watsui cattle

This incredible photo was taken by renowned animal photographer Marina Cano.

All meat is considered to be fair game (pun intended!) on a Zero Carb diet. But many Zero Carb practitioners have stated that they feel much more satiated after eating beef than other meats such as chicken and fish. This is interesting given that one study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that test subjects experienced greater satiety after eating a fish meal, compared to beef or chicken.

The scientists ascribed these results to the fact that fish has 6 times the amount of the amino acid taurine, as either beef or chicken. However, I was not able to determine the amount of fat present in the study test meals, and I strongly suspect that they were all lean cuts. Nevertheless, adding extra fat – such as butter – to fish or chicken meals, still seems to be less satisfying for most Zero Carb-ers than eating naturally fatty beef. The results of this study really don’t make sense in light of all the anecdotal reports of Zero Carb-ers feeling more satisfied for longer periods after eating beef, but one study – involving only 6 test subjects – is hardly definitive anyway.

Chicken as meat is a fairly recent addition to the American diet. Prior to the mid-1900s, chickens were raised almost exclusively for egg production. The only time a chicken was cooked was when she had out-lived her usefulness as a layer. Then, she was liable to be put into a stock pot and transformed into bone broth or soup. This all changed as the anti-fat propaganda took hold thanks to the erroneous, unscientific work and personal agenda of Ancel Keys. (Please see The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz for the full story.)

It is also highly unlikely that birds comprised any significant part of the early human diet. When scientists recently examined the skeletal remains of a 19,000 year old woman known as the “Red Lady,” who was found in a cave in northern Spain, they were able to determine that she derived 80% of her calories from hooved animals (i.e. red meat) and the other 20% from fish. Aside from a few mushrooms, her consumption of plant foods appeared to be almost non-existent. (Please see Red Lady Cave Burial Reveals Stone Age Secrets in the New Scientist for the full story.)

There is a whole school of thought within the anthropological and archaeological communities that subscribes to the idea that the consumption of seafood was instrumental in the development of our huge, energy hungry brains. This theory is based on the fact that we have about 3 times as much DHA in our brains as our closest relative, the Chimpanzee. DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid which is most abundant in seafood. (Please see Nutrition and Evolution: Food in Evolution and the Future by Michael Crawford for the full story.)

However, DHA is also present in the brains of other animals, and it may well be that our unprecedented brain growth came as a result of tools and techniques that we developed which allowed us to break open the skulls of large animals and eat their brains. This would have provided us with both more calories and more omega 3. (Please see Man, The Fat Hunter by Miki Ben-Dor for the full story.)

Either way, the case can certainly be made for the inclusion of some fish in our diet today, though it was probably not the main meat of choice for any human society until the availability of large game animals began to dwindle. Fish is also quite a bit higher than beef in the amino acid methionine, and too much methionine has been shown to cause oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA in rats. Humans are obviously not the same as rats, but the study results certainly warrant further investigation. Even the sea-based diets of Native Arctic cultures have traditionally eaten the meat of seals and whales, rather than fish.

This brings me to another point worth considering. Humans are mammals. Chickens and fish are not mammals. I am going to go out on a limb here and speculate that the meat of mammals simply provides more of the nutrients that we humans – who also happen to be mammals – need for optimal health and longevity. After beef, the second most satisfying meats for those eating a Zero Carb diet are lamb and pork. This is not too surprising since sheep and pigs are also mammals and may – therefore – have a more complete nutrient profile than fish or birds. Similarly, whales and seals are also mammals and are the sea-version of “hooved” animals.

Finally, I have noticed that my dog has a definite preference for red meat. I have raised him on a raw meaty bone diet since I brought him home to live with me at the age of 10 weeks. But, I have fed him a diet comprised almost exclusively of chicken and turkey because those were the most most affordable option. However, about 2 years ago, the chicken started making him ill, which I attribute to widespread contamination of antibiotic resistant bacteria present in commercial poultry operations. This is a fairly recent phenomenon, as I fed my dog lots of chicken without incident for the first 6 years of his life. Then everything changed and he started to experience vomiting and diarrhea after eating it. When I switched him to pork, lamb, and beef, he did not get sick.


Sasha with his favorite ball!

Interestingly, even when I fed him good quality chicken that was not contaminated, he was never particularly thrilled to eat it. And he actually refused to eat anymore turkey even though it was not making him sick. He just did not seem to like it the taste of it very much. He is not super motivated by food anyways and much prefers to play with his ball. Nevertheless, he gets appreciably more excited about eating pork, lamb, and beef than he ever did about chicken or turkey. If I was to layout a selection of each kind of meat for him to choose from, I am certain he would preferentially select beef first, then pork or lamb, and then chicken as a last resort. This, along with the reports of so many Zero Carb-ers claiming to feel more satisfied from beef than any other meat, has got me thinking that maybe my dog also needs something in red meat that is just not present in birds or fish.

New research has shown that dogs and humans evolved together and literally domesticated each other. By working together, humans and wolves became more successful hunters, and this process changed us – both physically and socially – and made us who we are today. Dogs are the only other creatures on the planet that are capable of accurately reading human emotion, and they learned to do this because it gave them a survival advantage. (Please see The Animal Connection:A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human by Pat Shipman for the full story.) If this is true, it would make perfect sense that our canine companions – who are also mammals – would have likewise evolved on a predominantly red meat (i.e. hooved animals) diet.

Beef – with sufficient fat – has proven itself to be a complete food, as the experience of The Andersen’s so clearly demonstrates. For 17 years, they have eaten almost nothing but Rib Eye steaks, and not only did they experience recovery from serious illness, but they have conceived, birthed, and raised two healthy boys on this amazing food. Joe recently commented in the Facebook group Principia Carnivora,

“The Auroch is the precursor to today’s cattle. The Auroch was found in Northern Africa during the Pliocene period onwards until the last known Auroch died in 1627. Eventually man domesticated the Auroch giving us what we now know as our cattle. The Aroch was huge, nearly twice as big as our present cattle. In my humble opinion, judging by the fact that an overwhelming number of ZCers thrive on beef (not chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, lamb etc…) we must have consumed a major portion of our early diet in the form of Auroch. I can only dream of how HUGE the ribeyes must’ve been!”

(To read the details of their experience, please see Zero Carb Interview: The Andersen Family.)

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of raising beef cattle for human food consumption, I highly recommend the thoughtful and balanced exploration of this issue by the long-time vegetarian and environmental lawyer, Nicolette Hahn Niman, who became a cattle rancher: Defending Beef:The Case for Sustainable Meat Production.



38 thoughts on “Beef

    • I strongly agree about the beef. I do think the 20% seafood of the red lady and the fact that all humans evolved around water ways and coast lines is significant, however. As far as satiaty on a fish dinner, try a poke bowl of only fish… I have found that a large amount of raw fish, especially tuna and salmon, provides superior statiaty to cooked fish.


      • Super late response here, I hope you’re still active. I have a Great Dane/Weimaraner mix and two pit bulls. The dane is the oldest sitting at almost 5 years. I feed them a high quality kibble. Do you think it’d be detrimental to their system to slowly work them into a full raw diet?


  1. Esmee, I’m a bit confused as on one hand i’ve read on here (testimonials etc.) and over at ZIOH facebook how folks are thriving consuming lots of meat in their diet even long term and yet on the other hand I’ve heard interviews on Jimmy Moore’s podcast with people I respect like Nora Gedgaudas etc. state that high protein even in a zero carb/keto diet will raise the mTOR metabolic pathway which is can cause cancer and premature aging etc.


  2. I simply cannot afford organic beef…Can I eat store bought beef, or will it kill me. Is there a way to prepare it that makes it acceptable. I assume eating store bought raw is dangerous. Thanx


  3. This is one of your best written articles Esmee. So much information and evidence collected about beef that i had not considered before. Thank you once again for creating this website with such a wealth of information.


  4. Hooooray for Beef!!!! I live in Ireland! Green grass all year round . Beef here is the best in the world imo!! I have fibromyalgia , hoping this diet will help, have you any experience with this sort of thing ??


  5. Can I use eggs as a meal or should I just use them as sides. Lately I’ve been eating more eggs and since then I’ve been cutting down on beef. Is this okay?


  6. Thanks for all the research and info. I am drawn to carnivory due to its simplicity and my high level of food sensitivities. However, I am running into a problem. I’m very satiated with beef steaks (not ground beef), but it seems to cause scaly, dry dark patches on my face and heightened seasonal allergy reactions during this peak time of year (sharp piercing pain in back roof of month, ear itching, even worse with grass-fed beef). When I cut out the beef, my skin clears up and the pain at back of my mouth disappears. I’ve been eating turkey instead but find it’s not satiating and much too dry to eat alone, so I am not eating meat-based anymore. My beef-steak-based diet was not just beef steaks & water nor plant-free, though it was low carb, and included Jun, unsweetened coconut milk, occasional soy-free vegan protein bar, smoked salt, broccoli. Again, when I swapped the beef for turkey and kept all the other foods, the negative symptoms went away. Face is now clear.

    What is your input please? Do you think a meat-and-water-only diet that is beef-steak based would elicit the same negative results? I don’t believe this diet will be for me doable on just chicken wings (I don’t care for most of the chicken) and plain turkey. (Can’t eat fish, pork, or dairy.)

    Thanks for any relevant information.


    • It sounds like you are histamine sensitive/intolerant. All beef is aged to some extent unfortunately and aging causes the formation of histamines. I react worse to grass fed beef as well. I believe this is because it is dry aged for 7 days before reaching the butcher. I find tgat i do much better with commercial beef that has been cryovac’d (vacuum sealed) within 48 hours of slaughter. I have had good results with bulk, untrimmed, PRIME grade New York Strip Loin or Ribeye from Costco. I buy a whole package, open, cut into steaks, vacuum seal individually, and freeze. This prevents histamines from forming. Histamines are created by bacteria on tge surface of the meat. Removing tge oxygen and freezing stops bacterial activity. I also do way better with beef that is fully raw. I react to tge chemicals created when meat is browned. You might look for a source of chicken backs. Mary’s sells them by the case to a store near me. I ate those for two months when i had troubke getting a safe source of beef. Chicken backs a super fatty. I cooked them slow and low in a small amount if water for 3 hours. I strongly recommend that you ditch all plant foods completely for 90 days. Then you can retest them one by one if you wish and see how you react.


      • Thanks for the quick response! So, I knew I couldn’t be the only one. Whew! I wanted to “do something” starting May 1st so your advice comes right on time. Now, I think I can proceed with some confidence. Thanks very much!!

        We normally buy whole loins of ribeyes or NY strips and have the butcher cut them into thick steaks when we catch a sale but haven’t tried Costco. Will look into that. Chicken backs?? Hmmm. Will check into that too. For now, I’ll have to work with chicken wings. They’re pretty fatty.

        One more question please: I normally spray the steaks with food-grade hydrogen peroxide, let it set for about 20 minutes, rinse well, “par-broil” (about 4 mins. each side), then freeze in Zip-lock bags. That way when we warm them up, they don’t get overcooked. Would this method keep the histamine down as well? (I hope I’m not reacting to the browned fat (YUM) and meat.)


        • I honestly don’t know, but it sounds like it might. You would have to not do that, and only freeze them and see how you react in order to compare. I do better with the PRIME grade than i do with the CHOICE grade because it seems to move faster and is therefore not as old.


    • I have been having difficulties tolerating beef (cooked, unseasoned ground/sirloin). I am 1 week into the Zero Plant diet and beef has been causing various symptoms such as: insomnia, burning feeling on scalp, agitation, nervousness, frequent night-time bathroom visits. The last 24 hours have been without beef and I already feel a little better, with a marked reduction in all of these symptoms. I substituted beef with turkey and added a boatload of butter. Has anybody else experienced something similar, any thoughts on what might be happening?

      1. The symptoms I experienced, described above, were similar to when I tried Vitamin B12 supplements in the past (including desiccated beef liver tabs). I speculated that the B12 in beef was at fault, and therefore tried turkey breast, as it has very low levels of that vitamin. After 24 hours, things have calmed down and improved. Could this be related to methylation and B12 affects that negatively in me for some reason?

      2. If beef is off the table for me, could I still do this diet by eating meats very low in B12 (assuming B12 is the problem) and adding butter/cream to make sure my fat intake is sufficient? Are there downfalls to such a diet that I should be aware of, or is it really just a case of experimenting with all that the animal kingdom has to offer and settling on the foods that bring me good health?

      Many thanks for your time and help.

      David P.


        • Thank you so much, Esmee. I will follow your advice and see if that helps. And thank you for having this wonderful resource to help people. Blessings!


          • I have tried using whole steak (including washing meat before cooking), as recommended above to reduce histamine levels, with limited success. There is some reduction in symptoms but insomnia, nervousness, and brain fog persist. I’ve tried various cuts of steak from my NYC grocery store, but I have no idea about the slaughter to dinner plate timeline.

            Have you, or anybody, had any experience trying OTC antihistamines? I have read that they may reduce DAO, so perhaps not a good idea; but I’m interested in any experience people have had.

            I did find an interesting study in the below URL. It states that boiling meat can reduce, somewhat, histamine levels, while grilling/frying tends to raise levels. Have you tried this cooking technique, and if so, did it bring improvement?

            I’m now on day 10 of Zero Carb. Feeling weak, with low energy. Hopefully in the next week I will start to turn the corner. It’s not too hard to stay away from the carbs, but I do very much need to get a handle on these symptoms I’m experiencing from the beef.

            Thank you!


          • I personally do best with beef that is completely raw. I also do best with beef that has been cryovac’d rather than dry aged. Cryovac’d beef has the oxygen removed. This reduces bacterial growth. It’s the bacteria that produce the histamines. You can buy a whole cryovac’d Ribeye roast unopened, then open, cut into steaks, and freeze. This will reduce the histamines. I have not tried antihistamines because they all have fillers that I will react to, and they all increase the risk of dementia.


  7. David P., thanks so much for sharing your experience and especially that Annals of Dermatology article. Will start a trial of boiled steaks and see if I can reap the benefits of this simplified eating plan without the intolerance/allergy issues. Had a boiled steak for my entree today. Taste wasn’t bad, and, unlike chicken or turkey, it satisfied my appetite completely, leaving me with nearly no auxiliary cravings. (You know what I mean? That “wanting just a little something more and different” feeling that sends one scurrying back to the fridge or cupboards for starches or fruit..)

    Oh, and yes, I have used OTC antihistamines when necessary but prefer not to. I find Dr. King’s Allergy & Hay Fever Reliever homeopathic treatment is the only thing that relieves my itchy ears. When upper respiratory symptoms (nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy throat, watering eyes, etc.) have gotten too bad, the tiniest sip of Walmart’s Equate-brand of children’s allergy relief [Zyrtec] syrup relieves those.

    Of course, the my whole point of this is to get past/cure any allergy/food intolerance issues so there’s no need for any meds. If I have to take meds to eat a food, that’s a sign for me that it’s not good for this body’s health. So will see how boiled steaks work out.

    Thanks again.


    • Have you read Dr. Newbold’s Type A/B Weight Loss book? It’s in the files of our Facebook group Principia Carnivora. I think you will find it extremely interesting. It’s more about food intolerance than weight loss. Very worthwhile.


      • Hi there! No, I haven’t. Where exactly do I find it on Facebook group Principia Carnivora? I’ve joined group (thanks for the approval), but I can’t seem to find the file even when I search “dr. newbold’s type a/b weight loss”. Only saw some link to that requires signing up to some other account. Please let me know exactly how to access the info. I’ll start reading it tonight.

        Thanks much for the suggestion.


  8. Which are the best/most fatty beef cuts in people’s experiences here? Are most beef cuts similar in nutrition and fat percentage?


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