There are many similarities between the carnivore and the keto diet, two of the most popular low-carb diets today. Still, there are also many significant differences that you should take into account before selecting which approach is best for you.
The main distinction between the carnivore and keto diets is that the latter allows you to eat plants and foods derived from them. Advocates of the carnivore lifestyle only eat animal products. When properly adhered to, the carnivore diet is a zero-carb plan, whereas the keto diet is a very low-carb plan.
These particular ways of eating are used by people who want to lose weight and enhance their general health. But, despite their widespread appeal, it is simple to ask what makes them unique.
Here is a thorough comparison of the keto and carnivore diets to choose which suits you.
Table of Contents
The Keto Diet: What Is It?
In the keto diet, the body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. For this to work, you have to eat very few carbohydrates so that your body switches over to an alternative energy source.
Due to the decrease in carbohydrate ingestion, the body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis. In this stage, the body becomes very effective at burning fat for energy. You start converting fat into ketones, an alternate fuel source.
Meat, fish, non-starchy vegetables, cheese, berries, and nuts are all delicious keto-friendly meal options. There is a bit of a learning curve for this way of eating because you have to learn which foods have carbs so you can avoid them or moderate your intake.
Studies have shown health advantages that go beyond weight loss. When followed correctly, the ketogenic diet can significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels in addition to increasing ketones.
A keto plan’s usual macronutrient breakdown resembles this:
∙ Fat 60-75%
∙ Protein 15-30%
∙ Carbs 5-10%
The goal of this dietary plan is to stimulate the body's natural fat-burning process by restricting carbs. Therefore, strict monitoring of your macronutrient intake, especially carbohydrates, is essential to prevent your metabolism from exiting ketosis.
Two primary health advantages that have kept keto relevant in this era of changing food trends are weight loss and improved blood-sugar control.
The Carnivore Diet: What Is It?
The carnivore way of eating is a zero-carb, elimination diet that restricts all dietary intake to animal-based foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy products.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereals, and seeds are excluded entirely. Additionally, to live up to the “zero-carb” moniker, you intentionally reduce or eliminate your consumption of specific dairy products that contain lactose.
Many proponents of meat-based eating contend that the consumption of plant toxins is to blame for several contemporary health issues. In contrast, animal products are the best sources of nutrition for people, according to this theory.
This dietary plan provides your body with the energy it needs by consuming fat and protein. No serving size, calorie intake, macronutrient composition, or recommended number of meals and snacks per day are mentioned in the carnivore guidelines. Instead, you eat when hungry and follow your satiety as a guide. It's acceptable to eat game as long as you are.
Many people who have switched to a carnivorous plan say they have had excellent outcomes. The alleged advantages include reduced body weight, enhanced physical health, and increased cognitive function.
Similarities Between the Keto and Carnivore Diets
The keto and carnivore diets share many commonalities despite their variances. The main similarities between the two ways of eating are listed below.
1. Both limit carbohydrate consumption
Both the carnivore and keto diets dramatically lower total carbohydrate intake, despite differences in the number of carbohydrates consumed.
Because the body naturally prefers to use carbohydrates as fuel, the average person gets between 50 and 75 percent of their calories from carbs. On keto, carbohydrate intake is capped at 5–10% of total daily calories, while the meat-based approach aims for a carbohydrate intake of 0%.
2. Both use fat as fuel
Unlike keto, the carnivore diet does not have a suggested macro breakdown to follow, but both rely heavily on fat as the body’s primary fuel source.
The fundamental objective of the keto community is to get the body into the metabolic state of ketosis. The body can efficiently burn fat for fuel in this state.
The carnivorous approach does not explicitly aim to induce ketosis. The only focus is on eliminating all plants and keeping the number of carbohydrates to a minimum. As a result, the body switches over naturally to burning fat as its primary fuel source due to diet change.
3. Low-carb flu
When starting either plan, some flu-like symptoms such as lethargy, headaches, nausea, and muscular pains may appear, lasting up to about a week. Although it is unpleasant, it is a barrier that must be overcome for your body to switch over to ketosis. Once you get over the hump, you will see improvements in your health and energy levels.
Both keto diet and carnivore diet can occasionally cause constipation. This is typical because your intake of fiber is lower. Therefore, you might need to take a fiber supplement, or, in the case of keto, eat more low-carb foods that contain fiber.
5. Metabolic alterations
Your body will start using ketones as fuel instead of blood glucose when you follow a ketogenic or carnivorous diet.
The process of naturally triggering stored fat reserves that you don't need or desire to lose weight is known as ketosis.
6. Both diet plans are efficient for losing weight
Whether you're following a ketogenic or carnivorous diet, you will experience weight loss as long as you estimate your caloric needs and keep below your daily threshold so that you are in a calorie deficit.
7. More mental and physical energy
You will have much more readily available energy when in ketosis, whether it is caused by the keto diet or the carnivore diet. Relying on fat for fuel means you have a steady supply throughout the day, instead of the peaks and slumps of energy that come from eating sugar and carbs.
Differences Between the Keto and Carnivore Diets
Tracking macronutrients—or not tracking them—is one of the significant distinctions between the carnivore and keto plans.
The ketogenic diet is designed primarily to support the metabolic state of ketosis. Therefore, you must keep track of how many carbs you eat each day to ensure you remain in this state.
On the other hand, there are no macronutrient intake guidelines for the carnivorous diet. It is low in carbohydrates and rich in protein, but it does not emphasize reaching ketosis.
The carnivore's tenet is straightforward: consume only animal items at all costs.
Because seasonings like paprika and garlic powder are plant-based, adherents to the strict animal-based plan forgo all condiments except salt. In addition, since tea and coffee are made from plants, purists refrain from drinking them and instead stick to water and bone broth.
Carnivores are not allowed to eat Keto food
You can eat some carbohydrates while following the low-carb keto diet. The average person will be at or below 50 grams per day.
This allows you to get more nutrients from vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some fruits and legumes (in moderation). It also provides you more flexibility in terms of texture and flavors to play around with, giving you a wider variety of meal possibilities.
The keto diet has several benefits from the perspective of digestion and micronutrients. On a carnivore plan with no carbohydrates, you can't eat any plant-based foods, including foods that are anti-inflammatory.
Ratio of macronutrients
When following the ketogenic plan, your macros will likely be close to 60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbs. Each person’s macros are a bit different depending on your age, body type and lifestyle.
Since consuming meat is the main component of the carnivore approach, there is no set ratio to adhere to. However, it does mean that you will only consume animal protein and fat, with just a trace quantity of carbohydrates that may accidentally enter your diet through some dairy products.
While both the keto and the carnivore diets may restrict the plant foods you can consume, the keto diet offers more options for obtaining vital vitamins and minerals.
People eating only meat may want to take supplements to get a wider variety of nutrients.
Which diet plan is better?
According to all appearances, the ketogenic diet is the better long-term option.
The carnivore diet has been linked to some impressive claims about blood sugar control, mental disorders, and weight loss. However, this diet is highly limiting and probably unhealthy over more extended periods. Additionally, there is no evidence to support its claimed advantages.
The meat-based plan appears to function best as an elimination diet when foods are gradually reintroduced to identify individual dietary sensitivities.
It may be deficient in some micronutrients and plant antioxidants due to its highly restrictive nature and complete removal of most food groups. It also lacks fiber, a non-digestible carbohydrate that is exclusively present in plants and is helpful for your gut and bowel motions.
The keto diet makes it easier to find the range of nutrients your body needs daily, allowing for more flexibility and balance in meal choices. In addition, it is less likely to be socially isolating because of the freedom in these food options, which makes it simpler to sustain over the long run.
More studies have been done on the ketogenic diet, and have shown that it can encourage weight loss, elevate “good” HDL cholesterol levels, decrease blood sugar and insulin levels, and a host of other health advantages.
It is always a good idea to speak with your doctor before changing your eating habits. They can help you to determine if it’s safe given your unique medical history, as well as make recommendations on how to follow it in a healthy way.