8 Tips for Exercising on the Carnivore Diet
These guidelines are meant for someone whose goal is to build lean muscle mass and keep their body fat low intuitively! If that’s not you—then these don’t apply! If your goal is primarily athletic performance or getting as strong as possible or whatever else—these should be tweaked to your goals.
As always, there are no strict rules with this stuff. These guidelines have simply helped me in my quest for optimal body comp, energy, and satiety.
I personally favor an intuitive approach. I like the mirror over the scale. I like hunger signals over calorie tracking. I think micro-managing your eating and training all the time can be a real pain in the glutes. Early on—super beneficial! But over time, I like to develop an instinctive approach.
1. DO HEAVY COMPOUND LIFTS
Compound lifts like the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, barbell row, pullups, bar dips, and others target many muscles all at once. These are not exercises to simply get a pump on—but really focus on building your strength on these! They create a foundation for your physique that supports all of your other training.
They also have a great hormonal impact! Studies have shown squats and deadlifts are great for releasing anabolic hormones and growth hormone. This means less fat and more muscle! Learn the form on these and build up slowly. Heavy lifting is also great for maintaining your bones, mobility, and muscle mass as you age.
A pullup will hit your lats, biceps, forearms, and even shoulders--as compared to doing an isolation exercise for each muscle. Better bang for your buck!
2. 15 MINUTE DAILY CALISTHENICS
If you’re insanely busy or just hate the gym, you can’t go wrong with a full body 15 minute bodyweight workout!
Jump squats, pushups, pull-ups, bridges/supermans, alternating jump lunges, leg raises/flutter kicks, and possibly handstand pushups or mummy walks—this will target your entire body! You can simply do one set to failure on each of these. I highly recommend a pullup bar and a jump rope as well.
3. ZONE 2 CARDIO
Zone 2 cardio is where you keep your heart rate at (180-your age=target heart rate). For me, I aim to keep my heart rate in the 150s while doing zone 2 cardio. This ensures I am primarily burning fat and not sugar.
This looks like light jogging, hiking, swimming (for some people), brisk walking, cycling, stairmaster, elliptical.
I like doing about 30-45 minute of zone 2 cardio just to boost fat loss and improve aerobic fitness!
Sparing glycogen helps save it for the heavy weights. It's also much easier to recover from and far less stressful on the body. Zone 2 cardio also doesn’t spike your appetite the way HIIT does!
4. LIMIT GLYCOLYTIC EXERCISE!
HIIT, tabata, crossfit, sprint intervals, your spin cycle class, your boxing cardio class. These are all great—but they burn through muscle glycogen (sugar) like crazy!
This tends to spike appetite, drain the CNS, make you sore, and make you feel fatigued! If you’re going to do high intensity cardio, keep it to 1-2x week. Or limit the volume (under 15 minutes)—if your goal is leanness, energy, and keeping your appetite under control!
5. UP THE SALT!
With a higher training volume—especially with sweating and fasting, you can lose electrolytes pretty quickly! To protect your thyroid and avoid cramping, make sure you’re consuming plenty of salt.
Sometimes as pre-workout, I’ll drink down 1 tsp of salt and have a cup of black coffee.
For building muscle, recovering from workouts, and maintaining a great hormonal profile—you have to sleep! Weightlifting is catabolic--it breaks your muscles down. Sleeping is anabolic, it rebuilds them.
Everyone functions a little differently with sleep as there are so many variables factoring in. I personally like having a consistent wake up time daily. I tend to average 6-7 hours.
7. UP THE PROTEIN!
I’ve always found a higher protein intake to be especially helpful when training volume is high. If your goal is muscle growth—the anabolic response from higher protein intakes can be very helpful.
Can’t go wrong with beef, eggs, salmon, chicken, turkey, bacon! Collagen protein is great as well.
Bonus! If your training style/sport involves lots of aerobic cardio, hit the sauna at least 3x/week! The sauna trains the same aerobic pathways as cardio, all while doing…NOTHING! Grab a book, meditate, catch up on my podcast ;)
I hope this helps! How do you train?? I would love to see your feedback in the comments!