Carnivore All Meat Diet – How It Can Work

A rather fascinating video about how the all meat diet can work, despite being low on a few vitamins and minerals and very short on fiber.

Short from is that plants have a lot of ‘anti-nutrients’ in them and some of them chelate minerals and make them unavailable. Stop eating plants, your demand in the diet drops as you use it more efficiently. Another was that Vit C (ascorbic acid) is in competition with sugar for binding sites. Cut out the sugar, the competition goes away and your Vit C requirement drops.

This matters rather quite a lot as it is low Vit C levels that sit at the bottom of arterial diseases (heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, etc.) Humans make a “patching compound” protein that patches up leaking vessels during times of low Vit C. If you don’t ever have a time of normal to high Vit C, the patching continues until you have clogged arteries. For a big male that’s about 2 GRAMS of Vit-C needed per day. Now what happens to that when you have a high sugar diet? It has competition and doesn’t work as well. What happens in a low sugar diet? You don’t need as much…

The other big surprise is the study on fiber, constipation, and diet types. There’s a chart in the video. Adding fiber to the diet increased constipation. Folks on a low fiber diet had fewer issues. There were zero cases of constipation in the part of the study group on an all meat diet. So actually testing the High Fiber Fixes Constipation diet theory shows it exactly wrong. This is starting to be a pattern…

This diet is a bit of a bummer for me, as I really like growing my own vegetables and salad greens. So I’ll likely not go all the way there. But for at least a major sub-set of the population, it looks like a Really Good Thing.

That said, my obligatory disclaimer: Part of my family are vegetarians and they are reasonably healthy. For one, it seems to have fixed some digestive issues and metabolic problems. I’ve cooked, and eaten, vegetarian meals fairly often. So please, lets not have a “food fight” over foods, OK? I’m all for whatever works for the individual. (I’ll state my bias down below the video). So here’s the video. It has some “testimonial’ stuff in the intro, then some anecdotes, and eventually some science / study bits. There’s the usual Inuit being healthy historically on all meat and a few more. 19 minutes.

OK, my bias:

I’m one of those folks who seems to be able to eat just about any pattern out there and no bad thing happens. Some years back I joined a friend on an all-meat diet (he was doing it to lose weight) mostly as moral support and partly since we were working together and “lunch out” had to be places that worked for him, so I just went along. At the same time, as mentioned above, I’ve done the vegetarian thing sometimes. Only thing I’ve noticed is that both of them leave me wanting more interesting and varied choices… My usual diet is to make a plate that’s a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. That pattern makes for an infinite number of nice meals. Now I’m also about 30 lbs over my ideal weight doing that… But I’ve had very low health issues.

On one occasion I ate nothing but chicken for 2 weeks on an “elimination diet”, then added foods back in until my fingers got arthritic again. Turns out it was “cow stuff” that was the problem for me. ( I was about 25 at the time…) So just dropping Cow Stuff prevented 25 years + of “arthritis problems”. The third week I added potatoes and butter and it was like the sky opened up and God smiled on me… A mono-diet of one thing, even the chicken I love, gets old fast.

What I can’t do is eat a whole lot of sweet stuff in any given day. I’m good for about 1 cupcake and that’s it. The Spouse makes a birthday cake and I just can’t get through it in under a week. I just don’t like that much sugar and can’t handle it well.

So maybe I’ve just naturally avoided most of the dietary ills of the Average American Diet in that I just don’t do the whole “drink 3 sodas a day with 2 pounds of sugar and highly refined starch”. I grew up eating foods with largely just one or two ingredients and that’s what I like. Ham, Yams, & Green Beans. Easch of them one thing. Then a slice of bread and butter on the side. Beef & Potatoes, glass of wine. So not a lot of “chemical factory” in what we eat, nor do I eat more than a spoon or two of sugar most days. Sometimes none at all.

So maybe my experience doesn’t matter so much…

But what amazes me is just how much a body can run on all sorts of crazy and extreme diets. But maybe some folks are lacking some of genes (enzymes) for such flexible choosing. Like those who are lactose intolerant so need to avoid milk. Perhaps some of us are more suited to digesting just meats, while others are made ill by them due to their particular metabolism. While I believe it is largely just a matter of slowly changing your genetic methylation so as to shift from one (say vegan) style to another (say all meat) and get your proper hormones shifted for it, that’s just a supposition. Your genes may vary…

For me, over the last few weeks, I’ve moved to a meal pattern where everything I eat is between about noon and 6 pm. I hope to get that down to about 2 hours in the next few weeks. Then I’ll add a fasting day. This has been shown to do a lot of good things, but that’s for another posting… As is so often the case, the initial start of the change was hard. It took the better part of a week to get really moving on it. After about 2 weeks it was easier. Now it’s just something I don’t even notice. I’m clearly doing keto burning about 1/2 the day and I moved my belt in one notch a day ago (then ate for a couple of hours and moved it back out ;-) Now sometimes I’m forgetting to eat until after 1 pm…

Similarly, on the vegetarian and on the prior all-meat diets, it took a week or two to settle in. It is MUCH easier to eat ONE vegetarian meal in a day than to suddenly do it for all meals in a week. Similarly, the first week of “all meat” was hard as I had some significant sugar, starch and just flavor variety cravings. It is harder to enter ketogensis (especially when your body has never done it before so those genes are more tightly wrapped… later re-entry to keto was much easier) than it is to eat a vegan donut every hour on the hour… and forget about a burger….

So while my general belief is that everyone ought to be left alone to just find what works for them and do it; I know that isn’t how things work in the real world. Having been pushed into both an all-meal keto and into a vegetarian diet by “others” at various times kind of shows you won’t be left alone to choose guilt free.

So, In conclusion:

Eat what you want. Try different things. Find out what works for you. But take comfort in knowing that an all-meat diet can meet all dietary requirements (with a bit of effort) and often with health benefits. Similarly, for some folks a vegetarian or vegan diet can do the same; though vegan requires you understand some biochem and eat some ‘odd things’ like flax meal to get all your nutrients some of which are mostly animal sourced. Vitamin B12 and omega-3 essential fatty acids are the two most problematic for those who are not studied up on it all.

What I’m doing now is working up to a Periodic Fasting diet with some amount of “Fasting Mimicking Diet” in between fasts. Mostly just trying it out to see if the health claims are true; and because it’s been a while since I played with my metabolism ;-)

I doubt I’ll go all the way to an all meat diet, but I am planning to drop all sugars, starches and related. At least most days while I find out what works best for me. But it is comforting to know that it can work reasonably well, and why, should I go to the all meat step.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Biology Biochem, Food and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Carnivore All Meat Diet – How It Can Work

  1. andysaurus says:

    Great post as usual E.M. I’ve bored you with my carniviore +dairy + eggs + wine diet before. What I would note is that I saw somewhere (sorry, can’t remember where), that meat being zero fibre is just not true. As I remember, the researchers ‘knew’ that meat didn’t contain fibre, or insignificant amounts, so they just reported zero. Scientific laziness. Not completely implausible IMHO.
    I DO dose myself with psyllium husk, but maybe I can save myself the chore. Always happy to learn, particularly from Paul Mason.

  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    Always interesting to read about what others are doing.

    In August of 2015 I encountered Giardia (microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal illness known as giardiasis).

    After that, it took me about 18 months to find a pattern that worked for me. Mostly this was adding lots of fiber. Some from regular foods, but much from All Bran Buds – 1/3 cup gives 11 grams, 46% daily suggested.
    Mostly a varied diet, but I do get a lot of sugar, via drinks, ’cause I don’t like just plain water, and water is a good idea.
    I sometimes, especially on hikes/trail_work, eat beef jerky; 10 grams of protein per ounce.

    Unless you have had giardiasis, these likely are not good ideas for you.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Giardiasis usually self resolves in a few week, but if not is treated with a half dozen anti protozoan medications. It ought not be chronic….at least if treated.

    @Andysaurus:

    As noted elsewhere: Babys get NO fiber (or plant products at all) the first few months of life, yet have no trouble making poo….

    Meat has animal fibers in it. You don’t need to eat cellulose to properly poo…

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Another interesting video. An interview with Dr. Ken Berry per the Carnivore diet.

    What particularly interests me is that he looks a lot like me, and has similar norther European ancestry with a high Neanderthal component (he had the DNA test… I’m just looking in the mirror and checking features).

    He finds a lot of benefits for his genotype out of a carnivore diet.

    He also orders low carb, paleo, keto, and carnivore as subsets of each other. Finally, his spouse who is more Hispanic / Equatorial does better on a higher ratio of vegetables in her more Paleo style diet. The assertion being that there might be (ought to be) variation in our genetic propensity based on what our ancestors ate for 100,000+ years….

  5. Geoff Cruickshank says:

    You might like the book ‘Fibre Menace’ by someone whose name I can’t remember. Personally I find I can have a great variety of foods including nice veggies and still keep carbs down to 35 g in a day. I also agree that people vary as to what they do best on, but there are a great many for whom sugar and starch eventually lead to insulin resistance and the worse woes which follow.

  6. Jay says:

    Chiefieo,

    I do the fasting once a week. For 3.5 years I did a 36 hour fast (water and green tea only, go to bed hungry) each Tuesday. It was too extreme, and the last 6 months I started feeling weak. Lost fat and muscle, maybe too much muscle by not over supplementing protein on the non-fasting days. So last fall I switched to one 24 hour fast per week, fast dinner to dinner, no going to be hungry. I think that is a big biochemical signal, if you go to bed hungry, times must be really bad, so the body really reacts, lots of autophagy going on !

    Gained back 10 lbs, half fat, half muscle according to the bio-impedance scale.
    I tried doing one 36 hour fast per month (substituting for one of the 24 hour) for the past two months for better fat control.

    I think it is good to intermittently fast, well in tune with evolutionary heritage, you couldn’t find food every day. I think it is essential to at least some times go to very low blood sugar, and low blood fats.

  7. wyoskeptic says:

    I have gotten into the Keto side of things and have come to the conclusion that the most important part is the avoidance of Sugar and overly processed foods. To me how the diet is configured depends primarily on what one’s objective. If the purpose is to improve health in general, then a simple lower to low carb approach with an increase in good animal / (quality) plant oils and fats is fine, near as I can tell. For health, I see little wrong with starches after all there were / are a lot of healthy Asians who consumed mostly white rice. A lot of Islanders did quite well on fish and coconuts. There are a lot of Inuits who did very well on seal meat and whale blubber. In short the worst thing I see added to the “western diet” is too much sugar.

    If one is looking to get off of / or prevent going onto insulin treatments, then a much more rigorous keto diet (a clinical level of keto) is the way to go. But even here, once someone is well keto adapted and out of the insulin trap, then a gradual relaxation back to some form of nutritional keto is quite possible.

    If the goal is to lose weight, well, near as I can tell the truth about weight loss is simple. You want to lose weight? Don’t eat. Some swear that it is possible to lose weight by eating less, but near as I can tell (at least for me) trying to “eat” your way slim is a lot like an alcoholic trying to regain their life by only drinking a little. The nice thing I have found from becoming keto adapted is that it gives wonderful appetite control. Simply put, if you are not fighting a constant sense of being hungry, it is relatively easy to go for extended periods of time without eating. The longer you go, the more of the extra fat you are carrying around you burn. Going onto a keto diet in and of itself is no guarantee of losing weight. However being on keto does give one the tools to be able to do so in a much easier way. That is its importance.

    Humans have survived in a lot of varied climes and if you look back to the time before electricity, rapid transit & freight transfer, humans survived on whatever they could grow, dig, pick or hunt within walking distance. In this environment, there was not necessarily a lot of variety, or perhaps to put it little more precisely, not always a lot of variety for any particular meal although over the course of a year there might be a lot of variety in what might come their way. As I see it, the body is quite adept at taking what it needs from what is available in the meal and letting the rest of it pass on through. And, when allowed, the body is quite well adept at going for periods of time without during those times when food is in short supply and making up for it when it is plentiful.

    So, nothing but meat & fats when the hunting is good? It works fine. Nothing but fruits and vegetables at other times? The body adapts. Lots of potatoes when they are available? Lots of rice when it is available? A few days without when there is nothing? Well, it is pretty obvious to me that if that was a problem, humans would have died out a long time ago.

    The one common factor that seems to override everything else is the consequences of too much sugar, too much fructose in particular. When you bump up insulin and keep it up, it overrides many of the normal body functions with all of the nasty consequences. Once you overcome the sugar addiction and bring the levels of consumption of it back down to a level the body can manage easily (a level which is individual and can vary considerably from one person to the next) then what food fuels the body is of a much lesser concern.

    Unlike pandas (bamboo) and koalas (eucalyptus) which have a very limited diet, humans are able to utilize a huge variety of foodstuffs. So yeah, everyone should find what works for them, but I think also that it should be understood that this is not fixed, but can change from time to time and that varying it from time to time may well be beneficial. I actually think that varying it falls within the strengths of most humans and that doing so is actually of benefit. Broadening the base diet encourages the body to adapt to cope with it and in so doing, re-learn how to activate processes which may have “gone to sleep” from not being needed.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Wyoskeptic:

    It looks like you can get a lot of keto in the pee just by adding a lot of fat to the diet (especially medium chain fatty acids) but that can also cause a lot of weight gain (especially in the presence of a lot of sugars…).

    For weight loss, you need to get the sugars / starches way below your fuel burn needs and for at least 8 to 12 hours so there’s time for the insulin making to stop and the ketone making enzymes to be made; then treat part of your allowed “fat percent of diet” as body fat. (I.e. if shooting for a 50% fat diet, remember that the body fat you want to burn is part of that 50%…).

    At least, that’s what the cliff’s notes version looks like to me.

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