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 exactly 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 I think 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 I think 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 haven't really tracked it down to the exact amount of calories. It's probably something between 1,800 on the low end to 24 to 2,500 on the high end. The reason you want to prioritize protein is that protein is nitrogen—It's a repair your body doesn't generally like using for energy, and so Dr. Ted Naiman, which was on the podcast you can find up here talks about the protein to energy ratio. This is a really, really useful way of thinking about food, and it's completely changed how I've been thinking about things. It's also connected a lot of 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 really struggles to convert protein into any form of storable energy, so it prefers to use carbs and fat instead. There's also the benefit of protein being very thermogenically expensive, meaning your body has to expend calories to process it. So if you think about protein as one bucket of foods and then you 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 what gets stored in body fat, whereas protein is generally what get used up to repair and recover. Now, of course, if you're eating 1,000 grams of protein a day ... I mean, I don't even think you could. I think you would actually run into kidney issues and maybe even potentially rabid starvation. There are certain mechanisms in place to prevent you from eating too much protein. So generally, what happens is 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 kind of 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 just go through this and look at what this looks like.
2,000 calories a day, it puts me at about 150 grams of protein for the day and 75 grams of protein for the meal. And so I have a chart here of some common amounts of protein and what I'm aiming at, and this is really useful for keeping my meals simple because it always seems like protein is that harder thing to get down. It's very satiating, it's very hard to just chew and chew and chew. You get full very fast, and then carbs and fat seem to just go down like liquid, basically.
Steak, six ounces, 55 grams of protein. Pork, six ounces, 45 grams. Chicken, six ounces, 50. Fish, six ounces, 40. One egg, five grams. So, what this looks like for me, which you will engineer your own diet based on your calorie intake, your daily average calorie intake or target, and then you'll 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 simplest terms as 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 that give me about 100 grams of protein. So that's at the low end because, again, 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 probably average between 35 and 50 grams of protein a meal, and that's really when I'm optimizing. So if I eat a steak, usually for breakfast, it's always a steak, I'm usually getting that protein in. The meal later in the day, I always find I have less of an appetite for protein, especially something like steak or muscle meat, so I tend to have way less protein. Maybe it's like 20 or 30 grams, and then I tend to have some more carbs and fat. So for me, this is a way to prevent that a little bit so that I can maintain my weight loss goals and stay lean and not overeat on the carbs and fat, which, like I said, they tend to go down easy.
Once I get to the 130 grams of protein a day with about 65 grams of protein per meal, I'm going to bump that up to 75. Beyond that, I don't know if there's a lot of benefits. I mean, there's a lot of things like with absorption and bioavailability and things like that, and there are some studies that even suggest that protein synthesis beyond like 50 to 75 grams doesn't even do anything and maybe gets secreted. Aside from that, though, I'm not really worried about that. I'm not a bodybuilder or anything like that, so for me, it's just I want to prioritize protein to control my consumption of energy. 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 what your grams per meal is based on how many meals you eat, and get that from your daily caloric intake. So let's just do another example real quick. 2,000 is pretty standard. Let's say we have a ... 1,500 would be kind of 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 don't know if I would be able to down 124 grams of protein in one meal. I mean, some people do it. My stomach and my appetite and just my enjoyment of food doesn't really allow for that. So I do think OMAD's a really great way to do it if it works for you. I personally would struggle with that for various reasons.
So let's just 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 a day from 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 if you're bulking, you're doing three meals a day, you're trying to bulk up. Okay, we're going to divide that by three. We have 87 grams of protein.
So it's not that far off. Obviously, you're eating another meal, but I would guesstimate that 50 to 75 grams of protein per meal is kind of the upper limit. I don't know if you're going to get much benefit beyond that. Some general averages that you can use are eight grams of protein per one ounce. So get a scale, a gram scale or an ounce scale, whatever, 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/or how much protein you should be eating on a carnivore diet, but I also believe this is just any diet, this is how much meat and/or protein you should eat on any diet. We should be prioritizing protein because that helps us control all those delicious, tasty, and engineered bad foods from the carbon fat categories that you know you so easily over-consume. So the simple way to mitigate the snacking and the carbs and fat that you eat way too much of is to prioritize protein first, eat it at the beginning of the meal first, 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 at about - this puts me at 150 of protein a day or 75g per meal.
Steak = 6oz = 55g protein
Pork = 6oz = 45g protein
Chicken = 6oz = 50g protein
Fish = 6oz = 40g protein
1 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 focusing on eating that protein each meal first before eating anything else, then waiting a couple of minutes before eating anything else.
This range is at the higher end, and personally, it’s hard to get down. So I have to create strategies to make sure I eat enough protein each meal, this is why prioritizing it 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 Frankenfoods are engineered to be as flavorful and palatable as possible. This short circuits 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 probably be a bit closer. Then taste and adjust and taste and adjust—something I need to work on myself.