Sometime back I wrote a two-part article on Optimal Protein intake on a Zero Carb diet. Please click links to read:
Part One https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/09/29/optimal-protein-on-a-zero-carb-diet/
Part Two https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/10/04/optimal-protein-on-a-zero-carb-diet-part-2/
I still feel pretty good about the protein recommendations in those articles, though it does seem that some people do indeed feel better on more protein than I discussed. On average, 100-150 gm of protein seems to be about right for most people, but I know that some do feel better with more like 200 gm a day. So, keep that in mind when you read those posts.
The key thing to understand is that you want to be careful to not eat too little protein on a Zero Carb diet. Since you are not eating any carbohydrates on a Zero Carb diet, you can eat more protein than you can on a Low Carb diet. There is a lot of fear-mongering going on in regards to eating too much protein, and I (and many others in the Low Carb-Zero Carb-Ketogenic community) feel that this advice is very misguided. You want to eat as much protein as your particular metabolic state will accommodate without raising fasting blood glucose. For some who are diabetic or very insulin resistant, that may only be 80 gm of protein per day, but if you have a healthy metabolism, you will likely be able to eat twice that amount without any negative repercussions.
Okay, so with that prelude, the subject I really want to address here is fat. In light of some recent discussions we have been having in our Facebook group Principia Carnivora, the recommendations for fat intake that I made in those posts on protein needs to be revisited, as they are geared more towards weight maintenance levels of fat rather than weight loss. As mentioned in the above articles on protein, Stefansson ate a 2:1 ratio of fat to protein, i.e. 2 gm of fat for every gm of protein or 120 gm of protein to 240 gm of fat on average.
Many people who adopt a Zero Carb diet are obese and have decided to try this way of eating in order to lose unwanted excess body fat. Many also come from the Ketogenic diet world where they have been eating lower protein and higher fat (both in terms of total grams and percentages), and then they try to apply that knowledge and experience to their new Zero Carb diet. But the result is that they often do not lose any of their excess body fat which is, understandably, very frustrating for them.
The basic advice that has been give by all of the successful long term practioners of a Zero Carb diet is to simply eat fatty meat. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. In other words, don’t try to manipulate your macronutrient ratios to meet the Ketogenic standards you have been following (that were no longer working for you anyways and which is why you ended up deciding to try Zero Carb in the first place!).
What this means is: don’t limit your meat (lean portion) in order to restrict your total protein consumption and add extra fat in the form of butter or whatever to create a “perfect” Ketogenic ratio of protein to fat. You also do not want to drink so-called “fat bombs” like coffee with butter, coconut oil, etc. added to it. All this does is prevent you from burning your own body fat for energy and impede weight loss. You only need to do this sort of thing if you have epilepsy or cancer or some other serious life-threatening illness.
If you have a lot of body fat to lose, you want to encourage endogenous fat-burning. Eating too much dietary fat prevents this. Drs. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek have discussed this in their excellent book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, as well as many of their video lecture presentations widely available on YouTube.
Therefore, the general rule of thumb is to eat about 2.0 gm of protein per 1 kg of lean body mass, and then to add as much fat as you need to provide satiety from your meal. This usually works out to around 30% of calories from protein and 70% of calories from fat. Now, interestingly enough, that is almost exactly what you will find in a piece of fatty beef like chuck roast or ribeye or New York strip or 80/20 ground beef (if all fat that that is cooked out is eaten and not discarded).
This also equals a 1:1 ratio of fat to protein in grams, i.e. one gram of fat to one gram of protein. For example, 100 gm of fat to 100 gm of protein. This is basically perfect for facilitating the loss of excess body fat in someone who is obese. So, the tried and true and very simple recommendations of experienced long term Zero Carb practitioners to eat fatty meat to satiety whenever hungry works for a reason!
Now, for those of you, like myself, who are not obese and do not need to lose excess body fat, might be wondering what This means for you. If a person starts out on Zero Carb at at a normal healthy body weight, or once a person reaches their ideal body weight after losing their excess fat according to above recommendations, it is then necessary to add more fat to your Zero Carb diet.
This can be done in several ways. Many people add butter to the meat they eat, but you can also eat the fat on your steaks preferentially. Michael Frieze has been doing this for the past 5 years. Read his interview here:
He cooks up a steak and eats the fat first until he feels satiated, then he eats as much of the lean as he feels like eating. If there is not enough fat on the steak to reach his fat satiety level, he will then eat butter straight until he feels like he receives a “stop” signal. He eats an average of 2 lbs of steak per day and weighs 135 lbs. He says that no matter how much he eats, he never gains body fat.
If you are following a Zero Carb diet and are struggling to lose weight, I hope this explanation has helped to shed some light on how you can adjust your current diet to find better success. Finding the right fat to protein ratio is a bit individual, but this is a great place to start. If you do this and find that you are still not losing the unwanted body fat, you may need to lower the fat a little bit more.
We have a few women in our group who have found that a 1:2 ratio of fat to protein was necessary for them to start dropping weight. This would mean eating only one gram of fat for every 2 grams of protein, or say 100 gm of fat to 200 gm of protein. While this is not the norm, I share this story to demonstrate that all bodies are not created equal and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to Zero carb and successful weight loss.
But it is best not to over think it too much and just start with the basic recommendations of those who have been following a Zero Carb diet for many years and start with good ‘ole fatty steaks. Eat when hungry. Eat to satiety. Wait until you get hungry again and repeat. And most of all…Don’t worry. Be happy!
***Special thanks to all of the long term Zero Carbs peeps for their consistent message and the interviews they have so graciously provided for me to share. Thank you also to Jamie Moskowitz, Jeff Cyr, Raymund Edwards, and Mike Juiluan from the Low Carb Ketogenic world for helping me to grasp this issue at at a deeper level. I think I am finally getting it! And additionally, I wish to thank all of the members of our Facebook group Principia Carnivora for experimenting on themselves in good N=1 fashion and sharing their results with the rest of us, so that we call all learn and profit from them. I love you all.
Thanks On Apr 21, 2016 10:21 AM, “Eat Meat. Drink Water.” wrote:
> esmeelafleur posted: ” Sometime back I wrote a two-part article on Optimal > Protein intake on a Zero Carb diet. Please lick links to read: Part One > https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/09/29/optimal-protein-on-a-zero-carb-diet/ > Part Two https://zerocarbzen.com/2015/10/04/optimal” >
Many, many thanks for this excellent article, Esmee! It is very much appreciated by those of us not on Facebook.
LikeLiked by 1 person
You are most welcome. I am glad it was helpful. We are all learning as we go along. I appreciate your feedback.
i will second this, as I am not on Facebook either. i follow this blog a lot 🙂
LikeLiked by 2 people
Awesome article Esmee !
Bye the way 1jcyr1960 is me-Jeff Cyr.
Thank you Jeff, your opinion means a lot to me.
Ditto-Right back at you! Esmee.
Hi Esmée! Greetings to you and to your readers from Susanna. Now out of facebook, I read your blog with even more enjoyment whenever you post something. I have a little update: this week I went for a check-up at the bioresonance clinic, after having added fish and fish liver to my diet the last few months. We found mercury in my blood that we could track to the cod liver (fished in Iceland of all places), and it was also clear that my metabolism of fats was “blocked”. (A year ago it was carbs that I couldn’t metabolize, and I got help with that, right before I found out about zero carb.) I just thought I would share this in relation to your blog post on optimal fat intake. There are individual issues that a body might have with the metabolism of macronutrients, and we know it’s not a one-size-fits-all, so I thought this might be a good time to share that experience.
I got a treatment for the mercury and the fat metabolism, I will check it up later this spring or in the summer to see how it goes. I’ll keep on with the sardines (fished in Portugal) for now as they were not showing any mercury. (I also tested coconut milk, and go figure, it was a good match for my body, and so was chicken.)
Keep up the good work, Esmée!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for the update. You are missed.
You are welcome, and I miss you too! I enjoy to read your blog, the interviews especially. I read Andrew’s blog as well.
Thank you for the information! Maybe one day I will try this way of eating. 🙂
This was very helpful and well-written. Thank you, Esmée.
I love the focus on whole foods — just eat meat! And I agree about not adding processed fats (butter, other dairy, coconut) to get higher ratios of fat to protein unless you have a chronic illness that requires special management. That said, I love my BPC 😉
Today I worked out that I ate 134g of fat and 96g of protein. This still seems like weigh too much based on what I’m reading. Or maybe I’ve understood it. I am dyscalculic and numbers do nothing but aggravate me lol
Each oz of meat has about 6 gm of protein. So, 96 gm of protein would equal 16 oz of meat. The fat content depends on the cut of meat.
This is great. I am now adjusting my food to about 95-120 grams of protien and the fat is twice the protein. I only eat beef or lamb. Everything else is a problem or does not satisfy. So what more do i actually need? What is more relevant? You help with salt and electrolytes, and I’m gonna do some IF after my 30 day initiation.
Oh yeah, I have decided to only read your blog page, because everything else is either too unnecessarily complex and convoluted, or not geekish enough. I guess it is the difference between classic and romantic, if you know that reference.
With tons of thanks and gratitude.
How tall are you, paddyacme?
Thanks for getting back to me. I am 5′ 7″ and maybe 220 or 225.
I use the food app to log my meat, around 7 to 8 ounces three times per day, then see how much butter to add to make 2:1 fat to protein. Since I’ve done this my thirst is gone. I’m still taking salt, but cutting back. I take prescription potassium and added magnesium oil. My leg cramps are almost gone, and I had dizziness that seems to have stopped. I am still taking the diuretics, but stopped all other heart medications, and my blood pressure had dropped to low normal. I’m still kinda tired, but I am not winded. So, I feel like I’ve turned a corner.
Thanks for all the help. I don’t like Facebook, but have used my step-daughters, Jestor Baily, account to get on some pages. Thought it would help while going through the transition, but it is just too confusing. I will be dropping the page soon, but like access to the resources.
The amount of meat you are eating sounds perfect, however, you may not need to eat 2 gm of fat for every gm of protein while you are trying to lose excess body fat. The more dietary fat you eat, the less body fat you burn for energy. I would suggest trying a 1:1 ratio instead for a bit and see how you feel. 1 gm of fat for every 1 gm of protein is 70% fat and 30% protein by calories. Depending on the cut of meat you eat, you may not need to add any extra fat/butter to it.
Thanks for the marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
you happen to be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will
eventually come back from now on. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great posts, have a nice
Pingback: Why I HATE The Zero Carb Diet – Diary Of A Happy Nester
Hello.. every single article I read is geared towards people wanting to lose weight and fat. I can not find a single rite up with suggestions for those wanting to gain lean muscle mass, ie bodybuilding.
Can you please offer suggestions how this information can be tweaked creating a diet and intake with zero carbb to gain lean mass please?
Thank you. 🙂
Please read Sebastien Fortier’s Interview.
Oh wow thank you very much for such a quick reply… looks like just what I needed! This website is incredible, thank you for all your work. 🙂
I found this helpful.
Ground Beef Calculator https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/beef/show
Firstly, thank you for creating this site.
I am confused by the 1 gram of fat for 1 gram of protein being the ratio of 70% protein, 30% fat ground beef. I thought a 1:1 ratio of fat to protein would mean 50% fat 50% protein ground beef.
I currently get my butcher to make ground beef 50% 50% and i eat it raw.
The butcher is measuring by WEIGHT of LEAN (not protein, which comprises only a portion of lean) versus FAT. If you make ground beef 50% LEAN to 50% FAT by WEIGHT, then it is 212 grams of LEAN to 212 grams of FAT by WEIGHT per pound. If the LEAN comes from chuck roast, it will have 60 grams of PROTEIN and 34 grams of FAT by CALORIES. The FAT will have 17 grams of PROTEIN and 150 grams of FAT by CALORIES. So, one pound of 50/50 raw ground beef will provide 77 grams of PROTEIN to 184 grams of FAT by CALORIES which translates into 308 CALORIES of PROTEIN and 1,656 CALORIES of FAT. Total CALORIES = 1,964 with PROTEIN comprising about 15% of CALORIES and FAT comprising about 85% of CALORIES. I hope this helps.
Yes that definitely helps a lot- Thank you so much!