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supplements for carnivore diet: cutting steak

Carnivore Dieters Should Fill Nutritional Gaps With These Supplements

January, often associated with a renewed focus on health resolutions, has also recently been dubbed “World Carnivore Month.” This month puts the carnivore diet—an eating plan characterized by a heavy emphasis on animal products like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and organ meats—in the limelight.

In the world of the carnivore diet, if a food mooed, clucked, or swam, it’s allowed on your plate. But those sprouted from a tree or the soil? Nope. This style of eating is based on the diets followed by many of our hunter ancestors.

Going carnivore has gained traction for reported benefits such as weight loss and straightforward meal planning. However, despite its potential to curb hunger and help you shed fat, the carnivore lifestyle raises concerns about nutritional deficiencies, primarily due to the absence of plant-based foods on your plate.

If you’re an all-meat-all-the-time kind of eater, this guide will help you understand where your diet might be falling short—and how you can fill nutritional gaps with the help of specific supplements.

  • ABOUT OUR EXPERTS: Annette Synder, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian with Top Nutrition Coaching. Brittany Michels, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., is a registered dietitian and in-house nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., is a registered dietitian and the creator of Better Than Dieting.

What’s Missing from Meat?

You’re already aware that meat is full of protein, making it filling, helpful for putting on muscle, and important for a wide variety of body processes like gene signaling, immune function, cell-building, and more. It’s also rich in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and selenium, as well as essential fatty acids, including omega-3s (especially when you choose grass-fed meat and pastured eggs). There’s no doubt that animal proteins have a lot to offer.

They’re not the end all be all, though. The biggest concern with a meat-heavy diet is the lack of certain nutrients, especially fiber, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals, explains registered dietitian Annette Snyder, M.S., R.D., of Top Nutrition Coaching. Plants are loaded with beneficial compounds, and skipping out on them entirely can leave you hanging.

Some of the key nutrients that meat, fish, and eggs can’t provide in ample amounts include:

  • Vitamin C: Essential for skin health, immune function, and wound healing, it’s abundant in fruits and vegetables but virtually absent in meat, says Snyder.
  • Fiber: Although not a vitamin or mineral, fiber is crucial for digestive health, says Snyder. Of course, it’s found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains, but not in meat.
  • Vitamin E: An important antioxidant, it’s found mostly in nuts, seeds, and plant oils such as olive oil. According to The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Brittany Michels, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., it’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin E without supplementing when on a carnivore diet.
  • Calcium: Essential for bone health, it’s found in dairy products, but not animal foods like meat. So, if your carnivore diet excludes dairy, you’ll fall short, says dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., creator of Better Than Dieting.
  • Magnesium: Important for muscle and nerve function and bone health, you’ll find magnesium most abundantly in plant foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables. The only animal proteins you’ll get much magnesium from are fish like salmon and cod, Michels says.
  • Potassium: Vital for heart and muscle function, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are the richest sources of potassium. Though octopus and salmon are also decent sources, carnivore eaters will still fall short, according to Michels.
  • Folate (Vitamin B9): Crucial for cell division and the formation of DNA, aside from beef liver, this B vitamin is found mostly in plants like leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Phytonutrients and antioxidants: While not vitamins or minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants (compounds found in plants) are still very important and have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. “Plant-based polyphenols such as curcumin, lycopene, and pterostilbene are absent in meats but supportive of general health,” says Michels.

How Carnivore Dieters Can Address Nutritional Shortcomings with Supplements

Though nothing can measure up to the value of eating whole foods, certain supplements can be valuable additions to the very restrictive nature of the carnivore diet, explains Taub-Dix.

If you’re currently avoiding foods like fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, and other plants, consider adding the supplements below to your routine to help ensure you’re obtaining the essential nutrients you need,

1. Multiminerals

What They Are: Multimineral supplements, including trace mineral drops, provide a spectrum of minerals that might be lacking in a meat-heavy diet. These can include magnesium, potassium, and selenium, among others, which are commonly missing from very low-carb diets, Snyder says.

Why They Benefit Carnivore Eaters: Trace minerals are crucial for various bodily functions, including bone health, metabolic processes, immune support, and nerve function. According to Snyder, while meat is rich in certain minerals like iron and zinc, it lacks others found primarily in plant foods. 

What to Look For: Choose a supplement that covers a broad range of minerals, especially those not abundantly found in animal products, like magnesium and potassium. Liquid forms like drops can be easily added to water for convenient consumption.

Check out: Trace Minerals ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops, Jarrow Formulas Shilajit Fulvic Acid Complex

2. Electrolytes

What They Are: Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge and are vital for maintaining normal fluid levels, facilitating muscle function and nerve signaling, and keeping our energy up. They include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Why They Benefit Carnivore Eaters: A very low-carb diet lacking nearly all fruits and vegetables can lead to imbalances in electrolytes.

What to Look For: Opt for a balanced electrolyte supplement, such as one with magnesium, calcium, and potassium to replenish these minerals, that doesn’t lean too heavily on sodium, as most carnivore dieters already consume adequate amounts through their diet.

Check out: Trace Minerals Research ZeroLyte Electrolyte Drink Mix, BodyTech Liquid Electrolytes

3. Fiber

What It Is: Fiber supplements are derived from different plant sources, such as whole grains and husks, that are naturally high in special types of carbohydrates that the body can’t fully break down. This might sound problematic, but it makes fiber special since it helps “sweep” the digestive tract, adds bulk to stool, prevents constipation, and supports a healthy gut, explains Michels. 

Why They Benefit Carnivore Eaters: “If you avoid eating plants, there’s a very good chance you’ll be missing out on fiber,” says Taub-Dix. And a lack of fiber can cause a variety of issues, including constipation and an increased risk for colon cancer, adds Snyder. That’s why supplementing is a good idea for carnivore eaters.

What to Look For: Opt for a fiber supplement that provides both soluble and insoluble fibers (such as psyllium husk), as each type plays a different role in digestive health. Also, check for any additional ingredients or allergens, and consider choosing a natural, non-GMO product without artificial additives or sweeteners to ensure you’re getting a pure and effective supplement.

Check out: The Vitamin Shoppe brand Miracle Fiber, Yerba Prima Botanicals Whole Psyllium Husks

4. Multivitamins

What They Are: As the name implies, multivitamins contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, often in quantities that meet our daily needs. You can think of them like an insurance policy for your diet, ensuring you’re staying caught up on any specific nutrient.

Why They Benefit Carnivore Eaters: Certain vitamins—particularly vitamin C, vitamin E, and some B vitamins—are less abundant in animal products and often missing in very low-carb eating plans like carnivore. Each of these vitamins has its own roles and benefits, such as supporting immune defenses, skin health, metabolic functions, healthy energy levels, and cognitive performance.

What to Look For: Snyder suggests choosing a comprehensive multivitamin that includes 100 percent of your daily needs for essential vitamins and minerals, including water-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which is not typically found in high amounts in animal products. Choosing a food-based multi and/or one with fermented or activated minerals can help support absorption. 

Check out: Nature’s Plus Source of Life Gold Liquid Multivitamin, Vthrive Bioactive Women’s Once-Daily Multi, Vthrive Bioactive Men’s Once-Daily Multi

5. Probiotics

What They Are: Probiotics are live, “friendly” bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for digestive and gut health, according to Michels. They’re found in fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, and are also available in supplement form.

Why They Benefit Carnivore Eaters: A meat-heavy, dairy-free diet lacks both probiotics as well as prebiotics (types of fibers) found in plant foods that help to “feed” healthy microbes in the gut, says Michels. Probiotics support a healthy gut microbiome, which is where the majority of your immune system is found, can help defend against occasional constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, and also facilitate nutrient absorption. Additionally, they promote a healthy “gut-brain axis,” the connection between your gastrointestinal tract and nervous system, positively affecting your mood and appetite.

What to Look For: Ideally, choose a probiotic supplement with a variety of strains and a high colony-forming unit (CFU) count of about 10 billion per serving to ensure a wide range of benefits. Because probiotic strengths vary widely from one to 50 CFUs, it’s smart to get your provider’s opinion on which strength to take if you’re unsure. This is particularly important if your carnivore diet doesn’t include dairy.

Check out: The Vitamin Shoppe brand Ultimate 10+ Probiotics 13 Billion CFUs, ProBioCare Women’s 50 Billion CFU Probiotic, ProBioCare Men’s 50 Billion CFU Probiotic

6. Liver and Other Organ Supplements

What They Are: These supplements are made from dried and powdered animal organs, such as beef and chicken liver, kidneys, or heart, which are very nutrient-dense. Organ supplements, also called “glandulars,” are especially high in vitamin A, vitamin B12, zinc, copper, and iron.

Why They Benefit Carnivore Eaters: Organ meats are among the most nutrient-dense foods available and loaded with more vitamins and minerals per ounce compared to regular meat, says Michels. In her opinion, even among people eating lots of beef, chicken, fish, or eggs, organ meats can provide plenty of additional nutrients such as B12, copper, and iron that support energy, a positive mood, circulation, and focus. Those who don’t enjoy the taste of organ meats (which, let’s be honest, is many of us!) can still reap their vast benefits through supplements, which conveniently come in capsule and powder forms.

What to Look For: High-quality, freeze-dried organ supplements derived from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals are best for ensuring the highest nutrient content and ethical sourcing. For a wide range of nutrients, look for a glandular that contains several different organs, each of which has its nutritional advantages. 

Check out: Codeage Grass-Fed Beef Liver, Ancient Nutrition Organs Blend

The Takeaway

While the carnivore diet can offer certain health benefits, such as helping someone slim down, curb bloating, or build strength, it’s crucial to be mindful of potential nutritional shortcomings that come along with this (and any) style of restrictive eating. 

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