Carnivore Diet Experiments

Carnivore Diet Experiments

In last week’s “Saturday 7” newsletter I mentioned some of the carnivore diet experiments I’ve done over the last 2+ years.

Carnivore Diet Experiments

Carnivore Diet Experiments

And while I’ve talked about these on social media and in my newsletter, many people missed out on the dialog around these carnivore diet experiments, so I thought I’d organize some of my thoughts around them here.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #1: 3 Month Transition

I backed into the carnivore diet in 2017. I was doing a strict ketogenic diet but wasn’t getting the results I was hoping for. Through lots of research about plants, I gradually removed one plant-based food after another, until I was eating just meat.

Once eating just meat, I followed a 3 “Level” framework (which I then wrote about in the “Ultimate 30 Day Guide to Going Full Carnivore” – now downloaded and read by nearly 50,000 people!).

Carnivore Diet Experiments Levels 1-3

The 3 Levels provided me a program to systematically remove any potential problem foods, discover what foods worked best for me, and figure out a diet that could empower my goals: to look, feel, and perform – mentally and physically – the best I possibly could.

There were 2 really surprising things that happened during this experiment.

  1. I actually got to a point where I felt better than I ever have. This was not a foregone conclusion. People around me thought I was crazy. And I didn’t really know of anyone who had eaten such an extreme diet. But my mental clarity and stamina had never been so high.
  2. The other surprising thing was the transition side effects. I didn’t expect these. I was already “fat-adapted” coming from a ketogenic diet. But there is a “Carnivore Flu” full of transition symptoms (for more about these, I’d recommend reading the 30 day guide).

In hindsight, the trips to the bathroom, sweats at night, and the rollercoaster appetite were all a blessing. They gave me the opportunity to better understand the transition into a zero carb, zero fiber, zero plant diet. From this experience I could better write about transitioning into the Carnivore Diet as I did in the 30 Day Guide.

I’ve been told by thousands of people how much of a lifesaver the guide has been, so the struggles were a blessing in disguise.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #2: 6 Months Just Beef and Water

After the 3 months of transition, I felt the best I ever had. So good that I didn’t want to reintroduce any foods as was the initial plan. So I stayed at “Level 3” for 6 more months.

During this time all I ate was beef. And I felt amazing.

My mental clarity was strong and steady. My training performance had returned (it had dipped quite a bit during the transition). And I was putting muscle on that I had lost during the strict ketogenic diet.

Side note on this: I had lost a ton of muscle doing a strict ketogenic diet. I made the mistake of limiting my protein intake to 0.75g/lb as is commonly done on a ketogenic diet. I did this in the hope of finding the mental performance I was searching for with deep nutritional ketosis (even though I knew I was putting muscle in jeopardy with this lower protein intake). But “deep ketosis” wasn’t the answer to my mental performance and definitely not my physical performance. So if you are doing keto and have body composition goals – I caution against limiting protein too aggressively.

Although I had found what I was looking for (feeling, looking, and performing at all new levels) I now had new questions.

I had published “The Ultimate Guide to Going Full Carnivore” and was receiving many questions about reintroducing foods.

I’d been reluctant to do this because “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” right?

But I wanted to help answer people’s questions from experience. And, quite frankly, my own curiosity was provoked (which we all know kills the cat 🙂 So I embarked on my next 3 month experiment.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #3: Reintroduction of Animal-based Foods

Over the next 3 months I added back in various animal-based foods. I added in other meats, organs, seafood, and eggs.

Each time I tested in a food I would then go back and do a week of “Level 3” so that I could always be testing one food off a solid baseline.

These 3 months were very educational. Eggs are a good example.

I’ve always loved eggs and felt just fine eating them.

But the first time I ate just eggs for breakfast – 9 of them – I didn’t feel nearly as good as when I ate beef for breakfast. They were also less satiating. I was hungry again before lunch.

False Positives and Negatives

An important thing to note here is “False Positives” and “False Negatives” when doing tests like this.

Were eggs really disagreeable with me, or was it just because I hadn’t eaten them in almost a year?

There are millions of variables when doing experiments like this and it can be easy to draw false conclusions and impossible to conduct a perfect experiment.

Over time, I’ve found that I can still do just great with eggs, but I do much better as long as they are combined with a meat.

For example, now I’ll frequently combine 6 eggs with a pound of beef for breakfast, especially if it’s a leaner cut and I want a bit more fat.

Nose to Tail Carnivore Diet: Liver

Perhaps the most interesting result during this experiment was with liver. Whenever I had liver for breakfast I was noticeably more satiated. I wouldn’t get hungry again until well past my normal lunch hour. I have all kinds of theories to try and explain this, like its massive punch of nutrients, but beyond any theories I can say from repeated experience this holds true almost every time I eat liver. And from a poll I took in Carnivore Corner (private facebook group) – I’m not alone in noticing this.

The conclusion from these tests were that I do quite well with most animal-based foods. I have to be careful with certain things like eating just a plate full of eggs, but for the most part any meat-based food was now on the table for me.

Of course, by the end of this 3 month experiment, I was curious to take this test a step further. Instead of testing all these foods in isolation, one at a time, I wanted to see what happened when I combined them. Thus I embarked on my next 6 month experiment of “nose to tail” eating.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #4: Nose to Tail

Recently, some Carnivore Diet advocates specifically recommend “Nose to Tail” Carnivore as the only way to go. It enables a more diverse spread and ratio of nutrients. Whether this is necessary or optimal – the jury is still out.

I was more interested in seeing if it moved the needle with regards to my goals.

I was also interested in seeing if any interesting combinations of foods resulted in any interesting findings. For example, I knew I didn’t feel great with eggs by themselves but felt just fine when combined with beef. But how would I feel with salmon and eggs?

I conducted all kinds of various “nose to tail” meal combinations.

And I put “nose to tail” in quotations because there isn’t really any definition of what this means. I mean, I didn’t eat any noses or tails (whether these were ground up in my ground beef is another question) but when I say “nose to tail” I am talking about eating organs, offal, and animal nutrition other than just muscle meat.

Carnivore Diet Nose to Tail

Collagen and Whey Protein

During this experiment, for the 1st time, I tested in a non-real foods too, specifically, collagen and whey protein powders. I am continuously asked about these supplements, so I decided why not buy the purest stuff I could find and test it out.

And what I found was similar to my experience with eggs. When eaten alone, these did not leave me feeling nearly as good as meat. But when combined with real food (meat) I didn’t notice any significant detriments, nor did I notice any benefits.

As far as the rest of the “nose to tail” experiment, I noticed small nuances here and there (not statistically significant in my opinion) and I tend to feel great on most animal-based food.

Micromanaging Micronutrients

I think obsessing and worrying and stressing about getting just the right amount of every nutrient likely does more harm than good. For one thing, this micromanagement of micronutrients is just hypotheses. Second, the elevated stress hormones like cortisol from all this worry probably outweighs any potential upside (only being 1/2 facetious here :). And finally, health is a long term game, and if someone doesn’t see themselves measuring and monitoring for the rest of their lives, this maniacal behavior often just results in one giving up and returning to a far worse diet.

Social and Adventures in Nose to Tail

There was one definite positive outcome of this experiment with nose to tail eating – social life. It opens up the menu. Meat, seafood, eggs, organs – all were on the menu. It also pushed me to venture into eating foods I would likely have never considered eating.

By the end of this experiment a lot of my personal curiosity was quenched. However, by this time I was getting many questions every day regarding body composition.

“Can the Carnivore Diet be used to build muscle?”

“How do I lose more fat with the Carnivore Diet?

Basically, I received thousands of questions regarding: How do I use this diet to meet my body composition goals?

Luckily, this is an area where I have nearly 2 decades of experience.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #5: Building Muscle

As I mentioned, from nearly 20 years of experiments specifically dedicated to building muscle and losing fat, I felt I could answer these questions with a high degree of confidence. However, I had not done specific body composition protocols with a meat-only diet.

I took what I had learned over the previous 2 decades and combined it with what I’d discovered with the Carnivore Diet.

Carnivore Diet Muscle Building

I started with a 6 month muscle building protocol. For the details about this, I have written and spoke about it, and would recommend reviewing that if this is what interests you.

But for a broad overview, for 6 months I gradually increased my food consumption month after month. Prior to this I would just listen to my appetite and let that determine how much I ate. Now I was following more of a controlled eating schedule.

In the 1st month of this experiment I was eating a bit over 3lbs of meat per day. By the 6th month I was eating nearly 5lb/day.

One thing surprised me in this experiment and one didn’t.

The surprise was how my body adapted to being able to eat so much meat. Eating 5lbs of meat in a day was inconceivable at the beginning of this experiment. But by the end of it, I could eat 5lbs without too much of a struggle.

This is one thing I’ve found to be true whether eating more or less food with the Carnivore Diet. You can eat a lot without excessive bloating and discomfort and you can also eat significantly less without hunger pangs and cravings. It’s very adaptable.

What I wasn’t surprised by was the ability to gain weight and put on muscle and strength. Providing the body with an excess of energy (especially protein) and a stimulus for growth (resistance training), the body responds by putting on weight and building muscle.

This weight gain was a perfect setup for the next experiment: Fat Loss.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #6: Fat Loss

I’ve talked about fat loss on the Carnivore Diet a lot. It’s one of the main reasons people want to try the diet and it’s also one of the more confusing aspects.

For every amazing fat loss testimonial you see there are many people frustrated, not able to hit their fat loss goals or even putting on fat.

Because this is such an issue I published a pdf “How to Lose Fat on the Carnivore Diet” that explains not only how I would recommend doing it but also why people struggle with fat loss and even put on fat. If this is your primary goal, I would recommend reading this guide and watching the videos on the page.

Without going into all the details of fat loss on the Carnivore Diet, I want to mention an interesting observation while I was following this protocol.

I’ve done a lot of fat loss protocols. I’ve used them to win a national qualifier physique competition as well as just to get in shape for summer. And while getting very lean always comes with drawbacks (persistent hunger, low energy, decreased performance, poor mood, disturbed sleep, impaired libido, etc…) with the Carnivore Diet all of these negatives seemed to be less negative. I didn’t get as hungry, didn’t feel as tired, and it was just easier.

And in just 6 weeks I was already at my body composition goal, which I had scheduled 12 weeks to get to.

Fat loss on the Carnivore Diet is often a natural consequence of getting healthy. One of the biggest problems is that people want to skip this step. They want to cut calories, get on the treadmill, and reach their fat loss goal NOW.

The problem is, getting healthy often looks like taking a step backwards before taking many steps forward. Nearly everyone that is struggling with fat loss on the carnivore diet needs to follow “Part I” in the fat loss guide, but nearly all of these people want to skip to “Part II.” Please, please, please, start with Part I.

Carnivore Diet Experiment #7: Coming Soon

I thought that after the body composition experiments that I was going to stop experimenting for awhile. You know, settle in with my meat-based diet and just enjoy how great I feel and use all this mental energy to continue researching and writing to help other people find and reach their health and fitness goals.

But there are a few more things that I’m interested in testing. Things that I’m genuinely curious about and that I’m getting asked about and want to be able to speak from experience. So the carnivore diet experiments continue…

This next experiment has commenced – details will be released in the Saturday 7 newsletter.

22 Replies to “Carnivore Diet Experiments”

    1. Thanks Scott – and not regularly – though I’ve continued to test it in and out throughout the body composition experiments.

  1. Having read much of what you have written, it was nice to read of the particular process you went through to get you to this point. Thank you.

  2. Have you ever experimented with any spices, tea or coffee? Also, I found pork and chicken breast (both pastured organic) don’t make me feel good if eating in a large quantity. Any idea why this would be?

    1. Great question – should have mentioned it in the article – I have experimented with coffee and tea (not spices) and tried them in the diet and out of the diet in all of these stages. I tend to handle them quite well. On an occasion with too much coffee I would feel hypoglycemic and get an accompanying increase in appetite. I think I’m probably like most people and better off without it, but enjoy it, so I will likely take it out and bring back over time.

      Many people don’t do as well with pork for varying reasons, and it could be that you do better with a higher percentage of fat as these meats tend to be a bit leaner.

    1. I did test in a few supplements, but I’ve never used hormones or steroids (and likely never will).

      As far as supplements: I tested in creatine and beta alanine to see if there was an impact during the “muscle building” experiment.
      But I didn’t see any increase in weight or performance with these (as these are likely already “maxed out” with all the meat I eat).
      I also tested in adding electrolytes post workout during the “fat loss” experiment as I was doing some moderately hard cardio – again no noticeable difference in anything – except with potassium, when I took a bit extra I got a serious headache.

  3. Hi great article – I appreciate your summary of all your hard work. Those of us who are curious & are ‘leaning into’ the carnivore diet can learn a lot from you. p.s. u have a typo in experiment #7 ‘I’m interesting in testing’

  4. Thanks for all your guidance, Kevin. I can’t recall if you’ve spoken about dairy as in milk products (beside whey). I’ve drunk whole milk, including raw, kefir, cream, etc. I. Seem to do well with them, but am wondering (as I suspect many of us ponder while making our way towards carnivory), whether I would do “better” if I removed this or that element. What’s your experience with milk products?

  5. Good Morning, Kevin!!

    I’ve been SO impressed with everything I’ve read, viewed on YouTube,and listened to on podcasts that includes you! So enjoyed your interview along with Dr. Paul Saladino! Just can’t thank you enough for ALL that you are doing to educate the world about the Carnivore Diet. Learning SO much from you and LOVE the experiments you are doing to help all of us better understand what to expect as we take this carnivore journey. Your Ultimate 30 day Guide to Going Full Carnivore and the weekly newsletter filled with a wealth of valuable tips, tools, books, etc. is a blessing!

    I’ve been vegan for many decades and then went raw vegan for five years and eventually that took a toll on my health. I have always been a health and fitness fanatic since I was 12 years old. Now at 58 years old, along with many health problems, keeping my muscle size and strength has been almost impossible. And, at 5’8″ tall, I now weigh 96 pounds. Not good! Praying the gradual implementation of meat back into my diet over the past year will help to reverse the damage that eating plants has done to my health, along with the wealth of information that you provide for us FREE, will help to save my life! You are truly a gift from God! I’m almost full carnivore now. Only a few vegetables to remove this week and I’ll be there!! Still feeling so dehydrated, stiff and sore joints and muscles, fatigued, most likely due to oxalate dumping, and having “meat sweats”…which for me, is a gift. I’ve never been able to sweat as a vegan, and now I believe this is God’s way to help me purge my body of the toxins that have been building up for so many decades. No sauna needed for me! My body is finally sweating perfectly fine on its own! I’m not freezing al of the time, even when it’s 90 degrees out!!! Yayyy!!! Perhaps this is another indication that when we feed our body what it is designed to eat, we will function in ways that we’ve never known is possible. Not needing supplements, saunas, the latest new gimmicks to entice people to buy…..Time to take back our health and eat our species specific diet!

    Thank you a million times over! Thanking God for placing you in my life!
    Suzanne Alexander

  6. Kevin, love the expermenting but do you not feel like you miss certain foods? I am british and couldn’t imagine a world without pork pies or pork scratchings, or even salads and cheeses as not just a ‘cleanse’ but as a variety in life. Do you not crave other foods and how do you handle going for social occasions and just asking for a steak… do you have condiments? so many questions for such a potential big leap.

    Currently on the keto diet with OMAD and I know when I eat a big meal in the day I just want to sleep. I feel like I have gained lean muscle and lost fat: so what is the further incentive to go even further and consume fatty beef? I could happily eat just animal products, but what about cholesterol data etc etc.

    Cheers

    1. No I really don’t miss any foods.
      People that have addictions to carbs/sugar find it hard to imagine, but once these addictions are beat, most people on a carnivore/meat-based diet just want animal-based food (it’s the only thing that sounds satisfying).

      As you mention, for most people, eating isn’t just about nutrition, there are social/cultural/etc…you have to find what works for you.
      I handle social settings just as you mentioned – I eat the meat options. I don’t use condiments. And, no, I don’t feel pressured or like I have to eat to some “cultural norm.”

      And if you have reached all your goals and feel amazing, perhaps there is no incentive for you to switch. If there are some health/fitness/goals you want to see if you can achieve/optimize than maybe it’s worth experimenting – I think this guide highlights some of the benefits people gain from switching from keto to carnivore: https://www.kevinstock.io/the-health-dangers-of-a-plant-based-diet/

      And yes, cholesterol: https://www.kevinstock.io/health/cholesterol-and-the-carnivore-diet/

  7. Thank-you SO much 🙂 your advise on the 30 day guide is the only thing keeping me sane during this! ( major weight gain ) I keep going back and reading it to try and remember to be patient:-) it really is a life saver and I truly look forward to getting your emails…

  8. Kevin, how do you tackle potential problems for meat based gut biomes and long term cancer potentially caused by this diet.
    I have also heard the problem that the plant based defense system or ‘poison’ is actually tolerable by humans and we build up an immunisation from eating them, therefore the benefits of eating plants with their vitamins and minerals as well as meat, may be more suitable? It very difficult to decide which is the be all and end all, particularly with such a new diet with a lack of extensive research that goes against the norm.

    Also would you recommend just eating beef, or could you have animal products, or do you feel healthiest from just quality beef and water.

    Thanks again

  9. hi kevin
    loving your work. im doing an omad ‘meat and treat’ diet with the daily treat being big deserts with a lot of coconut products. yogurt, shredded, cacao, 95% chocolate, pasturised cream and raw milk. loving it, but am i undoing all the carnivore benefits with this regime. worried about the coconut. 53 yrs old male currently building muscle before cutting down for the summer. appreciate your thoughts very much.
    thanks dave

    1. No I wouldn’t say you are “undoing” all the benefits because with the meat you are getting great nutrition.
      The “treat” could hinder your body composition goals (depending what those are), it could keep cravings alive, it could be doing some damage to health – impossible to say what/how much – because this variable is going to be different for everyone.

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