Carnivore Diet Meal Plan: Foods and Benefits

Learn about this animal-based diet, what you can eat, a sample meal plan, and the benefits and downsides of this eating style.

hand-chopping-a-meat-with-a-blue-knife-on-a-wooden-table
by
Sarah Bullard, MS, RD, LD
— Signos
Dietitian and Nutrition Writer
Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Updated by

Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
March 18, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Recently, a new, animal-based eating pattern called the carnivore diet has gained popularity.1 The carnivore diet prioritizes animal foods and eliminates most or all plant-based foods. Supporters of the carnivore diet share that it can aid in weight loss and improve health conditions like diabetes and mental health.2

The carnivore diet is a little-studied form of the ketogenic diet. Keto diets contain high protein and fat, with minimal carbohydrates. Other versions of a high-protein diet include the Atkins diet. However, the Atkins diet allows for reintroducing low-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables.1 

More information about the long-term health of individuals following the carnivore diet with no carbohydrates or plant foods is needed.1 

The carnivore diet originates from historical reports from the early 1900s of Arctic or nomadic societies that ate primarily animal foods for most of the year. These groups of people generally had good health and long lives. Before the creation of insulin, this diet could treat individuals with diabetes.1 

In this article, we look at what you can eat on the carnivore diet, a week-long meal plan, and the potential downsides of the carnivore diet.

{{mid-cta}}

What to Eat on the Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet is simple in writing: Eat animal foods and drink water or bone broth. However, due to its restrictive nature, eating this way can prove more challenging. It can also be expensive and lack variety for some people. 

Animal foods include all meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and healthy fats like tallow, butter, or lard. A more relaxed version of the carnivore diet allows avocado or olive oil when cooking the meats and includes small amounts of dairy products and black coffee. 

Seasonings like salt, pepper, basil, garlic, sage, and thyme can be used to prepare meat. Beverages are limited to water and bone broth. 

Similar to the ketogenic diet, the carnivore eating style is a type of elimination diet where you must limit or eliminate food sources of carbohydrates to shift your body into ketosis. Ketosis shifts to using fat and protein as a primary energy source instead of carbohydrates, helping people to lose weight and lower blood sugar levels.3 

Carnivore Diet Food List

a seafood bowl filled with shrimps

Here is a summary of all animal foods allowed on the carnivore diet. Choosing various foods can help add different flavors to the carnivore diet. 

The author of “The Carnivore Diet,” Shawn Baker, recommends higher fat cuts of meat and animal products can help you maintain this diet long-term.2

1. Grass-Fed Beef

  • Brisket
  • Skirt steak
  • Chuck steak
  • T-bone 
  • Short ribs
  • Ground beef
  • Back ribs
  • Ribeye
  • Roast

2. Chicken or Turkey

  • Whole Bird
  • Wings
  • Drumsticks
  • Breast
  • Thighs

3. Pork

  • Bacon (sugar-free)
  • Sausage
  • Country style ribs
  • Pork loin
  • Spare ribs
  • Shoulder
  • Chops
  • Butt

4. Seafood

  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Flounder
  • Mackerel
  • Crab
  • Cod
  • Mahi
  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Sardines

5. Lamb

  • Chops
  • Leg of lamb
  • Ground lamb
  • Shanks

6. Wild Game

  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Venison (deer)
  • Rabbit
  • Antelope
  • Sheep
  • Wild duck or goose

7. Eggs

  • Chicken
  • Quail
  • Duck

8. Organ Meats of Any Animal

  • Tongue
  • Heart
  • Liver (i.e., beef liver)
  • Kidneys
  • Bone marrow

9. Low-Carb Dairy

  • Heavy cream
  • Butter or ghee
  • Sour cream
  • Brie or goat cheese (full-fat cheese)

Easy Carnivore Diet Meal Plan for Beginners

This dietary eating style does not dictate when or how much to eat. You can opt for three meals daily or spread the food into a meal and snack combination. 

Listen to your body; add more carnivorous foods if you are still hungry. You will need to eat more animal foods than in previous eating patterns, including plant foods and carbohydrates that provide some energy needs. 

1. Monday

  • Breakfast: 2 or 3 scrambled eggs cooked in butter, three sausage links
  • Lunch: 8-ounce grilled ribeye steak
  • Dinner: 2 grilled ground beef burgers, 1 cup of bone broth

2. Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Three-egg and goat cheese omelet
  • Lunch: 8 oz baked salmon
  • Dinner: Slow-cooker roast (10 ounces)

3. Wednesday

  • Breakfast: 8 sausage and egg muffin cups 
  • Lunch: Leftover slow-cooker roast (8 ounces)
  • Dinner: 10-ounce lamb chops, 1 cup of bone broth

4. Thursday

  • Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, three slices of sugar-free bacon
  • Lunch: Canned salmon
  • Dinner: Roasted Chicken Wings (at least 10)

5. Friday

  • Breakfast: 3 hard-boiled eggs with smoked salmon
  • Lunch: Leftover chicken wings, 1 cup of bone broth
  • Dinner: Crustless quiche with ham and sugar-free bacon

6. Saturday

  • Breakfast: Leftover crustless quiche with ham and bacon
  • Lunch: 8 ounces of grilled chicken cooked in  avocado or olive oil
  • Dinner: Roasted country-style pork ribs

7. Sunday

  • Breakfast: 3 poached eggs with three sausage links
  • Lunch: Leftover country-style pork ribs
  • Dinner: 10 ounces pork chops

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="low-carb-meatloaf">The Best Low-Glycemic and Low-Carb Meatloaf Recipe</a>.</p>

Potential Downsides of the Carnivore Diet to Consider

Assorted meat over a grill

Limited Research

The carnivore diet has limited research in general and no long-term studies on the health and outcomes of eating this way. 

One single study includes an analysis of social media surveys of 2,029 adults following the carnivore diet for at least six months in 2020.1 

Survey questions included motivation, intake patterns, symptoms suggestive of nutritional deficiencies, satisfaction, laboratory data, prior and current health conditions, and weight.1 

The median age was 44, and 67% were male, consuming a carnivore diet for fourteen months, with over 90% motivated by health reasons. 85% of surveys reported red meat consumption daily, with 10% of participants consuming plant foods more than once a month. 

Individuals following the diet were satisfied with the eating plan, improved health, and lowered weight (BMI from 27.2 to 24.3). LDL cholesterol was elevated (unfavorable for health), and HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels were considered optimal.2

This survey has limitations in that the researchers did not use a validated survey to assess food frequency and intake, the researchers had participants self-report laboratory measurements and health status changes, and there were duplicate survey responses from the same email address.4 

Ideally, these laboratory values should be verified instead of self-reported by the participants. 

More research is needed to understand any long-term health implications and sustainability of following a restrictive diet. 

Restrictive

Consuming only animal products indefinitely is restrictive and may only be feasible in the short term. The carnivore diet can be followed when eating out or with others, as long as you exclude plant products or foods containing carbohydrates.

Restrictive diets of any kind are difficult for most people to follow. A carnivore diet may help in the short term (under one year) with weight loss and blood sugar management, but switching to a nutritionally balanced and feasible diet is realistic for most people. 

High in Fat

The carnivore diet includes only animal foods, which can be high in saturated fat. No research studies examine animal-only diets and their impact on blood lipid levels. 

With ketosis, the metabolic pathway shifts away from carbohydrates. Research on other lower-carbohydrate diets reports elevated LDL cholesterol and optimal triglyceride and HDL cholesterol, similar to the carnivore diet.1 

High LDL cholesterol is considered a heart disease risk factor. It is unknown how this diet impacts heart disease risk, especially with other improved laboratory values and weight loss.1 

Lacks Fiber and Beneficial Plant Compounds

Animal products contain no fiber. Fiber helps promote gut health, good bacteria, and regular bowel movements.5 

No large clinical trials or research has studied the adequacy of the carnivore diet in the long term. The small survey reported some side effects, including constipation in 3.1% of respondents and diarrhea in 5.5%.1 

Other ketogenic diets incorporate some plant foods and carbohydrates, so followers consume some fiber and eat beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants. 

Seek guidance from your healthcare provider before following any diet or meal plan, especially this less-researched carnivore diet. 

The carnivore diet is not a good fit for people with health conditions that require limited protein intake, like kidney disease. 

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

To improve your blood sugar and health, a Signos continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can help you see how your body responds to different foods and diets in real-time. 

Signos can help you find a sustainable eating and exercise plan to manage your blood sugar levels that don’t require restrictive diets like the carnivore diet.

If you want to see how your blood sugar levels respond to the carnivore or a ketogenic diet, you can use this tool (CGM) to help you monitor your progress.

A Signos’ CGM can help you improve your health while trying to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. A healthcare professional can help you choose the proper medication (if needed) to help manage your diabetes and weight. 

Learn more about nutrition and healthy habits on Signos’ blog. Take a quick quiz to determine if Signos fits your needs.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="how-to-make-a-meal-plan">How to Make a Meal Plan? Meal Planning 101</a>.</p>

Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • item 3
Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Topics discussed in this article:

References

  1. Lennerz, B. S., Mey, J. T., Henn, O. H., & Ludwig, D. S. (2021). Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a "Carnivore Diet". Current developments in nutrition, 5(12), nzab133. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzab133
  2. https://carnivore.diet/
  3. McGaugh, E., & Barthel, B. (2022). A Review of Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle. Missouri medicine, 119(1), 84–88.
  4. Kirwan, R., Mallett, G. S., Ellis, L., & Flanagan, A. (2022). Limitations of Self-reported Health Status and Metabolic Markers among Adults Consuming a "Carnivore Diet". Current developments in nutrition, 6(5), nzac037. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzac037/
  5. The Nutrition Source. (2022 April). Fiber. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/

About the author

Sarah Bullard is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer with a master’s degree in nutrition. She has a background in research and clinical nutrition, personalized nutrition counseling, and nutrition education.

View Author Bio

Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

Interested in learning more about metabolic health and weight management?

Try Signos.