In my last post, I looked at the basics of what constitutes the paleolithic ketogenic (PK) carnivore diet. If you haven’t already done so, please read through that post so that you understand the significance of the macronutrient goals (i.e., how much fat and protein we want and why). I’ll recap it in short here anyway:
- Animal foods only
- High fat, moderate protein (ratio of 2:1, by weight)
- Zero carbs (no grains, starches, sugar, fruit)
We want to keep fat high and protein low-to-moderate so that the body maintains a high level of therapeutic ketosis, leading to lower levels of blood glucose (BG) that are easier for an impaired pancreas to manage (or, if you are a long-term insulin-dependent type 1 diabetic, so that your insulin management is as easy as possible).
To do this, we’ll be pairing a cut of meat and a cut of pure fat. The best way to obtain this fat is to seek out a butcher or meat market in your area. You can call ahead or just go in one day and start chatting. It’s quite helpful to have a good rapport with your meat supplier! Ask them if they have any fat trimming or suet. Suet is kidney fat. It’s most commonly used to render down into tallow, but we can eat it straight to get our fat calories in. Fat trimming is the fat that’s cut off from larger pieces of meat when cutting steaks. Most ordinary people don’t want that part, but for us it’s pure gold. So start buying fat trimming or suet.
I prefer fat trimming over suet, and today I just picked up a 1.5 lb (0.68 kg) bag from the meat market near where I live. They know what I like.
I cut off a little over 2 oz (60–65 g). Some of this will render out in the cooking process, so I’ll end up with about the amount I’m looking for.
Cut it into chunks. They’ll warm up faster and be easier to eat later.
Drop them into a pan over medium heat. Doesn’t matter what pan, just use whatever you’ve got. No need to overthink this part. Cast iron is great if you’ve got it, but it’s not essential.
With the fat getting warm, let’s take a look at the meat. I’ve got here a 1 lb (~450 g) chuck steak. My preferred cut is ribeye, but this was on sale the other day and it’s close enough.
I like to start by cutting a piece like this in half, so that I’ve got two 8 oz (~225 g) portions.
Next I cut that piece in half again to give me a 4 oz (113 g) piece. This may not seem like much, but we’ll be getting a lot of calories from the fat, so don’t worry.
When the chunks of fat start to sizzle in the pan, turn them a bit and make sure they’re lightly brown on all sides. Don’t overcook these little fellas. We just want them to be warmed through so they’re nice and soft.
Remove them to a plate. You’ll be left with a good bit of rendered fat in the pan. We’re going to use this to help get a nice sear on the meat.
The next step is to cook the steak. I could do an entire series of posts on steak cooking technique. There’s no simple way to boil this down. Every cut of meat is a different size and thickness. Every pan is different. Every stove is different. You’re just going to have to learn, read, practice, and hone your technique. You can also grill outside (my preferred method) instead of pan searing inside. When I’m pan searing inside, I’ll usually do 2–3 minutes per side over medium-high heat. (Take down smoke detectors, open windows, and turn on ceiling fans!) Just watch it, move it around in the rendered fat a bit, check underneath. When it’s nice and brown, flip it! Once you’ve got your technique down, you should end up with something like this.
I heavily salt and then cover with aluminum foil to let it rest for a few minutes while I check my BG or wash a couple dishes.
Paleomedicina (whose autoimmune dietary protocol I follow) and many zero-carb/carnivore advocates often recommend eating organs such as liver. Liver is extremely nutrient-dense! It just so happens I picked up a bit today at my meat market, so I’ve cut off 1.5 oz (42 g). Paleomedicina recommends a specific amount per week, but I prefer to let my taste guide me. I only eat a small amount each day as long as it tastes good to me. If it tastes bad to me, I take it as a sign that my body is not craving the nutrients, and I cut it out for a bit.
With the heat off, I put the liver into the cooling pan. It only needs about 30 seconds each side to get lightly brown. It’s generally recommended to leave the inside relatively uncooked to preserve the integrity of a lot of the nutrients, but I think if you prefer liver cooked through it’s probably fine.
Returning now to our steak, I’ve taken a liking to cutting on the board, but you could certainly grab a steak knife, sit down, and start eating right away. But I’m going to spend another minute with my chef knife cutting it thin against the grain. You can see the grain clearly in this piece, running left to right in the following image.
Cut perpendicular to this for an easier-to-chew bite. For ribeye, which is tender as the morning dew 😍🥰 this matters less, but for other cuts I especially prefer this method.
Move your cut steak onto the plate, and dump any juices from the cutting board on top.
Putting these quantities of meat into a meal tracker app (I use Carb Manager), it looks like this.
All nutrition info is something of a guess. The best we can hope for is a good estimation and consistency in our measurements. Each piece of meat is going to have a slightly different amount of fat in it, so don’t worry too much about whether this is exact. Just weigh whatever cut you have (whether it’s ribeye or strip or sirloin) and pair with some fat.
The carb amount is negligible and is to be expected because liver is basically the glucose storage warehouse of any mammal. But otherwise we see that fat (in grams) is safely more than double protein (in grams), giving us at a ratio of at least 2:1. Because fat is more calorie-dense than protein at 9 cal/g versus 4 cal/g, we are looking at about 80% calories from fat, as seen in Carb Manager’s calorie pie chart.
This meal (with or without liver) is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to give the PK carnivore diet a try. It doesn’t seem like a lot of food, but if you ate this three times a day, you’d be looking at over 2500 calories, and you would hopefully not be getting hungry for snacks in between.
You may need to tweak fat or protein amounts depending on level of hunger/satiety as well as activity levels. Also, as the healing process continues, you may find you have a bit more leeway with your meals and fat/protein levels. But start here and stick with it for a good long while. Check your BG often and see if there is any improvement over the first few months.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll do my best to answer to the best of my knowledge/experience.