The carnivore diet is a radical nutritional plan that entails consuming only animal products. It’s a diet that has gained substantial popularity due to its claimed (but unsubstantiated) benefits – such as weight loss, improved heart health, and enhanced mental clarity.
By eliminating all plant-based foods, the carnivore diet focuses on high-fat, high-protein meals. Another reason for its growing interest is the claims that it could help eliminate food intolerances and allergies. In some cases, people have even self-reported improvement in autoimmune conditions. Importantly, none of these benefits have been scientifically proven, and there are serious health concerns that arise with such a restrictive and unbalanced diet. We strongly recommend speaking to a healthcare provider before trying this or any restrictive diet.
Having a meal plan as you start your carnivore diet journey can significantly simplify the process, ensuring you get a balanced intake of nutrients, while adhering to the diet’s principles.
Here’s all you need to know about starting a carnivore diet meal plan.
As the name suggests, the carnivore diet consists mainly of animal products (2). Beginners on this diet should focus on the following carnivore diet food list:
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You may prefer to choose high-quality animal products for your meal plan. Depending on your values, high-quality could mean:
Note – a carnivore diet meal plan should NOT include processed meats such as deli meats, hot dogs, or sausages. These often contain additives and preservatives that go against the principles of the diet.
The whole idea behind the carnivore diet is to eliminate foods that proponents feel are harmful to human health. This includes processed foods, as well as all forms of carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
The belief is that our ancestors ate a primarily animal-based diet and thrived on it.
We cover the benefits and risks of an all-meat diet in more detail in a previous post.
A carnivore diet meal plan for beginners might look like this for the first week:
The carnivore diet 7-day meal plan above can be adjusted as per your preferences and food availability.
Our cheap meals for weight loss guide further explores how you can save money while on this diet.
There are no strict rules about how many meals you should eat in a day on a carnivore diet.
Many people on the carnivore diet choose to have two meals a day – one in the morning and one in the evening. Depending on the timing, this can be a form of intermittent fasting, where you restrict your eating window to a specific timeframe. For example, you may eat from 8 am to 2 pm, and then fast for the rest of the day until 8 am the next day.
Others prefer to have three meals a day, and some even opt for four smaller meals throughout the day.
A carnivore diet meal plan for weight loss may involve fewer meals, as you restrict your calorie intake to promote fat burning.
Yes, you can eat eggs every day on a carnivore diet. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, making them a staple in many meal plans (12). They are also versatile and can be cooked in various ways to add variety to your diet.
That said, there are some concerns about consuming too many eggs, particularly if you have a history of high cholesterol or heart disease. That’s because the egg yolks contain cholesterol, which some believe can raise blood cholesterol levels. However, research has shown that dietary cholesterol does not significantly affect blood cholesterol in most people (4).
For those worried about any carnivore diet side effects, eating whole eggs in moderation (around 1 per day) and choosing egg whites instead of whole eggs may help mitigate any potential negative effects.
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Further, a carnivore diet meal plan may involve other steps to reduce the overall cholesterol intake, such as:
Opt for lean cuts of meat, such as skinless poultry, lean beef, and fish. These usually have less saturated fat and cholesterol compared to fattier cuts.
Use cooking methods like grilling, baking, or broiling that don’t require additional fat. Avoid deep-frying or breading your meats which add extra saturated fats.
Removing visible fat from meat can significantly lower the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol. This includes skin from poultry.
Diversify your protein sources. Fish, in particular, is a good source of lean protein and contains beneficial fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy (6).
Bone broth is a rich source of protein and collagen, and it’s typically low in fat. Incorporating it into your diet can help balance your nutrient intake.
While dairy products are allowed on a carnivore diet, choose natural, high-quality dairy and use it in moderation due to its saturated fat content.
The main don’ts on a carnivore diet are:
This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. The carnivore diet focuses solely on animal-based foods.
These types of foods often contain additives, preservatives, and other chemicals that are not encouraged on the diet (10). Stick to whole and unprocessed meats for optimal health.
Many people mistakenly believe that a carnivore diet is all about restricting calories and portion sizes. However, it’s important to listen to your body and eat until you are satisfied.
While lean meats may seem like a healthier option, they often lack the necessary fat content for a carnivore diet. Make sure to include fattier cuts of meat or incorporate other sources of healthy fats, such as eggs or fatty fish.
It’s important to consume a variety of animal-based proteins to be sure that you are getting a wider range of nutrients. This can include beef, poultry, seafood, organ meats and more.
With a diet focused on meat and little to no fiber, constipation can be a concern (9). Make sure to drink enough water.
While a moderate amount of salt is necessary for a healthy diet, consuming too much can lead to high blood pressure and other health issues (5). Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try incorporating spices and herbs for flavor instead.
High-quality, grass-fed meats can be expensive, making the carnivore diet seem like a luxury. However, with some planning and strategy, it is possible to do the carnivore diet on a budget. Here are some tips to help you save money while following a carnivore diet:
Keep an eye out for sales and discounts on meats, especially during holidays or seasonal promotions. Buying in bulk can also help reduce the overall cost.
Instead of opting for expensive cuts, consider choosing cheaper cuts that may require longer cooking times. These include cuts like beef chuck, lamb shoulder, and pork butt.
Buying frozen meats can often be cheaper than buying fresh. Plus, you can store them for longer periods in a freezer.
Instead of purchasing meat from big supermarkets, consider buying directly from local butchers or farmers markets. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you may also find better deals and fresher meats.
Organ meats, such as liver or heart, are usually cheaper than muscle meat cuts and are packed with nutrients. Don’t be afraid to try incorporating them into your meal plan.
Instead of buying pre-made bone broth, consider making your own using leftover bones and scraps from your meat purchases. This not only saves money but also ensures that you are consuming a high-quality, homemade product.
Eggs are a budget-friendly source of protein and can be used in various dishes. Get creative and incorporate them into your meals in different ways to avoid boredom.
Yes, you can. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, making them a staple in carnivore diet meal plans. However, it’s essential to consume them in moderation, particularly if you have a history of high cholesterol or heart disease.
Research suggests dietary cholesterol in eggs does not significantly affect blood cholesterol levels in most people (7). Therefore, consuming around 1 whole egg per day may be considered safe.
While bacon is permitted on the carnivore diet, it should not be the mainstay of your meals due to its high saturated fat and sodium content.
Eating bacon every day could lead to an excessive intake of these components, which might have a detrimental impact on cardiovascular health (11). The key is to balance bacon with leaner cuts of meat and to consume it in moderation. Many types of bacon also contain additives and preservatives which are discouraged on the carnivore diet, so read your labels carefully.
You may start to notice the initial effects within the first few weeks. This is when your body begins to adjust to the change in diet and starts to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. More significant weight loss could potentially be observed after a few months on the diet.
Carnivores typically start their day with a protein-rich breakfast. Common choices might include eggs (scrambled, boiled, or in an omelet), bacon, sausage, or a piece of steak. Some may also prefer fish or poultry. Remember, the key is variety; rotating between different types of meats ensures a broad spectrum of nutrients.
A carnivore diet meal plan claims to offer numerous benefits, including weight loss, however, none of them have been substantiated.. It’s a highly restrictive diet that may not be safe for everyone. If you do want to try it, speak to your healthcare provider first. To get the most out of the diet, it’s essential to consume a variety of high-quality animal-based proteins and fats, stay hydrated, and listen to your body’s hunger cues.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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