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Beginners Guide to the Carnivore Diet

Transition period information

During your transition into fat-burning, your body will be going through a process that is very similar to withdrawal. While many people will get through this phase without incident, there are some who may not feel very well during this adjustment period.  Even if you are coming from a ketogenic diet, you may still experience some transitional symptoms. There is the possibility that you may feel lethargic, or more tired than usual. You may get headaches, feel queasy, or experience bouts of diarrhea. You may initially experience muscle cramps or difficulty sleeping. Though unpleasant, these symptoms are only a temporary response to the changes in your diet. Below, I’ve listed some strategies to help minimize the most common symptoms.

  1. One of the most common causes for transitional issues is related to an imbalance of your electrolytes. During the transition period our bodies tend to lose more salt through urination then we normally do. Salting your food to taste will help you stay hydrated and will help you to keep your energy levels up.
  2. Another cause for low energy is that many people make the mistake of not eating enough when first beginning to follow the carnivore diet. Commonly people remove all the plant foods and carbs from their diet, but forget to increase the portion size of their meat. Additionally, hunger cues in the beginning can be very different from what you may be expecting. Here are some tips to help you with this: If you feel light headed or dizzy, eat something. If you feel cranky, distracted, or sleepy when you normally wouldn’t feel sleepy, eat. If you feel week or drained, eat. These are all signs that your body needs a meal.
  3. Consider taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium supplements can be useful in preventing muscle cramps, insomnia, and migraine headaches. Magnesium supplements come in many forms. If you do choose to supplement with magnesium, I recommend taking it in the form of magnesium glycinate. Magnesium glycinate is the most bio-available form of magnesium, and the gentlest on your system.
  4. Drink lots of water, and make sure you are getting enough rest.
  5. Many may find the most beneficial course of action is to purchase a good electrolyte supplement or powder to add to their water. This can keep your electrolytes balanced, and keep you hydrated throughout the day. If you decide to go this route, do not supplement further with additional magnesium or potassium. Also make sure it’s an all-natural product, with no added sugar.
  6. Diarrhea can happen for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is that you are not only changing your body’s source of fuel, you are also changing your microbiome/gut bacteria in a very short amount of time. The bacteria that were formerly thriving on all the carbs and plants in your diet are now not being fed. They will be replaced by other bacteria, which will support your health by helping you to absorb more nutrients and vitamins from your food. This usually happens within just days of starting the carnivore diet. The die-off of the plant-digesting bacteria can cause you to have diarrhea. Taking a good quality probiotic with many different strains of bacteria, for the first month or two, can help prevent diarrhea stemming from bacterial die-off. If you’d like to learn more about the microbiome, you can read all about it in my book, Healthy Body Connection. Another common cause of diarrhea, in the beginning, is due to the fact that your body has not yet adjusted to eating so much fat. In general, if you’re having diarrhea, back off of the fat a little.
  7. True constipation is very uncommon on a carnivore diet. It is likely that you may notice a reduction in the amount and frequency of bowel movements. Everyone is different in this respect. Some may be as regular as clockwork, and some may find they only need to have a bowel movement every few days. This is because you are absorbing more nutrients, and thus there is less waste. However, if you are experiencing discomfort or bloating, signaling true constipation, make sure that you are properly hydrated, are keeping your electrolytes in balance, and increase your fat intake. Just as cutting back on fat helps slow things down, increasing it can get things moving again.

Additionally, this would not be the time to start any new strenuous exercise programs. These next few weeks are a time to reset and relax. If you already participate in regular physical activities, go a little easy during this stage.  Be assured that once you have passed through this very temporary stage, you will be filled with energy and feeling great!   

Beginners Guide to the Carnivore Diet: Table of Contents