The All-Meat 'Lion Diet' Is Blowing Up On TikTok & Here's What Dietitians Say About It
Is it actually safe?
There's a new diet trend making the rounds on TikTok and this one is super restrictive with only meat, salt and water allowed.
It's been branded the Lion Diet and many TikTokers are posting videos saying they've experienced a number of improvements to their health since switching to it.
From improved sleep to increased energy levels, some say it's helped them cure a range of ailments.
TikToker @roryskitchen says he suffers from autoimmune symptoms and decided to try the Lion Diet for 24 hours, during which he only ate steak and a bowl of minced beef while drinking drank lots of water.
After the 24 hours were up he said he had the "best sleep" and "felt better than I have for such a long time."
Been reacting to most foods lately so I tried The Lion Diet for 24 hrs… It’s a modified version of the Carnivore Diet and essentially an extreme elimination diet where you eat only ruminant meat 🥩 (like lamb, beef etc), drink only water 💦 (sparkling water for the top G’s) and season with only salt🧂. I kept seeing clips of @mikhailapeterson and Jordan B Peterson floating around on my FYP, Reels & Shorts talking about how they healed chronic auto-immune conditions eating this way. As someone who has autoimmune symptoms I thought I’d give it a go. Safe to say I’ve felt better than I have in a long time! I’ll be embarking on a 30 day version of this soon but with a stronger focus on meat stocks (it’s called the GAPS Diet) so I can start healing my gut… so pls follow if u want to see the results of that. Also I’m not a doctor just a dude making videos sharin me journey. DYO research etc. #theliondiet #carnivorediet #carnivoremd #liondiet #mikhailapeterson #jordanbpeterson #gapsdiet #gutandpsychologysyndrome #guthealing
While those do sound like some pretty great benefits, it's worth pointing out that he only spent 24 hours on the diet before reporting in on it.
That begs the question: What happens to your body if you don't get other foods, such as vegetables and starches, over a long period of time?
After doing some research and speaking to an expert, here's what the Lion Diet is likely to do to your health.
What is the Lion Diet?
The Lion diet is an amped up version of the carnivore diet that includes only ruminant meats, salt, and water. 🐄 🐑 🐐 🦌 🦬 🧂 💧 I plan to do the Lion diet for a solid 30 days as an elimination diet to help me figure out what carnivore foods I might be sensitive too. Specific food that I want to test are -butter -egg yolks -whole eggs -coffee -raw cream -pasteurized dairy -pork -chicken While the Lion diet is much more restrictive than a typical carnivore diet, it’s still pretty dang delicious! Here’s an example of what I’ve been eating on my first few days. #carnivorediet #liondiet #eatmeatbeelite
The Lion Diet is a modified version of the Carnivore Diet that eliminates all foods except for ruminant meat, salt and water for at least six weeks.
Ruminant meat comes from animals that have stomachs with multiple compartments like cows, sheep, deer and bison according to Britannica.
The Lion Diet website calls it a diet that "allows the gut to heal" and is mainly for people who are sick or medicated.
Who invented the Lion Diet?
The Lion Diet was invented by Mikhaila Peterson, a lifestyle blogger and daughter of Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian psychologist. Mikhaila says she created the diet to help her with a number of health issues she's had for most of her life.
Peterson said she suffered from arthritis, depression and chronic fatigue, among other issues. She was also put on a number of medications throughout her life.
"I cut everything out, except for beef and two weeks after doing that, thinking I'm nuts, hopefully I don't get vitamin deficiencies, the itch went away and my joints started to feel better," she said in a video posted to TikTok.
"Four weeks after that I stopped crying in the morning and five months after that the anxiety lifted and I was back in what I felt was heaven compared to how I'd been living."
She has been on the Lion Diet since 2017 and says it's helped improve her health significantly.
How long should you be on the Lion Diet for?
There is no set timeline for the Lion Diet.
On her website, Petersen suggests waiting at least six weeks to see how you're feeling but recommends sticking to it for at least three months.
Reintroducing foods is meant to show you which foods may trigger symptoms for a health issue you're dealing with.
However, experts have warned that cutting out all other foods could lead to consequences down the line, especially if you do it long term.
Does the Lion Diet work?
Johnny Zhao, a registered dietitian with JM Nutrition in Toronto, says people might be tempted to try the Lion Diet if they're experiencing poor digestion on a plant-based diet.
However, he calls the Lion Diet very restrictive and says it's not a sustainable diet for most people.
So would Zhao ever recommend the Lion Diet to a client? He says personally he wouldn't recommend too much of anything.
"I would strike a balance and for people who have poor digestion with certain plant-based foods, I would try to figure out which exact food it is," he told Narcity.
"I would try to find what is the specific trigger food and eliminate that instead, rather than just go all-out and cut out all plant based products and just have red meats and animal products."
Zhao also points out that for people with digestive or autoimmune issues, it might be medication that's bothering them and not the food they're eating.
"It [meds] could have an even bigger effect on their gut health and their gut microbiome, which over time will affect our mental health and other things as well," he added.
"So instead of going to the extreme, at first, I think there really should be a smart dietary approach before anything, like strong medication, or elimination diet should be considered."
He also noted that many people who start an elimination diet "have a poor baseline diet - poor protein intake, excessive snacking, unstructured diet.
"So when their symptoms improve after switching to the Lion Diet, it's due to removing negative behaviours rather than adding positive ones."
What's the difference between the Lion Diet and the Carnivore Diet?
People on the Carnivore Diet eat most food that comes from an animal, including meat, fish, eggs and sometimes dairy, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Other foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and grains are excluded.
The Lion Diet is much more strict with only ruminant meat, salt and water allowed.
Zhao, who specializes in sports nutrition, says when it comes to these diets, they're not the best for people who want to participate in high intensity exercise.
"The main source of energy for your muscles is muscle glycogen or carbohydrates. So you might feel very fatigued if you also try to pair this along with high intensity exercise."
Can you eat too much meat?
Healthline reports there have been no studies on the Lion Diet and it's "not recommended as a treatment for any health condition."
The website also notes that eating so much red meat could potentially cause flare-ups in people with certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Kate Hilton, a registered dietitian, posted a TikTok video in which she debunks the diet.
She says eating an extremely restrictive diet like the Lion Diet and eating so much meat can lead to a whole host of health problems.
"The amount of saturated fat that you're eating will likely give you cardiovascular disease," she explained. "You may increase your risk of things like colorectal cancer because you're not including any fruits or vegetables."
Is the Lion Diet safe?
The Lion Diet is being touted online as a cure-all for many health problems, but in her video Hilton calls it "irresponsible."
The dietitian says for 99.99% of people who try it, they don't need such a restrictive diet.
"Unfortunately eating only beef, salt and water is an incredibly deficient diet."
She says you also risk becoming deficient in vitamin C, which can lead to scurvy.
"You're eliminating dairy, you're eliminating fish, you're going to be massively deficient in things like calcium and iodine, which can lead to a whole host of other health problems down the line," Hilton continued.
"You're not going to see them straight away, you're going to see them in 5, 10, 15 years down the line."
What do experts recommend?
For anyone looking to eat healthier in the New Year, Zhao recommends striking a balance between carbs, protein and vegetables.
If you like carbs, don't cut them out completely but reduce your portions.
"Usually people have the largest portion of carbs right in their meal, maybe around half a plate or so. What I would do is just reduce that to a third or a quarter of the plate [...] and add more vegetables or protein."
"Vegetables are very nutrient dense, but they don't contain a lot of calories. Protein is better for appetite control because it keeps you full for a longer period of time."
This article's right-hand cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.