We all start off on a new routine, diet, behavior, or way of living in order to hopefully better our lives… otherwise what’s the point? This is the same thing with the Carnivore Diet. It’s a diet or way of living known as carnivory but often times we run into barriers whether we know it or not.
I’ve provided a top eleven list of carnivore diet mistakes that I both ran into and researched on my own. Some are obvious and some not so much but none the less these are the major mistakes in my opinion when practicing the Carnivore Diet.
#1. Quitting Too Soon
Obviously this one is a no brainer and some of us get so close to a finish line but give up right before we make it. For the carnivore diet, a lot of the main reasons we are practicing it is to get relief from food-related health problems ranging from Autoimmune issues, Diabetes to weight issues.
Some people try for a few weeks and only experience the bad sides of the diet with include the keto flu and other adaption period symptoms. Remember everybody adapts differently requiring different amounts of time ranging from weeks to over a year.
Dr. Shawn Baker, a carnivore diet advocate, even said it took his body 6 months to fully adapt. Sometimes things get worse in order to get better and that applies here. To combat giving up and to stay motivated I recommend signing up to the World Carnivore Tribe, checking out MeatRX, following Dr. Shawn Baker on social media as well as tracking your progress with a food journal that not only documents what you are eating but also how you are feeling.
You can also subscribe to our Wild Lumens YouTube Channel for unique carnivore diet recipes and inspiration. It’s a blast!
#2. Not Consuming Enough Salt
Just about any low carb, paleo, or zero carb/carnivore diet advocate, nutritionist or functional medicine doctor will emphasize the importance of salt. The exact recommendations are not precise due to body types and I have seen people recommend anywhere from two to 10 grams per day.
How do you find the perfect amount?
It’s a good question and one that most likely can’t be answered due to the extreme differences in peoples bodies and metabolisms. Also generally speaking the more active you are, say, runner, weight lifter, MMA fighter the more salt you would most likely need.
Dr. Paul Saladino in his book, “The Carnivore Code”, recommends 5-10 grams per day.
Why do we need more salt on this diet?
When your body goes low to zero-carb your insulin levels begin to decrease which in turn revs up the kidneys so that they begin to expel more electrolytes and sodium. Also, water retention begins to decrease.
Some of the symptoms associated with low salt and low electrolytes are muscle cramps, feeling lethargic, brain fog, and body aches. One of the ways to minimize these symptoms is by making sure you are adding enough salt to your diet.
It’s a good idea to make sure you add salt to all the meat you are consuming. Another remedy is to add salt to you drinking water and sip throughout the day.
Going one step further some people purchase massive bottles of sparkling water and add the salt to them in order to keep the salt mixed/blended for a better taste, drinking that last sip of concentrated saltwater at the bottom of your cup can be a little nasty.
I highly recommend Redmond Real Salt.
Redmond’s salt is sourced from an ancient salt bed in Utah, therefore you won’t get any toxins or microplastics from ocean sourced salt.
Oh yeah and one other quick hack with salt. If you have trouble waking up in the morning have a glass of water with a teaspoon of salt mixed in and that will help to wake you up.
While we are talking bout salt we should mention electrolytes. Some people are not getting enough and myself included. That’s why I use Redmond’s electrolyte mix called Re-Lyte.
This stuff has a very good amount of electrolytes per serving. Take a look:
- 1000mg of Sodium
- 500mg of Potassium
- 1585mg of Chloride
- 75mg of Calcium
- 60mg of Magnesium
Use this Redmond link to possibly get a 15% discount or use WILD at Checkout!
Disclaimer: Obviously speak to your doctor before taking any supplements!
#3. Not Eating Enough
This one is very similar to not getting enough salt. People starting out on the carnivore diet tend to not eat enough and therefore see an increase of symptoms like headaches, brain fog, low energy, cravings, bad focus, and aches throughout the body. Eating more can help lessen these symptoms.
The general rule of thumb is to eat when you feel hungry. Pretty simple yet a lot of the time due to our social conditioning and the anti-meat propaganda we have this idea that eating fatty meat is unhealthy and is going to make you fat.
Time to throw those ideas out and jump the mental hurdle. If you feel hungry don’t hesitate to break out a couple juicy burgers or a slab of bacon.
Listening to Dr. Shawn Baker he actually recommends eating at least 2 pounds of meat per day if you are male and 1.5 pounds if you are female. It comes down to body size as well. I think I heard him say he eats four or more pounds per day due to his size and rigorous work out schedule as an athlete.
Bottom line is to let your appetite be your guide and don’t feel guilty for eating a lot. Eat until satiated.
#4. Processed Meat
Unfortunately, all that good looking meat that seems perfect for lunch or quick snacks is most likely not compatible with the carnivore diet.
Most if not all the processed meats like turkey, ham, pepperoni, salami, and beef jerky have some sort of ingredient that will disqualify it from the diet with the three main culprits being sugar, wheat-based flour and carbohydrate-based fillers.
It is especially important to refrain from these meats if you are attempting the carnivore diet due to gluten intolerance or autoimmune disorders.
Just take a look at the ingredients the next time you are shopping in the lunch meat section and you will see the sugar, preservatives, and fillers.
If you are shopping for snacks I like to recommend grass-fed beef jerky with the bare ingredients of meat, salt, and pepper. You will be surprised that most jerky has large quantities of sugar and can be flavored with nasty stuff like MSG and soy sauce (warning, most soy sauce even has gluten in it).
Here are my sugar-free jerky recommendations:
We also made an informative post dedicated to Carnivore Diet snacks:
#5. Restaurant Scrambled Eggs and Omelets
The hidden tricks of restaurant chefs and cooks can really wreak havoc on your diet.
Eating out is already a little tricky but you will need to remain extra vigilant with the restaurants and confirm with your server that when you order Eggs and Omelets that they need not be cooked with pancake batter.
That is the trick some people and cooks use to make the omelet fluffy and change its texture. Don’t be afraid to ask for gluten-free eggs and omelets cooked without batter and cooked on a surface that wasn’t used for cooking glutenous pancakes. My personal solution is to notify the server that I have a bad allergy to gluten.
#6. Restaurant Made Burgers
Another restaurant issue to be aware of is that some chefs and cooks like to add filler and/or bread crumbs to their burgers in order to create a new texture or to help bind the meat.
Once again confirm with your server that this is not the case and don’t be afraid to mention your gluten allergy.
#7. Sneaky Sauces, Marinades and Gravies
Everything tastes better with sauces, marinades, and a ton of gravy but don’t fall for this trap. A majority of these items are thickened with wheat flour, malt, or soy sauce.
Cream sauces and gravies generally have a ton of flour. Marinades almost always have soy sauce which has soybeans (obviously) and can have wheat.
Stay strong and resists these extra toppings as they are definitely not worth it. After a while when you fully adapt your craving for these tastes will diminish.
#8. Imitation Crab
Imitation crab is a pretty obvious “no, no”, but I wanted to add it to the list as some of the sushi lovers that are attempting this diet will do a cheat day and add California Rolls to their plate.
A majority of these rolls contain the fake imitation crab meat which is definitely not compatible with the carnivore diet. Let’s take a look at what this meat really consists of.
Producers use Alaskan Pollock fish as the base ingredient and then load in the filler which is primarily sugar, starches, egg, and some kind of flavoring not to mention sometimes MSG is added. To top it off that orange-reddish crab tint is painted on with food dye.
Fun facts of imitation crab. It was actually invented by the Japanese over 1000 years ago and called surimi. However, the US adopted it in the 1970s as a cost-cutting food and it is now the majority product used in the famous California Roll.
If you are going out for a night of sushi just stick with the meat only options and be warned those soy sauces may contain gluten and other ingredients not compatible with this diet.
#9. Meat Balls and Meatloaf
You would think a food item with the first word in its name would be all good for a carnivore. Unfortunately not so much the case. Most meatballs and meatloaf dishes have unwanted fillers such as flour, sugar, bread crumbs, ketchup, and other vegetable products such as onions.
If you are going to resort to these dishes be sure to confirm the ingredients. This is how I make them!
#10. Meat Soups
Just another dish to be concerned with. Sometime when dining out you will notice a meat friendly soup but be forwarded that even the soups with just meat broth can have some hidden unwanted ingredients. Soups can have a potent combination of flour, vegetable-based broths, glutenous stocks, or bouillon.
Make sure to confirm the ingredients and if making your own soup stick with a simple bone broth and add in some meat of your liking.
#11. Hot Dogs, Sausages and Some Bacon
This one falls into the processed meat category but I wanted to give it its own category to just make sure these get noticed.
Hot dogs, sausages, and some bacons have unwanted fillers, sugars, flours, gluten, preservatives, and flavors. There are some brands that are compatible with the carnivore diet just be extra diligent when searching and reading the ingredients list.
Bacon is another tricky one as most wouldn’t know that the second ingredient is sometimes sugar. Be sure to get the paleo-friendly bacon or buy directly from a butcher that doesn’t add all the extra garbage.
I even had a bad experience with sausages. During week 7 or 8 of my carnivore diet, I picked up some sausage from my local butcher. The ingredients looked pretty normal as they didn’t have fillers, sugar or anything that would raise a red flag. I ate about 4 for these sausages and 4 burgers for dinner but that night around 3 AM I woke up with stomach discomfort.
I shook it off as just an anomaly. The next night I had the same thing and ended up getting the same results, I woke up at 3 AM with the same discomfort. It turns out the sausage had some spices in them that my stomach no longer liked or I have been sensitive to these spices the whole time but now I am more so.
Either way, I donated the remainder sausages to my brother and haven’t had an unwanted 3 AM wake up since.
The point of this story is to listen to your body. Sometimes it’s trying to tell you something and listening to it is a good idea.
What about drinks? We have these articles which should point you in the right direction.
- Can You Drink Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet? (Why and Why Not?)
- 11 Reasons To Quit Coffee on a Carnivore Diet (#7 is a Surprise)
- Top 4 Drinks For The Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet is not easy and at the same time, it’s not that hard, at least when compared to other diets in which you need to count and be specific with categories, food weights, nutrients, etc.
The point of this post is to just bring awareness to the more common pitfalls and challenges.
Now that you know it should make your journey a little easier with fewer setbacks. Stay strong and feel free to pass this post on to others that may need a little help.
Do you need motivation? If so I am a carnivore diet coach with Dr. Shawn Baker’s group MeatRX. You can schedule me here.
Also, I highly recommend these two books:
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. 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.