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What is the Carnivore Diet?

What is the Carnivore Diet

“What is the Carnivore Diet?”

Maybe you’ve heard about it – this diet where you can eat as much meat as you want and watch as fat falls off and muscles grow without even going to the gym.

The Carnivore diet was featured on Good Morning America and written up in the NY Post. Some call it a fad diet. Others believe it’s the answer to our crippling health.

It’s a diet where you eat animal-based foods only. Just meat.

No plant-based foods allowed. No fruits. No vegetables.

It sounds contrary to the advice of every health “expert” over the last 50 years.

It sounds “too good to be true” or flat out absurd.

But if you hear me out, not only will it change the way you look at food forever, but I think it could change your life.

Discovering the Carnivore Diet

My name is Dr. Kevin Stock, and for the last 20 years I’ve been obsessed with health and fitness. I’ve tested, experimented, and researched the best methods to build muscle and burn fat.

Over the years I’ve experimented with nearly every diet you could imagine. And I thought I had cracked the health and fitness code.

I was able to consistently build muscle and carry around single digit body fat. I was a national level natural physique competitor.

But after 20 years of eating more broccoli than I dare admit, I knew I hadn’t really solved the health and fitness code.

Kevin Stock

Even though I looked healthy, six pack abs can be deceiving.

As a doctor treating sleep disorders, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was having serious problems sleeping.

I drank a pot of coffee to get me through the day.

My mood was just as instable as my energy. I had persistent brain fog.

Joint pain riddled my body. Chronic shoulder, back and elbow aches.

I had no libido and could only guess what my testosterone levels looked like.

So I took my testing, experimentation, and research beyond fat burning and muscle building and extended it to health and performance. I wanted to see if I could find my inner “Superhuman.”

Diving through research and further experiments, I landed on the Carnivore Diet.

How to do the Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet is deceptively simple.

Eat Meat + Drink Water = Carnivore Diet

It’s a diet based on animal foods. Plant-based foods are off the menu.

what is the carnivore diet

You eat steak with a side of bacon, not broccoli.

It’s not just a low carb diet like the Atkins diet or the popular high fat, low carb Ketogenic diet.

There is no counting calories or macros. You just eat meat until satisfied and drink water to thirst. You throw out the measuring cups, the calorie trackers, and the scale, and let the diet work its wonders.

Is the Carnivore Diet Safe?

“Don’t I need vitamins and minerals from plants?”

“Aren’t plant antioxidants healthy?”

“Don’t I need fiber and Vitamin C that are devoid in meat?”

“And isn’t eating too much meat associated with cancer and heart attacks?”

“Not to mention it’s impact on our environment…?”

I had a lot of questions when I started diving into plant research.

And I was shocked what I found.

I discovered plant-based foods are the root cause of so many of our modern illnesses.

Plants contain phytochemicals that are natural toxins designed to deter predation. Plants do not have human health in mind. They care about survival. And since they can’t fight or flee, they use chemical warfare to deter predators.

To make matter worse, in our industrial society, we refine and process these plant-based foods, thereby concentrating these plant poisons in flours, vegetable oils, and sugars – the staple ingredients of our lives.

An eye-opening revelation during this research was the fact that we are all on a plant-based diet – we just don’t know it. Pretty much everything you eat that isn’t meat, is derived from a plant.

“But don’t we need to eat fruits and vegetables?”

There is zero research that shows humans need plant-based food. We need protein and fat and we need vitamins and minerals. But not only does meat contain all that we need, but it has this complete nutrition in forms and ratios that optimize human health.

Meat provides such complete nutrition that no supplements are necessary on the Carnivore Diet.

Most plant-based foods are incomplete nutrition. The bioavailability of what vitamins and minerals they do have is often far worse than animal-based foods. In addition, plant-based foods contain “antinutrients” like phytic acid for example that further inhibit absorption of crucial minerals like Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium.

What is the Carnivore Diet: Food List

If it’s animal-based it’s on the menu.

Red meat is most carnivores favorite dish. Ribeyes have superior nutrient density compared to chicken breasts. But if it’s meat it’s ok. So you can have bacon for breakfast, burgers for lunch, and steak for dinner.

what is the carnivore diet foods

Fish is also on the menu. Feel free to eat as much salmon as you’d like.

There are some “grey” areas that some carnivores include, while others omit such as eggs and dairy as well as coffee and tea. It’s best to test the diet with and without these foods to see how you do.

What is the Carnivore Diet: Benefits and Results

To make a long story short, I eliminated plant-based foods, ate fatty animal meats, and my life changed.

I remember after 30 days of eating nothing but beef and drinking nothing but water, I had never felt better in my entire life.

My energy skyrocketed, brain fog cleared, libido returned, cravings were crushed, joint pain vanished.

And yes, my family and friends thought I was crazy, heck, I thought it was crazy.

But it turned out I wasn’t alone.

There is this “underground cult” of carnivores. Well they aren’t really in hiding, the World Carnivore Tribe is a public Facebook group that has thousands of members and is growing at an exponential rate and Carnivore Corner is a private Facebook group – where I answer questions – for those wanting to learn more about the Carnivore Diet (and who don’t want all their friends and family to spy on their new diet interests).

To my amazement, tens of thousands of people eschew plant-based food and subsist on animal-based foods only. And their health recovery stories put mine to shame.

Hundred-pound fat loss stories are common place. Autoimmune diseases disappear. Anxiety and depression cured. Skin cleared.

There is even an abundance of wild “too-good-to-be-true” anecdotes like hair color returning, elimination of body odor, and no longer getting sun burns when following the Carnivore Diet.

There are countless stories on how this diet has changed people’s lives but here’s a sample of what people experience.

  • Fat Loss
  • Muscle Gain
  • Digestive Health
  • Testosterone / Libido Health
  • Mental Clarity
  • Simplicity of Diet and Life (freedom in food like I’ve never experienced)

Through my research, my results, and the results of so many others, I arrived at 2 conclusions:

What is the Carnivore Diet: Conclusions

  1. We humans are designed to eat a meat-based diet. Period.
  2. Meat, especially red, fatty meat, is health food.

Yes, this is contrary to what we’ve been taught. But following the “guidelines” has led to epidemic health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Based on the results following the food pyramid recommendations, questioning these “guidelines” is the only thing that actually makes sense.

The Carnivore Diet Mission

My goal is simply to share what’s possible as well as the science behind what humans are designed to eat. Because when we eat in congruence with our design, amazing things happen.

We’ve been fed nutrition dogma, taught to follow the food pyramid, and told to listen to misguided guidelines that have resulted in unprecedented, skyrocketing epidemic levels of disease. And there are special interest groups that want to keep us on this plant-based diet.

I’m convinced though.

Meat = Health

The Carnivore Diet 30-Day Challenge

What I offer you today is a challenge. 30-days. That’s it. A 30-day experiment with the Carnivore Diet.

There is nothing for sale.

Nothing to lose except fat and disease.

Everything to gain like health, energy, muscle, vitality and life.

I wrote a 30-day guide that will answer 99% of your questions.

It’s a step-by-step how to do it, what to eat / what to avoid, what to expect.

Again, there is nothing for sale. I just feel obliged to share this information. Because I think it can change your life.

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  1. Do you go into ketosis with this woe?
    Just curious. Just started today after being strict keto for three months. Not feeling the best after gorging on my one meal of meats, and wondering if I don’t feel well because of being kicked out of ketosis..

    1. Not likely.

      I’d recommend reading the 30-day guide (you can download it to the left) – lots of possible adaptation symptoms and things that can help get through the transition.

  2. What about folks who had their gall bladder roved

    1. Many people do just fine – though adaptation may take a bit longer and use of digestive aids (like ox bile as mentioned in the 30 day guide) can be beneficial during this transition.

  3. Hey Kevin. One of the things that concerns me about this diet is the fact that fiber has been shown to lower estrogen levels, along with the compound DIM found in cruciferous veggies. With all of the xenoestrogens in our environment, this seems like a good thing, especially as a male.

    With the carnivore diet, would these excess hormones be built up in the body without being eliminated as efficiently.


    1. I think there are valid concerns about our environmental xenoestrogen exposure.

      As a talk about in this article: https://www.kevinstock.io/health/health-dangers-of-eating-soy/ – plant-based foods can be a source of endocrine disruptors that exacerbate this problem. As you mention, fiber may help negate some of this but I tend to think the benefit of fiber is reducing the harm of the food in which it is in (i.e. it helps blunt blood sugar spikes), rather than an essential good.

  4. Hi Kevin. Thanks for great info on this page! I have been on a carnivore diet only about 3 weeks and since then, have had pretty severe molar tooth pain. Do you have any idea what would be the reason for that as you’re dentist as well?
    Also, you mentioned that you were one of the “Sally’s” who were restricting calories earlier and were afraid of gaining weight. I have gained weight, literally jiggly fat around my belly and I’ve lost all my precious ab definition which quite pissess me off. 😀 Did you gain fat at the beginning? At what point were you able to start burning fat and have a toned body? I’m worried I will look fluffy and that zero carbs won’t make me look toned, as I have been low carb over a year now. I’m a female and pretty strict about my body. In the past, when I was doing low carb long-term, and made the switch to higher carbs, my stubborn belly fat started suddenly melt away with higher carbs. It’s really interesting. On the other hand, the same thing has happened vice versa, when switching from moderate carb to keto, I lost fat quickly. Now I’m gaining fat and I’m afraid to keep going for a long time. I’d like to hear more about your first months. Have you done more research about long-term zero carb plateau? Will zero carb automatically result in fat loss? Thanks for your response, You look great and have amazing body! I miss my toned body, especially now that summer is coming and I don’t feel like I have a beach body with all this fat gain. Any advice what should I do? Thanks a lot for your response xoxo

  5. Kriss kresser advocate of paleo says we would miss these key nutrients on this diet

    Vitamin C: An antioxidant that boosts immune cell function and is important for stimulating collagen synthesis
    Vitamin E: An antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of lipids and lipoproteins
    Vitamin K2: A fat-soluble vitamin that reduces the calcification of blood vessels
    Calcium: A mineral required for healthy bones, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission

    Is this true? What are your thoughts on this doc?

    1. Hi Marcus – there’s a lot that goes in to this question – some that I’ve written about in some detail, more that I will be.

      I’d first recommend reading this: https://www.kevinstock.io/health/vitamins-and-minerals-plants-vs-animals/

      More on Vitamin C specifically: https://www.kevinstock.io/health/do-humans-need-vitamin-c/

      Regarding Calcium:
      With a high protein diet we often see increased calcium excretion in the urine.
      And there is a false believe that high protein increases acidity in the blood.
      The thought is (the worry): the body needs to keep the pH balanced so it releases alkaline compounds along with calcium and other minerals from the bones into the blood to achieve this.

      But dietary protein improves gut absorption of calcium (by up to 300-400%). So with higher protein intake, the level of calcium in the blood is increased because it is better absorbed.

      Research shows positive effect of dietary protein on bone mineral density. Further, evidence suggests that low, not high protein is detrimental for bone health. And more research shows dietary protein works synergistically with calcium to improve calcium retention and bone metabolism.

      Intentionally restricting dietary protein to improve bone health is not a good idea in my opinion.

      Regarding Vitamin E and K2:

      K2 is mostly found in animal foods (beef, eggs, liver – being great sources) so I’m not sure what Kriss Kresser is referring to here, especially as these animal foods provide the MK-4 subtype that so critically important.

      Vitamin E – as you mentioned is an antioxidant that helps prevent the oxidation of lipids – luckily it’s found in higher quantities in foods that are easily oxidized (like certain vegetable oils) whereas animal-based fat (with a higher percentage of saturated fats – aren’t nearly as easily oxidized). A vitamin e deficiency is very rare (mostly with people with fat-malabsorption and abetalipoproteinemia). Further, a meat-based diet and upregulation of glutathione (similar to vitamin c argument) I think the need for vitamin e is decreased vs that needed for someone on more of a standard american diet (i.e. composed of lower quality fats that are more easily oxidized).
      Moreover, the RDA of 10-15mg isn’t hard to reached with animal-based nutrition (eggs, beef, lamb, seafood, etc..)

      Personally, I’d be more worried about too much vitamin e, looking at the research:
      There was a study in 2005 at Johns Hopkins Medical that wanted to show that vitamin E supplements could help treat cardiovascular disease and cancer. Instead, the they found that taking high doses of vitamin E increased the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease and cancer patients.

      And in 2007 a study reviewed 68 randomized controlled trials (over 230,000 people) and found that people who took antioxidant supplements, including vitamin e, had an increased risk of mortality.

  6. How do you feel about bulletproof coffee with collagen added and MCT taken out? Its my staple breakfast drink, can I keep it?

    1. So basically butter and collagen – personally – I’d rather get my protein/fats from meat, but if you like it and feel ok with it, then sure it could work for you.

  7. Hi Kevin, I was looking at Marcus (two weeks ago) where you addressed water soluble vitamins. Some carnivore doctors out there are saying we need: bone meal, collagen, cod liver for DHEA’s, (all daily) and liver weekly. Thoughts and thank you. Love the weekly letter!

    1. Sounds like you’ve been listening to Paul 🙂

      I think these things can be just fine, but from everything I’ve seen (including the success of people who don’t eat these things) – it makes me question how necessary all the micromanagement of micronutrients really is.

      I do eat liver every week or two and salmon as well because I enjoy them and feel great eating them, and encourage others to try them (but forcing down food that is unpalatable for people – I’m not ready to say that’s necessary)

  8. Hi Dr Stock –

    I recently turned 37 and have been powerlifting for about 20 years. I have been EXTREMELY lucky that I incurred very few major injuries in my time competing. Although I have been lucky with injuries, every joint on my body is sore until I get moving in the morning (about an hour) and it sounds like some of them may need some WD-40 (small joke). I am huge follower of Mark Bell and I know him and his brother (Chris) are huge advocates of the Carnivore Diet. I still continued to fight the good fight of ‘eat as much of whatever I can get my hands on.’

    About a month ago, I heard a pop in my elbow and finally bit the bullet and went to an orthopedic surgeon. Torn tricep and dislocation of the olecranon. It does not take an MD to know that I am going to be getting surgery soon and have a 4-6 month recovery period (although I do hear if you are an avid lifter, you can recover much sooner). I believe this is the time to start the carnivore diet, as I know my body will be fighting inflammation after the surgery and I can use all the help I can get recovering. My question is, does this sound like a good time to start the diet (i.e. surgery in the next 1-2 weeks)? I want to hold as much muscle mass as possible (only being able to use the belt squat, SSB, etc) during my recovery period, stay somewhat lean and also fight the inflammation. Any thoughts and/or comments would be SUPER helpful.

    Finally, I had a breakfast of 6 eggs, 6 pieces of thick cut bacon and cheese (cooked with butter). I am typically hungry every 15 minutes. It has been 6 hours and I am still full. Pretty crazy.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Hi Joey, sorry to hear about that misfortune (I feel your pain – when I have to miss gym time – i get sad).

      It’s a tough question you pose. Some people transition really easily, others it’s rough – and throwing that on top of recovering from surgery could be a lot of new stressors on your body at once.
      I think you could use the time after recovery to slowly dive in. I gave a few tips about this on my article on carbs: https://www.kevinstock.io/health/carbohydrates-and-the-carnivore-diet/

      Wish you a fast recovery!

  9. So as someone that suffers from high blood pressure, and I’ve always heard that excessive amounts of red meat will elevate the bp. What or how has the carnivore diet shown in the effect on hypertension? I understand weight loss will help with this issue as well. Honestly my ultimate goal is to lose weight, and get off the medication, but my fear is the high blood pressure and it runs in my family and have had several family members stroke out.

  10. Hey Doc, fellow dentist here, doing the whole30 currently with my fiance and loving the results. However, I always questioned the no limit on carb intake for the whole 30 and when I eat a potato with dinner I get back to that bloated feeling. I’m going to transition to carnivore in February and go from there. At 28 I’m already seeing high bp and lowered test. Stress w our profession coupled with a really poor diet in 2019 brought my body to a place I’m not willing to go back. My question for you is do you feel that there is a big difference in quality of meat. I have the privilege of being able to afford high quality meats. But I’d like to take it a step further and try to live off of wild game and fish. Do you have any research or stories of a difference between this and store bought meats. I also have raised my own chickens and ducks so I would like to start that back up again. Happy Drilling!

    PT “Why didnt cavemen need dentists”
    ME “They just ate meat, unless they broke a tooth then I bet they wish I was around”

    1. Hi Brett, great to hear a fellow dentist going to dive into carnivore!

      While there is a difference in meat quality (i.e. grain finished vs grass finished) the differences tend to be quite minor (from a nutritional standpoint – an ethical/environmental discussion – is another discussion).
      If you can find that high quality meat and afford it, I’d go for it!

  11. Hi Dr, thanks for this useful site.
    I’m trying to transition on a carnivore diet to fix my health, but i’m struggling with two major issues: super high cortisol throughout the day and stinging pain on left side of my back, below the rib cage, especially when i’m sitting.
    Can you help me understand why and what can i do? Thx!

    1. Are you doing cortisol testing? Or is it a self-diagnosis? If you haven’t read the 30 day guide (you can download it on this website) – I’d start there – it will give you a bit more foresight into transitioning.

  12. For level 3 is salt okay?

    Level 3
    The Level 3 protocol consists of:
    BEEF Only (ideally grass fed and finished) + Water

    Doesn’t mention Salt.

    1. Hi Brendon, I’m sorry about not being more clear about this! Yes – most people should keep salt in for Level 3 (and all the time).
      There are a few people who swear by removing salt but I think for the vast majority of people this is not a good idea. And if you do want to experiment without salt, I wouldn’t do it until 100% adapted, and then I’d slowly wean off. But again, I don’t think most people should do this.

    1. You can, but in some (rare) occasions, it is certain organs (or too much of them) that give people issues, so it may be a smart idea to at least go a short time period without them, and try bringing them back in.

        1. In the 30 day guide I discuss this, so I’d recommend starting there, but unless for a medical condition, I don’t think it’s something most people should over-worry about.

  13. Whenever i eat meat my ketone levels drop below 0.5 then about 3 hours later it goes back up to roughly 1.0-1.5 do i need to eat more fat with the meat? Should i start eating extra fat trimmings on the side or does it not matter?

  14. One last question Kevin. I am currently on the grass fed beef from a local farmer salt and water level after doing a easier level first for a month.

    everything is going fine I’m eating steaks roasts ground beef patties fat liver and kidneys all grass fed my main issue is skin rashes worst part is upper back shoulders it’s sore to the touch and gets very red. Other spots my chest and stomach area and my arms will get red if I scratch em very easily from I’m assuming histamine problems.

    What do you recommend I do. I wanna finish the 30 days like this. I figured eating a pound of kidneys a week would be beneficial due to DAO in them.

    Thank you for your time

    1. I Brendon, sounds like “keto rash” a symptom that isn’t uncommon when people first start entering deeper levels of ketosis. It tends to abate as the body gets more efficient at using ketones. One thing you can try is going higher protein and a bit lower fat (this also can have consequences like decreased energy). Of course, adding some carbohydrate to the diet would also likely make it go away, but would slow the body’s rate of adaptation if you intend to stay meat-based / ketogenic long term.

  15. Hey Dr. Stock,

    Quick question, are you able to season your meat as long as the seasonings are carb free? Like some salt and pepper? I’ve been on the carnivore diet for about a week now and had a strange sensation where I felt a “pop” in my head. I don’t think it’s anything serious as a few hours have passed and haven’t any other symptoms develop like a headache or dizziness. But I’ve been using salt and pepper to season my meat and wondering if possibly that is causing my blood pressure to rise from the sodium and maybe caused that “popping” sensation. I didn’t think I was consuming that much sodium since I only eat about once, maybe twice a day now and I’m not seasoning my meat any more than normal. But is it possible that without fiber from nuts and vegetables that the sodium isn’t being flushed out as quickly as normal and building up in my bloodstream?

    I’ll probably visit the doctor soon, as I feel somewhat intoxicated or “high” since that pop, but I figured I’d ask to see if that’s a common experience on this diet. Besides that, this diet has changed my life, already my Crohn’s symptoms are completely disappearing, my sleep is returning to normal and besides this recent incident, my brain for completely went away.

    Thank you for your time!

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