Hardcore carnivore diet purists will say energy drinks are off-limits, and deep down, I agree with them. However, like most things, it’s not all black and white.
Energy drinks are not carnivore diet-approved, but you need to keep reading to understand the caveats.
For example, the Maasai would consider Milk and fresh Blood as an energy drink. However, I presume you are from a western country like I am, and you class energy drinks as things like Red Bull and Monster.
If you are totally new to the carnivore diet, I suggest picking up this amazing book by Dr. Shawn Baker called “The Carnivore Diet.” Also, feel free to get the low down by reading this popular article.
Which energy drinks are totally banned?
In my opinion, any full sugar energy drinks are a total no-go. The carnivore diet revolves around eating animal products and avoiding plant products.
Sugar is plant-based.
One of the big benefits of the carnivore diet is that it does have benefits like the ketogenic diet. It promotes insulin sensitivity and fat burning for fuel.
These benefits would be totally blown out of the water if you decided to drink loads of sugary energy drinks. In fact, we drop a list of drinks that need to be avoided.
And, of course, a list of acceptable drinks.
Which energy drinks could be acceptable to drink
Sugary energy drinks are 100% off the table, but as we know, that does not exclude all energy drinks from the conversation.
There is plenty of zero sugar and even zero-calorie energy drinks on the market. Therefore, there is a debate on if these are ok to have.
It is basically the same debate as when people go on to a carnivore Facebook page and say, “oh, I couldn’t live without Diet Coke, but it’s ok as it has no sugar and calories… right?”
Well, I’m going to say Diet Coke is not a so-called health drink, and therefore, it’s probably a great idea to eliminate it from your diet. That goes for the artificially sweetened zero-sugar versions, as they are not healthy in my book.
Why do you want to drink energy drinks?
Everything in life and especially diet needs a bit of context applying to the debate. Sometimes a one-fit approach does not work for everyone.
I do not believe we are all unique snowflakes that need tailored individual diets; I do believe the carnivore diet would work for nearly everyone… but it is a fact that there are outliers who can handle more or less than the majority.
So, can you have energy drinks probably depends on your own body and health? I think a better question to ponder is… why would you want to drink energy drinks?
If you want to drink energy drinks because you are always tired and are always lacking energy, and the only way you can get through the day is to have a load of coffee and energy drinks.
Then I would suggest that you have more serious problems going on that you need to resolve. You are using energy as a plaster to try to close a wound.
Instead of thinking you need energy drinks to get through the day, you can better identify why you are always tired. Solve this problem; then, you might never want an energy drink again.
Speaking of fatigue, a lot of people have problems with quitting coffee, and this is discussed here:
You like the taste
Some people will say that they really love the taste of energy drinks, and it is a nice treat for them and that by allowing themselves this treat, they are more likely to adhere to the carnivore diet long-term.
If this is true, then I have no problem with them having the occasional energy drink if it means they stick to the carnivore diet.
The benefits of sticking to the carnivore diet will far outweigh the negatives of having an occasional energy drink.
However, I am talking about one or two a month. Some people will mean they have at least one a day as a treat.
If this is the case, I would suggest you are addicted to them mentally or physically, and you should work on reducing your consumption or eradicate them altogether.
You want a performance boost
Suppose you tell me that you only have a sugar-free energy drink just before or during a heavy deadlifting session. Again, I might be tempted to say you know what… the benefits may outweigh the negatives.
However, what boost are you getting from the energy drink? Most of it is probably a placebo.
I would recommend you start doing the deadlift sessions without any boost, and you will probably find there is no difference in performance.
Plus, when people tell me they only use it for deadlifting, you really know they will already or will start using it every time they go for a gym session or run.
Better options than energy drinks
I will not dictate to you whether you can or cannot have sugar-free energy drinks, but I will offer some alternatives.
If you are low on energy and think you need an energy drink, then this could be a sign that you are not eating enough.
If you consistently up the number of animal products you eat, you should find that you have way more energy and do not need or want energy drinks.
Eat more fat
It has been drilled into us for decades that fat is bad, which now appears to be very untrue. However, many people who start eating carnivore will bring some of these hang-ups with them and will still be a bit scared of fat.
If you are always craving energy drinks, try eating a fattier version of carnivore, and you may find your cravings disappear.
Feel free to geek out on this article which explains the macros.
Up your electrolytes
Lack of energy can also be linked with an electrolyte in balance. If you pay more attention to salting your food with high-quality salts like Redmond Real Salt, then you may find your cravings reduce.
You could also try electrolyte powders like Re-Lyte from Redmond Real Salt. They have a sweetener-free version called “RAW.” Plus, our readers get a 15% discount on Redmond products using this link or typing “Wild” at checkout.
The biggest energy drain is a lack of sleep. A poor night’s sleep has been proven to increase cravings for sugary junk food. Sleeping well will make eating well a lot easier, and over time those of us on the carnivore diet have experienced improved sleep.
Over the past few years, I have been experimenting with reducing blue light, and it has been of great benefit as my sleep has improved. These quick articles will get you up to speed.
- 7 Reasons Blue Light Blocking Glasses May Help Sleep
- Pros & Cons of Blue Light Blocking Glasses: Do They Work?
- Does Blue Light Age & Damage Skin?
If you are always on edge and stressed, it will mean you will be more likely to succumb to so-called treats and comfort eating. Find ways to reduce your stress, and you will likely have a more balanced approach to eating and drinking.
Flavored Sparkling Water
This suggestion is more of a last resort. I would never want to say flavored sparkling water is acceptable, but if you need some kind of taste in your water, having one of these every once in a while may not hurt. This might be a solution to ween yourself off the energy drinks.
I’ve tried these two brands:
I went way deeper into the flavored sparkling water world with this article which may help you make a better decision.
For most people on a carnivore diet, I would say you could have an occasional energy drink, and there wouldn’t be any issues.
However, if you constantly want to have energy drinks all the time, then I would suggest other things are going on that you need to resolve.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need or have the cravings, and the carnivore diet would be fairly simple to execute, which brings me to the point that some of us need a little coaching to help us along.
Our YouTube channel also offers some fun recipes and carnivore content to help you on your journey.