Health influencers swear by the “carnivore food regimen”: What docs assume

Beef, butter, bacon and eggs – this is what some influencers swear by in the “carnivore diet”. The diet focuses on meat and minimizes or eliminates fruits and vegetables.

On TikTok you can see people eating bowls of steak and 12 scrambled eggs in one day – and some even snack on a stick of butter and bite off a piece like you would a carrot.

The diet is similar in style to the Atkins and keto diets and has many names: carnivore diet, lion diet, high-fat diet and animal diet. Believers in this lifestyle boast that their skin is clearer than ever, their gut is healthier, and they are in the best shape of their lives.

“One of the best things that's happened since I stopped vegan and became a carnivore is that my body odor just disappeared,” said TikToker @steakandbuttergal in one of her videos. “I don’t use soap, I don’t use deodorant and I smell amazing.”

Here's what experts say about the safety and sustainability of the carnivore diet.

The Carnivore Diet “Basically Sounds Like a Terrible Idea”

Weight loss is one of the major benefits that people following carnivorous diets report experiencing since incorporating more animal products into their diet. This is probably because the eating pattern also limits the consumption of carbohydrates, says Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

“It's possible that some people who ate a lot of refined starches and sugars may do better in the short term,” says Willett, with the carnivore diet. “But that sounds like a diet that will be very unhealthy in the long run.”

With a diet consisting only of beef, butter, bacon and eggs, people do not get enough fiber, carotenoids and polyphenols, which are rich in fruits and vegetables.

Including fiber in your diet is crucial for gut health and can reduce your risk of developing depression and breast cancer. Carotenoids have anti-cancer properties and polyphenols have properties that may protect against the development of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The foods that play an important role in carnivores' diets also contain large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, adds Willett.

In a 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Harvard researchers found that in more than 100,000 men and women, “study participants who ate the most red meat tended to die younger and were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and cancer ,” according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Despite the multitude of studies linking red meat consumption to heart disease, some people simply don't believe that frequent consumption of red meat is harmful to the heart.

“That’s the mainstream message we hear about red meat. “It is essentially blamed for all sorts of human health disasters, from cardiovascular disease to colon cancer,” says Dr. Georgia Ede, a Harvard-trained and board-certified psychiatrist, specializes in nutritional psychiatry.

“They're based almost entirely on a type of research method called nutritional epidemiology, which is just untested theories, essentially guesses about how red meat might affect us that have never been tested in clinical trials and proven to be confirmed .” “says Ede. “Then comes the rest of the very little additional evidence that comes from experimental studies, which come from very strange animal studies.”

To better understand how food intake can lead to disease, researchers have study participants write down or fill out surveys about what they ate, all of which they self-report.

Some believe this is a flawed way to draw conclusions about how food affects health, but experts have not yet found a better alternative.

“When you eat a meal like this, you help cut down another tree.”

But even if people are really tired of the way nutrition studies are conducted, the impact of meat production on the climate is undeniable.

Ede says: “Industrialized food production, whether plants or animals, is really very harmful to the planet.”

And while this is true, there is a clear difference between the environmental impact of producing plant-based foods and producing animal products. Emissions of global greenhouse gases such as methane are twice as high from the production of animal-based foods as from the production of plant-based foods.

“In addition to the direct health effects, which will be quite detrimental,” says Willett. “There is also the question of justice, which essentially concerns the global north, Europe [and] The United States is causing most of the climate change problems we have today, and this kind of perpetuates that.”

“You can think [that] “When you eat a meal like that, you help cut down another tree on the other side,” he adds. “Basically sounds like a terrible idea.”

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