Joe Rogan, a comedian and host of one of the world’s most popular podcasts, ate nothing but meat during the month of January. No vegetables, no carbs, just meat. Rogan’s high-profile experiment has led to an explosion of interest in the so-called “carnivore diet,” propelling the trending diet to a new level of prominence.
So how did it go? Here’s Rogan’s rundown:
“I lost 12 pounds. Gained a ton of energy. My energy levels were completely flat the whole month, no ups and downs from crashing after eating. I lost all [my] belly, I lost my lovehandles.
“I went into this thing thinking this carnivore diet was wacky, and I probably would think it’s nonsense, but this is as good as I’ve felt in a long time.”
Huge success, right? Well, it wasn’t all hunky dory. For the first two weeks on the diet Rogan experienced some grueling gastrointestinal distress. (Only click that link if you’re prepared for some very florid diarrhea metaphors.) But he seemed to get over it, as his belly troubles disappeared in the second half of the month.
As advocates for a low-carbohydrate way of eating, we have always had an interest in the carnivore diet. After all, ‘carnivore’ is just keto to the nth degree, the logical conclusion of carbohydrate restriction. ASweetLife considered the diet in September 2018 – Is the All Meat Diet Good for People with Diabetes? – at a time when it was still almost unheard of. The number of people with diabetes trying the carnivore diet has only grown since that time.
Is ‘carnivore’ healthy for people with diabetes? The word is still out on the long-term safety of the diet, but we can at least be confident that it has very little blood sugar impact. Our guiding light in most things diabetes continues to be Dr. Richard Bernstein, the maverick who adopted a very low carb diet to control his own blood sugar decades before it was cool. In his must-read doorstopper Diabetes Solution, Dr. Bernstein acknowledges that there’s no such thing as an “essential carbohydrate” but also explains his presumption that plant foods do offer benefits that are not easily found in animal foods.
But we have to admit that Rogan’s great results are intriguing.
Rogan was already an enthusiastic proponent of low-carb eating, and his podcast has helped boost the celebrity of major keto advocates such as doctors Dom D’Agostino, Peter Attia and Rhonda Patrick. Along the way he has also devoted time to related trends, such as intermittent fasting.
Rogan explained that he was originally turned onto the carnivore diet by the controversial academic Jordan Peterson. Peterson adopted the diet at the urging of his daughter Mikhaila Peterson, who found that eating nothing but meat effectively managed her lifelong auto-immune issues. The Petersons are among the highest-profile advocates for the diet.
The carnivore diet was virtually unknown as little as two years ago. The diet first emerged as a known search term during late 2017, about the time that Jordan Peterson started on his all-meat journey. The diet has seen steady but very modest growth since that time. Proponents will tell you that ‘carnivore’ has been around since time immemorial, a natural way of eating for our ancestors, preserved among certain isolated communities such as the Inuit living deep within the Arctic Circle.
It’s difficult to imagine the carnivore diet taking hold in the mainstream to the same degree as keto, both given its extremity and the fact that it swims against the larger cultural trends that are conspiring to reduce red meat consumption in the Western world. For every Joe Rogan abstaining from vegetables for a month, there are many more experimenting with no meat at all. Nevertheless, the Joe Rogan moment feels significant, and growth of the diet bears watching.