“What should my macros look like on Carnivore?”
It’s one of the most commonly asked questions from beginners starting the diet.
Even carnivores a few weeks into this diet can ask this question, just to reaffirm what they’ve been doing.
There truthfully is no “right” answer, but anecdotally, there certainly is a trend across those following this way of eating.
The ideal fat-to-protein macronutrient ratio on a Carnivore Diet is at least 2:1 in terms of calories.
The body can operate on two sources of energy, those derived from fats, and those coming from carbohydrates, but the body has a tough time fueling itself of protein, so ensuring you have enough fat on this diet is crucial to its success.
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Because 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories and a gram of protein is considered 4 calories, this would roughly equate to a 1:1 ratio in terms of grams.
Most carnivores experience the best results when ensuring they are meeting this ratio or even go above it.
Excess protein can cause fatigue and subpar performance when following this diet.
This diet is not a fixed plan for everyone though. Different people have varying ratios with which they perform best.
Contents of This Post
The Best Macronutrient Ratio May Be Individual
More prominent carnivores like Shawn Baker argue that high amounts of protein are more important than fat, so they primarily ribeyes without added fat.
I’ve seen some carnivores eat up to 5 lbs. of meat per day with little to no fat added on top of this. It is possible that the body is able to take all the fat needed from this large amount of meat, but it is unlikely the body is using all this protein and it, therefore, is likely a burden on the body to waste or convert to glucose.
Other prominent carnivores argue that a high fat-to-protein ratio is crucial for maintaining ketosis and feeling good while eating so much meat. Many say that when they decrease meat intake and increase fat intake, they feel better.
But generally speaking, meeting a ratio of 2:1 is a great starting place to gauge how the macronutrients ratios will affect you.
There are two conflicting sides in the carnivore community.
One side promotes a higher portion of calories coming from fat and the other places a higher value on protein.
Something that seems to be clear is that you must first consider what your goals are before choosing a ratio to aim for. Those looking to lose the most amount of fat would be best served by eating a higher amount of protein.
Those looking to perform optimally and ensure they have the resources to balance hormones, like testosterone, should focus on keeping a large amount of fat in the diet.
Macros When Beginning the Carnivore Diet
It may be reasonable to assert that people trying to adapt to a carnivore diet should definitely follow a high-fat ratio.
This ratio will help the person better adjust to the diet because the body will have ample amounts of fat to begin using as fuel.
Ensuring there are adequate electrolytes during this time will contribute even more to easing the adaption period of the diet.
This is the best electrolyte supplement to use in my opinion: Perfect Keto Flu Electrolytes.
After the keto flu symptoms are over, you can experiment to see whether you perform better with more or fewer fats.
This is a phenomenal video arguing the different ratios:
Macro Effect on Ketosis
One of the biggest reasons people experience increased well-being, elimination of brain fog, and weight loss on the Carnivore Diet is because of ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process in which we burn fat instead of glucose. There will always be some demand for glucose in the body, but most processes function well on fat.
We remain in ketosis by keeping insulin levels low. When insulin is present, fat burning ceases and the body tries to run on glucose again.
Insulin is very responsive to glucose, so this connection strongly influences whether we are in a ketogenic state or not.
To keep our insulin levels low, it is important to keep our dietary fat intake high when compared to the protein being consumed. Protein in imbalanced amino acid ratios can result in the protein being converted to glucose.
Ketosis can usually be maintained on this diet by ensuring a calorie ratio of 2:1, fat-to-protein, but some feel best when increasing this ratio.
When we eat too much protein, there will be lower levels of ketones in the blood.
Balanced Amino Acids
A large reason so many carnivores are proponents of eating the entire animal is that there are different amino acids in different parts of the animal.
“Why is this important?”
Because amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Different parts of the body have different amino acid ratios in the proteins present.
There are nine essential amino acids that humans need to consume because we cannot produce these internally and these amino acids must be in the correct ratios for us to use them.
This is best explained by thinking about how you would build the table in your kitchen. You need the tabletop, you need four legs, and you need the specific bolts to connect all the pieces. Think of the finished table as a complete protein. If there are any missing parts the table wouldn’t go together. Without just one leg, the table cannot stand. Without one of the bolts, there is no hope of holding the table together and the same goes for proteins in the body.
For proteins to be completely bioavailable, they need to include all the pieces.
Because this protein has all of the right parts and is fully composed, it can 100% be used in the body.
Elsewise, if some proteins are missing, the body has to pull from amino acids in the body, resulting in proteins being broken down. This does not occur much, as a more likely scenario is that the body simply converts the protein to glucose and excretes the attached nitrogen group.
“How do we balance these amino acids?”
Or we can help balance the ratios by eating many parts of the animal at the same time to ensure we get a wider array of amino acid sources.
The most practical way of doing this is by adding lots of collagen to steak when you are eating it. This collagen is very high in the amino acid glycine, and muscle meat is very high in methionine. These two amino acids need to have proper ratios in order for the proteins consumed to be used.
Many carnivores add collagen to the steak they are eating for this reason.
Sample Daily Meal Plan
If following a high fat-to-protein ratio, your macros will be around 70% fat and 30% protein. If your percentages equate to 40% of calories coming from protein, it will be okay, as you will likely still be in ketosis.
There are many types of meat that have high fat composition without adding more fats like tallow and lard. Some personal favorites are pork shoulder, Ribeye, and New York Strip.
Here is a sample meal plan from one day of eating while following this macronutrient ratio:
- Breakfast: ½ lb pork shoulder, 3 tbsp of lard, 2 scoops of collagen/glycine powder
- Lunch: Ribeye, 2 tbsp of butter, and collagen/glycine powder
- Dinner: New York Strip, 2 tbsp of butter, 2 scoops of collagen/glycine powder
Calories Don’t Explain The Whole Story
A calorie simply measures the amount of energy a particular food or beverage contains. Whether from carbs, fats or proteins, one dietary calorie contains approximately 4.2 joules of energy.
But the calories stored in different macronutrients certain does differ. Fats have roughly twice the energy than carbs and proteins have. And the 4 calories that each gram of protein holds is argued because it is not easily used as fuel in the body, so the actual amount used in the body is less than 4 calories.
By this definition of a calorie, all calories are created equal. However, this assumption fails to consider the complexities of human physiology and how these structures interact in the body, especially when considering various hormones coming into play.
For instance, different foods and macronutrient ratios can influence insulin and hunger hormones in the body. Various combinations can make you feel full or hungry, even if you just ate a large portion of food. Different macronutrients also cause fluctuations in metabolism and brain activity.
It can easily be explained by examining 100 calories of lard vs 100 calories from a piece of lean steak.
Each food type has the same amount of calories, but these two foods will have significantly different effects on the body and how hungry you are after eating.
The primary hormone involved between these two foods would be insulin and how it affects the body.
Insulin can easily be thought of as a fat-burning signal. When insulin is present in the blood, the body drastically reduces the amount of fat being burned from your own fat stores. This happens because insulin is released in the presence of carbs and sugars. The body recognizes this and switches to operate on glucose instead of body fat storage.
The steak is not necessarily converted to glucose, but large quantities of steak without proper amino acid balance will result in it being converted or wasted, as the body cannot use protein without amino acids being balanced.
The insulin spike will also decrease your satiety, resulting in you likely eating another piece of steak.
By keeping insulin low, the body is better able to operate from its own fat stores and it is easier to manage feelings of hunger.
A calorie is not a calorie, on a carnivore diet and because of this, many carnivores eat upwards of 4,000 “calories” per day yet are not gaining weight.