Carnivore Phase 1 – 45 Day Recap

TLDR:

  • Carnivore is not a magic pill.
  • Drastically reducing junk food, eliminating sugar and carbs daily and exercising regularly will produce similar results no matter what nutrition program you follow.
  • What is the Carnivore Diet? – Fatty Meat (Mostly Grass Fed Beef), Eggs, Cheese, Water, Black Coffee, Salt
  • It is important to find a balance between obsessive macro counting and listening to your body.
  • Programming in meals that let you enjoy the foods you like will ensure you remain on track.
  • Carnivore Is An Elimination Diet – The Initial goal should be healing the body.
  • Physiological Changes I’ve noticed: Fat Loss, Increased Lean Body Mass, Reduced Bloating, Joints Feel Better, Hunger Increased, Lowered Blood Pressure, Sleep Issues
  • If you make a reasonable plan and follow it you will see results.
  • Conclusion – Plans for Next Phase – I plan on continuing with some adjustments.

I recently ventured into the world of the Carnivore Diet for the last 45 days and wanted to take a second to jot down my thoughts and experiences as well as detail out my next phase of this experiment.

Carnivore is not a magic pill.

I think its really important to talk about this first. I think so many people are looking for this magic pill they can use to temporarily change the way the live to fix all their problems so they can look lean and mean and then continue their screwed up habits while enjoying the benefits of some so called “Diet”. The only way to ensure long term results is to make permanent lifestyle changes. Following a health and nutrition program, consistently working out and leading an active lifestyle will result in success, no matter what “Diet” you choose (well maybe not plant based :p).

Drastically reducing junk food, eliminating sugar and carbs daily and exercising regularly will produce similar results no matter what nutrition program you follow.

Carnivore and Keto are very successful because they put you in a box that removes some of the most harmful foods that are causing obesity and chronic illness: Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates. Carnivore takes it to the next step and removes Plant based foods that could also be causing issues in the body. Sticking to this kind of nutrition program combined with consistent exercise will deliver results. But if you were to keep yourself very strict with a Paleo or traditional nutrition program and drastically reduce or eliminate junk food you will also see results. I think the advantages to Carnivore and Keto are the simplicity. They are binary systems, either you are doing Keto/Carnivore or you are not. If you eat all meat and then binge on crap at the end of the day, this is not Carnivore. Same with Keto, you will drop out of Ketosis… this helps people stay in the box. This is what is really helpful for me, even though some people find this restrictive and difficult, for me having the ability to throw in a muffin or pastry here or there is just too much. I have a hard time not eating all the snickers if there are snickers available.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

For those unfamiliar with the Carnivore diet you can get a full run down at Dr. Shawn Baker’s website: https://meatrx.com/. Essentially Carnivore is very simple. Eat meat and only meat. But this also has been broken down into 3 “Levels” as described at https://meat.health/knowledge-base/carnivore-diet-what-to-eat/:

Carnivore Levels – Quoted From Meat.heath:

Level 1 Protocol

  • Meat
    • If it’s meat or fish – it’s on the menu
  • “Sides” and “Exceptions”
    • Coffee and Tea
    • Butter, Cheese, and Heavy Whipping Cream
    • Eggs
  • Supplements (during adaptation)

Level 2 Protocol 

  • Meat + Water
    • No processed meats
    • No “sides” or “exceptions”
      • Including coffee, tea, eggs, butter, cheese, whipping cream
    • No supplements
      • Exception: Pink Himalayan Salt
      • Exception: If you are skipping Level 1 and going straight to Level 2

Level 3 Protocol

  • BEEF Only (ideally Grass-Fed and Finished) + Water

Level 3 is the ultimate “elimination diet.”

Cut Everything but (Grass Fed, Grass Finished) Beef and Water

  • I know this isn’t convenient
  • I know this isn’t cheap
  • I also know that if you go this pure for 30 more days, it will be worth it

If you can’t afford the Grass-fed, grass-finished beef, then doing just beef and water is the way to go (eliminating other meats like pork and seafood).

For the last 45 days I’ve followed the Level 1 protocol. My personal variant of the protocol was:

  • Beef – 90% of it was Grass Raised/Finished
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Salmon Roe for Omega-3s
  • Bone Broth / Bone Marrow – Home Made, no veggies or seasoning.
  • Beef Collagen
  • Pink Himalayan salt.
  • Black Pepper
  • Liver – maybe once … I tried but failed miserably to find a way to endure the horrible texture/taste.

My typical day of eating looked like this:

  • Breakfast – 6 egg scramble with 1oz of shredded cheese, cooked in 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Lunch – 16 oz Grass Fed Ground Beef
  • Dinner – 12 oz ribeye steak or other fatty cut
  • Snacks – Pork rinds, cheese, uncured pepperoni.
  • Beverages – Water, Black Coffee, Sparkling Water, Pellegrino
  • Bone Broth – Two cups of home made bone broth w/ Collagen Peptides

It is important to find a balance between obsessive macro counting and listening to your body.

Phase 1 involved logging everything I ate and shooting for a macro goal of 1 gram of protein to 1 gram of fat while shooting for a calorie goal of 2500 / day. I’ve been logging and tracking for a long time, so this was not difficult and I like to plan my day in advance so I know what/when to eat. I’ve been digging in deeper on Meatrx.com and Meat.health and both sites suggest not tracking or trying to manipulate macros / calories for the first adjustment period of carnivore.

For the last two weeks of the program I removed my 2500 calories per day limit and aimed to eat when hungry and eat until satiated. This resulted in an increase in daily calorie intake to reach 3500-4000. Interestingly enough I did not see an increase in bodyfat but felt less hunger and more satiated throughout the day. Conclusion: I was not eating enough.

Programming in meals that let you enjoy the foods you like will ensure you remain on track.

To help myself stay compliant and satisfy my cravings I would program in one day a week where I would open myself up to eat some of my favorite things for one meal. This was not a “cheat day” this was intentionally programming time for myself to enjoy things so I can mentally stay on track. I would typically have a couple beers and some ice cream and maybe some peanut M&Ms.

Carnivore Is An Elimination Diet – The Initial goal should be healing the body.

Meat.health explained that your first goal should be using this diet to help your body heal which includes listening to hunger and rebuilding your relationship with hunger and eating. This rang true for me, I felt increased hunger through the whole program and I don’t think I was eating enough. My goal was reduced body composition which did occur, but I need to readjust my goal to focus on healing and be OK with not seeing reductions in body fat for a little while.

The elimination of plant matter that may be causing issues will allow your body to heal and its systems will all start to function normally again. This includes the gallbladder adjusting to the amount of fat being eaten, the gut healing, appetite stabilizing, hormones need to rebalance and adjust … this adaptation period is different for everyone and the first step is letting this process happen.

Physiological Changes I’ve noticed:

DateWeightBody Fat %Body Fat lbsLean Mass %Lean Mass lbs
2020-03-09194.819.2637.5184880.74157.28152
2020-04-06188.415.8529.861484.15158.5386
2020-04-21188.213.725.783486.3162.4166
Bodyfat was measured using the BodyMetrix from https://www.intelametrix.com/FullSite/

Fat Loss – Starting bodyfat % was 19.26, after 6 weeks my bodyfat % dropped to 13.7 – total fat loss of 11.73 lbs in 6 weeks. Average 1.955 / week is pretty healthy and sustainable.

Increased Lean Body Mass – My lean body mass increased from starting at 157.28 to a 162.41 an increase of 5.1 lbs over 6 weeks. This is not necessarily muscle gain but just lean body mass increase. I do see a noticeable different in muscle size/definition.

Reduced Bloating – I noticed a drop in water retention and general bloating in my lower abdomen which is consistent with other Carnivore people. My digestive system seems much less “full” and generally more stable.

Joints Feel Better – Its normal for both of my shoulders to have some kind of pain but this seemed to decrease. This may be due to an increase in exercise strengthening the shoulders, but I feel most of my joints are feeling better.

Hunger Increased – My hunger dramatically increased. I’ve read this is normal and scares most people as they do not want to eat more for fear of gaining weight. I too fell into this category, for the first four weeks I was restricting calories to 2500 but after removing the limit and eating more I feel more satiated.

Lowered Blood Pressure – I’ve been on blood pressure medication for a while which has been keeping my blood pressure in check. I still take it, but have noticed a decrease in my daily readings.

Sleep Issues – I’ve been having trouble sleeping more than 5 hours a night. I typically get to bed around 10pm and pop awake at 3am. I was thinking it had to do with hunger possibly waking me up. I’m also thinking it may be due to thyroid. I’ve been taking synthetic thyroid for hypothyroidism and think maybe my hormone levels are stabilizing and possibly pushing my into hyperthyroidism. Going to talk to my Dr. about figuring this out.

If you make a reasonable plan and follow it you will see results.

I want to reiterate the fact that I do not believe the Carnivore diet is a magic pill or a be all end all nutrition program for everyone. In the end, if you create a reasonable plan that you can consistently follow, eliminate crap from your diet and habits, and exercise regularly you can see similar body composition changes and maintain them for the long term. Eating Carnivore has advantages being that you are primarily eating the purest food you can find. No chemicals, preservatives or other crap. This can work wonders to help your body heal and help you long term. But in the end finding the program that is right for you and sticking to it is more important than what the program is.

Conclusion – Plans for Next Phase

I really like Carnivore and plan on continuing. I’m going to start “Phase 2” on May 1st which will be very similar to my first Phase but I’m going to completely eliminate alcohol and “cheat” meals for 90 days. I’m also not going to log my meals but concentrate on eating when hungry and eating until satiated. I want Phase 2 to complete my adaptation and help my body heal and reestablish my relationship with hunger and eating. I’m not setting body composition goals, nor am I going to be upset if I gain a little weight, the goal for Phase 2 is healing.

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