The Keto Carnivore: Should You Adopt a Ketovore Diet?
It’s an emerging diet trend that’s gaining popularity for its simplicity and potential weight loss benefits.
Ketovores say it’s just a modern variation of our ancestral way of eating. After all, we evolved by eating mostly animals for millions of years. Our hunter-gatherer history had us surviving on whatever we could find since agriculture didn’t develop until about 12,000 years ago – which is incredibly recent considering our millennia of existence.
That’s why this keto carnivore diet is growing – followers say it’s as true to our natural form of eating as possible. And since it avoids foods that cause digestive distress and all the processed sugary temptations that are unnatural to us, you’re likely to gain better health, lose weight, and feel more energetic overall.
But is that really the case?
Read on to find out exactly what you’d have to eat to become a ketovore and whether the benefits of the keto carnivore diet outweigh the costs.
What Is Keto Carnivore?
The ketovore or keto carnivore diet is a strict carnivore diet that is very low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and high in protein, with only animal products. Basically, ketovores eat meat, fish, seafood, and nothing else.
A keto carnivore diet is a variation of the ketogenic diet, except you eliminate plant foods, including the non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and low-sugar fruits that you can still get to eat on the traditional keto diet.
This means that instead of eating a very low-carb keto diet, you’re going full-on zero-carb.
Many people think that since low-carb has so many benefits, maybe no-carb is even better! Also, when nothing else seems to work, many give it a try to see if it will help with any of their health and weight issues.
However, the research still has a long way to go. Eating a 100% carnivore diet is a relatively new topic to study because the average person doesn’t eat a complete carnivore diet. In addition, some of the studies that have been done have used unreliable methods, so the conclusions may need to be revised.
How Does the Keto Carnivore Diet Work?
The keto carnivore diet relies solely on fat and protein to put your body into a state of ketosis. In this metabolic state, your body burns fat for energy instead of carbs. When you eliminate carbs and have only fat and protein for energy, your body produces ketones for energy instead of the sugar glucose from carbs.
Ketosis can help you lose weight faster by helping you burn stored fat instead of using the constant stream of glucose you normally get from regular carb-based meals.
On a carnivore diet, you may reach ketosis faster than on the traditional keto diet because you completely eliminate plants. This means there’s no guesswork and no counting carbs.
A total reduction in glucose also means you’ll have fewer blood sugar spikes, which can help curb cravings and stabilize your hunger hormones. On top of that, ketosis can improve mental clarity and even reduce inflammation.
How long should I do the keto carnivore diet?
The keto carnivore diet is so restrictive that most mental health professionals don’t recommend it even for a short time. While eating only meat is already risky, many people include too much processed meat and dairy – which was definitely not part of our ancestors’ diet.
For those who do give it a try, it’s usually only for a week or so to get into the habit of eating keto. From there, they’ll usually slowly introduce more low-carb fruits and vegetables, along with some nuts and seeds.
So while it may be an easy and hassle-free way to get into the habit of eating keto, the lack of variety can get you frustrated – and constipated – pretty quickly.
Ketovore Food List
If you’re on a keto carnivore diet, you can expect to eat more animal foods than usual. Almost every other low-carb food source is excluded.
Here are some of the foods that keto carnivores consume:
- Fish and seafood – Salmon, shrimp, tuna, sardines, etc.
- Organ meats – Liver, hearts, brains, intestines, etc.
- Oils – Lard, bone marrow, animal fats, etc.
- Poultry – Chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
- Meat – Pork, beef, lamb, etc.
- Bone broth
Some ketovores also allow dairy products, such as aged cheese, butter, and cream, but in small amounts because they contain lactose – the sugar found in milk products. Added animal fat is also recommended to help you feel more satiated.
One way carnivore dieters make it more interesting is to use more herbs and spices for added flavor, but strictly speaking, it’s still a plant source.
People following the keto carnivore diet also try to eat organic, free-range animal products, including wild-caught fish, to avoid a buildup of hormones or antibiotics that might be present in the animal feed.
Ketogenic carnivore diet foods to avoid
There is a long list of foods that, even if they are low in carbohydrates, you should avoid while on the keto carnivore diet. Some of these include the following:
- Alcohol – Wine, beer, liquor, etc.
- Grains – Wheat, quinoa, rice, pasta, bread, etc.
- Fruits – Berries, apples, bananas, grapes, mangoes, etc.
- Legumes and beans – Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, peas, etc.
- Nuts and seeds – Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, chia, flax seeds, etc.
- Vegetables – Leafy greens, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.
- Added sugars – Sweetened drinks, cereals, yogurts, table sugars, etc.
- Beverages other than water – Fruit juice, soda, coffee, tea, etc.
- High-lactose dairy products – Milk, yogurt, soft cheese, etc.
As you can see, even foods normally consumed in the keto diet are eliminated when you switch to keto carnivore eating.
Finally, you should try to avoid processed foods, including fatty meats like bacon and sausage. Even though they’re technically allowed, they won’t do your health any favors since they’re linked to diseases like cancer.
Keto Carnivore Benefits
You may be wondering what the science says about the keto carnivore diet.
As mentioned previously, the research is far from complete. In general, most of the benefits of the ketovore diet can potentially be achieved with a keto or even a low-carb diet.
These are some of the possible carnivore diet benefits associated with keto carnivore diets:
- Weight loss
- Reduced cravings
- Hormonal balance
- No calorie counting
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved blood sugar control
Since this diet focuses solely on animal products and doesn’t allow for any other food sources, at least you don’t have to worry about counting your macros or calories. You also don’t have to watch how often or how much you eat. Unlike carbs, a person can only eat so much protein before they feel incredibly full and have to stop eating.
The added protein of keto carnivore eating might even help increase your metabolic rate, which could increase your rate of weight loss. However, you don’t need to cut out vegetables to gain this benefit.
There is also a popular study from 2021 in which just over 2,000 respondents ate a carnivore diet for 14 months, and the dieters reported some health benefits and high satisfaction. However, the data was self-reported, and there was an improper use of methods, so the validity and reliability of this study are biased, and no conclusions should be drawn from it.
In the end, there isn’t any proof that the keto carnivore diet is better than traditional keto.
Keto Carnivore Concerns
There are many risks and side effects associated with the keto carnivore diet, including:
- Malnutrition – Many vitamins and minerals are missing (vitamin C, D, calcium, etc.).
- Digestive issues – A combination of low fiber with high levels of fat and protein can be difficult to digest and lead to constipation and other issues.
- Restrictive nature – Risky for anyone with medical issues or a history of disordered eating.
- Decreased gut health – Missing fiber, which fuels a healthy gut microbiome.
Naturally, all these issues can lead to a decrease in immunity and mental health through a loss of nutrients and a disruption of the gut-brain axis.
Increased risk of disease
The carnivore diet also creates an increased risk of certain health complications and diseases, such as:
- Organ problems – Kidney, liver, pancreatic, thyroid, and gallbladder.
- Certain cancers – Colon cancer is linked to red meat and processed meats.
- Cardiovascular diseases – High blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.
Overall, it’s not a diet that health professionals recommend because of its physical and emotional side effects. Plus, it’s very difficult to sustain long-term.
Instead of going full ketovore, some people choose a less strict approach and allow small amounts of plant foods. However, most of the plant foods allowed are still low-carb and focus on easily digestible low-toxin options (few phytates, lectins, oxalates, soy, etc.). These include:
- Iceberg lettuce
This can also be called animal-based keto, but with animal foods and added variations, it becomes much easier to maintain. Many people often still eat keto carnivore foods like bone broth and organ meats for added vitamins and minerals.
Keto carnivore is not the only available variation of the ketogenic diet. Mediterranean keto or pescatarian keto, for instance, are proven to be generally healthy and provide a lot of benefits. For those who find the standard keto too strict, dirty keto that allows less healthy but still low-carb food options.
Keto Carnivore Meal Plan Ideas
Here are a few meal plans to give you an idea of what a typical day on a keto carnivore keto diet would look like:
- Bone broth
- Sugar-free bacon and eggs
- Breakfast sausages and eggs
- Rotisserie chicken
- Pulled pork
- Carnivore fried chicken strips
- Grilled shrimp, mussels, and scallops
- Pork tenderloin
- Slow roasted chicken
- Liver, kidney, and heart organ meats
The Bottom Line on the Keto Carnivore Diet
The keto carnivore diet focuses entirely on animal products and is highly restrictive for the average person. It’s likely not a diet you could maintain long-term, nor should you.
It’s not recommended by health professionals for a reason – the benefits don’t outweigh the long list of severe health risks. Plus, many of the possible positive outcomes, like weight loss, reduced inflammation, and improved blood sugar, can also be achieved through a low-carb diet and overall healthy eating and living habits.
With risks like an increased risk of certain cancers, organ damage, and digestive and mental health issues, it’s best to seriously consider if the carnivore diet is worth it. It’s also important to keep in mind that disordered eating habits often begin with overly restrictive dieting.
Finally, as with any new diet, be sure to get a full medical checkup and approval from your doctor before you begin. A ketogenic and carnivore diet can interfere with many medications and isn’t suitable for various health conditions. Many people aren’t aware that they suffer from health issues that could worsen with the keto carnivore diet that eliminates all plant foods.
So if you’re seriously considering the keto carnivore diet and are determined to give it a try, make sure you have regular checkups with your doctor, including full blood work to make sure your cholesterol levels, hormones, and organs are all working well. Be aware of any side effects you may notice, including mental ones, and report them to your doctor to avoid developing health problems.
Because the keto carnivore diet is not generally recommended, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do regular keto. With some variation and flexibility, you can still lose weight, gain energy, and feel great. To find out how to make it work for you, Keto Cycle has got you covered. Take a free quiz for your personalized plan – including the foods you love – to get started.