Carnivore Diet: Nutrient-Dense Food List

Many people wonder if you can get all the nutrients you need on a carnivorous diet with only animal products.  

But you might be surprised.  A well-thought-out carnivore diet can be highly nutritious.

While some non-starchy vegetables may contain more nutrients per calorie.  But we can’t and don’t eat very much of these foods.

As you will see, when we consider the typical serving sizes people consume, animal-based foods come out on top.

In this article, we will take a deeper look at the nutrient profile of a carnivore diet and share some of our nutrient-dense, carnivore-friendly food lists to fit your goals and preferences so you can give your body everything it needs.

What Foods Can You Eat on the Carnivore Diet?

The specific foods allowed on a carnivore diet depend on who you follow. 

Animal foods come in many shapes and sizes.  However, the most popular choice for the carnivore diet is beef steak. 

But there is a range of other foods that you can eat on the carnivore diet!  To give you the broadest range of options to support your goals and preferences, this article includes lists of the most nutrient-dense:

  • meat,
  • offal (organ) meats,
  • seafood, and
  • dairy.

What Foods Can You Not Eat on the Carnivore Diet?

The exact definition of a carnivorous diet varies depending on who you follow.  But at its core, a carnivorous diet excludes grains, fruits, and vegetables. 

Foods that are excluded on a carnivore diet include:

  • Vegetables – beets, carrots, potatoes, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, chard, spinach, arugula (rocket), radishes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, cassava, yuca and sweet potatoes;
  • Fruits – oranges, apples, bananas, grapefruit, lime, lemon, blueberries, strawberries, currants, raspberries, Aronia, pears, figs, watermelon, rock melon, honeydew, pomegranate, olives, avocado, and mango;
  • Nuts and seeds – hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, coconut, macadamias, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds;
  • Beans and legumes – soy, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, peanuts, cashews, and lentils;
  • Grains – wheat, sorghum, millet, corn, rice, brown rice, wild rice, oats, barley, and rye;
  • Oils – coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, nut oils, vegetable oils, and seed oils; and
  • Herbs and spices – oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cumin, pepper, paprika, cardamom, coriander, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and basil.

Essentially, anything not directly from an animal is off-limits for people who subscribe to a carnivorous diet.  

Benefits of the Carnivore Diet

Carnivore has many benefits.  For starters, it is almost inevitable that you will get adequate bioavailable protein on a carnivore diet (unless you’re explicitly targeting high fat). 

Hitting your protein goal often means that you will also hit your targets for the ‘cluster’ of nutrients that tend to accompany high-protein foods.  Increasing your intake of the amino acids and the nutrients that come with them will increase your satiety and allow you to eat less while still feeling full.  

A carnivorous diet also excludes sugars, refined grains and industrial seed oils, which are the primary components of hyperpalatable ultra-processed food

Compounds in plant foods often contribute to or spur many intolerances.  So, if you are dealing with histamine intolerance or sensitivities to different foods, the carnivore diet is considered the ‘ultimate elimination diet’ because it removes all plant foods. 

What Is Nutrient Density, and How Should We Calculate It? 

Before we get started on the most nutritious foods for carnivores, let’s look at:

Nutrient density is the amount of all the essential nutrients in a certain amount of food or meal. 

We usually calculate nutrient density in terms of nutrients per calorie. However, simply thinking in terms of nutrients per calorie tends to yield the highest scores for non-starchy vegetables like spinach, asparagus and broccoli because they contain a range of nutrients with very few calories. 

However, the problem with nutrients per calorie is that foods with a higher nutrient density per calorie tend to be hard to eat much of.  So, we can’t get a lot of nutrients from them if we can’t much of them. 

There’s no point eating spinach and broccoli if you’re getting the rest of your calories from doughnuts and Doritos because you’re so hungry because you only got 50 calories from the greens!  Ideally, you want the foods that provide your energy also to provide plenty of the nutrients you need.

Hence, it’s more helpful to think about nutrients per serving.  The foundation of your diet that provides most of the calories should also contain plenty of nutrients. 

As you will see, the denominator makes a significant difference (i.e., per serving vs per calorie) to a food’s Diet Quality Score.  So, if we build our diet around these nutritious foods, we get an excellent outcome. 

Why Is Nutrient Density Important? 

Your body needs enough essential nutrients to execute all the functions it needs to keep you alive and thriving.  Additionally, our analysis has shown that we tend to eat less when we obtain more of each essential nutrient per calorie

Our analysis has shown that the most critical nutrient is protein, which the carnivore diet provides plenty of.  Because plant-based foods contain fibre and other compounds, their protein isn’t as bioavailable to humans.  Additionally, few plant foods include the full spectrum of amino acids essential to life, and they often aren’t in as balanced quantities as animal foods.

As shown in the chart below from our satiety analysis, people consuming a higher protein % diet tend to eat less.  This is likely why so many people on a carnivore diet can lose weight effortlessly without tracking their calories.  

While the average population’s protein intake is only 15% of total calories, 75% of the calories from sirloin steak come from protein.  This gives a massive satiety boost without having to count calories. 

How Do You Get all the Nutrients You Need on Carnivore Diet?

Because we can eat many nutrient-dense foods on a carnivore diet, we tend to get most of our essential nutrients.  However, some ‘harder-to-find’ vitamins and minerals can be less abundant in animal-based foods. 

As shown in the snip from Cronometer below, 1250 g of sirloin steak provides 2000 calories, heaps of amino acids, vitamins B3, B6, B12, iron, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.  However, nutrients like folate, vitamin C and K1, calcium and copper tend to be less prevalent. 

Later in this article, we’ll look at some of these nutrients and where to find them so you can incorporate small amounts of foods containing them to ensure you get a complete nutrient profile. 

Methodology for Calculating Nutrient Per Serving

Over the past four years, we’ve collected 578,327 individual food entries from Nutrient Optimiser users.  This has allowed us to identify the most critical nutrients for feeling full on fewer calories.  It has also enabled us to determine a typical ‘real world’ serving size and calculate the nutrient density per serving.

We can’t eat vast quantities of the foods like spinach and asparagus that contain more nutrients per calorie.  However, meat and seafood tend to come out on top when we look at foods with the most nutrients per real-world serving. 

The Most Nutrient-Dense Carnivore Diet Foods

To illustrate, the chart below shows the nutrient density per serving vs nutrient density per calorie for meat and offal (i.e., organ meats).  To see this chart in more detail, click here to view the interactive Tableau version.

Carnivore Diet Food List: Meat-Based Animal Foods

The table below shows popular animal-based foods ranked by nutrient density per serving.  For completeness, the table also shows:

  • nutrient density per calorie,
  • Satiety Index Score, and
  • protein %. 

Lamb tops the list for the most nutrient-dense food per serving, but the ever-popular beef steak comes in second.  

FoodNutrient Density (Per Serving)Nutrient Density (Per Calorie)Satiety (%)Protein %
Lamb78%57%77%45%
Beef Steak73%56%75%43%
Turkey Breast73%63%81%87%
Pork Steak71%58%66%38%
Pork Roast71%52%60%34%
Ribeye Filet70%62%78%63%
Sirloin Steak69%59%78%55%
Chicken Leg (with Skin)68%59%78%52%
Ground Beef (90% lean)68%57%78%49%
Ground Beef (75% Lean)67%51%67%38%
Leg Ham66%58%78%45%
Filet Mignon65%58%77%60%
Flank Steak65%59%77%60%
Pork Chops (Loin)65%55%75%43%
Ground beef (93% Lean)65%57%77%56%
Pork Loin64%66%79%73%
Beef Steak (Ribeye)64%58%77%60%
Rump Steak64%59%77%60%
Ground Beef (97% Lean)63%62%78%69%

Carnivore Diet Food List: Offal

The Cronometer snip below shows the nutrients in 2000 calories of beef liver.  Liver contains heaps of vitamin A, folate and selenium, which is less prevalent in muscle meat.  But you only need 30 g of liver a day to exceed the Optimal Nutrient Intakes for vitamins B12, A and copper.  Organ meats can be seen as a supplement to the foundation of your meat-based diet to fill in some of the nutrient gaps. 

The table below shows the scores for organ meats, which some ‘nose-to-tail’ carnivores like to include.  Organ meats tend to have a higher nutrient density per calorie, so you won’t need to eat as much to get the nutrients they provide. 

FoodNutrient Density
(Per Serving)
Nutrient Density
(Per Calorie)
SatietyProtein %
Lamb Liver80%75%80%56%
Lamb Heart76%67%79%54%
Pork Heart69%69%78%64%
Veal Liver69%75%82%59%
Beef Liver68%77%83%61%
Chicken Liver67%80%83%58%
Pork Liver66%80%79%63%
Lamb Kidney65%78%83%69%
Beef Tongue58%43%47%27%
Chicken Heart52%66%78%57%
Beef Oxtail49%56%75%43%
Pork Kidney47%74%80%67%

The Cronometer snip below shows the nutrients provided by 30 g of the beef liver along with 1200 g of sirloin steak.  While there are still a few nutritional gaps (like vitamins C, K1 and folate, which are more plentiful in plant-based foods and omega 3, which is more plentiful in seafood), we get a much better overall nutrient profile than steak alone.   

Seafood

If you’re willing to broaden your food choices, the following charts and tables show the satiety score and nutrient density per serving and per calorie of seafood.  Again, you can access the more detailed interactive Tableau version here.   

The table below includes some of the most nutrient-dense seafood.  This includes fish, molluscs, and crustaceans.

FoodNutrient Density
(Per Serving)
Nutrient Density
(Per Calorie)
SatietyProtein %
Mackerel81%64%65%36%
Salmon76%67%76%43%
Pollock67%73%89%85%
Snapper65%66%81%82%
Trout63%72%84%57%
Cod62%66%79%87%
Whitefish61%66%81%57%
Herring58%70%85%45%
Tuna57%74%79%65%
Prawns57%73%89%77%
Oyster54%79%83%47%
Mussels52%78%84%55%

As you will learn below, omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient found readily in fish and other seafood.  Unlike plant-based omega-3-rich foods, these sources of omega-3s are bioavailable.

Eggs and Dairy

The chart below shows eggs and dairy.  As you can see, eggs rank pretty well. However, you look at them. 

Some people cannot tolerate dairy and do not include it for that reason.  Others stay away from dairy because it is one of the only animal sources of carbohydrates. 

FoodNutrient Density (Per Serving)Nutrient Density (Per Calorie)SatietyProtein %
Eggs39%62%61%32%
Whey Protein Powder39%48%79%59%
Fage (Greek Yogurt)36%56%84%71%
Camembert Cheese33%50%57%26%
Cottage Cheese (Non-Fat)33%59%91%57%
Goat Cheese31%43%56%27%
Jarlsberg Cheese28%47%56%27%
Greek Yogurt (Non-Fat)28%61%86%69%
Gouda Cheese28%49%60%28%
Edam Cheese28%49%61%28%
Swiss Cheese27%47%56%27%
Brie Cheese27%45%50%25%
Cheddar Cheese25%39%49%23%
Gruyere Cheese24%48%60%29%
Greek Yogurt (Low-Fat)24%53%83%54%
Mozzarella Cheese (Whole Milk)24%44%58%27%
Mozzarella (Part Skim)23%48%68%32%
Cottage Cheese23%54%87%45%

All Foods

To give you a complete picture, the following chart shows all six hundred of the most popular foods amongst our Optimisers in one chart.  Again, you can view the full interactive version here if you want to dive into the detail. 

  • On the right, we can see plant-based foods like spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and watercress contain more nutrients per calorie
  • However, we see that meat and seafood win hands down in terms of nutrients per serving calorie towards the top. 

In our Micros Masterclass, we guide Optimisers to form the base of their diet around their protein sources.  This allows them to build a foundation with foods shown towards the top of these charts, which contain plenty of easier-to-find essential nutrients per calorie. 

Once this foundation of adequate protein is in place, someone can augment their diet with other foods containing some of the harder-to-find nutrients to give them a complete nutrient profile.

In our classes, we don’t mind if you follow a plant-based, carnivore, keto, low-fat, high-fat, or other types of diet so long as you get enough of ALL the essential nutrients your body requires from food.  

While some people choose non-starchy green vegetables to supply them with their harder-to-find nutrients, others will add in organ meats or seafood to round out their nutritional profile.  It all depends on your preferences.  A combination of both is OK too.  

If you want to identify your current nutrient profile and the foods and meals that will fill the gaps, you can click here to take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge

What Nutrients Are Easy to Get on a Carnivore Diet? 

There are many ways to do a carnivore diet.  Because of this, one carnivore’s nutrient density and nutrient profile might differ dramatically from another’s. 

As mentioned earlier, we encourage our Macros Masterclass participants to focus on hitting their daily protein intake with whole foods.  This is because high-protein animal foods like meat supply clusters of nutrients that tend to accompany one another. 

Some of the nutrients that are usually easy to obtain on an animal-based diet include:

Once you hit your protein goal for the day, you may also be close to your targets for these specific nutrients.  Hence, you can move on to focusing on some of the harder-to-find nutrients we will discuss in the next section.

What Nutrients Are Harder to Get on a Carnivore Diet? 

Even if you’re doing the most restrictive ‘Lion Diet’ version of carnivore, you will likely hit the minimum targets for protein and the vitamins and minerals listed above.  However, depending on the foods you include, several nutrients might not be as easy to get. 

In the next section, we have listed out nutrients most critical for satiety that can be harder to find if you eat a more restrictive carnivore diet.  We have also included a few of the top carnivore-friendly foods that contain them.

Potassium

Aside from the amino acids that make up protein, our analysis showed that potassium is the second most significant nutrient for satiety.  Thus, we will eat more calories until we get our fill of potassium.

The Recommended Daily Allowance for potassium is 4.7 g per day.  However, it is estimated that over 97% of Americans can’t even hit this daily target! 

A lack of potassium has been linked to hypertension and heart disease over the long term, as well as fatigue, lethargy, poor blood sugar control, and the dreaded ‘keto flu’ over the short term. 

Unfortunately, animal foods are not the best source of potassium, so we must be intentional about getting enough. 

Below, we included the top animal foods (including seafood and dairy) that are the highest in potassium.

  • Lean muscle meat (chicken, beef, pork),
  • Salmon,
  • Milk,
  • Yogurt,
  • Cheese, and
  • Meat stock or bone broth.

If you are following a strict carnivore diet and cannot get close to your potassium intake, this is one of the few nutrients we recommend supplementing.  You can check out our Optimised Electrolyte Mix for more details.

To learn more about the roles of potassium and what other foods contain it, visit High-Potassium Foods and Recipes: The Ultimate Guide.

Calcium

Like potassium, calcium belongs to a group of minerals known as the ‘macrominerals’ and the ‘core electrolytes’.  These are minerals we require in more substantial amounts.  Hence, it might not be a surprise that calcium is critical for satiety!

Our satiety analysis showed that besides potassium and protein, we have the most substantial satiety response to calcium.  Hence, our appetites will send us in search of more calcium until we get enough of this nutrient.

Depending on the foods your version of the carnivore diet allows, calcium might be easy to get for you.  Some of the best sources of calcium—plant and animal both taken into account—are dairy products.  So, if you can consume dairy, hitting the RDI and even our ONI for calcium might be easy for you.

Some of the top dairy-derived sources of calcium include:

  • Milk,
  • Yogurt,
  • Kefir,
  • Cream cheese,
  • Cheese,
  • Eggs

And some of the best dairy-free, high-calcium animal foods are:

  • Oysters,
  • Anchovies (with bones),
  • Sardines (with bones),
  • Salmon (with bones),
  • Crab, and
  • Caviar.

Like iron and zinc, animal foods are the most bioavailable sources of calcium.   

For more on some of the most calcium-rich foods and meals, visit Healthy High-Calcium Foods and Recipes.

Sodium

Although sodium isolates (i.e., table salt) is allowed on carnivore, sodium is abundant in most muscle meats, seafood, and dairy products.  When you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, mineral loss tends to increase, so it is critical to consume adequate amounts of salt from salty foods (i.e., anchovies and sardines) or added salt from a trusted source.

Some of the best sources of sodium are:

  • Pink or Celtic salt,
  • Anchovies,
  • Sardines,
  • Shrimp,
  • Egg whites,
  • Naturally cured meats,
  • Cottage cheese, and
  • Bacon.

To learn all about the roles of sodium and where else to find it, check out Sodium in Food: A Practical Guide.

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral found abundantly in plant foods like nuts and some animal foods.  Our analysis shows that it is one of the most critical nutrients for satietySelenium is found readily in animal-based foods like:

  • Pork,
  • Beef liver,
  • Chicken,
  • Egg,
  • Cheese,
  • Milk,
  • Ground beef,
  • Turkey,
  • Cottage cheese,
  • Shrimp,
  • Salmon,
  • Tuna (yellowfin),
  • Halibut,
  • Sardines,
  • Crab oysters,
  • Clams, and
  • Bacon.

For all the details on the roles of selenium and where to find it, visit Selenium-Rich Foods and Recipes: A Practical Guide.

Magnesium

Magnesium is another core electrolyte and micromineral.  It is abundant in plant foods but similar to potassium because it is relatively harder to get from animal foods.  Our satiety analysis shows that we have a strong satiety response to magnesium.

Some of the best carnivore-friendly sources of magnesium are:

  • Milk,
  • Hard goat cheese,
  • Non-fat yogurt,
  • Egg white,
  • Liver,
  • Parmesan,
  • Beef,
  • Shrimp,
  • Salmon,
  • Mackerel,
  • Snails,
  • Scallops,
  • Caviar, and
  • Halibut.

To learn more about what magnesium does and where to find it visit Magnesium-Rich Foods and Recipes: A Practical Guide.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Folate is a member of the B vitamin family, which also includes thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12).  However, unlike the other B vitamins, folate is not as abundant in animal-based foods.

Our satiety analysis shows that folate elicits one of the most significant satiety responses in comparison to other essential vitamins.  Some animal-based foods rich in folate include:

  • Liver,
  • Egg Yolk,
  • Shrimp,
  • Caviar,
  • Oyster, and
  • Cod.

For more information on folate, check out Folate (Vitamin B9)-Rich Foods and Recipes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are fatty acids with a double bond at the third carbon position.  While there are plant-based and animal-based omega-3 fatty acids, those from animal foods are in the most bioavailable forms (DHA and EPA).  The omega-3s found in plant foods must be converted into these active forms in an incredibly inefficient process.

Our analysis shows that we eat fewer calories when consuming more omega-3 fatty acids.  Some of the best sources of omega-3s come from seafood, like:

  • Fish oil,
  • Cod liver oil,
  • Mackerel,
  • Sardines,
  • Anchovies,
  • Salmon,
  • Tuna, and
  • Shrimp;

And animal foods like:

  • Gouda,
  • Feta,
  • Chicken drumsticks,
  • Mozzarella cheese,
  • Chicken breast,
  • Chicken thigh,
  • Pork cracklings,
  • Sirloin steak,
  • Whole eggs,
  • Plain yogurt,
  • Half-and-half milk,
  • Cheddar cheese,
  • Grass-fed beef,
  • Lamb, and
  • Pastured pork.

To learn more detail on omega-3s, visit Omega-3-Rich Foods and Recipes: A Practical Guide.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a core antioxidant abundant in nuts and seeds.  However, it is a bit sparser in animal foods.  Some of the best sources of vitamin E from animal foods include:

  • Sardine,
  • Trout,
  • Mackerel,
  • Shrimp,
  • Beef heart,
  • Orange roughy,
  • Lobster, and
  • Oysters.

Because of its role as an antioxidant, some studies have shown that a diet free of processed seed oils—ironically high in [poorly bioavailable forms] of vitamin E—tends to decrease one’s demand for this nutrient.  There aren’t any studies to my knowledge examining our demands for this nutrient on a meat-only diet.

For more on vitamin E, check out Highest Vitamin E Foods and Recipes.

Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral we don’t need much of, but it’s more challenging to get if we’re only consuming ruminant meat (i.e., lamb, beef, and veal).  Aside from being necessary for satiety, manganese is also critical for various functions.

Some of the animal foods richest in manganese include:

  • Mussels,
  • Oysters,
  • Clams,
  • Shrimp,
  • Tuna,
  • Chicken breast,
  • Ground beef,
  • Milk, and
  • Yogurt.

For more on where to find manganese in plant and animal foods and what it does, visit Manganese-Rich Foods and Recipes.

Vitamin C

Many mammals synthesise their own vitamin C.  However, it is an essential nutrient that humans must consume from their diet.

Current research on the vitamin C content of animal foods is sparse.  However, researchers like Amber O’Hearn have shown there may be much more.  This could explain why many long-term carnivores have made it so long without developing diseases associated with vitamin C deficiency, like scurvy. 

Muscle meats are thought to contain the most vitamin C, followed by organ meats like the adrenal glands, liver, brain, eyes, spleen, and kidneys.  These organs also require the most significant amounts of vitamin C in the human body, so it’s critical to eat up to support them!

Which Nutrients Can You Overdo on a Carnivore Diet?

While getting some nutrients from animal foods can be challenging, it can be easy to overconsume others!   Hence, there are a couple of nutrients you need to ensure you’re not overdoing on a carnivore diet.

Copper

Copper is essential for human life; we require it to synthesise enzymes that synthesise and breakdown neurotransmitters and hormones, detoxify, and regulate organ function.  However, you can have too much of a good thing!  Too much copper can result in a condition known as copper toxicity.  

Copper toxicity often occurs when someone consumes a substantial amount of copper in proportion to zinc and ironCopper works in tandem with iron and zinc, meaning too much copper can deplete our iron and zinc levels.  Hence, vegans and vegetarians are often at risk for copper deficiency because it provides less zinc and iron.  For this reason, we should consume these nutrients in approximate ratios and use super high-copper foods as adjuncts to an otherwise nutrient-dense diet.

Copper is abundant in offal meats and certain kinds of seafood.  However, it is most concentrated in liver.  Although meat contains a substantial amount of zinc, you can easily overconsume copper in proportion to zinc if you consume a ton of liver.

Vitamin A

Like copper, vitamin A in its bioavailable retinol form is found abundantly in animal foods like beef, veal, lamb, and cod liver.  In fact, liver is the most concentrated source of vitamin A currently known.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning our bodies store it for ‘a rainy day’.  Hence, overconsuming it for long periods can result in vitamin A toxicity.  This may be part of why so many people fear eating liver.

The Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) for vitamin A has been set at 3000 micrograms or 10,000 IUs.  This equals around two ounces (56 g) of cooked liver, eaten consistently daily.  This limitation is somewhat of an incentive to switch it up and not eat the same thing day in and day out!

While liver is undoubtedly a nutrient-dense superfood, its high vitamin A and copper contents should be acknowledged.   

Should You Target Protein or Fat on a Carnivore Diet?

One of the ongoing controversies in carnivore circles is whether we should prioritise fat vs protein.  We’ve covered this topic in detail in the article, High Protein vs High Fat: What’s Ideal for YOU? but to summarise:

  • A higher protein diet tends to provide more nutrients and satiety than a high-fat diet, so if your goal is weight loss, then it’s wise to emphasise protein rather than adding extra fat. 
  • If your goal is elevated ketones for therapeutic or neurological purposes, a higher-fat version of carnivore might be more appropriate. 

The chart below compares the satiety response of protein vs fat. 

Summary

  • While non-starchy green vegetables may provide more nutrients per calorie, meat, seafood, and dairy provide more nutrients per serving. 
  • Organ meats like liver contain high qualities of nutrients like vitamin A, copper and folate.  But we don’t need much of them to fill in the nutritional gaps they provide. 

More

10 thoughts on “Carnivore Diet: Nutrient-Dense Food List”

  1. I found this article very helpful. The graphs of nutrient density per serving vs nutrient density per calorie are really helpful in helping me think about what to eat – and not something I have seen anywhere else.
    Very appreciative of your data crunching – thank you

  2. Marty, thanks for the detailed analysis. A heavy animal-based diet (carnivore or carnivore’ish) has big benefits, but I might offer a couple important concerns when transitioning from a keto’ish or heavy plant diet. Almonds and spinach (and dark chocolate) seem to be staples of “healthy” diets but these foods contain high levels of oxalates. When you swap meat for these foods, the body may engage in oxalate dumping to get rid of the build-up in the tissues. This dumping seems to impede electrolyte utilization (unproven) but some people, like me, need extra salt, potassium, and magnesium to manage the muscle cramps during this dumping. The point being is that this looks like a carnivore diet deficiency, but it is hard to sort out if these effects are more likely due to toxins – in this case, the removal of toxins. For me the cramping lasted for about 6 months, but the oxalate dumping may have been mitigated by a 5 and 2 weekly feeding cycle with a 10-hour feeding window. Many factors to consider.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. Some versions of keto can be packed with faux pastry products that rely on almond meal which isn’t particularly nutrient-dense, not to mention full of oxalates. Spinach is nutrient dense per calories, but most people don’t (or can’t) eat that much of it. It’s definitely smart to get a broad range of nutritious foods. I imagine transitioning more slowly to new nutrient focussed foods – rather than going cold turkey carnivore – would slow the oxalate dumping that can build up. Interestingly, we havne’t seen a lot of people in our challenge have oxalate issues – it tends to be mitigated by getting plenty of minerals in the diet. However, we have created a low oxlate meal plan and recipe book for people who do have diagnosed oxlate issues. https://app.optimisingnutrition.com/low-oxalate1648739295360

  3. Thank you Marty for another excellent article.
    I will second Perry’s finding about oxalate and the things he wrote about it, which are some of those “hard to determine things” that several of us experience, and by discussing them may end up helping people in the future.
    Perry, can you tell me more about what you mean when you say a 5 and 2 weekly feeding cycle?

    And Marty is right on about not going to abruptly stopping the oxalate foods while at the same time trying to get bettet mineral and nutrition intakes.

    For what it’s worth, here is another somewhat odd finding that just goes to show you that there are probably hundreds of factors / potential factors that go into mineral maintenance.
    I was carnivore carnivorish and had a hair mineral analysis test (HMAT) and it revealed some of the things Perry mentioned about salt, potassium, and magnesium, nothing too horrible but definitely an indication for getting more of them and or better absorption etc . But what was kind of strange was I was eating plenty of liver, probably too much liver, and yet my Zinc to Copper ratio was poor , it was okay but it indicated to “definitely don’t get any more zinc”. My HMAT revealed that the absolute amounts of my zinc were just fine, my copper was a tad low but not too bad, however the ratio of them put my Zinc to Copper ratio a bit higher than we wish, not in a “danger zone” but not in the “ideal acceptable range”, i.e. on the high range of the graph of the HMAT . My point is, that while eating probably excessive amounts of liver (Copper), you would think that my copper would be way up there, but no it was not. Understandably, on my carnivore diet, my Zinc was in the ideal range, actually on the low end of the “ideal range”, so still in the range; however the Zinc:Copper ratio is off. My absolute amount of iron was in the perfect range and the Iron to Copper ratio was ideal.

  4. Hi.

    Okay this all good but, where is the conclusion diet that shows us how on this diet we can provide our bodies with all the necessary micronutrients (with the Cronometer breakdown)?

    All I can see here is how inadequate it is so…

    Best,
    Dean

    • Hey Dean.

      The analysis shows that we can get a solid range of nutrients from animal foods alone. As noted, you’d still be lower in several nutrients with just beef and liver. This is where adding in a few non-starchy veggies, which have a higher nutrient density per calorie, might help to fill those gaps.

      People who maximise nutrients density tend to have a range of plant, seafood and animal based foods that all provide complimentary nutrients.

      If you’re interested in comparing the nutrients in different dietary approaches, I just posted the analysis of all our meal plans in the resources section of our community here. https://members.optimisingnutrition.com/spaces/10181076/content

      Cheers

      Marty

  5. Thanks Marty, good stuff! I’ve often wondered how bioavailability would impact these results. For instance, although spinach and broccoli would rank high in a nutrients/calorie score, do we know how accessible those nutrients are? I know certain plant foods can impede nutrient absorption when eaten with other foods. I’ve seen a paper related to the impacts of eating beans or corn based products with oysters, and what that does to zinc absorption (a lot). It isn’t so much how many nutrients a plant contains, it’s what % of those nutrients are available to me upon consumption.

    • Thanks Chris. Good question. Unfortunately, it’s complex. Bioavailability is a thing, but it’s hard to tell to what degree. But what we do know is that if you’re not ingesting a particular nutrient you won’t be absorbing it. There just isn’t the data available to quantify absorption in a mixed diet. Our general recommendation is to first make sure you’re getting as much nutrition from your diet as you can and then zoom in on the nutrients that you’re struggling to get enough of. IF they are influenced by bioavailability issues (e.g. you’re relying on spinach for most of your iron) then you may want to tweak things. More discussion on bioavailability, absorption and antinutrients here. https://optimisingnutrition.com/are-micronutrients-important/#htoc-bioavailability-and-absorption

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