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The Carnivore Diet With Dr Shawn Baker

Written by Kim | Last updated:

These are the show notes for the podcast with Shawn Baker. These notes are a recap of the opinions and views of Shawn Baker and don’t necessarily reflect the views of SelfHacked. Make sure to speak with your doctor before starting on any new diet.

About Shawn Baker

  • Shawn Baker is a doctor, athlete, father, and proponent of carnivore diets and lifestyles
  • He received his doctoral degree at Texas Tech University and completed his orthopedic surgical residency at the University of Texas
  • He was the Chief of Orthopedics at various air force bases and the lead surgeon in his own private practice until 2016
  • He is a distinguished graduate of the US Airforce Officer Training school and served as a Nuclear Weapons Launch Officer

What Got Shawn Onto The Carnivore Diet (00:03:09)

  • Shawn has been a high-level athlete his whole life
  • Even though he was still training a lot, he started noticing that he was developing signs and symptoms of metabolic disease
    • Sleep apnea, hypertension, excess weight, and general aches and pains that are associated with a long-term athlete and aging
  • Shawn started on the Carnivore Diet about 3 years ago (2016) while self experimenting to improve his athletic performance
  • Prior to becoming a carnivore, he was on a ketogenic diet for a few years
  • He discovered the carnivore community while doing research on the benefits of meat on athletic performance and body composition
  • After further engagement with the carnivore community, he decided to try the diet for short periods of time and soon took it on fulltime

Shawn’s Carnivore Diet (00:07:00)

  • At the time of recording, Shawn has been on the Carnivore Diet for ~2.5 years
  • 95% of his diet comes from red meat – typically steak or hamburger meat
  • The remaining 5% would consist of seafood, eggs, and some dairy
  • His main (and usually only) seasoning is salt
  • He will occasionally stray from the diet for special occasions
    • I.e. he’d have a slice of cake for his son’s birthday
  • Shawn hasn’t had any fruits, vegetables, or grains for a few years now
  • He generally doesn’t eat organ meats
  • Eats both grass-fed and grain-fed meat

Why Majority Steak And Not Other Meats? (00:08:07)

  • He mainly sticks to eating steak for 2 reasons
    • He prefers it
    • Thinks it’s more consistent with what humans have evolved to eat
  • When he compares how he feels in terms of satiation and satisfaction, other meats simply can’t stack up to how he feels while eating red meats
  • Chicken and fish can be too lean to the point that they don’t appeal to him taste-wise

Inadvertent Fasting (00:38:35)

  • He doesn’t set out an intentional fasting schedule but his diet tends to have him eating 2 times a day based on his hunger patterns
    • Breakfast around 8-9 am
    • Dinner around 5-6 pm
  • He does believe that there are some benefits to infrequent meal patterns
  • Thinks the general population eats too frequently at the detriment of our health

The Carnivore Diet

Weight Loss On The Carnivore Diet (00:10:28)

  • He thinks that people tend to lose weight on this diet for a variety of reasons
    • The meat can be very satiating for its protein and fat content
    • Protein is a very forgiving nutrient in regards to weight gain
    • Impact our metabolic rate and efficiency through diet
  • Shawn thinks it could possibly be due to the palatability theory but he hasn’t found that to be the case for him
    • the theory that people eat less food because they get too used to a mono-diet and start finding the food not as palatable

The Main Reasons People Start (00:15:05)

  • Shawn thinks that people start the carnivore diet for 3 main reasons

1) Weight loss

2) Health concerns (diabetes, autoimmune diseases, GI problems, etc.)

3) Athletic Performance and body composition

Nutrient Deficiencies (00:15:42)

  • He thinks nutrient deficiencies are very important to pay attention to but he isn’t concerned for himself on his current diet
  • Shawn believes that there are significant problems with using standard RDAs while on a Carnivore Diet
  • These problems stem from RDAs being established for people eating a specific type of diet – a grain-based diet
  • In 2007 the Institute of Medicine had a meeting that concluded that the RDAs were based on the lowest level of evidence – expert opinion
  • There is no robust science demonstrating appropriate nutrient RDAs, and what we do have, was generated for people consuming a diet very different than carnivores
  • He believes the radically different diet likely requires different nutritional needs
  • Based on his own continued athletic performance and success at his age, Shawn finds it difficult to believe that his body is nutrient deficient on this diet
  • Those who are “nutrient deficient” become sick, weak, and develop health issues, but Shawn, on the other hand, is continually becoming stronger, faster, and better

Nutrient Deficiency Cases (00:19:42)

  • A study on Beriberi (a thiamine deficiency disease) showed that animals that were fed a low-carb diet did not develop signs of Beriberi while animals on a carb-filled diet did [1]
  • Shawn thinks the prevalence of magnesium deficiency in the general population is due to people’s largely carbohydrate-based diet
    • Magnesium is used in the metabolism of carbs which in turn interferes with magnesium’s absorption and drives up the required amount
    • You don’t typically see magnesium deficiencies on the carnivore diet

Is It Optimal For Longevity or Just For Health? (00:36:57)

  • Although he doesn’t believe there is a true answer to this question, he does believe that your health today is most likely the best correlation to your health tomorrow
  • One of the best predictors for longevity is maintaining strength
  • The Carnivore Diet is the best method he has found to maintain strength

Is The Diet For Everyone? (00:26:30)

  • Shawn thinks the diet would most likely be beneficial for most people but he does not think most people need to do it
  • He acknowledges that there are people who will have social, cultural, and financial restraints that will keep them from adopting a carnivore diet

Other Diets Shawn Baker Has Tried (00:30:39)

  • Shawn started out with a standard food pyramid styled diet
    • Grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy
    • He figured that as long as he trained hard, he could more-or-less eat what he wanted
  • He then briefly switched to a low-fat, plant-rich, lean-protein diet
    • Only on this diet for 4-6 months
    • He lost weight on this diet but he didn’t feel good
    • He was always hungry, had low energy, and constantly in a bad mood
  • Then he was on a paleo-style diet for several years that slowly morphed into a low-carb approach and eventually turned into keto
    • When he switched to Keto, that was the first time he noticed a change in his hunger patterns – he didn’t feel hungry anymore
  • When he switched to the carnivore diet, he felt like he was getting the best benefits of both a paleo and ketogenic diet
    • He thinks a ketogenic diet tends to undervalue protein, especially in athletes
    • As an athlete on this diet, you don’t lack for protein, essential amino acids, creatine, and other important performance-enhancing factors

The Carnivore Diet And mTOR Activation (00:40:33)

  • Shawn is not concerned about excess mTOR activation on his diet
  • mTOR activation requires several things to occur and one factor is insulin
  • mTOR is activated differentially in different tissues
  • Resistance training, combined with protein intake and insulin, will stimulate mTOR activation in the muscles to allow for muscle protein synthesis
  • Shawn’s combination of resistance training mixed with a high-protein, low-carb diet reduces his insulin production and concentrates his mTOR activation to his muscles
  • mTOR activation in certain areas is beneficial in certain tissues while detrimental in others
    • Activation in the brain is associated with improved cognition
    • Activation in the muscles increases health and muscle mass
    • Activation in peripheral fat and liver tissues is a concern for cancer

Shawn’s Lab Tests (00:43:38)

  • He thinks lab tests are important in certain situations but are largely overvalued in general
  • They serve a great purpose in acute settings (distressed patient in a hospital) but not so much in the chronic setting
    • The significance of lab tests tend to be over interpreted
  • Different groups of people have different normal blood marker reference ranges
    • Race
    • Age
    • Gender
  • People pursuing a different diet could have different normal reference ranges

Where To Find Shawn Baker (00:49:38)

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