Can You Drink Coffee on the Carnivore Diet? 6 Pros & 5 Cons

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The carnivore diet, which only includes animal-based foods, often leads to questions about what drinks are acceptable. Coffee, beloved by mankind since time began, is controversial on the carnivore diet due to its plant origins.

So, what is the consensus? Can you drink coffee as a member of the world carnivore tribe?

Let’s find out.

Carnivore Club

Coffee on the Carnivore Diet

To reduce exposure to plant toxins, phytic acid, and carbohydrates, the carnivore diet consists mainly of meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy products. Proponents claim that it boosts mental clarity, increases energy, and cures autoimmune diseases and other health problems.

And even though coffee is technically a plant product, and appears to be off-limits, many members of the carnivore diet community still drink it (me), insisting it has no negative effects on instant or long-term benefits of their diet.

A Woman In A White Sports Bra Holding A Coffee Cup, Seated At A Wooden Table With An Assortment Of Foods Including Various Cuts Of Raw Red Meat, Bacon, A Sliced Mango, Butter, An Egg, And A Jar Of Honey.
Coffee has a ton of health benefits that complement the Carnivore Diet

Next, I’ll dive into the potential benefits and cons of drinking coffee on the carnivore diet so you can make an educated decision about how you’d like to approach it.

What The Experts Say

When I say experts, I’m talking about people I know who have been on the Carnivore Diet for more than 2 years. When I asked my close friend, Adam Slapin, if he felt he was violating his carnivore oath by drinking coffee he said the following:

“No, that’s stupid. I wake up each morning at 5 have a coffee with heavy cream, I go to jiu jitsu practice, and I don’t eat anything until 5 pm. Coffee helps me wake up and energize me for my hour long session on the mat, and doesn’t impact the benefits of my diet whatsoever.”
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Adam Slapin
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Health Benefits of Coffee on the Carnivore Diet:

  1. Cravings and Consistency: Some people find that drinking coffee on the carnivore diet helps them adhere to it in the long term. This can be because coffee provides a familiar routine and is a comforting drink.
  2. Low-Carb Compatible: Black coffee has almost zero calories and carbs, making it compatible with the low-carb nature of the carnivore diet.
  3. Lower risk of Death: Multiple studies have found that moderate coffee consumption is associated with a 31% lower risk of mortality1,2.
  4. Enhanced Metabolic Rate: Studies suggest that caffeine may increase metabolism and fat burning, particularly for people at a healthy weight. However, the effect seems to be less pronounced in fat people3.
  5. Improved Cognitive Function: Coffee can improve brain function, enhancing focus, memory, and overall mental clarity4 (in rats, but we all know how worthless we’d be without our coffee in the morning).
  6. Potential Disease Risk Reduction: Drinking coffee regularly can boost glutathione levels (an antioxidant) and enhance protection against DNA damage5.
A Close-Up Image Of A Seasoned Raw Steak On A Dark Wooden Board, Accompanied By A Cup Of Black Coffee And Scattered Coffee Beans. Fresh Rosemary Sprigs Are Also Visible, Enhancing The Rustic And Aromatic Setting.
Steak and coffee: a perfect pairing for a robust start to the day?
Carnivore Club

Potential Drawbacks of Drinking Coffee on the Carnivore Diet

  1. Plant-based beverage: Coffee is a plant-based beverage, which goes against the strict principles of the carnivore diet that excludes all plant foods. Some argue this violates the “spirit” of the diet.
  2. May disrupt ketosis: Coffee may disrupt ketosis or cause cravings for sugar and carbs, which goes against the nature of the carnivore diet.
  3. Increased Heart Rate and Heart Burn: Coffee’s caffeine content can elevate heart rate6 and may stimulate gastric acid secretion (heart burn)7. These effects may pose issues for individuals with specific digestive or cardiovascular conditions.
  4. May Contain Mycotoxins and Other Contaminants: Coffee beans can sometimes have mycotoxins, which are harmful chemicals produced by molds. The amount of mycotoxins, like ochratoxin A and aflatoxins, depends on how the coffee is processed8. Choosing coffee that’s been wet-processed (washed) reduces the risk because this method is better at getting rid of molds and mycotoxins. That said, multiple studies have shown that there is almost zero risk of exposure to mycotoxins in coffee9,10.
  5. Appetite Suppression and Fluctuation of Blood Sugar Levels: Caffeine and chlorogenic acid found in coffee might slow down the rate at which sugar is absorbed in the intestines. They may also cause sugar to be absorbed further along in the intestine, rather than at the usual, earlier sections. This could impact how quickly sugar enters the bloodstream after drinking coffee, which impacts your blood sugar levels11.

While we’re on the subject of blood sugar levels…

If you’re a diabetic considering the Carnivore Diet

The effect of coffee on the Carnivore Diet varies from person to person. For example, my friend Jason, who has diabetes and uses daily insulin, drinks his cup of coffee without any health issues. He also incorporates a liquid supplement called Sugar Defender into his routine, which might help with managing blood sugar during dietary changes.

A Bottle Of Sugar Defender Supplement

Compatibility with Carnivore Principles

Even though coffee beans are technically plant-based foods, many people following the carnivore diet still drink it because it generally doesn’t disrupt their diet’s focus on avoiding plant foods. However, those who strictly follow the carnivore diet believe that to truly stick to its rules, you should not consume any products from plants, including coffee.

Alternative Beverages on the Carnivore Diet

Aside from mineral water and bone broth, which are widely accepted in the carnivore community, there are a few other beverages to consider:

  • Bulletproof Coffee: Popular among those on ketogenic and carnivore diets, bulletproof coffee, which blends coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil, is favored for its high fat content, helping you stay satisfied.
  • Dairy Options: If you include dairy in your carnivore diet, heavy cream, raw milk, and grass-fed butter can be added to your to coffee, enhancing its flavor and nutritional profile without adding carbs.
  • Herbal Teas: While technically plant-based, some herbal teas are consumed for their medicinal qualities, though they do not align perfectly with carnivore diet principles.

Love Meat But Need Variety?

While discussing beverages, it’s worth mentioning that maintaining variety in your diet can be challenging (can I get an amen?), especially on a restrictive regimen like the Carnivore Diet.

This is where Carnivore Club comes in. It’s a subscription service that delivers premium cured meats from around the world to your doorstep (or cave entrance), each month.

Each box is unique, featuring anything from Italian salumi to South African biltong, creating an easy way to diversify your meat intake and keep your meals interesting. If you’re looking for a practical way to spice up your carnivore lifestyle, Carnivore Club might be just what you need.

Carnivore Club

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Creative Carnivore-Friendly Beverages

  • Carnivore Latte: Blend hot water with a splash of heavy cream or raw milk, egg yolks, and tallow or butter for a rich, satisfying drink.
  • Bone Broth: A very carnivore-friendly drink, bone broth can be enhanced with ghee or butter and served hot, providing both nutrition and comfort.
  • Natural Electrolyte Drinks: Electrolyte powders or drinks that are free from plant ingredients can be beneficial, especially when enhanced with natural salts for added minerals. Adding a pinch of sea salt to mineral water does the trick for me.
A Close-Up Of A Cup Of Black Coffee Surrounded By Various Foods Including Sliced Cheeses, Mango, And Strips Of Bacon On A Rustic Wooden Table.
Coffee on the carnivore diet? Find out if it breaks the rules.

The Verdict on Coffee and the Carnivore Diet

Deciding whether to drink coffee in your carnivore diet adventure depends mainly on individual tolerance, health goals, and the close monitoring of negative impacts. For those who experience no adverse effects from coffee, it can be a beneficial aid in transitioning to and maintaining this specific elimination diet, particularly during the initial phases where energy levels might fluctuate.

However, for optimal health results, it should be consumed in moderation, with attention to any potential negative effects highlighted earlier. Remember, the goal of the carnivore diet is to eliminate things your body doesn’t really need. So you just might find that after a few days without coffee, your body does just fine without it.

A Woman In A Lace-Trimmed Top Holds A Starbucks Coffee Cup, With A Backdrop Of Tropical Plants And A Spread Of Meats And Mangoes On A Table.
Look at all that meat!


While the carnivore diet is restrictive, the inclusion of coffee can be justified based on individual preferences and tolerances. Understanding both the potential health benefits and risks associated with coffee and other beverages can guide participants in making choices that best support their health and diet objectives. Whether or not to include coffee is a personal decision that should be made with consideration of the broader goals of following a carnivore lifestyle. By weighing the pros and cons and listening to your body’s cues, you can tailor the carnivore diet to suit your needs while possibly enjoying your favorite brew.

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  3. Acheson, K., Zahorska‐Markiewicz, B., Pittet, P., Anantharaman, K., & Jéquier, E. (1980). Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals.. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 33 5, 989-97 .
  4. Abreu, R., Silva-Oliveira, E., Moraes, M., Pereira, G., & Moraes-santos, T. (2011). Chronic coffee and caffeine ingestion effects on the cognitive function and antioxidant system of rat brains. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 99, 659-664.
  5. Martini, D., Bo’, C., Tassotti, M., Riso, P., Rio, D., Brighenti, F., & Porrini, M. (2016). Coffee Consumption and Oxidative Stress: A Review of Human Intervention Studies. Molecules, 21.
  6. Robertson, D., Frölich, J., Carr, R., Watson, J., Hollifield, J., Shand, D., & Oates, J. (1978). Effects of caffeine on plasma renin activity, catecholamines and blood pressure.. The New England journal of medicine, 298 4, 181-6 .
  7. Mcarthur, K., Hogan, D., & Isenberg, J. (1982). Relative stimulatory effects of commonly ingested beverages on gastric acid secretion in humans.. Gastroenterology, 83 1 Pt 2, 199-203 .
  8. García-Moraleja, A., Font, G., Mañes, J., & Ferrer, E. (2015). Simultaneous determination of mycotoxin in commercial coffee. Food Control, 57, 282-292.
  9. García-Moraleja, A., Font, G., Mañes, J., & Ferrer, E. (2015). Analysis of mycotoxins in coffee and risk assessment in Spanish adolescents and adults.. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 86, 225-33 .
  10. Bessaire, T., Perrin, I., Tarres, A., Bebius, A., Reding, F., & Theurillat, V. (2019). Mycotoxins in green coffee: Occurrence and risk assessment. Food Control.
  11. Johnston, K., Clifford, M., & Morgan, L. (2003). Coffee acutely modifies gastrointestinal hormone secretion and glucose tolerance in humans: glycemic effects of chlorogenic acid and caffeine.. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78 4, 728-33 .
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.