Wait, isn’t a carnivore diet just that? Nope! You see – when I originally turned to the carnivore diet style of eating it was to improve upon health conditions I was suffering from. Namely autoimmune related. For me it was an obligate carnivore diet vs my current facultative carnivore diet.
The word facultative comes from faculty, meaning “ability”, or “choice”. Biologically, a facultative carnivore is primarily a meat-eater, and does not thrive without animal foods. What makes a carnivore facultative is its special ability to subsist for a time on just plant foods. It’s a useful adaptation for survival. Humans, like dogs, are facultative carnivores.
Obligatory carnivores are strict carnivore, they cannot consume plant matter without becoming ill. I’m not saying I go out and eat veggies on purpose, but if I do on occasion decide to have some avocado in the form of guac – I will. I might suffer for it, but I won’t restrict myself from living life in social circles should I choose to (that’s how diets fail folks).
The category I fall into is that one healed, I can consume plants (when properly prepared) if/when I choose. However it is not the ‘norm’ and I do not do it on a regular basis. I tend to be more drawn to this in warmer summer months, where the seasonal eating comes into play. But even then I find I feel better, perform better on straight up carnivore – meat, meat and more meat.
But you can’t get all the nutrients you need without consuming plants… Actually yes you can. While you can’t get flavonoids from meat you definitely can get the required nutrients from a proper nose to tail carnivore diet. Note I said “Nose to Tail”
Let’s discuss the obvious ones like vitamin C.
Raw liver has a pretty decent amount of vitamin C in it, that the body can use (we call that bioavailable). You can whip up a liver smoothie or you can just take some desiccated liver caps if you aren’t that brave (yet). The brain also contains some pretty high levels of vitamin C, if you are so inclined… I am not – I tried (if you follow my insta you will see my failed attempt). Personally I prefer supplementing with brain/heart/kidney/liver supplements (which I make myself) but there are high quality ones available online (ancestral supplements for one).
What about vitamin A? Well for starters if you have specific polymorphism’s you wont be able to convert the betacarotene from the plants you are consuming. This is the precursor to retinol (vit A). Luckily for us carnivores, retinol is found in huge concentrations in the liver. SOme schools of thought say there is risk over toxic levels from consuming too much especially during pregnancy. I’ve yet to see this though. You see, betacarotene is not a molecule that humans use, we require an enzyme (BCMO-1) affected by certain SNP’s which inhibit or decrease the efficiency that we convert betacarotene (plant precursor) into retinol (actively used form).
Heme iron is one we don’t even need to discuss, we all know it’s the best format hands down. I mean unless you are listening to some crazy vegan rubbish.
What about Quercetin? Well first off this is actually a phytoestrogen, and there is talk that it may not be quite as beneficial as we think (I’m on the fence with this one). Since it can inhibit some of the enzymes needed in the folate cycle I have to wonder if in a few more years we find out that it isn’t all it was supposedly cracked up to be. But seeing as we can’t get flavonoids from meat I’m wondering if we do actually need them. Does risk outweigh benefit or does benefit outweigh risk? Is high dose a bad idea but a smaller dose ok? I’m not sold either way at this point – I’ll defer to some of the experts and see what data develops over time.
Fiber… Look we don’t need fiber to shit, in some cases it actually seems to make people worse, especially if you have SIBO due to feeding the methane producing bacteria. It certainly worsens bloating and gas for most people. I’ve never had healthier poops since starting carnivore. There are some who discuss pre-cancerous lesions that are suppose to be eliminated by including fiber – I call B.S. on that. In some studies it actually made certain cancers or adenomas worse (colon cancer included).
BHB – Beta hydroxy butyrate simulate everything claimed by those who consume short chain fatty acids in the gut. This is good news for those doing keto/carnivore without the gas. There are bacteria found in the gut that are able to turn protein into short chain fatty acids so we are pretty safe not having fiber for a healthy and happy gut lining. You could also just add in exogenous ketone bodies like these. Realistically though I don’t think they are needed – that’s the beauty of carnivore (no supplements (or minimal)
Ok so what about thyroid, I’ve talked about a low carb diet being possibly bad (especially for women) when it comes to thyroid function. Here is the thing, if you are consuming the thyroid (eating nose to tail) or supplementing with glandular thyroid (please do so under supervision of a trained practitioner), then you should be just fine. Plus you are going to be eating what your meat ate (flesh of the animal), so there will by default be some carbs in there. I’ve also seen massive improvement in both myself and patients when it came to thyroid health. I believe it may have to do with the oxalates and how they negatively impact thyroid health. But that’s a whole other post.
Ok lets talk balance. You can’t eat steak all day every day and expect to have a properly balanced carnivore diet, that is just a meat eating diet and missing many of the much needed nutrients so listen up! You need organ meat, not just muscle meat. Some leaders in the community would disagree and that’s ok! If you find you are doing alright and your levels seem on point then do you boo.
You want folate? Get that organ meat (liver) into you. You can have liver in a smoothie raw, cook it, eat liver jerky or supplement with desiccated liver (that is what I do). Sometimes I buy a delicious liver pate, the creamy ones are actually quite goodif you add salt. I also make my own jerky as well as my own desiccated supplements.
We are supposed to also consume ligaments, tendons, bones (calcium) testes (oh hey there sweetbreads) and yes the thyroid. But the reality is that here in a western society we are not going to be eating those or even brain all that often, so we supplement. I add boron from time to time because I’m not out there eating bone meal (ground up bone). The balance of amino acid is not found in only muscle meat. We need connective tissues (bones and tendon) for collagen (this is why I add it in as a supplement). Muscle meat is high in methionine, but low in glycine. As much as I wish I could live on steak alone, I know I need to mix it up – but that’s my theory and personal take – don’t take it as gospel if you want to be steak/water/salt then go for it. Actually if you do please do me a solid and let me know how you feel and track your progress. I’d love to hear all about it.
I’m also a fan of salmon roe, I mean I love some wild caught fish but the mercury content adds up eventually and the ratio of EPA and DHA is off even if it’s wild caught, so eating smaller amounts that have a higher nutrient density means less exposure to mercury. Plus salmon roe are high in Omega 3’s (which we cannot make) in the most bioavailable format (so is krill oil if you prefer to supplement). You want to support your gut and your brain as well as control those period pains ladies, you want to get that krill oil into you – or eat some good old salmon roe. I also like to ensure that EPA:DHA ratio is on point so I add sardines, anchovies and sometimes herring.
1-2 tbsp of salmon roe is all you need to get a boat load of DHA in a phospholipid format, that’s the best and most absorbable format rather than triglyceride form found in shelf oils and capsules which may also be rancid due to oxidation and poor processing practices. Yes that is right I do NOT recommend fish oils.
No I don’t add in greens, not even here and there – not in powders or supplements, or any other format. Do I need them? No.
Do I still have coffee? You betcha (I like this kind). While it’s not advisable, I enjoy it so I still consume it. Life is about enjoying things and my body can handle it so why not. I also add copious amounts of heavy cream and it’s delightful, my DNA is fine with dairy.
I still enjoy a nice glass of red wine on occasion as well, and a beer here and there.
I’m careful with the seasonings I use, typically I stick to a nice high quality salt and that is it. My favourite at the moment comes from our local butcher. It’s a nice smoked bacon himalayan salt. The ones I do use are ones that help to mitigate the negative effects of certain compounds formed while bbqing my meat – but I’m cutting those out as well.
So why my sudden (or not so sudden) swap to carnivore and do I truly believe plants are toxic? I believe that plants can definitely affect us in a negative way, oxalates are real my friends. As far as me swapping over, it had to due with my own battle with autoimmune disease and a healing journey which has proven the best one so far. Being sick is one of the best motivators for many of us changing dietary theories. From gut health, leaky gut (plant toxins and autoimmunity) all the way to just performance based. Remember that how we approach the diet will be based on where we are coming from. Is it like me a place of ‘sickness” or a place of wellness and just looking for a boost. For me the plant toxins were actually contributing to my own autoimmune condition, like I said oxalates were the devil.
So is a carnivore diet right for you? Why not book in for a consultation and let’s discuss it in more detail. There are many actors as to why this could be beneficial, however implementing it looks different for each of us.
Ready to delve right in? Let’s do it! Book a session now.
Worried about your genetics? Maybe carnivore isn’t the right choice for you based on your genetic profile? Why not test it to be sure. Looking for even more than just your diet DNA?? Let’s run a full panel and see EVERYTHING your genes have to say about your hormones, diet, detox and so much more.
Want to read more on being a “Facultative Carnivore” – check out the article above by Amber O’Hearn
Looking for some organ supplements that won’t break the bank and have high quality assurance? Check out these guys – they have organ supplements, bone marrow, brain, gland mixtures and more!
Be sure to follow my youtube channel for more info on Carnivore, oxalates and all things health related. They don’t call me #TheSassyCarnivore for nothing so if swearing offends you then you may want to opt out.