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I Tried the Carnivore Diet for Diabetes and This Is What Happened

Diet and Nutrition

January 03, 2022

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by CJ Walker


Medically Reviewed by:

Kim Rose-Francis RDN, CDCES, LD


by CJ Walker


Medically Reviewed by:

Kim Rose-Francis RDN, CDCES, LD


After learning about the carnivore diet from members of my online diabetes community, I decided to give it a try.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in March 2019 and have since managed it with medication, exercise, and a low carbohydrate diet. Within 3 months, my blood sugar dropped from 194.4 to 86.4 mg/dL, which was incredible.

Along with my tremendous success, I lost unnecessary weight despite already being thin. Even though my current eating pattern felt comfortable to me, I had to make some adjustments without compromising my progress or losing any more weight.

I began hearing from people in several diabetes online communities earlier last year that they managed their diabetes successfully with a carnivore diet, and I decided to try it out myself.

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What is the carnivore diet?

The carnivore diet is a low carbohydrate diet consisting primarily of meat, fish, and animal products, such as eggs and low lactose dairy. Consuming fatty cuts of meat is a key part of this diet to meet your energy requirements.

A carnivore diet consists of consuming:

  • beef
  • chicken
  • pork
  • lamb
  • turkey
  • organ meats
  • salmon
  • sardines
  • white fish
  • small amounts of heavy cream and hard cheese

Additionally, you can eat butter, lard, and bone marrow. Water and bone broth are encouraged rather than tea, coffee, and other drinks made from plants.

While very low carbohydrate diets contain less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day from nonstarchy vegetables, the carnivore diet excludes all other foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.

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Benefits and risks of the carnivore diet

There have been few clinical studies on the carnivore diet. However, it is sometimes called the keto carnivore diet due to its similarities to the ketogenic diet, which is also based on very low carb intake.

People on keto diets typically lose weight due to lower insulin levels, a diuretic effect, and a decreased appetite, which may be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes.

In 2020, researchers surveyed more than 2,000 adults who had been following a carnivore diet for 6 months or longer. Participants reported experiencing health benefits and high levels of satisfaction, along with few adverse effects.

However, the carnivore diet may also pose some risks that could outweigh the benefits.

Dietary fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, yet it is mainly found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. In fact, higher dietary fiber intake has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, the carnivore diet may have negative impacts on cardiovascular and renal health.

According to one 2019 study, higher consumption of animal protein compared with plant protein and higher meat intake led to an increased risk of mortality, especially among people with type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

A diet that is very high in saturated fats — such as the carnivore diet — can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, per 2017 research.

Before you try it

Any new diet should be researched thoroughly using reliable sources and discussed with a health professional or nutritionist. Work with a nutritionist and a doctor to develop an eating plan that works for you.

Getting started

After learning about the carnivore diet from members of my diabetes online community, I decided to give it a try.

Since I had already eliminated all legumes, grains, starchy fruits, and sugar-rich fruits from my low carbohydrate diet, the transition to a carnivore diet was relatively straightforward.

My only changes were to increase the amount of animal protein I ate while eliminating carbohydrates at mealtimes.

As an example, I ate eggs with bacon, sausage, or fish for breakfast instead of bread and vegetables. For lunch and dinner, I ate chicken, fish, beef, veal, or lamb.

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My progress

After following the carnivore diet for almost 2 weeks, I noticed a few benefits. Protein helped me feel full for several hours, and my caloric intake helped me maintain my weight.

But despite all of this, the challenges I encountered outweighed the benefits. While I felt full after eating a carnivore meal, the diet proved to be very restrictive.

I started to miss variety. Vegetables that I typically eat, such as squash, leafy vegetables, peppers, and onions, were no longer available to me. I couldn’t eat anything made from any type of flour, including almond flour, which I usually use several times a week to make bread and batter foods.

I had symptoms like bloating, headaches, nausea, and acne — typical of eating a low carbohydrate, high protein diet. In addition, I experienced “keto flu” symptoms characterized by dizziness, fatigue, and constipation. People usually experience this shortly after starting a ketogenic diet.

I began experiencing unusual fatigue and low energy levels throughout the day. Taking care of my home and raising three children became extremely difficult for me.

I had trouble staying awake during the day and couldn’t go through a day without taking a nap. To get through the day, I had to take an additional dose of vitamin B12.

The takeaway

Despite the challenges I faced, my blood glucose levels remained within range. However, I had days where I didn’t feel well and found it difficult to get through the day on the carnivore diet.

I felt the healthiest when I included nonstarchy vegetables in my diet. That’s why I decided to return to my current low carbohydrate diet with a few modifications.

To counteract my unnecessary weight loss, I added an additional protein to my meals. This helped me incorporate some of the positive aspects of the carnivore diet.

By adding an extra egg at breakfast and an additional chicken piece or a larger cut of meat for dinner, I added additional calories to my diet. This allowed me to maintain a healthy weight and prevented me from feeling as fatigued as I did when I was on a carnivore dieting regimen.

While the carnivore diet didn’t work for me, I’ve been able to incorporate what I learned into my routine without hindering my progress. Based on my experience, I’ve found that what may work for others may not be suitable for you.

I also realized how critical it is to seek reliable sources and a medical opinion before starting the carnivore diet. I would have made a better decision if I had done a little more research and confirmed with my doctor.

Medically reviewed on January 03, 2022

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About the author

CJ Walker

CJ Walker, a mom of three and wife from Virginia, has been living with type 2 diabetes since 2019. She’s a fervent advocate for chronic illness, especially diabetes. Diabetes stigma, awareness, and prevention are at the forefront of her advocacy efforts, as well as chronic illness discrimination in the workplace, healthcare, and education. In addition to her work with The Genetic Diabetic Blog, she’s been published on, The Mighty, and Medium.

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