Ancestral Diet vs. Carnivore Diet. What’s The Difference?

ancestral

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Are there differences between Ancestral Diets and Carnivore Diets, and does it matter?

These two diets can be very similar and very different, depending on how you define them.  So, let us have a look into it and see what we find. 

Ancestral Diet philosophy

The ancestral diet is more of a philosophy than a specific structured diet. It is not about calorie counting or macro splits. 

It is about believing we have gotten too far away from the foods we evolved on and that these new modern foods we are eating are causing the diseases of civilization that so many of us are suffering from nowadays. 

The diet gets you to eliminate all the modern processed junk food and gets you to try more traditional and local foods. 

It is about trying to transport yourself back to your ancestors’ time and thinking about how they would be eating. So, it becomes more about food quality and eating local and seasonal food specific to your area. 

And speaking about history, the carnivore and ancestral diet have been around since the evolution of man and perhaps are the reason we are who we are.

This means my ancestral diet could be very different from yours, but we would share the same philosophy. 

Ancestral diet

Ancestral Diet today

The term ancestral diet is a little wishy-washy, in my opinion, and I would take it to mean… what we would literally have eaten that allowed us to evolve and then prosper as homo sapiens.

This would have been a lot closer to the carnivore diet, with some small amounts of seasonal tubers, honey, berries, and herbs. 

However, in the modern media, the term Ancestral Diet just means focussing on local and organic foodstuffs really.

Foods to eat

Organic vegetables and fruit, including fermented versions. Wild-caught seafood. Grass-fed red meat. Pastured eggs and poultry. Raw dairy products. Healthy fats like butter, lard, duck fat, and fruit oils like EVOO.

Foods to moderate

Processed grains, low-fat products, and alcohol. 

Foods to avoid

Refined sugar, lab meat, fake meat, processed soy, and vegetable oils. Basically, all fast-food, processed, and packaged food. 

If you want a deeper dive into the Ancestral Diet, then you will want to read a beautiful book written by Sally Fallon Morell called Nourishing Diets: How Paleo, Ancestral and Traditional Peoples Really Ate.

Steak and Salt Shakers

Carnivore Diet philosophy

The Carnivore Diet is about only eating animal products, with no plant foods at all. Basically, an ultimate elimination diet without room for coffee, alcohol, marijuana, or protein powders. 

To accept the carnivore diet or what is sometimes referred to as the zero-carb diet, then you must believe that you are able to get all your nutrition from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. 

You must also think that plant food is at worst very harmful, or a least nutritionally pointless and inefficient. 

I think for some people eating fruit and veggies is 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  You would be surprised at how damaging certain veggies and fruits can be to people.

Don’t believe me, then check out this article:

Carnivore Diet examples

Even though the carnivore diet seems very simple on the surface… you just eat animal products. There are still many ways in which you can approach it.

Just know that most carnivore diet proponents advise people to use the “salt to taste” method to ensure the salt is adequately included in their diets.

Here are a few of the different varieties of the carnivore diet; just know that salt and water are critical for all diets. If you are curious about salt and how it applies, then this article will be of great help:

And while on the topic of salt, the amazing brand Redmond Real Salt offers our readers up to a 15% discount on their salt and other products like electrolyte powders. Use this link or type in “Wild” at checkout!

On to the examples!

The Ribeye Diet

Where you just eat ribeye steaks, salt, and water.

The Muscle Meat diet

Where you only eat the muscle meats like steaks, joints, and chops plus salt and water. 

Nose 2 Tail

Where you eat whole animals or at least try to replicate what that is like in the modern world by eating a certain amount of offal and organ cuts per week.  Oh, and add in salt and water.

General Carnivore

Where you just eat animal products, including eggs and dairy. Be aware that some people have issues with eggs and dairy. I’ve seen people switch to duck eggs and raw dairy with decent results.

High Fat

Where you try to hit keto-ish levels of fat, around 80%. The Palaeolithic Ketogenic Diet, otherwise known as PKD, is an example of this. 

The group Paleomedicina is a proponent of the PKD diet.

Low Fat

This is where you would follow the ideas of someone like Dr. Ted Naiman, where you eat leaner cuts of meat so that you force your body to burn body fat.

Or the Protein Sparing Modified Fast is another model that fits the low-fat protocol.

One of the best books I’ve read on the carnivore diet is written by Dr. Shawn Baker called “The Carnivore Diet.” It’s the best at getting you started and at answering questions.

T Bone Steak

Similarities

There is a lot of overlap between the two diets. 

Mainly that meat and fish are highly valued nutritional sources on both diets. 

But there are other things, too, like they both naturally avoid junk food and seed oils. They also both tend to promote home cooking and cooking from fresh. Rather than by prepacked meals. 

Arguably the most important thing is that both ways of eating recognize the potentially harmful effects of industrialized seed oils on your health. 

Differences

The main difference is that the ancestral diet allows for some plant food intake, and carnivore does not.

There are some people that do classify themselves as carnivore but do include some low-risk fruits, low sugar vegetables, rubs, and spices. But this should really be classified as a Ketocarnivore or Carnivoreish, in my opinion… or ancestral perhaps, haha. 

Also, the ancestral diet philosophy is that you eat grass-fed, wild-caught, and organic.

The general carnivore diet does not stipulate this, and it is fine to buy grain-fed steaks, etc.

Although there are subsections of people on the carnivore, that do highlight that food quality is very important, and you should eat grass-fed beef.

I am not a zealot on this matter, but it is logical, in my opinion, to buy the highest quality of food you can afford. 

Happy Woman

Conclusion

I am a big believer in…

The sicker you are, the stricter you should be. 

In my non-doctor opinion, the carnivore diet is a healing diet or for someone chasing optimal health. 

If you suffer from any ailments or any diseases of civilization, then the carnivore diet proponents usually recommend the carnivore diet as it has been shown to reverse some of these diseases, not just stop them from progressing.

They usually say more of these diseases you have, the closer to just beef and water you should be.

If you just have little psoriasis, then you could probably do the General Carnivore Diet and get some decent results.  Here are some amazing testimonials from people that suffered from many horrible ailments.

If you are in good health and want to be generally healthier, then the Ancestral Diet could be a good option for you.

If the whole world ate the Ancestral Diet from birth, I would imagine that 99% of the world would be very healthy, and we would be far less reliant on pharmaceuticals.

Also, if you have pet dogs, a carnivore diet may keep them out of your vet’s office too.

Obviously, talk to a doctor before proceeding on any diet, carnivore and ancestral included. Also, remember that we are all different. What works for me may not work for you.

Generally speaking, we are so unhealthy nowadays that we find ourselves in a position where we may need to adopt the carnivore diet to heal.

Were are omnivores, but all that means is that we can eat both animal and plant food to survive. There is no mention of thriving in that definition. As I said, most people could do very well on an ancestral diet, but the closer you want to get to optimal health, the more carnivorous you may need to become. 

Play around with it and see how you feel. N=1 will beat any book you read. 

If you are new to the carnivore diet, then you may enjoy these articles:

Get a Carnivore Coach

That’s right! There are carnivore diet coaches over at Meat RX, a carnivore diet website run by Dr. Shawn baker. You can book a very affordable coaching session here. You can even book me as a coach!

Also, check out Wild Lumens YouTube channel, where you will find carnivore diet recipes and motivation!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dietician, or nutritionist. Consult with and ask your doctor about any diet or medical-related questions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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