What you need to know:
- Getting enough rest and consuming enough protein will aid muscle repair and growth.
The Carnivore diet is a style of eating that cuts out all plant-based foods in favour of animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Many that have tried it report a variety of health benefits, such as promoting hormonal balance, mental clarity, weight loss, improved energy levels, muscle growth and a toned body.
While cutting out all other foods in favour of meat products sounds absurd and counter-intuitive, personal testimonies of those that have tried it are convincing to say the least.
When it comes to building muscle, the carnivore diet has been tried and tested by the body building world for ages. Professional body builders have always known that the Carnivore diet is an effective nutrition programme for muscle building. Protein is essential in building muscles because it forms the building blocks of muscle tissue. Eating liberal amounts of meat helps not only to maintain muscle but to grow it and repair it when it is tone during exercise.
Sports doctor Ntege Sengendo says the carnivore diet is not the same thing as the keto diet. While keto focuses of limiting carbs, the carnivore diet cuts out carbs completely. But the doctor is quick to add that if you are following a carnivore diet to lose weight, only then should you completely cut out carbs.
“If your goal is to build muscle, cutting out carbohydrates completely may be counteragent because you need carbs to build muscle. If your goal is to add muscle mass, adding a measure of carbs to your carnivore plan is a great way to build muscle,” he says.
Studies have shown that when you work out regularly while on a carnivore diet, your high energy needs will be met because of the fat you get from the meat. Fat is a finer source of energy than carbohydrates because fat has more than twice as many calories per gramme as carbohydrates. This is why it is advisable to eat high fat meat while on the diet to avoid rabbit starvation.
Rabbit starvation is another term for protein poisoning which happens when the body takes in too much protein with not enough fat for a long period of time. Why ‘rabbit’? Because rabbit meat is lean protein with zero fat.
To build muscle while following the Carnivore diet, fitness experts advise one to focus on consuming high quality proteins such as grass-fed beef and cultured dairy products such as ghee. They advise that processed meats such as salami, hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausages, canned meat, should be kept at a minimum as they are linked to various health complications such as heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Fisha Muhumuza, an orthopaedic doctor, says taking protein shakes on top of eating red meat may help build muscle better.
“Some people may find that eating all the meat they need to get all the needed protein may not be feasible. For such people, supplements such as protein shakes should give them the extra protein they need to build muscle mass,” he says.
Dr Muhumuza says eating a healthy and balanced diet may be more desirable than the carnivore diet if one’s goal is to gain strength and muscle mass. On top of eating protein, having carbohydrates regularly is crucial for muscle growth. He adds that eating high-quality protein such as red meats, dairy products and eggs should be the major focus since they help to replenish your muscles and promote recovery.
Johnson Busingye, a gym instructor at Serena Hotel in Kampala, says for effective muscle growth, one should not only lift weights but also engage in resistance and aerobic exercises.
“To build muscle, one needs to work with a gym instructor that knows your goal. He or she should help you work on all major muscle groups on the body. Sticking to arms and shoulders while ignoring the legs may give undesirable results. Increasing the weights and reps should only be after you have gained muscle and strength,” he says.
Keto vs canivore diet
The difference between a carnivore and a keto diet is the carb allowance. The carnivore diet is zero carbs, whereas the ketogenic diet is primarily a low-carbohydrate diet that causes your body to enter the metabolic state of ketosis. In this state, the body fat burns more quickly because you have essentially run out of your primary energy source, glucose.
However, both emphasise protein intake and fat intake while drastically cutting carbohydrates