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Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet

Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet

Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet

how to lose fat on the carnivore dietPeople 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 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 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about how to optimize body composition with a meat-based / carnivore diet, I’d highly recommend watching the Meat Health Masterclass:

68 Replies to “Fat Loss and The Carnivore Diet”

  1. I am a mix of the 2 people. I started carnivore due to glucose being high and pre to type 2 diabetic. I work out with the big 3 powerlifting moves as well as the other body parts in between and have added some cardio. I have seen a big change in my body composition but the indication on the scale doesn’t change much. I eat eggs every now and then and will add some cheese to my ground meat so that is the only dairy I get. My go to is ground chuck, I love eating it…could this be too much of a fatty meal (80/20) to see a change on the scale? Should I just continue to monitor progress in the mirror versus the scale.

    1. Ideally you would be building muscle and losing fat, so really, worrying about the scale isn’t a good use of time in my opinion.

  2. Hi Doc,

    Quick Overview: 47 year old, 5′ 7″ 237 lbs – Disgusted with what I have become. Used to play a lot of sports, especially rugby (where I played as hooker) and also powerlifting (when I was in the service). Weight ballooned from 180 lbs after I got out to go back to college. I was always a reluctant cardio person. In the service I used calorie counting and the lifting to keep my weight around 180 – was always stocky but carried a bit of muscle.
    Before Christmas, I decided I had enough. I knew I was unhealthy (47 inch distended gut with a FOPA) and already suffered from dysthymia but have been going through a major depressive episode since August. I made decisions to attack this malaise across a number of areas in my life – body being just one of them. Since 2014 I have led a sedentary life – my only PT beginning walking my two large dogs, sporadically. Now, I tried to walk them at least 1 hour a day. Even still, I feel tired and have aches in my hips when walking them. Also, I have as yet an undiagnosed illness, vertigo-like symptoms coupled with nausea (lasts anywhere from hours to days), which can be incapacitating. We have ruled our Meniere’s etc so next stop is a neurology consult. When I decided to start a diet to lose weight in the past, I would do the first 30 days on the diet with little PT to see how my weight responded before adding cardio and weightlifting. Just trying to give you a background.
    On 1 Jan 2020, I started the carnivore, eating 2 lbs (average) of meat per day – mainly 80/20 or 85/15 Ground Beef (grass-fed if I can get it on discount). Others included pork chops, steak, sausage (very little ingredient varieties) and supplements like beef liver supplements. For seasoning I use Himalayan Sea Salt and Ground black pepper. Never had an issue giving up tea or coffee, however, I do like some sort of a hot drink in the morning so I was taking a teaspoon of Raw, unfiltered wildflower honey in a mug of boiling water (3 times daily) to satisfy that requirement. I used grass-fed butter (1 tsp) for cooking meats. That has been the diet since 1 Jan.
    Now, by my calculations and society’s I am probably 40% body fat and my “ideal” weight is 160 lbs. That is my target weight. I purchased ketosis-testing strips and have been using them. My last bloodwork was 8th July 2019. What I have observed so far, feel good on the diet. Busting ass is a lottery. However, my weight has gotten up to 229 lbs (highest) and down to 226 lbs (lowest) – it justs fluctuates around my starting 227. My ketosis strips show me either with no ketosis to trace, nothing ever higher.
    So as you can imagine, I am despondent. I thought I was going to be a “John” but it seems like I am a “Sally”. I have no problem staying strict on the carnivore. However, I do have some questions:
    1. From what I have told you, do you have any advice?
    2. I would like to continue taking the teaspoon of honey in hot water, three times daily. I was considering using Kiva Raw Manuka Honey, for its anti-inflammatory benefits. I really like that hot drink.
    3. Up or reduce the amount of meat consumed?
    4. I would like to lay off upping my exercise (or lack thereof) until 1 Feb to see how the diet is behaving.
    I would greatly appreciate any feedback you may be able to give me and I will not take it to be medical advice or opinion from you.
    Very Respectfully
    Coinn

  3. thank u for th logic based detailed nfo…too often we think like a “mob” & expect to get th same exact results as other ppl; evn tho our specific circumstances b quite different…

    im a former 3 sport collegiate athlete/physcl ed instructor…i had mild hypoglycemic symptoms as a child & thruout college…never stopped me from participating in sports or completing 2 bachelor degrees in about 5 yrs…

    in my mid 30s iincreasingly succumbed to a severe intolerance to fructose & gluten, then seemingly, to all plant base carbs-evn to th fumes & mist of cooked carbs & dairy…

    in that, i was forced to a strict carnivore diet, unknowingly thru a 11 yrs long process of finding out why i was increasingly getting ill…

    ive always struggled to maintain a healthy with regards to th difficulty of gaining & keeping thth weight on…when i was younger & in college i had to do weight training to gain weight thru muscle gain…i do not do conventional supplements-just meat, water & salt…

    hence, i really appreciate th thoroughness & th logic of yur article…
    terri a.

    1. correctn: i eat animal fat, meat; beef, chicken, atlantic salmon; pork rinds & salt…

      additional comment: i appreciate tht u did not associate th health benefits of th carnivore-zero carbs diet to th unscientific (void of any scientific method evidence/support) darwin’s evolutionism supposing…

      in ths day of material & monetary greed/idolatry, ppl will sacrifice integrity, objectivity, observable & practical & repeatable evidence to win ill gotten support & to win an argument…

      no aspect of darwins evolutionism supposing-now a religious belief system-can b observed n nature, can b repeated n test models & has any logical precedence…

      u also admitted to th unnatural/unhealthy loss of fat-kudos to u for keeping really real…
      terri a.

  4. Hi Kevin,
    Thank you for all the info you provide. I’m 5 months into carnivore eating just meat+eggs no dairy, higher fat and coming from 4 years of keto with counting macros and calories. I stopped working out with weights in Jan this years and only walk on the treadmill for 45 min every 2nd day.
    I’m a Sally and since going carnivore I have lost muscle (gutted to be honest) and gained body fat. Not sure what to do now. Been lean for 15 years previously but my body fat increased quite a lot on meat only. I feel great mentally and all but don’t like how I look at all. Also I like carnivore more than keto. Should I just be patient and see if I’ll start losing fat at some point or should I implement one of your suggestions now,? I’m just so annoyed….feels great to be carnivore but I’ve definitely became SKINNY FAT. Appreciate any advice. I’ve read your guides…thank you for those
    Diana

  5. Hi kevin, i have been on a carnivore diet for over a year now and 9 month keto previously. I put 5 pounds on keto and another 5 pounds on carnivore the first 6 month which stabilised.i have a really active job and i eat 4 meals a day during thats time to have energy throughout the day and i wasngood with that!!
    I have been on holiday for weeks trying to stay active and i have incorporated weight training, cardio and fasting with 1 to 2 meal a day to keep fit and maybe try to loose some of that weight gained the last 2 year. But i have t
    gained another 6 pounds on in 3 weeks doing that, and i dont know what to do anymore, as i really need to stay fitnfor my work!
    sometimes i just feel like going back to a SAd diet where my weight and body were thinner, so questions, do you think i am just adapting to intermittent fasting and exercice and my weight will move? Or should i go back to a normal diet as i had no problem before starting a keto diet apart wanting to be healthier!!! Thanks for any advice

  6. Hey Kevin,
    Thanks for sharing you knowledge and experience with us about the carnivore diet. I started my journey 4 weeks ago at 130kg. 3 weeks in & I’d lost 11kg. This past week however I actually gained weight (2 kg). I have however been doing quite a bit of cardio (fireman sandbag carries) 1h at 3.5mph & alternating days doing 3h of 3.5mph walks in varying elevation. My question is; Is my training messing with my weightloss? I haven’t changed my caloric intake. Make sure my macros stay anywhere between 73%F29%P – 75%F25%P. I have to admit that I’ve not taken a day off training this past week, seeing how I’m not really doing any intense weight training, but I’m kind of starting to feel really tired throughout the day & muscle soreness because of the sandbag carries.
    Thanks in advance for any advice
    Yogi

  7. Hi, Kevin! I love your articles! I am transitioning into carnivore from keto. I am 5’5 weigh 161. I am borderline diabetic and also have leaky gut, so I am both of the characters you mentioned. Does this mean I might gain? I have lost weight on keto, like twelve pounds, but it took seven months to get there.

    1. Thanks Jen, and it is possible. If you read the guide (and watched the videos) then you should be well equipped with expectations as well as how to handle/think about fat loss/gain during the initial transition and achieving long term success.

  8. Hi Kevin, Patricia here 5’2 between 148-150 lbs. I workout doing weights and cardio 6 times out of the week. I am on Keto but have been on carnivore for three weeks and no weight loss. I do one meal a day mostly 80/20 ground beef about 1 lb and three to 4 eggs. I am wondering if the no weight loss is because of my gym time. I do notice that I am toning in the waist legs and arms but the weight loss is bothering me. Am I doing something wrong with my meal or gym time?

  9. Hello Kevin! I started Keto a year ago and Carnivore a few months afterwards. I lost a weight in the beginning but have stalled the last few months I am guessing due to the fact I sit at a desk for work, then sit at a desk while I do my college homework, so I sit a lot. I am approx. 5’7″ and 190 lbs, 34 year old male. Is it possible to continue to loose fat through diet manipulation? Right now with school, family, work and other responsibilities finding time for the nearest gym 45min away is almost out of the question. Thank you for your videos, posts and everything!

      1. I have watched them and they make perfect sense, for someone working out. I do not work out and know I am missing a huge piece of the puzzle. Even though I am at around 30% body fat, I would rather be 15% and at the same level of strength than at 30%.
        I am in the sustain phase I am sure; I have been a stable weight for ~8 months and have had 3 blood tests and everything tracks with others (good A1C, PTH, ionized calcium, triglycerides, etc) except my calcium is a bit high @ 11 mg/dl.
        How would I go about loosing some more fat in my current position? When I graduate college and can finally do some gym time, how would you recommend me transitioning into this diet wise?
        Thank you again for contributing to the carnivore movement!

    1. “low protein” “less than 500gm” – I’m not sure what you are really talking about.

      1. I wouldn’t recommend low protein
      2. 500g of protein/day would be a tremendous amount for anyone (but especially a 68 year old female)

      Did you read the article/pdf guide?

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