Categories
Uncategorized

Meat Heals: What is the effect of the carnivore diet on obesity and cancer?

Important Points:

  • Carnivore Diet
  • Meat
  • Ketosis
  • Obesity
  • Cancer

Meat Heals:
What is the effect of the carnivore diet on obesity and cancer?

Does meat really heal? Many anecdotal reports have been released claiming that the carnivore diet, consisting of eating a diet restricted to meat, has alleviated the symptoms of autoimmune disease and depression while causing weight loss and improved health. Despite the anecdotal evidence, is there any scientific data to support these claims? Let’s consider the effect of the carnivore diet on several health conditions.

1. The Carnivore Diet and Obesity

When you are on the carnivore diet, your intake of processed carbohydrates and sugar is completely eliminated. These simple sugars are the leading cause of weight gain. In the absence of these carbohydrates, your body burns fat for fuel in a process known as ketosis resulting in weight loss and the eradication of obesity. Obesity is a leading cause of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and fatty liver disease.

2. The Carnivore Diet and Autoimmune Diseases

Studies have shown that excess intake of sugary foods and processed carbohydrates increases systemic levels of inflammation in the body which can increase the risk for cancer and autoimmune diseases. Eliminating sugar intake through this meat diet can therefore theoretically decrease levels of inflammation in the body.

But does the meat diet directly decrease levels of inflammation in the body? The carnivore diet sends the body into a metabolic state called ketosis where it burns fat for energy instead of using glucose. Compared to glucose metabolization which produces large amounts of free oxygen radicals contributing to inflammation, ketone metabolization has been shown to produce far fewer free radicals.

In fact, studies have shown that ketosis decreases inflammation and reactive radicals in animal models of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune condition that affects the brain. It also decreases markers of liver inflammation in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Since the ketogenic diet has also been shown to produce anti-inflammatory effects by directly inhibiting pro-inflammatory immune pathways in the body, it is assumed that the carnivore diet does the same though scientific data isn’t readily available. With this in mind, it can be concluded that the carnivore diet can in fact guard against inflammation and ameliorate symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

3. The Carnivore Diet and Cancer

The development of cancer, known as carcinogenesis, has been linked to hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and chronic inflammation. Not enough studies have been done on the carnivore diet, but emerging evidence suggests that the ketogenic diet may decrease the risk of cancer through its anti-inflammatory properties. Because the carnivore diet works in basically the same way as the keto diet, the same can be deduced of the carnivore diet. Along those same lines, the ketogenic diet is hypothesized to decrease risk of cancer by decreasing levels of insulin and glucose in the body and also by decreasing systemic levels of inflammation, and the carnivore diet would achieve the same thing.

Initially, it was thought that cancer cells use a lot of glucose for energy, thus starving them of glucose would stop their growth. Unfortunately, this theory has not produced new treatment or a cure because normal cells need energy too, and there is no way of starving the cancer cells and feeding the normal ones.

There is also an indirect link between cancer risk and sugar. Eating excess sugar over time can cause you to gain weight, and scientific evidence shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer. In fact, keeping obesity at bay is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after quitting smoking. The carnivore diet can thus reduce the risk of obesity and the risk of cancer.

One other study published in 2019 showed evidence that people who drank more sugary drinks had a slightly increased risk of cancer regardless of body weight. Because the carnivore diet eliminates sugary drinks, this is one more benefit of this diet. 

But what of the studies that show a correlation between red meat and cancer? There is one major flaw in the way these studies are interpreted: they seem to suggest a causal link between meat consumption and cancer that isn’t really there.

4. The Carnivore Diet and Cognitive Function

Although there is limited evidence on the neuroprotective effects of the carnivore diet specifically, there is much evidence on the neuroprotective of the ketogenic diet, which the carnivore diet closely resembles. Data suggests that the ketogenic diet has anti-inflammatory effects on the brain and holds neuroprotective benefits.

The ketogenic diet was initially designed to manage children suffering from seizures. Studies show that as many as half of patients that used the ketogenic diet had fewer seizures after starting the diet. In children with specific genetic epilepsies or epilepsy syndromes, studies have shown up to 90% of patients achieve seizure freedom on the ketogenic diet.

Because inflammation is thought to play an important role in epilepsy and seizures, the ketogenic diet, and therefore the carnivore diet, may decrease seizure occurrence through its anti-inflammatory effects. The anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the ketogenic diet involve reduced mitochondrial production of pro-inflammatory molecules and reduced production of excess excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, which can cause neuronal damage.

Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of other neurological diseases such as autism which is increasingly associated with maternal inflammation, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as cognitive dysfunction in people with diabetes and obesity. Thus, decreasing inflammation through the carnivore diet may improve symptoms related to neurological dysfunction associated with inflammatory processes.

5. The Carnivore Diet and Depression

From anecdotal reports, the carnivore diet has shown neurological and psychological effects beyond the treatment of seizures and chronic pain. It’s also known that inflammation can contribute to depression, and depression itself can promote inflammation. Many people on the carnivore diet report benefits such as increased alertness, energy, mood, and concentration.

6. So, Does Meat Heal?

It is clear that the carnivore diet has marked positive effects on the conditions we set out to explore, mainly due to its elimination of sugars and carbohydrates. It can be said that getting on a carnivore diet is likely to bring about improved health outcomes.

It is important to note that there is not a ‘one-size-fit all’ when it comes to diet. Every individual has a different body, genetics, digestive system, and immune system, which all of play a role in the body’s reaction to food. However, even if the carnivore diet is not for you, please note that everyone should cut down on sugar and processed carbohydrates because these are known to cause weight gain, pro-inflammatory states, and health problems.

References:

  1. Neurogal (2018): Does Meat Really Heal? Show me the Evidence for the Carnivore Diet. Retrieved from

https://neurogal.com/neuro-blog/2018/12/7/does-meat-really-heal-show-me-the-evidence-for-the-carnivore-diet

  • Cancer Research UK (2017): Sugar and cancer – what you need to know. Retrieved from
https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2017/05/15/sugar-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/
  • The BMJ (2019):Sugary drink consumption and risk of cancer: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. Retrieved from

https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l2408

Categories
Uncategorized

Keto Versus Carnivore

Important Points:

  • Ketogenic diet
  • Carnivore diet
  • Ketosis
  • Fat burning

Keto Versus Carnivore

In the world of low-carb diets that have amazing results, keto has been a great hit. How does the Carnivore diet compare? Which of these two diets has better outcomes? What are the differences? In this article, we will explore the differences and similarities of these two diets, and discuss why you should try one or both of them….

1. What Is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is designed to switch your metabolism from glucose to ketones as a source of fuel. It was initially medically designed and clinically tested to help treat patients with epilepsy.

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet sharing many similarities with the Atkins and other low-carb diets.  It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake allowing blood sugar and insulin levels to drop. Without carbs, the body has less glucose to use for energy, so it uses fat instead allowing your body to enter a metabolic state called nutritional ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver and can supply energy for the brain.  All of this has numerous health benefits.

2. What Is the Carnivore Diet?

The Carnivore Diet consists entirely of meat and animal products, excluding all other foods, and claims to aid weight loss, mood issues, blood sugar regulation, and other health issues.

3. Differences between the Keto and Carnivore diets

It might seem obvious in the sense that carnivore dieters only eat meat, while there is a little bit more flexibility in keto, but there are a few more details you should know especially if you have some experience with keto and its health benefits.

The carnivore diet is more restrictive

On the ketogenic diet, you are allowed to have some carbs, and for the average person, this will be somewhere less than 50 grams per day. This allows you to satisfy some food cravings especially in the early days. It also gives you just that little bit more flexibility when it comes to your meal recipes to add some vegetables for a bit more diversity. Some fiber is keto friendly because most of it passes through your stomach undigested and isn’t counted as a net positive carb.  Keto purists do count insoluble fiber as part of the less than 50 g total permissible carbohydrates.

Cravings

You may experience more cravings with the carnivore diet at first. Long term, your cravings will lessen because of sensory specific satiety; the less variety of food being consumed results in less total consumption and a higher satiety with reduced cravings. As you start getting used to having an all meat diet, you will be cutting out all carbs and increasing fat and protein intake.  Similar cravings are noted on keto, but they occur later.

Meal Frequencies

Someone on the keto or carnivore diet is likely to eat 2-3 meals per day, and is unlikely tosnack as long as they are eating food that provides satiety.

Macronutrient Ratio

The macronutrient ratio on a ketogenic diet is 60% fat, 15-30% protein, and less than 10% carbs. This is a radical shift from the 20/25/55 ratio recommended by conventional nutritional science.

When doing the carnivore diet, there isn’t a strict ratio to keep to as it’s all about eating meat. You can eat as much meat as you want, with only a tiny, almost accidental, amount of carbs that may sneak in with some dairy products.

Supplementation

The total elimination of vegetables in the carnivore diet might require higher supplementation of essential vitamins and minerals than the keto diet which allows for some.

4. Similarities between Keto and Carnivore diets

The Keto and carnivore diets have a lot in common, including side effects, metabolic changes, and quite a few health benefits.

The Keto Flu

Though called the keto flu, it can affect people both on the keto diet and the carnivore diet. Its symptoms are flu-like with of brain fog, muscle aches, nausea, headaches, and fatigue that generally last for somewhere between 1 and 14 days.

Constipation

One of the common questions is, “does keto diet cause constipation?” The answer is sometimes, and the same can happen on the carnivore diet as well. This is most often due to the lack of fiber which may be something you need to supplement.

Fat consumption and fat burning

In both diets, there is a significant emphasis on getting a lot of fat into your diet. As a guide, this would be around 60% of your daily energy needs, which is quite a lot; however, once your body switches to ketosis, all that extra fat will be transformed into fuel. Ketones are a different form of energy that result in improved cognitive functions and a higher level of alertness.

Metabolic Changes

On both keto and carnivore, your body will switch from blood glucose to ketones for fuel. This metabolic process is called ketosis and is a vital function and feature of human evolution.

Weight Loss

As long as you calculate your calorie needs and stay below your daily threshold, you will trigger weight loss. By keeping the amount of dietary fat to below what you need, your body will use up all those fat storage areas. The results can be rather drastic, and as long as you stick to the guidelines of keto and carnivore, you will notice a very steady and sustainable loss of weight.

Increased physical and mental energy

One of the significant benefits of ketosis (whether keto or carnivore induced), is that you will have a lot more readily available energy, and the nature of ketone-derived power is that it doesn’t regularly spike as glucose does.

5. Bottom Line: Which Diet Is the Better Option for You?

In the whole keto versus carnivore debate, it really shouldn’t be a question of which one is better. The choice of which one to do is a personal decision. Keto works better for some people while carnivore works better for others. It might be advisable to try both to find out which suits you best, and switching up allows you to reap the benefits from both.

In the short term, though the carnivore diet seems to have a lot of positive testimonials and works similarly to the ketogenic diet, we choose to accept the fact that the ketogenic diet presently has more clinical evidence than the carnivore diet. Hopefully, we can expect more studies to be done on the carnivore diet as well in the not so far future.