Last month, some people embarked on World Carnivore Month.
That's a whole month of eating just animals or unprocessed animal products. That' s meat or eggs, basically.
One of those people was podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan, who showcased his experience on social media.
A lot of people asked me why he got 'such good results'. So I jumped over to Rogan's profile and saw that he lost 12lbs during the month, says he feels great, and got rid of some aches and pains.
He also notes that the persistent diarrhea he suffered during the first two weeks - during which time he feared soiling himself - had now cleared up.
Looking at these initial results, it's important to consider the context, before jumping to the assumption that this experiment proves the carnivore diet is beneficial.
An anecdote, however interesting, is not science.
We have no idea what Rogan's starting point was. My bet is that he was comparing how he felt at the end of his carnivore month to how he felt the previous month. That was December - the festive season, where there will be more eating and drinking, compared to very little (or no) drinking during the experiment.
We know from one of his recent podcast episodes (with Bryan Callen, Eddie Bravo, and Brendan Schaub), that Rogan felt he had recently gained weight as a result of over-eating before January, with him saying: "Before I went on this diet, I went off the rails a bit - too many carbs, too much pasta."
So he was comparing one month of a stricter dietary regime to a previous month during which he admitted he 'went off the rails' with his food intake.
Glycogen and weight loss
A carnivore diet means zero carbs. This means there will be less stored glycogen, and less water to store that glycogen (for every part glycogen three-four parts of water are needed to store it).
This is why people on low carbohydrate diets drop a lot of water weight, and why people trying to quickly reduce their weight for competitions cut their carb intake. But this drop in weight is not fat. When carbs are low, some muscle along with fat is broken down to create energy.
There are other questions worth considering. For example, did this diet mean Rogan removed a trigger food. And did eating such a restricted diet mean that in turn, he created a calorie-deficit?
Long term results
Ultimately, the reality is, short term results do not trump long term scientific data. There is still zero long term science done on the carnivore diet.
But what we do know, is that there is overwhelming research to show that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but low in fiber increases the risk of heart disease, and some cancers, and all-cause early death.
I'm not sure why he chose to eat this way, but promoting such an extreme diet is extremely disappointing and irresponsible. With a following as large as his, he's probably considered to a lot of people as an influencer. But what exactly is he influencing people to do?