Carnivore Diet for Athletes (Strength Training & Best Meats)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 21, 2024

As a regular gym-goer and a carnivore devotee of 5 years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me whether these two make a good combo.

To provide an exhaustive answer and help them make better health decisions, I had a lengthy conversation with my dietician friend to get evidence-based and expert insights about the all-meat diet food for athletes.

Here's a detailed summary of my findings.

Quick Summary

  • The carnivore diet is recommended for athletes who want to lose weight or build muscle.
  • High protein content in the only-meat diet helps with muscle repair after exercise-related tears.
  • The best red meat for athletes on a carnivore diet includes beef, chicken, and fish.

The Impact of Carnivore Diet on Your Athletic Performance

A close up image of a sliced meat with a fork

A protein-rich carnivore diet is a form of elimination diet that entails the consumption of high-fat meat with zero plant foods.

The research found that the carnivore diet affects muscle mass, strengthens muscles, and improves athletic strength [1]. Additionally, it lowers the risk of fractures and chronic fatigue as you age.

Thus, most athletes adopt a carnivore diet because it's proven to lead to healthy bones and muscle benefits.

In another research, endurance-trained athletes who were given three to four weeks to adjust to a low-carb or ketogenic diet could sustain 63% moderate and 90% of HIIT activity [2].

It was shown that 70% or more exercise intensities would promote fat oxidation and reduce oxygen consumption.

The supporters of the carnivore diet claim that restricting carbohydrates can improve overall athletic performance by: 

  • Facilitating a faster weight loss process
  • Offering you more stamina
  • Produce better athletic outcomes

Another important thing I learned during my research is that athletic performance and the carnivore diet depend on how fat-adapted you are.

Here are my top recommended authentic meat delivery services to source fresh, antibiotic-free, premium meat cuts for your meat lifestyle.

"It may be necessary for endurance athletes to slightly modify their diets so that they increase their calories and carbohydrate intake. People who exercise for an extended period need to refuel constantly because aerobic exercise consumes glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrates."
- Natalie Allen, Registered Dietician 

If you're looking to see significant improvement in your athletic performance, you need to become more fat-adapted. This essentially means your body is conditioned to using fat as the primary energy source for your training exercises.

Being fat-adapted enables you to eat less and stay fuller for longer. This way, you work out for longer without feeling hungry mid-session.

I recommend you avoid highly processed foods like delis or other processed meat because they contain excess sodium that can affect your training performance and cause other health issues.

Let’s take a closer look at how a carnivore diet affects athletic performance, especially when it comes to strength training and bodybuilding.

Strength Training on The Carnivore Diet

Here are my two key pointers for strength training on the carnivore diet.

1. Go for Fatty Meats

A top view image of raw fatty meats

To get maximum strength training results as an athlete, always aim to eat diverse premium red meat, particularly fatty ones. Fatty meat cuts give you the energy to push through the intense sets.

I often strive for a lot of beef and chicken since they offer a wonderful balance of fat and protein.

To avoid any nutrient deficiencies and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s essential to cover all your nutritional bases by throwing in some tuna or other animal foods like eggs for extra micronutrients.

2. Time Your Meals

Strength training on the meat diet isn't just about what food group you eat but about when you eat those meals.

I always eat meat at least 50 minutes before going to the gym because proteins take longer to digest; eating and giving your stomach enough time to process and break it all down is good for your metabolic health.

Doing so also prevents you from working out on a full stomach, which can be pretty uncomfortable.

Bodybuilding on the Carnivore Diet

A person getting ready to lift weights

Because it offers significant amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals, the carnivore diet is a wise choice for anyone interested in building muscle and increasing their power.

In addition, it gives you a ton of energy to go through your workout.

You should see a matching increase in your physical strength and endurance if you gradually change your diet from certain foods like fruits and vegetables to eating only animal products.

It's no secret that gaining muscle takes a lot of protein, which you can often find in food groups like meat, eggs, and plant food legumes.

But if you completely convert to meat, you can accomplish much more in less time.

Here are two vital keto and carnivore diet bodybuilding tips:

1. Do the Right Workouts

When I transitioned to the meat-only diet, I researched the correct exercise combo regimen and implemented it into my routine.

Weeks into the diet-exercise training, I noticed a significant increase in my overall musculature and had no long-term health problems, including blood sugar spikes I had battled with for a long time.

2. Increase Your Calorie Intake

It all boils down to how many calories you eat when planning a diet to increase muscle mass. A healthy adult needs roughly 2,000 calories daily on average, but this amount can rise dramatically during a building phase.

My friend, a professional athlete who trains for three or more hours a day, always sticks to meal plans that include twice the average daily calorie intake.

Best Meats for Carnivore Athletes

Here are the five best types of meat you can take to maximize your athletic results while eating animal products.

1. Lean Fish

An image of raw salmon meat on a cutting board

While there are both healthy and harmful fats, lean fish is a fantastic source of healthy fats connected to improved cardiovascular health.

Healthy fats also prevent any cardiovascular disease brought on by bad cholesterol.

I always go for salmon because of its high protein and omega-3 fatty acid content, which is recognized for its anti-inflammatory characteristics and can assist you to stay in your optimum physical condition to compete [3].

2. Red Steak

At first, I never thought of red steak as a post-workout snack, but after trying it out a couple of times, it turns out it's a nutritious, satisfying, and high-mineral meal.

The secret is to pick a lean steak with little fat, such as top sirloin.

Lean steak has a high protein content, is rich in iron, and helps the body recover after a hard workout by replenishing muscles and reviving the body. 

If you want a fatty taste, buy some tallow and go in heavy when cooking your lean steak.

Additionally, it is abundant in zinc, B12, and other necessary nutrients that help your body run properly.

I enjoy steak because I can swap between cuts to acquire more protein or fat daily.

And by cooking my meat to medium rare, I keep many more amino acids intact. I discovered that overcooking beef on high heat breaks down and deteriorates the quality of the amino acids [4].

3. Pork

A texture image of pork meat

Pork is a tasty addition to my meat-only healthy diet, even though it's slightly less nutritious than red beef.

Some examples of pork cuts I eat occasionally:

  • Pork roast
  • Pork shoulder
  • Pork belly

4. Shrimp

I love shrimp because it’s packed with macronutrients and has a high satiating effect.

Shrimps are also an excellent way to break the beef-only monotony of low-carbohydrate diets.

5. Turkey Breast

I particularly love air fryer turkey breast because it's nutrient-packed and tastes fantastic.

And if you have leftovers, you can store them well, reheat, and eat them as a pre or post-workout low-carb diet.


Is the Carnivore Diet Good for Athletes?

Yes, the carnivore diet is good for athletes because it has essential nutrients for improving athletic performance, training, and muscle building. Eating fruits is also recommended for a balanced diet if you’re not on a strict carnivore lifestyle.

Is the Carnivore Diet Good for Endurance Athletes?

No, the carnivore diet is not good for endurance athletes. Endurance athletes work out for longer than other gym goers, requiring a high-carb diet to keep them going. As a result, the carnivore diet is not recommended for such athletes because it's a more low-carb diet.

Is Exercise Recommended on The Carnivore Diet?

Yes, exercise is recommended on the carnivore diet if you want to stay fit, build muscle, or lose body weight.

Should Athletes Drink Bone Broth?

Yes, athletes should drink bone broth. Bone marrow contains glycine and collagen that aid tissue recovery and also improve immune function.

What Meat Is Good for Joint Pain?

Meat like chicken and fatty fish, including salmon and sardines, are good for joint pain because they contain omega-3s, known for their anti-inflammatory properties.


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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