What Is The Carnivore Diet & Is It Effective For Weight Loss & Gains?

carnivore diet

Does this all-meat diet really work?

Most of us enjoy eating plenty of meat and the carnivore diet can give us just that. When it comes to seeing great gains, we love to eat those protein sources that fill us up and encourage muscle growth, for not only does that benefit our gains and aesthetic, but also our overall quality of life. The carnivore diet is an interesting idea and one that may just help you out.

Like all diets, the carnivore diet may work for some and not for others. Knowing what to look for in both the advantages and disadvantages can greatly improve all your goals and give you just what you need to succeed.


Let’s jump into the carnivore diet and see what it’s all about. As something brought to even more attention by Joe Rogan, by the end, you may just want to give it a try or you may politely pass on it for something else.

carnivore diet

What Is The Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet consists of eating animal products only. This zero-carb diet leaves no room for fruit, grains, or plant-based foods (1). The idea comes from our ancestors only eating meat as a source of nutrition and takes fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains out of the equation. While this diet sounds great for meat lovers, like anything, it has its pros and cons to consider before diving right in.

What You Can Eat & What You Can’t

For the carnivore diet, there are those foods that you can and cannot eat. Knowing your food list and how best to structure this diet will better prepare you for what is coming if you choose to follow this meat loving diet.

Foods You Can Eat

Foods you can eat on this diet include red meat (beef, lamb, etc.), white meat (turkey, chicken, fish, etc.), eggs, dairy products (butter, cheese, etc.), and organ meat. These do have nutrients you need and can provide those essentials that some people think you do miss from other food groups.

Food You Cannot Eat

For the carnivore diet, there are of course those foods you cannot eat that you should definitely know about. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, sugar, processed foods, and certain beverages (sodas, energy drinks, among others).

carnivore diet

Benefits Of The Carnivore Diet

Benefits of the carnivore diet include certain areas where you wish to improve your health, training, performance, and lifestyle. For those interested in this diet, it is important to know the benefits before you dive right in.


Benefits of this diet include:

  • Weight loss: Through increased satiety and increased body fat metabolism, you work to lose weight and see those desired body composition changes (2).
  • Gut health: With the right approach to the carnivore diet you may improve gut health with glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, and collagen to help strengthen your gut.
  • Inflammation: By lowering insulin levels and supporting gut health, you may decrease inflammation.
  • Cognitive function: With key nutrients, you can improve cognitive functioning and mental clarity while enhancing neuroprotective benefits (3).

Downsides Of This Diet

While these are great benefits, like anything, there are downsides that are also worth noting. Some of the disadvantages of the carnivore diet include:

  • Nutrient deficiency: Without plant-based foods in your diet, you leave room for certain deficiencies in your diet that can unfortunately play a role
  • Lack of fiber: When it comes to fiber, you severely lack it from food on the carnivore diet and fiber supplementation is something to heavily consider.
  • High in cholesterol and fat: This diet tends to be high in cholesterol and fat so keeping your levels in check may be something of a challenge.
  • No phytonutrients: Phytonutrients are found in certain plants and can be beneficial for preventing diseases and boosting overall health, but with this diet and the lack of plants, you miss out on them (4).

carnivore diet

Is This An Effective Diet For Gains?

The carnivore diet can be an effective diet for gains, however, there are those unfortunate drawbacks. For athletes looking to build muscle, you certainly get plenty of protein to do so. With the increased protein, satiety increases and the idea around weight loss is something to heavily consider as well. For its ability to provide fuel and mental focus and clarity, it is also something athletes can benefit from when it comes to boosting training and performance.

However, to think of not eating plants can limit the amount of nutrients one takes in, thus leading to a potential deficiency that you just don’t want or need. High in fat and cholesterol may cause problems down the line as well.

The carnivore diet can be effective for some but definitely not all. If you are someone encouraged to try the carnivore diet, supplementing with a multivitamin is something to heavily consider so you don’t suffer any nutrient deficiencies. Ultimately, deciding on the carnivore diet is up to you but consulting a nutritionist or expert is a good idea as well.

Other Potential Diets To Consider For Results

Aside from the carnivore diet, there are many other diets and approaches to weight loss that can help you see gains. While some may not work for you, others will, and it just takes finding the best option to see those gains you want most.

Other diets to try include:

  • High Protein Diet– Higher protein with less carbs and sugar.
  • Keto– Low carb with calories coming from protein and fat
  • Intermittent Fasting– Timing your eating cycle through eating and fasting throughout the day.
  • Vegan– Sticking to those plant-based foods.
  • Paleo– Eat mainly protein, fruits and veggies, and nuts and seeds
  • Mediterranean– Foods from the countries of the Mediterranean Sea including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, among others.

Wrap Up

The carnivore diet has the ability to work for you in many ways, but it has its disadvantages as well. Knowing what you’re looking for can be of great help and working towards your goals is something to consider as well. When all is said and done, knowing what the carnivore diet can and cannot do for you will help you make a better decision for those gains.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. O’Hearn, A. (2020). “Can a carnivore diet provide all essential nutrients?”. (source)
  2. Leidy, H.; et al. (2015). “The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance”. (source)
  3. Koh, F.; et al. (2015). “Role of Dietary Protein and Thiamine Intakes on Cognitive Function in Healthy Older People: A Systematic Review”. (source)
  4. Gupta, C.; et al. (2014). “Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.