The Core Diet
Steak is my go-to choice for the carnivore diet, and I think it should be yours too. It tastes great with only salt (even eating a large amount in one sitting), is very tender (depending on the cut and doneness), and has plenty of fat (again, depending on the cut). Go with the cheaper cuts of ribeye. You’ll have to shop around to find the best prices, as they can get expensive. The more marbeled the steak (the white running through it) the better. Cook it medium or medium-rare. Don’t forget to sear the fatty sides.
Pork Chops aren’t a bad choice, although they come in second place to steak. Food-borne pathogens force you to cook it until it’s well-done, so it will never be as tender or flavorful as steak.
Ground Beef is great - the fattier the better. Shoot for 70 / 30, but if you can find something fattier, go for it. If you’re like me, you will get tired of ground beef quickly. A side of eggs compliments it well, but without some peppers and onions you’re going to hit a limit on how much you can eat in one sitting. If you’re eating three meals a day, then this isn’t a big deal. If you’re trying OMAD, then you should probably stick with steak.
Organ meats are extremely nutritious and are a requirement if you’re sticking with the carnivore diet long term.
Salt, long maligned for being a health risk, is making a comeback. Add as much salt as you want!
On the Side
Butter technically has carbs, but you’d have eat 5 tablespoons (70 grams) to get to .1g carbs. You will cook your meat in something, and butter is a good choice.
Tallow/Lard is an interesting alternative to butter. If you’re avoiding dairy products completely, this is the way to do it. It took me a few tries to appreciate the flavor, but now I like it. Tallow doesn’t need to be refrigerated. I bought this brand* and like it.
Bone Broth is a gelatinous substance made of cooked-down bones. It’s carnivore, but I never found it tasty. Give it a shot and tell me what you think.
Eat These With Care
Lots of people love Bacon. You know why? Sugar! Go to your local supermarket and flip over some packages. You might find one without sugar, but you probably won’t. Many carnivores are trying to avoid processed food. If you don’t care about that, you can have some bacon as long as it has exactly two ingredients (pork, salt).
Heavy whipping cream tastes like a milkshake, and the label says 0 carbs, so it should be okay, right? No! In the United States, if a food has less than .5 grams of carbs per serving they can mark it as zero. If you drink a little here and there you’ll be okay, but realize that you aren’t doing true zero carb.
Cheese is a common snack for some people on the carnivore diet, but remember that it has carbs. If your goal is to restrict carbs, then go ahead. If your goal is to eliminate them, then stay away.
Black pepper is the most common exception people make when doing carnivore/zero carb. If it’s just a spice used in small amounts, what’s the harm? Take a look at the nutrition. One teaspoon of black pepper has 1.5g carbs! Some of that is fiber, but most isn’t. If you’re liberally applying black pepper to your steak, you could easily be eating 5 or more carbs a day in pepper alone! I made this mistake myself. If you need pepper, then don’t use much.
Eggs are another common food on the carnivore diet, but it’s another food that does have carbs. If you are targetting zero carb, it’s a no-go. Eat in moderation.
How about Milk? Definitely not. Milk has a ton of carbs.
Ham might seem like something you can eat on the carnivore diet, but it’s not. Flip over the package on some ham and scan the ingredients. All ham has something added to it. The vast majority has sugar, corn syrup, or something else with carbs. Avoid it.
Sausage is another processed meat that generally has many non-meat ingredients added. Stay away.
When in doubt, only eat it if:
- It’s an animal product
- It doesn’t have any carbs
- It has as much fat as protein (ideally more).
If you stick to those rules, then you’ll be fine.
*I used an affiliate links her. If you purchase tallow using the link, then I will receive a small amount of money in return (at no cost to you). If you have a problem with that, then feel free to buy through another source.