Carnivore diet side effects: Increased coronary artery calcium

The side effects of a long term Carnivore diet are unknown. For many, short term issues such as diarrhea, constipation, or other GI issues improve with time.

But what about the long term effects? Might some problems creep up over the long term?

A recent paper on the long term effects of a Carnivore diet circulated recently. While the discussion stated it had variable impacts on cardiovascular disease, the hard outcome was not good.

Ultimately, for those people who had a coronary artery calcium score before and after, it went up. Big time.

Unfortunately, this went missed by people sharing the study over social media. And, for some odd reason, the authors didn’t really mention it either. In fact, it was kinda buried in the data.

In today’s video blog we cover these findings and what they mean if you’re eating a Carnivore diet.

Carnivore diet side effects

Increase in cardiovascular disease as a long-term Carnivore diet side effect

In the study Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”, researchers combed through self-reported data on participants consuming a Carnivore Diet for more than 6 months. So what did this study ultimately find?

People eating a Carnivore diet saw many improvements in addressing skin, gut, and muscular issues. And their glycemic control, as measured by hemoglobin A1c, improved dramatically as well. But what about the side effects to a Carnivore diet?

Their conclusion on cardiovascular disease risk is odd: “Cardiovascular disease risk factors were variably affected.” While bloodmarkers were variably affected, the hard outcome increased…well sort of.

One of the problems with this type of data is that it’s often cobbled together. In this paper, only 15 people had a before AND after CAC score. And those who had both, saw a 50% increase in their CAC score.

For more on where you can see this data and what it means, check out our Youtube video on the paper below:

(00:00) Intro

(01:38) The Carnivore Study: “Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”

(5:02) What did the study show?

(9:33) What this tells us


Unfortunately, this type of evidence is low on the evidentiary totem pole. Therefore, I wouldn’t use it to make hard judgements on the effectiveness or the side effects to a long term Carnivore diet.

Be that as it may, it would certainly be a smart idea to track your CAC score if a long term Carnivore diet is in your plans. And it seems to jibe with all the data we have on what we’d expect to happen in a long term Carnivore diet.

One final thing to point out is that this kind of poo-poos the idea of a special lean mass hyper-responder phenotype. If you’re unaware, this is the idea that elevated LDL-C isn’t an issue if you also see an increase in HDL and drop in triglycerides. To date, their really is no good data supporting this idea.

Based on this evidence, it’s probably a good idea to track your CAC score even if you fall into the LMHR category.

One thought on “Carnivore diet side effects: Increased coronary artery calcium

  1. Becki_MoveToBeTraining says:

    Funny, ACSM just shared research suggesting, rather specifically, that higher intensity training was safe for folks who present with excess arterial calcium. 
    Not what you’re discussing here, but interesting as it pertains to the application of data received regarding one’s heart. There are always confounding factors, but interesting nonetheless.

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