The Carnivore Diet Through The Lens of Mark Sisson - Pros, Cons & Optimisation

There isn’t a traditional culture on Earth that wholly abstains or abstained from animal products. Nearly every human being who ever lived ate meat whenever he or she could get it
— Mark Sisson

I've mentioned Mark's work throughout this blog. I trust him, his expertise and his judgments.

I have been following a modified approach to the Carnivore Diet in the past few months which is very much aligned with what Mark recommends.

I absolutely (kids, close your eyes because papa-Josh is about to throw a nasty word or two into the equation) fucking love what Mark says:

meat appears to be the “baseline food” for humans. If you look past the cultural conditioning that tries to convince us that meat will give us heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, meat looks pretty damn good as a place to start.

What a sleek and beautiful way to put it. Meat as a baseline food for people who need that kick in the butt and reset. I have never thought about it like that. It really does put things into drastic perspective when you take into account the ultra-processed crap we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Ultra-processed-food.jpg

That is right. I said "ultra-processed" -- because traditional processed food isn't even falling into the category of merely "processed." We have to add "ultra" to the mix...thats where we are heading.

The protein [in meat] has all the amino acids we need to live and thrive. We readily absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals in meat; they already come in “animal form,” requiring little to no conversion before we can start incorporating them into our physiology. Plant nutrients usually undergo a conversion process before humans can utilize them, and not every human has the same conversion capacity.

I largely agree with the above quote by Mark which is why it is such a great baseline food to have at your disposal.

Some of those essential and/or helpful nutrients only occur in meat, like creatine, carnosine, vitamin B12. There’s literally no realistic way to obtain them without relying on supplementation, which didn’t exist until the last hundred years.

This is an important paragraph to take into account. Many plant-based advocates do extremely well in the short-term due to the removal of many ultra-processed shit that factory meat is often associated with, but in the long term it could be a problem if supplementation is not considered (again, this goes down to the simple fact that if you need supplementation to maintain your lifestyle at an optimal level you should question if going plant-based is the best solution).

You can’t pull up a Cochrane meta-analysis of carnivore studies. All we really have are anecdotes.

This is where most experts get iffy.

Yes, I strongly agree that long-term studies are beyond important for making drastic dietary changes -- this is something many will immediately point to. But, don't you think anecdotes are just as important? Especially in the age of social media where thousands of people can give testimonies on how a meat-based diet has changed their life?

In Mark's words:

I’m not disregarding the power or relevance of anecdotes and testimonials. Those are real. They’re not all suffering from a mass delusion. They’re not all lying. Peer-reviewed? No. Admissible in a scientific paper? Not unless you call it a case study. When you’re there in the room with someone pouring their heart out because something you wrote helped them drop 50 pounds and reclaim their lives, you don’t go “Yeah, but where are the clinical trials?” At some point, the weight of anecdotes adds up to something substantial, something suggestive. And hey, if it’s working for you, there’s no arguing that. 

It all goes down to two simple questions; does it work for you? Is it sustainable long term? If the answer is yes to both, carry on forward you champ (that goes for vegans and carnivores and everyone in between).

I'm not saying everyone should pull a Dr. Shawn Baker and just eat ribeye steaks all day. I personally add a whole variety of other protein rich animal products to make things interesting.

 This is Shawn Baker at the ripe old age of 51 -- he literally only eats steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

This is Shawn Baker at the ripe old age of 51 -- he literally only eats steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Mark outlines a great way to "optimize" your carnivore diet if you are interested in going that way.


Optimising The Carnivore Diet

Mark outlined ways to optimize a meat-based diet, but I will just highlight the main points. I encourage you to read his full post as this doesn't do it full justice.

  • Take Magnesium
  • Eat Eggs
  • Eat Liver and Organ Meat (they contain vital micro-nutrients)
  • Eat quality meat (I always opt for grass-fed)
  • Treat spices and low-carb plants as non-calorie medicinal supplements
  • Enjoy Bone Broth

I urge you to give the full post a read. It is far more in-depth than my scattered (and often biased) direct quotes.  Mark has an indistinguishable view on the latest trend which is taking over social media. I will end off this with the following quote by Mark, I love it:

Still, any time you embark on a historically unprecedented way of eating, whether it’s pure muscle meat carnivore or vegan, you should be a little more careful about what you think you know.