July 8, 2021

Building Muscle On the Carnivore Diet

Carnivore diet fasting

Eating little more than meat is not for everyone, but it’s been tremendously beneficial for X3 Bar users and Dr. John Jaquish himself. Carnivore diet benefits include muscle gain, weight loss, greater mental clarity, and improved general health. Learn more about this animal-based diet diet and get started with a meal plan for muscle growth.

About the Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet is an all-meat nutrition plan popularized by Dr. Shawn Baker M.D., who wrote The Carnivore Diet book in 2019. Baker’s diet leans on anthropological evidence that humans have always been carnivores1 and have thrived on simple meal plans consisting mostly of meat and fat.

While paleo or keto diet enthusiasts would agree, Baker takes this one step further by suggesting we not just emphasize protein and fat but eat it exclusively. On the carnivore diet, you eat only meat, fish, or poultry alongside a small amount of dairy—no fruits, vegetables, nuts, or seeds.

This highly restrictive diet seems crazy to some, but it does have benefits. Among the reported carnivore diet benefits are muscle gain and body fat loss.

You Need Protein to Build Muscle!

Muscle gain is what makes the carnivore diet so attractive to X3 users. If you’re trying to lose weight and build muscle, you can only consume so many calories, most of which must be dedicated to protein.

Studies indicate approximately 2.4 grams of protein2 per kilogram of body weight is needed to maximize muscle-building potential. If you weigh 200 pounds, that equates to roughly 216 grams of protein daily. So what does 216 grams of protein look like? A 1-pound steak has just over 100 grams of protein, so your 200-pound frame would need at least 2 pounds of steak per day.

The following general guidelines are easy to remember. Adjust them up or down as needed:

  • Men at 200 pounds – 2 pounds of meat per day
  • Women at 150 pounds – 1.5 pounds of meat per day

Whether you split your protein allotment into four small meals or follow an intermittent fasting plan and eat just once or twice daily, there isn’t much intestinal space for extras such as vegetables, starches, or dessert. According to the carnivore diet, that’s just fine because those extras are doing you more harm than good.

But Is the Carnivore Diet Safe?

Most of us have ditched the four food groups by now, but it’s still common to believe in “eating the rainbow” for various nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. According to Shawn Baker, such efforts are futile.

What About Vitamins and Minerals?

So far, there’s been no anecdotal evidence that those on the carnivore diet are deficient in essential nutrients. Red meat provides you with plenty of iron, zinc, and even Vitamin C. In fact, Vitamin C becomes more available3 on a meat-only diet since you’ve eliminated the foods that prevent its absorption. Dairy provides you with Vitamin D, while seafood contributes to omega-6 essential fatty acids.

What About Cholesterol?

We’ve long heard that saturated fat in red meat is responsible for high cholesterol and heart attacks, but the science begs to differ. There’s scant evidence4 that saturated fat intake directly leads to heart disease. What’s more, high total cholesterol may not be bad, as long as you have enough5 of the “good” kind, or HDL.

What About Fiber?

Fiber adds bulk to our stool, but we can do fine without it. It’s a myth6 you need fiber to help clean out your intestines. Your bowel movements might be smaller on the carnivore diet, but rest assured, the system is working just fine.

How to Follow the Carnivore Diet

As Shawn Baker mentions in his book, transitioning to the carnivore diet is not necessarily easy, especially if you try to go cold turkey on non-animal products. It’s perfectly reasonable to schedule a tiered transition. Gradually eat more meat and less of the other stuff.

To start, Baker recommends eating whenever you’re hungry and eating until you’re satisfied. This meal plan is largely about developing your own intuition. So listen to your body and let it guide you regarding how much to eat and when.

If you’re interested in intermittent fasting, Baker recommends adding in that protocol after you’ve made the switch to a carnivore style of eating. Dr. Jaquish differs slightly on this subject. In his book, he suggests prioritizing intermittent fasting over your specific diet instead. The thinking behind this? You’ll benefit from intermittent fasting regardless of your nutrition plan.

What Can I Eat on a Carnivore Diet?

Beef, chicken, fish, cheese, and eggs on a table
Carnivore Diet Approved Foods

A big part of the carnivore diet’s appeal is its simplicity. If it comes from an animal, you can eat it. Done. Carnivore diet meal prep is as simple as buying quality protein sources and cooking them as desired.

Red Meat

Choose fatty cuts to ensure you maintain an adequate caloric intake. Some recommend varying the animal source or including organ meats for a greater variety of nutrients. Baker claims this isn’t necessary.

White Meat

Pork, chicken, and seafood are all on the menu. These items tend to have fewer calories than red meat, so you’ll need a greater quantity to feel satiated.

Eggs

Baker recommends using eggs as a side dish since they are problematic for some people. Listen to your body and if eggs work for you, eat them.

Dairy

Dairy products can also be problematic for some people. Plus, lactose is a sugar and can spike your insulin. Baker recommends experimenting with goat or sheep’s milk versus cow. Learn how your own body reacts, and eliminate what’s not working for you.

Paul Saladino recommends consuming raw dairy or A2 dairy. Raw dairy isn’t heat pasteurized, a process that lowers the nutritional value of milk. A2 dairy only contains A2 protein, which is more easily digested by humans.

Preparation

Use animal fats instead of plant oils for cooking. Use condiments as you need to, especially if you’re transitioning and still craving flavor variety. Ultimately, most people are just fine with sea salt.

What Can I Drink?

Drink nothing but water, coffee, or tea. Baker admits he hasn’t eliminated alcohol, although it does make him feel worse the next day, not better.

A Carnivore Diet Meal Plan

Carnivore diet meals are focused on animal protein sources. The following 3-day meal plan can help you get started with some variety. It’s based on three meals per day, but is easily altered for those who practice intermittent fasting. Just skip the lunch and snack options.

Day 1 BreakfastDay 2 BreakfastDay 3 Breakfast
Flank Steak and EggsBacon and EggsShredded Chicken and Eggs
Day 1 LunchDay 2 LunchDay 3 Lunch
Chicken ThighsBrisketLamb-burger with Goat Cheese
Day 1 SnackDay 2 SnackDay 3 Snack
Hard Boiled Eggs and SardinesPemmican/Jerky CheeseBacon Strips or Bone Broth
Day 1 DinnerDay 2 DinnerDay 3 Dinner
Ribeye SteakSalmon SteakSirloin Steak

Carnivore Diet Results

Carnivore diet benefits include weight loss, reduced inflammation, better heart health, increased mental clarity, fewer digestive problems, and greater muscular gains. While this highly restrictive form of eating may not be for everyone, Dr. Jaquish swears by it. He fits his 3 pounds of meat into one daily meal, combining the carnivore diet with the OMAD intermittent fasting plan.

Try the carnivore diet for 30 days to see if it helps maximize muscle growth. After four weeks, you can cycle back to your regular meal plan or keep going if you like your carnivore diet results.

To increase your daily protein intake without consuming needless calories, try our Fortagen EAA supplement. Just one 4-calorie serving of Fortagen contains the equivalent of 50g of protein from standard sources.

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