If you’re middle-aged and overweight the thought of a tasty diet of steak and salt may sound really appealing. It did to me.
When you’re my age the thought of 3 hours a day in the gym doesn’t sound appealing at all. Even the thought of walking to the gym to pick up a membership form feels like a chore (assuming they still have paper-based membership forms, which I’m sure they don’t).
Trouble is, as a nutritionist of pet carnivores I know what’s really involved in a carnivore diet, and it definitely isn’t steak and salt.
In fact, if you’re reading this thinking steak and salt is a good idea for a diet, then I strongly urge you to think long and hard, even if you find yourself convinced by memes such as this:
I remember when raw feeding pets became a very popular thing, and off the back of that many well-meaning pet owners ended up with very sick pets. Why? From believing muscle meats like chicken and beef mince were the best diet for their pet carnivores.
Any raw feeders will know the importance of organ meats (liver, kidney, heart, even brains and tripe) and (raw) bones. Without these nutrient-rich foodstuffs your pet carnivore will very likely suffer in the long run. It won’t be this week or next, but likely in a few years from now when they start showing symptoms.
I strongly suspect the same is very much the case for us.
In my experience numerous issues can arise from a restricted diet, or a diet which doesn’t offer all required nutrients. This could be anything from a build-up of intolerances or dietary sensitivities, to a failing heart or other deteriorating organ disease.
If you want some insight, you could investigate one of the following:
- The nutrient requirements of dog or cat food set out by AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Because most people feed their pets the same commercial junk food for the entire life of their pets, a standard such as AAFCO is to ensure every meal contains all required nutrients we currently know are required by that animal. There isn’t the same emphasis in the human space as we’re not gullible enough to believe we should eat processed nuggets from Mars or Nestle for the sake of our health.
- Visit the local vet and pick up a bag of one of their endorsed kibbles. The first ingredients will likely be grains, which may strike you as odd ingredients in a food for carnivorous animals, but it’s the ingredients further down the list which are relevant here. If vitamins and macrominerals are listed, start researching where those nutrients are sourced naturally. You’ll find for almost all of them the richest source is animal meats, organs, and bone.
I bet a diet of steak and salt, liver, kidney, heart, and sheep brains doesn’t sound as appealing to you as steak and salt. It definitely doesn’t to me, yet these are foods I see essential for the health of real carnivorous animals.
Even this isn’t a real carnivore diet.
Nevertheless, while stuffing my face with pain aux chocolat on my recent holiday to France, I decided to embark on a carnivore diet on my return.
This is my carnivore diet diary.
Why I decided to go full carnivore
I’d love to say “for research purposes” but that wouldn’t be true.
I’m 3 years into Dad Bod territory. 45 years old. And my diet has always been far from great.
I have a sweet tooth, and I confess to drinking too much alcohol. The last time I had a gym membership was 10 years ago, and even then I probably averaged 1hr per month.
At the start of my carnivore diet I weigh 95kg with a height of 178cm. According to an online ideal weight calculator this is where I’m at:
Those results shocked me as I don’t consider myself that overweight. In my early 20s I went through an intense gym phase, mostly cardio, and hit 70kg at one stage. I know anything less than that wouldn’t have been “ideal”, and realistically I should be 80kg.
That means I’m 15kg overweight. That’s the weight of a medium-sized dog.
The reason I’m overweight is very clear. It’s not a lack of exercise – I have a Border Collie which means I walk a fair bit each day, with a long walk at 7am, another at 5pm, and despite working at a desk do move around a lot each day.
My weight is a direct result of diet choices. My main meals are mostly healthy, but I doubt many days pass when I don’t eat biscuits, cake, or drink alcohol (wine or beer). I have very little willpower.
Even before my amazing daughter came into the world I was failing, and since then my weight has gone to pot. If you’ve had a kid you’ll know how time consuming they are, and how restrictive they can be. Once upon a time I would go for a walk or jog in my free time. Since having a child I often have to dedicate my free time to having a nap for the sake of my sanity.
So that’s my real reason – I want to get back in shape.
I also want to know for myself what a carnivore diet can do.
Will a carnivore diet make me feel great, or make me feel rubbish. Will it help me sleep better? Will it help with my lower back pain and other inflammatory aches and pains we all tend to suffer at middle age?
Will I get acne like I did trying the Atkins diet in my younger years, or get dizzy spells?
Will I lose my gut and feel great about myself again? Find a better version of myself, and be less depressed about my weight?
Will I manage to stomach liver, kidney, heart, and maybe brains?
Will it be a complete failure – I’ve already said I lack willpower.
Hopefully, at the very least, I’ll understand the carnivore diet a little more.
Considerations, Planning & Preparation
Any diet should be well considered and properly prepared for. The problem is I’m terrible at planning, and my intentions of getting everything ready went out of the window on my return from holiday. You’ll see this as you start reading my carnivore diet diary below, but nevertheless the below is some of my “considerations, planning, and preparation”.
Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Week #1
You’ll laugh, but while in France eating pain aux chocolat, I asked Chat GTP to devise a Week #1 Carnivore Diet Meal Plan.
First draft Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Week #1
This is the first draft meal plan Chat GPT came back with:
As a meal plan for a diet I was surprised how good that sounded. Very varied with lots of tasty meals, but it didn’t strike me as a real carnivore diet.
The meal plan was also absent of organ meats.
Thankfully Chat GPT added a disclaimer to consult with a healthcare professional, which I should probably add too.
Disclaimer: Remember to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new diet, especially one that eliminates entire food groups. Also, make sure to listen to your body’s signals and adjust portion sizes as needed. Stay hydrated and consider incorporating nutrient-rich organ mats if you’re following a strict carnivore diet.
I’ll add to that by saying I’m well aware I could be risking my health undertaking a carnivore diet, but if you decide to follow my diary, or follow my Chat GPT generated carnivore diet meal plans, then the risks (or benefits) are on you.
Revised Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Week #1
I wasn’t happy with the vegetables Chat GPT suggested in the first draft meal plan, and wasn’t happy with the lack of organ meats either.
I asked Chat GPT to revise the meal plan with “No sausage, processed foods, or vegetables”, and as an afterthought added “Please include bone broth. Dairy is acceptable.”
The reason for my last request was I believe bone broth is an excellent addition to any diet, and something I would encourage anyone on a carnivore diet to consider.
At this stage my goal isn’t to become a die hard carnivore, but to reset my diet and break my addiction to sugars and processed foods. I have no real issue with dairy or vegetables, even starchy vegetables, and plan to add them back into my diet in moderation after an initial 2 weeks carnivore.
Below is the revised meal plan. What do you think?
It may not be die hard carnivore, and I’ll likely adapt as I go along, but as a meal plan at least it offers variety and I can use it as a base to work off.
But knowing me, I’ll probably make it up as I go along.
A Great Tip for Sourcing Ingredients
A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast with James Delingpole and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (The Delingpod), and I highly recommend you listen to it. It’s a great insight into the human body, the influences of the food industry, and nutrition in general. It may have real benefits with your diet, carnivore or not, or make you think about your pet’s diet in a much better way.
I picked up a great tip from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on how to source really go real foods, and it’s how I sourced the meat for my first week on a carnivore diet.
Her advice was to visit a local farmers market and speak with the people running a stall. Do they have a local farm, with a local farm shop? Is there a possibility of visiting the farm, which allows you to see it for yourself to see how ethical they are. She offers more tips in the podcast, but I’ll leave you to find those out.
I used this exact method to find two local farms, both with a shop, and that’s how I stocked up on meat.
Is a carnivore diet expensive?
One last point I want to cover is how expensive a carnivore diet may be.
I’ll skip back to my experience with pet diets for a minute, because this is really important. Some of the pet foods I recommend are considered expensive (and I admit they are), and I often have emails from disgruntled readers complaining they cost so much more than their current dog food.
What those people don’t consider, is why their current pet food is cheap. The answer is by-products of wheat baked into hard nuggets of indigestible kibble allows the product to be cheap, and sets the benchmark for the price of pet food. It’s a fallacy, and it’s far from healthy.
Expect to pay more for healthy food, because healthy food costs more than the rubbish used in processed foods.
In our current decade most of the supermarket shelves are filled with convenience food, processed food, or junk food. Keep in mind most of those foods are made from cheap ingredients – grains, sugar, or whatever can be used to increase profit margin.
However, I was really surprised how little I spent for my first week on a carnivore diet.
When you go to the supermarket you buy a whole range of products – for one meal you might buy meat, potatoes, vegetables, or even stuff like chips, condiments, drinks.
If you’re like me you’ll also stumble on other things which weren’t on your shopping list, which might be olives, biscuits, or some fancy looking packet food.
Then you check out the reduced section and buy stuff you probably wouldn’t have bought anyway. My good friend Architect Russell would say “It’s not a bargain if you weren’t going to buy it anyway”.
When you buy meat that’s all you buy. You don’t waste money on anything unnecessary.
I walked away from the farm shop with two bags of meat, and I found myself thinking how much weight I had bought for such a reasonable amount of money.
Less than what I would spend on a usual weekly shop.
My Carnivore Diet Diary Week #1
Weigh In: 94.5kg
Having just returned from holiday it’s possible my weight is a little more than normal, but for a while I’ve been close to 95kg.
Carnivore Diet Day #1
I started my carnivore diet a couple of days earlier than planned, on the same day I went back to work after a 3 week holiday. It just happened. I thought starting a diet would really make my first day back at the desk suck – who likes diets, and who likes going back to work?
For breakfast I had 3 eggs, scrambled, and 2 slices of really tasty bacon (farm shop bacon). I decided to skip my usual toast.
I got stuck into work, and come lunchtime I realised I hadn’t been hungry all morning. No mid-morning munchies.
I’ve noticed this before when only eating protein for breakfast. You feel satiated.
A friend of mine has scrambled eggs every morning, and doesn’t crave food all morning. His office colleagues on the other hand, after their breakfast of carbohydrates, can’t help gorging on mid-morning biscuits.
I’m usually one of those people.
The same friend used to live off bread and peanut butter, and couldn’t stop. Bread is carbohydrates, and carbohydrates are sugars. Combined with the peanut butter become super addictive, and you’re probably aware of this already?
How often do you have a snack when you’re not really hungry, and all of a sudden you’re ravenous? You can’t stop.
For lunch I had grilled chicken breast with a sprinkling of salt and seaweed I bought at a farmer’s market in France, and that was it. I didn’t have the cheese as stated on my Chat GPT meal plan, for no real reason.
At dinner I had my first surprise. I cooked my ribeye steak in the Air Fryer (they’re great, aren’t they), and stuck it on my plate.
It looked like a sorry state of affairs, a lonely steak. I felt I hadn’t eaten much over the day, and thought I was going to be starving that evening.
But that didn’t happen.
Surprisingly I couldn’t finish the steak. I ate about 80% and realised I was done.
I can’t remember the last time I felt so satiated by a meal.
My dog and cat had the remaining piece.
Carnivore Diet Day #2
I expected to feel hungry when I woke up on Day 2, but I didn’t. I looked forward to, then enjoyed another breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs and 2 slices of bacon.
Mid-morning I found myself thinking of chocolate cake, or a nice biscuit. I think my mind was telling me I was hungry when I really wasn’t. I felt my cravings were more withdrawal symptoms – from an addiction to sugar, and most of us are addicted to sugar.
Did you know sugar is one of the most addictive substances, but we rarely consider it as almost everyone eats sugar?
Sugar is in almost everything, and when it comes to products given to us by the food industry it’s very likely for that reason. If you know how to read ingredients labels like I do, you’ll see most products have far more sugar than most people would think.
On the subject of refined sugar, the white stuff we know and love, some argue it comes from a natural source – sugar cane or sugar beet. We also know fruit is good for us, and fruit is high in sugar. But there’s a big difference – fruit sugar comes with everything you need to digest it, but refined sugar doesn’t. That stuff’s been removed in the process, and that’s the reason we get energy spikes, ups and downs, and dietary illnesses like diabetes.
If you want to understand that from a more scientific perspective, listen to the James Delingpole podcast I mentioned in the Considerations, Planning & Preparation section.
Day 2 I found myself craving starchy, sugary foods, without a doubt. My daily bad habits.
But I had a big win. Day 2 coincided with a visit to my parents, and my parents love to have a cupboard full of biscuits, chocolate, and cake. I’m happy to say I stood my guns, and made it through the day full carnivore.
Surprisingly, having eaten a load of beef for lunch, it wasn’t took hard to avoid snacks. Even sitting and watching my wife and daughter have a big slice of cherry pie.
Carnivore Diet Day #3
I woke up on Day 3 with my first noticeable change.
From Googling I found out ketosis can kick in after 1 or 2 days, although sometimes longer. Dry mouth is one of the signs of ketosis, as is lethargy, change of sleeping patterns, and the effect most people aim for – fat burning.
I believe ketosis can occur if you consume less than 20g or 30g of carbohydrates a day, and until this point I haven’t consumed any.
Dry mouth often coincides with bad breath, but as yet nobody has complained, and through the course of Day 3 it hasn’t been too bad, and I’ve stayed as hydrated as possible.
I confess I’ve had another side effect of being on a carnivore diet, and that’s really bad sleep.
For the last two nights I’ve found myself waking up a lot at night, and also found myself getting up to go to the loo a few times. I’ve also had some weird dreams.
For now it’s merely an observation, and it’s possible my sleeping patterns are disrupted from returning to work after a holiday, and I’ve probably drank more water than usual which has affected my bladder. The weird dreams might be a result of watching WW2 In Colour on Netflix before going to bed (a fascinating documentary, especially having visited northern France recently). I woke up at 3am having dreamt I was an American general and my battle plans were starting to fail…
My second noticeable change on Day 3 really came out of the blue.
I felt like going for a jog!
I used to jog in my mid-thirties, but haven’t been recently. I’m not the type of person who feels like going jogging, but I really did today. Maybe it’s excitement from actually doing something about my gut, or maybe I had a little more energy than I normally would early afternoon (normally the time I can’t be bothered to do anything).
I created a playlist called “Run!” on Apple Music years ago. Every now and then I listen to a song which I feel might motivate me on a jog. Today was the first time I stuck on my headphones and kicked off that playlist.
So there I was, a slightly overweight 45 year old, jogging away from my house listening to Eye of the Tiger, the most inspirational workout song there is (assuming you’ve seen Rocky).
It wasn’t a bad jog either. I admit it was just shy of 20 minutes, probably 7 min kms, but to think I actually enjoyed a jog. I was on my way home listening to Rogue Traders, and when I heard the words “Here Come the Drums, Here Come the Drums” I found myself veering off the long way home.
I haven’t weighed myself yet, but at least I feel I’ve been productive with exercise as well as the carnivore diet, so that’s a positive way to reflect on Day 3.
Weigh In: 88.45kg
Weighing myself during the evening of Day 3 I found my weight has dropped. It’s a positive start, but I won’t look much more into it than that.
Carnivore Diet Day #4
To be updated tomorrow…
PLEASE HELP SAVE OUR PETS FROM HARM
In 2018 a popular brand of pet food killed many Australian dogs. It is not the first, or the last time the unregulated Australian pet food industry has failed our pets.
Vincent, pictured above, was one of those dogs.
Once this petition reaches 150,000 it will be one of the most signed on Choice. It will be featured, and publicised.
Hopefully then the Government will take note, as in 2018 they failed.