how much, how to avoid the transition symptoms, how to avoid deficiencies as well as if you should include any plants, and if so, how much, when, what, ect…I highly recommend you watch the Meat Health Masterclass as your next step:

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Comments

  1. I have had bariatric surgery (VSG) and can only eat about 1cup of food at a time, even less if it is something like steak. I have been doing Keto for about 6 months now, but my weight loss has stalled. I was thinking about going carnivore, but wondered about eating such small amounts only 3-4 times daily. Should I be able to eat enough? Have you had bariatric patients to carnivore?

    1. Hi Cyndi, since meat is the most nutritious food you can eat, I would say it’s likely viable, but of course, I’d recommend talking with your doctor.

  2. Hi, I was wondering if whole milk Kefir would be acceptable for level 1, since it’s fermented, and the milk sugars are consumed in that process. In particular, I’m speaking of homemade Kefir, because I’m not quite sure how store bought Kefir is processed.

    Just had to say I’ve learned a ton from reading your website and the comments that follow. Thank you for so much information!

  3. Hi Kevin,

    I’ve been on strict Paleo for 20 year’s. My eight one year old doctor is still practicing and he’s on carnivore. Even though I have not eaten any grains (no rice no patato) and drink pure water I found Carnivore was giving me massive withdrawal and detox. Your article said everything I needed to know.

  4. Hello! I was wondering if whey protein was permitted following a workout? I know it lists examples above, but just wondering considering it is animal based… thank you!

  5. Me and my boyfriend have both been doing the carnivore diet together for a little more than 8 months. I started feeling great about 45 days into it, but my boyfriend feels terrible. He’s been very tough stick it out because I can tell he is in agony most of the time just by looking at him. His depression has gotten better but his anxiety has gotten much worse and he is thinking about quitting, but keeps saying he doesn’t want to quit in case he’s close to the light.

    My question for you: Is there some people who just don’t feel good on the carnivore diet?

    Although I feel excellent, I must admit that it seems like people who advocate the carnivore diet are all people who thrive and feel great on it (obviously) and they all make it sound like the diet will work for everyone because it’s the optimal human diet. But is this true? I hate to see my boyfriend suffer and if there are some people who just don’t feel good on this diet, we would like to know this so we can make an informed decision as to whether or not he should continue.

    We both eat fatty beef and water only. Thanks for your time Kevin.

    1. Hi Hailey, great question, and sorry to hear about the struggles your boyfriend is having.
      Without knowing all the history especially the last 8 months (is the “agony” GI related, energy, I know you mention anxiety – but that can be completely unrelated to diet) so it’s hard for me to pinpoint what might be going on but a few suggestions come to mind:

      1. Did he do the 3 levels (it seems like he did especially since you mention you are just doing beef and water) – but if not – I would explore how he feels eating just beef vs other meats
      2. You mention fatty beef so I’m going to assume he’s getting enough fat, but then I would try a bit leaner to see how that goes – while many people do best with fatty meat, some do better eating just a bit leaner
      3. I would try some organs, throw some liver in there and see how he feels / also try some seafood / see if he feels better with certain meats over others (this kind of goes back to the 3 levels)
      4. Sleep – I know this isn’t diet related but often “not feeling good” is related to sleep (especially with people who suffer anxiety) – I mention this as some of this “agony” can not be diet related rather of lifestyle things, sleep being a big one (also exercise, stress management, etc)

      hope this gives you some ideas!

  6. Hi Kevin,
    Great stuff here. I’m really excited to get into it. One question though, if after sticking with this for a few months, one has a bit of a weak moment and eats a high carb meal (like pizza or something) what is that going to do to the body?

      1. What a great article. Thanks a lot for that. Do you think the little (or in your case none at all) potential for side effects from the carbs would be different for you (years of just meat) as opposed to after just a couple months, and maybe not fully adapted?
        Also, you talk about meat suppliers you’re working with for discounts, are there any that you’ve done that with in Canada? Calgary, Alberta in particular…

  7. Hi,

    I started looking into this about two or three weeks ago, telling myself right from the start that I could end up on “Carno” if I failed at keto. In my first week I dropped 3.5kg (about 7 pounds) of water wait. In the second it was only 1.5kg. Since then I’ve regained 2kg… steadily… and can’t really understand why. Before keto, I drank one 1.25l bottle of soda plus two mugs of tea, and sometimes a little extra water. I have chronic dry mouth, which is why I drank the soda (the bulbs cleaned my mouth and tongue. Thus on keto, I changed to home carbonated water with flavoured stevia to “tone-down” the sourness carbonisation causes.

    Now my reason for keto is simple: I have approximately 2years to lose about 113 pounds… and I figured I wouldn’t really miss anything enough for it to be a problem. I still need to lose the weight, but realised I have a number of disadvantages that will never make it an easy fix. Firstly, I have idiopathic Lymphedema, which means on a bad day I can instantly gain upwards of 10kgs overnight. Secondly, I am severely disabled in mobility, meaning exercising just isn’t happening. (To give you an idea, tie a typical 12 inch square cushion to the INSIDE of your thighs, add another on the outside of each leg… that is my BEST day, on my worst add yet another, thicker, cushion to the inside. Now try to walk more the twenty feet.)

    My questions:

    1- in a day I may have 2l of home made, stevia-sweetened (6 drops per 1/2l) soda… would I really need to stop drinking this?

    2- I have a tendency to developing kidney stones… how does this diet plan affect the build up?

    3- many of the flavours I have loved using to flavour meat dishes are plant-based in nature (eg garlic, ginger, soy, sesame oil and herbs like mint, fennel, chives and celery seeds). Would I have to stop these forever?

    4- Are lemon and lime juices as flavourers dangerous? If they are, is citric acid acceptable as alternatives?

    Thanks for reading, and hopefully answering.

    1. 1 – I would (beating a sugar addiction is a huge benefit of a carnivore diet, and keeping stevia in can hinder that – as well as potentially cause some gut issues, especially in that quantity)

      2 – https://www.kevinstock.io/health/health-dangers-of-oxalates/

      3 – I would consider these Level 1 (if you haven’t read the 30 day guide, I’d highly recommend starting there. You can download it free on this website)

      4 – See #3 🙂

  8. Hi,

    I’ve been on carnivore for 5 days now and so far I’ve been feeling awful. I’ve had many initial symptoms, most of which i expected, but by day 2 I was extremelyyy nauseous, from the time i woke up to the time i went to bed and the thought of meat was absolutely repulsing to the point where i would gag just thinking about having to eat some. Due to this, i mostly didnt eat for all of day 3, but I decided to make a roast (beef) which was and still is the only thing i can bear eating. I’m just wondering if this is an issue and if I should start to force myself to eat other meats (a steak) soon. I really don’t want to and I’m afraid of that intense nausea coming back (its calmed down since eating only roast), but I’m thinking I probably need to? Just to give you an idea of what else is going on – I’m having some joint pain (I struggle with chronic pain so this isnt necessarily something new, but it does feel different than normal) I’m also extremely fatigued, mentally but moreso physically, having rapid heart beat (consistently, not on and off), feeling weak and shaky, and have also developed a sore throat on day 4, which has only gotten worse today (definitely not related to illness). the only benefit I’ve experienced so far is that I’m not bloated, which is wonderful since I’ve been chronically bloated for about a decade. However, I’m not eating very much at all (I currently weigh under 95lbs and usually weight around 103, however, I still have fat on my body that I can/would like to get rid of and would attribute the weight lose almost exclusively to water weigh, reduced inflammation, and lack of having a ton of food inside me).

    1. Hi Serena, often days 4 – 8 are the worse, and your symptoms aren’t uncommon. It sounds like you’ve read the 30 day guide (but if not I’d highly recommend it – because there are all kinds of tips to getting through this tough time).

  9. Hello,

    I just started this carnivore journey and feel really optimistic. But I have a history of cavities and even if I floss and brush I still get cavities and sensitive gums. Is there any information regarding the impact of this diet on improving the health of the teeth and mouth?

  10. Hey everyone I’m new to all of this and it sounds right up my alley. I have one question.
    Out of everything I have read I’ve heard nothing about deer or elk meat? Can I substitute beef with wild game and get the same results or better? Thanks

    1. Welcome Joseph! Absolutely wild game is fantastic.
      One thing to be aware of is that it can be pretty lean – so you might want to combo with fattier cuts as well. All the best!

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