High-Fat vs. High-Protein Carnivore: What’s Best For You?
Right and left, we hear the terms high-fat Carnivore and high-protein Carnivore. But how do they differ? Is one better than the other? This article will discuss the differences between a high-fat vs. high-protein Carnivore to help you decide what is right for you.
What Is a Carnivore Diet?
A Carnivore diet is a low-carb diet emphasizing an animal-based way of eating, where no fruits or veggies are allowed, just meat, fish, eggs, and other animal-based products.
The carnivore diet is similar to the ketogenic diet because it’s a low-carb diet but focuses almost entirely on animal proteins and fats.
People follow this eating style to lose weight, improve their mental clarity, and get rid of digestive issues. The most important thing about Carnivore is its simplicity.
In fact, the Carnivore diet is a minimalistic way of eating. We’re eating many things we shouldn’t. If we cut the extra food and omit the unhealthy common ingredients, our body starts to show its true potential.
You may wonder how a Carnivore diet can lead to such results. Well, eating animal-based foods means minimizing carbohydrates and increasing the consumption of protein and healthy fats.
Saying no to carbs and yes to fat and protein creates a state of ketosis in the body, where it starts to burn fat instead of carbs to provide energy. This state, plus lowering the intake of calories, can help you shed extra pounds and lose weight.
The idea behind the Carnivore diet is that our ancestors survived on meat back in the day. Also, it’s super simple, and you don’t have to worry about counting calories or planning elaborate meals with various ingredients. What Are Your Goals on a Carnivore Diet?
Each individual can have their own reasons for following a Carnivore diet, but there are two main groups who go on a Carnivore way of life. Those who seek healing and those who try to lose weight. Let’s learn more about each group.
What Are the Health Benefits of the Carnivore Diet?
If you are dealing with certain health issues like inflammation, type 2 diabetes, digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions, a low-carbohydrate diet like the Carnivore diet may help you alleviate symptoms and improve your health.
How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month on the Keto Carnivore Diet?
A countless number of people are dealing with extra weight, and its side effects these days and are looking for ways to help them lose the extra pounds.
But the problem is that not every method works for everybody. You need to find a way that suits your health status, body composition, and metabolism.
A Carnivore diet is one of the diets many people try to shed extra pounds and reach a healthy weight. This diet can help you by focusing on high-protein animal products and minimizing or limiting carbohydrates.
The Carnivore diet can have many variations, but it has two main versions: high-fat and high-protein diet. Let’s learn about each one and then find out which one can suit you the best, a high-fat vs. high-protein Carnivore. Every variation of the Carnivore diet can help with fat loss.
What Is a High-Fat Carnivore Diet?
A high-fat, aka “fat-fueled” Carnivore diet focuses on consuming high-fat animal products, including fatty cuts of meat, fatty fish, bacon, eggs, and other sources of animal fat.
Your goal on a high-fat Carnivore diet must be increasing the proportion of calories coming from fats while minimizing carbohydrate intake.
But what exactly does high-fat mean? How much fat is considered high? Shall we omit protein?
What Does High-Fat Carnivore Mean?
If you are new to Carnivore, you always want to start with more fat to get fat-adapted. We don’t really want to decrease protein. You always want to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Calculate your lean body mass for free.
Another way to increase fat intake is the 80/20 approach. For example, at 1800 calories per day, you would eat 90 grams of protein and 160 grams of fat.
As easy as it sounds, you just need to go for fattier cuts of meat and other animal sources. Do not cut protein, but eat plenty of sources of healthy animal fats.
How Does Fat Help with Your Hormones Like Insulin, Leptin, Cortisol, and Ghrelin?
Fat provides a long-lasting and steady source of energy, helps in achieving a state of ketosis (where the body burns fat instead of carbs to provide energy), boosts nutrient absorption, and can increase satiety, making it easier to control hunger and reduce overall caloric intake.
But that’s not all. Fat has a major role in regulating hormones in the body, especially insulin, leptin, cortisol, and ghrelin. Let’s find out how.
- Insulin: Consuming healthy fats does not impact insulin levels. Carbohydrates cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and, consequently, insulin. But fats won’t cause such spikes in insulin levels, which helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, helping those with insulin sensitivity issues.
- Leptin: Leptin is known as the “satiety hormone” because it sends fullness signals to your brain. High-fat foods, particularly those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, increase leptin sensitivity. It means your body can respond better to leptin, reduce hunger, and promote a feeling of fullness. It all helps you eat less and decrease your caloric intake, which boosts weight loss.
- Cortisol: Cortisol is a stress hormone, and chronic stress can lead to weight gain, especially around the belly. Some studies indicate that high-fat diets, especially those containing omega-3 fatty acids, can help regulate cortisol levels, which reduces the negative effects of stress on the body.
- Ghrelin: Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” because it stimulates appetite. While the relationship between dietary fat and ghrelin is complex, some high-fat diets like high-fat Carnivore can help regulate ghrelin levels, leading to reduced feelings of hunger.
Needless to say, the effects of a dietary approach on hormones depend on various personal factors. So, stop comparing your results with others’ results and consult a healthcare professional if needed.
How Long Should You Follow a High-Fat Carnivore?
Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer because each individual’s health status, tolerance, body composition, metabolism, needs, goals, and responses to dietary changes determine how long they need to or can stay on a high-fat Carnivore.
Anyhow, you should monitor the short term and long term effects of any diet, even this meat-based diet, to make sure it’s good for you specifically. Use the following points in determining your high-fat Carnivore period.
- Consult a Healthcare Professional: Seeking personalized advice from a dietitian, MD, or an experienced Carnivore coach can help you minimize the risks involved in a new diet. You don’t want to start a diet aiming to solve your problems but end up finding new ones.
- Monitor Your Health: While on the diet, you need to keep a close eye on your body’s changes and reactions. You can track your weight, energy levels, mental clarity, and any other changes in your mood or health conditions. If you notice negative effects or feel unwell, consult a professional.
- Consider Long-Term Sustainability: When going on a new diet, you need to consider its long-term sustainability if you’re going to stick to it for a long time.
- Provide Variety and Nutritional Balance: On a high-fat Carnivore diet, change your protein and fat sources to ensure you’re getting a range of nutrients from different types of meat, fish, and fats.
- Do Regular Health Check-ups: Regularly check your overall health and nutritional status. It only needs a blood test.
Will I Gain Weight?
Whether you gain or lose weight on a high-fat Carnivore diet or any diet depends on your caloric intake, activity level, metabolism, and individual response to the diet. But check out the following tips.
- Caloric Balance: Weight gain or loss comes down to the balance between the number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn (caloric expenditure). If you consume more calories than you need (a caloric surplus), you gain weight. Conversely, if you consume fewer calories than you need (a caloric deficit), you lose weight. This rule applies to any diet, including a high-fat Carnivore.
- Energy Density: Fats are calorie-dense, providing more than double the calories per gram compared to carbohydrates or protein. Consuming a lot of high-fat foods without considering portion sizes can cause weight gain if it exceeds your energy needs.
- Individual Variability: People’s bodies respond differently to various macronutrient ratios. Stop comparing yourself with others and focus on improving your own approach.
- Physical Activity: Doing or avoiding physical activity can directly affect your weight management results. Regular exercise can help create a caloric deficit, leading to weight loss.
How to Start the Right Way to Avoid Side Effects Like Diarrhea or Constipation?
Starting the high-fat Carnivore diet requires careful planning and attention to your body’s responses. Follow the tips below to minimize side effects like diarrhea or constipation.
- A gradual transition to the new eating method is necessary.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and its side effects.
- Focus on consuming fatty cuts of meat like ribeye steak and pork belly and fatty fish like salmon.
- Use bone broth as an electrolyte drink or in your meals.
- Keep electrolytes balanced by adding a bit more salt to your meals or consuming potassium and magnesium-rich foods.
- Consume nutrient-dense organ meats like liver.
- Consider digestive enzyme supplements if needed.
- Keep a food diary to track what you’re eating and note any digestive symptoms to see if certain foods can cause issues.
- Be patient, as transition, adaptation, and changes take time.
- If you have pre-existing digestive conditions or other health concerns, consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to ensure a high-fat Carnivore will not negatively impact your body.
Learn more about how to start Carnivore the right way.
What to Eat?
There are various foods you can eat on a high-fat Carnivore, but here are examples of the ingredients and meals.
- Fatty Cuts of Meat: Ribeye steaks, pork belly, lamb chops, and other marbled cuts
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines, rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Eggs: Especially egg yolks, which are high in fat and nutrients.
- Dairy Products: High-fat dairy products, such as butter, heavy cream, and cheese
- Cooking Fats: Use animal fats like lard, tallow, or duck fat for cooking. Butter and ghee are also common in this diet.
- Ribeye Steak and Eggs: A juicy ribeye steak cooked in butter or tallow paired with scrambled or fried eggs cooked in animal fat.
- Fatty Fish: Have smoked salmon or mackerel with cream cheese and a side of boiled eggs.
- Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops: Pork chops wrapped in bacon and cooked until crispy, served with a dollop of butter.
- Sardines and Organ Meats
- Lamb Chops with Herb Butter: Grill or pan-sear lamb chops and top them with a flavorful herb butter made with animal fat.
- Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce: Bake or grill salmon and serve it with a sauce made with egg yolks and butter.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs: Prepare a batch of hard-boiled eggs seasoned with salt for a protein-rich snack.
- Beef Jerky: Eat homemade or high-quality store-bought beef jerky without added sugars or artificial ingredients.
What Is High-Protein Carnivore?
The other variation we talked about early in this very article is called high-protein Carnivore, which is great for increasing muscle mass and lowering body fat.
High protein Carnivore involves keeping the protein the SAME but slowly lowering the fat by 5 grams per week until you get to a point where you still feel satiated, but you are losing body fat. You can even increase the protein if it makes you more energetic.
No one can really set a limit and say that above this amount is called high protein. The key is to optimize your protein and fat intake to reach a healthy diet that works especially for you. Don’t think of it as a competition. It’s a lifestyle. All that Carnivore is trying to convey is a healthy way of life.
If, say, you used to eat 60g of protein a day, and now you’re eating 100g a day, it’s high-protein for you and enough. Do not compare yourself with others, and go with everything that suits your status.
Also, let me make something clear: do not think that if you’re eating protein, you can’t eat fat or HAVE TO minimize it. Fat and protein are two different macronutrients.
The only point is that to function properly, our bodies need specific amounts of protein and fat, among other things.
When we say high-protein, we mean prioritizing protein and increasing our consumption, not necessarily cutting fat. Your goals and needs define how much fat and protein you must consume.
When Is the Right Time to Start to Decrease Your Fat Slowly?
Although your body determines the right time to start to decrease the fat intake and each individual has different responses to dietary changes, some people consume higher amounts of fat for energy, especially during the initial adaptation phase.
However, after your body has adapted to consuming more protein, you can start to decrease your fat intake gradually. Monitor your energy levels and avoid sudden changes.
How Much Protein Should You Be Eating Per Day?
Remember, no one can say a certain amount of protein is enough for everybody. You need to experiment, analyze, and amend to make your process more optimized.
The amount of protein you should consume per day on a high-protein Carnivore diet can vary based on your age, gender, activity level, overall health, and fitness goals.
But there is a starting point: 1g per pound of lean mass. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and have 150 pounds of lean mass, you can start with 150g of protein daily. Also, note that transition takes time. Increase your intake gradually.
Another common recommendation for protein intake is based on body weight. In this method, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or about 0.36 grams per pound).
If you’re doing intense physical activity or bodybuilding, you can consume between 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or approximately 0.54 to 0.91 grams per pound).
For example, a person weighing 70 kilograms (154 pounds) might aim for a protein intake ranging from 84 to 140 grams per day based on these guidelines.
Why Is Protein Important?
The key point is you don’t even need to think about fat. If you focus on nutrient-dense Carnivore foods, you won’t have any concerns about fat because fat is in that nutrient-dense protein, and if you reach the adequate amount of protein, your fat needs are automatically met.
Having said that, I must remind you about the importance of both of these macronutrients. Prioritizing protein doesn’t mean fat doesn’t matter, or you must sacrifice one for the other. It just means that enough protein brings enough fat with itself if you’re eating nutrient-dense Carnivore foods.
Additionally, protein serves several vital functions in the body, including the following.
- Muscle Maintenance and Growth:
Protein provides the essential building blocks (amino acids) to repair and grow muscles. In athletes and those doing regular physical activities or strength training, a higher protein intake is necessary for muscle recovery and the development of lean muscle mass.
- Metabolism and Thermogenesis:
The body expends energy (calories) to digest and metabolize protein through a process called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It means that a higher protein intake can slightly boost metabolism and calorie expenditure, which helps weight management.
- Satiety and Appetite Control:
Protein-rich foods promote satiety. Consuming an adequate amount of protein helps you control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake, which boosts weight management and prevents overeating.
- Maintenance of Tissues and Organs:
Amino acids derived from dietary protein are essential for the maintenance, repair, and growth of various tissues and organs in the body, including skin, hair, nails, and internal organs.
- Immune Function:
Proteins play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Antibodies, which support immune defense, are made of proteins.
- Enzyme and Hormone Production
Proteins are involved in the production of enzymes, which are necessary for various chemical reactions in the body. Additionally, certain hormones are made up of amino acids, meaning that proteins are necessary for hormonal balance.
- Nutrient Transport:
Proteins transport essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, throughout the body.
What to Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
On a high-protein carnivore diet, your focus is primarily on high-protein animal-based foods, including the following.
- Beef: Various cuts of beef, such as sirloin, tenderloin, and brisket
- Pork: Pork chops, pork loin, and pork tenderloin
- Poultry: Chicken breast, turkey breast, and lean cuts of duck
- Lamb: Lamb chops and leg of lamb
- Organ Meats: Liver, kidney, and other organ meats
- Fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other fatty fish
- Shellfish: Shrimp, crab, lobster, and other shellfish
- Game Meats: Venison, bison, and other game meats
- Animal Fats: Lard, tallow, and duck fat
- Butter and Ghee
- Cheese: High-fat cheeses like cheddar, brie, and gouda
- Full-Fat Dairy: Heavy cream and full-fat yogurt
What Can I Eat on the Carnivore Diet?
Here are some meal examples for a high-protein Carnivore diet:
- Chicken and Egg Scramble: Cook shredded chicken breast with scrambled eggs in animal fat like lard or duck fat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Salmon Salad: Mix flaked salmon with hard-boiled eggs, chopped bacon, and a dollop of full-fat Carnivore mayonnaise.
- Beef Steak with Cheese: Grilled sirloin steak topped with melted cheddar cheese.
- Shrimp Stir-Fry: Cook shrimp in butter or ghee. Season with salt and pepper for a quick stir-fry.
- Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Mustard Sauce: Roasted pork tenderloin served with a sauce made from heavy cream and animal fat.
- Beef Liver and Onions: Sauté slices of beef liver in butter or lard. Season with salt and pepper.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs with Bacon: Halve hard-boiled eggs and wrap them with bacon slices. Bake until the bacon is crispy for a satisfying snack.
- Beef Jerky: Homemade or high-quality store-bought beef jerky without added sugars or artificial ingredients.
Top 10 Carnivore Foods for High-Fat and High-Protein Carnivore
It’s no secret that different foods contain varying levels of nutrients, and certain foods can help us achieve our dietary goals, alleviate symptoms of specific health issues, or boost results in specific situations.
Here are the top 10 high-fat Carnivore foods:
- Ribeye Steak: A fatty cut of beef, rich in marbled fat.
- Salmon: A fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Pork Belly: A fatty cut of pork, often used to make bacon.
- Lamb Chops: Fatty cuts of lamb cooked with the bone.
- Eggs: Especially egg yolks, which are high in fat and nutrients.
- Fatty Fish: Mackerel, sardines, and other oily fish
- Butter and Ghee
- Bone Marrow: A fatty, nutrient-dense tissue found in the center of bone
- Duck Fat
- Cheese: High-fat varieties like brie and cheddar.
Here are the top 10 high-protein Carnivore foods:
- Chicken Breast: A lean source of protein, low in fat.
- Turkey Breast: Similar to chicken breast, low in fat and high in protein
- Pork Tenderloin: A lean cut of pork with a relatively low-fat content.
- Sirloin Steak: A lean cut of beef, lower in fat compared to ribeye
- Chicken Thighs (with skin): They contain more fat than chicken breast but are still a good source of protein.
- Shrimp: Low in fat and high in protein
- Egg Whites: High in protein, virtually fat-free
- Tuna: A lean fish providing a good protein-to-fat ratio
- Beef Liver: High in protein and a rich source of various nutrients
- Lamb Leg: A lean cut of lamb offering substantial protein content
Try the Carnivore Diet to See if it’s Right for You
Try this low carb diet to see if it’s right for you. Whether you’re doing it for the health benefits or for weight loss, just make sure you monitor your health.
In most cases, the carnivore diet is great for building eating habits for optimal health. The potential benefits of a meat-based diet are hard to ignore.
Try it for yourself today and see if you like it.