Carnivore Diet vs Keto: Choose the Best One For You

Carnivore Diet vs Keto: Choose the Best One For You

September 09, 2023 7 min read

Over the years, plenty of diet regimes have emerged — the keto diet being the most popular. By reducing carb intake and increasing the consumption of protein, keto has helped individuals lose as much as 45 pounds in two to three months.

But the keto diet isn’t for everyone, which is why we’ve seen a development of other diet fads that are similar to keto but change their rules a bit.

One of these is the carnivore diet, which is a much stricter version of keto that involves the consumption of animal products exclusively.

The carnivore diet is a zero-carb diet, as opposed to keto, which still consumes 5-10% of carbohydrates per day.

Some people use the terms keto and carnivore to refer to their diets interchangeably.

But while they share several similarities, there are also important differences between them that make one better for you and your lifestyle than the other.

Let’s explore them in this article.

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is based on the premise of reducing carb intake in order to get the body into a state of ketosis.

It eliminates the body’s primary source of energy, carbohydrates, to trigger it to break down fat into ketones to serve as an alternative fuel source.

During ketosis, the body is much more efficient at burning fat, which ultimately leads to significant weight loss. The ketogenic diet has also been linked to reduced blood sugar levels, making it suitable for those with type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory diseases.

To achieve ketosis, the ketogenic diet follows a strict macronutrient breakdown of 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and only 5-10% carbs.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet, on the other hand, is based on the belief that modern health issues are caused by the ingestion of plant toxins, and as such, animal products are the best source of nutrients to facilitate overall health and wellness.

The carnivore diet eliminates all non-animal foods and focuses on consuming meat, fish, eggs, and select dairy products.

It is essentially a zero-carb diet that also prohibits the consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains, among others.

There is no specific macronutrient breakdown for the carnivore diet — what’s important is consuming only animal products to allow the body to substitute its fuel source for fat and protein. 

Pork rinds can be eaten on the carnivore and keto diet due to their zero carbohydrate content.

Carnivore Diet vs Keto: Similarities

The carnivore and ketogenic diets are similar in how they maximize the consumption of fat and protein and minimize carb intake. But that’s only one of the things they have in common.

Lower Carbohydrate Intake

The primary goal of both diets is to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates in order to trigger the body to use stored fat as an alternative source of fuel.

Compared to a regular diet, where people consume about 50-75% of their calories from carbs, the ketogenic diet limits this to 5-10%, while the carnivore diet aims for carb intake to be completely zero. 

These figures are significantly less than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans' recommended carb intake of 45-65% of daily calories for weight loss.

Fat Utilization

By reducing carb intake, both diets also rely on fat to supply the body with what it needs to create energy.

The keto diet does this by minimizing carbs enough to allow the body to enter into the metabolic state of ketosis, where fat is burned to create fuel.

The carnivore diet, however, does not have a specific macronutrient breakdown, nor does it aim to induce ketosis. Instead, it completely eliminates carbs and all plant-based foods.

As a result, the body naturally transitions to burning fat for energy because of the lack of an alternative fuel source.

Weight Loss Results

Ultimately, advocates of both diets prize them for their weight loss benefits. Because they trigger a more efficient fat-burning process, both keto and carnivore diets are able to help individuals cut down on weight.

According to studies, those who adhere to a keto diet can lose 2kg more weight than those observing other low-fat diet regimes.

In six months, keto dieters can lose around 12% of their body weight.

While keto has been criticized for being unable to sustain weight loss long-term, one study shows that participants who lost 45 pounds after 2-3 months of keto dieting were able to keep the weight off despite increasing their caloric intake 1-2 months later.

This is owing to the improvement in the resting metabolic rate (RMR), which measures how the body uses energy while immobile.

The carnivore diet is also able to help with weight loss. While there are few studies on its effects on body weight, there is evidence that engaging in a high-protein and zero-carb diet can result in better-sustained weight loss and body composition improvement.

This is mostly because protein induces satiation and increases RMR, resulting in more effective fat burn.

Health Benefits

Aside from their main benefit associated with weight loss, the keto and carnivore diets may also provide other health benefits.

Keto has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, making it a recommended diet regime for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

It can also reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, but increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is considered good cholesterol. As a result, the keto diet is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and other heart complications.

Among other things, there are also studies that link keto to improved acne, reduced cancer risk, strengthened brain function, reduced seizures among epilepsy patients, and improved PCOS symptoms.

The carnivore diet also delivers a fair share of health benefits, although most are not scientifically proven. Carnivore dieters, however, have reported decreased blood sugar levels, better gut health, decreased inflammation, enhanced brain function, and improved heart health.

A study by Harvard has also found that the carnivore diet can reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases, with 56% of participants citing an autoimmune condition as their motivation for observing the diet and 89% reporting that the carnivore diet helped resolve their disorders.

Carnivore Diet vs Keto: Differences

Despite their various similarities, the carnivore and keto diet regimes have stark differences that you should take note of.


The first among these differences is their macronutrient breakdowns. The ketogenic diet observes an exact daily caloric breakdown of 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.

This is the ideal macronutrient intake to achieve ketosis, but some keto dieters set individual daily macronutrient goals depending on what their bodies need to enter ketosis and stay in it.

In comparison, the carnivore diet does not adhere to specific macronutrient breakdowns.

Because the diet regime does not focus on entering ketosis, it only prioritizes consuming protein and no carbs. The rules for the carnivore diet are simple: eat animal products and avoid plants.

For hardcore dieters, that includes eliminating all seasonings and limiting liquid intake to water and bone broth.


While both diets favor protein over carbs, there are specific food items that are allowed in the keto diet but not the carnivore diet.

The latter is much stricter when it comes to what you can and cannot consume and only allows meat and other animal products.

The carnivore diet, while effective in weight loss, is primarily concerned with facilitating overall health and wellness by eliminating the risk of ingesting plant toxins.

The keto diet, on the other hand, is a little more flexible. Along with meat and protein, it also allows fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Weight loss is the primary motivator for those adhering to the keto diet, but it was originally designed for medical purposes, catering to those who need to lower sugar and carb intake.

Both diets, however, are created to improve overall health by removing processed foods, high-carb dishes, and artificial sweeteners from a person’s diet.

Calorie Tracking

Both diets do not require calorie tracking per se, but counting how many calories you consume per day can be helpful in the ketogenic diet.

Because keto follows a macronutrient breakdown, you may need to be extra careful about how many calories you’re getting from each of the three sources: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Counting calories in the keto diet can help you optimize your macros to enter and stay in ketosis.

Since the carnivore diet does not follow a macronutrient breakdown, calories don’t really matter here. The basic principle of the carnivore diet is to eat meat when hungry and until full. The body will do the rest.

Are Carnivore and Keto For Everyone?

If your goal is to lose weight, then both the carnivore and keto diet regimes are good options.

The carnivore diet is generally simpler to follow without requiring you to count macros, analyze carb content, or track your calories. The only rule is to eat meat — no carbs and no plants. Despite it being restrictive, its simplicity makes it popular among those prioritizing weight loss.

If you’re looking for something a little more flexible, you’ll appreciate the lax nature of the keto diet.

Although it requires a little more thought when it comes to what you eat and how much of it to consume, it still allows you to enjoy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other foods that are prohibited in the carnivore diet.

Both diets have their advantages for weight loss. But there are also risks that you should be aware of.

The keto diet does have potential dangers that concern low blood pressure, nutrient deficiencies, kidney stones, and constipation. It’s generally not safe for those with gallbladder, thyroid, pancreas, and liver diseases.

In the same way, the carnivore diet can also be linked to an increased risk of diseases because it cuts out foods that deliver essential nutrients to the body, such as vegetables and fruits.

The high consumption of red meat also carries the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Is the Carnivore Diet Healthier Than Keto?

When it comes to which is a healthier diet to follow, it’s clear that keto takes the title — at least for now.

Although there have been several testimonies from carnivore dieters that point to weight loss and other health benefits, there are few studies that support these claims.

Because of its restrictive nature, the carnivore diet is unlikely to be healthy in the long run. It completely eliminates most food groups, which can lead to  micronutrient deficiency and a lack of beneficial plant compounds, like fiber, which is essential for gut health.

The keto diet, on the other hand, has more balance. It allows you to source the nutrients your body needs to function optimally from major food groups. Studies have supported keto as a safe diet regime, even when observed for long periods of time.

Add to that its purported contribution to reducing blood sugar levels, increasing good cholesterol, and other health benefits.

Final Thoughts

While keto takes the reigns as the diet of choice, the right dietary regime to follow will depend on your unique goals and which one works best for you long-term.

When observed properly, both keto and carnivore diets can have positive impacts on your health and help you achieve your weight loss objectives.