Are you worried about not getting enough protein? Or do you believe protein shakes are necessary for muscle building on any diet?
Then it is a big fat NO.
However, I find that the standard answer isn’t always the end of the story and there can be room for discussion and a bit of wiggle room in your life.
So let’s have a look into it, shall we?
What is the Carnivore Diet?
Simply, you only eat animal products. Mainly meat and fish. Dairy and eggs, if you can tolerate them. You eat when you are hungry and you stop when you are full.
There is less or no need to count calories or control portion sizes. In fact, we wrote a whole article on the subject of counting calories on a carnivore diet which you may find interesting:
Very importantly you avoid eating plants, so no grains, seed oils, fruit, or vegetables.
The Carnivore Diet falls into the Low Carb High Fat group, so you will become Fat Adapted. This is when you burn Ketones for fuel. These Ketones are made from fat you consume, or the body fat you already have.
And since we are talking about ketosis and protein you may want to check out this article too:
Does everyone eat the same things on a Carnivore Diet?
Absolutely not, and this is how we will bring nuance to the question; Can you have protein shakes on a Carnivore Diet?
There are many different subsections that fall under the banner of the Carnivore Diet. For instance:
- Nose to Tail – including organ meats
- Beef and Water – the Anderson Family have only eaten ribeye’s for over 20 years
- High Protein – lean meats advocated by the likes of Ted Naiman
- High Fat – like the Palaeolithic Ketogenic Diet
- Grass-Fed and Organic – only eating high quality and regenerative farmed animals
- Any meat you can afford – some people like Kelly Hogan have mainly eaten burger patties for over 10 years and sees no issues with eating McDonald’s burger patties.
How should YOU eat on a Carnivore Diet?
The carnivore diet is non-dogmatic meaning do what works for you. However, I have seen the rule of thumb that says…the sicker you are, the stricter you should be.
There are a lot of people that find Carnivore who are very sick, and it is their last shot at sorting out their health.
Carnivore diet advocates usually advise these people that they should stick to, as close as possible to ruminant meat and water.
At the other end of the spectrum, someone may have no underlying health issues and have just found they have more energy and are able to maintain their weight on Carnivore easily.
These people have a much greater spectrum of what they can eat.
So find where you are on this scale, and maybe try to eat appropriate to your health. It’s worth a shot.
What protein shakes are we talking about?
Before we get into the pros and cons, let’s narrow the focus a bit.
Let’s put a blanket NO, on all protein shakes made from plant proteins like the Pea protein ones. That stuff is super toxic.
We are just considering protein shakes that could be suitable like:
- Amino Acid powders – like Fortagen
- Powders from animal isolates – like Beef Powder
- Collagen powders
- The common Whey Protein powders
- Convenience – it is not always practical to fry up a steak. Your vegan co-worker is going to be somewhat annoyed when you are at your desk at work, and you bust out the camping stove from your draw and start cooking a delicious ribeye.
- Timing – a lot of people especially people who lift weights, believe that you should take in at least 30g of protein within 30 minutes of a workout. Some people also like to take amino acid blends before and during a workout. If these are things you like doing or believe are important, then shakes are the best way to do this. Especially if you live 35 minutes away from your gym haha.
- Protein Quantity – Protein is an absolute requirement for humans, we need to consume essential amino acids daily. However, real food protein is very satiating, and it naturally comes along with animal fat which is also satiating. So some people, especially in the beginning transition phase, find it hard to eat enough food. They just don’t feel hungry, so a protein shake could be a valuable help to them.
- Mental roadblocks – a lot of ex-vegans who have ruined their health find their way to Carnivore for recovery, also we have been told for decades that red meat and saturated fat is bad for us. So it can be mentally challenging for people first starting carnivore, to eat large quantities of meat. So it can be an option to use shakes, and then slowly build the amount of meat you are eating.
- Extra Help – protein powders can often come with added micronutrients like Potassium and Magnesium. So shakes could be a way to ensure you are getting enough of these. If might not be the best way to get these micronutrients, but is a legitimate option.
- Real Food – the focus of a Carnivore Diet should be real minimally processed fresh meat. By eating meat you are getting everything that is essential for human nutrition, in a pill-shaped like a lump of meat. Shakes are not needed.
- Quality – you are more certain of the quality if you are sourcing protein from an animal, than something made in a factory.
- Quantity – depending on your protein goals, it is very easy to hit them simply by eating meat. It is very unlikely you will not be able to eat enough, especially after the initial stages.
- Bioavailability – if you have started a carnivore diet, then you must be confident that you can get all your nutrition from only eating animal products. Beef is around 98.8% bioavailable and has all the correct ratios of essential amino acids. Are you sure you are getting the same bioavailability from a factory-made product?
- Hidden Extras – a lot of protein powders can come with a lot of flavorings and sweeteners. These can pose their own health issues, maybe not for everyone but certainly for some.
- Vote with your money – supply and demand is important. If you want better quality meat, and a better range of meat to eat then you have to spend your money on that. If everyone does the same, then it will be supplied. If everyone buys cereal and donuts, they will be supplied. So you are better off buying fresh animal products over processed shakes.
- Toxicity-CBS Local of Boston did a recent report that showed a study indicating that out of 134 protein products more than half of the protein powders tested had detectable levels of BPA, or Bisphenol-A, an industrial chemical used in manufacturing plastic items. Plus…The organic powders tested in the study had, on average, more than twice the heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, and cadmium, than non-organic powders.
At the end of the day, Protein Shakes like supplements are a personal choice, you make your Carnivore Diet your own. Just be sure you know why you are having them, and monitor how they make you feel.
Some carnivores may turn their nose up when you tell them you have protein shakes, but guess what they are probably drinking coffee. Which is a plant, and caffeine is a drug but they have justified the consumption to themselves. In the end, we all need to drop the dogma.
…and when it comes to supplementation we here at Wild Lumens truly believe the best supplement is coaching. The cool thing is that I am one of Dr. Shawn Bakers coaches for Meat RX. If you would like you can book me here at a very affordable rate here.
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