After just three weeks on carnivore diet, I lost 6.5 lbs., dropping from 11% to 8.5% body fat. This is by far the lowest body fat percentage I have seen with a DEXA scan and most likely the leanest I have ever been in my life.
I decided to give this diet a shot after hearing about the benefits that Dr. Jordan Peterson received from it, and I followed his advice when I implemented it. Jordan advises that “you eat enough meat and fat so that you’re not hungry, you’re not eating enough if you are hungry.”
So I ended up eating as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. When Jordan was following the diet, he said “I’m way less hungry than I used to be. My appetite has probably fallen by 70%.” If you eat 70% less, it’s not surprising that you would lose weight. Most nutritional experts, regardless of their dietary philosophy, agree that calorie restriction is the most important thing for losing body fat.
In their latest podcast with Joe Rogan, Layne Norton, and advocate of flexible dieting, and Dom D’Agostino, and advocate of ketogenic dieting, both agreed that “reducing calories is most important for weight loss.” This means that the advantage that one diet has over another is that it is more effective at naturally restricting your caloric intake.
If they are right, this logic alone would explain why the carnivore diet leads to weight loss; if you eat more meat, you regulate your appetite, and consume less overall. Layne demonstrates this by saying “if I give you 200 grams of French fries, that’s a lot of calories. If I give you 200 grams of meat, that’s not nearly the same thing. You’re going to be much more satiated from the protein. You can only eat so much meat. “
Another piece of evidence that supports this claim is that if you eat the same thing every single day, you will are far less likely to overeat. While discussing the carnivore diet with Joe Rogan, Dr. Rhonda Patrick cites a study showing that people who are given the same food every day consume fewer calories than those offered a variety of foods. She says “There have been intervention studies where people are given the same food every single day versus people who are given the same food once a week. The people who are given the same food every single day start to eat fewer calories.”
Maybe I didn’t follow this diet for long enough, or perhaps I am just a complete glutton because, for me, calorie restriction DOES NOT explain why I lost weight on the carnivore diet.
After losing three pounds in the first three days of the diet, I thought that I must not have been eating enough, so I started tracking what I ate. It turns that on average I was eating more than 4000 calories per day. Normally eating 3800 calories will cause me to gain body fat, so my experience seems to disprove the hypothesis that caloric restriction alone is responsible for the fat loss on the carnivore diet. And at least in my case, it also nullifies the hypothesis that calories are all that matters when it comes to weight loss.
Nutritional Journalist Gary Taubes is in a small minority of people who argue that carbs, not fat, are responsible for fat gain and obesity. He says that “there is this fundamental argument that we don’t get fat because we overeat. We get fat because of the carbohydrates in our diet cause hormonal, metabolic deregulation that makes us store calories and fat in fat cells which implies that the healthiest diet for those of us who get fat is a diet absent simple carbs and sugars”.
Many people find this stance controversial and dismiss Gary. Layne tells Joe that “when you have people like a Gary Taubes who say that calories don’t matter, it’s all carbohydrates. What they don’t talk about is that its overall fat balance, how much fat you store versus how much fat you burn. When you’re on a high-fat diet, you store a lot of fat, but you also burn a lot of fat. The overall caloric balance is what determines whether you have net storage or net deposition.”
Gary is often ridiculed but, at least from my experience, I can say that he is probably onto something. One of the pieces of evidence that he cites to support his claims are studies comparing people on high-fat Atkins diets who could eat as much as they with people on a low-fat, calorie-restricted American Heart Association diet. Gary says that “There are these diet trials. You get the Atkins diet, which is high in fat, and you’re allowed to eat as much as you want. You compare these people with people you put on a low-fat diet, and you tell them to restrict their calories. In all 5 trials, the people on the Atkins diet not only lost more weight but their heart disease risk factors improved as well.”
I initially thought that the people on the Atkins diet lost weight because they were more satiated and ate less while the people on the calorically restricted diet may have been misrepresenting what they actually ate. Now that I have experienced this weight loss while consuming a caloric surplus, I am not so sure.
I think that while for some people the weight loss benefits come from restricting calories, they also come from the hormonal deregulation caused by excess carbs that Gary mentioned earlier.
But I am also not sure that the carnivore diet does not have long-term health consequences that make this weight loss irrelevant. That is why I am currently testing a ketogenic diet, similar to an Atkins diet, to see if I can get these same benefits while also eating vegetables and adding some variety to my diet.
If you want to see what happens then follow along and I will keep you updated.