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:
- Hormonal acne caused by eating too many carbs or dairy and high levels of androgens (male sex hormones) – leads to clogged pores, excess skin oil, infections, and inflamed pimples
- Inflammatory acne caused by eating unhealthy fats and a damaged gut– turns a bacterial infection into a red, angry pimple
- Chronic stress triggering the release of cortisol (fight or flight hormone) weakens the skin and delays healing
- Not having enough antioxidants to protect the skin makes it easier for acne bacteria to oxidize pores
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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Processed red meat is high in saturated fat, which is known to cause inflammation.
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.