Are Humans Carnivores or Omnivores? (That depends)
Humans are omnivores, or should I say, omnivores when it serves them.
Humans are carnivores by preference and, if the environment allows it, by default.
And this is the thing no one talks about. People will ignore specific evolutionary biology data points but then use them when it serves them.
They cherry-pick data and fall victim to confirmation bias 101.
Let's break down the first principles of this concept.
Humans were omnivores in the wild.
They ate food available in their environment. They didn't go shopping or have food shipped in from halfway around the world.
This meant they always ate Real Food from Mother Nature herself, and thus, their diet changed with the seasons and environment.
Think of Mother Nature as Mother to all humans—she fed us, and we had no say in the matter.
We ate what she offered, or we died. Imagine how easy it would be to be lean and healthy today if we could only eat Real Food provided by nature.
This is also why intermittent fasting benefits human health because it replaces our ancestors' environment.
Humans ate foods they prepared, cooked, and processed themselves.
This required calories to find food, prepare it, and eat it.
Today, corporations do the cooking, preparing, and processing for us. Most people walk to their fridge, and that's it.
This represents another mismatch in our environment.
Humans cannot survive in the wild without eating animals.
Modern humans can survive without animal foods if they use supplements to fill in the gaps—though I would argue they do not stay well.
Plants have internal defense mechanisms built into their biology that attack predators.
To what extent varies at the plant level as well as the predator level?
Some of these defenses include lectins found in cereal grains and the most popular lectin-like substance, gluten.
Many animal species use sugar-rich plant foods to fatten up before winter.
Our human ancestors did the same thing.
No human pre-agriculture could have had a consistent supply of plant foods in abundance throughout the year. However, they would have eaten animals year-round one way or the other.
So back to our original point.
Yes, humans evolved as omnivores and thrived as hunter-gatherers. But that was the wild.
Today, we live in a modern industrialized environment.
So the question everyone should be asking is: Should Humans Adopt an omnivore-eating strategy or a carnivore-ish eating strategy?
That is the question.
Darwin's theory of natural selection goes like this: the species that best adapts to its environment survives and passes along its genes.
So what is the best strategy we can adopt today as hominids with a consciousness that allows us to form rational thoughts about the future?
If you're a carnivore or mostly carnivore, you know the answer to this.
The best strategy for the modern human is an animal-based ancestrally appropriate way of eating that includes Real Food from nature focused on nose-to-tail animal products as the preferred food.
I've covered a lot of videos about whether you should go strict carnivore or not. That is 100% up to you.
This is what I do:
- I eat fruit when I feel like it.
- I do dairy on my flexible carnivore-based diet3. I'll have some nuts/seeds/salad/or other plant foods if I feel like it or it's around—though they bring me less satisfaction than animal foods.
- I love gluten-free lentil or rice pasta with a TON of cheese, cream, and butter.
- I'll have a lousy pizza every so often. I follow mostly a 16/8 fasting protocol with two meals during my feeding window.
I break my fast 4-6 hours after waking up, almost always with a juicy steak.
Let's now analyze what to consider for your perfect eating strategy.
Should you be more omnivore or more carnivore questions to ask yourself:
- How do plant foods affect you? Do you struggle with gut issues? Avoid plants generally and test to find what you can tolerate. This is an excellent time to try fruit by itself here and there to see how those affect you individually.
- Do you struggle with weight loss or maintenance? Avoid carbs, thus avoid plants and optimize for protein in your carnivore-based diet.
- Do you enjoy certain plant foods or not really?
- Do you enjoy the simplicity of your diet, or do you like cooking and including many different ingredients? You do you.
Now for a completely made-up range for me that you can use as a guidepost to forming your own.
I aim for 30%-35% of calories from protein.
This is what I recommend for most people.
I eat 10-15% of calories from carbs, but not generally daily.
For example, I had gluten-free pizza yesterday and moose tracks frozen yogurt.
My carbs were easy, 150g+ for the day. On the flip side, I had 15g of carbs the day before.
If you are going to do carbs, consider cycling it this way. It promises metabolic flexibility and may provide refeeding effects.
The rest is then fat—mostly from animals or dairy. When I want to eat whatever I want, I do.
When I first started doing carnivore, cheat meals used to wreck me.
Finally, you may have guessed it by now, in an industrialized food environment full of plant-based monocrop foods full of sugar, seed, and vegetable oils, and highly refined carbs in a highly palatable form, THE BEST STRATEGY HANDS DOW IS A ANIMAL-FOCUSED approach.
And for most of us that live in the modern world and want to balance enjoyment, life, travel, and nutrition, we are likely to do best on a MOSTLY carnivore, slightly omnivore approach.
So if we simplified this down, it would be 80% carnivore and 20% omnivore. That is how I'm now thinking about my diet.