Carnivore Diet Food List: What to Eat On the Carnivore Diet

By Thomas Wrona Updated on — Medically Reviewed and Certified by Dr. Robert Kiltz

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At first glance, a diet that shuns fruits and vegetables in favor of meat might seem crazy. 

No heart-healthy whole grains? No antioxidant-rich leafy greens? No sugar or fruit?

Correct! While these foods have been recommended as part of a healthy diet for decades, today obesity and metabolic dysfunction are more prevalent than they’ve ever been.

So what is mainstream nutrition missing?  How about 2 million years of evolutionary data. 

When looking at a broad range of evidence from our genetic coding, to isotopes of bones of pre-historic humans, to the recent appearance of tools for processing plant foods, we see that we are designed to be hyper-carnivorous apex predators.

In this guide, we’ll take a close look at some of the most nourishing carnivore (i.e human!)-friendly foods. 

What is a carnivore diet?

The carnivore diet is among the simplest diets out there. As its name implies, the carnivore diet means eating 100% animal foods. No fruits, vegetables, bread, grain, nuts, or seeds. All foods must be sourced from animals. So people even take it so far as only using animal based products on their skin!

Some people take things a step further and only eat animal flesh, but most carnivores also consider animal products like dairy, eggs, and a little bit of raw honey fair game. 

The carnivorous way of eating may seem unorthodox, but it’s actually based on how our ancestors ate for 2 million years. The low-calorie superfoods touted today simply wouldn’t have been worth the effort to the hunter-gatherers of millennia past.

Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see what we mean. Some plant foods ‘cost’ more calories to acquire than they’re able to provide. 

Calorific Return Rate of Different Foods Per Hour Spent Trying to Obtain Food Source

Our ancestors, on the other hand, would’ve targeted the foods at the top of the list. In fact, they would have focused on even now-extinct larger game known megafauna–animals like mastodons. 

The rewards for their hunting efforts were well-fueled bodies and rapidly growing brains.  Many experts believe that carnivorous eating afforded early hominids the brain development needed to become fully human.

Human brain

Development of the human brain in relation to food sources and hunting practices. Source: Times of Israel

Carnivore diet menu/food list

The carnivore diet supports the consumption of any and all foods from the animal kingdom, including:

  • Ruminant animal meat
  • Other animal meat
  • Organ meats
  • Bone broth
  • Animal fats
  • Eggs
  • Fish 
  • Other seafood
  • Dairy

Carnivore diet food list: Ruminant animal meat (beef, bison, lamb)

Meat from ruminant animals is a primary feature of any carnivore diet menu. Common meats include beef, bison, and lamb. These meats come in many different shapes and sizes, a.k.a. “cuts.” 

The digestive tracts of ruminants are especially adept at converting plant products into more nourishing foods. Ruminant animals can even convert the harmful polyunsaturated fats in their animal feeds into healthy saturated ones.

While some people believe that humans should ingest large amounts of plant products, the carnivore diet takes a more evolutionarily-minded approach. Given ruminants have four-part stomachs that are perfectly suited to digesting plants, it makes more sense to let them eat plants — and then eat them

In addition to being tasty and satiating, the meat from ruminant animals is incredibly nutritious. It’s a rich source of B vitamins, zinc, cholesterol, and heme iron. Grass-fed ruminant meat is also rich in beneficial fats like conjugated linoleic acid and stearic acid.  

Here’s the nutrient profile for beef rib eye:

Nutrient 225g Rib Eye Recommended Daily Value (RDV) % RDV
Calories 655 cal 2500 18.6%
Protein 54g 60g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 90%
Fat 50g 30g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 166%
Saturated Fat 23g 20g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 115%
Monounsaturated Fat 25g
Carbohydrates 0g 1200g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 0%
Niacin (B-3) 13.5mg 16mg 30%
B 6 1.4mg 2mg 70%
Selenium 56.25 mcg 67mcg 84%
Iron 3.24mg 20mg 16%
Magnesium 144mg 420mg 34%
Zinc 9.45mg 11mg 86%
Potassium 666mg 4000mg 17%
Phosphorus 400mg 700mg 57%

Some of our favorite cuts include:

  • Flank
  • Chuck
  • Brisket
  • Flat Iron
  • Beef ribs
  • Top rump
  • Round steak

Though these cuts are tougher than rib eye or filet mignon, they offer equal nutritional benefits at a far lower price. Prepare them in a pressure cooker on the low setting and they quickly become tender and delicious. 

Carnivore diet food list: Other animal meat (chicken, pork, turkey)

A healthy carnivore diet menu also leaves plenty of room for other animal meats, including chicken, pork, turkey, duck, deer, and anything else that strikes your fancy. 

Different animal meats shine in different areas. Pork, for example, is a better source of the B vitamin thiamine than any other type of meat.  

Duck meat is a good source of selenium, a nutrient that’s essential for thyroid health.  Here’s the nutritional profile for duck thigh: 

Nutrient 225g Duck Thigh Recommended Daily Value (RDV) % RDV
Calories 758cal 2500 30%
Protein 42g 60g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 70%
Fat 63g 30g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 210%
Saturated Fat 23g 20g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 109%
Monounsaturated Fat 29g
Carbohydrates 0g 120g (Standard Diet, not Keto) 0%
Niacin (B-3) 8.6mg 16mg 54%
B-6 0.4mg 2mg 20%
Selenium 60mcg 67mcg 90%
Iron 6 mg 20mg 30%
Magnesium 144mg 420mg 9%
Zinc 2.5mg 11mg 25%
Potassium 560mg 4000mg 14%
Phosphorus 240mg 700mg 35%

One word of caution about relying on non-ruminant meats for a large portion of your calories: quality matters!

Unlike ruminant animals, chickens and pigs cannot convert the cheap polyunsaturated fats in their feed into healthy saturated ones. You may want to prioritize finding pastured sources of these meats in order to avoid ingesting inflammatory excess omega-6 fats.

Some of our favorite non-ruminant meats include:

  • Duck
  • Pork
  • Chicken thighs

Carnivore diet food list: Organ meats

Organ meats are among nature’s original superfoods. That’s because they’re even richer than muscle meats in some of the most important nutrients. 

Different organ meats have different micro and macronutrient blends, which means that diversifying your nutrient intake is as simple as varying your organ meat intake.

Beef liver is one of the most nutrient dense of all the organ meats. It’s also one of the easiest organs to start off with. Liver is so high in certain fat-soluble vitamins, in fact, that it’s better viewed as a supplement than as an everyday food.  Both beef liver and chicken liver are chock-full of nutrients. 

Here’s beef liver’s nutrient profile:

Beef Liver nutrition

Organ meats tend to provide predictably specific benefits to people who eat them. In other words, beef kidney contains special peptides that may benefit the health of our own kidneys.  

Beef brain is one of the richest sources of cholesterol — and this cholesterol also provides the perfect fuel source for our energy-hungry brains.  Organ meats make nutrition intuitive and simple.  

Some of our favorite organ meats include:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Sweetbread
  • Brain

Carnivore diet food list: Bone broth and bone marrow

Bone broth and bone marrow are both staple foods across most early cultures. Modern nutritional research shows us why: these foods are nature’s best source of glycine, the most anti-inflammatory, anti-aging amino acid.  Bone-derived food products are high in fat, free of carbs, and keto-friendly

Bone broth and bone marrow are also excellent source of collagen, which means they can support healthy skin and bones. Research has found that supplementing your diet with collagen may improve skin health and reduce aches and pains.

Nutrient 100g of Bone Marrow Recommended Daily Value (RDV) %RDV
Calories 770 calories 2,500 calories 30%
Protein 7 grams 50 g (standard diet, not keto) 14%
Fat 80 grams 30 g (standard diet, not keto) 266%
Carbohydrates 0 mg 120 g (standard diet, not keto) 0%
Niacin 0.4 mg 16 mg 3%
Selenium 20 mcg 70 mcg 36%
Iron 0.8 mg 20 mg 4%
Magnesium 1.8 mg 420 mg  0.4%
Zinc 0.1 mg 11 mg 1%
Potassium 137 mg 4000 mg 5%
Phosphorus 7 mg 700 mg 1%

Some of our favorite ways to use soup bones include:

  • Make a nourishing soup
  • Enjoy eating their marrow plain
  • Make bone broth with bones, spices, and butter

Carnivore diet food list: Animal fat (tallow, lard, duck fat)

Contrary to what you might have learned in school (or even medical school), animal fats are one of the very best fat sources. 

Animal fats are rich in highly stable saturated fatty acid (like stearic acid), and naturally occurring trans fats (like trans-rumenic acid), both of which are correlated with better mitochondrial health and lower cholesterol.  

Fat  High amounts (99+% of calories from fat)
Protein None
Carbs None
Vitamins Vitamin A, D, E, K2, Niacin
Minerals Trace amounts
Other Stearic acid, CLA

Some of our favorite ways to use animal fats include:

  • Use them as cooking fats (fry your eggs in tallow!)
  • Add them into bone broth for some extra calories
  • Ladle them over leaner meats to meet your keto macronutrient goals

Carnivore diet food list: Eggs 

Eggs are a commonplace, convenient animal product — which makes them perfectly suited to the carnivore diet.

With a wide blend of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are a whole-animal food that contains almost everything your body needs.  

The choline content of eggs also makes them great for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Nutrient 100g of Eggs Recommended Daily Value (RDV) %RDV
Calories 63 calories 2,500 calories 2.5%
Protein 12.6 grams 50 g (standard diet, not keto) 25%
Fat 5.6 grams 30 g (standard diet, not keto) 19%
Carbohydrates 0.7 grams 120 g (standard diet, not keto) 0.06%
Niacin 0.34 mg 16 mg 2%
Selenium 20 mcg 70 mcg 36%
Iron 1.75 mg 20 mg 8.75%
Magnesium 6 mg 420 mg  1.4%
zinc 1.29 mg 11 mg 12%
Potassium 83 mg 4000 mg 3%
Phosphorus 113 mg 700 mg 16%

Some of our favorite ways to cook eggs include:

  • Overeasy (avoid oxidized cholesterol this way)
  • Scrambled with meat and/or cheese
  • As a topping for leaner meats to boost fat intake

Carnivore diet food list: Fish

Fish is a carnivore-friendly food that provides most of the benefits of red meat without many of the potential downsides. It’s lower in iron and higher in trace minerals that support its metabolic ‘costs.’  

While the verdict is still out on whether fish is superior to animal proteins, we’ll just say this: if you enjoy fish or other seafood, eat it! 

Here’s the nutrient profile for salmon roe (salmon eggs), which many people consider the most nutritious part of the fish:

Nutrient 100g of Salmon Roe Recommended Daily Value (RDV) % RDV
Calories 250 calories 2,500 calories 10% 
Protein 29 grams 50 g (standard diet, not keto) 58%
Fat 14 grams 30 g (standard diet, not keto) 47%
Carbohydrates 2.9 grams 120 g (standard diet, not keto) 2.4%
Niacin 1.8 milligrams 16 mg 20%
Selenium 40 micrograms 70 mcg 73%
Iron 0.6 milligrams 20 mg 3.3%
Magnesium 20 milligrams 420 mg  4.8%
Zinc 1 milligram 11 mg 9%
Potassium 221 milligrams 4000 mg 4.7%
Phosphorus 402 milligrams 700 mg 57%

Some of our favorite types of fish and other seafood include:

  • Salmon
  • Salmon roe
  • Cod
  • Sole
  • Oysters
  • Scallops 

Carnivore diet food list: Dairy 

High in fat, moderate in protein, and virtually free of carbs, dairy is one of our favorite foods to eat on a carnivore diet. The fat in dairy products is incredibly diverse: nutrient analysis has found that butter contains more than 400 different fatty acids.

Here’s the nutrient profile of parmesan Reggiano, a premium aged cheese: 

Nutrient 100g of  Parma Recommended Daily Value (RDV) % RDV
Calories 420 calories 2,500 calories 17% 
Protein 32 grams 50 g (standard diet, not keto) 64%
Fat 30 grams 30 g (standard diet, not keto) 100%
Carbohydrates 3.4 grams 120 g (standard diet, not keto) 2.8%
Niacin .3 milligrams 16 mg 2%
Selenium 24 micrograms 70 mcg 34%
Iron 0.9 milligrams 20 mg 5%
Magnesium 47 milligrams 420 mg  11%
Zinc 2.9 milligram 11 mg 37%
Potassium 221 milligrams 4000 mg 4.7%
Phosphorus 737 milligrams 700 mg 105%

Some of our favorite dairy products include:

  • Aged cheese
  • Pastured butter
  • Unsweetened full-fat yogurt

The Best Ways to Source Carnivore Foods 

Finding premium animal products for your carnivore diet is easier than you might think. Here are several of the best sourcing options. 

Your local butcher

Nobody will be more supportive of your carnivore diet more than your local butcher. Butchers have a comprehensive knowledge of the different cuts of meats. If you’re buying in bulk, they’ll probably be more than happy to cut you a deal. 

Farmers market

Local farmers’ markets are also a great place to find premium animal products. Many markets feature everything you need to eat carnivore, including eggs, organ meats, grass-fed dairy, honey (yes, honey is an optional carnivore food), and more. Another benefit: the food you’ll find at a farmer’s market is more than likely super fresh. 

Supermarkets

If all else fails, your local supermarket carries plenty of carnivore-friendly foods. While organ meats and salmon roe may not be available, muscle meat is easy to find–opt for the fattiest cuts! Your supermarket will also carry plenty of good cheese options — just be sure to pick something that’s free of additives. 

Buy online

It’s true — in 2021 you really can buy premium meat online. Dr. Kiltz recommends Butcher Box, a 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef delivery site. 

Carnivore Diet FAQ’s

How much water should I drink on the carnivore diet?

As much as you feel like drinking! One of the beautiful things about the carnivore diet is that it honors your intuition. 

Many people report feeling less thirsty once they go carnivore, probably because dietary fats may help your mitochondria produce more of their own water than carbs do.

Can I have snacks?

Snacks are welcome — just keep them carnivore friendly. Many people who go carnivore find that they’re satiated enough to stop snacking automatically.  

Can I have sauces?

As long as they’re free of sugars and seed oils, many people feel that having occasional sauces/seasonings on the carnivore diet is just fine. 

Is alcohol carnivore-friendly?

Technically mead might be. If you’re following the carnivore diet for health reasons, however (who isn’t?), you may want to consider abstaining from alcohol completely.

Are coffee and tea carnivore-friendly?

Coffee and tea aren’t carnivore-friendly because they’re produced from plants. If you enjoy them, however, you can keep drinking them and simply stick to carnivorous foods. 

Carnivore Diet Sample Menu

Carnivore diet breakfast food list

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Omelets
  • Sausage (sugar-free)

Carnivore diet lunch food list

  • Eggs
  • Steak
  • Beef and bone broth
  • Cheeseburgers (nix the buns)

Carnivore diet dinner food list

  • Ribeye
  • Ground beef + liver
  • Organ meats dishes
  • Pastured roast chicken
  • Salmon with a sprinkle of salmon roe

Carnivore diet dessert food list

  • Dr. Kiltz’s ice cream (try it here)
  • Yogurt and honey (if you tolerate it)

Article Sources

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