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What to Eat on a Carnivore Diet

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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 to eat on a carnivore diet how to start

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.

This post may contain affiliate links. Primal Edge Health LLC may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you for any orders made through these links. All thoughts and opinions are our own and we never promote something we wouldn’t use ourselves.

fatty meat salt water

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:

  • Ribeye steaks
  • 75% ground beef
  • Brisket
  • T-bone steaks
  • Short ribs
  • Bone broth
  • Lamb chops
  • Liver

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 (Source: PubMed). Most notably, high amounts of monounsaturated fats can lead to easier weight loss than low-fat diets (Source: PubMed). Once viciously vilified, saturated fat is no longer the scapegoat it once was (Source: PubMed)

Pork and fowl (chicken, turkey, etc) are typically fed a high PUFA diet that, in turn, gives their fat a high omega-6 content which can be damaging to our health long-term (Source: PubMed).

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.

Carnivore Diet Shopping List free pdf download

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

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!

The Carnivore Cookbook

Animal fat is your friend.

You will use fat for fuel, so get comfortable with:

  • Butter 
  • Suet
  • Tallow
  • Trimmings
  • Ghee

Download our complete carnivore diet shopping list, plus recommend resources for ordering online and in person.

We teach a nose-to-tail carnivore approach with organ meat because it makes the diet more affordable and nourishing. There are many benefits of organ meats that are not to be missed.

Organ meat recipes

Nose-to-tail eating may include:

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.

As you can see, there are many healthy foods to eat on a carnivore diet.


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zero carb foods

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.

If fat loss is the goal, carbs should be kept at low or eliminated completely.

milk on carnivore diet

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 (source: PubMed).

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.

honey on carnivore diet

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 (source: PubMed).

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:

  1. Slowly eliminate plant foods
  2. 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:

  1. Eat high-fat meat; the fattier, the better.
  2. Avoid all plant foods.
  3. Salt your food liberally.
  4. Drink water as desired. 
  5. 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.
all raw carnivore diet

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
  • Sashimi
  • Ossenworst
  • Carpaccio
  • 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.

Tristan Haggard

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.

He is passionate about ancestral foods, regenerative agriculture, homesteading, and a holistic lifestyle approach for health, vitality, and optimal performance. Learn more about Tristan…

13 Responses

  1. Henry
    | Reply

    good. am on carnivore diet now for a month

    • Jessica Haggard
      | Reply

      Nice! Enjoy 🙂

  2. Rosanna Albano
    | Reply

    I Love reading and learning from your articles! I did not realize how meat can be so satifying! I have been a vegetarian for sooo long! Thank you for all the support and inspiration in helping people achieve physical and mental health!
    Would a carnivore diet also help with osteoporosis?

    Many blessings to you and your awesome family!
    Rosanna

    • Jessica Haggard
      | Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Rosanna! I would think that a low-oxalate diet would be beneficial as well as avoiding phytic acid found in nuts and seeds. Try a Carnivore diet for 30 days and then take it from there!

  3. Meg
    | Reply

    Great post

  4. Kathy
    | Reply

    I have been carnivore for about 6 months. I am trying to learn to eat organ meats ever since working with Dr. Clemens at Paleomedicina but still gag with liver. I haven’t found a local source for brain but want to give it a try. Any advice for adding organ meats? I tried mixing ground liver with ground bacon and still no go. I am curious about what Tristan says about raw “high” meat liver tasting better. Seems gross but curious. Thanks so much.

  5. Dan
    | Reply

    Really want to buy a hard copy of Carnivore cookbook but it says you don’t ship to NZ. Just wondered why that was. Looks like the best of the bunch but not available on Amazon 🙁

    • Jessica Haggard
      | Reply

      You must have missed the note about international shipping. Please check out here for orders out side of the US

  6. Gary-carnivore
    | Reply

    Hi
    What’s your take, opinion on grilling steak etc, keep hearing and seeing articles if you blacken meat it can be carcinogenic.

    Great work guys.

    Regards
    Gary

    • Jessica Haggard
      | Reply

      Fear-mongering!

  7. sara
    | Reply

    I’ve been keto for over 2 years now – need to loose about 20 pounds. Love meat so this works great for me. Thank you for the information – it helps get me started on the right foot. ; )

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