Like many fad diets that have come before it, the carnivore diet is gaining traction and popularity amongst the Australian population as the new weight loss solution. But is all the hype around this new fad worth it? We’ve looked at the pros and cons so that you don’t have to.
The Claimed Benefits
The carnivore diet involves only eating animal-based products, predominantly meat, however, some followers will also include eggs and dairy. Those who follow the carnivore diet will broadly claim it can assist in a variety of things like weight loss and curing autoimmune conditions. But let’s be specific – what effect do these people think that this diet will have?
While the weight loss claims probably do have some credibility (when you consider that any diet restricting kilojoules will result in weight loss) – but this diet would be very repetitive considering the very limited number of foods you can include.
The problem here is that although you may see weight loss in the short term, the highly restrictive nature of this diet means that those on the diet will likely return to normal eating patterns eventually, and will regain the weight due to the misunderstanding of how weight loss was achieved in the first place.
A Cure For Autoimmune Conditions?
The claims around curing autoimmune conditions are quite outlandish, to be honest. Following fad diets usually involve removing whole food groups, as well as the number of highly processed foods in their diet.
This can have a positive impact on autoimmune conditions, as sometimes there are particular foods that can be contributing to their condition.
However, there is no need to remove entire food groups, and an elimination diet would help most individuals determine any trigger foods. There is no research that supports the claim that this diet will cure an autoimmune condition.
Why the Carnivore Diet Does Not Add Up
Very little research has been done into a complete animal-based diet that excludes plant foods. However, the decades of research that have been done into dietary patterns and health, point to this not being a diet trend that will have long term positive impacts.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is often blamed for being outdated and is said to have contributed to Australia’s health problems. But, how many people have a diet that accurately reflects what the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating states?
With less than 8% of Australians meeting their recommended vegetable intake and 17.5% drinking more than the recommended intake of alcohol, it doesn’t make much sense to blame the recommended dietary guidelines for our health problems.
More and more research points to the importance of our gut microbiome when it comes to many aspects of our health – including mental health, skin health and the risk of developing chronic illness.
Beyond that, research has shown that a Western diet, high in animal products and low in fibre (which is similar to the carnivore diet) has been linked with a decrease in the total number of gut bacteria, as well as an increase in cancer-promoting substances called nitrosamines.
While the carnivore diet may help you to lose weight in the short term, the possible health implications for long term dietary patterns which exclude plant foods aren’t promising. More research needs to be done in this area to determine if there are any benefits to subgroups of the population, without adverse effects on long term health.
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