How Safe Is The Carnivore Diet? Our Nutritionists Tell All About It
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
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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.
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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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