How much meat should you eat on a carnivore diet?
A common question I get from my YouTube comments is, "How much meat should I eat on a carnivore diet?"
This is the wrong question. The right question should first be: "How much protein should I eat."
You can reverse engineer how much meat to eat based on your goals and what foods you include in your carnivore diet.
I often get asked, "How much meat should I eat on a Carnivore Diet?" But that's the wrong question. I think the right question is, "How much protein should I eat on a carnivore diet?" And then you can go from there. To figure this out, I have my strategy, which you'll be able to use for yourself as well.
So I took my average caloric intake. I'm assuming it's 2,000 calories. I have yet to track it down to the exact calories. It's between 1,800 on the low end and 24 to 2,500 on the high end. You want to prioritize protein because protein is nitrogen—It's a repair your body doesn't generally like using for energy. So Dr. Ted Naiman, on the podcast you can find here, talks about the protein-to-energy ratio. This is a helpful way of thinking about food, and it's completely changed how I've been thinking about things. It's also connected many dots in nutrition in general for me.
So protein, if you think about it, is always something you're trying to eat for repair. It has high satiety; it doesn't contribute to fat gain generally. Your body struggles to convert protein into any form of storable energy, so it prefers to use carbs and fat instead. The benefit of protein being very thermochemically expensive is that your body has to expend calories to process it. So if you think about protein as one bucket of foods and then think of energy as another bucket, fat, and carbs, what's stored in your body fat is energy.
So for simplicity's sake, fat and carbs are generally stored in body fat, whereas protein is usually used to repair and recover. Now, of course, if you're eating 1,000 grams of protein a day, I don't even think you could. You would actually run into kidney issues and maybe even rabid starvation. There are specific mechanisms in place to prevent you from overeating protein. So generally, 20% to 50% are calories from protein, with 50% being at the very high end, and then the rest comes from fat if you're doing a straight Carnivore Diet, or fat and carbs depending on what other diet you're doing.
So to answer the question of how much meat you should eat, we've got to figure out how much protein you should eat first. And then you can decide, am I eating fish, steak, chicken, pork, whatever? Or I'm going to throw in some dairy? Am I going to try to get ... So my strategy personally is to aim for 30% of my calories from protein. Let's go through this and look at what this looks like.
Two thousand calories a day puts me at about 150 grams of protein for the day and 75 grams for the meal. And so I have a chart of some standard amounts of protein and what I'm aiming at, and this is useful for keeping my meals simple because protein is the more complicated thing to get down. It's very satiating; it's tough to chew and chew and chew. You get full quickly, and carbs and fat seem to go down like liquid.
Steak, six ounces, and 55 grams of protein. Pork, six ounces, 45 grams. Chicken, six ounces, 50. Fish, six ounces, 40. One egg, five grams. So, this looks like you will engineer your diet based on your calorie intake, your daily average calorie intake or target, and then multiply that by the number. For me, it's 30%. So, 2,000 calories for the daytime .3. We have 600 calories. There are four calories per gram of protein, so we're going to do this. Divide by four. We have 150 grams of protein. I eat two meals a day. Divide that by two—75 grams of protein.
Okay, then we're going to go back to ... And so I created this key for me so that at every meal, I could think about this in the simplest terms possible, and you should do the same. At the low end, I should have a minimum amount of six ounces of protein. That'll give me 50 grams of protein on average. That's about 170 grams. Over two meals, give me about 100 grams of protein. So that's at the low end because I'm targeting 30%, which would be 150 grams, and then at the current goal high end, we have about eight ounces of protein, 65 grams over two meals, or 130 grams of protein a day.
The reason it's not 150g per day is I generally don't eat that much protein. I average between 35 and 50 grams of protein a meal, and that's when I'm optimizing. So if I eat a steak, usually for breakfast, it's always a steak; I typically get that protein in. The meal later in the day, I have less of an appetite for protein, especially something like steak or muscle meat, so I tend to have way less protein. It could be 20 or 30 grams, and I tend to have more carbs and fat. So for me, this is a way to prevent that so that I can maintain my weight loss goals and stay lean and not overeat on carbs and fat, which, as I said, go down easy.
Once I get to 130 grams of protein daily, with about 65 grams per meal, I will bump that up to 75. Beyond that, I wonder if there are a lot of benefits. There are many things like absorption and bioavailability and stuff like that, and some studies suggest that protein synthesis beyond 50 to 75 grams doesn't even do anything and may get secreted. Aside from that, I'm not worried about that. I'm not a bodybuilder, so I want to prioritize protein to control my energy consumption. The protein to energy ratio, which I highly recommend you get Ted Diamond's book on that. It's like 20 bucks. It's a PDF. It's easy to cycle through. It'll completely change how you think about food in general.
So for you, take about 50 grams of protein as an average and then figure out your grams per meal based on how many meals you eat, and get that from your daily caloric intake. So let's do another example real quick. 2,000 is standard. Let's say we have a ... 1,500 would be low. Let's say we have 1,700 calories a day target. We're going to go for 30% protein. That's 510 calories of protein you want a day. We're going to divide that by four to give us 127 grams.
Now let's say you eat two meals. That's 63 grams a meal. Let's say you eat three, though. So it was 127 divided by three. Now you have 42 grams of protein per meal. Pocket-size chicken breast or a small steak, or a small piece of fish. Pretty easy and attainable. Let's say you're doing one meal. Well, one meal a day would be 127, and that's definitely doable. I would be able to down 124 grams of protein in one meal. I mean, some people do it. My stomach, appetite, and enjoyment of food don't allow for that. OMAD's a great way to do it if it works for you. I would struggle with that for various reasons.
So let's take one more example. All right, 3,000 calories a day. Let's say you're trying to bulk. We're going to go for 35% of protein times .35. We have 1,000 calories daily from the protein we'd want to eat. We're going to divide that by four. We have 262 grams of protein that we want to eat. Let's say you're bulking, doing three meals a day, and trying to bulk up. Okay, we're going to divide that by three. We have 87 grams of protein.
So it's pretty close. You're eating another meal, but 50 to 75 grams of protein per meal is the upper limit. Are you going to get much benefit beyond that? Generally, you can use eight grams of protein per ounce. So get a scale, a gram scale, or an ounce scale, and for every 28 grams or one ounce, you have about eight grams of protein, and then you can multiply or subtract that based on what you're eating if you're eating a whole egg, about five grams of protein per egg.
So that's it. That's how you figure out how much meat and protein you should eat on a carnivore diet, but this is just any diet; this is how much meat and protein you should eat on any diet. We should be prioritizing protein because that helps us control all those delicious, tasty, and engineered terrible foods from the carbon fat categories you know you so quickly over-consume. So the simple way to mitigate the snacking and the carbs and fat you eat way too much is to prioritize protein first, eat it at the beginning of the meal first, and get full on it first. Then fill in the gaps when your appetite catches up.
Here's my strategy
I like to focus on protein first.
My new strategy is aiming for about 30% of calories from protein - this puts me everywhere - at 150 protein a day or 75g per meal.
Steak = 6oz = 55g protein
Pork = 6oz = 45g protein
Chicken = 6oz = 50g protein
Fish = 6oz = 40g protein
One egg = 5g protein
Goal low end: 6oz protein = ~50g protein (170g) over 2x meals = 100g protein
Goal high end: 8oz protein = ~65g protein (228g) over 2x meals = 130g protein
General rules to remember:
8g protein per 1oz (28g)
5g protein per egg
How I think about the targets and protein intake
I'm not hitting this target, but my strategy is to start weighing my protein to hit that number, then focus on eating that protein each meal before eating anything else, then waiting a couple of minutes before eating anything else.
This range is at the higher end; personally, it's hard to get down. So I have to create strategies to ensure I eat enough protein each meal; this is why prioritizing each meal is integral.
My carb range is probably in the 5-15% range lately. I've been experimenting with a flexible carnivore way of eating. One of the dangers of this is how addicting carbs are, at least for me.
They are so easy to overeat, mainly when they've been processed in any way by a corporation. These corporate Franken foods are engineered to be as flavorful and palatable as possible. This shortcircuits your brain, making it nearly impossible not to overeat.
Another thing is my cooking skills have been getting to another level, mostly because I've made a point to use a lot more salt than I usually do. Nearly all flavor issues are a lack of salt. So take the average amount of salt you currently use, then double it. And you'll be closer. Then taste and adjust and taste and adjust—something I need to work on myself.