In 2010, my husband, who has type 1 diabetes, started the paleo diet. In those days it was still often referred to as the caveman diet, and it was just starting to catch on among food bloggers. When my husband decided to try the diet as a way to help manage his blood sugar, I was worried about what our meals would be like. No grains at all? No dairy at all? No thank you! I told him I probably wouldn’t join him on the paleo diet (I have type 1.5 diabetes and eat mostly vegetarian food). But then I saw what happened to my husband’s blood sugar and A1C when he went full-on paleo: it more or less seemed like a miracle. He was using insulin pens in those days, not an insulin pump, and his rapid insulin requirements dropped to next to nothing (he wasn’t eating fruit or starchy vegetables). He was using less basal insulin than he had since the end of his diabetes honeymoon.
It didn’t take much more convincing than that for me to get on board. Since dairy products have always been my primary source of protein and calories, I found a more traditional low carb diet, rather than a paleo diet, worked best for me. And I have stuck with serious low-carbing since then. With the rise in popularity of the ketogenic diet, it’s been easier to live a low carb lifestyle. Meat, however, has never been my thing. And, it’s been a little hard for me to read about the latest diet trend: the all meat diet.
What is the all meat diet?
The all meat diet, also known as the carnivore diet, is exactly what its name suggests: a diet that consists 100% of meat. Think of the keto diet without any salads or low carb vegetables. Think of lions and cats or other obligate carnivores, and forget all those times you felt guilty for forgoing a kale salad.
As you might guess, conventional medical practitioners have not jumped on the all-meat bandwagon, and the evidence in favor of it is mainly anecdotal. There are those, however, who have overcome serious health problems while eating nothing but meat. Canadian Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of psychologist Jordan Peterson, has become an outspoken advocate of the diet. Her personal website says:
“I was a really sick person since I was 2. I was prone to getting bacterial infections (strep throat, pneumonia, etc.), yeast infections, colds, etc. I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis when I was 7 and ended up with multiple joints replaced at age 17. I started antidepressants for severe depression/anxiety in grade 5. I suffered from “idiopathic hypersomnia” – aka I couldn’t wake up. I spent approximately 17 hours a day sleeping and the rest in a half daze. I had itchy skin starting at age 14 that I just ignored. Then my skin problems started at about age 19. Cystic acne, painful bumps, blistering…
I was on multiple medications, antidepressants, immune suppressants, amphetamines.
Then I started experimenting with diet. Almost everything I had read had told me it doesn’t really matter what you eat, as long as you work out. That is a HUGE and dangerous lie. What you put into your body is as important as what medications you’re taking. Changing the way you eat can change your life.
I’m in remission from everything. I don’t take any medications, I don’t take any vitamins. The hardest thing to get rid of was the depression, but that’s gone too!”
“Now I only eat beef, salt, and drink water. Same with my parents. It sounds extreme but this was the only thing that made the depression completely lift, and autoimmune symptoms go away again. I’ve been eating like this since December 2017. I will never go back. I’ve never felt like this before and it’s amazing.”
Another of the more well-known proponents of the all meat diet is Shawn Baker, a former orthopedic surgeon. (Baker’s medical license was revoked in 2017 in part for “incompetence to practice as a licensee”) Baker is the author of the upcoming book, The Carnivore Diet, and has a large Instagram following. You can find plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the all meat diet on sites like MeatHeals, and DietDoctor, has published stories like this one about people whose health and lives have improved by eating nothing but meat.
At this point in time, without scientific studies to back the safety of the diet, and without substantial anecdotal evidence about long-term success (Peterson has only been on the diet since December 2017), there isn’t really any way to say for certain if the all meat diet is good for people with diabetes. One thing it won’t do, however, is raise blood sugar levels. And that’s a good thing!