Is TikTok's Lion Diet Actually Healthy For You?

We've all heard of vegetarians, who forego all meat, and vegans, who do the same but take it further and get rid of all animal products including dairy and eggs. There are different reasons to choose those two diets, a couple of which are animal cruelty issues or living a healthier lifestyle. However, while on those diets, there's always a worry that you won't get your full nutritional needs out of plant-based products. There's nothing wrong with not eating meat or animal products, but you have to take into account how to get the nutrients you're missing from not eating certain things. 

Well, a new fad diet has taken hold of the internet called the Lion Diet, and it's kind of similar in that regard, but also completely different. For one, it's the exact opposite of not eating meat, but people on the Lion Diet do have to worry about the same issue of not consuming all the right nutrients your body needs. It's not nearly as sustainable and "easy" to follow.

But backing up a bit, how does a diet consisting of eating mostly meat lead to some claiming it gives them a healthier lifestyle? Well, just remember that claims are different than food science and therefore might not be the healthiest overall.

What is the Lion Diet?

The Lion Diet consists of only eating meat, salt, and water. But it's not to be confused with the Carnivore Diet, which allows all types of meat such as chicken and fish. The Lion Diet is strictly just meat from deer, bison, beef, lamb, and goat (via Healthline). Off the bat, it's noted that the diet is "high in saturated fat" making it unsustainable as a lifestyle choice and as a healthy one due to that and its "nutritional deficiencies."

So, why would someone choose to go on the Lion Diet? This isn't a weight loss diet, per se, but marketed as a diet to figure out what is making you ill — assuming it's the food you're eating — by eliminating all foods and then reintroducing them back to pinpoint the problem products. The main reason that this diet exists is to help humans get back to a state that doesn't involve symptoms of health problems. For founder Mikhaila Peterson, that means a lifetime of only following this diet, since changing it has had bad effects on her former symptoms and health (more on her in a minute). But she says that for others it could last for several weeks and give you the outcomes you need. Keep in mind, however, that the facts of how unhealthy it is outweigh the testimonials for how well it works.

The Lion Diet has an interesting backstory

Part of the draw of the Lion Diet is that it allows you to get down to the bare bones of a meal, letting you know all the ingredients in it because it only has a few. This helps people pinpoint any sensitives or intolerances to certain things. This diet has gone viral and so this might not be the main reason for people flocking to it right now. But it is the reason it was created, according to founder Mikhaila Peterson.

Peterson is a lifestyle podcaster and blogger, and came up with the Lion Diet as a way to cure or aid in the treatment of "multiple debilitating medical diagnoses" as a young person, according to The Atlantic. When she found no luck in following her doctor's orders, she started eliminating food from her diet to see if those were causing her issues. They apparently were, because her health took a bright turn. By the end of her food elimination, she was left with water, salt, and beef and every single one of her health issues was gone. Peterson is also the daughter of infamous psychologist and author Jordan Peterson, who adopted the all-meat diet after he saw how well it helped her.

The Lion Diet is overall not good for you

Overall, the Lion Diet isn't healthy or good for you. Healthline scored the diet as 1.25 out of 5 overall, with a 0 in healthy eating, a 1 in weight loss, and a 1 in evidence based. The reason is that there is only anecdotal evidence that this diet actually helps. We're taught from a young age that a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and more gives your body the nutrients it needs to live. We need fiber, protein, and other carbs to keep us running properly.

"Physiologically, it would just be an immensely bad idea . . . A terribly, terribly bad idea," Jack Gilbert, the faculty director at the University of Chicago's Microbiome Center and a professor of surgery, told The Atlantic. He also stated your body would experience "severe dysregulation, within six months, of the majority of the processes that deal with metabolism." He says that you wouldn't be able to regulate hormone levels and could go into cardiac arrest eventually. "If she does not die of colon cancer or some other severe cardiometabolic disease, the life — I can't imagine," he said about Mikhaila Peterson.

Gilbert also pointed out why a diet like this works for lions and not humans: we have completely different digestion systems. While we can consume meat, our digestion systems can also break down other types of food and fibers and they're supposed to.