Carnivore Diet vs Keto: Which is Better?

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So you’ve been weighing the pros and cons of the Carnivore Diet vs the Keto Diet, and you’re still unsure which one is right for you. 

Don’t worry. You’re not alone. 

Both approaches have experienced a boon in popularity in recent years as their countless supporters champion them as a great way to lose weight. However, given the stark differences between the two, determining which is better can be challenging. 

That’s where this guide comes in.

We’ll examine the key differences and similarities between Keto and Carnivore and offer recommendations on which diet may be better for you, depending on your health goals and overall lifestyle. 

Carnivore Diet vs Keto: How are They the Same?

The Keto Diet is a popular low-carb diet that focuses on consuming minimal carbohydrates and plenty of fat. The keto diet’s purpose is to put the body in a state of Ketosis to burn fat for energy. 

The Carnivore Diet, often called the All-Meat diet, focuses only on eating foods that come directly from animals. 

The approach may be different, but the end result is the same: 

Losing weight.

That isn’t the only similarity between the two. Carnivore and Keto Diets also have the following key things in common: 

Both Limit Carbohydrates

The diet intake in both methods is to reduce (often quite dramatically) the amount of carbohydrate consumption: though the Carnivore Diet is the more extreme of the two.

On a Keto Diet, you cut carbohydrates to just 10% of your daily food intake to achieve Ketosis. On the contrary, the Carnivore diet emphasizes on cutting out all carbs entirely. This is why you sometimes hear it referred to as the ‘Zero Carb Diet.’

Both Encourage Eating Unprocessed Foods

As with many effective diets, Keto and Carnivore Diets both stress on limiting or completely cutting off highly processed foods and those with lots of sugars, starches, and unhealthy ingredients. 

In their place, each diet emphasizes unprocessed, whole foods such as meat, fish, dairy, and, in the case of Keto, low-carb vegetables, seeds, and nuts. 

Both Encourage Eating Unprocessed Foods

As with many effective diets, Keto and Carnivore Diets both stress on limiting or completely cutting off highly processed foods and those with lots of sugars, starches, and other unhealthy ingredients. 

In their place, each diet emphasizes unprocessed, whole foods such as meat, fish, dairy, and, in the case of Keto, low-carb vegetables, seeds, and nuts. 

Both Provide Additional Health Benefits

Though your primary goal may be weight loss when deciding between Carnivore vs. Keto, choosing either may bring additional benefits. 

Both diets have been linked to reduced inflammation and improved insulin sensitivity. The Carnivore Diet has also been shown to boost testosterone levels and enhance mental clarity, while the Keto Diet has also been shown to improve cholesterol, treat epilepsy, and improve outcomes for patients with neurological disorders

Keto vs Carnivore Diet: How Are They Different?

Although both diets do have a few basic things in common, in many ways, they couldn’t be more different. 

By considering the following differences, you should get a good idea of whether Keto or Carnivore is right for you. 

The Foods You Can Eat

Both diets are relatively restrictive, but as we’ve already mentioned, the Carnivore diet takes food restriction to another level. 

As its not-so-subtle name implies, Carnivore is limited to animal products only. 

That means meat and fish may make up a good portion of your diet, along with eggs, cheese, butter, and milk. However, plant-based foods, including all fruits and vegetables, grains, and legumes, are off-limits. 

To put that another way, if you’re a vegetarian or a pescatarian, you’re probably going to struggle on a Carnivore Diet.  

On the other hand, there are multiple foods to eat in Keto Diets. All the aforementioned plant-based items remain on the menu, which can make it a better option for herbivores and anyone who still wants to enjoy variety at meal times. 

On the other hand, the Carnivore diet’s restrictions mean that some people find it easier to adhere to for the long haul, as they don’t have to worry about moderating portions for tricky foods like nuts and fruits. 

The Macronutrient Ratios 

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are the three fundamental macronutrients that humans need to survive and thrive. 

In a Western diet, you typically eat most of your calories (between 40 – 65%) in carbs, followed by 20 – 35% fats and 10 – 35% protein.

Both the Carnivore and the Keto Diets eschew this ratio in favor of ones that place more emphasis on fat, though how each diet does this is different. 

On a Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD), you eat 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.

On a Carnivore Diet, these figures change to 50 – 75% fat, 20 – 35% protein, and just 0 to 5% carbs, with some proponents following a strictly zero-carb diet. 

To sum this up, the most significant difference between the two in terms of macronutrients is that the Carnivore Diet generally includes a higher amount of protein. 

Protein is excellent for building and repairing muscles, so many athletes and bodybuilders typically opt for the Carnivore Diet, as do some older people at greater risk of muscle degeneration. 

On the other hand, the higher levels of healthy fats in the Keto diet can help keep your brain and heart healthy and make you feel full on less food, which is ideal if overeating is the main reason for your weight gain.

Fiber Intake 

Fiber is crucial for any healthy diet, playing a critical role in regulating digestion and keeping our gut healthy. 

Fiber is also a carbohydrate, so you can see where potential problems with the Carnivore Diet might arise in terms of keeping your tummy happy and healthy.

Since Carnivore practically eliminates all carbohydrates, following this diet means you run the risk of not getting enough fiber which, in turn, means you run the risk of digestive troubles such as constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Diverticulosis. 

A lack of fiber has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and even bowel cancer. 

While the Carnivore diet’s most ardent supporters argue that its higher quantities of protein and fat are more than enough to take care of the gut, you may prefer to follow the Keto Diet instead. 

Although this diet still limits carbs, it allows for low-carb vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and kale, which are densely packed with plenty of fiber and other vital nutrients.

Potential Side Effects

Although both diets are effective for losing weight and improving your overall health, Carnivore and Keto Diets also have potential side effects, which can be unpleasant and, in some cases, possibly even dangerous. 

Along with the adverse side effects of too little fiber that we just discussed, the Carnivore Diet’s emphasis on consuming lots of animal proteins could increase the risk of coronary heart disease and cause problems with your liver and kidneys. 

As far as the Keto Diet is concerned, one of the most unfortunate side effects is the widely-known “Keto Flu.”

Usually occurring at the start of a Keto diet as your body gets used to being in ketosis, this temporary condition has many of the same symptoms as regular flu, including headaches, aches and pains, and a general feeling of being “run down.” 

On a more serious note, if most of your Keto fat content comes from trans or saturated fats, this could also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, which is why foods with healthier fats are better to eat on a Keto diet. 

Keto vs Carnivore Diet: Which Diet is Better for You?

carnivore diet vs keto diet

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as the perfect diet, only the perfect diet for you as an individual. 

Both the Keto Diet and the Carnivore Diet have their own unique pros and cons that may make each one the best choice depending on your lifestyle, overall health goals, and simple personal preferences. 

The high-protein Carnivore Diet may be the way to go if you engage in intense or competitive physical activity and want to lean up while building muscle strength.

Following this animal-only diet may also be a good idea if you’re at risk of muscle damage or deterioration due to age or other physical issues. 

However, a diet consisting only of meat, fish, and dairy is obviously a no-go if you only eat a plant-based diet.

In that case, you’ll find that the Keto Diet’s allowances for low-carb vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds make it a better option, just as it might be a better option if you simply prefer having a wider variety of foods to choose from. 

Either way, it’s important to remember that switching to any low or no-carb diet can be a significant change, and you may want to talk to a healthcare professional to ensure it’s a safe and smart move for you. 

Finally, if you’ve read all this and you’re leaning towards the ketogenic diet, be sure to check out our complete beginner’s guide to getting started with keto. It includes everything you need to know to hit the ground running and successfully achieve whatever health goals you have in mind.

The Author

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John has been learning about and experimenting with low carbohydrate diets since the around 2006. He has successfully used the keto diet to lose over significant amounts of weight in the past and currently follows a low carb diet for a variety of reasons including general health, weight management, and managing mood levels.

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