Carnivore Diet Experiment Part 2: What I Ate

After a year of research and months of deliberation, I finally mustered up the courage to try the Carnivore Diet for 40 days. (see part 1 for more information on this diet)

The goal was to test the claims I’ve read – primarily how health promoting and healing such a diet can be, especially for chronic diseases like autoimmunity. This post will detail what I ate and why based on everything I’ve researched.

At a glance:

  • It is possible to obtain all necessary nutrients on a ‘nose-to-tail’ carnivore diet
  • Important nutrients are: fats for energy, fresh quality meat vitamin C and protein, collagen to balance the methionine in meat, some seafood for iodine and omega 3s, bone meal or simmered soft-chewable bones for minerals, organ meats and egg yolks for all other micronutrients
  • Sea salt is all you need to make anything delicious!

What I Ate

Only a “nose-to-tail” carnivore diet can meet all your nutritional needs. Not a “steak only” muscle meat one. Of particular concern are the micronutrients like b-vitamins, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.

Below is a list of what I ate based on nutritional needs:

FoodsRationale/nutrients
Animal fat – trimmings, tallow Some rice/rice noodles*Energy
Fresh meat: muscle meat, mince, fishProtein, vitamin C
Bone broth, connective tissue from trimmings and surrounding muscles/organs, tripeCollagen
Some seafood every day: wild-caught fish, musselsOmega 3s, minerals
4 Raw egg yolks/day, without the whites (basically nature’s multivitamin)Choline, biotin, vitamins K, A, D, E, B6, essential fatty acids, iron, zinc
Organ meat especially liver & kidneys
Shellfish
All other micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
Bones from bone broth simmered till soft and chewable
Shellfish like mussels
Minerals (calcium, mag, boron, etc)
Celtic sea saltSodium, minerals and taste

Energy: Basically, a carnivore diet is a ketogenic diet because you would be avoiding all plant products like rice/bread/noodles for energy. Thus, I increased my intake of healthy animal fats such as grass-fed/pasture-raised trimmings from a local butcher.

It was hard to quantify how much I needed at the beginning but after some time, my body began to regulate my intake instinctively. Interestingly, there would be days when I craved for and ate more fats and other days when I felt sick just thinking about fats!  

*However, I was still engaging in relatively heavy physical activity and started to feel very fatigued. I realized that it would take many more months to be fully keto-adapted. Thus, to mitigate the increasing lack of productivity, I decided to include some white rice/noodles back into the diet – one meal a day. I felt much better after this.  

Protein: For the type of meat, I alternated between pasture-raised lamb and beef. I avoided chicken and pork as much as I could help it for many reasons beyond the depth of this post. It is important to note that only fresh meat (not canned) has enough vitamin C to meet your needs.

The quantity was just slightly more than my usual intake – about 150-250g (total weight) per meal. It is quite hard to overeat protein because our body’s satiety signalling mechanisms are very responsive to excessive protein intake. [1]

Another important type of protein that is often underemphasised is collagen. I consumed quite a lot of collagen from the connective tissues in trimmings and daily bowls of bone broth. Collagen is high in glycine while muscle meat is high in methionine. It is important to balance these two as consuming too much methionine (muscle meat) depletes glycine [2,3]. Both have major impacts on mental, emotional and physical health.

Mice studies have shown that methionine depletion through reducing muscle meat intake led to improved lifespans and that too much methionine (muscle meat) causes cancer. It turns out that adding glycine (collagen) back into the diet to balance the methionine (muscle meat) improves lifespan and reduces cancer rates! [4] This is something that is often left out of mainstream media when they demonize meat for causing cancer in order to promote plant based diets. And all the more reason to eat ‘nose-to-tail’ including the skin, bones and connective tissues which are high in glycine.

An added bonus is glycine’s beneficial effects on skin, joints and bones. My large consumption of collagen, together with the biotin from the egg yolks, is probably the reason why people have been complimenting my skin and saying I look young since I’ve been back in Singapore.

Every day I would also try to get some seafood too. For both iodine and omega-3s. This consisted of wild-caught fish and/or about 5 green-lipped mussels a day because they were in season at that time in New Zealand which made them very cheap! ($4/kg, with shell)

Micronutrients: Organ meats and egg yolks were incredibly important for obtaining enough micronutrients.

Nutritional data for 100g raw beef liver [5]

As you can see, liver is a true superfood and nutritional powerhouse. It contains all the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and is especially rich in vitamin A, B-vitamins, Choline, Copper and Selenium.

 I initially ate about 50g of Liver a day. However, certain symptoms led me to realize that I might be overdosing on vitamin A (more about this in the next post to come!). So, I switched to having more kidneys and egg yolks (without the whites as it contains Avidin – an anti-nutrient that binds to B7) while consuming liver only once a week.

Calcium and Magnesium: These two can be hard to get enough of, even for most people consuming their typical plant-based diets.

Initially, I ate 1 whole eggshell each day to get about 1+ grams of calcium (the daily requirement for an adult under 50 years). However, I soon realized that I was not absorbing it when I noticed eggshells in my stools!

I then switched to chewing the soft ends of bones that have been simmering in my broth pot for days.

Dairy: You might have noticed that although dairy can be part of this diet, I did not include it simply because I know I am intolerant to it. Although I do not have lactose intolerance, consuming dairy triggers my immune system. Inflammation increases and I get lots of phlegm in the morning. Pimples and joint stiffness are other signs.

Taste: Because almost all spices are plant based, I relied solely on Celtic sea-salt. Surprisingly, this alone was enough to make everything taste very satisfying!

$$$ Cost: To save on cost, I would often look out for ‘reduced price’ cuts of meat and buy foods in season – especially the seafood. Besides, the organ meats like lamb liver, beef heart, kidneys and tripe were much cheaper (often about $1/100g). I also would buy pasture-raised eggs in bulk trays of 30. Grass-fed trimmings from the butcher cost about $2/kg and this was enough to last me 2 weeks! Lastly, I bought ‘dog bones’ to use in my bone broths which cost about $2/1.5kg.

In fact, I found that I was spending significantly lesser than before on groceries. Partly due to the elimination of cooking oils, condiments and spices and partly because meat was so nutritionally dense that I did not have to eat much! An added bonus is less time in the kitchen too because I did not need to wash and cut lots of veggies like before.

A day in the life of a ‘nose-to-tail’ carnivore

A typical day’s meals might look like this:

10am: 4 egg yolks, ~150g beef mince, 5 mussels, 1 bowl of bone broth, sea salt to taste

5pm: 150g Beef heart + tripe, 50g liver/kidney, 1.5 tbsp tallow/trimmings, 1 bowl of bone broth, sea salt to taste

Yes, I ate 2 meals for most days, some days even 1 because I simply felt too nourished!

A typical carnivore lunchbox: (from top) beef kidneys, meatballs, trimmings and connective tissue and mussels

In the next and final part of this series, I will cover:

  • how I felt during this diet
  • my lab results after this experiment
  • overall views about this diet

Stay tuned!
J.T.

N.B. Please note that this is an experiment for me. I am not promoting any diet in particular. These posts are written for informational purposes only and cannot be taken as medical advice. Always consult your holistic healthcare practitioner before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle or medical treatment.

Carnivore Diet series:

  1. CARNIVORE DIET: WHAT? WHY?

Links and references:

  1. Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., Lemmens, S. G., & Westerterp, K. R. (2012). Dietary protein–its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and healthBritish journal of nutrition108(S2), S105-S112.
  2. Balancing Methionine and Glycine in Foods
  3. Sugiyama, K., Kushima, Y., & Muramatsu, K. (1987). Effect of dietary glycine on methionine metabolism in rats fed a high-methionine dietJournal of nutritional science and vitaminology33(3), 195-205.
  4. Miller, R. A., Harrison, D. E., Astle, C. M., Bogue, M. A., Brind, J., Fernandez, E., … Strong, R. (2019). Glycine supplementation extends lifespan of male and female miceAging cell18(3), e12953. doi:10.1111/acel.12953
  5. Beef liver, raw, 100g nutritional data: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3468/2

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