How To Start A Carnivore Diet - The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Welcome to the getting started portion of the carnivore diet guide.

This is all action—what you need to do, prepare for and consider when starting a carnivore diet.

For carnivore theory and the many frequently asked questions and hurdles, check the rest of the guide via the left sidebar.

This part of the guide will help you get started with a carnivore diet so you have the best chance for success.

While this is a guide to starting, there are tips here that are integral to longterm success. So this article could also be called, “How To Sustain Long Term Success On A Carnivore Diet.”

We have a lot to cover, so let’s dive in.

1. PICK YOUR STARING CARNIVORE DIET LEVEL

The first thing you want to do is pick what carnivore level you want to start out.

Do you want to go meat-only? Or maybe you want to do meat + some quality dairy? Or maybe you want to work your way up to these levels by keeping some limited fruit and vegetables—I call this a "flexible carnivore" approach.

My personal preference is for everyone to start with strict carnivore for at least 60 days. From there, you can add in certain foods to test how your body responds. To test different foods intelligently, you have to first remove them and give your body to heal from however they are affecting your biology.

2. CARNIVORE PLANNING

The key to any successful diet is planning ahead.

Do you need to upgrade your cooking tools and buy a sharp knife and cast iron pan? Do that now.

Do you need to eliminate the junk from your pantry so you aren't tempted to cheat on your diet? Do that now.

Do you need to learn how to cook a steak? Do that now here.

Do you need to buy a slow cooker so you can make big batch meals and store the leftovers for when you're at work? Do that now.

The more you prepare and build the routines you need to succeed, the more likely you are to succeed.

Here are a few resources for doing just that. Here is a simple PDF you can print to help you on your journey. AM optin TK

If you want to really nerd out, which will increase change for success, this is what I recommend:

  1. Create a spreadsheet
  2. List 10 meals you enjoy in column 1.
  3. Create a new doc for each recipe that fits into a single page so its easy to print
  4. Write out a simple method and/or procedure list. You can take it to the next level and find some actual recipes online you like or just write out meals you already know how to make. Don't go too elaborate here since that might create resistance and lower your success likelihood. You want to make it as simple as possible while getting the job done—just enough.
  5. 5. Link each doc to your primary SS. Use the function Command + K to insert a link.

Advanced tip: Print each doc as well as the index and create a simple table of contents. Then take this out Staples and get it laminated and spiral bound. Then put this in your kitchen.

You could also consider exporting this as a single page PDF and keeping it on your phone or iPad for easy access.

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3. CARNIVORE EATING STRATEGY

Intermittent fasting and the carnivore diet are a match made in heaven.

Whether you decide to use some kind of fasting in your routine is up to you. But on a carnivore diet, you want to stick with one, two or three meals a day max. I eat one big meal—breakfast—and one smaller meal later in the day within an 8-hour feeding window.

If you struggle with eating enough protein or calories in general, you could try three smaller meals over one or two larger meals.

Once you have your meal schedule down, the composition of your meals should look like this:

If fat loss is your goal: prioritize protein and fill in the gaps with fat. I would aim for 40% of calories coming from protein. The ease at which you can do this is based on your biology. Personally, when I'm hitting 35% or so protein, it's a struggle to eat more.

If weight maintenance is your goal, I would aim for getting 25-30% of your calories from protein and the rest from fat.  I don't recommend going below 20% protein.

Keep in mind these ranges are subjective. It's going to depend on many variables. The best thing is test for yourself. Here's a video on just this that shows you how to reverse engineer your ideal protein intake.

This is my typical schedule:

  • Wake between 9am and 11am. Drink full glass of water with some magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin d3
  • Coffee shop to work - Get a cold brew
  • Meal 1: 4-5pm - usually a steak
  • Meal 2: between 7-10pm - usually ground beef with some cheese
  • Fast until tomorrow and repeat cycle

This makes my diet extremely simple. As I’ve said before, simplicity increases adherence and longevity. It also gives you time for other things in life.

4. SOURCING FOR A CARNIVORE DIET

This part is very important. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking your sourcing seriously.

I used to take a lackadaisical approach to this and my meals and enjoyment suffered, and as a result, my diet was not as consistent as it should have been.

First of all, the thing about sticking with any diet comes down to enjoyment.

If you don’t enjoy the foods you are eating, you don’t stand a chance in hell of committing to the long run. The long run is where your results are. So enjoy your food and  commit and eventually you’ll get the results you are after.

This is the magic diet formula. It’s especially important on a carnivore diet due to the limited food options you have. So getting high-quality animal foods you enjoy is integral to success eating carnivore.

You have to find the same animal products you enjoy because you will be eating them often. And since there is so much variation in animal products, it’s worth the time to get this out of the way first.

Stick with these sourcing parameters first, then make notes about what products you find and from where. Advanced tip: create a spreadsheet with location and the product and the price even. This will make shopping a breeze.

  • Fish and shellfish: Wild Caught - raw, canned or frozen.
  • Beef: grass-fed, grass-finished, organic ideally, local if possible.
  • Chicken: soy-free, corn-free pasture-raised organic
  • Pork: grain-free, humanely raised, access to outdoors, organic
  • Wild game: wild = awesome

COOKING FATS ON A CARNIVORE DIET

I use ghee, grass-fed and raw butter, and tallow. Sometimes I use avocado oil or macadamia nut oil, but that is only if you are doing a more flexible carnivore diet version.

As you start paying attention to your sourcing, you'll find products you like more than others—this ground beef over this one, for example. When that happens, document it and stick with that product. This is why keeping a list of your favorite products will save you money and time. It'll also make your meals more enjoyable.

Sourcing for a carnivore diet

As you start paying attention to your sourcing, you'll find products you like more than others—this ground beef over this one, for example. When that happens, document it and stick with that product. This is why keeping a list of your favorite products will save you money and time. It'll also make your meals more enjoyable.

Now that I source some of the best quality beef on the planet, all I need is a bit of salt and I have a delicious meal right out of the package. That is the power of sourcing and finding producers you trust.

To get some ideas, I’ll share with you, my suppliers. Keep in mind this is not the only way to do it. Something else to keep in mind is I hope to one day graduate eating a large grass-fed ribeye every meal, but right now that’s more I want to spend. So I’m opting for cheaper cuts of meat, like sirloin which is now my go-to steak for most meals.

My current carnivore sourcing plan:

My favorite grass-fed, organic beef: Alderspring ranch We recently had the founder Glenn come on the Ancestral Mind podcast to talk about regenerative agriculture. They are a family-run company following a model I hope more farmers will adopt. I was drawn to them after reading about their amazing story of the cowboys camping alongside the cattle in the wild wilderness. This is truly wild beef, as wild and natural as it gets.

Local HEB: they have these steaks there. Grass-fed, grass-finished Texas beef. They are delicious and tender. I've been super impressed with the quality. I got lucky to find this near our new house.

Vital choice: So far I’ve only tried their salmon roe, which is an omega-3 bomb. I use that + Wild Fish oil + cod liver oil to get my omega-3s.

Raw dairy: This is where I stock up on raw cream and milk and cheese. You can also get raw cheese from most grocery stores. Make sure it says raw milk as the first ingredient.

Canned fish: Some of my go-to's are Wild plant sardines and mackerel. I’ve also been digging Patagonia Provisions canned clams and mackerel as well as their shelf-stable salmon. It's high-quality stuff and their sourcing standards meet my standards.

SUPPLEMENTS ON A CARNIVORE DIET

I believe supplements are supplemental to a whole food diet. So I take them as a kind of insurance policy.

If you consider how depleted in nutrients our soil is after strip-mining it for the last 100 years, supplements can help fill in the gaps. After all, the foods our ancestors lived on were wild and real and unadulterated. The same cannot be said about our modern food supply.

My primary nutritional insurance includes the following omega 3 products; Wild Fish oilK2&D3, and Cod liver oil.

Wild Coal is another productive take regularly. Anytime I eat out or have some Rebel ice cream, I take a cap or two. This helps bind to toxins and pass them through.

For Vitamin D, my first line of dense is getting sun every day, at least 30 minutes worth. The weather has been inconsistent this winter, so I haven’t been getting outside as much as I’d like to. This definitely affected my health during winter. So most days I take a daily Wild D3/k2 as a maintenance dose. That said, getting outside is when I feel my best. So you should always opt for going outside as your primary way to get vitamin D on any diet.

I also started looking into the magnesium research. There are multiple forms of magnesium, all integral to various processes in your body. As a whole, magnesium accounts for about 200+ processes in your body. I’ve been taking this ZMA for years, but lately have been looking for other magnesium products to test adding to my routine.

I’ve experimented with a few digestive enzyme products lately. I’m still trying to find a quality lipase product and an HCI product, and since I don't fully trust the sourcing of most of these, I’m only using them sparingly here and there. I use these the times I happen to eat something I shouldn’t be eating.

If I were 100% strict with my diet, I don't think I’d need these since I’ve been doing this long enough that my gut bacteria have adapted.

Iodine: I’ve seen a few carnivore proponents mention iodine importance and then I looked into adding this to my routine. I’ve noticed an improvement in my overall mood and energy levels since starting iodine and magnesium. Which is responsible is impossible to say at this time.

A final word on supplements. Make sure you use them to supplement your carnivore diet and not as a substitute for eating low-quality foods. They will not make up for poor food choices, so don’t even try.

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TOOLS FOR CARNIVORE DIET SUCCESS

No guide to carnivore would be complete without a mention of the proper tools.

If you are serious about your health, you should be serious about cooking and meal prep.

I will leave you with a few of the tools I use every single day.

1. Cast Iron pan - the 10-inch size is perfect

2. Tongs - metal for the win

3. Sharp knife - one good chef’s knife is all you need. Don’t spend over $1000 on knives like I have over my lifetime

4. One set of small serrated knives are a workhorse in the kitchen.

5. Keep your knives sharp with an electric sharpener. Worth the investment.

6. Fish turner - one of the most used items in the kitchen… regardless if you ever cook fish or not!

7. Probe Thermometer - a must for correctly cooked meats

8. Medium size sheet pan with rack - I use this every day

9. Cutting board with a juice groove

10. Wild Pink Salt - my go-to workhorse salt in the kitchen

11. Wild Kosher Flake Salt - what I use for finishing

See the rest of my recommend cooking and recording gear here: Colin’s Kit

So there you have it, everything you need to know about starting a carnivore diet today.

A little planning and foresight go a long way. Initially, it may seem like a lot, but that is balanced out by how easy it is once you start doing it.

Once you have your routines down, and some meals you enjoy, this diet becomes a natural routine. It is a beautiful thing!