What is the Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet consists of animal derived foods – primarily red meat, but also organ meats, seafood, eggs, and often low-lactose dairy if tolerated. There are several different carnivore diet proponents, so the exact rules and recommendations are going to change between them.
Paul Saladino is one of the more popular proponents of the carnivore diet on social media. In his 2020 book, the Carnivore Code, he presents the “Tier 5 Varsity Carnivore Diet” which is his idealized expression of carnivore.
The example day includes: cage-free eggs cooked in ghee, grass-fed tenderloin steak, liver, oysters, bone broth, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed strip steak, and mussels (with fat: protein rations optimized based on performance goals).
It appears in the book that this type of diet is recommended in perpetuity. Yet, it is interesting to note Saladino has changed his dietary approach to include fruit, honey, and raw dairy according to the website in July of 2023. It is not that surprising to find he’s become more moderate overtime assuming he lives this diet day-to-day. There is a real chance for nutrient deficiency (but don’t worry, he has a supplement line!), performance decline, as well as just too much monotony to eat that sample day on repeat.
(Author’s Note: The lack of carbohydrates in this diet for “performance” is laughable; learn more about carbohydrates’ role in performance in this episode.)
Is there a "Lazy Carnivore" Diet?
Did you know that “lazy carnivore diet” is a popular web search? This likely is reflective of the primary drawback of the carnivore diet: it is not sustainable.
Let’s just put aside the discussions about nutrient value, animal vs. plant-based (covered in this podcast episode), and what the research says or does not… people are likely searching for a “lazy carnivore diet” because the majority of people cannot actually adhere to the current diet recommendations!
They are trying to find ways to achieve the proposed benefits of the diet without committing to the elimination of the foods they enjoy.
It’s important to suspend your beliefs and opinions about what may or may not be optimal with a lot of things in nutrition and ask yourself: is it sustainable? Because if people can’t or won’t do it, there is no sense worrying about it.
This is why Principle #7 states: Sustainability is the most important factor in diet selection. We need individuals to be able to stick to a plan to see results. This is in fact why so many different diets (and even research studies) look at ways to cut calories without weighing and measuring! While weighing and measuring is the most accurate way to cut calories, most people don’t want to do it.
So, if you are looking for a “lazy carnivore diet” – you are likely going to do well with a mixture of animal and plant based foods at the appropriate caloric intake for you. Sounds like a whole food based diet!
The Carnivore Diet Claims Debunked
The Carnivore Code is a great example of the format of many mainstream diet books. In particular, they use a lot personal anecdotes (ie the “hero’s journey”) and often rant about the conventional medicine system.
Mainstream diet books also are depicted to contain a lot of science – with lots of science-speak and references in the back of the book. The problem is the references don’t actually say what the author is using them for!
A great example is that Saladino argues that “plants are toxic” yet the references don’t say that at all or even encourage people to eat MORE plants. Tune into the podcast episode linked above to get the deep dive on the carnivore diet, as well as a critique of The Carnivore Code book.
(If you open the podcast in another player like Apple or Spotify, be sure to scroll back to May 2021 and look for the title: on the Carnivore Diet & Mainstream Diet Books.)