Meat makes its way back to the center of the plate with carnivorous diets.
Jumpstarting the new year with a new diet or exercise program is nothing new. After celebrating on New Year’s Eve and capping off what is for many, a monthslong indulgent holiday season, many consumers annually vow to repent by frequenting the gym and committing to more waist-friendly eating habits. Many of these promises are thrown out before Valentine’s Day, and yet the annual tradition continues, and 2018 will be no different.

Deciding which diet plan to follow can be a daunting task and often means giving up many food favorites. But with many of today’s top diet and eating trends focusing on eating protein rather than avoiding it, meat no longer has to be sacrificed in the name of healthful eating.

Paleo, primal, ketogenic, Whole30 – all these eating plans have one thing in common, meat-based eating. While they aren’t meat-only diets or eating plans, each program allows and even encourages eating meat.

The Paleo (or Paleolithic) diet – also referred to as the caveman or Stone Age diet – allows only for the consumption of foods that are assumed to have been around during the Paleolithic era. It includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots and, of course, meat. Those following the plan avoid dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, coffee and all processed foods.

The primal diet – often called the cousin of the Paleo diet – is very similar with its dos and don’ts. It, too, focuses on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy fats, but adds raw and fermented dairy products, like raw cheese and kefir, to its permitted foods list. Natural sweeteners, like raw honey and pure maple syrup, are also permitted. Wild game and venison, like deer and elk, are the preferred sources for meat because they are more like those that were consumed in the Stone Ages. The primal diet also encourages consumption of grass-fed and organically produced over conventional meats.

The ketogenic diet, originally developed to treat epilepsy in children, is a high-fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. Because of the low consumption of carbohydrates as a part of this eating plan, the body is forced to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. The liver will convert fat into fatty acids and ketones which replace glucose as an energy source – a state called ketosis. When followed correctly, the body will ideally start burning more fat which can lead to weight loss. Ketogenic friendly foods include meats and eggs, leafy greens, above-ground vegetables, high-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, avocados and berries, sweeteners like stevia and erythritol and fats like coconut oil.

Whole30 is different than a typical diet in that it’s not intended to be followed on a long-term basis. It’s considered a 30-day nutritional reset in which certain foods are eliminated from the diet for 30 days in an effort to help people identify food sensitivities and end the cravings of unhealthy foods like processed sugars.

The basics of the Whole30 program involve eating moderate portions of meat, seafood and eggs, lots of vegetables, some fruit and plenty of natural fats, herbs, spices and seasonings. No dairy, sugar (artificial or real), alcohol, grains, legumes, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. The “whole” in Whole30 refers to eating non-processed foods. The program emphasizes eating foods with very few ingredients or better yet, no ingredients listed at all. After 30 days, people can reintroduce some of the forbidden foods back into the diet after hopefully eliminating the body’s former cravings for processed, unhealthy foods.