Last month, some people embarked on World Carnivore Month by following the “carnivore diet” for 31 days.
That’s a whole month of eating just animals or unprocessed animal products. That’ s meat or eggs, basically.
One of those people was podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan, who showcased his experience on social media.
A lot of people asked me why he got ‘such good results’. So I jumped over to Rogan’s profile and saw that he lost 12lbs during the month, says he feels great, and got rid of some aches and pains.
He also notes that the persistent diarrhea he suffered during the first two weeks – during which time he feared soiling himself – had now cleared up.
Looking at these initial results, it’s important to consider the context, before jumping to the assumption that this experiment proves the carnivore diet is beneficial.
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Carnivore diet update; the good and the bad. Let’s start with the bad. There’s really only one “bad” thing, and that thing is diarrhea. I’m not sure diarrhea is an accurate word for it, like I don’t think a shark is technically a fish. It’s a different thing, and with regular diarrhea I would compare it to a fire you see coming a block or two away and you have the time to make an escape, whereas this carnivore diet is like out of nowhere the fire is coming through the cracks, your doorknob is red hot, and all hope is lost. I haven’t shit my pants yet, but I’ve come to accept that if I keep going with this diet it’s just a matter of time before we lose a battle, and I fill my undies like a rainforest mudslide overtaking a mountain road. It’s that bad. It seems to be getting a little better every day, so there’s that to look forward to, but as of today I trust my butthole about as much as I trust a shifty neighbor with a heavy Russian accent that asks a lot of personal questions. The good: Now, I’m well aware of the placebo effect and I’m constantly self-analyzing every perceived reaction I’m having to eating only meat for almost 2 weeks straight, but one thing I’m fairly sure of is that my energy levels are higher and steadier throughout the day. This seems undeniable. I don’t know if it’s a temporary effect and if maybe it’s just the result of eating really disciplined, but either way it seems to be real. I’ve also felt really “healthy” (other than the sporadic bouts of hellacious projectile doodoo). Again, I don’t now if this is real or imagined, but I actually seem to feel happier and more balanced. This is the only time in my life I’ve ever tried eliminating carbs for more than a day or so, and since I started the diet a couple days before January I’m now about 13 days in, at least 7 pounds lighter, and in completely uncharted territory for me. Which makes me think this is probably completely uncharted territory for 99% of the people on earth. Anyway, I’ll keep you folks posted. This is my late night dinner of liver and bacon. Only my second meal of the day, I ate a fat ribeye at 1pm. #worldcarnivoremonth
An anecdote, however interesting, is not science.
We have no idea what Rogan’s starting point was. My bet is that he was comparing how he felt at the end of his carnivore month to how he felt the previous month. That was December – the festive season, where there will be more eating and drinking, compared to very little (or no) drinking during the experiment.
We know from one of his recent podcast episodes (with Bryan Callen, Eddie Bravo, and Brendan Schaub), that Rogan felt he had recently gained weight as a result of over-eating before January, with him saying: “Before I went on this diet, I went off the rails a bit – too many carbs, too much pasta.”
So he was comparing one month of a stricter dietary regime to a previous month during which he admitted he ‘went off the rails’ with his food intake.
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Carnivore diet update: lost 12 pounds, feel amazing. Lots of aches and pains went away, and I have improvements in my vitiligo. I’m impressed. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep eating like this but this month was very beneficial. Edit: the explosive uber diarrhea stopped around 2 weeks in. It’s been totally normal last two weeks. Shout out to @whoop too for sponsoring the podcast and creating a dope fitness tracker!
Glycogen and weight loss
A carnivore diet means zero carbs. This means there will be less stored glycogen, and less water to store that glycogen (for every part glycogen three-four parts of water are needed to store it).
This is why people on low carbohydrate diets drop a lot of water weight, and why people trying to quickly reduce their weight for competitions cut their carb intake. But this drop in weight is not fat. When carbs are low, some muscle along with fat is broken down to create energy.
There are other questions worth considering. For example, did this diet mean Rogan removed a trigger food. And did eating such a restricted diet mean that in turn, he created a calorie-deficit?
Long term results
Ultimately, the reality is, short term results do not trump long term scientific data. There is still zero long term science done on the carnivore diet.
But what we do know, is that there is overwhelming research to show that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but low in fiber increases the risk of heart disease, and some cancers, and all-cause early death.
I’m not sure why he chose to eat this way, but promoting such an extreme diet is extremely disappointing and irresponsible. With a following as large as his, he’s probably considered to a lot of people as an influencer. But what exactly is he influencing people to do?