The carnivore diet is not only the preferred meal plan for Dr. John Jaquish, inventor of the X3 bar, but X3 bar users swear by it. Those who stick to this meat-only diet have significantly lowered their body fat percentage while retaining muscle. They also report less inflammation, improvements to health markers, and fewer cravings.
But not everyone is ready to go full carnivore, nor do they want to. So, is an animal-based diet the solution? Learn more about this ‘carnivore lite’ approach, including how to do it and what results to expect.
What is an Animal-Based Diet? #
The carnivore diet is an animal-based diet, but not all animal-based diet meal plans are carnivore. To say a meal plan is ‘animal based’ basically means it consists primarily of animal foods. The term was popularized by Dr. Paul Saladino, also known as the Carnivore MD and author of the best-selling Carnivore Code.
People who follow an animal-based diet eat primarily animal foods, but also fruit and even honey. While ratios may vary from one person to the next, most people following an animal-based diet meal plan strive to keep 90% of their diet or more in the animal realm.
In addition, the remaining 10% of your nutrients aren’t sourced from just any plant foods but primarily from those on Dr. Saladino’s ‘low toxicity’ list. The Paul Saladino diet not only views plant foods as unnecessary for human nutrition but as toxic and potentially irritating for the gut and immune system.
The animal-based diet allows for plant foods not because there’s a minimum that’s necessary for survival, but because they may provide additional flavor, color or texture. For some, this makes the animal-based diet more sustainable than strict carnivore.
Animal Based vs Carnivore! #
People are drawn to carnivore for fat loss, muscle gains and improvements in overall health. Shawn Baker, author of the Carnivore Diet, has popularized this approach to nutrition, which consists of eating only animal-based foods, with no allowance for plants.
It’s common to worry that eating carnivore means you’ll be limited to steaks at every meal, and very quickly bored. But there are ways to vary the diet and the nutrients it provides. The ‘nose-to-tail’ approach includes meat, but also organ meats, fat, and connective tissue - all the parts of the animal.
In addition, eggs, seafood, poultry, and animal fat derivatives such as grass-fed butter, tallow, or suet are not only on the animal-based list but acceptable on the carnivore diet. For some people, both animal-based and carnivore diets also include dairy.
So why choose animal-based over carnivore?
- More Variety: On the carnivore diet, things like fruit and honey are off limits. Animal-based diets allow for more variety.
- Easier to Follow: Some people love the simplicity of carnivore. Food choice is easy; it either comes from an animal, or it doesn’t. Others find giving themselves some leeway makes an animal-based meal plan more sustainable.
- As a First Step: Not everyone is ready to quit plants cold turkey, even if they want to. Following an animal-based meal plan can be a good way of slowly introducing yourself to the world of carnivorous eating. You might even start with an 80/20 plan and then eliminate more plant foods over time.
Following an Animal-Based Diet #
The general guidelines of any animal-based diet plan center on the following two principles:
- Eat mostly animal-based foods
- Minimize toxicity from plant-based foods
So, to maximize the benefits of your animal-based diet, it helps to understand which plant foods are most detrimental when it comes to inflammation and gut irritation.
On the animal-based diet food list, plants are categorized as low, medium, or high toxicity. No matter which you choose, you should limit these foods to 5-20% of your diet. That means at any one meal, plants make up less than 1/5th of your plate.
The Yes List #
The following plant-based foods are considered low toxic, meaning they’ll cause the least inflammation.
- Squashes (with skin and seeds removed)
The Maybe List #
- Avocado and olive oils
- Fermented vegetables
- Roots (sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, ginger)
- Plant-based herbs
- Artichoke hearts
The Nope List #
The following are considered the most toxic plant foods. While it’s technically possible to eat these foods and still follow an animal-based diet, the fewer of these foods you consume, the greater your benefits.
- Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, white potatoes)
What makes these plants so toxic? As a plant’s means of reproduction, seeds and nuts are heavily defended and contain enzymes that inhibit digestion. If you pass them whole, they are far more likely to grow into another plant!
Sample Animal-Based Diet Plan #
The following 3-day meal plan can help you get started with an animal-based diet. While it includes 3 meals plus one snack each day, it can easily be modified for those who are intermittent fasting. Just choose one meal daily and be sure to consume enough calories.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Breakfast||2-4 eggs & 2 strips bacon||2-4 eggs & ½ avocado w salt||2-4 eggs & sliced ham|
|Lunch||ground lamb burger & squash puree||shrimp in lettuce ‘taco’||grass-fed ribeye steak & lettuce with olive oil and salt|
|Snack||hard boiled eggs & anchovies||beef jerky & (cheese)||1 banana or apple|
|Dinner||grass-fed ribeye & olives & ½ avocado||pork chops & yams with grass-fed butter||wild caught salmon seasoned with rosemary & artichoke hearts|
Animal Based Diet Results #
Anyone who is sourcing upwards of 80% of their food from animal sources can expect to see many of the same benefits the carnivore diet offers. The primary benefit is weight loss. Losing weight also helps reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity.
Animal-based foods are also very satiating. So if you’re intermittent fasting or trying to cut back on calories, you can do this without the typical hunger pains that accompany a carb-heavy meal plan.
Those on an animal diet report less fluctuations in energy, better mood regulation, and the minimization of a host of auto-immune and inflammation-related issues.
The animal-based diet meal plan is also ideal for those who want to be more flexible with their dieting while enjoying the muscle-building benefits of meat-centric nutrition.
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