Obesity has become rampant in recent times. It is said to affect almost 50% of the American population. It has been credited with being a leading cause of chronic illness and ill health. The carnivore diet has become very popular as the new way to lose weight, maintain a healthy lifestyle and ward off diseases. A major proponent of this diet is its ability to melt away the fat. How effective is it in the management of obesity? Do its effects last? In this article we will explore the role this diet can play in the curbing of obesity.
- What is obesity?
Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers. There are many reasons why some people have difficulty avoiding obesity. Usually, obesity results from a combination of inherited factors, combined with the environment and personal diet and exercise choices.
- What is the Carnivore diet?
The Carnivore Diet is a restrictive diet that only includes meat, fish, and other animal foods like eggs and certain dairy products. It excludes all other foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. Its proponents also recommend eliminating or limiting dairy intake to foods that are low in lactose — a sugar found in milk and dairy products — such as butter and hard cheeses.
A good number of people who have adopted the carnivore diet report faster weight loss, improved mental clarity, healthier digestion, and even improved athletic performance. Some have also reported remarkable relief from debilitating chronic health problems where conventional means did not succeed.
- What does one eat on the carnivore diet?
This is what you are likely to eat if you are on the carnivore diet:
–Below is the Green List that is, food you should be eating all the time with an emphasis on fattier cuts of meat to take in enough calories:
- Meat: beef, chicken, turkey, organ meats, lamb, pork, etc.
- Fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, crab, lobster, tilapia, herring, etc.
- Other animal products: eggs, lard, bone marrow, bone broth, etc.
- Low-lactose dairy (in small amounts): heavy cream, hard cheese, butter, etc.
Generally, salt, pepper, and seasonings with no carbs are allowed.
– Below is the RED list of what you should NOT be eating:
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, peppers, etc.
- Fruits: apples, berries, bananas, kiwi, oranges, etc.
- High-lactose dairy: milk, yogurt, soft cheese, etc.
- Legumes: beans, lentils, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, etc.
- Grains: rice, wheat, bread, quinoa, pasta, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, etc.
- Sugars: table sugar, maple syrup, brown sugar, etc.
- Beverages other than water: soda, coffee, tea, fruit juice, etc.
While some people incorporate some of these foods, a true Carnivore Diet does not permit them:
Coffee and tea: These may be plant-based, but some people keep these in the diet.
The carnivore diet can be considered to be a fad. Is there evidence that any traditional populations practiced the carnivore culture?
- What effect might the carnivore diet have on obesity?
When on a carnivore diet, all you consume is meat, meat and more meat…Occasionally you could have some eggs and cheese and maybe a cup of coffee. What about this diet at a glance could help in combating obesity?
How does the carnivore diet work?
- Cutting out sugar and carbohydrates
The absence of sugar and carbohydrates cause rapid and sustained fat loss without the need to count calories. Carbohydrates are hard to store and actually harmful if left to circulate in your system too long, so your body always wants to use them up first.
Your body releases insulin to shuttle blood sugar into muscles. To make sure the sugar gets used up first, insulin also tells your fat cells to store any fat you consume and to not release stored body fat for hours afterwards. If you eat a lot of easily-absorbed carbohydrates, your body releases a ton of insulin in response. Excess insulin can then remove too much sugar from your blood stream, resulting in hypoglycemia. The quickest way to restore blood sugar levels is to eat more carbs, which puts people on the carb roller coaster to weight gain.
The carnivore does away with all this by totally eliminating sugar and carbohydrates from your diet.
- Eating a lot of protein suppresses appetite
One way that protein controls appetite is through the amino acid phenylalanine. Consumed protein is broken down into amino acids so it can be absorbed by the body. Multiple studies have shown how phenylalanine suppresses appetite and even improves mood and helps you burn stored fat. One study found that phenylalanine increases the release of an intestinal hormone called cholecystokinin in humans. This hormone signals the brain to feel satiated after eating and causes a reduction in subsequent food intake. A mouse study found that a single dose of phenylalanine caused an increase in another satiety hormone called GLP-1, it reduced levels of the hunger-hormone ghrelin.
- Increase in dopamine
Protein foods are made from the building blocks of amino acids (including tyrosine), which are essential to the production of dopamine. It has therefore been suggested that upping protein intake may also boost dopamine production without increasing appetite. Dopamine is considered the reward-hormone and increasing its levels in your brain is helpful for making your weight loss diet less unpleasant.
- The carnivore diet “imposes” time restricted eating
The carnivore diet tends to make people naturally adopt time-restricted eating patterns. Studies show that eating at night is a common cause of obesity. Junk food actually causes you to prefer late-night eating. Sugar and fat together, act as a trigger that cements the unhealthy habit of late-night eating. Worse yet, your body runs on an internal clock called circadian rhythms. These do more than set your sleep and wake times; they also determine your digestion and energy usage times. We’re meant to eat during the day and sleep at night. When you eat at night, your body doesn’t want to process those calories and instead they sit and cause metabolic dysfunction.
Protein does not seem to trigger a desire for late-night eating so the carnivore diet also helps curb that unhealthy practice. Late-night eating also reduces the quality of your sleep and poor sleep leads to poor eating the next day. Reduced sleep also increases stress and anxiety, so removing late-night eating not only improves weight loss, but helps your mood and overall feeling of well-being.
- Does the carnivore diet stave off obesity?
There is a link between the Carnivore diet and sustained weight loss. In the absence of carbohydrates, fat can be kept off for long periods of time. The question becomes how safe it is to do the carnivore diet long term. More studies on this need to be carried out but in the meantime, this diet is one of the best in keeping obesity, and its associated diseases at bay.
- Mayo Clinic (2019): Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/symptoms-causes/syc-20375742
- NCBI (1994):L-phenylalanine releases cholecystokinin (CCK) and is associated with reduced food intake in humans: evidence for a physiological role of CCK in control of eating. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8201963
- NCBI (2012):The Carnivore Connection Hypothesis: Revisited, Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253466/
- Lolo (2018):Carnivore Diet: Fad or the Future? Retrieved from http://unity.lolofit.com/blog/posts/carnivore-diet-fad-or-miracle-diet
- Healthline (2019):All You Need to Know About the Carnivore (All-Meat) Diet. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carnivore-diet