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The Lion Diet Guide: Meet The Meat-Only Diet (+ Understand The Risks)

The Lion Diet is extremely restrictive, arguably one of the most restrictive popular diets out there today.

But, what exactly is the Lion Diet? Is the Lion Diet safe? What are the common Lion Diet results? And what are the primary differences between the Lion Diet vs carnivore diet?

In this article, we will discuss what the Lion Diet entails, its potential health benefits, what you can and cannot eat on this specific diet, and the Lion Diet vs carnivore diet differences.

We will cover the following: 

  • What Is the Lion Diet?
  • How to Follow the Lion Diet Meal Plan
  • Is the Lion Diet Good for Weight Loss?
  • Is the Lion Diet Safe?
  • What Can You Eat on the Lion Diet?

Let’s dive in! 

Raw steak.

What Is the Lion Diet?

The Lion Diet is designed to replicate the eating patterns of the king of the jungle—lions. As such, it is a meat-based diet that involves solely consuming meat from ruminant animals, salt, and water.

People typically follow this diet for weight loss and/or to reduce inflammation or identify trigger foods and food sensitivities.

The Lion Diet was originally created by a lifestyle blogger and podcast host named Mikhaila Peterson.

Mikhaila Peterson claims she was able to improve her health, increase her energy, regulate her mood, and decrease digestive symptoms by following the eating pattern that she dubbed “the Lion Diet.“

Mikhaila Peterson’s website also claims that the diet can help reduce symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions, such as inflammation and chronic fatigue.

Steak.

Lion Diet vs Carnivore Diet

The Lion Diet and carnivore diet are similar in the sense that both diets focus on consuming only animal-based protein and removing all other foods from the diet. 

However, the primary difference between the Lion Diet vs carnivore diet is that the Lion Diet is even more restrictive, allowing for only the consumption of red meat from ruminant animals.

The carnivore diet allows dieters to eat poultry, fish, eggs, bone broth, bone marrow, and certain low-lactose dairy products like whole milk and hard cheeses.

How to Follow the Lion Diet Meal Plan

The Lion Diet involves consuming only water, salt, and meat from ruminant animals, which includes cows, deer, and sheep (beef, venison, and lamb/mutton), as well as bison and goats.

The principle behind this diet is that it should provide enough calories, protein, and fat to sustain your body while allowing you to have an extremely simplified eating pattern.

This is thought to provide dieters with an opportunity to remove all foods that may be causing sensitivities or physical and mental health symptoms.

Cooked steak.

In this way, the Lion Diet is so much similar to the Whole30 diet in that it is meant to strip down what you are eating until you have no adverse symptoms such as digestive distress, inflammation, fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, depression, etc.

Once symptoms have subsided, you are supposed to start slowly incorporating different foods back into your diet.

As you re-introduce different foods back into your diet, you are supposed to pay close attention to how your body responds. 

Foods that seem to trigger symptoms should be taken as food sensitivities, and you should avoid them going forward. Foods that do not seem to shift how you are feeling can remain in the diet.

Whereas the Whole30 diet is a 30-day diet plan before different food groups are gradually re-introduced and assessed for any symptoms, there are no specific guidelines for how long you should follow the Lion Diet before you start re-introducing new foods.

Mikhaila Peterson’s website seems to indicate that you should wait at least several weeks and make sure that any adverse symptoms that you had prior to starting the Lion Diet have completely subsided before you start shifting off and incorporating other foods again.

Steak and herbs on a cutting board.

There is a large contingent of proponents of the Lion Diet who also suggest that you should combine the Lion Diet with the OMAD (one meal a day) style of eating so that you are fasting all day long and then just consuming one large meal per day.

Others suggest that a more moderate but still aggressive pattern of intermittent fasting is recommended, fasting for at least 16 to 20 hours per day.

However, some people who follow the Lion Diet and do not practice concurrent intermittent fasting eat whenever they want during the day or at traditional meal times.

Is the Lion Diet Good for Weight Loss?

The Lion Diet results are not typically weight loss, as this diet is specifically designed to be a rather a temporary diet that can help you identify food sensitivities and heal the gut by reducing inflammation and digestive symptoms caused by trigger foods.

However, many people who follow this diet do so in order to kickstart weight loss or find that it helps them lose weight simply because it is difficult to get enough calories in.

Additionally, much like starting the keto diet, eating a high-protein diet and eliminating all carbohydrates can initially trigger significant weight loss because the body releases stored body water as glycogen is used up.

Finally, this diet is high in protein, and getting enough protein can also help increase satiety and thus support weight loss.

A person eating steak.

Is the Lion Diet Safe?

There are several potential drawbacks and risks to this diet plan.

For one, it lacks nutrients and is completely devoid of fiber as well as other healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc. 

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to a host of adverse health conditions and symptoms.

It is also not sustainable, though it is not intended to be followed long-term. It can also be costly, and there are certain risks and concerns associated with consuming a lot of saturated fat.

Due to the restrictive nature of the Lion Diet and the reliance on red meat, it is highly recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before trying this diet or the similar carnivore diet for weight loss or health.

People eating steak off a fork.

What Can You Eat On the Lion Diet?

With many popular weight loss diets, the list of foods you can eat is longer or at least as long as the list of foods to avoid, but this is certainly not the case with the Lion Diet. 

Here is what you can eat:

  • Plain water
  • Salt
  • Meat from ruminant animals, including cows, sheep, bison, deer, and goats.

As can be quickly surmised, the list of foods to avoid on the Lion Diet, or the foods that you cannot eat, is extensive.

Essentially, this diet eliminates all poultry, fish, and meat from nonruminant animals, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, eggs, dairy products, and beverages other than water.

A glass of water.

Here are some of the main groups of foods you can’t eat on this diet:

  • Fruits: Berries, peaches, apples, plums, melons, pears, bananas, figs, tomatoes, pineapple, papaya, mangoes, pomegranates, grapes, cherries, cranberries, avocados, pumpkin, apricots, nectarines, etc.
  • Vegetables: Spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, potatoes, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, asparagus, artichokes, onions, garlic, parsnips, summer squash, winter squash, Brussel sprouts, corn, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Grains: Quinoa, wheat, oats, buckwheat, rice, bread, pasta, cereals, English muffins, tortillas, teff, farro, couscous, etc.
  • Legumes: Peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, soy, tofu, peanut butter, tempeh, etc.
  • Nuts: Pecans, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews, nut butters, etc.
  • Seeds: Sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, tahini, sunflower seeds, seed butters, etc.
  • Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, butter, whey protein powder, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Meat from nonruminant animals: Pork, bacon, ham, pork chops, sausage, rabbit meat, alligator, etc.
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, capon, goose, squab, etc.
  • Fish and Seafood: Scallops, salmon, trout, anchovies, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, lobster, clams, mussels, halibut, eel, flounder, octopus, etc.
  • Fats: Avocado oil, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, margarine, lard, vegetable shortening, etc.
  • Sweets: Candy, Jell-O, pudding, ice cream, chocolate, jelly, jam, honey, maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, donuts, pastries, muffins, cakes, frosting, pies, toaster pastries, fruit snacks, etc.
  • Beverages: Coffee, tea, soda, juice, sports drinks, chocolate milk, beer, wine, etc.
Sea salt.

The foods that you must eliminate on this diet can be slowly re-introduced after several weeks if you are feeling good.

You should only introduce one food or food group at a time and then assess how you are feeling.

For best practices, start with foods that you believe have not traditionally been a trigger for you or are generally seen as low-inflammatory foods.

Common inflammatory foods include dairy, soy, gluten, nightshade vegetables, sugars, processed oils, and alcohol.

For an alternative to the Lion Diet that is less restrictive, check out our guide to the Whole30 Diet here.

A small chalkboard with the words Whole 30 Diet on it, with a variety of food surrounding it.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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