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Carnivore Diet Side Effects: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

If you’re considering giving the carnivore diet a try, you may be wondering if it’s safe and what kind of side effects it can cause. While many carnivore dieters report having increased energy levels, lower body fat, and better sleep, you should still be aware of some possible risks that can come with eating such an extreme diet.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the common carnivore diet side effects and how they may affect your health in the long run.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

What is the Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet (also called Zero Carb) is a dietary regimen in which 100% of the calories consumed come from animal products. Examples of the food included are meat (steak, ham, bacon), fish (sardines), dairy-free cheese substitutes like nut cheeses or soy cheese. 

The diet is believed to help with weight loss, fat loss (specifically the abdominal fat), better sleep, and improved health. 

Carnivore Diet Side Effects

Increased Cholesterol

Increased Cholesterol

The carnivore diet is also high in saturated fats which can increase LDL or bad cholesterol. That increased cholesterol may put you at risk for heart disease. All of the bacon and some lunch meats are loaded with sodium. 

A diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure which has been linked to an increased risk of many serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, brain injury and even death.

Elevated Blood Pressure

Elevated Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a medical measurement of how hard the blood pumps through the arteries. Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) causes blood vessels to enlarge and make your heart have to work harder. This can lead to an increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Elevated LDL or bad cholesterol is often viewed as an indicator of heart disease. High levels of bad cholesterol often cause inflammation in your artery walls which raises your risk for cardiovascular disease.

High Sodium Intake

High Sodium Intake

On the carnivore diet your typical day might look like bacon for breakfast, fried eggs and bacon for lunch, a whole rotisserie chicken with a spoonful of mayonnaise as an afternoon snack, then pork chops for dinner. 

This diet is loaded with sodium. Eating too much sodium can raise blood pressure. That in turn can lead to heart disease or stroke. It is also linked to certain types of cancer like stomach cancer.

Lack of Variety in Foods

Lack of Variety in Foods

The other issue with the carnivore diet is that it is limited in variety. You are limited to a diet high in saturated fats which can lead to an elevated LDL or bad cholesterol. Finally, lack of variety can become monotonous and reduce your appetite for the foods you are eating.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin Deficiencies

Lack of vitamin C leads to poor wound healing which increases the risk for developing scurvy. A lack of Vitamin A or beta-carotene can lead to vision problems which could be severe enough to impair driving at night. Beta-carotene is also necessary for a healthy immune system. 

You can’t find these vitamins in a carnivore diet so you’re left at risk if you go on this type of diet long term.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea

Some people experience a decrease in bowel movement with carnivore diets. It’s not uncommon for those switching to this style of eating to experience some constipation. For some, the problem can go away after about two weeks of a carnivorous diet.

Constipation

Constipation

Carnivore diets can also reduce your urge to go. If the diet is too strict, it can result in constipation. You need to be getting enough fiber in your diet if you aren’t eating a variety of carbohydrates.

Common Concerns

If you’re considering a Carnivore diet, here are some important considerations to keep in mind. Eating this way will reduce your intake of fruits and vegetables. That’s not healthy for anyone. 

But if you make up for that by eating too much meat, then you could be getting lots of protein but still miss out on essential vitamins and minerals from plant-based foods like iron from lentils or potassium from bananas.

Summary

The carnivore diet is not something you should try if you’re just transitioning from a high-carb diet. Going from eating rice and beans to bacon and eggs can lead to a lot of problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and weight gain. 

If you aren’t eating well now, it may not be your best option when you go back to eating a normal diet.

We’ve talked about the side effects of the carnivore diet, but are there any benefits to this diet? Read the article below to find out!

5 Benefits of Carnivore Diet; Can You Live With this Diet?

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