Myth busting the Carnivore MD: is a carnivore diet good for you?
The Carnivore MD says eating a carnivore diet is key to optimal health, but what’s the truth behind his claims?
Who is the Carnivore MD?
Dr Paul Saladino, aka the Carnivore MD (medical doctor) is a trained physician, board certified in psychiatry, and a functional medicine practitioner. So far, so good. The guy is a real Doctor with qualifications and a residency to his name. But does this mean all of his claims stack up, or that we should follow his advice? Let’s take a look.
What diet does the Carnivore DM advise?
As his name suggests, the Carnivore MD is a big proponent of eating a carnivore diet. He says humans are built to eat meat, that meat is the safest food for us, and that other types of food (specifically vegetables) are toxic.
We’re all for balance here at Gravity Fitness. Like many internet-famous gurus, Carnivore MD’s ethos contains some truths…but takes them to the extreme. Meat is fine to eat (unless you avoid it for ethical reasons). But should it be the only thing we eat? And should we really avoid vegetables altogether?
Controversial claims made by Carnivore MD
Plants are bad for us or even toxic
Carnivore MD has claimed that plants make phytoalexins, which are defence chemicals. From this we can infer that they are warning us off, and shouldn’t be eaten. The problem with this claim is that meat contains compounds that can be considered toxic, too. And why are all those herbivore or omnivore animals OK to eat the defence chemicals in plants? Not to mention the fact that some of the longest-living people in the world are from societies that eat a lot of plants.
Meat is a “superfood”
Carnivore MD has often talked about eating every part of an animal (not just the meat) because this is how ancestral tribes ate. The “tribal” trope isn’t a compelling scientific argument. It’s likely that they ate this way because they didn’t have regular access to food.
Every nutrient you can get from plants, you can get from meat
Well, no you can’t. It’s true that meat and other animal foods contain better levels of some nutrients (heme iron, B12, creatine for example). But there are certain nutrients that you would struggle to get in optimal amounts from meat (Vitamins C and E, and fibre are some). Balance wins out over any extremes.
Hunter-gatherer tribes ate a carnivore diet
Carnivore MD talks a lot about the Hadza Tribe, one of the remaining hunter/gatherer peoples. He claims they eat almost exclusively meat, but this claim has been refuted. Studies show the men of the Hadza get around 40% of their calories from meat, and the women less than 5%. They actually eat a lot of honey, fruit, and tubers.
Is a carnivore diet good for you?
A carnivore diet that restricts your food to meat and organ meat only is not really good for you. It lacks important nutrients like dietary fibre and some micronutrients, and it’s difficult to maintain.
Meat and organ meat do have some health benefits. They are high in protein, can be low in fat, and are void of carbs and sugars. They’re a valuable source of iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, and some important micronutrients including Vitamin B12.
Meat has some nutritional benefits, but this doesn’t automatically mean that more is better. Like anything taken to an extreme, the problems can outweigh the benefits. And that’s when Carnivore MD’s recommendations become a problem.
Should you follow the Carnivore MD’s advice?
The Carnivore MD advocates an all-meat diet, claiming that animal meat and organs are highly beneficial (and fears around red meat and heart disease are misleading). He says that eating meat is a crucial part of the human journey from ancient tribes to modern day, and that a meat diet is optimal for health and performance.
You can make your own mind up – the science is out there. But we are big believers in eating a balanced diet that supports your physical health, training goals, and lifestyle.
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