Wondering what to eat on a carnivore diet? The answer is a simple, easy to remember list of bioavailable, and nourishing foods. A carnivore diet excludes all plant foods and includes all animal foods. The specific choice of which animal foods to eat will vary from person to person, depending on the context. Individual goals, budget, and personal preference play a role in knowing what foods are best for you.
What is a Carnivore Diet?
A pure carnivore diet also called “strict carnivore”, consists of nothing more than meat, salt, and water.
A strict carnivore diet is a zero fiber, low carbohydrate, modified keto diet based on the most nutrient-dense and easily digested foods: animal foods.
Eating all meat is the ultimate elimination diet. The process begins with an initial reset, then, once you have established a non-symptomatic foundation, you may broaden the scope of food choices to include more animal foods like eggs and dairy. Finally, after a period of time, you will be ready to reintroduce select plant foods one at a time.
There are many variations and modifications of a carnivore diet that include different types of animal foods and may or may not exclude carbohydrates. Read on to learn how to craft your optimal approach.
What to Eat on a Carnivore Diet
In the simplest terms, a carnivore diet is all about meat and animal foods.
The strict carnivorous approach focuses on red meat and animal fat. The fattier the meat, the better.
By prioritizing red ruminant meat, especially high-quality beef, a strict carnivore diet eliminates all potential irritant foods and focuses on the most easily digested, highly bioavailable foods that our body requires.
Common staples are:
Mineral salt is quite important, so salt your food liberally.
Fish, shellfish, eggs, fowl, and pork are fine, as occasional proteins, a few times a week.
Ruminant animals are the most important foods to focus on because they have a superior fat composition. They are low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as Omega-6 yet high in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
The latter fats are not easily oxidized and have a number of health benefits (1). Most notably, high amounts of monounsaturated fats can lead to easier weight loss than low-fat diets (2). Once viciously vilified, saturated fat is no longer the scapegoat it once was (3)
In contrast, beef and other ruminant animals eat a diet of grass and forage which is naturally low in these undesirable fats, therefore, the meat has correspondingly low amounts of it as well.
If you ever worry about feeling bored on a carnivore diet or think your approach is getting stale, start our Carnivore Diet Challenge and fall in love with animal foods all over again.
Carnivore Diet Foods List
In addition to fatty red meat, a healthy carnivore diet can also comprise of:
- Fish, seafood, and roe (note: fish and seafood tend to be quite lean, add fat as needed)
- Chicken, pork, and other poultry
- Aged meats
- Fermented meats (yes it’s true! There is a long tradition of preserving meat this way, and we now enjoy high liver from time to time)
- Organs meats
- Eggs, optional
- Dairy, optional
Get started with our downloadable Carnivore Diet Food List in a printable pdf format. Save this on your device or print it out at home so you can reference it over and over again.
Browse through our collection of Carnivore Diet Recipes to see real-life examples of these delicious ingredients in action!
Don’t miss out on the ORIGINAL The Carnivore Cookbook. It is a 5-start carnivore kitchen resource that will help streamline your meal prep and keep it interesting. If you don’t have this comprehensive guide to preparing delicious nose-to-tail animal-based meals, order your copy now!
Animal fat is your friend.
You will use fat for fuel, so get comfortable with:
Download our complete carnivore diet shopping list, plus recommend resources for ordering online and in person.
Nose-to-tail eating may include:
- Liver – Read our Guide on Where to Buy Liver
- Heart – Try Beef Heart Meatballs with your favorite fatty dipping sauce like Carnivore Alfredo or Hollandaise Sauce.
- Kidney – Try my favorite easy kidney recipe!
- Brain – Would you believe that we eat the brain for breakfast?
- Bones – Marrow bones and knucklebone are perfect for a Carnivore Diet Bone Broth Recipe
If you are interested in adding organ meats to your diet but not comfortable with the idea of actually eating them, get started with high-quality desiccated grass-fed organ meat capsules from Ancestral Supplements instead.
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How Many Carbs Are in a Carnivore Diet?
A strict carnivore diet will contain ZERO carbohydrates. It is a diet where fat is the primary fuel source.
If we want to nitpick, there are, technically, minuscule amounts of carbs in meat, specifically, glycogen centric tissues like liver. Even eggs contain minute amounts of carbohydrates. However, they are present in negligible quantities and have little effect on metabolism. The carnivore diet is based entirely on fat and protein.
Using carnivore carbohydrates in conjunction with fatty animal protein will help increase caloric intake and facilitate healthy weight gain. This is a useful tool for ex-vegans recovering with animal foods.
Using carnivore diet dessert recipes is a good way to increase calories and gain weight with animal foods.
If fat loss is the goal, carbs should be kept at low or eliminated completely.
Can you Have Milk on the Carnivore Diet?
Strict carnivore will not include milk or dairy, although some people find they can handle butter without a problem.
When you start carnivore it is best to avoid dairy. After a few months, give it a try and see how you react.
We recommend you source high-quality raw dairy whenever possible.
It is interesting to note, many people who thought they were sensitive to dairy find that raw dairy digests well. This could be due to the presence of Lactobacillus bacteria in raw milk, which is destroyed with pasteurization. In theory. live bacteria and enzymes should improve ease of digestion (5).
Some people handle goat milk better than bovine dairy and others find that cow dairy from A2 cattle digests better than A1 milk. Do a test yourself to see if one or the other makes a difference to you.
Drink the milk fresh or make raw milk yogurt, kefir, and soft cheeses.
Full fat raw milk is a great animal-based carbohydrate source that gives many people a major boost in digestive and metabolic health, a modified carnivore diet with raw dairy can be a game-changer.
Can you Eat Honey on a Carnivore Diet?
A strict carnivore diet will not include honey.
Honey is an animal based carbohydrate that makes a great addition to a modified carnivore diet.
Glucose, aka sugar, is not inherently bad. Carbohydrates are best used in proper context.
Honey is very easily digested and raw honey has living enzymes that bring many benefits (6).
It is worth experimenting with a strict all-meat carnivore diet by modifying the foods you eat to include honey, raw milk, or even other carbohydrates from plant sources as a means of learning what works best for you.
Our family raises bees for honey and regularly includes carnivore carbs in our daily diet.
The goal of a carnivore diet is to eliminate the foods you do not tolerate and enjoy the ones you do.
How to Start a Carnivore Diet
There are two ways to start a carnivore diet:
- Slowly eliminate plant foods
- Decide to eat only meat overnight.
Some people do well by easing into the carnivore diet and slowly removing the carbohydrates and plant foods, however, it usually works best to jump right in and get adapted quickly.
There is an adaptation period that lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks during which the body adjusts to the metabolic path of ketosis and burns fat for fuel.
Eat the steaks, forget the cakes, and reap the benefits.
A strict carnivore diet is simple: eat the steaks, skip the cakes, and salt your food liberally.
Start a carnivore diet in 5 steps:
- Eat high-fat meat; the fattier, the better.
- Avoid all plant foods.
- Salt your food liberally.
- Drink water as desired.
- Read carnivore diet success stories to stay motivated.
The zero-carb diet removes all potentially irritating foods.
After establishing a healthy baseline in which you become asymptomatic or successfully manage your issues, you can can branch out into some modified carnivore territory.
Examples of modified carnivore diets are:
- Keto carnivore meals based around fatty animal protein and select herbs and spices. Perhaps some condiments like dijon mustard, pickle relish, sauerkraut, olive oil mayonnaise, and grilled onions here and there.
- Low-carb and ketogenic diets with moderate plant foods and an emphasis on animal foods.
- Animal-based nutrition with carbohydrates from ample amounts of raw honey and raw milk.
- Meat heavy paleo, AIP, or GAPS style diet with organ meats.
Is a Raw Carnivore Diet Possible?
A raw carnivore diet is possible but not necessary.
Some claim raw meats are easier to digest. If it makes a difference to you, then go for it!
Raw carnivore foods include:
- Raw steak
- Beef tartare
- Egg yolk
- Raw suet
- Raw liver
If you feel so inclined, test this approach on yourself and begin by cooking your steaks more and more rare. Then take a nibble of raw meat before cooking the rest. Increase frequency and amount of raw meat as you see fit.
Always choose a source of meat you trust. Ensure it is fresh and of high-quality.
We do not recommend eating chicken or pork raw.
If you want to learn more, our friend Derek Nance has been on a raw carnivore diet for over a decade. Derek sources from the whole animal which he butchers himself at home. For him, this is the most economical way to eat.
He discusses his unconventional approach in multiple episodes of the Primal Edge Health Podcast.
Meet Tristan Haggard
Tristan Haggard is the creator of Primal Edge Health, where he explores the cutting edge of diet and nutrition and teaches about animal-based nutrition, with a focus on ketogenic and carnivore diets. Learn more about Tristan…