Can You Eat Dairy on The Carnivore Diet? Yay or Nay?
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Dairy may be the most debatable food group of any diet and it’s the same with carnivore. Some within the carnivore community say dairy should be set to the side while others say dairy should be eaten in small amounts and even others say it’s perfectly normal to eat butter, cheese, and milk every day.
Can you eat it on this diet? Yes. But there can be issues.
In this post, I want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of adding dairy to your carnivore diet.
Basically carnivore diet proponents say you can add it if you like because when you break down this diet it consists of anything edible from animal sources/products and dairy is just that.
However, there are some reasons why you should eliminate it and/or reduce your consumption. Just like the carnivore diet, dairy isn’t for everyone.
Let’s go over what I have found regarding dairy and how it applies to eating within the carnivore diet.
The Bad on Dairy
Dairy isn’t for everyone and I want to share a few of those reasons. I think you will see that you may want to reconsider it if you fall into some of these categories.
Dairy Problem #1: Lactose
If you are lactose intolerant you probably already know what the deal is with it. If not this should help clue you in.
Lactose is a sugar found in milk containing glucose and galactose.
Usually, all kids generally don’t have a problem with lactose until the age of four when their genes involving the digestion of lactose are turned down.
However, there are a bunch of people coming from herder style ancestry that have a certain adaptation in which they can continue to digest lactose throughout their life.
That being said if you are from the intolerant side of the spectrum then hands down limit your consumption or eliminate it altogether. If you still want that dairy there are other options that will be toward the end of this post.
Dairy Problem #2: Casein
Casein is the head honcho protein in dairy but it shares very similar structures as good ol’ gluten.
Gluten is a nasty little thing that in some people destroys the innards of your intestines and thus potentially creating an autoimmune disorder.
A few people have reported that casein does the same thing to them as gluten. So those of you really trying to heal your gut eliminating dairy altogether may be a good option.
Dairy Problem #3: Cancer-Causing?
Some researchers have stated that milk plays a part in cancer cell growth, mainly the compound known as betacellulin. This substance is an epidermal growth factor and fetuses and newborns use it to help with growth.
However, it was said that when adults consume betacellulin it goes through the lining of the gut and can potentially help in the growth of cancer cells. (1) (2)
The crazy thing is that some of these research studies don’t mention that milk also contains conjugated linoleic acid which has been shown to have anti-cancer abilities and potentially stunts the growth of cancer in breast tissue and reduces the activation of insulin style growth receptors. (3) (4)
Linoleic acid comes from milk fat, most notably and abundantly in raw, organic grass fed milk fat.
Did the studies that conclude milk can cause cancer include this data as well? Nope. So the studies seem to be all over the place and confusing. (5)
Furthermore, Dr. Chris Masterjohn has said that it appears milk proteins can be harmful when separated from their natural fat. What this means is that skim milk and low-fat milk may be worse for you.
His article goes into detail the cancer and dairy connection in this article:
Bottom line is that the food research and studies are all over the place and most are within the world of epidemiology, and if you ever listen to words of Dr. Shawn Baker or Dr. Georgia Ede you know epidemiology is wack and doesn’t prove causality.
Case in point, “The Problem with Epidemiological Studies,” by Dr. Georgia Ede.
Dairy Problem #4: Insulin
In one of Mark Sisson’s blog posts, he mentions that milk is very insulinogenic, and chronically elevated levels of insulin is dangerous but the caveat is that bodybuilders and people who work out a lot use it as a post-workout recovery style drink and perhaps maybe not as bad in these circumstances.
Dairy Problem #5: It taste Too Good
Cheese is soooo addictive. It’s easily the most addictive food on the planet and hard to put down when you start eating it. Due to its hyper palatability, some people overeat.
When cheese is digested it creates similar compounds to those found in opioids and morphine. Be careful of the addiction it’s real. (6) (7)
The Good On Dairy
Dairy Goodness #1: Vitamin K2
In the early 20th century, famed dentists, Weston A. Price was trying to figure out why industrial nations were disease-ridden while non-industrial populations were less prone to certain diseases.
One of the speculated reasons for the susceptibility to disease was unidentified vitamin now known as K2.
It has been found that having an abundance of K2 in your diet can provide protection against chronic disease and tooth decay. Other benefits of K2 may include: (8)
- heart and bone health
- reduced risk of heart disease
- helps prevent osteoporosis
- may help fight cancer
Dairy Goodness #2: Vitamin A
Vitamin A is in the fat-soluble group of vitamins and it is well known that Vitamin A is a powerhouse of a vitamin with plenty of benefits. Check out some potential benefits:
- Helps maintain a healthy functioning immune system.
- Promotes healthy development of babies in the womb
- May help with vision especially night vision and also elderly people
Dairy Goodness #3: Massive List of Other Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin D
- Pantothenic Acid
Dairy Isn’t All The Same
Dairy comes in many forms and styles but not all dairy was created equal. If you do decide to keep dairy in your carnivore diet most carnivore enthusiasts will recommend you keep it raw and throwing out the protein powders may be a good idea.
Raw cheese, raw milk, and raw butter are generally the best of the bunch, and the fattier the better in my book.
Also if you like milk to experiment with the “colostrum” version, (it’s the first batch of the utter), it will have a higher content of fat and nutrition.
Raw and fermented products can also be very beneficial as when dairy is fermented it neutralizes most of the lactose which makes it easier to consume for the lactose-intolerant folks. Some of the fermented products also have probiotics that may help with the microbiome.
You can order some Organic Valley Raw Mild Cheddar here or Sprouts stores in the US sometimes carry raw milk products:
Another option that is out there is goat dairy. A lot of health enthusiasts highly recommend raw goat milk products.
The cool thing about goat milk is that it isn’t ever homogenized. Plus goat milk products have less lactose and casein which in turn give fewer problems to those that have digestive challenges. Also, it can be noted that goats milk is a more similar type of milk to that of humans when compared to cow milk.
I’ve tried raw goat milk plenty of times and it tastes a little funky so be prepared for a surprising taste if it’s new to you!
Just Say No!
It might be a good idea to say no to pasteurized and homogenized milk. This milk is heated up and run through a screen to neutralize potential pathogens but at the same time it damages the nutrient and protein structures of the milk.
For a tremendous amount of info on Raw and Non-Raw milk check out this website: Real Milk
What About Ghee?
Ghee is pretty awesome. For those new to the ghee game, it’s basically butter but cooked so that the fats separate thus taking out the lactose and casein making it far easier to digest.
Here is what I use and recommend Ancient Organic Ghee.
Ghee is awesome to cook with as it can be used in higher temperatures. Also ghee tastes awesome and some people use it as an alternative to cream in their coffee.
Dairy is Scary
Dairy is a very weird food and all over the place with so-called health advocates and doctors.
It works well with some and horribly with others. It cures acne for someone but then causes it to others. Some people can lose weight while eating it and others it’s the opposite.
One study says it causes cancer and another can say it prevents it. Even some people tolerate hard cheese better than soft cheese. So it basically boils down to us all being different with different tolerances.
For those just starting out on the diet, most people say to eliminate it completely for the first 30-90 days and see how your body responds.
If you are new to the carnivore diet check out this article:
Do your digestive issues improve? Does your skin improve? Do you feel better? If so maybe eliminating it from your diet or reducing the consumption is better for you.
It seems to be a major trial and error situation for everyone.
Isn’t Raw Milk Illegal?
For those living in the United States raw dairy is only legal in 39 of the 50 states. If you need help find good, raw sources of dairy this website should help: REALMILK.COM
How I Use Dairy
For me I don’t have a problem with dairy. I like to use raw milk in my coffee in the morning, even though it’s super expensive here in California, about $15 per gallon.
Sometimes I’ll add ghee to coffee as well. Almost always I add butter to my steaks and cook burgers in a pan with it.
Also if I eat eggs I always cook with a heavy amount of butter. On occasion, I’ll pick up raw goat’s milk but I really dislike the taste so it’s rare.
Cheese is cool too, sometimes I add it to the burgers and if I want to go crazy and reward myself for working hard I have been known to order 3-4 Flying Dutchmen from In and Out which are loaded with cheese and not the super healthy kind. Gotta live a little!
Trying to stay strong on the Carnivore Diet? Need some motivation? Here is a post in which I outline a few super positive ways to stay focused and motivated that have helped hundreds of fellow carnivores appropriately titled 10 Ways to Stay Motivated on the Carnivore Diet!
Definitely add Dr. Shawn Baker’s book to your collection, “The Carnivore Diet.”
Need Coaching? Book me here.
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.
- Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health – A Narrative Review Article
- Structure-function and biological role of betacellulin
- The effects of conjugated linoleic acids on breast cancer: A systematic review
- The antioxidant components of milk and their role in processing, ripening, and storage: Functional food
- Dairy Products and Cancer
- Formation and Degradation of Beta-casomorphins in Dairy Processing
- Role of Milk-Derived Opioid Peptides and Proline Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 in Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Roll of Vitamin K2: Everything You Need to Know-Healthline