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Is the carnivore diet healthy? Here’s what to know – Deseret News – Deseret News

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The carnivore diet, according to Cleveland Clinic, is as simple as it sounds: You eat meat or animal products for every meal, and mostly avoid every other food group.

Health has reported that the all-meat diet is attractive to those wanting to lose weight. Adherents keep their daily carbohydrate intake to a minimum and eat only small amounts of plant-based foods, such as low-carb vegetables. The bottom line is that people following a carnivore diet focus on getting calories strictly from meat and animal products.

But is the carnivore diet actually healthy? Healthline and other outlets have reported that the diet is too restrictive and not well-balanced, and that it’s not completely backed up by research.

Why is the carnivore diet popular?

According to Health, several researchers and health professionals have examined the meat-based diet over hundreds of years.

In 1797, Dr. John Rollo reportedly “treated patients with Type 2 diabetes” through a meat-and-fat based diet after studying the low-carb diet “of indigenous people in St. Lucia.” Low-carb diet treatments became “widely adopted” for managing diabetes until 1921 with the discovery of insulin, Health reported.

The carnivore diet enjoyed a surge in popularity in 2018 with the rise of “The Carnivore Diet,” a book by Dr. Shawn Baker, who recommended the complete version of the diet after claiming to benefit from it, per Health.

Are there benefits to the carnivore diet?

Healthline reported that aspects of a high-protein, low-carb diet may result in select benefits.

Protein can help you feel more full and simultaneously increase your metabolic rate, enabling you to not only reduce your calorie intake, but potentially burn more calories.

These aspects of following the carnivore diet promote weight loss, but they may not last, health experts say.

A 2021 study examining self-reports of the carnivore diet found that participants who followed the diet for nine to 20 months reported “improvements in their overall health, physical and mental well-being, and some chronic medical conditions,” according to Health.

These findings might have resulted from cutting out foods and drinks “associated with poor physical and mental health,” so health experts say more research is needed to see how the carnivore diet impacts long-term health.

Are there negatives to the carnivore diet?

According to CNBC, people following the carnivore diet do not get enough carotenoids, polyphenols and fiber, which are cancer-preventing substances abundant in fruits and vegetables.

Registered dietitian Kate Patton told Cleveland Clinic that the lack of fiber “will cause a lot of constipation,” and that the diet, which is potentially high in saturated fats and sodium, could lead to health complications.

“Even if you have digestive issues, this diet can make things worse with all that protein and fat, which takes a lot longer to digest,” Patton said.

In addition, the diet limits consumption of certain micronutrients and plant compounds. While meat does provide some micronutrients, the carnivore diet may result in the deficiency of some nutrients, and the overconsumption of others.

Diets rich in plant-based foods, unlike the carnivore diet, have been associated with lower risks of long-term conditions, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s, per Healthline.

Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said to CNBC, “It’s possible that some people who have been eating a lot of refined starch and sugar may get better in the short run. … But this sounds like a diet that is going to be very unhealthy in the long run.”

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