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
  • 3 months carnivore transition
  • 6 months just beef and water
  • 3 months re-intro of various animal-based foods (other meats, organs, seafood, eggs)
  • 6 months “nose to tail”
  • 6 months muscle building protocol
  • 3 months fat loss protocol

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 compiled everything I learned into the “Ultimate 30 Day Guide to Going Full Carnivore” (now downloaded and read by over 100,000 people!).

Carnivore Diet Experiments Levels 1-3

I discovered 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.

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: Carbohydrates

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.

During this time, on a daily basis, I’ve been asked about non-meat-based foods. And since I hadn’t eaten any in years, I couldn’t answer these questions from experience.

I was curious…

What would happen if I ate a jar of honey after not eating carbohydrates for all this time?

Would I feel terrible? Would cravings return?
Or would my muscles fill out and my training skyrocket?

What would happen if I ate blueberries and avocados after so much time without any fiber?

Had my microbiome morphed? Would it be overwhelmed and unable to handle this fiber? Would I bloat? Vomit? Explode?

What would happen if I ate a cheat meal? Or had an entire cheat day?

Would ice cream kill me?

Would curiosity kill the cat?

Well I conducted these experiments and I survived to tell you about them.
They were enlightening. Some of the results I anticipated. Some caught me by surprise.

If you would like to know the conclusion of all my research and experiments, I’d highly recommend watching the Meat Health Masterclass:

22 Replies to “Carnivore Diet Experiments”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

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