Doing your own 30 day carnivore experiment? Here’s what to expect and what to do about it.
To sum up what’s happening behind the scenes: your body is shifting gears from burning mostly glucose for energy to burning mostly fat. The closer you eat to a Standard American Diet, the more uncomfortable this transition is likely to be at first. Trust the process!
Symptoms: light or none at all. You might experience some sugar cravings, or a mild headache. You might have reflux or no appetite for meat.
Stay hydrated with a pinch of unrefined sea salt in water, which provides electrolytes.
And don’t be afraid to salt your food as much as you want during these 30 days. You will likely need way more than you think.
For some people, this is the hardest part, with fatigue, low blood sugar, mood swings, irritability, skin irritation, or strong sugar cravings. They call this “carb flu” for a reason.
½ teaspoon of the amino acid L-Glutamine dissolved under the tongue helps knock out sugar cravings by giving the body a little burst of energy, so it shuts off the sugar craving signal. You can get L-Glutamine powder at any local supplement store. Use it anytime you have a sugar craving. This is my secret weapon!
You may not have pooped yet―don’t panic. Your bowel movements are going to be less frequent and have less volume than you’re used to. If you really wish to get things moving, you can take some magnesium like Natural Calm.
Or, you may be experiencing diarrhea, especially if you aren’t used to this much fat. Your gallbladder is re-adjusting itself and will be able to handle all the fat soon. Stay close to the toilet for now.
As much as possible, stay away from the grocery store, social media, or TV ads, which are rife with images of food that will make your cravings extra strong.
For other people, this is when carb flu hits the worst and energy is low. Your body is doing a lot of hard work, so give it some grace. Sleep as much as you need and take naps. Now is not a good time to train for marathons; instead, any movement should be gentle, like walks or yoga. If you’re experiencing cramps, it’s likely electrolyte imbalance. Keep hydrated with water + sea salt.
You might notice by now that you haven’t had a sugar craving in a while, your inflammation is going down, your sleep is great, and your energy is picking up. At the same time, you might think, “I’ve come this far; what will one non-carnivore snack do?” Stay on the path; it’s not worth it to wake the Sugar Dragon.
If you do indulge, try not to fall in the trap of all-or-nothing thinking: “I had four Kit-Kats, so I failed!” Just jump right back on the next day. As James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits, “Don’t miss twice.”
“Tiger Blood” phase! You’re likely feeling incredibly motivated, have tons of energy, and your clothes might be fitting differently (even if the scale hasn’t budged). Enjoy this; you’ve worked hard for it!
Decide what you want to do next. If you did these 30 days including dairy and eggs, you may wish to do another 30 with just meat, salt, and water and see how that changes your progress. Many people find eliminating dairy does wonders for fat loss.
Here was my video update on Day 30 of my own carnivore experiment: 30 Day Carnivore Diet Update.
After Day 30
You may be tempted to dive headfirst into a chocolate cake to reward yourself, but I promise you a) you will find it less satisfying than you thought it would be and b) you’ll feel worse afterwards than you think you will.
The best rewards are those that help you do more of the thing you want to do. If you feel great and want to keep going, consider a high-quality chef’s knife (I love my WÜSTHOF Classic 8 Inch Chef’s Knife), kitchen equipment like an air fryer, The Carnivore Cookbook, or this electrolyte powder from LMNT with no flavorings or sweeteners.