Carnivore Diet Food List
The Foods You Can & Can't Eat

Carnivore Diet Food List Featured Image

If you have gotten to the stage of committing to the carnivore diet, then creating a food list of meat based products is essential.

The longer the list, the more options you have to choose from and the less monotone and boring your meal plan becomes.

This is the one tip I wish I had in my early days. At the time, I went straight into an all-out beef mode, and there were days when I saw nothing but ribeye steaks.

As much as I love them, eating them morning, noon, and night gets a bit tiring.

Over the past year, I have been regularly analyzing my food journal to create a master list of all the meats I’ve tried.

Not all of them turned out so good, but the list has still grown extensively.

So, to make sure you get all the health benefits with increased energy levels and lose weight at the same time, you have to vary the types and cuts of meat.

I suggest you bookmark this page or print out a copy for reference so that you can come up with new ideas for your weekly meal plans.

The 3 level approach that I recommend does ultimately result in going several weeks with only red meat from cows on your plate.

The idea behind this is to set a baseline and then gradually add in a few different products to isolate any food intolerances.

The way I have put this list together is to first focus on meat, then on non-meat products and finally the limited sides you can add.

You should also be aware of common things you will have to avoid, so you’ll also find those listed below.

Let’s start with the exciting stuff.

Foods You Can Eat On The Carnivore Diet

To make your diet plan a little easier, we have broken things down into 4 categories.

They are all entirely based on animal foods, and at various stages of your diet, you will want to increase and decrease the variety.

So, let’s get started with my favorite part of this carnivore diet food list.

1. Beef 

Beef

I’ve always loved to eat meat, and all types of beef have long been my favorite.

But to be honest, it wasn’t until I went onto an all-meat diet that I realized how few cuts of beef I was actually eating.

But beyond adding some variety in nutrients and taste, you will also want to look for some of the cheaper cuts of beef for financial reasons.

While eating striploin or porterhouse steaks on a daily basis might sound like a great idea, it’s something that will weigh heavily on your pocket.

You can easily increase your consumption of some of the following cuts and still achieve the same results:

  • Brisket
  • Chuck
  • Top rump
  • Flank
  • Round steak
  • Flat Iron
  • Beef ribs

All of these are fattier than your normal steaks and an excellent choice to provide you with extra calories you’ll need.

One thing to keep in mind though is that these aren’t the most tender cuts, so you’ll have to adapt your cooking methods and maybe even invest in a slow cooker.

For the days when you want to treat yourself, try out some of the favorite cuts of steak:

  • Ribeye
  • Striploin
  • Porterhouse
  • T-bone
  • Sirloin
  • Fillet (best avoided due to price and very limited fat)

As for cooking, if you don’t already eat your beef medium to rare, then try to move towards it gradually.

This ensures more of the proteins remain intact, giving you the maximum dietary benefits.

2. Other Meats 

Other Meats

Now that you have your baseline of beef, it’s time to get you thinking about some other carnivorous delights.

Some of these are a little more difficult to find, but here’s a tip you should follow.

You will become quite friendly with your local butcher.

Ideally, find one that supplied for many different types of restaurants, as there will always be some more obscure orders coming in.

Ask your butcher to take your phone number, and if they ever receive an order for some kangaroo steaks, a shoulder of venison, or fresh Canadian moose, then they will be able to let you know.

You don’t have to be limited to just beef, pork, and poultry; there are so many more options out there.

The good news is that on this meat-only diet, the main rule is that if it walked, flew or swam, then it belongs on your plate.

Here are some ideas for you to work with:

  • Chicken legs and thighs with skin
  • Lamb chops and cutlets
  • Pork chops and belly
  • Duck breast with skin
  • Turkey Legs
  • Kangaroo steaks (low in cholesterol)
  • Ostrich
  • Venison
  • Bison
  • Moose
  • Organ meat

Another great idea is to reach out to some local hunting clubs.

Often enough, these guys will end up with more meat than they can possibly handle themselves, and they’re often happy enough to give some of it away.

You’ll be surprised by how many new types of friends you’ll make.

3. Seafood

Seafood

Seafood is an excellent way to add diversity and is a particularly good idea before you do any exercising.

It can be quite a chore to head to the gym or for a 5 mile run after you’ve demolished a 12-ounce ribeye.

Yes, you’ll have all the macros to keep you fueled, but it will be sitting heavy in your gut.

Fish and fish oils are a lot easier on the stomach, and your digestive system will process them much faster.

What’s also great is that most types of fish will cook in a matter of minutes, so you can have your lunch ready in about 10 minutes.

Plan this for about an hour before you plan to exercise, and you’ll have plenty of fuel in reserve.

But seafood is also great for providing micronutrients, especially vitamins A, D, E, and K [1].

So, rather than having to rely on very careful counting or supplements, you could just add some fishy meals or snacks into the mix.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Shrimp
  • Squid
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Crabs
  • Scallops
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

If you really want to up the flavor, then try putting them on a charcoal BBQ.

4. Fatty Meats

Fatty Meats

It might seem counterintuitive, but you will need quite a bit of saturated fat in your diet.

Because you cut out all carbs, there is a pretty big fuel gap that you need to fill, and the only real way to do that is with fat.

Dependent on your fat loss goals, this will obviously require some adjusting but don’t work on the assumption that you need to focus on only healthy fats.

One way to up your fat intake is to use lard or tallow in a frying pan or skillet. It works great to avoid meat sticking to the pan, and adds a great deal of flavor as well.

You should also not shy away from the types of meat that are very fatty.

There are a few beef cuts that fit this category, but the absolute best is pork belly.

Try slow cooking it in the oven, and then pop it under the grill for a while at the end.

You’ll a get that lovely crispy outer fat, along with juicy flavors on the inside.

Other Protein Foods You Are Allowed To Eat On The Carnivore Diet

Sticking with the rule that if it came from animals, then it’s allowed on your plate. However, there are some non-meat products allowed on the carnivore diet.

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Eggs

Eggs

Obviously, they come from animals, but they are also high in protein with some added fat, especially in the yolks.

What you should definitely do is an experiment with different types of eggs as well.

Many whole food stores will stock more than just chicken eggs, so give other types like duck a try.

One thing I would suggest though is to stick with corn-fed and ideally organic eggs.

They will contain a lot more nutrients by weight, and it might put you back in the good books with some vegetarians (just kidding, that’s not going to happen).

2. Dairy Products

Dairy Products

One thing that I struggled with when I started out was the cravings for something other than meat.

The good news is that there are some dairy products that are allowed if you don’t let them take up too much room on your plate.

The reason they are allowed is because they (a) are animal foods and (b) provide a lot of beneficial nutrition.

While it might not always make sense to put a slice of cheese on your meat, you can use dairy products as snacks in between meals.

Giving your taste buds some small breaks from all the meat consumption can actually have very positive effects by breaking your taste memory.

Here are some things I occasionally add to my shopping list:

  • Milk
  • Full fat cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Butter

3. Condiments

Condiments

I was never big into using recipe books full of obscure herbs, spices and magic potions you might find in a Harry Potter book.

As a result, there was little more than salt and pepper and maybe a few chili flakes in my kitchen.

But if you do like using lots of herbs for sauces and to garnish your meals, then, unfortunately, you’ll need to put those on the substitute bench.

You could argue that the minuscule amounts of carbs in these products won’t do any harm, but I would suggest avoiding them.

The good news is that if you buy good quality meat, and even splash out for some organic products as well, then the flavor will just be amazing.

You won’t need anything more than a little bit of salt and pepper.

4. Sides and Beverages

Sides and Beverages

This is actually where you are possibly most limited. That side of fries or some nice roast potatoes is just completely off-limits.

If you need a side dish to your porterhouse steak, then consider a few slices of bacon or some beef liver.

When it comes to what you drink, there are also severe limitations.

Some milk is OK, but keep it to a minimum as it does contain sugar.

Juices and sodas are a complete no-go, and we would also suggest staying away from a lot of the diet sodas.

The chemicals used as sweeteners are questionable at best, so aim to stick with water.

5. Coffee and Tea

Coffee and Tea

It is OK to drink some coffee and tea during the day, but keep in mind that caffeine will dehydrate you.

So for every cup you drink, you will want to add some extra water as well.

Personally, I found caffeine very helpful on exercise days to sharpen my mind and stay more focused on the task.

What I would also suggest is trying out some green tea as well.

Green tea contains a lot of antioxidants that will help your digestion, metabolism and immune system as well.

6. Water

Water

5 pints of water is what you should aim for every day.

Some people say 4 is enough, but there is an important reason for adding a bit more.

On a normal diet with plenty of fruit and veg, those products contain a lot of water. That means you will be reducing your water intake quite a lot.

Even when you’re consuming your beef medium to rare, a lot of the water in it will evaporate during the cooking process.

What I usually do is have one full pint of water with every meal. And then, in between meals I make sure I spread out another 2 pints.

It’s an easy guideline to follow, and of course, you’ll need to increase that if you exercise a lot.

7. Bone Broth

Bone Broth

This is a nice little secret that my dietician introduced me to.

You can buy it in liquid or powdered form, and you simply boil it up. It kind of tastes like beef and you can eat it like a bowl of soup.

It’s full of collagen which has excellent healing properties for your skin, hair and connective tissue.

I try to get at least 4 servings per week, but there’s nothing wrong with having some on a daily basis.

8. Snacks

Snacks

This is another area where carnivores are somewhat limited. You can’t just pick up a banana or a cookie along with your afternoon coffee.

Here are some tips you can use.

If you can find some 100% pork sausages, then you can cook them ahead of time and eat them cold as a snack between meals.

You can do the same with things like smoked salmon which is actually surprisingly filling.

I used to recommend some beef jerky as well, but it’s really difficult to get some with no additives, spices and even sugar thrown in.

Could be a fun project though to set up a smoker in your backyard and create some yourself.

Foods You Can’t Eat On The Carnivore Diet

Foods You Can’t Eat On The Carnivore Diet

When you’re sticking to a 100% full carnivore diet, then the list of things you cannot eat is a hell of a lot longer than what you can eat. But there are a few common mistakes people make that are easily avoided.

So, the simple rule is that if it didn’t come from an animal, then it’s not allowed. But, be careful to pay close attention to the hidden ingredients.

Here are some things to avoid:

1. Salami

Salami and any similar highly processed meats should be avoided as they often have more than meat added in. If you like your cold cut meat, then stick with unprocessed ham and beef, as they actually are a natural product.

The problem with many salami products is that they contain a load of additives for extra flavor and in some cases, even some grains added in.

2. Sausages

It might seem like sausages are ideal for your menu when eating meat is all you do. But similar to salami, many types of sausages contain a lot more than just pork.

In many cases, it can be less than 70% pork with the rest being made up of grains and other fillers. Talk to your butcher and see if they have some 100% pork sausages with nothing added.

3. Jerky

Some people love it others hate it, but one of the oldest ways of preserving meat from animals is through smoke-drying. If you can get some totally natural jerky, then it can be OK for the odd snack.

But, the stuff you see on shelves in gas stations is usually highly processed with god knows what types of chemicals and additives.

4. Sauces

Yes, your favorite Chinese and Indian foods are gone for now. The sauces are extremely laced with carbs and will cause all sorts of problems.

The same is the case for many Italian dishes, including a carbonara. Despite it being a mainly cream-based sauce, there will be plenty of thickeners in the form of flour added in.

5. Alcohol

Sorry to be ruining the party, but alcohol is off limits. Beer, wine, and spirits are going to immediately spike your carb intake and blood sugar levels.

There simply is no way around it; you’ll have to stop drinking for a while.

Personally, I found that after about 3 or 4 weeks I really didn’t crave a beer anymore. You just get used to it, and you certainly won’t be missing the hangovers.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Obviously, they didn’t grow on animals, but plenty of people make the mistake that the fats will be good and a great way to boost energy.

While you do get a significant dose of calories, these are predominantly from carbs and not fats. Just stay away from them, as they will mess up your metabolism.

7. Rice and Pasta

As appealing as meatballs and spaghetti might sound, it’s just not worth the problems you’ll end up with. Basically, the entire dry weight of pasta is carbs, and it’s not much different for rice either.

If you’re still leading up to day one, then start cutting these foods out a few days earlier to help you get used to not having them anymore.

8. Lean Cuts of Meat

We’re constantly told to stick with the lean cuts of meat and cut away any excess fat.

However, that’s the exact opposite of what you should do. While a nice fillet steak might be quite delicious, it simply won’t give you all the calories you need.

Most of the saturated fat in beef actually decreases your heart-disease risk—either by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol or by reducing your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol.

Jeff Volek

Registered Dietician

Where Can You Buy Your Meat?

Where Can You Buy Your Meat?

There are 4 different options that I have tried, but these days I generally stick with just the first two.

1. Local Butcher

Nobody will understand and support your meat-based diet more than your local butcher.

They will have a huge amount of knowledge about different cuts to try. And when you’re buying in bulk, then they will be welcoming you with open arms.

2. Farmers’ Market

Find out when your local farmers' markets take place. It’s one of the best ways to get your meat exceptionally fresh.

In most cases, the suppliers at these markets will be providing only grass-fed and pasture raised products, which is a big bonus.

3. Supermarkets

If you’re stuck with a tight budget, then check out either the butcher area of your supermarket or the pre-packed meat section.

It’s not ideal, and you might struggle to find some of the more obscure types, but it’s always an option.

4. Buy Online

Yes, just like ordering your books, razors, and clothing, you can now buy meat online.

There are several services offering safe delivery methods, but in many cases this will be frozen meat that you receive.

That’s the main reason I don’t use them for all my needs, but having some frozen stuff as a backup is always a good idea.

The Carnivore Diet Food Pyramid

Carnivore Diet Food Pyramid

The concept of the food pyramid is starting to become a bit outdated, and many people and researchers are questioning a lot of the fundamentals.

It has a very heavily carb weighted base which is under considerable investigation with countless new diets avoiding them like the plague (keto, paleo, and carnivore).

The typical food pyramid basically has the base layer made up of vegetables, salads, and fruit, with the next one focusing on grains, cereals, and bread.

That’s a ton of carbs locked up in probably 50% of your diet.

Fats, meat and all other animal products are pretty much near the top and the only products higher up are sugar, salts and saturated fats.

Now, I used to think that a carnivore diet just turns that whole concept upside down. But in many ways, you could actually say that a pyramid isn’t as descriptive anymore.

Basically, you have two layers: one is meat, and the other is water. But, what you can do is break down the types of meat into layers. In that case, you would have a base layer of beef, and sitting on top of that would be pork, poultry, game and organ meat.

Next would actually be water. Remember that you should be aiming for 5 pints of water per day?
Finally, on top of the water sits a small layer of a few dairy items that you can have every once in a while.

What’s completely missing is any hint or sign of a carb. I’ve thought about having a t-shirt printed with this, just to annoy some vegans at dinner parties 😉

Ideally unprocessed meats are a better choice since any meat that is processed usually entails being cooked in highly inflammatory vegetable oils, and they usually have added sugars.

Judy Cho

Nutritional Therapist

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is eating only protein dangerous? 
No, eating only protein is not dangerous, as you will also be taking in macros like fat and many minerals and vitamins.

A full carnivore diet along with an active lifestyle will actually bring many benefits that come from a ketogenic metabolism.

Which meat is the healthiest? 
Organic and grass-fed meat is generally the healthiest.

If you’re planning a meat-based diet, then try to always go for certified organic. You’re actually better off going for cheaper organic cuts, than more expensive mass-produced meat.

Is it healthy to just eat chicken? 
No, it isn’t healthy to just eat chicken.

The reason is that it doesn’t contain enough of a micro-nutritional balance and you’ll be missing out on a lot of vitamins.

Can I just eat fish on this diet? 
No, you cannot just eat fish on this diet, as it won’t provide enough balance between fat and protein.

At the same time, fish is very beneficial to provide you with lots of omega fatty acids, as well as a broad selection of vitamins.

Are processed meats okay? 
No, processed meats are not OK, and it’s generally best to avoid them.

It might seem like a good idea for a full carnivore diet, but they often use cooking methods and additives that destroy a lot of the nutrients.

Can I add sauces and seasonings to my food? 
No, you cannot add sauces to your food, and most seasonings are off limits as well.

In most cases, they will be full of carbs which will cause all sorts of problems for your metabolism, and you will struggle to achieve your fat loss goals.

Conclusion

A man cutting up some meat

OK, so if you’ve got this far, then you should now be fully equipped to prepare for the weeks ahead.

Whether you’re looking for new ideas, or are a complete newcomer, the above carnivore diet food list will help you with your goals.

You really do have to forget about everything you’ve been told about healthy eating, digestive and heart health, as well as fat loss.

This is especially clear when you look at our “revised” food pyramid above.

The final tip I would give you is to keep a detailed food journal to document your experience.

This will also help you identify any shortcomings in vitamins and minerals that you may need to source through supplements.