The carnivore diet is possibly one of the most controversial lifestyle choices you can make, but even within the carnivore community, there are disagreements about supplements.
Some say you should avoid them for several months; others say they are essential right from the start. I’ll get to my personal recommendations below, but the important thing to keep in mind is that all drastic diets can result in certain nutrient deficiencies.
So, what I’ve done is sit down with a dietitian who was supportive of this diet. Over several months we managed to identify some carnivore supplements that can make things easier for us. Unlike the vegan diet with strict moral and ethical guidelines, you should bear in mind that many recommendations below are plant-based or have plant ingredients. Read on to find out more.
Performance Lab has become a highly trusted player in the fitness and weight loss supplement industry. As far as multivitamins with added minerals go, this whole food option is considered to be one of the best available.
What I like about it is that you can buy it in a formula for men or women. As there are subtle differences in the amounts of nutrients both genders need, it’s convenient to get the ideal dose.
Yes strictly speaking it contains a lot of plant ingredients, but the fact is that it contains vital nutrients that you could be lacking.
In the first few weeks of switching to only eating meat, your digestion can initially miss some of the usual fiber.
This can make you feel a bit bloated until all the non-animal food has passed through your system.
Benefiber is one of the most popular choices these days, with many people reporting that it works well for managing weight and sticking to fasting periods.
While many people like that the unflavored option means you can add it to other foods, it would be nice to have it as a tasty shake to drink quickly.
Bulletproof coffee has become a morning staple of mine, and many people on all types of restriction diets love how it helps with fasting periods. But this brain octane oil can also be used with some herbs to make a nice oil to drizzle over your meat.
MCT mainly has health benefits for brain activity and overall energy, which can be particularly helpful during the early days before full ketosis kicks in.
One thing to note is that it isn't the cheapest MCT oil you’ll find. But the reason for this is that it’s sourced from sustainably grown coconut trees and is not extracted using unhealthy chemicals.
Codeage is a premium supplement manufacturer, and this polyphenol is one of the most popular on Amazon. You can read more about the actual benefits in the next section, but there is good evidence that it helps to fight cancer cells in your body.
The product comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee which means you could have before and after blood tests done to find out what the exact effects are on free radicals in your blood.
The downside is that for very strict carnivore dieters it won’t be an option as it’s entirely plant-based.
If you’re particular about not having artificial crap added in for flavor and sweetening, the Transparent Labs is the way to go.
This collagen supplement uses natural ingredients to create a chocolate flavor, without giving you something with tons of carbs to mess with your ketosis.
While you do get 11 grams of collagen sourced from cows, it’s not grass-fed cows. For a lot of carnivore dieters, that is a very important factor, so keep that in mind.
Because the carnivore diet takes such a restrictive approach, there inevitably can be risks of some nutrient deficiencies.
Your protein intake will certainly not be lacking, but if you ignore certain micronutrients for long enough, you can start to feel generally bad and even develop some more serious health issues.
The good news is that the above supplements will provide a good solution. And if you’re a purist when it comes to the carnivore diet (see the rest of the article here), then I have some options below that you can follow as well.
Unfortunately, most meat doesn’t contain high amounts of magnesium, and even when eating several pounds of meat per day, you can become deficient over time.
And here’s the health risk in that happening.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals that your body needs. It is used for countless different functions that within a few months of deficiency can lead to substantial health issues.
Your metabolism needs it to process energy, it plays a role in regulating hormone levels, your muscles need it to synthesize protein, and it’s even required for DNA production .
One option is to eat fish eggs on a regular basis or to prepare your own bone broth using a slow cooking method. Find the our recommended one here.
This is another important nutrient, and as an electrolyte, it plays a vital role in the fluid balance in all your body’s cells. Meat, in general, is not a great source of potassium, unless you regularly opt for organ meats.
A lack of potassium on a consistent basis can lead to an increase in blood pressure , risk of kidney stones, weakened muscle function, and even irregular heart rates.
With the risk of heart disease generally on the rise, electrolyte deficiencies have to be carefully monitored. See the best ones here.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that we have to take in with our food because our body cannot produce it from other nutrients. It is quite abundant in plant foods, especially fruit, but animal foods, mainly meat, don’t contain much of it at all.
One option to boost your vitamin C levels is to eat more organ meat like spleen and lung. Not the most appetizing idea, which is why supplements are a good option.
Vitamin E deficiency on a carnivore diet is not as common, but if you tend to eat cheaper grain-fed meat, then this can happen.
One thing you won’t find in animal foods is fiber. It is one of the main downsides of switching to a carnivore lifestyle, but the actual health benefits are a little bit ambiguous.
On the one hand, high fiber carbs are hailed as a vital part of a fat loss diet because it fills you up and keeps your digestion moving.
The question is whether this is actually an issue when you eat only meat?
For this, there is no definitive answer yet, but my personal approach has been to supplement fiber from plant foods, especially in the early days when your digestion is still adapting.
It’s not necessary for the long term, but I found it did help initially. See fiber options here.
The carnivore lifestyle is often referred to as the keto diet in overdrive. It certainly is true that you will be eating high-fat and high-protein, while avoiding carbs from plant foods and dairy products, including yogurt, milk, and cheese.
In the early stages, before ketosis has set in, you will likely encounter keto flu symptoms, which include headaches, nausea, and fatigue. But these are not long term effects, and within a few days, your body will be producing ketones for energy, with the added bonus of some fat loss.
Until this happens, your blood sugar can fall low, despite eating plenty of protein and fat. You can either suffer through it or take some ketone supplements to make you feel a bit more energized.
I only recently stumbled upon polyphenols while reading a nutrition magazine at my dietitian's office.
The plant-based antioxidants have been studied through clinical trials, and while the full facts and understanding are still pending, it does look like there is a link to protection against cancer and heart disease .
Again, animal foods don’t contain any polyphenols, so the only option is to use supplements. See polyphenol options here.
When I spoke to my dietitian, collagen came up, and it was almost too obvious. Unless you're eating the rather unappetizing parts of an animal like connective tissue and tendons, you’re not going to be getting much collagen through your food.
It’s a vital protein for healthy skin, joints, and connective tissue , and it’s fast becoming one of the more common supplements that people on the carnivore diet take. Check this collagen supplement.
You can hit your protein macros without going overboard by consuming more collagen, which is a source of protein that doesn’t contain the same amino acids as a steak. Instead, collagen is high in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline — amino acids also support a strong gut lining.
Nutrition Entrepreneur, and Author
Deficiencies won’t happen overnight, and there are good options available to make you less reliant on supplements.
So, we’ve identified some nutrients that are lacking in beef, pork, and poultry; while some of these nutrients may only be needed in the short term, there are ways that you can make sure you boost most of them without resorting to supplementation.
Let’s get right to it.
3 options for getting more nutrients from animal foods.
Eating animal organs has fallen out of fashion quite a bit. Just a few generations ago, most organs would be on prominent display at your local butcher. These days, the majority end up in factories for dog food production.
It might take a bit of getting used to and learning some new cooking techniques to preserve the nutrients, but you’ll be amazed at how great you’ll feel if you start adding liver and kidneys to your diet.
If you make your own broth from bone marrow by slow cooking it over 10 to 12 hours at a low temperature, then you can get all the magnesium and most vitamins you need on a day-to-day basis .
I usually make a batch once or twice a week and use a small amount either as a soup or sauce on my meat dishes.
Ready for a tough one?
Yes, eating pigs ears and snout, or the full range of tendons and ligaments from cows sounds as appealing as it is.
However, they are great options to use as natural carnivorous supplements. You’ll need to ask your butcher about getting some, and it might help to find one who kills his own animals.
If you’re looking for more ideas about eating the types of animal foods that are less commonly used, then I recommend checking out Shawn Baker’s and Paul Sorbo’s podcasts and online resources.
Yes, the carnivore diet will put you in ketosis within 5 to 10 days on average. Similar to the ketogenic diet, a carnivore lifestyle choice will practically eliminate all carb intake with your body becoming reliant on fat and protein for energy.
No, the carnivore diet isn’t dangerous as long as you carefully plan what types of meat you’re eating. Most people that encounter problems have other underlying health issues, or don’t ensure that they get all the nutrients they need from less common organ meat sources.
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.
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.
Yes, the carnivore diet can be expensive, but there are very good ways to reduce the costs. By switching to cheaper cuts, you can still buy grass-fed beef to eat on a day-to-day basis.
Yes, the carnivore diet can increase testosterone levels and has been supported by a study based on high-fat and low-fiber intake . Keep in mind, though, that other health factors will also influence your testosterone levels.
Nutrient deficiencies can become a serious health problem, but you shouldn’t expect to be facing these issues immediately when you start the carnivore diet. In the early days, it can be helpful to take some ketones for the mental fog, and fiber to allow your digestion to adapt.
After that, you really don’t need a whole lot of supplements. The above Performance Lab multivitamin and Codeage polyphenol are two that I take on a regular basis, that I would highly recommend
If you’ve found some other products that have helped your carnivore journey, then make sure you share them with us on social media.