Candace Coclough, certified holistic health coach, certified personal trainer, keto advocate, and founder of Get Fit With Fat (formerly The Glow Getter), describes her journey experimenting with the “Carnivore Diet,” a nutrition plan that relies heavily on animal products. Follow along below to learn how the diet works and the results she observed with DEXA scan technology. Disclaimer: the information below is a single case study performed by a professional certified in holistic health coaching and personal training. Composition ID does not advocate for one single dietary approach, nor do we provide nutritional recommendations outside of personal nutrition coaching programming. It’s important to speak with your doctor before implementing any radical changes to your diet.
A couple months ago, I decided to stop eating vegetables. No, I wasn’t going crazy…I was going on the carnivore diet.
What is the carnivore diet?
Simply put, the carnivore diet consists of eating animal products only and no plant foods. That means no grains, no fruits, no vegetables…just meat, eggs, butter, and cheese. Just like most diets, there are variations—some go to the extreme of only consuming beef, salt, and water—but the basic principle is to only consume animal products. There’s also the “carnivore keto” diet, which allows some plant oils, such as avocado, coconut and olive oil.
Why I Decided to Try a Carnivore Diet
I’m not going to lie, when I first heard of the carnivore diet, I thought it was nuts. I mean, just eating animal products? No veggies? No fruit? Seriously, just meat? It sounded like a heart attack waiting to happen, not to mention vitamin deficiencies. I wrote it off immediately as extreme.
But then, pictures started popping up on my Instagram feed of people in the “#carnivoreclub” (my name, not theirs). I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…the bodies and weight loss transformations were impressive, to say the least. The more I dove into the #carnivore hashtag, the more I saw stories of people who had success with keto but who had completely leveled-up by going carnivore.
I thought to myself: “Hmm, I wouldn’t mind leveling up.”
I should note that I’ve been keto since 2014, and I will probably always swear by a lower carb diet, as it’s helped me lose weight and stave off chronic lifestyle diseases that my doctor had started to warn me about. Although I felt I was at a healthy weight, I’d be lying if I said the “after” pictures weren’t appealing to my vanity.
I thought hey, why not try it? Some people have been carnivore for years…a month of eating animal products only won’t kill me, right? (Seriously…right?)
I decided what would work for me was a combination of the different principles—for my experiment, I chose to eat animal products, some plant oils (avocado and olive, sparingly), coffee, and tea. I also allowed myself natural low carb sweeteners (erythritol, monk fruit, stevia), because I can only make so many compromises.
My rules for the experiment were:
- Animal products only for 30 days*, which meant all ruminants (beef, lamb, bison, etc.), poultry, and seafood, as well as low carb dairy (butter, cheese, heavy cream, etc.)
- Seafood and organ meats at least once per week
- Exercise at least 5 days per week (my regular schedule)—a mix of strength training and conditioning with an optional bike ride on the weekends
- 3 “passes” to drink low carb alcoholic drinks (because it’s summer and I am not a monk!)
*Although I initially planned to do 30 days, I decided to go a full 6 weeks because I was enjoying it so much.
As far as my macros, I kept them simple. Because I was working out pretty hard, I decided to aim for 1g of protein for each pound of bodyweight, and I allowed myself to go up to that many fat grams as well.
I never actually reached these levels because it was a lot of food for me, so I usually averaged closer to 130-140g protein and 100-120g fat.
Because I was primarily interested in the diet’s effects on body fat and muscle, before I started, I turned to the most accurate body comp measurement tool I know: DEXA scans from Composition ID. Mitch did my initial body scans, and I was ready to rock and roll.
A Typical Day
The next six weeks mostly followed this schedule:
- 6:30 am – Wake up, drink 20 oz water with electrolytes
- 7:30 am – Exercise (fasted)
- 11:00 am – Eat first meal
- 3:00 pm – Eat snack
- 7:00 pm – Eat dinner
- 10:00-11:00 pm – Bedtime
Throughout the day, I drank around 75-100 oz water, usually with some pink sea salt or Natural Calm (magnesium supplement) for electrolyte support (important for keto and even more important for carnivore!).
Sample Breakfast: N/A unless I was hungry (I naturally intermittent fast…I’m not a big morning eater)
Sample Lunches: 10 oz ground beef with cheese/8 oz steak and eggs/9 oz of sardines/Half a chicken from Nando’s
Sample Dinners: Liver with eggs/8 oz of broiled salmon/Chicken “nachos” with pork rinds
Sample Snacks: Chick N’ Skins, yogurt, pork rinds/cracklings, parmesan cheese crisps
A typical day in MyFitnessPal:
At the end of the 6 weeks, I went to get my DEXA scan with Audrey feeling pretty good, but cautious. I knew I had lost weight—6 lbs to be exact—and both people who hadn’t seen me in awhile and people who saw me everyday were commenting on it. My clothes were fitting more loosely, and I even had to return a pair of pants I’d bought right before the experiment to get a smaller size!
In addition to the new clothes, I was killing it in the gym and on the trails; just the week before the scan, I completed a 42-mile bike ride and felt great after, and I was constantly picking up heavier weights each week.
But, the scan never lies, and I was worried what it would tell me.
I prayed for the best as the machine scanned over my body. I was not disappointed! See for yourself:
Down 6.5 lbs of pure fat AND up almost 1 lb of muscle in 6 weeks! This was by far the best scan I’d ever had. It proved that not only can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time, you can do it quickly and healthily* by eating a carnivore diet.
I also greatly appreciated the reduction in visceral adipose tissue (VAT), the intra-abdominal fat inside the abdominal cavity that is packed between your organs. High amounts of visceral fat are linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease and even certain cancers. Optimal VAT numbers are <1, so these results were very good.
Here’s how those results translated in pictures:
Not bad for six weeks!
And in measurements:
Some other benefits I experienced:
- Better sleep than I’d had in years. I have sleep apnea and tend to be a bit of an insomniac, so I usually have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Not so on carnivore! I was ready for bed around 10 pm each night, which was perfect, since I wake up around 6 am to work out.
- Zero gastro issues. Heartburn and acid reflux have been a constant companion for the last 8 years or so (I even had an ulcer in 2013), but I was amazed to realize about two weeks in that I hadn’t experienced either since before the experiment. Major win.
- Super simple meal prep. I love to meal prep (I know, I’m weird). It’s fun to me to get creative with meals (you almost have to with keto!) and I like coming up with different delicious ideas. I won’t lie though, just cooking some meat and not thinking about side dishes freed up a lot of time on my weekends, and I liked that even more.
So, What’s Next?
It’s been two weeks since the experiment was “over,” but I’m still eating carnivore! I don’t know how long it will last, and I *did* have a small piece of birthday cake at my godson’s party last week, but for now, I see no reason to switch up. I think I like this lifestyle!
How about you? Would you try a carnivore diet or do you think it’s just too extreme? Share in the comments!
If you’d like to know more about my carnivore experiment, including FAQs, how I prepared, and my top 10 tips on how to start, check out www.getfitwithfat.com. Also, catch me on Instagram at @ketocoachcandace.
*DISCLAIMER: the information below is a single case study performed by a professional certified in holistic health coaching and personal training. Composition ID does not advocate for one single dietary approach, nor do we provide nutritional recommendations outside of personal nutrition coaching programming. It’s important to speak with your doctor before implementing any radical changes to your diet.