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Why a Carnivore Diet is Problematic With Dr. Chris Masterjohn

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:
Chris Masterjohn podcast

About Chris Masterjohn

  • Chris received his Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut
  • He served as a postdoctoral associate in the Comparative Biosciences department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois
  • Chris went on to be an Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College
  • In 2016, Chris decided to leave academia to pursue entrepreneurship and is currently conducting independent research, consulting, developing informational products, and producing free content to help people gain better health

Chris’ Guide To The Ideal Diet (00:01:00)

  • Assuming you don’t have any food intolerances or conditions that require you to remove foods*
  • Diversify your protein intake across different animals
    • 0.5-1 g of protein/pound of body weight a day
    • Diversify your source of protein (meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, dairy, etc.)
    • Each protein has different nutritional profiles so they each add their own unique combination of beneficial vitamins and minerals
  • Diversity within the animal
    • Make an effort to eat nose-to-tail
    • Add 4-8 oz of liver to your diet each week
    • Replace some meat with heart (if you’re feeling more adventurous, try kidney)
    • Add bones and other collagen-rich tissues
  • Diversify your carbohydrate intake
    • Legumes, whole grains, starchy tubers, and fruits
    • If you were to take one out, whole grains would be best
  • Consume a large volume of vegetables
    • Several cups per day
    • Diversify across the colors (green, red, orange, yellow)
  • Get enough calcium
    • Shoot for 3 servings of calcium-rich foods a day
    • Can come from dairy and edible bones
    • Getting enough calcium from plants can be tricky because the calcium is either not bioavailable and present in low amounts
    • There are only 3 practical plant foods that provide enough calcium: Chinese mustard greens, napa cabbage, and bok choy
  • Bonus Rule: eat a good digestive aid with every meal
    • Ginger, Swedish bitters, kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, etc.

Chris Masterjohn’s Actual Diet (00:06:20)

  • Modified due to digestive issues and not being able to absorb fructose well
  • Chris’ typical meal:
    • White rice
    • A lot of mixed vegetables
    • Meat or eggs
    • A tomato product (usually salsa)
    • 1 tbsp of unfortified nutritional yeast
  • Chris will take oyster extract and liver supplements throughout the day
  • His main fruit is bell pepper and tries to eat all colors
  • Chris adds calorie filler snacks because it’s difficult for him to get all of his caloric needs in on his diet
    • Dry roasted nuts like cashews
    • white rice toast, buttered and sweetened with dextrose powder and cinnamon

The Liver Is Not A Filter (00:17:04)

  • The liver’s job with respect to toxins is to get rid of them
    • Modifies toxins and prepares them to leave the body
  • The liver has a 3-phase process that tags toxins for removal
    • Phase 1: oxidation
      • this phase can actually make a toxin more toxic but essentially it is prepping the toxin for phase 2
    • Phase 2: conjugation
      • attaches a biological marker onto the toxin
      • this stage neutralizes the toxin so that it is no longer toxic
    • Phase 3: export
      • export the conjugated toxin to the bile which will then be reintroduced into the GI system to eventually leave through the urine or feces

So does the liver retain toxins? (00:18:40)

  • Chris’ own research studies have found that the liver does not retain any more toxins than any other tissues do
  • Many cases have shown that other foods contain more toxins than the liver
  • The liver is not uniquely high in toxins because it doesn’t filter toxins like how a coffee filter filters coffee or a car filter filters oil
  • Chris’ post here

Filtering Abilities of Oysters (00:19:44)

  • Oysters are not high in toxins but they are capable of filtering many gallons of water
  • Similarly to the liver, oysters have a system to excrete the toxins after
  • A study of oyster filtering rates can only explain how they function mechanistically

Chris Masterjohn’s Response to Paul Saladino (00:22:36)

  • In this section, Chris and I discuss topics that came up in my interview with Paul Saladino
  • You can find that interview here

There is no evidence that vegetables are healthy (00:22:50)

  • Paul believes that there is no evidence that vegetables are healthy
    • He found 5 interventional trials with vegetables that all failed
    • Additionally, he believes you can’t rely on epidemiological studies because of a healthy-user bias
  • Chris thinks this conclusion is flawed because it employs extremely selective reasoning
    • Paul argues that in order to prove that vegetables have value, we need large-scale, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on vegetables that have positive outcomes
    • Chris counters with the point that there are no such trials for removing vegetables from the diet, increasing meat in the diet, or on the Carnivore Diet itself
    • To Chris, using this reasoning to dismiss the benefits of vegetables seems one-sided in how you apply your skepticism

Strengths And Limitations of Observational and Randomized Controlled Trials (00:25:20)

  • Observational:
    • Strengths: you have long exposure times that effectively replicate the exposure time of the diseases you are trying to study and people are consuming the diet in the context that they naturally would choose to do so
  • Randomized Controlled Trial (RTC):
    • Strengths: by randomizing, you account for all of the unknown confounding variables that could skew results (selection bias, healthy-user bias, etc.)
  • A lot of people will grossly exaggerate the value of observational studies because an RCT cannot be performed, therefore, we need to treat the observation data with the same confidence as we would with RCT data. This is false.
  • No matter what evidence you are looking at, you have to acknowledge each method’s strengths and limitations and admit to them

Vitamin C (00:28:02)

  • There is a very strong experimental correspondence between the amount of Vitamin C that is needed for optimal antioxidant protection and immune function and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Vitamin C RDA
    • Adult women: 60mg/day
    • Adult men: 90mg/day
  • The optimal amount of Vitamin C is much higher than what people are typically getting on a standard American diet
  • The benefits of Vitamin C drastically increases to ~60mg/day and then begins to level off
    • 20mg/day → 60mg/day: experience a huge benefit
    • 60mg/day → 90mg/day: significant but smaller benefit
    • 90mg/day → 120mg/day: marginal 10% benefit increase
    • 120mg/day → 150mg/day: marginal 5% benefit increase

The RDA Should Be Increased (00:34:32)

  • Chris believes the Vitamin C RDA should increase to about 100-150mg/day
  • The current RDA is set to the point at which you get 80% of Vitamin C’s benefits without loss of Vitamin C in the urine
  • He thinks it’s irrational to cap the RDA based on excretion of Vitamin C through the urine, which has no negative impact

Do Carnivores Have Different Requirements? (00:36:53)

  • Carnivores argue that they probably need less Vitamin C because of their unique diet
  • Chris thinks that it’s a reasonable hypothesis to study but it is irresponsible to ignore the mass amount of experimental data of nutritional requirements without proof
  • It is just as reasonable to hypothesize that Carnivores may require more Vitamin C based on their diet
  • Context always matters
    • There are many contextual variables that can affect Vitamin C requirements

Where To Find Chris Masterjohn (00:49:46)

Here you can find Chris’ e-book Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

    • Use our code SELFHACKED for 20% off

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen flipped the script on conventional and alternative medicine…and it worked. Growing up, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, anxiety, and other issues that were poorly understood in traditional healthcare. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a learning journey to decode his DNA and track his biomarkers in search of better health. Through this personalized approach, he discovered his genetic weaknesses and was able to optimize his health 10X better than he ever thought was possible. Based on his own health success, he went on to found SelfDecode, the world’s first direct-to-consumer DNA analyzer & precision health tool that utilizes AI-driven polygenic risk scoring to produce accurate insights and health recommendations. Today, SelfDecode has helped over 100,000 people understand how to get healthier using their DNA and labs.
Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, with a mission of empowering people to take advantage of the precision health revolution and uncover insights from their DNA and biomarkers so that we can all feel great all of the time.


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