Getting Started With the Carnivore Diet
Tl;dr: throw away everything that isn’t animal-based, get some electrolytes and start eating.
Did you decide to lose weight? Are you looking to get rid of anxiety and depression?
Do you seek more energy? Do you want to improve your sleep?
Would you like to fix your eczema, Crohn disease, lupus, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, leaky gut, psoriasis, thyroïd malfunction, arthritis, tinnitus, joint pain, constipation, food craving, seizure attacks, gout, Lyme disease, muscle cramps, obesity, reproductive system issues, diarrhea, weak digestive system and more?
If yes, then there are two dietary components you need to get rid of: any plant-based food and sugar (“but isn’t sugar from plants?” – not necessarily, lactose for example comes from animals).
The only way to do so without fasting for the rest of your life is to adopt a carnivore diet.
In this article, we’ll go over how to make a smooth transition from a normal diet to a strict carnivore diet.
Sugar Is Your Main Problem
99.999999% of people on this planet are addicted to sugar, the 0.000001% remaining being the carnivore people.
Sugar is highly addictive and to completely get rid of this addiction, you need to completely get rid of sugar, something I’ve learned the hard way.
There is sadly no in-between.
The good thing about addictions that you pick up fast is that you can get rid of them quickly: smartphones are hyper-addictive, but you can get rid of this addiction after 3 or 4 days phone-free.
Similarly, sugar is hyper-addictive but you can get rid of your sugar addiction after 2 weeks.
Coffee though takes time to become addicted to. Getting rid of your coffee addiction won’t be so easy.
Same thing with porn.
When I was looking at how to get rid of sugar addiction, I searched how much time it took people on average to stop experiencing carbs cravings.
The Cleveland Clinic pretends it takes about 10 days.
From my own experience, it took a little over two weeks.
Either way, it got easier as days passed and after a month, I didn’t have any cravings anymore.
The type of diets you use to evolve towards carnivore will have an impact.
How to Change Diet to Move Towards a Carnivore Diet
To get rid of sugar, you have two choices: going straight from a normal diet to a carnivore diet or slowly but surely decrease the intake of harmful foods and move one step at a time towards a carnivore diet.
The first solution is effective, but brutal, and requires an athlete’s mindset and willpower.
The second option is easier but will take some time.
I suggest you go for the second option.
What matters is the results, and it’s better to get results after three months, than failing after two weeks.
If you want to go straight into a carnivore diet, jump directly to the “what is going to happen to me when I go keto/carnivore for the first time?”.
If not, read on.
Establish a Ketogenic Diet First
The diet we’ll start with is the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet where one does not eat more than 30 grams of carbs per day.
In order not to go over that threshold, one only eats the following food: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables (non-starchy), and unsweetened dairy (kefir, Greek yogurt, cheese, and butter). For beverages, one can drink tea, coffee, water, vegetable juice, and hot chocolate made out of cocoa powder and water.
And that’s it.
“But how about ice-cream?”. No.
“How about bread?”. No.
“How about Coca-cola light?”.
Hell. Freacking. No.
When I first got into keto, I read for hours and hours about the diet because I wanted to know if there wasn’t anything else I could eat besides meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and dairy.
How about fruits?
That apple looks so good…AARRRGGHH.
My body was begging for sugar up to manipulate my brain into thinking that carbs were not that evil.
What ultimately saved me was Mikhaila Peterson’s blog where she narrated her whole story, refusing to believe carbs were the problem until she understood…they were (the carnivore diet is not as much an all-meat diet as it is a zero-carb diet.)
Diet Doctor has also some excellent low-carbs recipe for keto bread, pizza, and more.
What Does a Meal Plan Look Like on the Ketogenic Diet?
Eggs, bacon (lard), veggies, and Greek yogurt for breakfast, maybe chicken and broccoli for lunch, canned fish with veggies and cheese for dinner.
What I advise you to do is to make different combinations of meat, veggies, and dairy and eat just that.
Here’s an example:
When it comes to meat, you have: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, duck, rabbit, horse, and other types of game meat.
Don’t hesitate to eat local animals I may not have thought about (snake, crocodile, and kangaroo in Australia for example).
Then, you have different parts of the animal: filet, wings, and thighs for chicken, beefsteak, ribeye, carbonnade, and organ meat for beef, pork belly, carbonnade, roti, lard and organ meat for pork, etc.
As such, there is no such thing as “meat”.
Animals are different and have different parts that taste differently.
Then you have processed meat, that I do not particularly recommend but that can still be good once or twice a week: minced meat (to make bolognese, meatballs or meatloaf), burger patties, sausages, ham, white and black sausages, paté, etc.
The diversity of meat there is so amazing that you won’t be bored even if you eat a carnivore diet.
Same thing with fish: from tilapia to salmon, from shellfish to mussels…the possibilities are almost limitless.
Make a list of types of meat you like that you’ll spread over the week.
Now it is time to take care of veggies. The list includes broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, paprika, kale, leeks, mushrooms, avocados, asparagus, salad, cucumber, courgette, aubergine, red kale, peas, olives, spinach and I’m certain I’ve forgotten many.
Avoid carrots, they are quite sweet.
Spread out all of these vegetables over the week and marry them each to the meat of your choice.
Finally, add dairy.
Dairy is cheese (cottage cheese, brie, cheddar), yogurt (always privilege high-fat, such as Bulgarian or Greek Yogurt), butter, and cream.
I do not recommend drinking milk
because the dose of lactose (milk sugar) is quite high in milk. Yogurt is great as a dessert or sauce to accompany any meat or vegetables (it may sound weird, but they do that in some Eastern European countries and it’s awesome).
What Is Going to Happen When You Go Keto/Carnivore for the First Time?
Your body will crave sugar, you’ll feel hunger even though you are full, you’ll be depressed, (extremely) tired, moody, thirsty, your joints may hurt, you may have a headache and bad breath.
These symptoms are part of the “keto flu” and exist because your body is changing its way of working.
Time will eventually make the symptoms disappear, but you can always ease the pain with electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, and sodium) easily accessible online or in pharmacies.
Should you not want to take pills, just eat salt. It does wonders.
How Your Body Works on Keto
When you eat carbs, your body feasts on them like flies feast on poop because it’s an easy and cheap source of energy.
During digestion, your pancreas secretes insulin to tell your cells to absorb the carbs present in your blood.
The cells subsequently use a part of the sugar, store another part under the form of glycogen for mid-term use, and store the rest under the form of fat for long-term use.
This explains why kids run everywhere 10-20 minutes after they’ve eaten super sweet foods, and why they feel tired and become moody right after.
This also explains why people become fat: they eat too much sugar which subsequently gets transformed into fat.
Finally, this explains how you can lose weight: by burning more energy than you take in.
Usually, replacing sugar with fat for energy is more than sufficient, and you’ll see your fat melting in no time.
Fat Is Excellent for You
When you stop eating sugar, your body uses energy from another source: fat.
Whether you eat fat or you take it from, well…yourself, fat is “burned” by your liver and transformed into magical molecules called ketones.
Ketones are another type of energy of much higher quality than carbs (hence the name “ketogenic” diet).
Running on ketones enables you to have a steady level of energy throughout the day, relieves you from anxiety and depression, and slows down debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Ketones also considerably help people with autism and bipolar issues.
The ketogenic diet was originally “invented” by Dr. Atkins, which noticed that a diet poor in sugar would help children with seizures.
As it turned out…it helps everybody.
As you can understand, the change for your body is rather important.
It will therefore take time to adapt to its new reality.
As such, the keto flu symptoms will last between 10 and 15 days for most people.
They lasted 8 weeks for me.
How to Succeed at the Carnivore Diet
To set yourself up for success with the carnivore diet, throw away foods you won’t eat.
Or better, give them to food banks, to your neighbors or to your friends.
How Long Should You Go Keto for Before Switching to Carnivore?
That depends on you. If you still have sugar cravings after one month (unlikely), you should stay on keto, making sure that you don’t go over your daily allowance of 30 grams of carbs per day.
When you’re feeling comfortable with keto and are ready to move onto the next step, do so.
The Next Step: The Animal-Based Diet
For the animal-based diet, we’ll take off all the foods made out of plants: tea, coffee, and vegetables.
You’ll be left with dairy, meat, fish, and eggs. That will be a tough moment for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate lovers because you’ll have to replace these with…water.
Or milk, if you digest it well. You shouldn’t experience any cravings but will probably feel much better if you suffer from auto-immune diseases caused by chemicals found in plants.
What Does the Menu Look Like?
Eat more meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. If you haven’t moved to two meals a day by now, you surely will on an animal-based diet.
This is good news because it means you’ll be spending less time cooking and eating.
When I was on animal-based, I ate eggs, lard, and yogurt for breakfast and meat/fish, eggs, butter, and cheese for lunch/dinner.
It was probably the most satisfying diet I had ever had because I loved cheese and yogurt.
I loved them a bit too much… I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I hadn’t yet entirely gotten rid of my sugar addiction: as such, I ate up to 2.5kg (5 pounds) of Greek yogurt…per day (and minimum 1 kg).
I knew something was wrong, so I left dairy to focus only on zero carb foods with the carnivore diet.
Once you feel ready to take the leap, finish all of the dairy products in your fridge, and don’t buy new ones.
The carnivore diet
Let’s be clear: even if you have taken the slow path, the carnivore diet will seem quite restrictive.
There will be no butter, no cheese, no oil, no coffee, no tea, no yogurt.
Just meat, fish, eggs, and water.
Sparkling water if you want to go crazy.
That will be it and it will be tough at the beginning.
While most people have keto-flu symptoms during the first 2-3 weeks, they eventually wear off.
If you’ve taken the slow path, the keto-flu symptoms will be lesser for you and you’ll adapt quicker and better to the diet. If you’ve straight jump onto carnivore, then the symptoms will be quite strong (diarrhea being the worse you’ll experience. Fear not, it is your body releasing water weight that used to be retained by carbs).
However, if you’re from the unlucky batch (understand: people that were extremely addicted to sugar like I was), then it will take at least 2 months to go back to previous lifestyle quality even if you were keto before.
Mind that whatever effort you invest, carnivore will be worth it.
At some point, the symptoms I have quoted above will disappear, you will start losing weight quickly, you’ll feel much better, much more relax and quiet and you’ll have much more time on your hands than previously.
Visits to the supermarkets will whether be non-existent, or restricted to once per week.
Hunger will no longer be felt, nor the need to nap.
Sleep will be bliss.
What about alcohol?
Vodka is zero carbs, but it is made out of plants and literally destroys your gut.
Do you know what else alcohol is great for? Cleaning.
It kills bacteria and viruses. When you drink alcohol, it literally…kills you.
I used to drink vodka to get drunk while on the animal-based diet up to the day when I got (mid-February 2020).
I won’t explain here what it is, Google it at your own risk, but let’s say this rather…uncomfortable experience made me never touch a drop of alcohol ever again.
Also, I noticed alcohol would push me back into the arms of my former demons.
Drunk, I used to relapse into porn, masturbation, and video games.
It would also make me question my dietary choices and I’d pick up one or two McDonalds fries from my friends at 3 AM.
“Come on Aurélien, what is 1 or 2 fries?”.
Well, it’s kind of a big deal. So not only did alcohol increase my tinnitus, but it is also expensive, destroys brain cells, made me relapse into addictive activities, gave me hangovers, and destroyed my intestinal flora, all of that to…do stuff I regret the next day?
Thanks, but no thanks.
And that’s the story of how I cut off alcohol.
The Bottom Line
The carnivore diet is to diets what the Olympics is to sports competition: it’s both the hardest and the best.
While most people take 2-3 weeks to adapt, it took me more than 2 months, including a period when I was sleeping 11 hours per night (even though I believe it wasn’t caused by the diet but enabled by it, where the removal of plant chemicals finally allowed my body to rest properly).
You’ll go through a roller-coaster of feelings and emotions…only to get out of it with a clear mind, clear thoughts, anxiety and depression-free, the equivalent of that scene in the movie Limitless where the hero takes the pill for the first time and says “I knew what I needed to do and how to do it”.
So…are you ready?