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The Carnivore Diet: What Happens When You Eat ONLY Meat?

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carnivore diet — charlene, collin, and kelly

Diets limit what you eat, but what if you stick to just one food group?

That’s the theory behind the carnivore diet (aka zero-carb, meat cleanses, or zero-plant diet). This lifestyle focuses on eating only animal products — and a LOT of them! Naturally, fat is a hugely important part of this lifestyle (no one needs to become sick from rabbit starvation).

Dieters tend to approach the Carnivore Diet in one of three different ways:

– Animal products: Animal meat and by-products like fat, eggs, cheese, cream, and butter. Most avoid milk due to sugar content.
– Meat, fat, & eggs: Some individuals don’t like the way cream and cheese makes them feel, so dieters keep it simple.
– Only meat: The true carnivore diet, with meat, fat, and water (and sometimes coffee if you just can’t part ways with caffeine).

keto git guide — you had me at bacon mug

What are the benefits of a zero-carb diet?

You might be thinking, “How the heck can this be good for you?!” Well, in the same way that keto is beneficial, using fats for energy (via ketosis) is our body’s and brain’s preferred energy source — and it comes with several health benefits:

  • Improved digestion from reduced fiber intake (I know, the complete opposite of what we’re taught!)
  • Mental clarity from eating primarily fat and protein
  • Decreased inflammation from limiting carbs and focusing on fats
  • Faster weight loss from steady blood sugar levels

But it goes even further than that — the outcome of this diet can be life-changing.

Take Charlene Andersen for instance (top image, left). Charlene had a laundry list of illnesses, from Lyme disease to Trichotillomania to depression to migraines to indigestion and dozens more in between. After failed doctor visits and approaching the point of thinking there would be no cure, she turned to the carnivore diet and started miraculously curing herself of sickness. Now at age 45, she’s looking and feeling better than ever! Even more exciting, she and her husband Joe are celebrating their 20th “Carniversary” this year!

Then there’s Kelly Hogan (top image, right), who was overweight and had tried every weight loss method under the sun from low-fat diets to starvation (she even ate only pickles for one month – and though it did have some success, it definitely wasn’t sustainable). She was then asked by her doctor to lose 100 pounds, so he introduced her to a low-carb, high-fat diet (hey, hey — that’s keto!) which turned into a zero carb lifestyle after 5 years. Along with dropping the weight, this diet even reversed her infertility! She’s since had 3 beautiful children and at age 39, she’s living her healthiest life!

We tried zero-carb carnivore diet meat cleanses — variety of meats

As far as my experience, I can personally attest to the feel-good health benefits that come with eating low carb as I used to struggle BIG time with IBS and uncomfortable digestion issues. Now I find that focusing more on high-fat, meat-rich meals alleviates these issues even more. While I try to primarily eat fatty meat and animal products (hello ribeye steaks!), I’ll snack on lean meats and almonds here and there. And naturally, I can’t resist trying out some of Lina’s amazing keto recipes!

Starting out on the Carnivore diet

Some things are just meant to be. Says Charlene:

“I didn’t ever have that moment in time where I decided to take a plunge or commitment. My husband and I didn’t set out to “do a carnivore diet.” I was very, very sick. We dropped any and all foods that made me feel worse. First grains were dropped… I felt better. Then all dairy was dropped… I felt better still. Soon all legumes, starches, and fruits also were banished. Our daily journal showed how every food dropped allowed my health to climb.

Finally, I was willing to give up my go-to food: vegetables. And with the cessation of any and all veggies in my diet my health soared to never before reached heights! I lived every day, experimenting — having LOTS of fails and small successes. My reactions and conclusions led me to a meat (specifically fatty ribeye) and water diet. I chose to feel well and not to consume anything that brought about symptoms.

So, that was my conclusion. Enter freedom!! The best takeaway was the freedom from illness, pain, insurmountable fatigue, extreme hunger, excess weight, mental anguish and darkness, and confusion. I could name over 100 things that I became free from. Who knew that by being so “limited”, I’d feel freer, healthier, and happier than I ever could imagine!”

Looking for a way out of a demanding lifestyle is what led Kelly toward a zero carb life:

“I weighed over 260 pounds before I eliminated carbs. I lost most of the weight on a very low carb diet while still calorie restricting and ruthlessly exercising. At some point, I realized that I would not be able to keep that up forever, and I was terrified of the weight coming back. I noticed that when I dropped carbs lower and lower, I looked and felt better.

I did some searching online to see if it was possible to thrive on an all-meat diet. When I found a community of people eating this way and living their best, most amazing lives, I decided to give it a try.

I was able to stop starving myself, stop forcing myself to stay at the gym for hours at a time, and to maintain the weight loss easily. I was also able to regain my monthly cycle, which had stopped two years prior. I became pregnant and had 3 zero carb pregnancies, which led to three of my absolute greatest benefits of a zero carb diet… My three sweet babies.”

Challenges on the Carnivore Diet

With all of Charlene’s success, even she’s had her own challenges on the carnivore diet:

carnivore diet — charlene before and after

“Before I went all-meat, my biggest challenge was imagining how anyone could be or stay lean unless they filled their bellies with lots of low-fat protein, whole foods, and (healthy?) vegetation — especially the low carb ones. One by one, I found categories of foods I had to eliminate in order to have any sort of health.

So, I used to eat mounds of all sorts of veggies, all the while getting sicker. Although I would never have believed it unless I experienced it, I found the most relief when I gave up the last category in my pursuit of health and happiness — vegetables. Hate me (I’ve gotten more grief from women than I could ever imagine), but it’s true. 

After concluding with an all-meat diet, the challenge shifted to the anger from people: some family members, some friends, many from social media (though that was years later). We found, and still find, ourselves choosing to surround ourselves with supportive positive people, rather than destructive/negative people. I think this is important regardless of who you are and what you do. But when my life was hanging on by the last strand of thread, it was vitally important to have positive around us.”

Similar to Charlene, Kelly faced her own obstacles with acceptance:

carnivore diet — kelly hogan and family

“Giving up ‘diet’ sodas, making it through sugar withdrawals, and eating at friends’ homes when they had [unknowingly] prepared non-keto/non-Zero Carb meals are all challenging. But the biggest challenge for me was to continue my zero carb/pure carnivore diet while pregnant. In addition to the horrible cravings and meat aversions, I also had to deal with the lack of support from both the medical community and from people I knew personally.

We’ve always been taught to eat tons of fiber while pregnant and that lots of colorful fruits and vegetables are key. What I was doing went absolutely against all of that, and it made people nervous. But I knew how much better my body felt without carbs, and a fetus is just a small human. So I decided to stick with it and I’ve had zero regrets.  But I won’t lie, it was a little scary and not at all easy. But if I were to do it again, I’d go ZC every time.”

How to approach the carnivore diet

Charlene’s advice when approaching the carnivore diet:

“I’ve seen people achieve their best results when approaching an all meat diet from previously having been on a Ketogenic or Low Carb diet, not that you have to do a low carb diet first. But the route has seemed to be helpful for people.

Charlene Andersen, happy and healthy from living a lifestyle that makes her feel her best!


I would highly recommend that people eat enough fat on a carnivore diet — animal fat is king! Buy fatty cuts of meat, even ask the butcher to sell you untrimmed steaks. Ask the butcher to save you the fat that he trims off other people’s steaks. Fry this up in the pan and eat it with your meat if your cut is too lean.

In addition, make sure that you also eat enough meat! People have been trained over the years to feel that obtaining a lean body is all about exercise and calorie restriction. Neither is true! As a point of reference, I am 5’8” and around 122 pounds. I eat 1800 to 2500 calories a day. This is 1-1.5 pounds of COOKED ribeye steak (this would be about 1.5-2+ pounds, if raw). An untrimmed, fatty ribeye, cooked to medium, medium well is around 80% fat by calorie (not weight) after cooking. I also recommend that people eat mostly beef (or even all beef as our family does). Fatty beef is the world’s perfect food containing all the vitamins and minerals you need in the exact ratio that you need them. 

We also see many stumble and fail on a carnivore diet by including dairy. Dairy is awesome if you are an infant and you are breastfeeding. As an adult, you have zero need for dairy, especially dairy from a different species. I can’t even imagine what an act of desperation it must have been for the first human to have to get milk from a lactating ruminant!

Lastly, I recommend checking out the Facebook group Zeroing in on Health. There you will find thousands (almost 20,000 members) of others eating an all-meat diet and includes veterans who have eaten this way for many, many years. There is lots of information for studies, books, etc. to support the science behind it.”

Kelly also highly recommends finding an online zero carb group:

Kelly Hogan from Zero Carb Life living happy and healthy!


“I would just recommend to give it 30 days and to find a support system like the Facebook group’s Zeroing In On Health or Zero Carb Health. At the end of 30 Days, simply evaluate how you look and feel. How does your skin look? How are the food cravings? How is your energy level?

Most people see weight loss, mental clarity, more even moods, glowing skin, a total loss of sugar cravings, higher energy levels, better sleep, and reduced inflammation. If you don’t feel better at the end of 30 Days, just return to whatever you were doing before. Nothing lost, nothing gained. But that’s not usually what happens.”

We tried zero-carb carnivore diet meat cleanses — collin with meat heart

So inspirational!

While many can safely follow this diet, it’s important to note that everyone’s body, lifestyle, and preference is COMPLETELY different — it might not be for everyone.

Listen to your body, consult with your doctor, and do what works best for you! Meat-cha later!


Join The Discussion

Comments 54

  1. Denise

    Very interesting and informative article. Curious if these ladies get bloodwork done and what it looks like. Also, do they ever ‘cheat’? A sweet once in a while or alcoholic beverage? If so, what do they choose?

    • Christi321

      I’m not as familiar with Charlene as she doesn’t have as big of an online presence, but I believe Kelly has always had wonderful blood work and is fully supported in her lifestyle by her doctor, even through pregnancies and breastfeeding. In my own experience my hdl went way up, ldl and triglycerides lowered. I don’t think either of them drink much, Kelly, in the past has said that she drinks very occasionally and get’s something like a Scotch or Gin on the rocks I believe. Really any unsugared, unflavored spirit plain or with carbonated water would be ideal. My favorites are Vodka sodas, but I have to be careful because eating zero carb, you get drunk way faster.

      • Denise

        Thanks for the feedback. I find it fascinating!

    • AnnB

      No, they don’t have cheats. You can search the group at the FB page above to see what they have written. It’s a public group…but you must be a member to post.

  2. Kelly Hogan

    No, I don’t ever “cheat”. I lost my desire for all carbs many years ago, which sounds crazy, but it’s true. I used to be a total carb addict with a raging sweet tooth… But now I am completely free from all of that and never want to go back.

    Very occasionally I go on a date night with my husband and will have one alcoholic drink. Nothing with sugar or any sweet taste at all. Typically a gin martini or a bourbon on the rocks. Maybe even a small glass of dry wine for a special occasion.

    I do have my blood work done regularly and it has only gotten better and better. Some of my blood work results are actually on my blog at



    • Denise

      Thank you so much for the response. I just started the lifestyle about a month ago and I am feeling incredible!! Love this.

  3. Charlene Andersen

    I had bloodwork done at one point a year after being on an all meat diet. All numbers were great! ? I don’t drink (never have). I haven’t thought about eating a “sweet” in years ha ha! Excluding carbs from the diet gets rid of your desire for sweets in a hurry! ?

    • EmBP

      Do you ladies look so happy and healthy, as well as just gorgeous! I wondered, do you have any beauty routines on top of eating a carnivore diet? Is it just the diet or are there other secrets to looking so young? I also wondered what kind of benefits you got that you were not expecting at all. Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Charlene Andersen

        Diet alone nourishes the skin. So, all I use is water to rinse my face occasionally. I love the retro look, so I use a minimal amount of eye makeup. I use the smallest amount of olive oil to remove it, but not to put all over my face. I used to have to use all sorts of products (back when I was in my teens and early 20s) otherwise my skin looked as dry as a desert. Now, it’s so much easier – “nothing” (literally) to it!???

        • Chris

          Charlene, you are so inspiring and have helped me so much! Do you use any products on your body? My body skin tends to get dry. Also living in FL, do you use sun protection?

  4. Roc

    Blood work gets better and better. But you have to realize most doctors panic when they see elevated LDL. Which will go above SAD (Standard American Diet ) Norms. But after 6 months Triglycerides down dramatically, HDL up ,. Over 50. . Only thing that appears to matter is HDL to Triglycerides ratio. These women have got it right. Everything we’ve been taught about dieting is wrong. Give it a try. I did. Never felt better.

  5. Amanda Kellogg

    That is amazing! There is just no way for me. I’d get so sick of the same things over and over again. Happy it worked for them, though.

  6. Willow

    I have recently discovered that I can’t eat beef or pork. I have osteoarthritis and it was getting very painful. One day, I didn’t eat beef and the pain was reduced greatly. I then experimented with pork and that also caused pain. Since this discovery, I’ve been eating mainly eggs, chicken and salmon. I add fat to all of these. Any suggestions? I love rib eye steak and I am so disappointed I can’t eat it.

    • Sky

      You might have an issue with histamine-intolerance.

      • Willow

        That’s a possibility.

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      If you’re feeling better without pork of beef, definitely stay away! I’m so glad you’ve discovered that something isn’t working for you and have removed it. Some folks don’t do well with pork and beef.

      • Willow

        I wish others in my family would do this. Their eyes glaze over if I talk about how I’ve healed myself. I will definitely stay away from them but do wish I could at least eat beef – pork I’m not too fond of.

    • Jesse Garcia

      Google “the borax conspiracy”. Could be life changing for osteoarthritis. Great read non the less

    • Paula

      Have MS so to keep weight down and stay mobile, I am a carnivore
      Doc was surprised at my lb. Loss ( 10 lbs per month!) 3 months in a row. Cravings dissappeared in a few days. Feel spoo much better!

  7. Anna Dunster

    Willow, I don’t know how severe your reaction is and whether it is worth experimenting in your case, but I have to wonder whether the beef that has given you trouble is standard supermarket meat, typically feedlot raised and fed all kinds of horrible things, or if you have the same problem with pastured, grass fed meat raised in an ‘organic’ way (the intent of that word more so than the letter of the certification)?

    • Willow

      Yes, it has been supermarket beef – generally what I can afford although I will buy grass fed it I can find it on sale. I do have some organic grass fed in the freezer – I will try that. I miss beef!

    • Willow

      I ate some grass fed, organic beef and the joint pain came back although not as bad as when I was eating beef every day.

      • artofannadunster

        Sorry it didn’t work out for you! 🙁 I hope you find something that does.

      • Tiffany Reece

        I’ve read recently that there is a difference between grass fed, ‘grass finished’ and grass fed ‘grain finished’. Unless it’s specified, you may have eaten ‘grain finished’ which could indicate a grain intolerance? Perhaps something to consider.

    • Alice

      I cannot eat AGED beef which is the only way beef is processed. I called many beef processing places and generally they REFUSED to process a beef for me without aging it 2 to 3 weeks. Aging the beef makes it high in histamine, the longer it is aged, the higher the histamine. I finally found a wonderful Amish plant that will process my beef without aging and I can eat this unaged beef without any problems. I was very sick and this unaged beef has brought my health back.. I still eat a minimum of vegges but got better initially by just eating my grassfed unaged beef. I did not know of carnivore diet so worried I was not getting enough nutrition so added some veggies like cooked cabbage as I got better. I had become very histamine intolerant so that is why I found a way to get non-aged beef and it worked well.

  8. Patti Smith

    You know, my doctor had me start Atkin’s, and while on it, I lost almost 15 lbs in two weeks. But, the drawback was that my cholesterol and tryglycerides were higher after I had blood work done. I take medication for high cholesterol and have a family history of heart disease. That scared me, and I went off the diet. I would love to do it again because those lovely ladies look awesome and I need to lose weight. If only my cholesterol and triglycerides would stay low…..

  9. ketogenicendurance

    Nice article. More needs to be done to show that the carnivore diet is a species appropriate diet and not just for lads who like to bbq.

  10. Vanessa

    Hey everybody! I’m on day 9 of my second attempt to go carnivore (first attempt, a couple of weaks back failed on day 2 after a very dissatisfying meal) and I’m hopeful to maintain this diet.

    I have two questions:
    1) Is it important to get “before” blood work done? Or is it perfectly valid to get blood work a couple of months into the diet?
    2) Any tipps for someone like me, who simply doesn’t like beef? The taste of the fat on steaks makes be gag, I can’t help it. I grew up eating almost only pork (say 80% of meat), some chicken, little fish. Beef just isn’t that popular in my country.

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      Hi there! It is important to have an ongoing medical relationship with your health practitioner, regardless the form that takes. If fatty steaks are a deal breaker, you could grab low-fat steaks and incorporate fat from other sources, like egg yolks, butter, and salmon. Hope that helps!

      • Vanessa

        Thank you! That sounds good. I didn’t even know egg yolks were fatty. Full butter (including the dairy-ish stuff) or cleared butter / ghee (just the fat)? A lot of carnivores seem to be really adverse to dairy products.
        How do you feel about pork? There is a lot of fatty pork around, especially in this neck of the woods where out main form of pork is minced, fatty shoulder meat. And then there’s bacon… obviously that’s fraught with all sorts of problems, additives-wise, but maybe I could make my own?

        • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

          Fatty pork should be fine. Just be sure to hit those fat macros.

  11. Margarita McFadden

    I am curious as to what blood types most people have on a carnivore diet. I found that for me, I need steaks and greens to be successful on weight loss but I have gave up so many times due to lack of variety. I have O+ . I had read that depending on your blood type certain ways (foods) of eating benefit more than others. I also (guys look away) wonder what effects on Aunt Flo eating explicit meat has I saw that it started for one, how about if you have heavy cycle, will it make it heavier or has anyone heard of it making it heavier?

    • Anna Dunster

      I haven’t tried strict carnivore yet but my experience with being mostly carnivore on low carb and monthly cycles is very positive. Before, my cycle was irregular, heavy, painful and frequent. Now, it’s still a little more frequent than ‘average’ but fairly consistent and predictable, much less painful and no where near as heavy. I don’t eat a lot of vegetables mostly because I just forget! Although I do plan to do a strict carnivore experiment later in the year.

    • Fireflygodt

      I’m mostly carnivore, some Keto. Since I’ve started Keto they have improved but when I started Carnivore it was the best cycle of my life. No cramps. I used to hurt so bad I was popping Advil and staying in bed. Now my moods are more stable.

  12. Vanessa

    So, I have lasted three weeks so far, I’m feeling pretty good, I exercise more, mood’s better… I haven’t been perfect, sticking to just meat and salt. I had some meat that was marinated with other (plant-based) spices, some venison marinated in dark beer (not sure how many carbs that leaves in the meat) and (probably when eating out) some meat cooked in vegetable oil. I also had eggs (maybe 6 a week) and small amounts of dairy (feta cheese in a scrambled egg, half a teaspoon of tzatziki). Do you think this is too lax to be reaping the benefits of the carnivore diet?
    One thing that makes me a little concerned: I don’t have BM regularly anymore. Since last weekend I had diarrhea twice, on Tuesday (very little) and Thursday (not much, either). Today I had a small solid BM. That’s it. Overall I’d it was about a pound of BM in 8 days. And I eat between 1 1/2 and 3 pounds of meat a day (eggs/cheese not counted), drinking a minimum of 3 liters of water. Should I be concerned?

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      Hi there! That may likely be due to dairy since dairy is a food to which many are intolerant. Maybe try nixing the dairy and see how things go. Hope that helps!

      • Vanessa

        Thank you! Does that include Butter/Ghee or do you mean Cheese and such?

        • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

          Ghee ought not create the issues of butter. Because ghee separates milk from fat, this butter substitute is lactose-free, making it better than butter if you have allergies or sensitivities to dairy products.

    • jen

      I know this is late but remember, your stool is composed of things you or your bacteria couldn’t digest. Protein is highly bio-available and digestible. Animal protein doesn’t have indigestible fiber. That means that you really shouldn’t be having the quantity of or the same timing of bowel movements on a more highly meat/fat based diet Fat doesn’t have fiber either and it’s also highly bio-available. It’s only the carbs that have fiber.

      When you should be concerned. When you have hard stool and straining and pain. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter if you have bowel movements three times a day or every three days. So if your stool is soft and you can go “easily” and there’s no blood, you’re fine.

  13. Coffee

    I have been meat only for 1 week now. (so a newb meat eater here =) I eat beef, pork, eggs, and season it with coconut oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. In the evenings, I’m starting to get reflux before bedtime, and burp a lot more. I haven’t had reflux before, and I’m not sure what to do. Any ideas? I was eating a lot of small meals (6-8x a day) and am trying to eat bigger meals less often, hoping that it helps.

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      Sorry to hear that! Are you eating before bed? Maybe try eating a few hours before bedtime to see if that might help!

  14. Coffee

    Thanks for the suggestion. (yes I like to eat late at night) I’ll try eating more earlier. =)

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      You’re very welcome! Hoping that gives you some relief!

    • Fireflygodt

      You can try a little Apple cider vinegar before your meal to help add digestion. That fixed my indigestion. I think it fixed my stomach acid because I don’t need it anymore.

  15. ????????? ???

    Hello dearest can you tell me please can I use a little bit of stevia in my eggs ( I like sweet omelet 😉 ? Thanks for all !

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      Yes! You can add Stevia to your eggs!

  16. Yano Arias

    I find the need by people for blood work results to be so stupid and ridicules, would you check a lions bloodwork to see if eating meat is killing it? were no different from any carnivore. as carnivores we are able to eat certain plants life to maintain ourselves from starvation when meat is not available, it doesn’t mean it’s what we should be eating. just because you grown to like things that aren’t good for you, it doesn’t change that you shouldn’t be eating them if you have your correct food available. meat is your first food all humans are carnivores first. I’ve been on keto 9 months seen great improvements switched to carnivore 2 days ago. remember mankind has only been farming for a couple of thousand years before that we were hunters and eat meat.

  17. Dianne I

    I’m so thrilled to have stumbled on this post! I have been following basically a zero carb diet, except in the morning I have a little almond milk with my exogenous ketones. Basically 5 days a week I have ground beef with butter for lunch and dinner and maybe a bedtime snack of a few chicken wings or a drumstick. On the weekends I treat myself to a recipe with chicken thighs or steak. No fruits or veggies and very little cheese or cream etc. I started on low carb/keto last summer but found it complicated and expensive. I have loved to eat meat and hated veggies my whole life so it’s just a perfect fit. I’ve lost even more weight now that I’ve simplified as well as I stay fuller longer. I’m going to search for more posts on the “carnivore diet” 😀

  18. SG

    Any idea if the carnivore diet would help or hurt low thyroid (T3)? I’d like to try it for inflammation in the esophagus but have heard low thyroid people need some carbs. Thanks!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi SG! As always, be sure to consult with your doctor on what may be best for you! Hope that helps!

    • AnnB

      Inflammation in your esophagus is from reflux. Eat ZC (only meat, no plants or plant oils) and reflux goes away. Personal experience….if you have bladder leakage, same issue. Weak sphincters from unavailable Vitamin D…robbed by the plant matter you eat.

  19. Suzanne

    Can I have a splash of Organic 1/2 and 1/2 in my coffee?

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