Diseases arise the further we get away from nature.
Dr. Anthony Gustin
The first time I heard this saying was on the Fundamental Health Podcast hosted by Paul Saladino, who interviewed Dr. Anthony Gustin in the context of their recent trip to Tanzania, where they lived, hunted, and talked to one of the last few hunter-gatherer tribes, the Hazda1, and this quote was an eye-opener for me. Think about it:
Many issues arise when we take animals, or even us humans, out of the context they evolved in
There is no diabetes, severe arthritis, depression, or obesity within native communities uninfluenced by the pulls of modern life.
And from that starting point, I started my personal journey into the depths of what optimal health looks like. The thing after experimenting with loads of different diets I could only come up with is an ancestrally consistent animal-based diet. What we eat is, besides what we do and what environment we’re in, one of the strongest factors that will influence our health – the bulk of our health is determined by our nutrition, by what we put into our incredible machinery day in and day out.
That big topic is the one for this even more enormous beast of a post. That’s the rough route we take on our journey to find out what the path to optimal health looks like and on how you can set this knowledge into action. On the way, we’ll have a look at where we came from as a race, why animals are a good choice of food, why plants might not have been our first choice, and most importantly how you can construct an animal-based diet for your life!
Humans split from apes a bit less than 4 million years ago – our earliest ancestor in this lineage is the Australopithecus, a more apelike biped of the East-African Rift Valley. The biggest difference is the way he seems to have eaten and his ways of moving. Differently to apes Australopithecus was a squat-eater, early biped, and scavenger. That means he roamed for carcasses and moved upright-ish compared to our mostly plant-eating chimp and gorilla-cousins that mostly move on all fours.
With that split, his nutrient intake increased and scavenging which led eventually to hunting drove the need for higher brain mass. Meat contains much more bioavailable nutrients than plants, minus all the plant toxins and antinutrients. Plus, a lower overall intestinal size was feasible as intestines are like brains a highly energetic organ:
Less intestinal mass means more possible energy or brains
And fewer plant foods often mean shorter intestines as it is easier to digest animal biomass than foreign plants
Hunting made us Human
All of these little environmental and habitual changes lead to the first humanoid beings Homo habilis aka handyman (2.3-1.6 MA) and eventually Homo erectus, the upright man (1.4-0.1 MA). Both of those hominids had acquired much bigger brains, were hunters, and learned to use tools. As you see there were many hurdles to overcome that all benefited the need for bigger brains. But they all started with meat as our primary source of food and social hunting. Briefly think about it: hunting is highly complex especially in a group setting – it involves a lot of planning, coordinating, knowledge, and problem-solving. All things that require mental faculties. But before we even get there we need to create tools and weapons and learn how to use those.2
All these evolutions made us the perfect social hunter we are – to the extent that we probably eradicated most of the megafauna around. One theory is even that the eradication of megafauna forced us into coming up with agriculture and wandering out of Africa to further sustain the overall human population – because hunting big game simply wasn’t an option any more in overhunted Africa.3
Scientists also looked at Neanderthal bones and measured the nitrogen amount compared with other carnivores, and surprisingly humans scored the highest – even above hyenas and cheetahs. This further illustrated the points that humans preferably ate meat if it was available, mixed with a few seasonal plants.4 Plus, there is lots of more facts that suggests that humans are omnivores specialized in eating animals, a few of them are:
The makeup of our adipose tissue and adaptation to fats
Our metabolism of omega 3 fatty acids & heme iron
Low non-pathological Insulin Resistance
Our High Stomach Acidity
Our Gut Makeup & the AMY1 Gene
Our Dental Health and Makeup
The 6 biggest Problems with eating Plants
Plants don’t want to be eaten
Plants exist for a bit more than 400 million years ago – that is plenty of time to secure your niche and come up with a lot of ideas for protection. Plants don’t want to be your meal and unlike animals can’t fight, nor run away. That’s why their approach to defense is either through chemical substances or mechanical outgrows such as thorns.
Let’s have a look at plants’ chemical defense mechanisms. There are a lot of plants around that are outright toxic and can harm humans severely. But that’s just the extreme end of the spectrum. Despite clear toxins plants produce many other defense substances also known as phytoalexins. Even ‘healthy‘ polyphenols disrupt aspects of human physiology for the worse. Commonly known phythoalexins are:
Phytates – binds to minerals and inhibits digestive enzymes5
Goitrogens – inhibit thyroid function and iodine uptake6
Lectins – related to leaky gut, autoimmune disease and inflammation7
Tannins – might mess around with your estrogen receptors8
Oxalates – bind minerals like Calcium and Potassium and look like needles9
Phytoestrogens – mess around with your estrogen levels, receptors, or testosterone levels
Polyphenols – most seem to mess around with sex hormone levels, cytokines, and the production of oxidative species10
All of those groups of plant molecules harm human metabolism in different, ingenious ways. While some bind nutrients and decrease bioavailability, others manage to mess around with our hormones. Even substances thought to be healthy like polyphenols and antioxidants act on the body in that manner. For example, stimulates the polyphenol sulforaphane found in cruciferous veggies the NRF2-pathway in the liver, and makes the body produce antioxidants – but so does cigarette smoke. Might these substances rather be prooxidants than antioxidants? 11
Subpar Bioavailability of Nutrients
Most nutrients in plants aren’t very bioavailable to humans. By that, I mean that the absorption rate isn’t optimal and extracting it involves digestive work and nutrient-losses: Imagine eating 100mg of substance A, but your body can only take up 50mg because the other half might be bound to other substances, or not in the form our body uses.
This is what happens with most plant substances for many reasons. Mostly plants protect those nutrients or use different forms than animals do – good examples are beta-carotene, alpha-linoleic acid, iron, or minerals:
Beta-Carotene can be transformed into vitamin A, but depending on your genetics not very good.12
This gets even worse with the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. The conversion is very ineffective.13
Iron within plant foods is largely unavailable to humans in comparison to heme iron from beef.14
Minerals get bound by phytates. This can hinder your body largely to absorb these important minerals.
Plants miss many Nutrients
Despite the subpar bioavailability of nutrients and minerals, plants lack other substances completely. There are certain molecules unique to animal metabolism – that’s why I termed them Zoonutrients. Some important substances, no one talks about, unique to animal foods are:
A long list, isn’t it? And the list goes on if you’d integrate factors like bioavailability plus possible substances we didn’t even recognize yet. But all of the above molecules are those which you’ll definitely fall short on if your diet doesn’t include any sources of meat, fish or animal products.
If you want to really dive into the world of micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and zoonutrients in the context of an animal-based diet, I got you covered. I created an ebook, for free, to download that addresses exactly these questions, like always in-depth. Just click the button down below to download it.
Fiber was always closely related to gut health and digestion, at least that’s what every company, your parents, and the public tells us. No questions asked – but I think we should ask the question! Does fiber really improve digestion and gut health? And what amount of fiber did we as humans eat in an ancestrally consistent context?
Fiber simply put is plant material that is not digestible by us – there is water-soluble and insoluble fiber. Nonetheless, our microbiome can use parts of it as food or for fermentative processes. Exaggerated fermentative processes are what often lead to bloating as gases are a product of those. To illustrate that point think of foods high in fiber and the bloating you encounter afterward – especially beans, legumes, and whole grains. Many herbivores’ guts function in that manner, carnivorous guts on the other hand are what you’d call putrefying. We humans can digest both types, but I’d make the point that we’d rather stay on the carnivorous side of the spectrum, as our gut resembles those of other carnivores more closely.
The reason why fiber shall be beneficial is that our microbiome produces short-chain fatty acids throughout this fermentative process. We on the other hand, as well as our microbiome, tend to feast on those fatty acids. Thing is – we also can produce short-chain fatty acids through protein or maybe animal fiber. Maybe all those plants might be a bad trade-off.15
Metabolic Issues arise with eating evolutionary inconsistent
Another big problem that came onto the scenery, that is the modern nutritional landscape, are oils made from plants especially seeds such as canola, cotton, soybean and sunflower seed oils. There are other oils made from fruits like olives and coconuts, these are less a problem, but still provide fatty acids in amounts nowhere found in nature.
Seed oils need to be produced within a plant, there is no way to press out seeds naturally – it is done chemically and a rather disgusting process to watch before the background that this stuff is sold as food. They’re completely inconsistent with the array of fats our body could come in contact over the million years beforehand. Most of the fats humans consumed were saturated, animal-based fats, not the polyunsaturated fats found in plants.
These polyunsaturated fats wreak havoc on your body’s metabolism. They mess around with processes going on in your mitochondria, if you really want to go down the rabbit hole they mess around with:
First of all with ß-oxidation and the number of cofactors produced such as FADH and NADH
Eventually, this altered production of cofactors messes around with the way your electron transport chain works
This leads to pathological insulin resistance within your adipocytes and altered satiety response by messing up the production of radical oxygen species
If that’s not bad enough, polyunsaturated fatty acids are highly unstable and can turn over into not-so-nice metabolites such as 4-Hydroxynonenal or Ceramide-1-Phosphate. These are well-known markers of general oxidative stress and inflammation.
As you see this lot goes far down the biochemical rabbit hole, and I’ll go to write an entire post on polyunsaturated fatty acids going into the weeds of those bad boys.16 The point to remember is that PUFAs aren’t for human consumption in the amounts present today and make up for a myriad of issues down the road. Avoid PUFAs at all costs.
Next – have a look at what producers used to create vegan products. Have a look at BeyondMeat and the like. Spoiler: Often tons of soybean oil or canola oil. I recently discovered a roommate eating vegan ‘super-tasty and healthy, while nut-free‘ peanut butter. Needless to say that it was nearly entirely made up of soybean oil and chemicals.
This is probably going to be the most controversial point. I refer here to meat produced in a good manner, like for example in the uprising regenerative agriculture movement. A great dive into this topic is the book and website of Sacred Cow.
Plants and excessive monocultures are going to destroy our earth’s soil in the long run by radically depleting it of nutrients. Unfortunately, this is today the default and gets hugely substituted by the government. But not only plants, but badly managed animal farms contribute also to this process. It’s a problem with management, subsidization, and economics mixed up with a lot of emotional reactions.
Coming back to plants one issue is that governments subsidize huge monocropping of wheat, tobacco, maize, and the like. For many farmers, the decision is one out of necessity and profitability. It takes active sacrifice to decide to go against the money and build a business based on the value of environmental sustainability. Plus, a lot of the earth’s landscape isn’t meant to be farmed – normally you can’t grow avocados in California or maize on rocky and hilly slopes. That’s where animals could come into place and graze that wasteland and contribute their part to the environment. Ruminants are of tremendous importance for our ecosystem, as they take the nutrients of plants, and translate them from plant matter into recyclable biomass and animal biomatter.
What makes Eating Animals from Nose-to-Tail superior?
Animals speak your Body’s Language
Plants operate similarly to animals biochemically, but at the same time profoundly different – I really like the idea by Dr. Paul Saladino from his book The Carnivore Code* that plants and animals are like two different operating systems, Android and IOS if you want. Similar, but at the same time different. Hat tap to his huge work contribution to the space at this point!
A great example of this are mitochondria and chloroplasts, both responsible for making energy, but with the help of different mechanisms – where we use Ubiquinone, they use Plastoquinone. Moreover, there are tons of examples of those similar, but differently used molecules. That’s a strong point that all forms of life need to adhere to a certain framework of physical rules, but the different forms had after they split over 450 million years ago plenty of time to wrestle with the same problem of energy production from different standpoints.
And that’s why you’ll find all the nutrients you need as a human being in animals – highly bioavailable. Because animals already talk Android like you do and need no conversion from IOS.
Animals try to survive, reproduce and flourish as we do. They accumulate energy and micronutrients within their tissues throughout their lives and especially ruminants need to work hard to achieve that. Unlike us, they are vegans. They have large, fermentative intestines made to dodge the effects of phytoalexins and extract nutrients out of plants. They’re literally doing all the hard work of converting data from IOS to Android – work we humans can’t do. They take the inferior and tightly bound plant nutrients and convert them into well-usable animal molecules.
But this amazing transformation comes for a price – often they eat the whole day to get through the tedious process of using solely plants as food. Plus, plants contain very little usable energy and most of the energy ruminants gain goes to their guts, not like in human bodies to our hungry brains.
Avoid Toxins and get towards Superior Health
By eating an animal-based diet, or a carnivore diet you will avoid most plant toxins and defense molecules. I believe that many of those different classes lead to modern diseases, especially autoimmune diseases, malnutrition, and gut diseases.
By getting rid of most plants, especially the highly toxic ones such as cruciferous veggies, nightshades, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, and mushrooms, you avoid a lot of potential harm.
As a word aside, there is definitely more nuance to that – some of us might be genetically better adapted to deal with other toxins. Plus, through ancestral processing techniques, one might get rid of a lot of those evil molecules. Traditionally plants underwent a long processing time – just think of fermented foods, sourdough, the drying of cassava, soaking of veggies, and many more.17
Save the Environment (truly)
Environmental damage is mostly done by big industries, energy production, housing, and transportation. 25% come from agriculture as a whole. That’s a big part, but within the big pot of agriculture you’ll find livestock as well as crops, and forestry – plus the carbon sequestered by this sector didn’t make it into the equations. Estimations put agriculture at around 6-7% of our total emission output. And we didn’t even talk about how much of these few percent are the burps of cows and means that go into the production of one lb of ribeye.
Especially modern farming practices as regenerative agriculture even have a net-negative input on greenhouse gases. They take dead land and use animals to regenerate the soil and repeat this process. Over time the soil becomes more enriched in carbon and darker by sight. This is the future of farming and our soil-crisis because of monocropping. Eat tenderloins and save the plant.
No really. Modern mass meat production is horrible for many reasons, but even their carbon output shrinks in comparison to other sectors and the close related sector of mass monocropping and growing avocados in California. What will really save the planet is regenerative agriculture with a focus on the animal, as well as mindful cropping practices.
Honor the Animal by using Every Part
I guess I couldn’t write a post on eating and therefore killing or even hunting animals without going briefly into the murky waters of ethics. I truly believe eating animals is ethically right – but honor it:
Eat the animal from nose-to-tail and never waste a part
Use all parts from brain, to bones, to cartilage and spleen – not only ribeyes
Buy animals from regenerative agriculture and local farmers you can connect with
Get away from pre-packed meats – build a connection to the food you eat, maybe even hunt yourself
The problem I see nowadays is that many of us, me definitely included, have no connection to food, nor to the rites of hunting or killing an animal. Buying a pack of ground beef for 5$ is a whole ‘nother story than getting your meat from a friendly producer around the corner or by yourself. Plus, buying half a cow in bulk might even be at the same costs as buying conventional, badly raised meat. At the end, with buying products, we make a vote and money is our voice. By supporting local farmers and getting away from unethically, mass-produced meat we help the environment, get much better quality, and support our local community rather than Monsanto or Nestlé.
Eating Animals is what made us Human
As already written about in the anthropological section in extent, eating animals is what made us human. It helped us grow our brains, get access to high-quality nutrients, and transformed our race into what we are today.18 The break with that tradition with the upbringing of agriculture and the industrial food revolution came with its cost. Food became cheaper and more widely available, especially plant foods, but at the cost of overall health. Civilization took its toll.
I truly believe that health is found when we work with evolution and our ancestral heritage as humans rather than against it. It is a battle we can’t win.19
How should you construct your Animal-Based Diet?
We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, fellas! We’ve talked about anthropology, took a small excursion into biochemistry, thought about the negative aspects of plants no one talks about and why meat isn’t as bad as public interest might claim. While the first 3 sections covered the ‘Why?’ now on things get more practicable and proceed with the ‘How?‘
When do I talk about all of that the first question I often get is something like: ‘What the heck is an animal-based diet? I’ve never heard of that!’ Let’s cover that briefly:
An animal-based diet is a diet consisting mostly of animal products and non-toxic plants – Aim for 80-90% of animal foods.
Add plants for texture, more calories, more carbs, easy-accessible potassium & vitamin C.
Good choices are sweet fruit (berries, apples, orange), non-sweet fruit (coconuts, squash, pumpkin), pressure-cooked white rice, or occasional tubers. All of those still contain phytoalexins but err on the small amount.
If well-tolerated full-fat dairy (preferably A2 from goats and sheep) is fine. I’d start by cutting it out for 30d and reintroducing it to see how you feel. Dairy can be a problem because of lactose and histamine intolerance.
Eat a wide range of high-quality animal products – ruminants, poultry, pork, fish & seafood. Preferably from a local producer or persons you trust.
Eat Animals from Nose-to-Tail
The bulk of everyone’s animal-based diet should be animals – from nose-to-tail. With that, I mean mostly fatty muscle meat and organs, but also using bones and connective tissues. That alone makes for a lot of variety to choose from for each meal and probably involves trying out many new foods if you haven’t been into organs for now. Good organs to start with are liver, bone broth, and kidney. Plus, try to eat more fatty meat and rough cuts – that’ll also save you a lot of money.
A few of my favorite recipes are:
My beloved Groundbowl – Fry 300g Ground Beef/100g of Organs/2xEggs/1xStrip of Bacon/2-3g of Salt per portion in one Pan. Top with Goat Cheese and Butter. Great for Mealprep, I often cook 4 portions at once.
Stan Efferding’s Monster Mash – basically a bowl of rice, sweet potato, ground beef, eggs and bone broth. Another awesome recipe to meal prep.
Meat with Organs (Liver/Kidney) and an Omelet – 200-300g of Muscle Meat of choice, 100g of organs with an Omlett (2xEggs/1xBacon) + a side of sour cream per portion
Liver Pancakes – Blend 2xEggs with 100g liver and 4tbsp ghee per portion
Scrambled Brain – You can scramble brain like you scramble eggs, I like to add eggs and bacon to it.
Sour Cream with Fruit & Honey – A good and easy treat or dessert.
You can add plants or either keep them more keto or add sugary and carb-rich plants to all of those. Good aims per meal are 200-300g of meat or fish and 100g of organs of any kind. Fill the rest of your calories with more fats or carbs.
Avoid the clear Toxins and No-Go’s
Now that we know what the staple of our diet should be – animal meats and organs – it is likewise important to know what not to eat. Not all plants are bad, but all contain certain antinutrients. Some a ton, some a little. Plants are great for cheap calories and to supplement your nutrition with easy potassium, manganese, and vitamin C. Nonetheless, you should avoid the most toxic plants and all those awkward products not made for human consumption like vegetable oils. Let’s have a look at those first!
Get rid of Seed Oils
One of the tremendously important points is to get rid of all types of seed oils. These are chemically produced oils from seeds – parts of the plants no human could ever get a drop of oil out of. Plus, they’re very inconsistent with what we evolved to ate and wreak havoc on the human metabolism. How so?
Vegetable oils are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in contrast to animals rich in saturated fats. Nowhere in nature can PUFAs be found in these amounts unless industrially refined. As already stated polyunsaturated fatty acids mess around with our mitochondria and promote besides oxidative stress, reduced satiety, and pathologic insulin resistance. Nothing we want to mess around with, in these big amounts.
Get rid of PUFAs zealously.No exceptions, they aren’t safe for human consumption. No vegetable oils, no margarine, all of those are outright garbage.
Get rid of Toxic Plants
Some plants tend to be more toxic than others, with people reacting allergically to them at the end of the spectrum. But that’s the extreme – we often all react to certain toxins mildly on a daily basis. This may take the form of a clogged nose, eczema, acne, leaky gut, or other unnoticed autoimmune changes. And here lies the crux. Most go unnoticed or are tolerated and taken for granted – for bad genetics or seasonal affections. Cut out:
Salads & Leafy Greens
Nuts & Seeds
Grains, Beans & Legumes
That’s why I’d advise anyone to cut out all plants for the first 30 days. Try to go full carnivore and see how you feel. Then slowly reintroduce plants mindfully from that standpoint and stay observant. If that’s too extreme, start cutting out the above and sole using the below plants within your diet. So which plants remain after the former are banned?
Sweet Fruit, like Apples, Oranges, Berries or Pears
Non-Sweet Fruit, like Avocados, Coconuts, Olives, or Squash
Tubers, like Sweet Potatoes and Carrots (occasionally)
White Rice (preferably washed and pressure cooked)
Get rid of Processed Foods
Processed foods are usually enriched with sugars, chemicals, or much richer in histamine. Needless to say that all of those could cause problems. Your diet should be as close to what you can buy on a farmer’s market as possible – or in other words:
If your grandmother can’t pronounce what you’re eating that’s probably not for human consumption.
An exemption from this is cured products such as bacon, yogurt, or cheese. Those are all processed, too. The difference is they’re processed in a more traditional way of fermentation or curation. Those are a whole different game than frozen pizza, Kraft Dinner, or chemically-produced garbage. As a word of caution – even those products tend to be higher in histamine – look into that if you experience histamine-intolerance-related issues.
Eat in Sync with the Seasons
This is a big one. Try to look outside and think about what would be possible to hunt and gather. There is no way in winter of getting oranges or peaches – rather eat seasonally in context:
Spring Mostly Keto-Carnivore – Fatty Meat, Fish, Seafood, Dairy | a few Storable Veggies such as Rice, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes | maybe some early apples or other fruit depending on where you live
Summer Animal-based diet with a few more carbs – Fatty Meat, some leaner Meats, Fish & Seafood in Season, Dairy | Sugary Fruits like berries, apples, peaches | Non-Sugary Fruit like Coconut, Avocado, Cucumber
Autumn Animal-based diet with a few more carbs – Fatty Meat, some leaner Meats, Fish & Seafood in Season, Dairy | Sugary Fruits like pears, berries, or oranges | Non-Sugary Fruit like Pumpkin, Squash, Cucumber
Winter Mostly Keto-Carnivore – Fatty Meat, Fish, Seafood, Dairy, plus a few Storable Veggies such as Rice, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes
By eating seasonally you’re forced to swap through certain kinds of meat, fish, and veggies and add variety, plus you decrease eating the same plant toxins each day. This is what ancestral health means, too. Not eating strawberries and peaches in the midst of winter, but rather scaling back and eating mostly high-fat carnivorous. While in the summer a few more veggies, sugars, and fruit spice up the plate, and meats get leaner.
Eat Fatty Meat – Humans are Fat Hunters
The Anthropologist Miki Ben Dor termed humans as ‘Fat Hunters’. What he meant by that is that ancient humans and modern hunter-gatherers always looked for fatty kills and valued those highly. That makes sense – carbs in nature are very inconsistent and not very present, too much lean protein can lead you into rabbit starvation, what stays is fat. Where do you get fat from? Hunt fatty animals, mostly big game predators, ruminants, and sea dwellers.
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Plus, humans are superbly adapted to fats as nutrients. We can store lots of fats, fats are essential and our mitochondria react well to saturated fatty acids. We got a whole ketone-based system within our body adapted to eating mostly fatty acids and feeding our brain on that type of fuel.
The Gray-Zones – Carbs, Dairy & Environmental Toxins
Carbs are useful, especially for athletes
Carbs are the first Gray-Zone we look at – as they’re very inconsistent and not very easy to find in nature. That said, carbs are not the enemy. Carbs in that amount we got today are very inconsistent with what you find in nature. When you take a look outside you’ll find that they are seasonal, often in the form of fruit, and the carb sources you would’ve gathered are nearly anywhere as sweet as they’re today.
Nonetheless, when you’re an athletic active person you can still use carbs for your benefit. I’d advise anyone to choose fats as their primary source of fuel and to eat lots of them – but adding below a 100g of carbs a day can definitely provide a benefit if consumed around your workouts. I found carbs before a workout and maybe some honey intra- or pre-workout very helpful performance-wise.
All of those can occur on a spectrum from mild to strong responses. But at the same time, some humans evolved mechanisms to safely consume dairy products as a reaction to agriculture. To determine if you’re one of them I’d test it. Go strict on a strict carnivore diet for a period and reintroduce dairy products, preferably full-fat A2 dairy products as they tend to be a lot easier to digest.
Alright, let’s address the points real quick!
Lactose might be a big one and is fairly easy to find out by observing GI issues after consuming milk and is tied to your body’s ability of the production of lactase an enzyme that converts lactose. If you’re serious a continuous glucose monitor gives you all the insights you need.
A1 & A2 refers to the types of proteins found in milk – A2 is uniquely found in goat and sheep’s milk and a few cow races. Most cows produce the A1 milk though and more people tend to react negatively to it.
All aged products accumulate histamine, the same goes for yogurt, cheeses, and other milk products. Check out this list for more information.
The most common problems that occur with dairy are GI issues and autoimmune diseases. I myself often react with eczema to certain products and foods high in histamine. Reintroduce dairy, be observant and find out what works for your body.
What’s with fish and seafood?
There are many carnivores out there just eating beef, avoiding pork and chicken of fear they were fed soy and are high in PUFAs, and avoiding seafood out of fear they’re high in heavy metals. But I think variety is very healthy and by choosing wisely most of those risks can be dodged:
Regarding fish and seafood, choose local fished sources. If that’s not an option buy from trusted sources in high-quality.
Eat low on the food chain, as heavy metals often accumulate in the apex predators
Avoid canned products that sat a long time in vegetable oils or aluminium cans
Don’t eat King Mackerel, Tuna, Ray, Swordfish, Marlin
With these measures of caution seafood and fish can really enrich your meal planning and give you access to a lot of different nutrients such as iodine, manganese, phosphor,, copper, zinc, EPA & DHA for example. I’d even add seaweeds such as kelp, nori, spirulina, and chlorella to the topic of fish. I think those can also supplement every animal-based diet eaten from time to time. Seaweeds are high in iodine and help bind heavy metals within our system.
Rather avoid predatory fish, choose your seafood wisely and dodge marine pollution that way without losing the pleasure of eating it.
Difference to the Carnivore Diet
An animal-based diet is like the name suggests not entirely carnivorous. Eating the more beneficial plants is allowed in this framework – and let’s be honest blind dogmatism never helped anyone. Keep an open mind, nutrition is a learning journey like everything else. Plus, food is such an individual topic, what helps one person mustn’t necessarily benefit another random person – up to a certain degree of course.
The main difference between an animal-based diet and a carnivore diet is this allowance of fruit and non-toxic, seasonal plants to make up for a variable amount within your diet. While a carnivore diet is strict about eating whole animals and not eating plants at all, the animal-based diet thinks more seasonally and some months might resemble a carnivore diet more than others. That makes for more variety and texture when eating, plus eating more calories is easier. Plus, most diary, if you tolerate it, is totally fine, too.
But more is the same rather as both differ from each other – mostly the focus of eating high-quality animals from nose-to-tail. This should be 80-90% of your nutrition and the biggest focus for you in the beginning:
Nonetheless, a strict carnivore diet is a tool that can be used wisely and for some even is a solution rather than the tool. Especially to reset or eradicate autoimmune disease, gut issues, or other ailments, eliminating all potentially triggering plant foods is a great thing to start your journey. It might seem radical, but after 30-90 days of a strict carnivore diet you’ve established a baseline of health and can, one after another, reintegrate other foods to experiment – see which work and which might trigger you. Within a week you should notice a difference or not and deem yogurt, cheese, berries, or whatever it is that you’re testing as safe. A carnivore diet can be constructed balanced and healthy. But I think humans rather evolved with the seasons and ate a few plants here and there, too.
Get the 5-Step Guide to an Animal-Based Diet!
To summarize this fuckton of content, I wrote a 5-Step guide to the animal-based diet. It contains the gist of all the 8.00 words you can find on this page and is designed to help you make the transition. Plus, I packed a lot of further information in there if you desire to search out more knowledge. You can download it for free here:
After we’ve now also addressed the different foods you could consume on your animal-based diet and which you should avoid at all cost, let’s finally get into how to modulate your diet for different outcomes like weight loss, adapting to ketogenic processes, and fuelling performance as an athlete. The last topic before I share my personal approach with you and wrapping this fucking massive post up!
Weight loss and the Animal-Based Diet
Weight loss is a tough topic. Many people want to achieve it, but nearly all fail. I read that out of 200 conventional diets, 1 succeeds long-term. I believe this data was in morbidly obese individuals. With conventional diets I mean the ‘Move more, eat less approach‘ – addressing the quantity of food a person eats, commonly also known as ‘Calories In vs. Calories Out‘ or ‘If It Fits Your Macros‘. Quantity is important don’t get me wrong, but only half of the puzzle.
What is overlooked in my opinion is the quality. I don’t remember who said it – but a clever person once stated:
We got dieting backwards – Eat nutrient-rich and ancestrally consistent first, then weight loss, performance and overall health will follow.
Or something like that. I also believe most modern humans are severely nutrient deficient and misled. By fixing those deficiencies, bad eating habits, and educating people towards what their body truly needs to flourish weight loss will inevitably follow with a lot of other improvements. Plus with addressing the above-listed problems, especially nutrient deficiencies and PUFAs, your body’s satiety mechanism will likely be working better, too. Weight loss shouldn’t be the primary goal, metabolic health should be. That’s where we got it backwards.
That said an animal-based diet is a great choice to lose weight – by addressing the root cause. Also what I found helpful with clients is to either let them run on fats or carbs, not both. I’d suggest going on a ketogenic animal-based diet for the time being, as it will beneficially alter your metabolism. Reap the health benefits of eating meat and animals nose-to-tail, get plenty of nutrients and cut out the nutritional garbage. These are the big dominos at the beginning.
Most of us seldom run on fats any more. In the west, carbs are around non-stop and the body simply hasn’t got a need to produce ketones. But being keto-adapted is important. Making that metabolic switch from fats to carbs is very beneficial, and I think we should run on both systems regularly. Being carb-fueled all the time is as bad as being in ketosis all the time.
Your liver produces ketones when your body runs out of carbs. Ketones then act as a supplementary source of fuel for your brain and other cells, despite triglycerides, and glucose made solely from your body. Getting to this point can be achieved by fasting, eating a keto diet, and being active in general. The one big thing is avoiding the big swings in glucose blood levels and insulin – this often helps to stabilize blood sugar, get rid of cravings, and teaches your body to be metabolically more flexible. To starve well if you will.
An animal-based diet can help you with that especially in combination with intermittent fasting, day-fasts, and seasonally-adapted macronutrients:
Intermittent Fasting restricts your food to a certain timeframe. Out of your feeding window, you will run out of glycogen and your body needs to run on fats.
The same goes for a day-fast or multiday-fast but to a stronger degree.
Seasonally adapting your macronutrients will naturally make for a keto-carnivore nutrition in the winter and spring months and more carbohydrates in summer and august.
What all of those do is forcing you into fat-adaptation by living evolutionarily consistent, rather than forcing ketosis all the time. The process will take some time, but I found it more sustainable in the long run and to what we as humans might have eaten throughout our history.
The Animal-Based Diet for Athletes
Within my carnivore times, I struggled to keep up with the calories through fat. Fat was the only lever to pull because I already ate a lot of protein. This gets a lot easier on an animal-based diet because you can add easy energy by eating a smaller amount of carbohydrates.That’s why an animal-based diet is also a great choice for athletes:
It allows you to fuel your workouts with carbs and sugars
You can easily add more energy by consuming non-toxic plants
You will get the most important zoonutrients, micronutrients, and vitamins from meats, animal-products, and organs as those are the cornerstones of your food
If that’s not a win-win I don’t know what it is! The most important part here is that you know your body and experiment a lot. One plant can trigger one person, and dairy the other. That’s why I’d advise any athlete to start with a 30-90d period of a pure carnivore diet, too. Afterwards, consciously add other products to it and see how you react. If pumpkins trigger skin irritations or cheese clogs your nose, you definitely know that your body has trouble with either specific plant molecules or histamine. But if you know that apples are fine, pressure-cooked white rice and sweet potatoes go unnoticed, adding them seasonally is a great practice!
So how should you structure an animal-based diet for athletes?
Eat 1.0 – 1.2g of protein per lb of bodyweight.
Eat at least 1.0g of fat per lb of bodyweight, preferably higher up to 2.0g per lb.
Eat around ~100g – 150g of carbs per day before and within your workout
As a word of caution here, try to adapt these macros to your needed intake. If you’d consume 1.2g of protein, 2.0g of fats, and 150g of carbs per day you’d land somewhere around 3.000 -3.500kcal a day. That’s what I aim for, but might be too much for you or too little. So work your calorie intake out within those ranges and try if more fats work better for you, or higher carbs. Everyone is different and finding this out is a really interesting part of nutrition!
What I eat in a Day + Supplements
As I see this question arising, I wanted to share my personal approach to diet with you at the moment. It’s what works for me and crystallized out over the years. Is it the best way of eating for everyone? Fuck No. I am on a learning journey myself, that’ll probably never stop and always experiences some adjustment. That said let’s get into a typical day for me!
I don’t eat breakfast and am a big fan of intermittent fasting – eating animal-based for me kinda naturally led me to eat two big meals a day with a few snacks around my workout. I can’t eat a lot more and enjoy feeling active and empty in the morning. Plus, I felt that my intestines benefit from not having to work for see time, too.
My morning starts normally with one cup of good italian mokka20 and my first meal is lunch around noon. This meal is normally a high protein, moderate fat, higher carbohydrate meal to fuel my workout and help me gaining weight. That’s why I mix fats and carbs here. Two lunch favourites of mine are:
Stan Efferding’s Monster Mash : preferably with ground beef, roast meat, or organ meat to keep it on a budget
Meat with Organs and Omlet: 200-300g of a fatty cut of meat with 100g of organ meat, a few eggs, slices of bacon, and sugary fruit aside
Bowl: Always followed by a bowl of sour cream with honey, molten butter, and some sort of fruit – my daily ritual
That’s often it. I am pretty robotic when it comes to nutrition and don’t mind eating the same each day anew. It is more about ease functionality and giving my body what it needs rather than entertainment. Food shouldn’t be a source of entertainment for me.
Before or while working out at around 5ish I usually eat 1-2 teaspoons of honey, my last carbs for the day. Sugary fruit gets the job done, too.
Dinner usually happens after the workout around 7pm and is mostly keto, high in fats and protein. A few go-to’s of mine are:
Meat, Sardines & Organs: 200-300g of a fatty cut of meat plus 200g of organ meat, a can of sardines, with a few eggs, slices of bacon, and non-sugary fruit aside
Groundbowl: 400g of ground beef, plus 100g of organs, with many eggs, bacon, cheese all mixed into a mashy bowl
Surf ‘n’ Turf: Either Meat or Organ Meats mixed with Seafood or Fish
Fish: Herring, Salmon, or other Fish with a side of eggs, organs, seaweed and oysters or scallops
Paradigms I live by
Seasonality is very important for me and a cornerstone of how I structured my diet. I tried to imagine what a human being in Northern Europe would’ve been able to hunt and gather throughout each season and structured my diet around these findings. No oranges in winter, no raspberries all year – but rather more fruit within the summer and nearly entirely keto carnivore diet in winter despite a few storable plants. On top of that, I also try to eat local plants whenever possible found from nearby farmers – rather apples than starfruit. Of course, that doesn’t work with everything, as I’ve never seen anyone grew rice or sweet potato in Northern Europe.
Budgeting is important for me. I’d definitely like to afford a better quality of meat myself, but that’s simply not in right now. That’s a reason I wanted to get more self-sufficient and start hunting my own meat and rather buy a whole cow a year. But that’s a topic for another post. Right now I keep to cheap cuts like roasts and ground beef with a lot of organs that fortunately are super cheap to buy. One thing that helped me a lot was to buy in bulk and freeze a lot of stuff. On top of that, I definitely wanted to get into producing more food myself, especially easy stuff like goat cheese, goat yogurt, beef and organ jerky, butter, tallow, bone broth, and the like. All of those are really expensive at the store, but fairly simple to produce in bulk yourself once you got the machinery.
Despite those, I’d love to try more stuff like sweetbreads, testicles, pancreas, or blood, but that’s pretty tough to acquire in my area. You can find the best recipes to cook organs on that board of mine on Pinterest. The great thing is most of those are incredibly cheap, super nutritious, and taste well, once one gets used to the stronger taste. Nowadays, I seldom notice liver or kidney within my meals, but I still remember the first time I tried those and how foreign they tasted.
For supplements, I try to keep it basic and remove every supplement that I could replace by living better. Currently, on my daily schedule are:
But I soon want to get rid of the magnesium and selenium and swap it with good mineral water, as well as the collagen, and replace it with more bone broth combined with the crunchy, more cartilaginous bits. And that’s it from my personal life!
The Take-Home Points
And here we are roughly 8.000 words in – my by far largest post of all time! Thanks for staying with me down here. That could nearly be a book – maybe some day I write a book on my approach and refine it. Who knows!
But I won’t let you get out of this post without a brief take home summary. We’ve covered a lot of ground, to make it stay in your mind easier a few main points often help. In my opinion the things you should remember are:
See humans in the light of our evolutionary history and see things through an ancestral health lens – the further we get away from nature the sicker we tend to get
Plants aren’t your buddies – they’re beings that want to live themselves, not be your food. They evolved defense mechanisms and operate chemically on different molecules than animals.
Nothing is black or gray – it always depends. Animals might be beneficial to the environment and one helper out of pollution, it depends on the management.
Animal meats, organs, and animal products are the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat and highly bioavailable. They contain anything your body needs – even exclusive zoonutrients.21
Nutrition = Experimenting. Start with radical elimination, e.g. carnivore diet, and consciously reintegrate dairy, histamine-rich foods, chosen plants.
Eliminate processed sugar, processed foods, seed oils. This is truly nutritional garbage. Eat in sync with the seasons.
And here we go. Even for a summary that’s long. Sorry, I tried my best! An animal-based diet is a big and often controversial topic to what we’ve been told. For me, learning and experiencing the effects of my body felt like waking up. Waking up from a deep torpor society got me into. For a long time, I’ve been big on team veggies, ate a ton of kale, brassica vegetables, whole wheat, fiber, and defended those ferociously. Challenging those ingrained beliefs felt awkward, but witnessing the changes was more than convincing, even though I thought when I first came across carnivores that those people must be dumbass-stupid. How wrong one can be influenced by plant-based propaganda. But it’s important to remember that we’re all in one team – to find out truth.
And with these diplomatic words I want to say goodbye for today!
Keep challenging the paradigm and society’s nonsense folks,
I think that most do best with a starting period on a strict carnivore diet to reset their ailments before coming back to consciously and seasonally consistent plants. Especially for us athletes additional carbs and micronutrients might be very beneficial.
Although I think they were a necessity. Before agriculture, we managed to overhunt the present megafauna and had too few food sources around. Before the industrial revolution, malnutrition was the default. Big cities were around and too little food to feed everyone.
Yes, coffee. It is unhealthy, not-animal based, highly toxic, and goes against many of my values. But that one cup is an active treat I love and keep with me.
Zoonutrients = Carnitine, Creatine, Carnosine, you name it. Molecules with many benefits for humans exclusively found in other animals.