Congratulations! You’ve done a great job getting this far.
I hope it has been a positive experience and that you’ve learned a lot as well as experienced many benefits from eating the most nutrient-dense foods and making healthy lifestyle changes.
Below is a recap of key principles covered in this 16-week plan and some suggestions as to the way forward from here.
Recap of key principles
What you put in your body is the most important determinant of your health.
Make sure the staple of your diet is the best quality and most nutrient-dense food: ruminant meat, fat and organs. By eating nose-to-tail, you will get all nutrients that your body ever needs.
Although unnecessary, if you can afford wild-caught, pasture-raised animal-based food, you can include other animal-based food such as pork, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy for variety if well tolerated. This can also help meet your nutritional needs easier, especially if you don’t enjoy eating organ meat.
If you can’t afford wild-caught and pasture-raised animal-based food, it’s best to stay with just ruminant meat (beef, lamb, goat, bison, etc.). You can meet all your nutritional needs even if you are on a tight budget by eating nose-to-tail.
Please listen to your body and eat only when you are genuinely hungry and eat until you are full but don’t overeat.
Cook your food the way you like but, if you can, please cook at least some of your meat to blue, rare, medium-rare, or medium which can help preserve some nutrients, especially vitamin C.
If you can, it’s better to consume most of your food earlier in the day rather than later and restrict your feeding window rather than nibbling throughout the day.
If you eat just ruminant meat and organs with sufficient fat in them and follow your body’s hunger cues, you won’t need to eat more than once or twice a day.
Try to imitate our ancestors’ outdoor and physically active lifestyle as much as you can.
Incorporate as much physical activity throughout the day as you can and aim to have 1 to 2 moderate to high intensity interval training sessions and 2-3 resistance training sessions a week.
Exercises are best done outdoors in natural environments.
Get plenty of sun exposure every day.
Currently, the global disease burden due to insufficient sun exposure far outweighs the health burden due to excessive sun exposure.
In addition to being the best source of vitamin D, sun exposure makes us happier, strengthens our immune system, regulates our circadian rhythm, helps treat many health problems and reduces mortality.
If you’ve been avoiding the sun, build it up gradually with morning and late afternoon sun exposure. However, during this time of the day, there is very little UVB available which is needed for vitamin D synthesis so you do need some sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Salt or no salt, it’s entirely up to you. Sodium and chloride are essential electrolytes but meat can provide you with those.
Some groups who followed traditional meat-based diets did not add salt to their food. This indicates that salt is an acquired taste rather than a necessity. However, there is no strong evidence suggesting that the general population should limit their salt consumption.
Drink water to thirst. Like all other animals on the planet, water is the only drink that you need.
Your way forward
What should you eat?
You’ve been on this program for more than 3 months and if it’s been working well for you, you can keep going.
But you can also re-assess and decide what your long-term diet should look like.
The most important determinant of what you should eat on the carnivore diet in the long term is your health.
If you feel the best with just meat, salt and water, stick with it. Unfortunately, for some people with chronic health conditions, they would have no choice but to stay with this strict version of the carnivore diet.
If you are healthy and can handle most food okay, make animal-based food the staple of your diet and include a small amount of seasonal plant food if you wish.
As I have previously mentioned many times in this series, plant food is not essential but can be beneficial because it can help you meet all nutritional requirements easier, maintain metabolic flexibility and build a stronger and more resilient body.
All processed food and vegetable seed oils should be eliminated from your diet.
Grains, nuts, and seeds should be avoided as much as possible. If you would like to have them on occasion, learn ways to reduce the anti-nutrient contents of these foods such as boiling, soaking, roasting, sprouting, and fermenting.
As to food quality, the general rule is to buy the best quality food you can afford.
I have emphasized many times the importance of getting wild-caught or pasture-raised animal-based food, especially if you are trying to heal a chronic health condition with this diet.
However, I am very well aware that we do not live in an ideal world, many people may not be able to afford pasture-raised, wild-caught meat or even cheap cuts of ruminant meat.
If this is your situation, don’t worry, just eat conventional chicken, pork, eggs and farmed fish.
If you’ve cut out stuff like pizzas, pasta, chicken nuggets, donuts, muffins, and fizzy drinks, you’ve done a great job already.
Try your best and stop worrying about things that you can’t control.
What should you drink?
The one and only drink we need is water.
The other two nutritious drinks (which should be in the food category) are bone broth and raw milk (if you can tolerate dairy).
There is no question that you should stay away from all sugary drinks.
As to tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages, as I mentioned in week 14 of the series, as a general rule, if you are able to consume these drinks in moderation and don’t want to quit, it’s fine to keep drinking.
But if you’ve become dependent on them to function, it’s a sign that you need to quit them and unfortunately quitting these addictive substances is not easy at all.
If you need some motivation to quit, please check out my posts on why you should not drink coffee or alcohol on the carnivore diet.
If you are trying to fix your health problems with the carnivore diet, you definitely should try to quit caffeine and alcohol and drink nothing but water.
Should you have cheat days?
I don’t think you should have cheat days on the carnivore diet for two reasons:
- You won’t feel very good eating those ‘cheat foods’ like pizza, cheese burger, cake, chocolate, and ice cream. You’re likely to experience head ache, bloating, skin breakout, other digestive issues, and even flare-ups of health problems you’ve previously been able to resolved
- There is a risk that one cheat day a week will turn into a few too many cheat days and you’ll eventually fall off the wagon and have to start all over again.
If you would like to cheat, try to cheat with clean whole food. Maybe cook something that includes some plant food that you want to eat once in a while. There are also many recipes for carnivore cake, pizzas, and ice cream that you can try to make yourself – that way you know exactly what goes in your treats.
However, my view remains that it’s best to stay away from cheat foods. Many processed foods have been scientifically created with the right doses of salt, sugar, artificial flavors, and other additives to appeal to our taste buds and make us addicted to them.
In addition, it is also not the right mindset, for example, to consider junk foods as a reward and “treat” yourself with foods that are extremely bad for your health once a week after you’ve been eating clean for 6 days. This kind of reward will undo some of the great work you’ve been able to achieve. And your body might protest (e.g. burping, bloating, stomach pain, headache, restless sleep, etc.) and you will feel it’s more like a punishment rather than a reward.
If you want to reward yourself for eating clean 7 days a week, think of a reward that is non-food like getting a massage, watching a movie, having a lazy day, spending time on your hobby, etc.
However, I hope that you don’t even need to have this debate with yourself about cheat days or no cheat days.
Many people have found that they lost their craving for junk food after they started the carnivore diet and that it completely changes their relationship with food. And I hope you are feeling that way too. It’s a great feeling to be free from the control of food at last.
Nevertheless, if you happen to fall off the wagon in the future and are back to the standard Western diet for whatever reason, you just need to start over again.
You’ve done it before, you can certainly do it again. You can hit the reset button by doing a long water fast or 30 days of strictly ruminant meat, fat, and organs only.
If you are doing the carnivore diet for the first time, it’s a good idea to expect this to happen and mentally prepare for that scenario.
Share your experience
If you have completed the program, I would love to get feedback from you so that I can improve it and more people can benefit from it.
If you would like to share your carnivore experience and inspire others, please do write too and have your story published on this website.
Please send your feedback and story to firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.
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