When You Switch To A Carnivore Diet, This Is What Happens To Your Body

You may have heard of the paleo diet or caveman diet. Both of these meal plans are focused on the foods that were available to hunter-gatherer societies. That means no processed foods, no complex carbohydrates, and no unnatural sugarsDiet Doctor outlines that the carnivore diet is similar to the caveman diet, but is completely plant-free. The principle is to eat only animal products and, in its most extreme form, only includes meat and water. This may sound simple, but there are things you should consider before restricting your diet. When you switch to a carnivore diet, this is what happens to your body.

Healthline explains that the carnivore diet has been credited with aiding weight loss and regulating blood sugar. However, most of these claims are based on anecdotes and not scientific evidence. By cutting out foods rich in minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients, like vegetables, fruits, and grains, you could lose out. Research published on The BMJ has suggested that dietary fiber could be key in protecting you against some cancers.

Nourish by WebMD has highlighted that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet could help people feel healthier and lose weight. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating meals that are balanced. This means including proteins, fruits and vegetables, fats, and dairy in your diet.

How the carnivore diet affects your digestive system

The Independent reported that the carnivore diet "evolved from the keto and paleo diets." A study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that radically restricting your diet to only include animal products could seriously affect your digestive system (via the National Library of Medicine).

Healthline outlines that by cutting out fruits and vegetables you will be deficient in key vitamins and nutrients. This could lead to a change in how your body digests your food. Fiber is a non-digestible carb that is only found in plant foods. It's essentially supporting your gut health and ensuring that your bowel movements are frequent and healthy. 

"The carnivore diet contains virtually no dietary fiber and lacks many essential nutrients. Fiber has been shown to normalize bowel movements, decrease rates of colon cancer, lower cholesterol levels and help balance blood sugar," health coach and dietitian, Kelly Johnston, RD, told Parsley Health. "Without the presence of fiber in the diet, bacteria in the intestine that feed off of prebiotic fibers are unable to proliferate. These specialized bacteria support several different important roles in human health such as producing certain vitamins and communicating with the immune system." Too little fiber can also lead to stomach pain and constipation.

It's been linked to weight loss, but also some serious diseases

Before changing your diet so radically, it's always good to consult your doctor. "Individuals who have a high social media following are highly influential and have a huge impact on the people who follow their posts," Harley Street nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert, told The Independent. "Influencers have a responsibility not to mislead people with anecdotal advice."

Studies have suggested that if you cut complex carbohydrates out of your diet you may lose weight initially. However, further research published by the National Library of Medicine has highlighted that high-protein diets aren't necessarily sustainable to keep weight off. You still need to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight, and that's hard if you're eating lots of meat.

Weight loss isn't just an area of contention for the carnivore diet. Scientific research published in The BMJ has cited evidence that two servings of processed or red meat per week is linked to cardiovascular disease. This was backed up by other research, which looked into saturated fatty acids and coronary heart disease. It found that, as some meats are high in saturated fat, limiting your diet could increase your risk of heart disease (via the National Library of Medicine). 

However, scientific research that looked into how a reduction in saturated fat intake can impact cardiovascular disease found that this change wasn't "statistically significant." This means that, according to the study, people who reduced their saturated fat intake were just as likely to experience heart problems. So, it would seem it isn't so simple (via National Library of Medicine).

Speaking to The Independent, Lambert said, "We all react in different ways to various foods and what works for one person will not work for someone else. In particular, when it comes to diet, encouraging the elimination of whole food groups is extremely irresponsible. It is essential that if you are looking for advice in regards to your health and nutrition, that you seek professional advice from a registered nutritionist or dietitian."