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How to Cure Your Acne with the Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet (also known as “zero-carb”) is by far the most talked-about diet lately and for good reason.

Yup, that means you’ll be eating no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, seeds, or legumes. Just meat.

You can see why this would be controversial. We’ve been told for years that you need to eatat leastsome vegetables to survive. How else would you get all those vitamins and minerals?

Despite this controversy, hundreds of people who have tried the carnivore diet claim it’s the ultimate cure for severe autoimmune disorders, including depression, leaky gut syndrome, and even arthritis.

There are a few main root causes of acne that we know about so far:

I’m not going to go into depth here about the root causes of acne, but you can read the linked articles above if you want to learn more about them.

Given that acne is largely caused by your diet, it begs a pretty simple question – does the carnivore diet sidestep the root causes of acne?

One of the primary goals of the carnivore diet is to eliminate foods that cause autoimmune disorders and symptoms. These autoimmune disorders are usually caused by a few things:

  • An unbalanced gut microbiome or leaky gut that allows undigested protein or food to enter the bloodstream, triggering inflammatory acne
  • Food intolerances or allergies that are difficult to pin down
  • Large hormonal changes due to pregnancy, stress, or general lifestyle changes

Surprise, surprise, the same things that generally cause autoimmune disorders also cause acne by triggering inflammation.

The carnivore diet is that it is essentially the ultimate elimination diet – in one fellow swoop, you get rid of 99% of the foods that could be causing your symptoms. There are people out there who are intolerant, sensitive, or allergic to just about everything, includingvegetables. This can be caused by digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome or SIBO, or simply environmental or genetic factors.

For this small portion of the population, the carnivore diet may be the only diet that really alleviates their autoimmune symptoms, including acne.

It’s key with the carnivore diet that you eat all forms of meat possible, including vital organs. Yeah, steak tastes great, but you’ll be missing out on fat-soluble vitamins and digestive enzymes that are found in organ meats:

  • Liver: Iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin A in retinol form (crucial for acne)
  • Pancreas: Digestive enzymes necessary for the absorption of protein & fats (great for the gut, which means it’s great for acne)
  • Kidney: Selenium for proper antioxidant functioning (helps prevent against skin oil clogging pores)

These organ meats are all real superfoods. One simple reason your acne may clear up if you try the carnivore diet is that you’re finally eating organ meat. That’s exactly why I recommend eating grass-fed beef liver or taking a grass-fed beef organ supplement even if you’re not on the carnivore diet.

The only major vitamin you may miss out on is vitamin C, which promotes proper antioxidant functioning. Still, vitamin C’s importance for health, especially when on the carnivore diet, seems to be overestimated.

Many pioneers who have tried the carnivore diet and receive bloodwork show no signs of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, despite not eating vegetables.

No matter what diet you go on, the quality of your food matters.

If you’re on the carnivore diet and you’re eating grain-fed beef, farmed fish, or caged chicken, you could be compromising your health goals and cause acne.

Grain-fed beef has significantly more acne-causing omega-6 fatty acids than grass-fed beef. It also has fewer acne-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. The same goes for farmed fish in comparison to wild-caught fish, and conventional versus free-range chicken.

Table of Contents

Frequently Asked Questions

Does red meat cause inflammation?

Processed red meat is high in saturated fat, which is known to cause inflammation.

Is the carnivore diet good for your skin?

The carnivore diet is an elimination diet that requires only allows participants to eat meat. Many people who try the carnivore diet end up having clearer skin because the carnivore diet requires them to cut out sugar and processed foods.

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook! I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health. I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on. This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it. As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”. After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts. In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy. Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself. After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅 While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently. To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.


8 thoughts on “How to Cure Your Acne with the Carnivore Diet”

  1. Hi… Love this! So I have been doing keto for about 7 years but went to carnivore 7 months ago for other health reasons…. and carnivore works wonders for me! But, during COVID19 I got sick with something ??? and had no appetite.. and really only wanted veggies.. and so I started cooking a heavily plant based diet out of boredom and just a taste of something different.. WELL.. my skin erupted! I am…struggling.. I haven’t had a single pimple, whitehead or blackhead in YEARS and now I have hundreds of tiny whiteheads and pimples everywhere… I am thinking a huge culprit is the almond milk creamer I started using.. it has healthy ingredients, no carbs or sugar.. but I’m thinking this is a huge part.. I have now gone back to carnivore…. going to see how skin does.. sure it will clear up…. I do this about every decade.. I decide I want to try plant based and my whole inflammation system blows up and my joints get terrible and my skin breaks out.. even though I would love to eat plant based it just doesn’t work for me!

    Reply
    • When going keto I was looking to replace flour. Went to almond flour. I have back acne and it was still there, it sometimes even got worse.
      I decided to reduce my diet to brassicas and meat (which meant I dropped almond flour) and my acne decreased. More I researched, I realized I didn’t need vegetables so I went full-on carnivore, acne gone.

      Diary does seem to cause 1 or 2 acnes to pop back up so I’m playing around with creamers in my tea.

      Reply
  2. Been on the carni for about a month. Miraculous results on my face. Skin smoothing out, black heads gone, no red spots and scars healing. I’m also doing a 20/4 deal for autophagy. I assume my cells on the inside are doing as well as my cells on the outside.

    Reply
  3. I started a carnivore diet after being a strict vegan for 3 years. I went vegan in an attempt to clear some mild but persistent breakouts. My skin just got progressively worse. I would do so much research and convince myself it was “purging” and that it would heal.. 3 years later I was left nutrient deficient, hormonally unbalanced, extremely skinny with a face full of cystic acne and scars…35 days on a carnivore diet and my skin is healing like I never could have imagined!! I am so grateful <3

    Reply
    • Hi Anna!

      Awesome to hear 🙂

      Yes, so many folks fall into the “purging” myth, but on carnivore, my skin got nothing but better each and every day.

      Best of luck to you, keep it up!
      Sam

      Reply
  4. question. anyone have any luck reducing/healing acne scars with the carnivore diet?
    i haven’t seen anything anywhere on it.

    Reply
    • Hi Bethany!

      I have seen large improvements in my acne scars, but to be quite honest with you, I’m not sure I can attribute it to the carnivore diet specifically, or my fasting protocols.

      One interesting thing to note is that both vitamin A and zinc can increase wound healing – so if you were going to try carnivore for acne scars, specifically, it may be worth trying vitamin A-rich foods (liver, cod liver) and zinc-rich foods (oysters, clams) to see if it makes any improvement.

      Cheers!
      Sam

      Reply
    • I am not sure about it but steakandbuttergal has shown pictures of healing her acne and minimizing scars but I am not sure of the specifics.

      Reply

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