My Carnivore Diet: What I Learned From Eating Only Beef Salt And Water
Jordan Peterson insists his fad diet helps you lose weight and feel better. I tried it for a week, and let me tell you: it was truly, punishingly awful
When I started my carnivore diet, I had no idea what it would involve. I thought it could be fun. I wasnt to know Id started on a journey that would involve rapid weight loss, complete exhaustion, and a professor of nutrition telling me I was at risk of scurvy.
It had started innocently.
Jordan Peterson, the disaffected males favoured academic and bestselling author, had appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, the irreverent, current affairs-ish show on which Elon Musk recently smoked weed. The pair discussed Petersons self-help book, 12 Rules for Life, which created a stir when it was released in January. Rogan, a comedian and gym enthusiast who resembles a slab of corned beef, told Peterson how slim he looked.
Well, Peterson said.
It was because of his new diet.
I eat beef and salt and water. Thats it, and I never cheat. Ever. Not even a little bit, Peterson said. Hed been put on to the diet by his daughter, Mikhaila, and lost 60lb. Whats more, his anxiety and depression had lifted.
Weight loss? Improved mood? No side-effects? It sounded too good to be true.
Healthline Diet Score: 025 Out Of 5
The Lion Diet is a diet that anecdotal sources claim can help transform your life and improve your health.
Followers of the Lion Diet have reported a long list of benefits associated with the diet, including decreased inflammation, improvements in mood, and relief from issues like headaches, insomnia, and allergies.
However, others have dismissed the plan as unsustainable, unhealthy, and ineffective, noting that its overly restrictive and extreme.
This article explores the Lion Diet, including what it is, how it works, and whether its safe.
Diet review scorecard
- Nutrition quality: 3
- Evidence based: 1
BOTTOM LINE: The Lion Diet eliminates all foods except salt, water, and meat from ruminant animals. In addition to being high in saturated fat, its unsustainable and likely to lead to nutritional deficiencies.
High In Saturated Fat
Red meat is high in saturated fat, and eating a diet high in saturated fat is associated with high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.
However, the relationship between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease is controversial this effect may be due to other components of a generally unhealthy diet rather than the saturated fat itself.
You May Like: Diet Shot To Lose Weight
Cuts Out Processed Foods
One positive of the Lion Diet is that it avoids all processed and refined foods, automatically making the diet healthier than a standard American diet. Simply avoiding processed foods could also improve the chronic health symptoms experienced by those following the Lion Diet.
For instance, studies found that people with chronic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and acne reported the best symptom improvements when they avoided white refined flour products, such as bread, cakes, and other baked goods.
Moreover, studies suggest that avoiding processed foods is associated with fewer depressive symptoms. However, the Lion Diet also avoids many other foods associated with a lower risk of depression, such as fish, healthy fats, and leafy vegetables.
What Lions Dont Eat
In the wilderness, there is a constant struggle for existence. In that tough scenario, they have to compromise with some mammals for their own sake. Some animals are so big that they can take a lions life within minutes. Some mammals can harm them badly with their body parts used in defense. Some of them are more aggressive than lions. Thats why they avoid passing their way no matter how hungry they are.
Lets have a look at the list of the animals that lions dont eat:
As the father of Simba in The Lion King says, a lion doesnt eat everything for maintaining the balance of the jungle. They are the rulers, its their duty to think about every animal.
However, lions king other predators like leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas too. But they dont eat them. You can read about Savanna Animals here.
Lioness eating a zebra carcass
Do lions change their food preferences?
The latest studies of D. Joubert in 2006 and R.J. Power in 2002 presents recent developments about lions changing food preferences.
In Chobe National Park, Botswana, lions are observed hunting African bush elephants up to 15 years old. In other cases, they are seen to hunt juvenile elephants roaming alone.
Its not a natural phenomenon in the wild. For the changing environment, lions hardly find any food in some specific seasons during a year. At that time, they had to make a very tough choice and hunt such a big animal together.
Male lions feasting on a giraffe
Read Also: Best Diet To Lower Blood Sugar
My Carnivore Diet Food Exceptions
There are many levels of the carnivore diet. Some people choose just to eat beef, water and salt and some choose to add in a few exceptions to make this transition a bit easier. I am one of those people. The following is a list of foods I have decided to add into this experiment. Not everyone could or should do this, but I am choosing to.
Coffee I blend mine up with butter, heavy whipping cream and a scoop of collagen
Lemons & Limes I use them to flavor my water in order to encourage me to drink more
Spices and Seasonings Theres NO way I was going to do this without some flavor
Sparkling Water I drink flavored sparkling water which I know can spike insulin, but this is a choice I made
Some Sauces Buffalo sauce, steak sauce and mayo among other low carb sauces are used in moderation
Can Lions Drink Sport Drinks
Are you an avid exerciser or athlete relying on sports drinks, such as Gatorade and PowerAde to replenish you during and after workouts? You might be counteracting the good youre doing by working out. Sports drinks do replenish much needed electrolytes that can be lost during an intense workout, intense being the key word here. But the main ingredient in these drinks is sugar, making these drinks simple carbohydrates. Lions know very well that sugar can be there enemy. This doesnt mean that you cant ever grab a sports drink if youre feeling dehydrated, but limit yourself. There are actually only a few circumstances where a sports drink is needed by anyone.
When your workout is 60 minutes or longer, and of a moderate to high intensity level, you will need to replenish not only fluid loss, but electrolyte loss. However, if you just went for a 30 minute walk or jog, water will do just fine to re-hydrate you. There is no need to add in extra sugar after the average workout. So be smart about your hydration and dont take in what you dont need!
The other circumstance that warrants a sports drink for hydration is when you are working out in hot or humid weather. The hotter it is the more fluids and electrolytes you will lose, so even if you go out for just a 30 minute stroll you may need more than just water to re-hydrate. Keeping a sports drink with you, maybe even some salt tablets for a more intense workout, is a good and safe idea.
You May Like: Low Carb Diet For Beginners
Why Explore Carnivore Eating
At Diet Doctor we do our best to examine the best scientific evidence available to support safe and sensible dietary decisions to help you improve your health.
Some burgeoning dietary regimens, however, lack high-quality evidence either for or against their use. For the carnivore diet, there are a growing number of anecdotes, a wide range of expert opinions, and some interesting evolutionary theories. However, very few research studies exist around carnivory.
Should we ignore the growing popularity of carnivore eating because of these scientific limitations and pretend it doesnt exist? Or should we acknowledge it and discuss what is known and not known about its potential benefits and harms? We have chosen the latter approach but strongly stress that much more experimental research needs to be done.
Day Four: Side Effects And Bovine Dreams
I had a dream last night that I was a cow.
This morning I am asked to go to Vermont to interview a woman running for governor. But Ive got all this beef in my fridge! I tell my boss. He asks what thats got to do with anything. He hasnt been told about my experiment.
I shove some beef sticks in a bag and get a cab to the airport. I fall asleep on the way, and when I wake up, I feel very sad. Nothing has happened to make me feel sad. But Im exhausted, and Im feeling sorry for myself.
At the airport theres been some trouble with the airlines computer system. I cant check in for my flight. I wait in line for a long time to speak to someone. I miss the flight.
I feel like my world has caved in. I am filled with woe and anxiety. Ive let down the woman I was supposed to interview. My boss is going to be upset. What if I get fired? Why is there so much evil in the world?
My boss does not fire me. I get put on a flight the next day.
I look at a website called Meat Health, which is devoted to carnivorous eating.
Nearly always, when you start a carnivore diet, you will experience adverse symptoms and side effects, Meat Health says. Its what I affectionately call the trough of despair, or the trough for short.
Meat Health says eating more meat and drinking more water will help to climb out of the trough.
I shuffle to the fridge and retrieve another steak. I cook it and eat it, joylessly
Recommended Reading: Paleo Diet Food List Not Allowed
How Are You Eating Now
This diet is usually followed by those that have serious health conditions and healing to take place. I am VERY lucky to say that I am not one of those people. I did this experiment to heal my body postpartum and to clean the slate so to speak.
I believe that Ive done a lot to move forward on those goals but this is a JOURNEY. There are years of deficiency and fat that has accumulated and its going to take more than 21 days to balance out and I must work on finding a way where it is sustainable for me.
With that said, I did see incredible benefits to adopting a meat based diet and that is what I will continue with. My happy medium currently is eating 70-80% animal based and 20-30% low carb with the occasional carbohydrate increase around my cycle or for a special occasion.
Also remember that diet was just PART of the equation. I also had a lot of other modalities I was doing to help balance my hormones that you can check out in my Hormone Balance Helpers post.
As of right now, I am continuing to lose weight, although a bit more slowly and also continuing to see increases in my hormone health, mood and general well being while I experiment with what foods work at what consistencies.
Eating More Beef Can Benefit You
If you’re considering eating more beef, it’s easy to see why: beef is a good source of protein and contains many other nutrients that are important for your health.
- Protein: Beef provides complete protein that can help build muscle mass and support normal growth in children, teens, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Iron: Iron helps carry oxygen throughout the body. A deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness having too much iron may increase the risk of certain cancers such as colon cancer. You’ll get about 3 milligrams per 3-ounce serving of cooked lean beef .
- Vitamin B12: This vitamin helps maintain nerve cells, healthy blood cells , DNA synthesis , energy production from fats & carbohydrates as well as proper nervous system function.
- Zinc plays an important role in immune function it also supports wound healing by helping heal wounds faster.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 helps regulate levels of homocysteineâan amino acid derived from methionineâwhich has been linked with heart disease prevention when kept at normal levels.*
Recommended Reading: Diet To Lose Love Handles In 2 Weeks
What To Eat On The Carnivore Diet
So, what do you actually eat on the diet? Also called a zero-carb diet or animal-sourced foods diet, the carnivore diet typically consists of 100% animal foods meat, fish, eggs, high-fat dairy products, and animal fats. Some adherents eat only meat, salt, and water. Others allow for exceptions like coffee, tea, and small amounts of spices used in cooking, if tolerated.
According to a survey of 170 participants who had been following a carnivorediet for at least six months, the exact composition of the diet may differ widelyamong individuals due to food preferences or other considerations. Beef was themost common food consumed across the group, but a wide variety of animal foods was reported.1
The carnivore diet has been getting a lot of attention lately. There are Reddit forums with thousands of members, many Facebook groups, numerous articles in mainstream media, podcasts and hundreds of YouTube videos.
However, is a trial of the diet right for you?
Tips For Joining The Lion Diet
Before trying the Lion Diet, you might want to consider an alternative, evidence-based elimination diet proven to work for your condition.
For example, the low-FODMAP diet is recommended for those with chronic gut conditions such as IBS or IBD. For rheumatoid arthritis, you might want to try a lactose- and gluten-free diet before trying a more restrictive diet.
We also recommend going to see your doctor or healthcare practitioner to see if you can get allergy tests or support for following an elimination diet from a registered dietitian.
However, if youd like to try the Lion Diet, make sure you get as much support as possible. For instance, there are Facebook groups for the Lion Diet, but be cautious about accepting advice from people on social media.
Remember, the purpose of elimination diets such as the Lion Diet is to identify foods that contribute to your symptoms and re-introduce safe foods as quickly as possible to build a healthy, varied diet. You should not stay on this diet for very long before reintroducing foods back into the diet.
Read Also: How To Lose Weight On Low Carb Diet
Carnivore Diet Before And After Pics: The Takeaway
These carnivore before and after pictures are a testament to the power we have to take control of our lives by changing what we eat.
Though weight loss is not the goal nor the most important benefit of a carnivore diet, it is the most visible marker of the dramatic physiological changes that can take place on a carnivore diet.
Unlike other diets, going carnivore doesnt require counting calories. You simply eat the foods your body is designed to thrive on while cutting out the crap that its not.
Potential Downsides Of The Lion Diet
The Lion Diet has several negative aspects because of how severely constrained it is and how the great majority of food categories are completely excluded.
On the Lion Diet, consuming a lot of saturated fat may be problematic .
- It is high in salt, fat, and cholesterol: The beef diet may be rich in cholesterol and saturated fat because it solely includes animal products.
Your heart disease risk may increase due to saturated fat’s ability to boost LDL cholesterol .
Many processed types of red meat have high salt content. A high salt intake from the Lion Diet may raise the risk of high blood pressure, renal disease, and other unfavorable health impacts .
Consuming processed muscle meat might increase your risk of developing some cancers, including rectal and colon cancer .
If you have a pre-existing chronic condition, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, any history of stroke or other cardiovascular diseases, you should definitely not try this diet.- Kate Patton, RD, MEd
- It may be deficient in some micronutrients and advantageous plant compounds: The Lion Diet forgoes nutrient-dense foods, including whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables, since they all contain advantageous vitamins and minerals.
- Zero fiber: Only plant-based meals include fiber, a non-digestible carb that supports gut health and regular bowel motions .
Lack of fiber in the Lion Diet may cause individuals to become constipated.
Read Also: Diet For Women Over 60
Is Eating Beef Only Effective For Weight Loss
The lion diet is not a miracle cure for weight loss. It’s an eating plan that can help you heal inflammation, but it doesn’t work overnight. This way of eating is designed to help you become healthier overall, eliminating toxins and anti-nutrients, it will allow your body to recover for decades of external poisons.
Avoids Common Intolerances And Allergens
Elimination diets are essential for identifying potential allergens and can hence improve chronic symptoms associated with allergies, such as skin rashes, when a trigger food is avoided.
The Lion Diet avoids two of the main triggers of food intolerance symptoms: dairy and gluten.
Studies show that following a meat-, gluten-, and lactose-free diet for three months significantly reduces biomarkers of inflammation and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Avoiding dairy products may also improve acne.
Also Check: Benefits Of All Meat Diet
Does The Lion Diet Have Any Benefits
The Lion Diet is focused on eliminating foods from your diet and slowly reintroducing them. The intention is to determine which foods contribute to issues like inflammation, fatigue, and digestive problems.
Studies show that elimination diets could be effective for several conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel diseases (
Therefore, identifying specific foods that cause symptoms associated with these conditions could be beneficial.
However, keep in mind that the elimination diets typically recommended for these conditions are not as restrictive as the Lion Diet. Instead, they usually focus on eliminating specific foods or food groups that are known to cause symptoms.
There have not been any studies on the Lion Diet specifically, and its not recommended as a treatment for any health condition. In fact, consuming large amounts of red meat may lead to flare-ups in people with certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis .
Its best to talk with a healthcare professional before trying an elimination diet to ensure youre getting enough nutrients and avoid negative health effects.
Like other elimination diets, the Lion Diet is intended to help you identify which foods in your diet may be causing symptoms. However, the recommended elimination diets for most health issues are not usually as restrictive.
There are several drawbacks associated with the Lion Diet.