Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet

Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet

Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet

People come to the Carnivore Diet for various reasons.

Some people experiment to regain physical or mental health. Some people want more focus and energy to fuel their work. Some want more performance in the gym and in their sport.

Many come from a Ketogenic Diet when joint pain or autoimmune issues linger or weight loss stalls.

But the #1 reason people come to The Carnivore Diet is for Fat Loss. 

 

Fat Loss on The Carnivore Diet (…and Fat Gain)

Daily I hear another 100lb+ fat loss story.

Frank just eats beef franks and his gut melted away. Sally’s bacon, egg, and beef diet chiseled out her bikini body. Success stories abound.

But the stories you aren’t hearing about are carnivore experimenters who gain body fat.

They follow the diet to the tee – they eat only meat, drink only water, and they gain weight.

Why the discrepancy? 

Carnivore Starting Point

When starting this diet, everyone comes from a different place.

Some people come from a SAD (Standard American Diet), some from Keto, some from decades of yo-yo dieting. Some start the diet with 40% body fat, some with 4%. Some people have gut issues and insulin resistance. Some are “fat-adapted” and others come from years of fat-restrict eating.

All of these different starting points impact the transition to a Carnivore Diet and whether someone will experience fat melting off their waistline or the scale tipping in the wrong direction.

John

Let’s say John is a 51 year old male who has eaten a SAD diet for decades.

He is pre-diabetic, 65lbs overweight, and doesn’t exercise. He decides to experiment with the Carnivore Diet. In the first 30 days he’s loses over 20lbs. He’s excited.

He decides to extend the experiment another 30 days. Another 15lbs fall off.

The experiment now has an indefinite timeline. All he’s doing is eating meat until he’s full. He prefers ribeyes and fatty beef cuts. He generally eats 2 times a day, though occasionally he eats just one, and other days he eats 3 meals. He listens to his appetite.

And 9 months down the road, he’s loving meat more than ever. It’s all he craves. He’s lost over 50lbs of fat and gained over 10lbs of muscle. He looks better than he did at 30. His blood sugar has dropped, and his energy has skyrocketed.

This story is not an outlier. This is common. 

But Sally had a different experience…

Sally

Let’s say Sally is a 42 year old female who has watched what she’s eaten for years.

In the past she’s tried vegan, the Mediterranean Diet, and most recently a Ketogenic Diet. She watches her calories and tracks her macros like a scientist. She does an hour of cardio 3 times per week and some light weights.

She’s gotten some good results with Keto but her fat loss has stalled. She also has an autoimmune disorder that hasn’t resolved.

She saw what the Carnivore Diet has done for John, so she decides to experiment herself.

She follows the diet to the tee – she “eats meat. drinks water.”

Unlike John however, Sally is ravenously hungry. She almost embarrassed by how much she eats.

She knows from the “Ultimate 30-Day Guide to Going Full Carnivore” that she isn’t suppose to track calories or macros but eat until satisfied. So she does.

The first 30 days go by and she’s gained 5lbs!

She considers going back to Keto. She considers staying Carnivore but cutting back on calories. But she remembers the “Warning” section in the 30-day guide she read. No tinkering.

She decides to stick with the experiment another 30 days, because her energy has been amazing and she’s seen improvements in her autoimmune disease. 

Another 30 days go by, and another couple pounds added to the scale.

Sally doesn’t know what to do. She’s feeling better than she can ever remember, but her weight is going in the wrong direction.

What’s going on…?

John vs Sally

John and Sally started the same diet from completely different points. John was obese and had never restricted a calorie in his life. His diet was composed of junk. A switch to the Carnivore Diet, or any diet, would lead to weight loss. Most people see dramatic improvements in body composition because most people are overweight/obese. They and the scale move in the right direction no matter how many steaks or how much bacon they eat.

John had some transition issues. He had some sugar cravings the first couple weeks but easily overcame them by eating more steak. His rapid success led to more motivation and more success.

Sally started off far leaner than John. She also couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t restricting her diet in some way. When Sally was told she could eat as much meat as she wants without measuring or monitoring, two floodgates broke open.

  1. The first floodgate was the mental switch from famine to feast.
  2. The second floodgate was the complete nutrition meat provided her malnourished body.

For decades her body wasn’t getting the protein and fat it desired. She was deficient in micronutrients as well as macronutrients. She was malnourished. And when she finally started giving her body the nourishment it craved, it wanted to get as much of it as it could.

I was a “Sally.”

I came from a restricted Keto diet. I gained weight and fat when I started. My body needed it. My brain needed it.

Is the Carnivore Diet a Fat Loss Diet?

I get nervous when someone who is already lean and in good shape tells me they want to experiment with the Carnivore Diet for fat loss. Usually this person wants to get a ripped 6 pack or a bikini body with unnaturally low levels of body fat.

Eating a carnivore diet that is consistent with what we are designed to eat, results in natural body fat levels. And for most people, single digit body fat is not natural. The body feels a lot “safer” when it has a bit more energy reserves than that.

However, most people have body fat levels that are far above their natural set-point. And the further someone is above this natural set-point the more dramatic their results tend to be. But for people who are closer to their natural body fat (not to mention those who are already very lean) – they may experience the opposite – fat and weight gain.

Many people are just like John. They lose fat. And they lose it fast. They feel better. They look better. And they never think again about leaving the diet.

Yet, for every few “Johns” there is a “Sally.” It seems unfair, she was the one who has worked to stay health and get fit. But often a “Sally” has to take a step or two backwards before taking steps forward.

The First Step

The first, most important step, is getting healthy.

And “healthy” means something different for everyone.

It could be like John who was on the fast track for diabetes and cardiovascular disease who needed to reverse insulin resistance. Or it could be like Sally who needed to cure her gut and autoimmune issues and heal her mental hold on food and regulate her natural appetite.

The “healing” phase can take time.

If a “Sally” is coming from a good ketogenic diet it may take 3-6 months as her appetite regulates, hormones balance, and gut heals. To her it may seem like its 10 steps back and 1 step forward.

With a “John” it may take a year or more to reverse disease. But to him it may seem like every month is a step forward.

Whether you are a “John” or a “Sally” you need to achieve your “Homeostatic Carnivore Set-point.

This is stabilized health. 

There is no objective test for this but there are signs to look for. You will notice body weight/fat stabilizes at a healthy level. A level that most people are ecstatic to achieve. Sleep will become regular. Bowels will normalize. Mood will stabilize. Energy will be consistent. Diseases will remit.

This “natural set-point” is what most people want – a healthy body and healthy brain.

The natural body fat set-point will vary from person to person. Women tend to naturally carry more body fat than men. And there is a range of body fat percentage that people will settle in at. The higher one’s body fat prior to starting the Carnivore Diet, the longer it will take to achieve this natural set-point.

In fact, it can take years.

Most people get impatient and want to start tinkering before achieving this. They see the scale hasn’t moved in a week and they get anxious.

Weight loss is not linear. Often people gain muscle in tandem with fat loss on the Carnivore Diet. The scale can be misleading.

Forget the scale and forget the clock. Regain health. Achieve a natural appetite, normal hunger signals, and natural body fat.

Then, if – and this is a big “IF” – you want to get leaner, there are some tinkering strategies with calories/macros.

Tinkering with the Carnivore Diet

BUT – what if you want that bikini body and the shredded abs…?

I don’t think people should consider tinkering with the Carnivore eiet until Step 1 is complete. Because by the end of “Step 1” 99% of people will be better than they ever dreamed possible – in terms of health but also body composition. They don’t ever need to consider “tinkering” – they just need to be patient.

But what if you’ve been patient, you’re healthy, and you still want to get even leaner…

I’m as guilty as anyone else.

I like to have and stay at low body fat levels. Lower than my body would stabilize at naturally.

It’s important to know that there are trade-offs to getting super lean.

Energy will tend to suffer. Hunger will elevate. Hormones will adjust.

So if you’ve achieved your “Homeostatic Carnivore Set-point” and still want to get leaner, here are some strategies you can use:

fat loss and the carnivore diet

Fat Loss Strategies

Strategy #1: Stick with “Level 2”

The first strategy I would use is “Sticking in Level 2” (in the 30-day guide) for the most part. This means removing things like dairy and cheeses cheeses, added fats like butter, and things like pork rinds that are easy to overeat. Stick with lots of fresh meat. This alone can get you to where you want to be.

Strategy #2: Protein

The next step would be to alter your macronutrient ratios. I wouldn’t recommend counting calories or even protein/fat grams. Rather, by this point you should have a good idea of how many pounds of meat/day you eat. Just substitute in some leaner cuts or trim the fat off the fattier cuts.

For example, I ate a lot of strip steaks. Typically, I would eat all the fat and the meat. However, if I wanted to lean out a bit more, I would trim the fat off the side of the strip instead of eating it.

Or if I know I eat 3lbs of beef/day, and I want to lose a bit more fat, I would continue to eat 3lbs of meat/day but I would choose leaner cuts.

Strategy #3: Fat-Cycle

I recommend using this strategy in tandem with Strategy #2. One to two times per week I would increase my fat intake back to normal levels. On these days, don’t trim the fat. This helps with energy, hormones, appetite, and preventing some of the trade-offs that come from getting unnaturally lean.

Strategy #4: Intermittent Fasting

Many people naturally intermittent fast to some degree on a Carnivore Diet. But limiting yourself to an 8 hour window each day in which you can eat can help further fat loss.

Strategy #5: Before Bed

If you want to know if you’re on the right track with your daily eating, go to bed with the feeling “I could eat.” It’s not a feeling of starvation or dying to eat a meal. But just a simple, light “I could eat” type feeling.

Strategy #6: Cardio

Going into cardio and weight training is beyond this article, but a simple concept that can help continue fat loss in the “unnatural territory” is cardio. Use a progressive approach. If you are use to doing zero cardio, then maybe start doing 20 minutes 3X/week. Evaluate results. Want more fat loss, bump it up to 30 minutes 5X/week. Evaluate. Slowly progress. I strongly recommend weight training to preserve as much lean body mass as possible as well. And if you are not accustomed to weight training or cardio, I’d start with the weights, and then slowly add the cardio in from there.

99% of People

The vast majority of people never need to “tinker” with The Carnivore Diet. It is why I was hesitant to even write this. However, for those vain like myself, these strategies can help you get “unnaturally” lean – just beware of the trade-offs you make with the devil 🙂

And if you’re just getting started just start with the 30-day guide below!

P.S.

I recorded Podcast Episode 007 that goes into more depth about muscle building and fat loss on the carnivore diet.

15 Replies to “Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet”

  1. Hello Doc. I am a Sally too I think. Frustrating but great to read your content and learn that carnivore is not a quick fix, get in shape fast kind of diet. I have been eating carnivore for around 4 months now but have had the odd cheat meal along the way. My stomach always feels terrible after doing such. Still learning I guess. In the past I have got in pretty good shape eating low fat, high protein and moderate carbs. I got to 8% body fat eating that way whilst lifting weights and running. I would eat clean 6 days a wek and one day a week I would indulge in some treat foods. I would see pretty good results in 2-3 weks of eating that way if I followed the plan diligently. Carnivore seems to work a lot differently. For me at least. I can’t seem to move the scales nor the stubborn belly fat I have that has me sticking at around what I would estimate to be around 15% body fat these days. I still lift weights and I feel like I’ve put on some solid muscle underneath the fat. Just hoping it comes out on show soon. Would those cheat meals be enough to hinder my progress? Im talking like one cheat meal every 10-14 days on average. I take some hope in reading what you say about it taking time to adapt and reap the true benefits. Thanks for your help with all this great content. Justin.

    1. Hey Justin, sounds like you are doing a lot right!

      Depending on the “cheat meal” it can definitely hinder progress (at the same time, depending on what it is/how much, etc…it could be a minimal impact).

      A couple things – 15% isn’t too high a body fat percentage, and may be close to your “natural setpoint.” Meaning that’s where your body is happy/healthy. So if you eat until satisfied it may stay around there. To get to 10% and below (the body generally doesn’t want to go there) and may require decreasing energy consumption and increasing energy utilization (i.e. cardio). Creating this energy deficit does have ramifications though (low energy, decrease mood, etc…)

      Some of the things mentioned in this article I think can help you get there if you want to. If I were you I’d probably go a few more months of sticking with fatty meats and reducing/eliminating “cheats.” Then if you want to get leaner, you can employ some of the methods here.

      I’d start my decreasing fat a bit. Just picking slightly leaner cuts or trimming some of the fat. This alone can go a long way towards achieving your body fat goals. Combine this with a slow/progressive increase in cardio and I think you’d be happy with the results. And then if you want to stay at that level of leanness, I’d experiment with “fat cycling” so as to prevent/limit potential downfalls of too low fat intake.

  2. Hi Kevin, thanks so much for all the helpful information.

    I am just over 2weeks of carnivore coming from keto. I do suffer from an auto immune disease as well as hypothyroidism. Coming to carnivore has been amazing on my digestion which was also a major factor for switching.

    Another reason was to heal my auto immune disease as well as loose some weight (though I know this is not what it is initially intended for) I have an extremely hard time loosing weight unless my calories are low and I’m doing a minimum of 45-1 hour of cardio a day.

    I have definitely increased my calories since starting and have gotten a bit more ..fluffy… which I’m ok with as its expected. Do you think I should to do some cardio a couple of times a week tied with my weight training? I am hoping trying to try and keep the weight gain at a minimal if I can help it.

    I know you don’t recommend ticketing with the diet when. You first start out. I gave up coffee and just eat meat. Should I incorporate some of those leaner meat days or wait until im past the 30 days?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Amanda from everything you’ve mentioned, I guess your metabolism is a little “damaged” (for lack of a better work).

      If I were you, I’d do the complete opposite.

      I would reduce cardio (maybe just some HIIT a couple times a week) but would focus a lot on weight lifting. This will help build LBM, boost your metabolism, and overall feel better. You may gain some weight (definitely will gain some good weight), but after doing this from 6+ months then, if you want, I’d consider other “cutting” techniques (at which point with a health metabolism/body – fat loss will be so much easier).

      Currently, you are fighting a “race to the bottom” where all you can do is cut more calories and add in more cardio while your metabolism screeches to a halt. It’s a dangerous spiral, and the way out is being open to putting on some weight, and really focusing on putting on muscle mass. And in case you were wondering/worried about getting “bulky” muscle – this is not a worry, I promise 🙂

  3. I do come from a background of yo-yo dieting and prepping for fitness competitions. I knew weight gain would happen which is ok (thank goodness we’re into the fall/winter months).

    I do full body 3×4 times a week. I get the muscle no problem, but under a lot of fat which makes me appear to be bigger which is what I don’t like

    But you are right! I will do just that. I am sedentary which is also why I’ll just hop in the treadmill and walk. Nothing too strenuous! Do you think I should continue with the beef? And maybe some leaner cuts? Finding I am having a histamine reaction to ground beef so it’s just any kind of steaks or roast

    Thanks so much!

    1. If you are having a reaction from ground beef, check if the supplier adds “extenders” to it. There are products made of soy that some places add to ground beef. You can find it for sale under the name “Soy Protein Concentrate” among others. Some even contain carbs. Many fast food burgers taste like soy to me ,after a while on carnivore you can tell. (I’m looking at you Harvey’s 100% Angus)

  4. Hi, I’ve recently discovered the carnivore diet and having looked into it for some time now I’m amazed at, among many things, how simple it is. When I first began to look at it, I got my foods list down to 7 or so (from a previous couple of dozen with the old “normal diet”). But eventually I came full circle to understand that I only needed meat! So simple, And then I realized it was even simpler in that I could get it all from ground beef patties/steak. I couldn’t believe it. This being said, I have a question on cost. I don’t think I can afford steak, so I’m looking into ground beef patties, which seem like it can be purchased for around $2.50/lb. I will probably need around 2-3 pounds/day. So this comes out to around between $150-$225/month. Does sound about right for what it should cost using this type of diet if I were to eat only patties? Is this all that would be needed – ground beef every day?

    Also, i have a question on cholesterol. Before I found this diet, I found out I had high cholesterol, but didn’t want to take a pharmaceutical to deal with it. So I went a natural route and began flaxseed oil capsules, Co-Q10 caps, and Amla powder. Now that I am going on this carnivore diet and understand that it should help lower my cholesterol, do you think I still need those supplements? If not, would it have any negative affects to continue to use since I had bought them and would rather not just discard them?
    Thanks.

    1. Yep that price sounds about right, but you can also stock up when meat goes on sale.

      As far as cholesterol, it may go up or down, but cholesterol has to be understood in context – meaning it can be high for good reasons or be high for bad reasons. For example my cholesterol (last checked) was “high” but my HDL was super high, my triglycerides were low, I had miniscule remnant cholesterol, extremely low insulin levels, etc…context is very important. Personally, I wouldn’t take the supplements.

      1. Thanks. Couple other questions. I’ve always understood that low-carb diets adversely affect both muscle gains/growth and fullness/appearance of muscles (stringy effect, etc.). So with zero-carb would seem even worse. Do you believe this not to be true, both regarding adverse affects of low/zero carb diet on muscle growth and fullness?

        Also, if fat loss isn’t a goal, but all the other benefits of a carnivore diet are wanted, do you think a small amount of carbs/day (say 20-25 grams) would negate the positive effects of carnivore? Like say from yogurt, etc. And isn’t it still possible to get into ketosis with a very small amount of carbs like that?

  5. Hi Kevin, another question!
    If you find you’re getting irritable on this WOE…is that because you might not be eating enough?
    I try to fast for at least 16 hours and will have a steak or two. But some days ill wake up and ill already be irritable especially before dinner and after the gym

    I try to have 2 steaks for lunch (around 11:00am, sometimes 12) and then after i get home from the gym (6:00pm) and ill usually have a steak or two depending on my hunger

    I know everyone says to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. But i cut it down from 3 meals to 2 to see if it’ll help with the adaption and force my body into ketosis and can start burning body fat. I know it takes time and im already about 2 months in but am hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon!

    Thank you:)

  6. Hi. I started carnivore a week ago from IF and low carb only cause of white potatoes not quite keto lol)I ate meat and greens mostly. I’m 52 post menopausal, 5’3, 207lbs after losing 25lbs with low carb and IF. Now I am eating carnivore as I want to heal leaky gut to heal my hypothyroidism and hashimotos. I have CHS, although I do feel more energetic due to carnivore. but still get tired easily. My adrenals are burned out literally so I cant exercise much and my muscles are very sore like having the flu and weak. I know this will take a while, but with the sore muscles, its hard to even contemplate weight lifting yet I know muscle gain leads to more mitochondria meaning more energy which I desperately need. What would you suggest I can do to optimize my healing? Thank you for your time sir. 🙂 Ps. Started eating LC IF aug 13th after learning I have two leaky heart valves HTN and SOB. Was very SOB but since losing some weight much much better. Im walking a little for exercise maybe 20 minutes a couple of times a week plus walking at work a decent amount.

    1. I would definitely start by reading the 30-day guide to going full carnivore at https://meat.health

      Also I would recommend doing what you can as far as weight training (start slow and just progress gradually), because as you mentioned, it has tremendous positives when it comes to health

  7. Hi Kevin. I find with Carnivore diet my pants get looser but my weight goes up. I am 165 cm and my current weight is 65 kg, that is almost 2 kg up in weight. Is it that I’ve gained fat but dropped water weight?

    1. Early on weight can fluctuate a lot and most is from water but it’s likely you’ve lost fat (i.e. pants are loose) and gained muscle.

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