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The Carnivore Diet for Women: Female-Specific Effects and Benefits
The carnivore diet is a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat eating plan. Cutting carbs and increasing fat intake significantly impact hormone production and balance within the body. Since women are more sensitive to hormone fluctuations than men, you may be curious about the effects of a carnivore diet for women.
In this article, we’ll follow the science as we explore the specific effects and benefits that a carnivore diet can have for women.
Table of Contents
What is the Carnivore Diet?
If you’re new to the carnivore diet, here’s a brief outline of what it entails for both women and men.
A carnivore diet calls for eating only animal products, including
- Ruminant meats–beef, bison, lamb, elk
- Organ meats–liver, bone marrow, sweetbreads etc.
- Bone broth
- Fish–fatty types like salmon, mackerel, sardines
- Shellfish-mussels, oysters, crab
- Full-fat dairy–creamy cheeses and heavy cream
This means eliminating many staples of the standard American Diet, including:
- processed foods
- vegetable oils
How women adhere to and formulate their carnivore diet often evolves over time.
It’s common for women to begin with the carnivore elimination diet, which calls for only steak, water, and salt for at least a month.
After the elimination protocol, it’s common to add in full-fat dairy, pork, organ meats (especially liver), seafood, and the occasional treat of low-carb homemade ice cream.
With any iteration, carnivore always revolves around ruminant meats, which have the best fatty-acid profile, least toxins (most seafood is contaminated), and greatest density of bio-available nutrients.
Keep in mind that animal products are zero-to-low in carbs. Since your body can only get 35% of its calories from protein without risking protein poisoning, you need to get most of your calories from fat. Therefore the carnivore diet is by default a high-fat low-carb, or keto-carnivore way of eating.
Women go carnivores for numerous reasons. A few of the most common include:
- Losing weight
- Resolving autoimmune disorders
- Reducing inflammation
- Healing the gut
- Steady energy
- Mental clarity
- Resolving psychological issues like depression and anxiety
- Resolving diabetes
Benefits of The Carnivore Diet for Women
Emerging data from mainstream institutions like Harvard, along with tens of thousands of personal success stories, reveal that the carnivore diet offers powerful health benefits to both men and women.
But not much has been written about the ways the carnivore diet may affect and benefit women specifically. Here’s our science-based list of the possible women-specific effects of the carnivore diet.
1 Balances Hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers that orchestrate many of the body’s biological processes, including reproduction, mood, appetite, and energy metabolism.5
High-fat, low-carb diets centered on animal products have been shown to regulate hormones by
- providing your body with cholesterol–the building blocks of hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all derive from cholesterol5
- eliminating your intake of plant foods containing phytoestrogens and phytohormones that mimic reproductive hormones
- mitigating the hormone dysregulating effects of high blood sugar
- Providing an abundance of nutrients that help regulate reproductive hormones, including zinc and vitamin D
A 2017 review of seven high-quality studies looking at the effects of low carbohydrate diets like carnivore on hormones in overweight and obese women found that cutting carbs reduced circulating insulin levels, leading to improvements in hormonal imbalance and resulting in the resumption of ovulation.
2 Helps Resolve PCOS
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a combined hormonal and inflammatory disorder that affects the ovaries and ovulation of 1 in 10 women. The main symptoms of PCOS:
- Causing cysts in the ovaries
- High levels of male hormones
- Irregular or skipped periods
A standard high-carb diet keeps insulin levels chronically elevated, a condition called hyperinsulinemia– the primary factor in developing PCOS.
Hyperinsulinemia leads to PCOS by inhibiting sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) synthesis, increasing the levels of male sex hormones (androgens) like testosterone in women.
Abnormally high levels of male sex hormones inhibit the production of progesterone while keeping estrogen levels elevated.
Additionally, women with PCOS who eat diets high in carbs increase oxidative stress and cellular inflammatory responses, further fueling PCOS symptoms.
When women go carnivore, they’re cutting carbs, which lowers insulin and allows the body to rebalance sex hormones.
A study of women with PCOS who consumed a high-fat, low-carb diet for six months revealed an average loss of 12% of body weight and a 54% reduction in insulin levels.
We can debate whether focusing on aging is psychologically healthy, but the reality is that women spend billions of dollars on anti-aging treatments and products.
The irony is that the greatest tool to combat aging is your own diet and lifestyle.
The carnivore diet introduces numerous factors that contribute to anti-aging properties, including
- Cutts sugar: reduces glycation–the destructive binding of glucose with proteins in the skin and organs
- Increases anti-aging foods: Bone broth provides collagen that maintains the health of connective tissues, bones, and skin.5 As women age, their bodies produce less collagen making it necessary to replace collagen from dietary sources. Blue cheese is the most abundant natural source of bioactive peptides with powerful and proven anti-aging properties delivered to every organ of the body.
- Carnivore foods with zinc have been shown to protect against aging.
- Eliminates vegetable oils: Most vegetable oils are high in PUFAs–fatty acids that easily oxidize. When you consume oxidized fatty acids your body
4 Weight Loss
Low-carb, high-fat diets like carnivore have been shown to reduce excess body weight.
The carnivore diet helps women shed extra body fat by activating a number of factors, including:
- Restoring leptin sensitivity. Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite and metabolic rate–or quickly your body turns food into energy. A standard high-carb diet can disrupt leptin signaling leading to chronic overeating. In addition to regulating appetite, leptin plays a role in immunity, brain function, and fertility. Cutting carbs on carnivore normalizes leptin signaling, which dramatically curbs hunger cravings and increases calorie burning.
- Eliminating sugar, vegetable oils, and processed foods that contribute to excess weight gain bike spiking insulin, disrupting leptin signaling, and reducing metabolic rate.
- Nourishing your body with nutrients, including healthy fats, complete proteins, and B vitamins that support body composition and metabolic health.
5 Can Reduce Depression and Support Mental Health
Women are statistically more susceptible than men to mood disorders, including bipolar and unipolar depression and anxiety.
Studies show that healthy sex hormones help stabilize mood, and as we’ve seen above, a carnivore diet can help stabilize sex hormones.
A bellwether 2022 pilot study looking at the effects of high-fat, low-carb diets on bipolar and treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders found that
- 100% of participants saw symptoms improve
- 96% of participants lost weight
- 64% of participants reduced or discontinued medication
- 43% achieved clinical remission
Numerous other studies show a clear link between eating meat, less depression, and better mental health.
For example, a 2020 metanalysis examining 20 studies with 171,802 participants, ages 11-105 years old, from North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania found
- “A significant association between meat consumption/abstention and depression and anxiety”
- The more meat people ate, the lower their depression and anxiety levels
- Vegan and vegetarianism were linked to a significantly greater likelihood of depression and psychiatric disorders
The positive effects of meat on mental health and the negative effects of vegan and vegetarianism are especially relevant to women.
Research shows that women are about twice as likely as men to say they’re eating less meat–31% to 15%, respectively. While 80% of vegans in the U.S. are women.
6 Can Improve Fertility
The twin benefits of reducing inflammation and balancing hormones make the carnivore diet a tool for boosting fertility.
On a carnivore diet, women
- eliminate inflammatory foods like sugar, grains, excess fiber, plant toxins, and antinutrients.
- dramatically increase fertility-boosting nutrients like zinc, b vitamins, choline, and selenium. These fertility-specific nutrients are especially abundant in traditional fertility foods, including liver, salmon eggs, and oysters.
- eliminated inflammatory seed “vegetable” oils, and PUFAs
- increase intake of cholesterol, the building blocks of hormones that regulate fertility
Below you’ll find a chart of fertility-boosting super nutrients in carnivore foods vs. plant foods.
7 Improves Skin Health
In addition to cutting carbs that damage skin health and increase aging, the carnivore diet is centered around foods loaded with nutrients that directly benefit skin health.
Foods high in the highly absorbable animal form of vitamin A called retinol include turkey liver, duck liver, beef liver, goat cheese, butter, and egg yolk.
Vitamin A has been shown to increase skin cell and collagen production.
Carnivore diet foods, including oysters, steak, and lamb, are also high in zinc which helps skin heal from damage and protects against aging.
8 May Delay Menopause
Studies show that consuming an abundance of animal proteins from red meat and fatty fish significantly delays the natural onset of menopause by more the 3 years.
While the foods that women eliminate on the carnivore diet, including pasta, rice, and refined carbohydrates, are associated with the early onset of menopause.
Carnivore diet foods, including fatty fish, beef liver, pasture-raised pork, and full-fat dairy provide women with abundant vitamin D and calcium. Studies show that vitamin D and calcium can delay menopause by 17% compared with women who have a low intake of these nutrients.
If you’ve already begun menopause, carnivore diet foods high in protein and vitamin K2 can reduce bone loss and muscle mass associated with menopause.
The Carnivore Diet for Women: The Takeaway
The carnivore diet can dramatically improve women’s health by
- eliminating plant and processed foods that cause inflammation and hormone dysregulation.
- Increasing intake of nutrient-dense foods that provide the body with healthy fats, cholesterol, complete proteins, and micronutrients like folate, zinc, vitamin D, K2, retinol, selenium, and choline. All of these nutrients play critical female-specific roles.
The combination of these two factors–eliminating damaging foods and increasing nourishing foods–contributes to powerful female-specific health benefits, including
- Hormonal balance
- Resolving PCOS
- Wight loss
- Improved mental health
- Improved fertility
- Improved skin health
- Delayed menopause