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The Carnivore Diet: Benefits, Food List, Risks, and More


If you’re not a vegan, you’re an omnivore… right?


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Not necessarily.

The carnivore diet has been making waves in health circles, and has become much more mainstream over the past several years.

On carnivore, you eat only animal-based foods — like meat, organs, animal fat, bone broth, and dairy.

Many people have credited the diet with drastically improving their health, but it is pretty extreme and there’s little research to support it.

Here’s our review of the carnivore diet, its benefits and downsides, and how to get started.

What Is the Carnivore Diet?

Carnivore is a completely animal-based diet. Commonly called the “all-meat diet,” it could be considered the opposite of a strict vegan diet. Rather than only plant-based foods, carnivore includes only animal- and meat-based foods.

Although the diet sounds extreme, it has a large but growing following of people who claim eating only animal foods has drastically improved their health.

Like keto, it is a “fasting-mimicking,” high-fat, moderate-protein, and extremely low-carb eating plan that helps you enter a state of ketosis — where you’re burning fat instead of carbs for your main source of energy. However, it’s significantly more restrictive than keto because it doesn’t allow for any plant-based foods (*).

How the Carnivore Diet Works

Carnivore eating is simple.

If it comes from an animal, you can eat it.

This includes all types of meat, eggs, animal-based fats like ghee and lard, and — for some people — dairy products and honey.

However, many carnivore eaters also place a large emphasis on food quality. This is an important consideration because ethically-raised animals tend to be more nutrient-dense and healthier than conventionally-farmed animals.

For instance, grass-fed beef and pastured eggs are richer in omega-3 fats than their conventional counterparts. Likewise, wild-caught fish is lower in potentially-harmful pollutants than farm-raised fish (* , *, *).

Carnivores who choose to include dairy products also gravitate towards raw, organic, and full-fat dairy.

Additionally, many people who follow a carnivore diet also practice intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, so they may only eat one or two meals per day and no snacks.

Potential Benefits of the Carnivore Diet

There are several potential benefits of carnivore according to the many anecdotes shared on online keto and carnivore communities, but very little existing research to support them.

Still, here are some of the benefits that people have reported experiencing from eating carnivore, along with a quick review of any existing research on the topic.

Weight loss

Although there hasn’t been any research specifically on carnivore for weight loss, carnivore is a ketogenic diet — so, like keto, it may offer similar weight loss benefits.

When you are in ketosis, your body burns fat for its main fuel source instead of carbs. This may make it easier to lose weight. Additionally, you may naturally feel fuller on fewer calories because fat and protein are very filling (*).

Finally, ketogenic diets may also help to preserve your lean muscle mass, so that — even as you lose fat — your body is still burning the same amount of calories at rest (*).

In one survey of over 2,000 carnivore eaters, participants on the diet for 6 months or longer reported an average 3-point reduction in their body mass index (BMI) (*).

Blood sugar management

Likewise, carnivore may be helpful for blood sugar management in the same way that keto is.

Ketogenic diets reduce fasting insulin levels and promote insulin sensitivity, which can improve your blood sugar control and make it easier to manage conditions related to insulin resistance and blood sugar, like type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (* , *).

In a survey of carnivore dieters, participants with diabetes reported that they had better blood glucose control and less diabetes medication use since starting the diet (*).

Brain function

There is a great deal of emerging research on ketogenic diets for brain function. Keto has long been used as a therapeutic diet for children with epilepsy, but it may also be useful for cognitive decline and mood disorders (* , *, *).

As a ketogenic diet, carnivore may also have similar benefits.

Autoimmune, skin, and digestive symptom management

Many people turn to carnivore after trying other diets or eating patterns to help manage their autoimmune, skin, or digestive concerns, without success.

There is some research to suggest that elimination-style diets, like paleo, could help with managing autoimmune and digestive symptoms, as well as skin conditions (* , *, *).

Additionally, we know that some people are profoundly sensitive to plant antinutrients, like lectins and phytates. These are the people who may greatly benefit from carnivore (*).


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Still, research on carnivore for these conditions is very limited. However, some participants in the carnivore survey we mentioned above reported improvements in digestive health and skin health after being on carnivore for six or more months (*).


Carnivore may also be helpful for fertility. Some research suggests that ketogenic and low carb diets may improve fertility in women and sperm quality in males (although, the evidence we have in males was in male rats, not humans — so take it with a grain of salt). Additionally, well-known fertility specialist Dr. Robert Kiltz of CNY fertility recommends carnivore for his fertility patients (* , *, *).

Carnivore Diet Food List: What to Eat and Avoid

Use this reference guide to determine what you can and can’t eat on carnivore. You can use it as a shopping list, as well.

Foods to Eat on a Carnivore Diet

Here are the foods you can eat freely on carnivore. Remember when shopping to look for the highest quality available, such as organic, free-range, grass-fed, pastured, and/or wild-caught options.

You also want to choose fattier meats, as well as  Also, be sure that the meats you purchase don’t contain any added ingredients or flavors.

  • Beef: all cuts
  • Chicken: all cuts
  • Lamb: all cuts
  • Turkey: all cuts
  • Fish and shellfish: all types
  • Pork: all cuts, bacon, sausage
  • Wild game: venison, elk, bison, duck, rabbit, etc.
  • Fats and oils: butter, ghee, lard, tallow, duck fat
  • Other: eggs, bone broth, salt, collagen supplements

Foods You May Eat on a Carnivore Diet

There are some foods that are a “maybe” on the carnivore diet. Some people choose to include them, while others choose to avoid them. These are:

  • Honey (made by bees, which technically makes it a carnivore food)
  • Dairy products, including raw milk, sour cream, heavy cream, and cheese
  • Herbs and spices in moderation
  • Tea and coffee

Foods to Avoid on the Carnivore Diet

There are many foods that you will need to avoid on carnivore. These include:

  • Meats: all meat foods containing non-meat ingredients (packaged meatballs, breaded chicken strips, etc.)
  • Dairy: flavored yogurts, ice creams, flavored milk, plant-based dairy alternatives
  • Fats and oils: seed oils, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, plant-based butter, margarine
  • Grains and starches: all grains and starchy foods (bread, pasta, corn, potatoes, rice, oats, quinoa, etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes: all beans and legumes
  • Fruits: all fruits
  • Vegetables: all vegetables
  • Packaged foods: crackers, cookies, snack cakes, cakes, candies, boxed meals, frozen meals, etc.
  • Miscellaneous: vinegar, chocolate/cacao
carnivore diet food list

Carnivore Diet Sample Meal Plan

Here’s what three days on carnivore may look like.

Day One

  • Breakfast: 2-3 eggs scrambled in butter, bone broth
  • Lunch: roasted chicken wings tossed in butter and salt
  • Supper: large grilled ribeye steak

Day Two

  • Breakfast: 2-3 pork sausage links
  • Lunch: burger made with ground beef and ground beef liver
  • Supper: half chicken (with skin), roasted with butter

Day Three

  • Breakfast: uncured bacon and 2-3 eggs fried in rendered bacon fat
  • Lunch: salmon cooked in butter, bone broth
  • Supper: meatballs made with ground beef and ground pork

Many people on carnivore don’t snack, and they may also fast through breakfast or practice a type of fasting known as One Meal a Day (OMAD).

For this reason, the above sample meal plan may not be applicable to all carnivore eaters.

How to Get Started with the Carnivore Diet

Here are a few key steps and important considerations as you get started on carnivore:

  1. Stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Be sure that you have plenty of meat, eggs, bone broth, salt, and carnivore-friendly cooking fat on hand. If you live alone or live with others who are doing carnivore, it’s a great idea to get rid of non-carnivore foods so they don’t present a temptation. If you live with other people who aren’t doing carnivore, though, this can be tricky.
  2. Plan your meals. Carnivore will require plenty of advance planning, especially if you work outside of the home or are planning dinners out. Be sure to plan out your weekly meals, and remember to move meats from the freezer to the fridge to thaw in advance, so that you’re not left scrambling to cobble together a carnivore meal.
  3. Consider supplements. There are some supplements that you may want to consider including in your Carnivore diet, like vitamin C, vitamin D, electrolytes, and collagen. If you dislike organ meats, you may also want to consider a desiccated liver supplement, which can provide some of the nutrients found in organ meats.
  4. Include skin, organs, and bone broth. Muscle meat alone can’t provide all of the nutrients your body needs, but including skin, organs, and bone broth in your diet can help fill some of those nutrient gaps.
  5. Use salt liberally. Carnivore is a ketogenic diet, so — like keto — you’ll need more electrolytes like sodium. Using high-quality salt on all of your food can make a big difference in helping you meet your electrolyte needs, and an electrolyte supplement may be a helpful addition as well.

Potential Risks of the Carnivore Diet

Although many people online sing the praises of the carnivore diet, it’s not without risks.

First, there is very little research to support the carnivore diet’s potential benefits and safety. It’s important to remember this as you’re reading up on carnivore. A lack of research doesn’t mean that carnivore is bad, necessarily, but it does mean that we have some knowledge gaps.

Here are some other potential risks to keep in mind:

  • No fiber. One of the major downsides of carnivore is that there is no fiber in this diet. Fiber helps regulate digestion and provides a food source for beneficial gut bacteria. Still, many long-term carnivores say that their digestion is better with no plant foods (or fiber) than when they were including plant foods in their diet.
  • Nutrient imbalances. By removing plant foods, Carnivore removes some key sources of certain nutrients and — over time — could lead to nutrient deficiencies. Although some research suggests that a well-planned Carnivore diet can prevent nutrition gaps, you may have trouble with this if you don’t include bone broth, collagen, animal skin, organ meats, or dietary supplements in your routine (*).
  • Stress and hormone balance. Particularly in women, strict carbohydrate restriction may negatively impact hormone balance — which could increase your body’s physiological stress load and affect your menstrual cycle. This is not a problem for all women, and there are several women online who report following a carnivore diet with great success, but it is something to be aware of (*).
  • Increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Some people on carnivore have reported that it significantly increased their LDL cholesterol, which could indicate greater heart disease risk. Still, these same people also reported drastic improvements in their high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides — both of which indicate a decreased risk of heart disease (*).

How Long Should You Do the Carnivore Diet?

Carnivore may be difficult to follow over a long-term basis for many people, because of how restrictive it is. Still, there are online communities where people claim that they’ve followed a carnivore diet for years without issue.

For that reason, it’s hard to say how long you individually should stick to the diet. It really depends on your health goals and health status, and your tolerance for such a diet plan. Be sure to consider your healthcare provider’s input, too.

Additionally, if you like the results you get from carnivore but find it too restrictive, you should check out Paul Saladino’s “animal based” diet.

This diet is mostly-carnivore, but it includes some plant foods that Dr. Saladino considers “low toxic,” meaning that they are easy to digest and well-tolerated by most people. These include (*):

  • Fruits like apples, pineapples, mangos, dates, oranges, berries
  • Vegetables like avocado, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, squash, olives
  • White rice (in small quantities)
  • Sweet potatoes (in small quantities)

Additionally, you could also consider transitioning into a keto or paleo diet if you want more flexibility than carnivore but similar benefits.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Follow a Carnivore Diet?

Carnivore is hard and extremely restrictive, so many people turn to it as a “last resort” for their weight, blood sugar management, digestion, or autoimmune concerns. However, carnivore may be a great fit for you if:

  • You like keto and fasting
  • You enjoy meat and wouldn’t mind cutting out plant-based foods
  • You have health goals that may benefit from ketosis
  • You have digestive or autoimmune concerns that haven’t improved from other treatments or diets
  • You have trouble digesting plant foods

However, the carnivore diet isn’t right for everyone. It may not be a good fit for you if:

  • You dislike meat or don’t think you could stick to a plant-free diet
  • You have a meat allergy or intolerance, such as alpha-gal syndrome (caused by tick bites) (*)
  • You don’t want to include skin or organ meats in your diet
  • You’re underweight
  • You have a history of disordered eating
  • You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Your physician has advised against carnivore

If you have any concerns, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider before you start carnivore.

The Bottom Line

Carnivore has amassed a big following of dedicated meat eaters. People say that the diet helps them lose weight and improve their blood sugar control, and it may also help with fertility, skin conditions, autoimmunity, and digestive problems.

Still, there’s very little research to support the carnivore diet. Most of the benefits have been reported by people who follow a carnivore diet, and there are still some significant downsides.

First, it’s extremely restrictive and hard to follow. Additionally, it contains no fiber, could lead to nutrient deficiencies if not planned well, and may negatively affect hormones — especially in women.

However, if you’re interested in following carnivore, be sure to plan your meals, invest in high-quality meats, include skin and organ meats, and salt liberally.


Join 90k+ people who are losing weight with Keto Kickstart, our doctor-developed program designed to give you real weight loss results.

Also, if carnivore is a little too intense for you, you can consider other similar eating patterns like Dr. Saladino’s animal-based diet, keto, or paleo.

26 References

Panebianco C et al. Fasting and engineered diets as powerful tool in the medical practice: an old approach in the new era. 2017 November

Nogoy K et al. Fatty Acid Composition of Grain- and Grass-Fed Beef and Their Nutritional Value and Health Implication. 2022 January 1

Sergin S et al. Fatty Acid and Antioxidant Profile of Eggs from Pasture-Raised Hens Fed a Corn- and Soy-Free Diet and Supplemented with Grass-Fed Beef Suet and Liver. 2022 October 28

Hernández A et al. Comparative study of the intake of toxic persistent and semi persistent pollutants through the consumption of fish and seafood from two modes of production (wild-caught and farmed). 2017 January 1

Gershuni V et al. Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome. 2018 September

Gershuni V et al. Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome. 2018 September

Lennerz B et al. Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”. 2021 November 2

Gershuni V et al. Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome. 2018 September

Barrea L et al. Ketogenic Diet as Medical Prescription in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). 2023 January 25

Lennerz B et al. Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”. 2021 November 2

Martin-McGill K et al. Ketogenic diets for drug-resistant epilepsy. 2018 November 7

Davis J et al. Ketogenic Diet for the Treatment and Prevention of Dementia: A Review. 2020 January 30

Włodarczyk A et al. Ketogenic diet for depression: A potential dietary regimen to maintain euthymia? 2021 January 23

Hollywood JB et al. The Effects of the Paleo Diet on Autoimmune Thyroid Disease: A Mixed Methods Review. 2023 January 4

Barone M et al. Gut microbiome response to a modern Paleolithic diet in a Western lifestyle context. 2019 August 8

Melnik B. Acne vulgaris: The metabolic syndrome of the pilosebaceous follicle. 2017 September 7

Petroski W et al. Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-Nutrients”? A Narrative Review of Perceived Problematic Plant Compounds. 2020 September 24

Lennerz B et al. Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”. 2021 November 2

McGrice M et al. The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diets on Fertility Hormones and Outcomes in Overweight and Obese Women: A Systematic Review. 2017 February 27

McAuliffe L. Carnivore Diet for Fertility: How and Why it Works. 2022 August 24

Liu C et al. Is a Ketogenic Diet Superior to a High-Fat, High-Cholesterol Diet Regarding Testicular Function and Spermatogenesis? 2022 February 10

O’Hearn A. Can a carnivore diet provide all essential nutrients? 2020 October

Soltani H et al. Increasing Dietary Carbohydrate as Part of a Healthy Whole Food Diet Intervention Dampens Eight Week Changes in Salivary Cortisol and Cortisol Responsiveness. 2019 October 24

Lennerz B et al. Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”. 2021 November 2

Carnivore M.D. WHAT IS AN

Román-Carrasco P et al. The α-Gal Syndrome and Potential Mechanisms. 2021 December 16


27 thoughts on “The Carnivore Diet: Benefits, Food List, Risks, and More

  1. From as early as 4,000 years ago mankind was instructed to eat of the garden which contained fruits and vegetables(with the seeds in it). “This will be meat for you”.

    Read old testament scripture. Book of Genesis.

  2. The Bible also says that Abraham prepared a whole calf as food for the visiting angel and later on in the Bible we read that when Christ returns there will be a Feast of fat meat and marrow. So yes, I shall eat that fat meat. And the marrow! I’m a carnivore. I am healthy and fit at 62. Just give it it try. You will love the results!

  3. @Joy
    They also retold a bunch of Sumerian stories and changed the names of the characters in the bible, lets stick to facts.

  4. how will it affect people with CKD or chronic kidney disease stage 2 and a low protein diet that was prescribed for it I am allowed only 5 oz of protein a day.I have type one diabetes so I need to know how it would affect the kidneys. Thanks

  5. How do spices count as far as a Carnivore/Keto diet goes? I know most spices are comprised of different salts and minerals, but I love to pile spices on everything that I make/eat and I would like to know if that will have an adverse effect on my experience with a Carnivore diet.

  6. @Joy – if everyone used the bible to site academic credibility we would be very far behind in our progress. find some facts please.

    This was a great article, I’ve been on the carnivore diet for 3 weeks now and have seen incredible results. There definitely was an initiation period with symptoms similar to the “keto flu” from a ketogenic diet but they passed after around 5-6 days. I’ve lost 15 pounds and my energy levels have dramatically increased. The most noticeable feature for me by far is the clearer thinking factor. You read a lot about this concept in keto diet articles as well, but when you actually experience it, its like “wowww”. I’m sure this diet isn’t for everyone, but its interesting how little negative response you can find from people who are trying it.

    thanks for the good read!

  7. This is good from women? I read lots about it good for the males but what about post menopausal women?

  8. Really nice review Lorenz.

    It’s interesting that from the Carnivore slogan:

    “Eat meat. Drink water.”

    Lots of questions arise. And understandably so.


    If it would be helpful for anyone looking to get started there is
    “The Ultimate 30-Day Guide to Going Full Carnivore” ( that goes over what to eat/avoid, supplements that can help the transition period, and 3 “Levels” to consider.

  9. Ezekiel 23:19-20
    “Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.”

  10. I was wondering if was ok to consume the Perfect Keto Sport Drink before workouts while eating carnivore? Which Perfect Keto products are carnivore approved? Thanks!

  11. You wrote “Similar to a ketogenic diet, the carnivore diet relies heavily on running off fats and proteins as a source of energy. ”
    Protein is not a source of energy. But yes the body can convert it to fat for storage.

    1. Have you ever heard of the process called gluconeogenesis?

      It’s the process by which your liver uses protein to create glucose. Protein is a source of energy, whether you realize it or not.

  12. I have been on the keto diet for 2 years and lost 90 pounds. I stalled with about 50 pounds to go. I weighed 270 at the start. I gained a few pounds and desided WTH, I’ll try the carnivore diet and jump start my weight loss again, it worked! I lost the 10 pounds that I had gained back and I am begining weight training. I am a 72 year old female and I feel wonderful! I went from size W24 to a reg. 16.

  13. I’ve been on for almost three weeks now, and I can tell you the change is amazing. My energy levels are through the roof. My mental focus has helped me get more writing done this week then in the last three months. I’m also loosing fat much faster when I work out.

  14. @Joy,
    I hear you! I know where you coming from. I was there too! I am an ex Vegan of 8 years! However, I have also come to understand that first of all, in a perfect world, before the fall of man. Adam and Eve were perfect beings, with perfect health right?.
    Things have severely deteriorated since we live in a fallen world, full of illness and disease and a huge disruption in balance.
    So, because we are so out of balance, our bodies included. We cannot eat this “perfect” food of fruit, nuts and seeds. I did that and became diabetic!
    Eve certainly didn’t have to deal with diabetes or insulin resistance!
    Think about it!
    We need to eat to correct the imbalance in our bodies. So in this context it is correct to “Let food be thy medicine”
    Over biblical history, you will find that God changed man’s diet, to allow him to adapt to the enviroment. After leaving Eden, after the flood and in the Levitical law. “Clean meats” were allowed and provided for in God’s law.

  15. @Lore. You want to use artificial sweeteners on your MEAT!?

    Rule of thumb: “artificial” = “not meat”

    Sweeteners are either plant-based, or chemical. Neither is good on Carnivore.

    I have even switched to black coffee to avoid the toxins – and only one cup per day. This is not carnivore, nor is it toxic.

  16. Genesis 45:18 take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land Ezekiel 34:3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.
    You see that how the bible say’s one thing and then another! I think half that bible is right. I think bead and wine was used to keep the poor sick! We ate the fruit of the garden of eve and got hooked on the sweet’s and that lead to sickness. Anyone that lives off of fruit only has their teeth fall out and they die a slow death! Eat meat and drink water for life. We are the lions of this earth and this is why we have hair around our necks like a lion.

  17. I’ve been keto over 5 yrs, and it never hurts to eat more meat! I spend 90% of my days carnivore. It just makes life easier. Since I started prioritizing high protein, I’ve felt leaner and more energetic.

  18. All of your comments have been helpful to an extent, however I was hoping to see more comments regarding cholesterol levels. I am curious to know if LDL cholesterol levels spiked ,or decreased. after periodic labs were taken. Does anyone have their before and after lab results?

  19. @Joy You cannot compare the Garden of Eden, which contained eternal-life-giving vegetation to today’s nutritionally depleted fruits & vegetables, which are grown in the depleted soil of corporate farmlands. God also instructed the people to grow crops for 6 years, then allow the soil to rest for 1 year, so that the minerals could be restored to the soil. Do you really think the food corporations of present day would even consider doing that ?

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