As the Carnivore Diet picks up speed with people feeling better, healing disease, and performing at new heights, the largest segment taking the plunge – by far – are people going from Keto to Carnivore.
It has become the natural progression. Bad diet to Keto to Carnivore.
And while the Keto and Carnivore are similar in many ways, there are some critical differences that people need to be aware of when making the transition.
Unlike going from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a Ketogenic diet where getting “fat-adapted” can be a tough transition to get through, those going from Keto to Carnivore are already fat-adapted.
They’ve already been through the “Keto Flu.”
Yet, going from Keto to Carnivore often results in “Round 2” of the “Carnivore Flu.”
The Carnivore Flu
In going from Keto to Carnivore the transition symptoms are not about getting fat-adapted or switching to a fat-based metabolism or using ketones for energy.
If you zoom out and look at both diets the glaring difference is vegetables.
A typical ketogenic diet consists of a lot of vegetables. And removing these can cause some side effect. And it’s not because of any vitamins or minerals or antioxidants they might contain. It’s the fiber.
In the Carnivore Diet there are no plant-based foods. And thus, no fiber.
As you might expect, this results in many people experiencing a significant change in bowel movements.
While fiber is not necessary for healthy digestion (and can be causal of digestive issues) it does impact bowel function. Absorbing water, creating bulk, and regularity, fiber lets the colon to get lazy.
A major function of the colon is to reabsorb water. Since fiber does most of this work in a diet high in plant-based foods, the colon gets lazy. It quits doing its job. It’s like a muscle that hasn’t been worked out. It gets weak.
Going from a Ketogenic Diet to a Carnivore Diet results in a drastic change in fiber intake. And since the colon hasn’t gotten a good workout in a while, and is now being asked to do its job, it’s lost some of its capacity. It needs to “on-ramp.” During this “on-ramp” water gets through. Loose stools are common.
Fiber isn’t there to absorb the water and the colon needs time to re-build its “water-absorbing-muscles.”
This “on-ramping” of the colon can take several weeks.
So not only are loose stools common, so are infrequent bowel movements.
Meat is absorbed extremely efficiently in the small intestines. Not much goes to waste.
Many people mistakenly think they are constipated when in fact they just aren’t making as much waste.
After a time, stools normalize, become firmer (though soft is still common), and more regular. But this “regular” tends to me a more infrequent regularity schedule.
Fiber Part 2
Fiber is food for bacteria in the large intestines.
Bacteria love fiber. They ferment it and create the gases that make you unpopular at parties.
Removing fiber makes some of these bacteria unhappy. There is research that shows that the microbiome can signal hunger and cravings as the bacteria do everything they can to get you to feed them before they die.
We know very little about the microbiome. Most of what’s written is pure speculation. Research is lacking. But this is a “re-balancing” of gut microflora – I’d argue – is probably a good thing.
This leads us into the next transition symptom.
A nice, but dangerous, feature of the ketogenic diet is that food can be made to taste like SAD foods.
Artificial sweeteners abound.
Because of this many people never beat the addiction to sugar and carbohydrates. They can’t imagine black coffee. Stevia is a major food group for most ketogenic dieters.
Completely removing these can result in some strong craving signals.
Luckily, meat is delicious, and crushing these cravings with steaks isn’t that terrible of a sacrifice.
In fact, you may experience the next step in cravings.
Meat. And wanting more and more.
Many people that come from a Ketogenic Diet are use to maniacal measuring, counting, and testing.
They track macros, calories and ketones. They restrict themselves and their diets to extreme degrees.
And even though they eat a “healthy” diet, many are malnourished, depleted in vitamins and minerals, calories and cholesterol, protein and pounds.
In this state, when they are told they can eat meat until satisfied, without measuring or monitoring, the flood gates break loose.
The body craves the nutrition, and their brain relaxes from famine mode to feast mode. It can take weeks, months, or longer until the appetite regulates.
This can result in weight gain to the surprise of many. And this weight gain can lead to fear and back to restriction.
This is a mistake.
The key is to let the appetite re-regulate and normalize. Let the body fuel up on the nutrition it needs and desries. Be in it for the long haul.
After a time the appetite regulates and the cravings disappear. In fact, all you will want to do is eat a steak. Everything else seems non-satisfactory.
This is when amazing things start happening. Fat starts to melt off. Muscles begin to bulge. Diseases disappear. The brain is bolstered. You can go long periods of time without eating or thinking about food. There is a new found freedom in what seems a very restricted diet.
On the flip side, some people experience a lack of appetite.
Meat is satiating. Protein is satiating.
This can lead some people who transition from Keto to Carnvore to under-eat.
Then comes the fatigue. The low energy. The crabby mood.
The key is to eat.
Early on, hunger is not the only signal to listen to as to when to eat. If you are tired, dragging, crabby – eat.
Making the Switch from Keto to Carnivore
The two major transition symptoms in switching from Keto to Carnivore are bowel changes from a lack of plant material and fiber as well as appetite swings. Being aware of these and having a game plan and commitment to overcome these issues is key to a successful transition from Keto to Carnivore.
In the “Ultimate 30-Day Guide to Going Full Carnivore” there is a list of common symptoms and what to do about them. There is a section on “What to Eat” and “What to Avoid,” “Supplements,” and perhaps most importantly, at the end there is a “WARNING” about how not to mess it all up.
You can grab this guide here.
And if you need further help in making the switch from Keto to Carnivore you are more than welcome to join the private facebook group “Carnivore Corner” or leave a message in the comments, or shoot me a message on instagram, or whatever work best for you.