Wait, isn’t a carnivore diet just that? Nope! You see – whenI 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 now 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.
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 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.
Let’s discuss the obvious ones like vitamin C. Raw liver has a pretty decent amount of vitamin C in it, in a format that the body can use (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. Whale blubber and skin too, that isn’t quite so readily available for most of us though.
What about retinol (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 fond in huge concentrations in the liver. You see, betacarotene is not a molecule that humans use, we require an enzyme (BCMO-1) effected by certain single nucleotide polymorphism’s which inhibit or decrease the efficiency that we convert betacarotene (plant precursor) into retinol (actively used format).
Heme iron is one we don’t even need to discuss, we all know it’s the best format hands down.
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). On one hand it makes sense given the whole plant molecule vs human/animal molecule discussion. Plus seeing as 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 fro meat I’m wondering if we do actually need them. There is no doubt that they provide benefit, but do they also cause collateral damage? Is high dose a bad idea but a smaller dose ok? I’m not sold either way at this point.
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. This is just not the case. In some studies it actually made certain cancers or adenomas worse (colon cancer included). In some cases it actually worsened it (think Metamucil or psyllium husk).
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.
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 think, if you are consuming the thyroid (eating nose to tail) or supplementing with glandular thyroid (please do so under supervision of a trained practitioner), ten 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.
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. 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). I actually make my own jerky as well as my own desiccated supplements. This is the only way to not be deficient.
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 brain all that often, so we supplement. 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.
I’m also a fan of salmon roe, I mean I love some wild caught fish but the mercury content adds up eventually 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.
1-2 tbsp of salmon roe is all you need to get a boat load of DHA in a phospholipid format, thats the best and most absorbable format rather than triglyceride form found in shelf oils and capsules which may also be rancid due to oxidization and poor processing practices.
OK yes I do add in some greens here and there in the form of specific powders or supplements, do I need them? No but I like to have added amounts just in case I am lacking somewhere when my diet is not on point.
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 still enjoy a nice glass of red wine on occasion as well.
I’m careful with the seasonings I use, typically I stick to a nice high quality salt and that is it. The ones I do use are ones that help to mitigate the negative effects of certain compounds formed while bbq’ing my meat.
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 effect us in a negative way, but like I said I do still plan on having the occasional plant. 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.
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.