What is the Carnivore Diet? (How to Start + Meal Plan)

Meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Yes PLEASE! On a carnivore diet you can. Animal-based nutrition simplifies shopping, makes meal prep a breeze, and can bring long-awaited health results for people who have tried everything. Gone are the days of confusing food combining rules, cross-referencing lists of dietary do’s and don’ts, even tracking macros can go out the window.

No diet has even been more simple, oddly enjoyable, and surprisingly effective than the carnivore diet. It could be the golden ticket you need to reset your health and feel young again.

What is a Carnivore Diet?

A carnivore diet is a type of elimination diet. The focus is on nutrient dense animal-based foods. All fiber and all plant foods are removed.

A carnivore diet is high protein and low to zero carb. People usually fall into a ketotic state and use animal fat for fuel but some may source carbs from milk and/or honey.

With no real rules for meal timing or frequency, you can design your own eating schedule as long as meals are comprised of meat, eggs, seafood, or other animal protein with an abundance of healthy animal fats.

The goal of a carnivore diet is to eat foods that do not cause autoimmune reactions, digestive distress, dips in mental health, skin breakouts or other flare ups of any kind. Under that umbrella, there are varying degrees of carnivory. Depending on the situation, some people may need to follow a strict combination of meat, salt, and water. Others may feel great with eggs and dairy. Finally, some people may learn they do well with certain herbs and spices and a moderate level of condiments like raw apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard and others.

An empty pan on a wooden surface.

Carnivore Diet Benefits: Is a Carnivore Diet Good For you?

Any time we eliminate processed foods and refined ingredients from our diet, we are going to notice health benefits. But for some of us, simple “clean eating” isn’t enough. For whatever reason, be it the pervasive amount of petrochemicals used by Big Ag, degraded topsoil and general degeneration of our food supply, electromagnetic and environmental pollution, or a likely combination of all of the above, our food isn’t what it used to be and neither is our health.

A well-formulated carnivorous diet is one of the most amazing interventions ever discovered for autoimmune conditions.

Gut and digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, chronic pain, skin issues, arthritis, PCOS, and many other ailments have been effectively managed and even eliminated with an animal-based diet. Read our carnivore diet success stories to learn more.

Even after a long-term keto diet, many people find that a carnivorous approach brings profound benefits beyond ketosis.

A carnivore diet is also a powerful way to find dietary confidence, reform habits, and reboot your relationship with food. Common benefits include:

  • Improved digestion 
  • Reduced inflammation 
  • Improved cognition 
  • Rapid weight loss 
  • Improved hormonal balance 
  • Improved physical performance 
  • Better skin health 
  • Less joint pain
  • Reduced hunger and need for frequent meals and snacking

These benefits sound amazing, but just like any other diet, the carnivore diet has its pros and cons. That said, be sure to do your due diligence before making this change to your lifestyle,

Browse through these 70+ carnivore diet resources before you get started!

What Food is Allowed on a Carnivore Diet Menu?

Some people just eat meat but in reality, any and all animal foods are allowed.

  • Animal fats (butter, ghee, beef tallow, lard, duck fat etc)
  • Fatty meat from ruminant animals
  • Fish, seafood, and roe
  • Chicken, pork, and other poultry
  • Organs meats
  • Game meat
  • Aged meats
  • Fermented meats
  • Eggs
  • Dairy foods
  • Honey

Once you know what to eat on carnivore, the diet guidelines become more clear. There are many ways to enjoy a carnivore diet on a budget, so don’t worry about breaking the bank.

I recommend you download our FREE Carnivore Diet Food List (pdf) to save on your phone or print out and stick on your fridge. Then take it with you next time you go grocery shopping, so you can stock up on all the variety available.

If you are interested in tracking macros, the printable Carnivore Diet Macro Food Chart is for you!

Did you know the number one reason don’t ever start an animal based diet is because they think it will be boring?

Do you need meal ideas? Try these 30 Easy Carnivore Diet Meal Ideas. If you want something more specific, check out these carnivore lunch ideas!

I’m here to show you the variety of options available to all carnivorous eaters. Browse our collection of delicious carnivore diet recipes and start this fun Carnivore Diet Challenge so you’ll never get bored with your diet!

Are you craving easy and delicious carnivore recipes? Check out my Carnivore Cookbook for simple and straightforward recipes you’ll love!

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5-Day Carnivore Diet Meal Plan Example

The appeal of ultra-simple meal prep and planning may not be what convinces you to go carnivore but it certainly helps you enjoy it!

Grocery shopping becomes extremely quick, meal prep is very efficient, and people usually notice their grocery bills decrease even when they opt for high-quality, grass-fed, and pasture-raised ingredients.

Buying in bulk to save money whenever possible and learn How to Find Quality Foods from sources you trust so you can start stocking up your freezer.

For a complete 21-day carnivore diet meal plan, look no further than our Quick Start Guide to Carnivory. This downloadable pdf will walk you through the first 3 weeks of fiber-free eating, answer all the FAQs, and provide tips on how to optimize your approach.

To get you started right now, I’ll add 5 days of zero carb meal plan ideas below. They may not sound overly exciting but give it a try and you may find that the results keep you motivated. Fatty savory meats are surprisingly enjoyable in a very elemental state.

I recommend using a printable carnivore diet meal planner template to keep all your carnivore diet meal prep resources organized.

Two fried eggs on a plate, accompanied by sizzling bacon.

Carnivore Breakfast Meals

Due to the highly satiating nature of animal foods, many people discover they do well with just 2 meals a day. You may end up eating breakfast and dinner (my routine) or do a lunch/dinner combo (tends to work better for men). Choose what works for your lifestyle, schedule, and personal preference. There’s no hard line on carnivore breakfast recipes, they can be served in the morning or whenever you eat your first meal.

Chicken legs in a frying pan on a gray background.

Carnivore Lunch Ideas

Mix and match these meals as you see fit. These breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal ideas are all interchangeable. Who’s ever seen a diet this easy before?

A piece of raw meat on top of a wooden chopping board.

Carnivore Dinner Recipes

Take a look at common staples (steaks, eggs, 80/20 ground beef) and buy in bulk, on sale, whenever possible. Having a deep chest freezer is a good idea for long-term food storage, especially if you have a family.

With The Carnivore Cookbook, you’ll have over 100 recipes to make from budget-friendly staples any time you need some inspiration.

Various meat and eggs on a grey backgroud.

What is a Good Carnivore Diet Plan for Beginners?

The best way to get started on a carnivore diet is to stock up on fatty meat, commit your best effort, and begin! It’s a journey and bound to be a learning process. The important thing is to take the first step.

If you want to start slow, focus on keto carnivore recipes. Then, when you’re ready kick the herbs and low-carb vegetables completely.

Keeping a food journal to jot down what you eat, how you feel, thoughts you have and other noteworthy things is often helpful. Having a record of what you’re doing will be useful once you are ready to dial things in and take your results to the next level.

Plan on eating strict carnivore for a minimum of 3 weeks before reevaluating and deciding how to continue. It takes 21 days for a new habit to really stick and at least that long to let your digestion adjust to breaking down meat and fat and work through sugar cravings. One of the reasons I wrote our 21 Day Carnivore Diet Meal Plan was to help you through this initial transition period.

Join our Facebook group: Keto Carnivore Recipes so you can be in touch with me and others eating a similar way and we can support one another!

How much meat to eat per day?

Animal foods are very nourishing and easy to digest which means they satiate well. Learn how to eat to satiety, that means eat as much as you want until you are no longer hungry.

For the average person, this is around 1.5-2 pounds of meat a day but will vary slightly due to current body composition, goals, and energy demands.

Counting and tracking macros on a carnivore diet isn’t usually necessary but can be very helpful for some. Our carnivore diet food list with macros may be useful in this case.

In the first few weeks, you should eat freely as your body adjusts. Keep reinforcing the message that fatty meat is fuel and your body will adjust with time.

Women may want to increase calories around their monthly cycle, so adding in an extra steak or a few more burger patties is a good strategy. 

Once you get comfortable with the new dietary habits, then you can dial in macros and start tracking progress.

Take a look How to Cook Meat on a Carnivore Diet and brush up on your skills!

When and how often should I eat?

Start by eating the same amount of meals you are currently eating. If you’re OMAD already, swap in 2 ribeyes and call it a day. If you’re used to 3 meals a day, transition to 3 meals of animals foods instead.

You may notice that you are much more full and can sustain energy for longer periods of time without eating. If you have a lot of body fat to lose, this is a great position to be in! Take advantage of the low hunger and follow your body cues.

If you start losing too much weight, make a point to add in more calories with added fats, cheese, or even honey until you learn how to regulate your weight appropriately.

Adjust your routine as needed.

Intermittent fasting and long-term fasting on a carnivore diet are fine assuming you take proper cautionary measures. Fast for health, not for status.

How long should I eat carnivore?

How long you want to continue with fiber-free eating is up to you. If you have chronic conditions that need addressing, you should consider that in addition to the immediate benefits, results also compound over time. So let the experience guide you and dictate your time frame.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no long-term danger of omitting plant foods. There are modern day anecdotal stories of individuals on their 20th year plant-free and, of course, various traditional cultures that eat minimal to zero amounts of plants since “forever”.

A smiling man in front of a grill.

Carnivore Diet Support Group

For something as simple as “just eating animal foods”, the situation can sometimes become very complicated. If you have a thousand questions buzzing around your head, want to share your enthusiasm with others, or feel like you’re stumbling along and haven’t dialed in your approach, we are here to help!

Join us for carnivore diet coaching and support in our Keto & Carnivore Diet Support Group.

We have a robust online community of people following a spectrum of animal based eating. From ex-vegans to breastfeeding mothers and people interested in athletic gains to those who want to lose a significant amount of weight, there is a wide range of people from all over the world who gather together to support, inspire, and motivate one another.

We have weekly coaching calls, share helpful diet resources, and curate a private community forum (with mobile and desktop app) so you can THRIVE and take back your health.

Personal one-on-one carnivore diet coaching consults are also available, if you prefer.