How Healthy Is A Meat-Only Diet? Know All About It From Our Nutritionists
A carnivore diet can help to achieve weight loss, deal with autoimmunity and digestive issues. But is our body capable of surviving on a meat-only diet?
Carnivore diet plan includes eating only meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Carnivore diet excludes all forms of vegetables and nuts
- Carnivore diet eliminates carbohydrates and can induces ketosis
- Carnivore diet makes fat the primary source of energy
Carnivore diet is one which requires eating only meat or animal foods. It majorly consists of organ meats, poultry, processed meats, fish, eggs, etc. Dairy products can also be included in a carnivore diet. Condiments and spices can also be part of the carnivore diet. The carnivore diet is basically one which entails eating nothing but only meat for every meal. Carnivore diet involves eating a lot of protein, fats and no carbs. While carnivore diet may seem as if it will raise cholesterol, cause weight gain and other digestive problems, the reality is quite the contrary. Unlike any other diet, a carnivore diet doesn't involve eating vegetables or nuts. Carnivore diet can aid weight loss. It has also been found that the carnivore diet can help in dealing with some autoimmune diseases, digestive issues and improve heart health. We ask nutritionist Pooja Malhotra, if the diet is safe to be followed and about the health benefits of the carnivore diet. She says, "Carnivore diet focuses on meat and fat, it cuts out carbs completely. The diet includes no grains, legumes, fruits, veggies or nuts. It may bring about some weight loss. But it's a very unsustainable diet. The body will start burning its fat and protein stored. There will be a build-up of ketones in the body," says Pooja.
Also read: 6 Vegetables You Must Eat To Manage Diabetes
Also read: Low-Carb Diet May Improve Eyesight: 6 Health Benefits Of Low Carb Diets
Expert views have been quite critical about the long-term use of low-carb or no-carb diet. Pooja goes on to add, "Most of the meats are high in saturated fat and sodium too. Carnivore diet can have damaging effects on the liver, kidney and lipid parameters and lead to cardiovascular disease. The carnivore diet is obviously not easy to digest and might even lead to constipation and nutritional deficiencies."
She stands firm on the fact that most of such fad diets are unsustainable. "Any diet which has a special name or cuts out any of the major food groups is a fad diet, is unsustainable and can be very harmful. It should not be tried even for a single day," she says.
Also read: A Seafood-Rich Diet May Up Sexual Intimacy And Pregnancy Chances
Monisha Ashokan, a clinical nutritionist, agrees that a meat-only diet like carnivore diet might not be suitable for everyone. Explaining, she says, "While carnivore diet is gaining popularity due to its spurring weight loss results, it might not work for everyone. Your unique body type and chemistry dictates how you will respond to it."
Carnivore diet, which is primarily eating non-vegetarian food and fats with negligible carbohydrates, uses ketosis to fuel your body with energy, says Monisha. "Though it's highly impactful, it is not a cakewalk. A person who decides to follow this diet can initially find it difficult to eliminate carbohydrates from lifestyle in order to let the body experience ketosis. The initial symptoms could include flu, fever, dizziness etc. Furthermore, the amount of suffering (or lack thereof) depends on your body and metabolic suppleness. If you sustain this period of sudden changes, you should try it at least for 6 weeks to see how it makes you feel," she suggests.
But she makes it clear that she doesn't recommend staying on a carnivore diet permanently as long-term research on it is limited. "It may lead to nutritional deficiencies (unless you want to pop in pills to supplement all of it) and cause lack of fibre. Also, it can be detrimental to health in case of some conditions like kidney malfunction or gastrointestinal disorders," she clarifies.
Also read: Here's How Obesity Can Damage Your Kidneys
"Having said that, I am not debating the fact that this diet can help you drop your belt size drastically, making 'fat' the primary source of energy for your body," concludes Monisha.
Going on a meat-only diet may deprive your body of a lot of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. In the long run, a diet high in saturated fat can increase risks of heart disease, even if you are opting for lean meat.
Research also suggests that consumption of red or processed meat can increase risks of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance - which can be a cause of concern for people with diabetes.
Also read: 5 Natural Ways To Fight Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
(Pooja Malhotra is a city-based nutritionist)
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