Fitness influencers swear by the ‘carnivore diet’: What doctors think

The diet, similar in style to the Atkins and keto diets, goes by many names: carnivore diet, lion diet, high-fat diet, and animal-based diet. Avid followers of 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 has happened to me since I quit the vegan diet and became a carnivore is that my body odor has just disappeared,” said TikToker @steakandbuttergal in one of his videos. “I don’t use soap, I don’t use deodorant and I smell amazing.”

Here’s what experts have to say about the safety and sustainability of the carnivore diet.

Weight loss is one of the huge benefits that people on a carnivore diet claim to have experienced since adding more animal products to their diet. This is likely because dietary habits also reduce carbohydrate intake, says Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

“It is possible that some people who have consumed a lot of refined starch and sugar may recover in the short term,” says Willett thanks to the carnivore diet. “But this sounds like a diet that’s going to be very unhealthy in the long run.”

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

Getting fiber in your diet is vital for gut health and can reduce your chances of developing depression and breast cancer. Carotenoids have anti-cancer properties and polyphenols have properties that may protect against the development of health problems like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The predominant foods in carnivores’ diets also contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, Willett adds.

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

Despite the multitude of studies linking red meat consumption and heart disease, some people simply disagree that consuming red meat often is bad for the heart.

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

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

To better understand how food consumption can lead to disease, researchers asked study participants to write or respond to surveys about what they ate, all of which are self-reported.

Some think this is a bad way to draw conclusions about the impact of food on health, but experts have yet to find a better alternative.

“If you eat this kind of meal, you’re helping to cut down another tree.”

But even though people are truly weary of the way nutritional studies are conducted, what is undeniable is the effects of meat production on the climate.

Ede responds to this: “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 impact of plant food production on the environment and that of animal products. Global emissions of greenhouse gases, such as methane, from animal-based food production are double those from plant-based food production.

“In addition to the direct health effects, this is going to be very negative,” says Willett. “There is also the question of justice: fundamentally, the North, Europe (and) the United States, are at the origin of most of the problems linked to climate change that we know today, and that kind of perpetuates that.”

“You might think that if you eat this kind of meal, you’re helping to cut down another tree on the other side,” he adds. “That seems like a really bad idea. »

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