Switching to a Healthier, Meat-based You

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We’re now ready to discuss some detail about common strategies to transition into the diet. There are pros and cons to these methods, and no solution is going to fit everyone. Your starting diet may help dictate which method you want to pursue.

 

Hard-Core Carnivore

This method is pretty much a direct drop into the purest form of the diet. If you go hard-core carnivore, you go straight to meat and water all the time right from the get-go. Many long-term carnivores recommend using this technique, which is analogous to removing a bandage by quickly ripping it off. There might be more discomfort in the short term, but the overall process often is quicker than easing into the diet.

With this method, on day one, you start eating nothing but meat and drinking nothing but water, and you repeat until you’ve adapted. This approach works best for very motivated individuals and those who are transitioning from a mostly animal-based ketogenic diet (because they’re already pretty well accustomed to fueling on fat). The downside of this cold turkey approach for many people is that the symptoms associated with the transition can be more severe than with a more gradual switch. Consequently, some people quit because the transition is too difficult.

 

Carb Step-Down Strategies

If you’re coming from a carbohydrate-heavy background, a good strategy may be to first adopt a lower-carbohydrate diet for at least several weeks before transitioning to a full carnivore diet.

If you’ve been on a standard American diet, which is high in carbohydrates, and you’ve been taking medications to address high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic pain, or depression, you should visit with your physician to discuss potential medication changes that might need to occur as you shift your diet. I’ll use blood pressure medication as an example: Many people find that medications to treat blood pressure can lead to dangerously low blood pressure as your body adapts because the diet can normalize blood pressure. The result is that the medication becomes unnecessary or needs to be reduced. The body can make similar adjustments for the other types of ailments, and it’s important that you and your doctor make corrections to your medication as necessary.

For some people, a good transition strategy is to include more meat-based meals gradually over time. One example schedule is to spread three fully meat-based meals throughout the first week. The next week bump up to eight carnivore meals. In the third week, try two days of only meat-based meals, and spread ten carnivore meals on the other days. In the fourth week, you should be able to handle five days of carnivore meals, and by the fifth week, all but two of your meals will be meat. In week six, your transition to full carnivore will be complete.

Alternatively, you could set short-term challenges to go full carnivore three days out of a week. The next challenge is to go one full week of eating only meat. The third challenge is to go for two weeks; finally, you attempt to go carnivore for thirty days in a row. This method is pretty much what I used, and it was a fairly smooth process.

The third technique for a gradual transition is to fade the vegetables and starch off your plate as you increase the amount of meat you eat each day. A drawback to these gradual techniques is that for some time, you still have access to addictive or otherwise problematic food, which may make it harder for you to let go of those things. It’s kind of like having an alcoholic quit drinking by only having alcohol twice a week.

However, as long as you continue moving closer to a fully carnivore diet, you will likely feel better, and those cravings will subside over time. Also, the gradual withdrawal of fiber- or oxalate-rich foods might make the transition easier. By gradually reducing fiber from your diet, your colon may better adapt to being able to absorb fluid and minerals efficiently. Gradually tapering from oxalate-rich foods may help you avoid a potential rapid precipitation of oxalate crystals into your joints, skin, or other tissues.

 

The Beginner Phase

How long does the beginner phase last? It can vary, but here are some signs that identify you as an experienced carnivore rather than a beginner:

  • Food no longer rules you, and you no longer see food as a form of entertainment. Instead, it’s a deeply satisfying form of nutrition.
  • You have no problem passing up a food that was previously one of your favorites.
  • You can go out socially and not cave to pressure to eat something just to satisfy someone else.
  • Nothing other than meat seems like food.

For some people, these signs are evident within a few months. Other people need years to reach all these milestones.

 

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
Learn more HERE

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