The Carnivore Renegade

Carnivore Diet

How to Start a Carnivore Diet (9 Tips and Tricks for Beginner Success)

Carnivore Diet Meals

Okay, so you’re heard about the Carnivore Diet and know what it is. But now you’re wondering how do I start a Carnivore Diet? Well, it’s simple really.

Here’s how you start the Carnivore Diet:

  1. Commit to a time period
  2. Find your why
  3. Inform your family
  4. Clean that pantry
  5. Create a meal plan
  6. Go shopping
  7. Eat (and enjoy!)
  8. Survive the first week
  9. Plan to fail

    Let’s examine each of these in more detail below.

    How To Start The Carnivore Diet

    1. Commit To a Time Period

    A common question asked when starting the Carnivore Diet is how long should you do the Carnivore Diet? The answer to that really depends on you and your current state of health.

    We are a fast-paced society and we love to hear that we can achieve amazing things in just 30 days. Look at any headline on any health-related magazine and you’ll see “do XYZ to drop 75 pounds, cure cancer and find world peace, in just 30 days!!!” Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. 30 days is a start, but if you are coming from a background of having autoimmune disease, obesity and other metabolic disease for decades, 30 days is not sufficient.

    Many people come to the Carnivore Diet seeking relief in their autoimmune disease. The number of testimonials on the internet suggests that this diet is very effective in multiple different diseases. While many people start to feel some relief in the first 30 days, it’s not total relief. The body takes time to heal and different parts of the body take different lengths of time. So 30 days really just starts to scratch the surface.

    In determining your timeframe – consider your personal context. What is your age? What health issues do you have? How long have you had these health issues? The higher these numbers, the longer your initial Carnivore Diet period should be.

    We would recommend a minimum of 90 days to allow maximum time to start seeing some relief and/or results. 90 days is easier to commit to mentally than 6 months. Though 6 months is likely required as a minimum for many people due to their health. After 90 days, your body should have adjusted to the diet, and you should start seeing some results that can motivate you to increase your timeframe if you have not achieved all the results you want.

    It is important to choose a timeframe that is suitable to you and stick to it. Your timeframe is critical as it will assist you with step 3 below.

    2. Find Your Why

    Most diets will tell you this is a crucial step and the Carnivore Diet is no different in this regard. Having a “why” is a key success factor. This is what helps you stay the course when cravings (inevitably) kick in. Your “why” keeps you on track when you have lowered motivation and willpower.

    Finding the “why” can be difficult, but you need to ensure you have found a reason that is strong enough to help you stay on the wagon. You can use a practical test to find the strength of your “why”. When you have your reason, sit and close your eyes. Think about the last stressful day you had either at work or school, or home. Think about having that stressful day and being hungry. Then think about your favorite tempting food, just sitting there waiting for you. Visualize that scene and prop your “why” against it. Do you walk away? Or do you eat the food?

    A strong “why” will allow you to stay the course when you are unmotivated and lacking willpower. Humans have limited amounts of motivation and willpower and when that is tapped, you need something to fall back on.

    3. Inform Your Family

    Informing the family can be hard. This is why steps 1 and 2 above are critical first steps. Having your “why” goes a long way in providing reason and logic to your family members about why such a drastic change is being made.

    For example, if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis you might like to try the Carnivore Diet for 90 days to see if it makes any difference (as I’ve written about here). This reason and specific time-frame is generally more acceptable to your family members than if you are looking for the latest fad diet to drop 10 pounds. Your “why” can be anything, but if it’s health-related it will likely be easier to gain acceptance.

    Giving your family a time frame serves the purpose of telling your family it’s an experiment and not forever. This should give you time to try the Carnivore Diet and potentially see improvements. It also gives your family a timeframe to not judge or question you. They still might, but you can always reply with “it’s just 30 days” (or 90 days or 6 months, whatever your timeframe is). That way, you can easily carry on.

    4. Clean Your Pantry

    Once you’ve told your family, do your best to clean the pantry and fridge of items that you won’t be eating or that are tempting. This can be difficult depending on your position in the household. If you are Mom or Dad, you are the one doing the shopping and you’re in control of what food comes into the house. You are also in control of what you feed your kids (depending on their ages). A dramatic change in diet, and not buying tempting items can cause tantrums in younger people but as the parent, it’s your job to manage that. That won’t be easy, these tempting items are generally quite addictive, but nothing about being a parent is easy.

    If you are a teenager, or an adult living with your parents this is a bit more difficult, as you are not in control of the shopping or food that comes in the house. Inform your family of your intentions with the diet, your why, and your timeframe. Once done, I would recommend having an honest conversation about tempting foods. If there are foods that are bought specifically for you, request that they are not bought for the foreseeable future. If there are tempting foods that are bought for the family, request that they either be limited in an effort to assist you achieve your goals OR move them to a different location/area that is a bit more hidden away so that they are not immediately visible and tempting to you.

    5. Create a Meal Plan

    Given the restrictions of the diet, it can be a bit strange to recommend a meal plan. After all, it’s just eating meat isn’t it? Well yes, that is true, but it’s not always so simple. The point of the meal plan is to plan for your success. Much like having a “why”, having a plan can help you stay the course when motivation is lacking.

    There are different considerations when creating a Carnivore Diet meal plan that I’ve written about here so think about these when you create your meal plan. Additional considerations when creating your Carnivore Diet meal plan can include any social functions you might be attending. Perhaps on those days, plan to eat extra meat and your favorite meats so that you feel satisfied and not deprived.

    Ultimately, when creating your meal plan – choose the meat that you enjoy and that you can afford.

    What is a carnivore diet

    6. Go Shopping

    This is the fun part (depending on your point of view). At least it’s fun for me. Now that you’ve got your meal plan, fill your fridge (and freezer if you’ve got one) with the cuts of meat that you enjoy.

    If you’re undertaking the Carnivore Diet, it makes sense to investigate the option of buying in bulk.  You can buy in bulk from your local farmer or rancher if this is an option for you. This may not *save* you any money, but it will generally buy you greater quality for the equivalent amount of money spent at the grocery store.

    We strongly encourage you to buy direct from a rancher where you can afford it. Some farms offer the opportunity to purchase in bulk, by either purchasing a portion of, or the entire animal (such as an entire lamb, or a quarter or half side of beef).  This is generally the best value for money.  If you don’t have the freezer space, or the mouths to feed, you can still buy your choice cuts direct from a farm instead of a portion of an animal. You can buy these choice cuts on an ad-hoc or a subscription basis.

    We’ve got a listing of farmers and ranchers that sell direct to consumers and that offer either delivery or pick-up services. Please click here to find your local farmer and/or rancher.

    What if you’re on a tight budget?

    A common assumption of an all-meat diet is that it is expensive. Because meat is expensive. While that is very true, that assumption does not consider the other expenses that might be reduced by being on the Carnivore Diet.

    If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to review our article on how to do the Carnivore Diet on a budget. If you are not in charge of the shopping for your household (i.e. if you are a teenager or a young adult living with parents) this might assist you to create an affordable meal plan, convincing other household members.

    Another way to convince others (or yourself) that it is not too expensive, is to consider the other costs that can potentially be reduced when following the Carnivore Diet. If the Carnivore Diet improves your health, is there any medication that you can stop taking (after consultation with your doctor or medical professional of course). If you are currently eating junk food products, what is the savings in not consuming those?

    If you’re a numbers geek like me, you might enjoy putting that into a spreadsheet as a comparison: cost of a Standard Diet versus Carnivore Diet. There are countless testimonials on the internet claiming that switching to a Carnivore Diet is in fact cheaper, because it has removed all the garbage that was previously being bought.

    7. Eat! And Enjoy!

    Finally. You’ve done the hard yards in getting ready. So go ahead and cook that steak. Create that ground beef bowl. Just eat already and be happy. Revel in the simplicity. Relish the feeling of being satiated. Have fun feeling like a contrarian to society (at least I do).

    Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. Rinse and repeat.

    8. Survive the First Week

    There can be many adaptations and cravings occurring in the first week. Your body and mind will be going through carbohydrate and sugar withdrawals. This won’t be easy, but it will be necessary to push through. Knowing to expect these cravings and withdrawal symptoms can help you prepare to get through them.

    The best practice to get through the first week of cravings is to eat. Eat whenever you are hungry, and eat until you are full. There’s a quote from Dune – “fear is the mind-killer”. We can adapt that to our situation and say that hunger is the diet-killer.

    What should you eat the first week of the Carnivore Diet?

    As much meat as makes you satisfied. If you don’t think you are hungry, but are having cravings, or looking for some other food, eat meat. This is counter to all mainstream diet advice that tells you to distract yourself from your cravings by going for a walk, or reading a book. In this first week, you should focus on eating, as that is the best way to make it through the first week.

    What can go wrong on the Carnivore Diet?

    Well this first week will be one of adaptation. Your body and your gut are getting used to a completely different food environment. If you are not accustomed to eating large amounts of meat and/or fat, you might have some digestive distress. I’ve written about potential side effects of the Carnivore Diet here, so read up on these and familiarize yourself with what to expect.

    If you do suffer some digestive distress, know that it is completely normal and happens to most people (listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast about his 30 days on the Carnivore Diet). The best way to get through this is to maybe start smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, rather than large meals, as this strategy might help you digest better in the beginning and you can work up to larger meals and reducing snacks as time goes on.

    9. Plan to Fail

    This sounds counter-intuitive and depressing. But the truth is, no one is perfect and we will have slip-ups from time to time. When starting the Carnivore Diet, it is best to plan for these in advance. There are many scenarios that you may have that involve eating non-Carnivore foods, and despite your best “why” it still happens. That’s okay.

    Don’t beat yourself up over eating one non-carnivore item or meal. The best thing you can do is accept that this will likely happen and make plans to get back on track as soon as possible. Humans are social creatures and we socialize over food. It’s highly likely at some point you will have a function to attend where you are not in control of the food situation. Relax, and do your best.

    The most important thing in planning to fail, is the plan to get back on track. DO NOT throw the entire day (or week) down the drain just because you may have something that is not Carnivore. James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) has excellent advice to “Avoid the second mistake”. He says “don’t miss twice” which in this context means go ahead and have that one non-Carnivore meal. But don’t have the second. Go be social and live your life. Have that dinner with friends, and then the next day cook yourself some bacon and eggs for breakfast and get right back on the Carnivore train.

    Conclusion

    So that’s how you start the Carnivore Diet. As wild and as different as it sounds compared to the average person’s diet, it does become easier over time.

    Have you started the Carnivore Diet already? What tips and tricks have you learned to make starting (and sticking to it) easier?

    Do you know someone who is thinking about starting the Carnivore Diet? Please share this article with them to get them started on the right track.

    Disclaimer: This website is for general informational purposes only. It must never be considered a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with questions you may have regarding your medical condition.