Can You Get Too Much Protein on a Carnivore Diet? A Hypercarnivore Dietary Adjustment

Finding Your Hypercarnivore Sweet Spot

Discovering one's personal sweet spot with respect to macronutrients is an ongoing challenge for many, with ranges varying according to whether one is a more strict carnivore dieter, a hypercarnivore, or those eating some variation of a ketogenic or low-carb diet.  While a growing number of people are restoring health on a higher-protein, plant-free diet, it is possible that over time, as one recovers health, the needs for the higher protein could change.  Likewise, I've read comments from people on the various diet forums, including the Vegan Recovery Group on FB claiming that they do not feel well eating larger quantities of meat.  Is there a reason this may be the case?  Is there a potential downside to consuming too much protein?

As always, our recommendation is to learn to trust your true nature.  Each individual will need to determine what type of meal plan helps them feel their best.  And, this may fluctuate through the seasons, and through the years and decades of one's life.

However, as we are innately tribal, it is easy to get caught up in the wave of diets as they trend upwards, such as the Carnivore and ketogenic diets gaining  traction with a slew of people purporting health recovery and weight loss successes.  We can feel frustrated if we fail to get similar results.  Worse, we may have a subconscious ancestral imprint that if we are outed from the tribe, our very survival would be at risk.

Having had a LOT of time to experiment over the years with many variations of low, moderate, and high carbohydrate diets with subsequent low to moderate and high levels of fat, and protein intake, I have now begun to 'read' my own symptoms more accurately.  Paying attention to our own inner cues combined with keeping one eye on the research, Don and I are narrowing in on upper and lower limits of optimal protein intake, in combination with fats and carbohydrates.

Another factor to keep in mind, especially for those who have been eating a low animal protein diet, the body will down regulate its production of hydrochloric acid, HCL.  The lower HCL could in itself cause some who claim to not digest meat well lose a taste for meat all together.  I have had this experience, so I know our tastes change.  Taking a good enzyme with HCL ~ at least initially ~ can help.  Some people have chronically low levels of HCL, and may need to take enzymes long-term.  We like NOW Super Enzyme, which we order here on Amazon, but you can also check Swanson's, or a local store.

Since we recently were expending a lot of energy moving everything we own around ~ and I mean everything, both in our clinic and our apartment ~ cleaning, rearranging, etc., we worked up quite an appetite.  We were sweating off salt pretty rapidly as well.  As a result, there were several days where we each consumed a higher than normal amount of beef.  I was chowing down an nearly an entire one pound ribeye in one sitting myself, and sometimes having more beef again at a second meal!

New York Strip steaks are a little leaner, but you can fatten them up by adding a pat of butter
on top!  

Pretty tasty!

This higher than typical intake of protein prompted some symptoms in us, although what we each experienced was different from one another.

According to an April 2006 paper available from Research Gate, A Review of Dietary Protein Intake in Humans, there is an upper limit to how much protein can be safely consumed, limited by 1) the rate at which the gut can absorb amino acids, and 2) the rate at which the liver can break down the amino acids:
"Amino acid catabolism must occur in a way that does not elevate blood ammonia. Catabolism of amino acids occurs in the liver, which contains the urea cycle
however the rate of conversion of amino acid derived ammonia to urea is
limited. Rudman et al. found that the maximal rate of urea excretion (MRUE)
in healthy individuals was 55 mg urea N ∙ h-1∙ kg-0.75, which is reached at an intake
level of 0.53 g protein N/kg-0.75.  At higher protein intakes there is no further increase
in urea excretion rate, but a prolongation of the duration of MRUE, often in excess
of 24 h." (Reference footnotes from the abstract were left out.) 
(PDF) A Review of Issues of Dietary Protein Intake in Humans. Available from:

Symptoms of excess protein intake were experienced by early explorers of the 'New World' consuming excess lean wild meat which led to "rabbit starvation syndrome," a condition in which symptoms include nausea and diarrhea followed by death within a few weeks.  This syndrome occurs as a result of the "inability of the human liver to sufficiently upregulate urea synthesis to meet 'large' loads of protein."

Bingo.  Don experienced a few days of ongoing diarrhea after our increased intake of red meat producing a protein intake between 180 and 250 g per day. 

I was not sleeping well, and was having a growing, deep level of fatigue.  We had a very physically and mentally demanding month, so the poor sleep was not allowing me to rejuvenate.  My digestion was also off.  I was actually experiencing lower abdominal bloating, something that I had not been experiencing as much, if at all,  since transitioning from a high-fiber, plant-based diet.

Worse was how my mind couldn't seem to shut down.  I had excessive frontal lobe activity ~ literally feeling a business, like hyperactive dancing nerves in the front of my head!  Song lyrics would pop in from out of nowhere, and multiple layers of thoughts and even crackling sensations like hot timbers ~ my nerves ~ became routine, and try as I may, I was not able to cool it down.  I could both observe and experience this, and it was interrupting my peace of mind!  While meditation can help, I know that when my diet is right, this does not happen.

Anyone who has experienced chronic extreme reactions to low-blood sugar swings knows how uncomfortable the brain can get when blood sugar balance is off.  The comfort of my brain trumps any other symptom I am trying to correct, so when I eat appropriately to restore a natural sense of mental/emotional balance, the rest seems to follow.

We forget that our natural state is to feel good!  As an energy healer, I know many people do not have an 'imprint' for feeling clear, calm and grounded.  We have acclimated to living in a state of fight, flight or freeze on a daily basis, whether we are aware of this or not.  And this is detrimental to our health.

When I tracked meals on Cronometer, I realized that my protein intake was closer to 150 g of protein per day.  I now understand that quantity to be more than my gut can absorb efficiently and more than my hard working liver could appropriately catabolize.  I most likely lacked adequate enzymes to metabolize the higher quantity of protein, which may have caused the bloating.  Poor digestion and absorption/assimilation means the body is not turning food into ATP, or fuel as efficiently, which can lead to fatigue.  

Plus, the excess ammonia and urea nitrogen can accumulate in the blood, contributing to a range of symptoms which  I'll just call the 'blahs' ~ possible head aches, increased joint pain, skin break outs, and more.  I wasn't experiencing all of these symptoms, although I was on the verge.   I certainly was not feeling very chipper either.  The symptoms can mirror 'adrenal fatigue' ~ a feeling of one's batteries being low, or out of charge.

Another potential problem: if excess consumption of protein is left unchecked, and coupled with insufficient calcium intake, the body will pull minerals from storage as needed to maintain the tightly regulated, slightly alkaline blood pH and the urine pH.   This could result in premature degeneration of the teeth and bones, including osteoporosis.

When we first began to increase our fat intake while decreasing plant foods and total carbohydrates, (beginning May, 2017) I felt amazing.  I was really on a high.  I was very impressed with the marked difference in my moods, mental energy and focus, and overall sense of elation.  As I said in this video, originally filmed in April, 2017, and published on our previous Basic Macrobiotic YT channel. I was "feeling joy for no particular reason!"

This video is actually the fourth in a series of my 'look down memory lane, from plant-based to nearly plant-free.'  I've linked all four videos in this series on this post here.

Admittedly, this has been missing lately.  Of course there could be several reasons for this, but I had a hunch that I needed to tweak my diet as well.  Something was causing me to feel like I wasn't quite hitting my mark.

Stress, poor sleep, and other factors can effect our energy levels.  I've been working on my own habitual  mental thoughts or default emotional states as part of my attempt to revive my feel-good, more uplifted energy.  This is an ongoing process.

Energetically, I think there are many other reasons so many people are experiencing poor sleep, increased anxiety, and other less than stellar mental/ emotional states these days.  I have come to realize just how much we are also effected by the energy and thoughts of others, but that will have to be another post.

Once Don began to research further the upper limits to protein intake, we realized that was exactly what we needed to learn at this juncture.  As Don is pointing out in The Hypercarnivore Diet, there are upper and lower limits to everything.  There is an upper and lower limit to each of the macronutrients.  And each one of us will have to determine what those are, as no one can tell you this.  You will have to experiment for yourself.

The last couple days, I've increased my fat, decreased my protein, and have upped my total carbohydrates to slightly over 50g/day.  Before adding dairy foods back, my total carbohydrate consumption had been quite low.  And, voila, my feel-good self is back!

Yogurt and milk both contain carbohydrates, and they are good sources of calcium.  For those who enjoy and tolerate dairy, this can be the ideal food category to increase to help you find your own personal sweet spot, while delivering a healthier dose of calcium, for which the importance can not be under estimated.

All of this is perfectly in line with the recommendations I made in The Trust Your True Nature Low-Carb Lifestyle.  I am happy to say that I really now see more than ever that my recommendations were right on target.  I suggest most people will feel their best maintaining a total carbohydrate consumption of 100 g at the most, and 75 g being the top end for many people, if not even a little less. Athletes and those desiring to gain weight may tolerate more than 100 g of carbohydrates per day.  As an aside, I am planning to do some revisions to the book, and re-releasing it as The Hypercarnivore Diet Companion Guide.

Subscribe at for your FREE copy!

If I take myself as an example, my upper limit of protein will be roughly 100g, or 1 gram per pound of body weight.  I would say up to 110g of protein per day should be my maximum, unless I am really burning energy on any given day.  The upper limit of fat would be similar, around 110 g per day.  110 grams of each fat and protein comes to 1430 total calories.  If I require more than that, I need to fill in with carbohydrates.

My primary choice of carbohydrates is dairy foods, because I find them quite satisfying, and they are rich sources of calcium and potassium.

You may want to read my post, Getting Adequate Calcium is Important for Health...

A little fruit would be my next choice, especially during the summer.  Berries and freshly whipped cream is a great dessert.  For those newer to the hypercarnivore diet, berries + whipped cream can provide a satisfying juicy sweetness that one may miss when initially cutting way back on carbohydrates.

Seasonal (and ideally local) berries, melons, and citrus, plus soaked and rehydrated dried plums or raisins are my personal top choices.  Low-sugar fruits are an even better choice, depending on one's tolerance.  This would include cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and avocados which are botanical fruits.

I prefer not to support the practice of relying on imported tropical fruits, including bananas.

Here are some great fruit salad recipes.

Blueberries, fresh whipped cream, and coconut flakes.

A fun and refreshing dessert treat ~ Panna Cotta with blueberries.  I think you can find
a couple good recipes on

Easy to digest, well tolerated, fermented vegetables, vegetables cooked in fat, or lower-carb 'fruits' such as cucumbers and tomatoes, and softer lettuces would be my next choice, possibly adding seasonal squashes.  These are foods we were eating during the earlier transition to a hypercarnivore diet, some of which we may now begin to re-introduce, a little at a time, to test tolerance.

Fermented Veggie Medley with turnip, rutabaga, Brussel sprouts, carrot and apple

Wild salmon marinated in local citrus, and enjoyed 'raw' like a ceviche, topped with
fermented red cabbage

How I stack my meals makes a difference as well.  If I eat enough protein and fat earlier on, I can eat 'ad libidum' and not over consume calories.

If my meal timing is off, I tend to be more likely to overeat later in the day.

As an update (Nov. 14, 2018) 

After following a hypercarnivore diet for 1.5+ years now, I have observed changes to my preferences, from a higher fat diet during our initial transition to a lower-carb diet, post whole-foods, plant-based low-fat diet of 5+ years, to now preferring more leaner meats.

I still find that hitting my mark of the right balance of protein + fat makes a difference, yet this can vary day to day, or week to week.

I still advocate a 'trust your true nature' approach.

I have subtle cravings, which just cause me to feel or prefer more desiring a higher fat, or a higher/leaner protein meal, which I trust and follow with good success.  

I think there needs to be adequate fat to have a meal be more sustaining for a longer period.

I tend to start my day with fat, and a little added protein.

 I love having a hot beverage in the morning, and most of the time that is a little coffee.   I've been experimenting with adding powdered collagen, and an exogenous ketone supplement, which I will post a review about soon.

To shorten my too-long posts, with too many pictures, I've added a video showing our recent meals, below, for those interested.

Drinking more fluids in the mornings has always been more appealing to us,
hence having either milk, or eggnog first thing.

We typically eat a lighter first meal, and our main meat/higher protein meal as our 'lunch' which is our second and only other meal for the day.

We eat a meat + milk products diet, filling in with plant foods when and how we feel drawn to do so.

As one commenter mentions, upping the carbohydrate content allowed for improved assimilation of an even higher protein diet.  Dairy contains carbohydrates, as do plants, so for some, it may be worth investigating upping the carbohydrate content slightly to see if that helps you to better thrive.

These days, after decades of propaganda promoting an increasingly more plant-centered diet,  eating bacon and bacon fat, and more fat from butter and cream ~ rather than all those super foods and dark leafy greens ~ may seem counter intuitive.

However, these foods contain important fatty acids, and Vitamin A and D, plus a good source of feel-good fuel!

Bottom line, despite what my own mind once believed, I feel my best when I am fueled on fat, and I find the animal fats the most satisfying, in combination with a high protein diet.  Each person will have to find their 'sweet spot' as to their own personal upper/lower limits of protein + fat.

The flexibility of our Hypercarnivore approach allows for the addition of some plant foods, based on individual tolerances and preferences.  Many people are reluctant to give them up.  I still advocate trying to go without any for one plus month to see for yourself how they may be impacting your health, adding them back slowly.

For those interested in trying a Hypercarnivore approach, subscribe to my website to get a FREE copy of The 30-Day Hypercarnivore Health Challenge, ~ 25 page e-book.

Our Hypercarnivore diet is a flexible, non-dogmatic approach to eating.  Read more about why this is a valid approach in Don's book, The Hypercarnivore Diet, now available on Amazon and Kindle.

Following our hypercarnivore or trust your true nature approach is meant to be a way of eating that is enjoyable, as well as personally empowering and liberating, as you decide what is best, not the 'experts.'

The above video shows our recent meals, plus plus.

Learn to pay attention, internally to what you are drawn to, and to the symptoms that manifest.  You will find your sweet spot.  Just be patient with yourself.  Sometimes you have to make a lot of mistakes first!  Or go to 'extremes' to find your upper and lower limits to the various macronutrients, or individual foods.

I'm still discovering my sweet spot, as this is a dynamic, ever-evolving process.  Part of the grand adventure we call life.

#GoHypercarnivore  #plantsoptional  #trustyourtruenature #eatwhatyoucrave