In this first post of the series, I will cover the necessary preparations before you switch to eating meat only.
Though you can just jump straight to week 2 and dive into those delicious steaks immediately, these preparations can help make your carnivore diet journey a much smoother one.
1. Set your goal
Before you start, set a clear goal and decide whether you want to try it out for just a week, 30 days, 3 months or 6 months.
If you are still unsure about this diet, a gradual approach could be the way. You can just increase your meat intake over time and gradually reduce your plant food intake to see how you feel.
If you’ve done your research, know someone who benefited from this diet, and believe in this way of eating, you can go all in and set a long-term goal.
I think 2 months is a good length to well establish a new habit.
However, if that amount of time is a bit too daunting for you, 30 days of eating meat only are the minimum.
The reason for this is if you do it for a shorter period of time, like one or two weeks, you might still suffer from short-term side effects of this diet by the end of this period and haven’t had the chance to experience the benefits of the carnivore diet.
In addition, if you have existing health issues such as leaky gut syndrome or autoimmune conditions or are currently on the SAD diet, you might experience more severe symptoms for a longer period of time compared to someone who has been eating relatively healthily and has no health issues.
Quitting too soon means you haven’t got to really experience the amazing benefits of this diet and are likely to come to the conclusion that you feel horrible on this diet and this diet is not for you.
Once you’ve decided the length of your experiment, you can print out a habit tracker (there are 30 days, 50 days, 100 days options available) and use it with this plan.
Using a habit tracker can help you keep track of your progress, visualize how far you have to go, motivate you along the way and celebrate your milestones.
2. Consult with your doctor
Please consult with your doctor before you try out the carnivore diet, especially if you are currently on medications.
Even if your doctor is not supportive of your dietary choices, you still need him or her to check on you to make sure that you are okay throughout this experiment.
The carnivore diet has helped many people to lower their blood pressure, reverse their type 2 diabetes and improve their mental health.
If you are on medications for those conditions, for example, your doctor is likely to have to deprescribe you, i.e. reducing or stopping medications gradually as your health improves.
3. Decide when you are going to start
You are going to experience transitional symptoms like headache, diarrhea, bad breath, night sweat, nausea, fatigue or food craving for a few days to a couple of weeks. Therefore, if possible, start your experiment during a period of lighter schedule.
If you are working office hours, taking a few days off to have a long weekend would definitely help. For example, if you start it on a Friday and take Monday and Tuesday off, you would have four days free to focus on dealing with the adaptation problems.
Starting at the beginning of the coming long holiday period is also an option if you think you can resist festive food temptations well.
4. Choose your elimination approach
On the carnivore diet, you will need to eliminate all plant food. There are two ways to do this which I call the pyramid method and the inverted pyramid method and wrote in detail in this post.
Under the pyramid method, you start with where you are now, i.e. at the base of the pyramid, and gradually eliminate plant-based foods and other troublesome animal-based foods over time.
Under the inverted method, you start at the apex of the pyramid with just one food group that you feel the safest (e.g. beef) and gradually add more food groups back over time and see if your body is okay with them.
If you just want to improve general health, the pyramid method is probably more suitable because it is more gentle on your body as it allows your body time to detox and adjust to the new diet. Adaptation problems, therefore, are less likely to be severe.
If you would like to fix a specific health issue and suspect food to be the cause, the inverted pyramid method is probably better because it is simpler to implement and quicker to pinpoint problematic food compared to the pyramid method.
As mentioned in the overview post, the focus of this series is to help people who have some underlying health issues or want to lose weight. Therefore, I will focus on the inverted pyramid method which is more suitable for such purpose.
5. Clear up your fridge and pantry
Once you’ve decided on the time you are going to start the carnivore diet, you will need to clear your fridge and pantry of all plant food and processed food and only keep unprocessed animal-based food, e.g. keeping only beef and other ruminant meat.
You can either store those foods somewhere out of the way or give them away.
However, if you have a partner or a family who are not joining you in this experiment, you will have to keep those foods and need to mentally prepare yourself in order to deal with cravings for non-carnivore food.
5. Stock up on meat and organ meat
Next week when you officially begin the carnivore diet, you will be starting out with just ruminant meat and liver so find a good supplier and buy enough to last you a few days or a week.
For now, just get any fatty cuts of ruminant meat like beef, lamb, bison, buffalo, roo, goat, etc. that you enjoy and can afford. Don’t worry about grass-fed or grain-fed meat right now, you will test that out later. If you are on a budget, get any cheap cut of ruminant meat. Ground meat is perfectly fine too.
In addition, get about 400 grams of beef liver, lamb liver or other ruminant liver which will last you one week.
If you have never cooked before, no problem, cooking on the carnivore diet is super simple and probably the last thing you have to worry about.
This initial menu might seem too restrictive and you wonder why you can’t have pork, chicken, eggs, shrimp, cheese, sausages, bacon, etc. for variety in addition to ruminant meat and liver.
The answer is ruminant, especially beef, seems to be the safest meat for many people while some people may have issues with pork, eggs, chicken, shrimp, and cheese. Therefore, it’s best to start out with the safest and best quality meat available before testing out other meats.
If you start out with a broad variety of animal source food right at the beginning, there is a chance that you might be sensitive to one of those foods and, if your health problem can’t be resolved completely, you will have to go through this elimination process all over again later on.
6. Plan your carnivore meals outside your home
You will have complete control of what you eat at home but plan ahead what you are going to eat for lunch at work, or when you are at business functions or social events.
This should not be a big problem because you can always pack a carnivore meal for lunch and meat is generally served at those events.
It is only an issue if you want to stick to meat, salt and water only for the first month to test out food intolerance issues too.
If this is the case, you’ll have to pack your own food and avoid eating out or eating at those social events.
7. Decide on supplements
I’m not a fan of supplements. I didn’t use any supplements when I started and don’t take any at the moment.
I think animal-based food can provide us with everything we need. Supplementing will just prolong the adaptation process.
For your information, the IMNCI centre which has been using a high-fat animal-based diet to treat many chronic conditions including diabetes, brain cancer, rectal cancer, lung cancer, epilepsy, and Crohn’s disease, recommend taking no supplements. Only in rare cases, a one-off vitamin D supplement may be given.
However, some people swear by them.
So if you like, during the adaptation phase, you can take some electrolytes to help with lost electrolytes or lipase to help with fat digestion.
8. Decide whether to tell people not
You will definitely face questions from your family, relatives, friends, and colleagues about your meat-only diet.
You can either tell them the truth or avoid eating with other people for now when you are not sure.
If you decide to tell the truth, prepare for situations where you might face hostile reactions from vegans or vegetarians or from people who might be genuinely concerned about your health.
9. Record keeping
Decide whether you want to keep detailed records of your journey.
You can take notes of your current health status, e.g. blood test results, weight, waistline, medical conditions, medications, and how you feel mentally and physically at the moment.
You might also want to take a few ‘before’ photos of yourself.
Also, decide if you want to keep a record of your food intake, adverse effects, and any changes in your mental and physical health as you go through the experiment.
10. Contingency plan
Prepare ahead for situations that can adversely affect your experiment, for example, you get sick, you have to go on an urgent business trip, you receive an unexpected guest or you are hospitalized.
These events are unlikely to affect your experiment but thinking ahead can help you mentally prepare.
In the event that you give in to temptation and eat some cake and drink some alcohol, etc., I think it’s not a problem at all, you can just continue with the carnivore experiment the next day as normal.
Links to all posts in the 16-week carnivore diet plan
- 16-Week Carnivore Diet Plan: An overview
- Week 1: Preparation
- Week 2: Ruminant and liver
- Week 3: Ruminant and more organ meat
- Week 4: Fat to protein ratio
- Week 5: Sun exposure
- Week 6: Salt experiment
- Week 7: Ancestral movements
- Week 8: Meal frequency and meal timing
- Week 9: Intolerance testing (other animal-based food)
- Week 10: Intolerance testing (fruits)
- Week 11: Intolerance testing (other plant food)
- Week 12: How much to eat
- Week 13: Fasting
- Week 14: Quitting
- Week 15: Weight loss
- Week 16: The Way Forward.
If you find this post helpful, please consider sharing this post and my site with your family, friends, and followers. That would be much appreciated. Please also check out my library of articles on the carnivore diet here which is updated regularly.
Disclaimer: The information in this post is for reference purposes only and not intended to constitute or replace professional medical advice. Please consult a qualified medical professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Photo credit: Julian Peter on Pexels