Eggs and Ham for breakfast. Steak for lunch. Hamburger patties and bacon for dinner. It may sound like a meat lover’s dream, but this is an example of a typical day following the newest food fad- the carnivore diet.

So, what is the carnivore diet? According to Kelly Schmidt, RD, a holistic dietitian in private practice in Columbus, Ohio, the carnivore diet is an eating plan that includes “only foods that either walked, swam, or flew”. Foods allowed on the carnivore diet include any kind of meat (poultry, beef, pork, organ meats), fish, eggs, bone marrow and broth, lard, salt and pepper and sometimes dairy products such as butter and cheese. Not included: foods containing complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, legumes, bread, pasta and grains.

Proponents of the carnivore diet claim that eating an all-meat diet:

  • Reduces inflammation for people with auto-immune conditions
  • Assists in weight-loss by allowing people to fill fuller longer with more protein
  • Reduces food sensitivities: removes the allergens from plant-based foods, which may cause discomfort
  • Decreases digestive problems

Schmidt states that a meat-heavy diet would not be good for anyone’s long-term health. One of the reasons, Schmidt says, is although people are opting for low-carbohydrate diets, carbohydrates are needed for thyroid health, adrenal health, satiety/sleep and weight loss.

So, before you trade in your complex carbs for animal protein, here are some more reasons why this meat-based diet just doesn’t cut it.

Nutrient deficiencies: Limiting yourself to all meat can cause you to run low in certain nutrients with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that are abundant in plants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, folate (mostly found in green leafy vegetables) and citrus. Fibre is also important to promote a healthy gut and digestion, which has an impact on your immune system and your mood.

Cancer: A diet high in red and processed meats has also been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, along with pancreatic and prostate cancers. The World Health Organization report on red meats supported that link and provided evidence showing that when cooked at temperatures exceeding 300°F, flesh produces certain chemicals that are carcinogenic.

Heart health: Eating too much saturated fat from meats like fatty steaks and bacon increases the risks of heart disease. Having more HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and less LDL (low-density lipoproteins), along with low levels of triglycerides is crucial to maintaining good heart health. Fatty red meats raise your LDL and triglycerides while lowering your HDL.

Diabetes: Red meat contains substantial quantities of heme-iron, which is significantly better absorbed than non-heme iron from plant-based foods. Elevated body iron stores are associated with insulin resistance, and even moderately elevated iron stores are associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Food sensitivities: If someone is struggling with a digestive issue or auto-immune issues, the carnivore diet is not the only ‘elimination’ style plan to follow. A classic elimination diet removes the most common allergens, and even vegetable groups can be eliminated and tested with removing all fibrous plant foods. It’s important to note that some foods which fall into carnivore category such as eggs, dairy and shellfish are common culprits with food intolerances as well.

Lack of research: Since the carnivore diet is so new, there is no research or long-term studies on the health effects of an all-meat diet. There is also not enough evidence to support claims that it can actually reduce symptoms of autoimmune conditions, reduce food intolerances or help with weight loss. Benefits of the diet haven't been published in a peer-reviewed journal — so the diet's health claims are coming from unsupported blogs and posts by Instagram influencers.

Lack of practicality: Not only does the carnivore diet pose some serious health risks, but it isn’t a practical plan for the long-term. Purchasing the higher quality meat to avoid the hormones and antibiotics found in processed and lower quality meats can be expensive, and restricting yourself to meat-based products can severely limit the enjoyment of experiencing different kinds of foods.

Ultimately, Kelly Schmidt indicates a meat-heavy diet would be harmful to anyone’s long-term health and negatively affect hormonal balance, so integrate meat into your diet in moderation. Carbs are crucial for health and while there are people fit for a very low carb or ketogenic diet, carbohydrates should not be the new weight-gaining phobia.