When I decided to go on an animal-based diet, I knew there would be challenges. But I never imagined that the biggest issue would be gaining weight! Talk about a sucker punch.
Eating animal food is touted as a weight loss and healing protocol, so I thought the scale would go the other direction!? But it turns out, while the pounds came on (for now), I’ve never felt better.
Let me explain~
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What is an animal-based diet?
First, what is this diet? Well, an animal-based diet is mainly made up of foods derived from animals. (As the name suggests!) This includes meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and other animal products, like butter and ghee.
Animal-based diets have been consumed by humans for thousands of years and are gaining popularity due to its positive impact on health, healing, and weight loss.
While I realize you can find studies to support just about any way of eating (WOE), the evidence for animal-based diets on healing autoimmune diseases, depression, migraines and gut issues can’t be ignored.
Why I started an animal-based diet?
Let me start at the beginning…I mentioned in a previous post covering migraine diets that I found an excellent Migraine Protocol Diet from Dr. Angela Stanton, who I heard about on a health and healing podcast.
Dr. Stanton has all her migraineurs do a 5-hour glucose test to determine which animal-based diet to start — this varies between Carnivore/Zero Carb, Keto, and what she calls ‘Protocol’ — which, in my opinion, is a slightly lesser strict version of the others and you eat two meals per day instead of three.
Here are the results of my 5-hour glucose test. (Note: the crash!)
Dr. Stanton’s response:
Thanks Jules for running this test very early on after starting the protocol and still not eating a real Protocol meal. This totally shows how vulnerable your current metabolic health is. I recommend you start the carnivore diet, which is 60-70% animal protein by weight and 30-40% animal fat by weight. Any animal with preference to red meat as the primary meat type, and dairy, and eggs. Also mushrooms (fungi) and kelp/seaweed (algae) are part of our food choices on CD.
She also went on to share that I need to get my insulin more stable and improve my body’s protein synthesis. (That’s why I’m on a higher protein version of the carnivore diet with a focus on animal foods containing Leucine.)
Leucine is an essential amino acid for protein synthesis and is used in our bodies’ ability to make ATP (for energy). It also regulates many cellular functions in the body, such as tissue and muscle generation, plus metabolism.
Right now, my body isn’t processing protein – I’m still not sure if this was because of my last few years of vegan? Or, if my body has just been on the fritz due to illness?!
Note: Dr. Stanton will not work with individuals on plant-based diet programs such as vegetarians or vegans. And I had been eating a plant-based diet the last 18mos! Yikes. This was my first wake-up call.
I learned right away that just because my fasting glucose labs from my doctor say ‘normal’ it doesn’t necessarily mean I have good management over my metabolic health!
What can I eat on an animal-based diet?
One of the best things about this way of eating is that it’s super simple. No complicated macro formulas or food list restrictions to follow. Just eat animal products. Just eat meat.
Hence, that’s why it’s called the carnivore diet!
Foods to eat on an animal-based carnivore diet:
- Grass-fed Beef (red meat)
- Organs/ organ meats, (liver, heart)
- Wild Caught Fish (salmon, tuna, trout, etc.)
- Shellfish (clams, crab, lobster, shrimp)
- Goat Milk
- Cow Milk
- Ghee Butter
- And lactose-light cheeses (Cottage Cheese, Ricotta Cheese, Cream Cheese)
- Bone broth
Some follow what is called a Ketvore Diet that allows some intake of plants while still being primarily animal-based.
Popular Plant Foods on Ketvore Diet:
- Olive Oils
- Coconuts/Coconut Oils
- Avocados/ Avocado Oils
- Low carb & low oxalate vegetables & fruits
These are just a few examples of the wide variety of animal-based foods you can include in your diet as you get started. Obviously, it’s best to eat a good mix of these items to ensure that you get all the essential nutrients and amino acids necessary for optimal health.
What NOT to eat on an animal-based carnivore diet?
Plant foods! Anything that is not from an animal is out of the nutrition picture.
This includes foods like:
- Whole grains
- Starches, potatoes
- Nuts & seeds
Why are animal foods best for healing?
There are many reasons why animal-based diets are good for healing. For one, they provide high-quality protein, which is necessary for repairing tissue. Animal-based diets are also rich in other nutrients like vitamins A, D, B12, and zinc which can help promote healing.
Additionally, by eating animal foods, you receive a big boost of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as protein and omega-3 fatty acids that are not found in plant sources.
This has been linked to various health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, digestion, reduced risk of certain cancers, better cognitive function, and weight loss. Not to mention the diet is known to help boost energy levels and immune system strength, and reduce inflammation.
Ready to start feeling energized and healthy? Ultimately, an animal-based diet is a great way to improve your health while still enjoying delicious food. So if you’re looking for a way to heal your body and enjoy delicious foods, this might be for you!
Sourcing the best animal foods
If you are consuming animal products, they should be ethically sourced from responsible farmers who take good care of their animals. Look for grass-fed/grass-finished, pasture-raised, and/or organic.
I’ve been using Whole Foods & Wild Fork to shop for me and Paul, but we plan to get a subscription to something like Butchers Box. If you have any suggestions, let me know!
Note that even if you can’t swing the more expensive meats, simply shifting to an animal-based way of eating has huge benefits! Especially if you’re removing sugar/carbs coming from a Standard American Diet (SAD). But this is also true of vegans like me – plants are super high in toxins such as oxalates, lectins, and salicylates.
Personally, I’m sensitive to a lot of plant toxins – but I had to learn the hard way. (I did a Hyper Nourish Vegan plan to help manage my Lupus and found myself throwing up constantly after the giant smoothies it called for, yikes!)
So don’t be turned off by what types of meats to shop for – you’re bringing down your exposure to toxicity no matter what by removing plants and sugary sweet starches. So, just grab the meats, fish, and dairy you can afford.
Eat a mix of animal-based foods
Don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of animal-based foods to see what works for you (And what doesn’t!)
For example, I learned I’m not adjusting to butter and dairy (after not having it for 10+ years, I’m not surprised!) and that my body is loving beef!
But it just takes time to see what works for you!
Researching animal-based diets
While researching moving to an animal-based diet, one of the most compelling examples I found was Mikhaila Peterson. While there are many individuals healed through this way of eating, she was a pioneer in this space with a remarkable story.
Mikhaila endured a lot of health problems when she was younger. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 7, eventually needing hip and ankle replacements as a teenager. She took multiple prescription medications, had serious skin problems, chronic fatigue, and was severely depressed. (Who wouldn’t be – can you blame her?!)
After extensively researching how to solve her autoimmune problems, she shifted her focus to her diet and started eliminating foods via self-experimentation. Eventually, Mikhaila landed on a version of the carnivore diet that works for her. She only eats beef and water only (not even salt & pepper!) which she coined the Lion Diet).
She resolved all of her conditions and is now medication-free and in remission. Wait for it…. for 10 years!!
Hear more about Mikhaila’s journey in her presentation at Low Carb Down Under –
My first six weeks on an animal-based diet
Ok, to be honest — when I first heard about an animal-based diet, I was skeptical. I thought it would be challenging to stick to and that I wouldn’t get enough nutrients. Hello? No fruits or vegetables? That’s all I was eating before… and frankly, the meat just never sounded appealing to me.
But after doing some research (ok, A LOT of research!) I found many benefits to this way of eating that supported my chronically inflamed state! Not to mention the blood sugar and glucose balance that helps stabilize my migraine frequency.
While several nutritionists recommend slowly transitioning to an animal-based diet, I did not. I tend to have an ‘all or nothing‘ and ‘black and white‘ approach to life — I’m in, or I’m out.
So, on our next grocery order came the meats. ALL THE MEATS! And just like that, I was off to the races!
The start of my animal-based journey
At first, I had a huge variety of beef, chicken, pork, fish, sausages, eggs, and TONS of Milks.
In the beginning, I also got into all the popular animal-based recipes I saw online, and if I’m honest, I went a little overboard. My body was already going through a massive shift, and it didn’t need weird new meal recipes to process on top of it!
While I was ‘all in” mentally, I would also include some ketovore-type foods to help me out.
Ketovore foods I include:
- Coconut/coconut milk
- Sacha inchi seeds (my latest fav! — you can snag them on Amazon here)
- Grass-Fed Beef Chocolate Protein Powder Isolate (the cleanest protein powder that still tastes outstanding! On Amazon here!)
Full six weeks of animal-based
But after a few weeks, I realized I didn’t need to fancy up my meals with decadent recipes– eating good ole fashioned meat and spices lit up my taste buds (and dopamine receptors!) just fine :-)!
I’m eating less and less of these non-carnivore foods, but I think the hardest thing to give up will be my yummy nighttime coconut milk!!! (That’s if I do go full bore carnivore!)
My personal benefits of eating animal-based
After a few weeks of eating mostly meat, eggs, and dairy food products, my migraines improved significantly. I noticed other positive changes in my overall health, such as fewer body aches, night sweats, and chills.
My body is getting adequate omega-3s from fatty fish, and my iron levels are up to par (I was anemic before). Both are significant factors to support my migraine brain health (and wellness in general!)
Also, incorporating some plant-based foods here and there has been important for my success. Avocados have been my go-to — they’re a great source of healthy fats and potassium. And potassium is critical for managing barometric pressure shifts for migraine!
Best of all, I can run again, like really run — hitting 4-5 miles several times a week. And I can do it at 5:30AM?!
Overall, I was surprised by the increased energy and stabilized my blood sugar levels. (I wore a continuous glucose monitor for two weeks to keep track). My sleep improved after a few weeks, and I really no longer needed my afternoon naps!
That being said, this journey isn’t without its challenges….
My personal challenges in transitioning to animal-based
For one thing, my body had to get used to not having a lot of fiber anymore, so I experienced some digestive issues in the first few weeks. (Not gonna lie, this was rough, but for your sake, I won’t go into detail here 😉 )
Also, socially it’s more complicated than I thought — as you might imagine, most women go out for large salads and diet cokes, (not ribeyes!) for lunch dates. So, I started encouraging coffee or breakfast dates (eggs & bacon!) with friends 🙂
I’m still learning about the best ways to incorporate animal-based meals into my lifestyle, but so far, I love the results. (I just don’t love my waistline, but we’ll get to that in a second!)
10lbs up, but powering through in the name of health
Ok, as you can tell, I’m seeing lots of benefits from the carnivore/animal-based way of eating. But I started gaining weight almost immediately! No woman wants that in a diet plan – WTF? So, I started digging in and did some research…
From what I’ve gathered from specialists such as Dr. Elizabeth Bright & Coach Stephen, is that when our body isn’t functioning well (think: endocrine issues, thyroid problems, impaired insulin response, autoimmune diseases, etc.…) That our body NEEDs fat to heal – therefore as we start to consume more fat, our body quickly holds onto that fat FIRST.
Then, as we heal and our body systems and mechanisms by continuing to give our cells the fat and amino acids it needs, the body will stabilize and start to release extra stored fat.
The goal is to come into a state of homeostasis eventually. (Without gaining any more!)
The journey for healing continues
As I mentioned, animal-based diets are high in protein and other essential nutrients and also low in inflammatory compounds. This makes them ideal for healing autoimmune diseases, depression, migraines, and gut issues. (All things on my list!)
Just when I thought I had won the genetic lottery of bad genes and nothing worked, I had hope again!
This way of eating isn’t for everyone, and let me be clear – I’m NOT saying it is!! But if you decide to try it, take small steps and be patient as your body adjusts to the new foods. And be sure to tell me to know how it goes!
Overall, I’m thrilled with the results and am excited to continue this journey! I’m feeling more energized, more focused, and just overall healthier. So stay tuned for my following report and updates as I continue learning on my animal-based diet adventure.
All the best! Happy healing!