The idea of subsisting solely on meat may raise a few eyebrows and attract a chorus of naysayers. To them, we say: Don't knock it until you've tried it.
Recently, I sat down with a tribe of like-minded carnivore diet enthusiasts for an in-depth discussion. The result? A meticulously crafted carnivore diet food list that we believe is a game-changer.
So, if you're ready to sink your teeth into this lifestyle or simply curious about what a meat-only menu might look like, read on. We've got the meaty details you've been craving.
- The carnivore diet involves consuming only animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs, and certain dairy products while excluding all plant-based foods.
- The diet encourages the consumption of high-quality, fatty meats like beef, pork, and organ meats, as well as seafood, to provide necessary nutrients and energy.
- A 2015 study conducted by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science, recommends avoiding processed meats, sauces, alcohol, nuts, seeds, rice, and pasta to prevent gradual weight gain (10 lbs over a decade, 20 lbs over two decades, and so forth) .
Foods You Can Eat On The Carnivore Diet
Carnivore diet involves eating all animal products, including dairy & eggs. When on this zero-carb restrictive diet, keep in mind that you have to increase and decrease the variety in your meal plan during the different stages of your low-carb diet.
To make it a little easier, we have broken down the carnivore diet into four categories.
So, let's get started with our favorite part of this carnivore diet food list.
There are many high-quality beef cuts you can choose when you're following the carnivore diet meal plan. These differ in taste, vitamin and nutrient content, and price.
You can achieve your desired health and fitness results along with high energy levels with these beef cuts for a low-carb diet.
When you're eating meat, try to increase the consumption of red meat over time, too. No more plant foods this time.
- Top rump
- Round steak
- Flat Iron
- Beef ribs
All of these foods have more fat content levels than your regular steaks. These are excellent choices to provide you with extra calories to complete your carnivore diet food list without worrying about getting a cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure.
For the days when you want to treat yourself, try out some of our favorite cuts of steak:
- Fillet (best avoided due to price and very limited saturated fat)
As for cooking, if you don't like eating your beef medium-rare, then try to move towards it gradually. This is highly recommended when on a high-protein diet for reducing body fat. This way of eating ensures more of the proteins remain intact when you eat meat, giving you the maximum dietary and health benefits.
Read More: Is Grass-Fed Beef Healthier?
2. Other Meats on Your Diet
Now that you have your ground beef baseline for the carnivore diet food list, it's time to get you thinking about some other carnivorous weight-loss food delights.
While on a carnivore diet for weight loss, your shopping list doesn't have to be limited to just beef, pork, and poultry; there are so many more high-quality options with healthy benefits for your food plan out there. Some of our favorites are bone marrow and organ meats.
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 carnivore diet food 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 (check out Fossil Farms)
- Organ meat
Another great idea is to reach out to some local hunting clubs for more animal products and foods.
Often enough, these guys will end up with more red meat than they can handle themselves, and they're often happy enough to give some of it away. Some of them are not even on an only-meat diet; they just love animal hunting.
Related Article: Can I Eat Pork Rinds on the Carnivore Diet?
3. Adding Seafood to Your Diet List
Seafood is an excellent way to add diversity to your carnivore diet food list. It is a particularly good idea before any exercise regimen, especially for weight loss.
Yes, you'll have all the macros to keep you fueled, but it could be sitting heavy in your gut.
National Institute of Health specified in their 2012 study that adding fish to your carnivore or keto diet may be a good way to break up the monotony. Fish and fish oils are a lot easier on the stomach, and your digestive system will process them much faster for better benefits .
Fish cooks fast so you can have your lunch ready in about 10 minutes. If you want to up the flavor, then try putting them on a charcoal BBQ.
Here are some of my favorites:
4. Fatty Meats
It might seem counter-intuitive, but you will need quite a bit of high-saturated animal fat in your carnivore diet food plan, even for weight loss.
Because the carnivore diet is zero-carb, there is a pretty big fuel gap that your body needs to fill for optimum health, and the only real way to do that is by eating food with high-fat content levels.
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.
You'll get that lovely crispy outer fat, along with juicy flavors on the inside.
A gentle reminder when eating high amounts of fatty acids with a food item is to consult with your physician, especially if you have a history of high chronic disease risk.
Another way to up your fat intake when on an only-meat diet is to use lard or tallow in a frying pan or skillet.
It works great to avoid animal meat sticking to the pan and adds a great deal of flavor to foods .
Other Protein Foods You Are Allowed To Eat:
Since a carnivore diet consists solely of animal products, it's recommended to stick with the rule that if it came from ruminant animals, it’s allowed on your plate.
Yes, that's right. No vegetables. However, there are some non-meat products allowed on low-carb diets like the carnivore or keto diet.
Let’s take a closer look.
Eggs are high in protein with some added fat, especially in the yolks. When on a carnivore or keto diet for weight loss, you should experiment with meat, eggs, beef, liver, and other high-protein options .
Many whole food stores will stock more than just chicken eggs, so give other types like duck eggs a try. If you're lucky and see eggs from turkey, give these eggs a try.
One thing we would suggest, although not mandatory, is to stick with eating organic eggs for optimum health purposes.
These organic eggs usually have more nutrients as compared to mass-produced eggs filled with chemicals.
Our favorite carnivore or keto diet meal in the morning is a late breakfast with six hard-boiled eggs and some strip steak. Steak and eggs lunch, hard-boiled eggs snack or prepared otherwise, is a must on everyone's all-meat foods list.
Read More: Carnivore Breakfast Ideas
2. Dairy-Based Products
Dairy is allowed on the carnivore diet foods menu, but most should avoid dairy products due to high food intolerance.
This research by the National Institute of Medicine from 2016 stated that the reason dairy-based products are allowed is that they (a) are animal foods and (b) provide a lot of beneficial nutritional content for your diet .
While it might not always look like a great idea to put a slice of cheese on your meat, you can use dairy-based products as snacks in between meals.
For a carnivore diet-friendly snack, you can bake some pork rinds with grated cheese and ground beef for a nacho-style dish, which is also good for the ketogenic diet.
Here are some foods we occasionally add to our grocery list:
- Full-fat cheese
3. Using Condiments on Carnivore Diet
If you like using lots of herbs for sauces and garnishing your meals, then, unfortunately, you'll need to put those on hold when you plan on starting the carnivore diet for weight loss.
The reason we recommend you avoid plant foods, herbs, or any other plant foods is to take full advantage of this type of elimination diet.
While following the carnivore diet for weight management, you won't need anything more than salt, pepper, and some fatty meat or bone marrow.
Read More: Carnivore Diet Condiments
4. Sides and Beverages
The side of fries or some nice roast potatoes is just completely off-limits when on a zero-carb carnivore diet for weight loss.
Don't eat high-carb sides like these, or you'll lose your ketosis while on a ketogenic diet.
If you need a side dish for your porterhouse steak, then consider a few slices of bacon, bone marrow, or some animal liver to increase your body's protein intake.
You may also try various cooking techniques like smoking barbecue or testing air fryer bacon recipes to bring out the flavor.
It's not only the foods that have limits while on a high-protein diet but drinks too.
When it comes to what you drink, the choices are slim when on this all-meat elimination diet.
Some milk is okay, but keep it to a minimum as it does contain high sugar. Juices and sodas are a complete no-go, and we would also suggest staying away from a lot of the diet sodas, as these still have high sugar content.
Related: Beef Liver vs Chicken Liver
5. Coffee and Tea During Carnivore Diet
When on a carnivore diet to lose weight, it is okay to drink some coffee and tea during the day but keep in mind that high caffeine intake will dehydrate you while on the all-meat diet.
So for every cup you drink, you will want to add some extra liquid as well.
What we would also suggest is trying out a hot cup of bone broth instead to power you through your day while on a diet.
This has more micronutrients than plant foods.
Read More: Can You Drink Coffee on a Carnivore Diet?
Green tea contains many antioxidants that will help your digestion, metabolism, and immune system as well.
6. Carnivore Diet Water Intake
When on a zero-carb carnivore diet, you should have five pints (2.4 liters) of water every day. The long-term benefits of water are more than you can imagine.
Regular meat and plant-based diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables, those foods contain a lot of H2O. That means while on a carnivore diet, you will be reducing your high liquid intake a lot.
What we usually do is have one full pint of liquid (480 mL) with every meal.
And then, in between meals, we make sure to spread out another 900 ml. You’ll need to further increase your liquid intake if you exercise a lot.
7. Bone Broth
Bone broth is a nice little secret that our dietician friend introduced for this carnivore diet food list for long-term use.
It tastes good, satisfies your hunger, is easily prepared, and can be bought.
You can buy the bone broth supplement in powder or liquid form, and you could simply boil it up from animal bone marrow.
Bone broth is full of collagen, which has excellent healing properties for your skin, hair, and connective tissue, and is known to improve cartilage health.
8. Snacks on Carnivore Diet
This is another area where carnivores are somewhat limited, and that's the in-between foods while on an all-meat diet.
Carnivore-eating folks can't just pick up a banana or a cookie along with their afternoon coffee. High-carb snacks are an absolute no-no on a zero-carb diet like this. You can't grab any plant-based foods to nibble on, either.
Here are some tips you can use.
If you can find some 100% pork sausages, then you can cook them ahead of time and try them cold as a snack between meals in this diet.
One cardinal rule to remember is to avoid processed foods when on a carnivore diet also canned animal food.
You can do the same with foods like smoked salmon, which is surprisingly fulfilling.
We used to recommend some beef jerky as a carnivore diet meal, but it's really difficult to get some with no high additives, spices, and even sugar thrown in.
Foods You Can’t Eat On The Carnivore Diet:
When you're sticking to a 100% carnivore diet meal plan, then the list of foods you cannot take in is a lot longer than what you can eat. But there are a few common mistakes people make when on a carnivore diet that can be easily avoided.
So, the simple rule for a zero-carb diet is that if the foods didn't come from an animal, then it's not allowed. But, be careful and pay close attention to the hidden ingredients.
1. Processed Meats
Salami, sausages, and beef jerky are highly off-limit foods on a carnivore diet. You may think these processed meats are counted as snacks on your carnivore diet food list, but it doesn't. Unless you can verify from your local butcher that it doesn't have high additive content, then it's okay.
Most products you can buy in supermarkets have added grain, flour, and prohibited sauces, which is unacceptable while on this meat-only diet.
2. Sauces on All-meat Diet
The sauces are extremely laced with carbs, and it is a big no-no in a zero-carb carnivore diet. The same is the case for many Italian dishes, including pasta carbonara. Despite it being a mainly cream-based sauce, there will be plenty of high-calorie thickeners added in.
3. Alcohol While on Carnivore Diet
Sorry to be ruining the party, but alcohol is off-limits when on a carnivore diet.
Beer, wine, and spirits are going to spike your carbohydrate intake and blood sugar levels immediately.
We found that after about 3 or 4 weeks, many people didn't crave a beer anymore.
You just get used to it, and you certainly won't be missing the hangovers. You'll love the weight loss, too.
4. Nuts and Seeds
They didn't grow on animals, but plenty makes the mistake that the fats and carbs will be good and a great way to boost energy.
This applies to a keto diet, not the carnivore diet. While your body does get a significant dose of calories from nuts and seeds, these are predominantly from carbs and not fats.
Just stay away from them while on a carnivore diet for weight loss, as they will mess up your metabolism.
5. Rice and Pasta
As appealing as meatballs and spaghetti might sound, it's not advisable for people on a carnivore diet or other low-carb diets for weight loss.
The entire dry weight of pasta is high in carbs, and it's not much different from rice either.
If you're still leading up to day one, start cutting these plant-based foods out a few days earlier to help your body get used to not having these carbs anymore.
6. Lean Cuts of Meat
We're always told to stick with the lean meat cuts and cut away any excess animal fat. However, that's the exact opposite of what people should do when making a carnivore diet list. While a nice fillet steak might be quite delicious, it simply won't give you all the calories your body requires in the carnivore diet for weight loss.
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?
You can buy your meat from your local butcher, farmers' markets, supermarkets, or even online through meat delivery services like ButcherBox. But these days, we generally stick with just the first two.
1. Local Butcher
Nobody will understand and support your carnivore diet more than your local butcher. These people will have a huge amount of knowledge about different animal cuts. And when you're buying in high bulk, they will be welcoming you with open arms.
2. Farmers’ Market
When going through your carnivore diet shopping list, find out when your local farmers' markets take place. It's one of the best ways to get your red meat exceptionally fresh.
In most cases, the suppliers at these markets will be providing only grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products, which is a big bonus for those who want to try the carnivore diet.
If you're stuck with a tight budget for your carnivore diet meal plan, 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, you can now buy meat online. There are several meat delivery services like ButcherBox offering safe methods. You can expect to receive fresh and frozen meat.
That's the main reason we don't use them for all our needs, but having much frozen stuff as a backup is always a good idea.
For a hassle-free leap into the carnivore lifestyle, ButcherBox for top-notch, ethically sourced meat delivered straight to your door. Your carnivore adventure is just a click away.
Other meat delivery services available:
The Carnivore Diet Food Pyramid
The Food Pyramid's relevance is fading, with experts and dieters alike scrutinizing its core principles, particularly for low-carb weight loss.
Folks track macros to shed pounds, yet this method stresses carbs, now highly debated and often dodged in diets like keto, paleo, and carnivore.
Traditionally, the pyramid's foundation is veggies, salads, and fruits, topped by a heavy layer of grains, cereals, and bread.
The Food Pyramid's packed with carbs, often half your diet. Yet, fats, meats, and other animal goodies sit near the peak, topped only by sugar, salt, and saturated fats.
The carnivore diet flips this, but it's more than an upside-down pyramid. It's simpler: meat and water, basically. Imagine a meat base, stacked with beef, then layered with pork, poultry, game, and organ meats.
Water's next, about 5 pints daily. A smidge of dairy tops it off, sparingly though.
Carbs? Vanished. Thinking of a cheeky carnivore pyramid tee to ruffle some vegan feathers 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
Is Eating Only Protein Dangerous?
No, eating only protein is not dangerous. Your body will also be taking in macros like fat and many minerals and vitamins for better health results, especially with the carnivore diet food pyramid.
A full carnivore diet, along with an active lifestyle, will bring many benefits that come from a ketogenic metabolism. To know more, you can read the review of Dr. Shawn Baker on the Carnivore Diet.
Dr. Shawn Baker even wrote the book called The Carnivore Diet.
Which Meat is the Healthiest?
The healthiest meat for the carnivore diet food pyramid is organic and grass-fed meat .
If you're planning an only-meat diet, then try to always go for certified organic animal foods. You're 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 that your body needs.
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, leading to unfavorable weight loss results.
Are Processed Meats Okay?
No, it is not okay to eat meats that are processed even if they're high-protein. People on a carnivore diet are advised to best avoid processed meat for the best weight loss results.
Can I Add Sauces and Seasonings To My Food?
No, you cannot add sauces to your food, and most seasonings are off-limits for carnivore dieters, even when you're thinking short-term.
In most cases, seasonings and sauces have many carbs, which will cause all sorts of problems for your metabolism and result in weight loss.
What About Vitamin C?
Dr. Shawn Baker recommends decreasing Vitamin C intake when plant foods are eliminated from the diet.
He also recommended trying organ meats, fresh ground beef, and medium-rare to medium-well cooking to attain Vitamin C and other nutrients while on a carnivore diet.
Can You Eat Mayo on the Carnivore Diet?
No, you cannot eat mayo on the carnivore diet, as most of the products you can buy are laced with carbs and sugars. Some people think that it can help provide some additional amino acids, but that’s completely unnecessary.
Can I Eat Yogurt on the Carnivore Diet?
Yes, you can eat yogurt on the carnivore diet, but keep in mind that dairy products contain a certain amount of natural sugar. Also, most yogurt you buy in a supermarket is laced with added sugar as well.