Eat meat. Not too little. Mostly fat.

Draft v1.0.0.a, 2013-12-28, a joint post by Zooko and Amber

(Ribeye steak photo from Serious Eats.)

How to try a keto diet

Many people have asked me and Zooko where to begin with a ketogenic diet, or how to troubleshoot a ketogenic diet that hasn't given all the benefits they were hoping for. On our science blog (The Ketogenic Diet for Health), we have talked a lot about why, but have not said much about how. This is our current advice, based on our reading of science literature, our personal experiences, those of our friends, and our reading of other people's stories.

Our recommendation is simple: eat nothing but meat for 30 days.


Disclaimer 1: Use at your own risk!

You are the only person responsible for any effects on your health that might result from taking actions like those described here. It is your job to pay attention to yourself and take care of yourself. We can't take any responsibility for the consequences, and we can't even give you advice about it through the Internet. Good luck!

Disclaimer 2: You are entering the “Citation Needed” zone.

On our science blog (The Ketogenic Diet for Health) — we strive to include detailed scientific references showing why we believe each claim that we make. See Apologia about our practice of careful citations. However, for this article, we've decided that we need to tell you what we believe, even though we haven't yet written down all the reasons why we believe it. It would take a book to catalogue those reasons (and we're working on writing that book!), but in the meantime we feel it necessary to tell you our straight opinion.

You should, of course, treat all such claims, by us as well as by anyone else, with skepticism, so we're not asking you to accept everything we write here as fact. We're asking only that you understand that this is where we're coming from and this is why we are making these recommendations.

Why 30 days?

Thirty days is long enough to get through the keto-adaptation phase (see below), and then to start experiencing the profound benefits of the keto diet. Thirty days is also short enough that you can commit to doing it and see the whole thing through, and then evaluate what you experienced.

Many people continue to experience further benefits as their body further adapts to the diet, even after the first 30 days. So do not think of the results of from your 30-day experiment as the whole story! But it should be enough to tell if you were heading in the right direction.

On the other hand, knowing that you are making only a short time-commitment can help you stay the course. You aren't giving up anything indefinitely.

"This aspect was critical for my own initial experimentation. I had been on a very low carb diet off-and-on (but mostly on) for many years before trying it, and even then it was an intimidating idea. Knowing that it was temporary made it possible for me to make important discoveries." — Amber

The strategy: temporary extremism

You're not going to practice moderation! You're going to practice extremism. (But only for a moderate amount of time.)

By practising a very simple and absolute form of the diet, you maximize the chance of success, and you maximize how much you can learn from the experience. There will be plenty of time after for exceptions and experimentation, to find the perfect fit for your life. But the first step to do that is to get the experience of being ketogenic. In our opinion, the most reliable way to get that experience is to follow the strict regime of eating only meat for 30 days.

It is certainly possible to eat ketogenically while including plants in your diet. It is even possible to formulate a vegan diet that is ketogenic. However, we think that not eating plants can help you avoid certain pitfalls in your 30-day experiment. Moreover, even if your current diet is already ketogenic, you may experience further benefits from the experiment of eating only meat.

(See also Wait — why eat only meat? for a follow-up on this point.)

Before you start

  • Choose a 30-day span on your calendar.

    Look it over for “special occasions”—birthdays, holidays, special parties or dates, etc. You have to commit to attending these special occasions without partaking of the food there. (Except, of course, for any offerings there which are pure meat.) Of course, if there is a special occasion coming up, and you want to partake of the food there and then begin your 30-day experiment, that's fine, but in our experience there is always another special occasion coming up! Special occasions seem to come along every week or two. If that's the case for you, then you'll have to decide what's more important to you: partaking of the food at special occasions, or trying this 30-day health experiment.

  • Mark on your calendar the 30th day of your experiment.

    That's the day of evaluation! On that day, you'll think over what changes you've observed in yourself during the course of your experiment, and you'll decide what to do next.

  • Mark on your calendar what effects you will be watching for. See What to look for for some suggestions.

  • Write down a note about your “baseline measurements”:

  • Prepare your space.

    To the extent you can, rid your home of things you don't want to eat or put them away out of sight — whatever it is, you can always have it after the trial. Stock your kitchen with lots of choices that are part of your plan. Surprisingly often people have broken their commitment because they were hungry and didn't have what they needed.

  • Acquire a box of 30 (or more) test strips for measuring ketones in urine. These are available from on-line stores (e.g. this product from or from your local pharmacy.

    Use one of the test strips to measure ketones in your urine. If you are on a glycolytic (sugar-burning) diet, this measurement will show little or no ketones, like this:

keto strip showing trace amounts of ketones in urine; not good enough!

  • Be ready for the keto-adaptation period.

    This is a time period at the beginning of a keto diet in which some people feel tired, low in energy, and possibly even headachey or nauseated. This usually lasts between a day and a week, and it varies a lot among people. There are tips and tricks below for minimizing the duration and the discomfort of keto-adaptation. Once you get past it, everything gets easier. Cravings go away. So if you feel bad or have strong cravings and don't know how you could possibly last 30 days, understand that it should get better very soon.

What to eat

There are five simple rules.

Rule 1: Eat nothing but meat.

You can also optionally have eggs, and optionally a little high-fat dairy such as butter or heavy cream.

Prefer “pure” meats like beef, pork, chicken, fish, turkey, lamb, etc. over “processed” meats like sausage or cold cuts. Don't eat meat with high-carb additives in it, such as hot dogs which come with added sugar, or with added corn syrup (which is another word for sugar).

Be aware that some people do not fare as well with a lot of dairy in their diet, and so it is wiser to wait and add it after the initial trial.

Rule 2: Eat fatty meat.

Have some delicious, juicy steak; not dry, lean beef! Eat tender, juicy chicken thighs; not dry, low-fat chicken breasts. Try the hamburger made from 85% lean instead of the 93% lean ground beef. Juicy salmon is better than dry white fish, and so on.

Juicy meat with plenty of fat tastes better and is more satisfying and filling, but more importantly, you need healthy animal fat to maintain a good energy level and mood, regular bowels, and good maintenance of your brain, heart, and joints.

Rule 3: Eat plenty of it.

Do not limit your consumption of healthy, fatty, whole cuts of meat. Whenever you sit down to a meal, just eat until you are completely satisfied and you naturally lose interest in having any more. This is even more important if you are overweight and are trying to lose weight by following the ketogenic diet. In any case, this is one of the rules: eat to satiety, at every meal. If you are still hungry after a meal during this 30-day experiment, then you are doing it wrong.

Rule 4: Drink water.

If you regularly drink coffee, you don't need to quit for this experiment, but do not drink any sweet beverages, even if they are low in carbs. This means no diet soda drinks. Stick to water, and drink it in response to thirst.

Rule 5: Get plenty of salt.

Don't skimp on salt. Eat extra, even. As explained in our article on keto-adaptation, people in the initial stages of a keto diet need to eat extra salt. Don't worry about salt having a bad effect on your blood pressure; the widely touted idea that you should reduce salt intake in order to lower your blood pressure is controversial and may not even be true. In fact, if you have high blood pressure, this dietary experiment might actually lower it, even though you will be eating extra salt. If this is a concern for you, then measure your blood pressure before you start (another “baseline measurement”) and again afterward.

What to look for

Here are some effects you may notice. These are the kinds of things you should think back on, at the Day of Evaluation.

Things we're pretty sure of

These effects are very common among people who try a keto diet. They have been observed in multiple scientific experiments or clinical observations, or are widely reported in anecdotal reports of people's personal experiences.

You might not experience all of these benefits. You might not experience any of them! But if you don't experience any of them, then something is unusual. Maybe you're unwittingly getting some hidden carbohydrate in your diet, or maybe there is something unusual about your body so that it doesn't respond to ketosis like most bodies do.

  • ketones in your urine

    You can test with cheap little test strips from your local pharmacy. Do it — it is cheap and simple to do. If the test strips don't show a purple color within seven days of beginning this experiment, then you may not actually be in ketosis.

keto strip showing large amounts of ketones in urine; that's a good sign!

  • no more cravings

    People who have weight-control issues or eating disorders often report that they have intense cravings for carbohydrates. When your body switches over from glycolytic mode to ketogenic mode, the cravings suddenly and completely disappear. You still get hungry on a ketogenic diet, but it is a clean sensation of being ready to take in more fuel, not an addiction-like craving.

  • losing excess weight

    Note that the first 5 lbs or so of weight loss is due to losing water. (People on a glycolytic diet need to carry around about 5 lbs of extra water just to hold their glycogen stores. Keto dieters don't need that.) But if you are overweight, then in addition to losing that first 5 lbs of water, you should also experience rapid loss of excess body fat, as your body starts burning stored body fat for energy.

  • better and more stable energy levels

    When your body uses stored body fat for energy, then energy is abundant and steady. See keto-adaptation for a more detailed explanation.

  • losing excess body fat around the waistline

    Your waistline is actually a better measure than your weight on a scale, because the scale tells you the combined weight of body fat, muscle, and water but the waistline tells you what you really want to know: am I starting to look better?

    Also, excess body fat around the waistline or belly is an important warning sign of life-threatening problems such as heart disease, and is a more important warning sign than is overall body weight. See our article on metabolic syndrome for more information about that.

    The easiest way to notice changes to your waistline is just to ask yourself “Are these pants looser then they used to be? Can I fit into these pants that I couldn't fit into at the start?”.

  • reduction in heartburn, bloating, gas, and other digestive ills

  • reduction or cessation of seizures (if you suffer from seizures / epilepsy)

  • improved mood, if you suffer from depression (or possibly even if you don't)

  • improved focus, and mental endurance

Things we're less sure of

We've heard a lot of anecdotal reports of beneficial effects from people who've tried this diet. There are plausible mechanisms which would explain these effects, or known correlations to the affected condition and excess insulin. However, we haven't yet read scientific studies demonstrating that these effects happen reliably, in most people. They may not turn out to be real, common effects. These include:

  • elimination of snoring
  • elimination of joint pain, arthritis, asthma, or other "autoimmune" conditions
  • improvement of acne, and other skin conditions
  • elimination of migraines
  • prevention and treatment of cancer

    There is recent evidence suggesting that a keto diet might actually cure cancer in some people. This has not been proven to work in humans — several clinical trials are currently in progress to test how well it works in humans. In mouse experiments it has been amazingly successful, and there are several published reports of “case studies” in which human cancer patients underwent a keto diet and experienced a dramatic remission, and even in some cases permanent cure.

    We intend to write more about this in the future, but if this is important to you, the first reference we would offer is the home page of Thomas Seyfried at Boston College. And yes, if you have cancer, then we strongly advise you to go on this all-meat diet immediately.

Don't make these mistakes!

Myths, misunderstandings and misplaced fears about a keto diet are common. Here are some of the mistakes we've most commonly seen.

Mistake 1: going low-fat

There is a long-standing myth that eating animal fat is bad for your health, so a lot of people who are trying a health experiment naturally assume that they should add in a low-fat component while they are at it. Nothing could be further from the truth! Limiting your intake of fat, or preferring lean, low-fat meat during a keto diet can lead to hunger, nausea, constipation, weakness, and can cause the failure of the 30-day trial. It is also, in our opinion, unhealthy in the long term. Do not try to go low-fat during your 30-day trial.

Mistake 2: limiting your calorie intake

A lot of people think that it is healthy to limit or control the total amount of food that they eat. This is an especially common concern among overweight people. Do not do this. Limiting your calorie intake makes it harder to succeed in your 30-day trial, and it is unhealthy. Also it doesn't work for long-term, healthy weight loss. If you're overweight, do this 30-day experiment, exactly as described here, with no limitation on total calorie intake, and see what happens.

Mistake 3: eating a “moderate” diet with a little bit of carbohydrate

“Moderation in all things.”, they say. Well, not in this experiment! Even a small amount of carbohydrate in your diet can delay or prevent the process of keto-adaptation and cause the failure of your 30-day trial. Even a small amount of carbohydrate intake can also stimulate hunger and cravings in many people. For the purpose of this experiment, limit your carbohydate intake as strictly as possible. See our article on keto-adaptation for more details about the physiology behind this effect.

Mistake 4: making exceptions

In the long term, you're going to make exceptions to whatever practices you follow. But making an exception during this trial can ruin the whole experiment, because it can reset your metabolism to the glycolytic (sugar-burning) state, which means you have to start over in the keto-adapation process before you can experience what a ketogenic diet is like. For your 30-day trial, make no exceptions.

Mistake 5: making sure you get fruits and vegetables

Some authors who advocate low carb diets emphasize plant foods. We suppose they are trying to dispel the image of low-carb as a fad diet that is effective for weight loss but inherently unhealthy, by appealing to the widespread belief that eating fruits and vegetables is important for health. The thing is, we've looked for evidence the eating fruits and vegetables is important for human health, and haven't found good evidence that it is true ¹, ²! Many fruits and vegetables come with carbohydrates which can put your body back into the glycolytic state and undo the whole experiment. In addition, some people may be adversely affected by some of the natural chemicals present in fruits and vegetables even when they are low-carb. There is also the possibility that eating plant matter could have a bad effect on humans through an interaction with the human gut microbiota, as we speculated in our recent blog post on germ-free mice.

In any case, you'll be fine without any fruits or vegetables for 30 days.


Q. Do I need to eat organ meats?

A. No.

Q. Do I need to eat raw meat?

A. No.

Q. Can I have sauces and spices?

A. Avoid any sauce with sugar, such as ketchup or commercial dressings. Salt is advised. Minimise spices — they confuse your palate, and many report that they eat more than hunger would dictate if their food is heavily spiced. Do not trust any sauce from a restaurant. Pour the drippings back on — that's the best sauce.

Q. Is bacon okay?

A. Yes. You can eat as much bacon as you like during this experiment.

Q. What about salamis and cheeses?

A. Better save those til after the initial 30-day experiment. Some people who are trying to lose excess body fat with diet report that eating a little cheese stops their fat loss even though the cheese has very little carbohydrate content. Also, many people have reported that cheese and processed meats are “gateway drugs” that seem to stimulate cravings for carbohydrates.

Q. How about coffee?

A. Yes, you can drink coffee. No sweetener of any kind! A little heavy cream in it is probably okay for most people, but may or may not be okay for you.

Q. Do I need to exercise?

A. No, you don't need to. You can if you want, and if you do so during the first few days, it might shorten the duration of the keto-adaptation period. But exercising isn't necessary to get the benefits of the all-meat diet experiment, so consider it optional. In fact, if you are very overweight, exercise can be dangerous, because of the added stress to your joints.

Q. If I'm doing intense exercise, do I need to eat carbs?

A. No, you can do intense physical exercise, even things like competitive running, and weight lifting while on a ketogenic diet. More and more people are doing that nowadays. The old idea that hard exercise requires eating carbohydrate turns out to be not exactly true. There are a lot of details that go into that, of course, which we don't go into here. The only exercise regimens we know of which may not be sustainable on a ketogenic diet are those that involve high intensity interval training on a daily basis.

Q. Is this diet unsafe or unhealthy?

A. No. There are many claims being made that a diet like this one can be bad for your health in various ways, but every such claim that we have investigated has turned out to be a myth. Please see our science blog (The Ketogenic Diet for Health), and in particular the Myths section of it, for why we say that.

Q. Any other miscellaneous tips?

  • Join a discussion board and get ideas and encouragement from your fellow keto dieters.
  • Cook with a barbecue grill.
  • Cook with a crockpot.

What to do after

Now that you know what a ketogenic diet is like, you can stay on it indefinitely if that serves you well, or you can do different experiments to optimize your life.

If you are doing well on the strict version of this diet, and then you try changing your diet and you start faring worse, then by all means go back to doing what works! There is no reason why you can't stay on a pure all-meat diet indefinitely, or can't depart from it and then go back to it whenever you feel the need. It is a safe, healthy, and sustainable diet which you should treat as a tool that you can use anytime you need it.


Thank you to our intrepid “beta-testers” who tried out early variants of this “how to” and gave us feedback, and other reviewers. All remaining errors are, of course, still our fault. Responsibility for all decisions affecting your own health is, of course, still all yours.

  • Olene Harris (Zooko's mom)
  • Zachary Voase
  • Sebastian Kuzminsky
  • Jonathan Lange
  • Pavel Pergamenshchik
  • Sonya Trejo
  • Rose Smith
  • Ash Simmonds

We also thank Charles Washington, whose work collecting literature on the health benefits of carnivory and organising people to discuss their experiences in one place was a critical step in Amber's health journey.


  1. Nice write up!
    I've been meaning to try this. Been HFLC for 3 years, but never tried meat/fat only. I think I'll give this a go. LC has improved my health considerably, but I never feel 100% - something is still missing.
    I'm a little surprised to see you say that organ meat isn't necessary. Organ meat and bone broth seem to be almost universally recommended on ketogenic diets for minerals and B vits. Do you see this differently?

    1. Thank you, Michael.
      I think organs and bone broth are very healthy, and I eat them. Whether they are necessary long term is debatable, but I certainly don't think they are necessary within 30 days. Since some people would be deterred from trying it if they thought they had to eat organs, I think it is important to note that it isn't an issue at this point.
      Best of luck experimenting!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. What a great, easy-to-follow introduction. The 30-day trial is exactly how I began my zero-carb journey, after years of diets that failed in one way or another (even very low carb, which helped me lose about half the body fat I needed to lose, but which left me still fighting cravings and falling off the wagon periodically). After expecting yet another failure, I was very surprised to see and feel positive health improvements within days. It's been over four years, as you know, and I've never looked back.

    Thanks for this post, and for your great blog.

    1. It really does eliminate a lot of possible points of failure, doesn't it? Thank you for sharing your success!

  4. I don't particularly care for meat, but I want to try this. Is fish acceptable?

    1. Fish is good, but it is probably too low in fat all by itself. You could add bacon drippings. For that matter, what about fish and bacon? You could also trying adding butter or cococut oil, or supplement with fish oil.

      Do you like shellfish? They are very nutrient dense. Some people are intolerant or allergic, though.

      I'd be interested to see how it goes!

    2. I love sardines/kippers. The brand I usually eat have 8g of fat and 11g of protein per serving. I'll eat bacon every morning with eggs. I like salmon cooked in coconut oil. I can tolerate steak. I like chicken and even liver cooked in bacon. Stew beef has always been a favorite...I'll let you know...this page has been very helpful...thanks!

    3. Fish is variable in fat content - mackerel has about 60% of its calories from fat, wild salmon 40%, herring 52% etc etc. So picking the right fish species can give you as good a fat/protein balance as the right cut of meat.

  5. Great guide!

    I've done a bunch of carb limitation, and this should help me try the next step. But as I wind up, a number of questions come to mind...

    Are eggs optional because they can delay keto-adaptation, or just that they muddy the 'just meats' story?

    Is canned fish in oil or water (eg sardines) a good meat to have in the mix?

    When a traditional meat preparation makes use of cooking oil, what's recommended? (Or should an alternate prep method be chosen instead?)

    You suggest a crock pot... but I've always thought of that as designed for mixed dishes, almost the opposite of 'nothing but meat'. Any pointers to using a crock pot for a 'nothing but meat' meal?

    When eating this way (and especially when starting), are most of your meals a single meat type, and three traditionally-scheduled meals per day? Or more on an as-hungry basis?

    Though the basics are simple, an example list of typical meals – down to specific cuts and preparation methods – could help fill in the implied details, for people who've never prepared so many just-meat dishes before...


    1. The crock pot is wonderful for cheaper cuts of meat. They tend to have tough bits on them and of course, slow cooking all day long eliminates that problem. The cooking method itself is also healthier than just grilling everything--you don't wind up with all those charred by-products at every single meal.

      If you eat canned fish, read the ingredients. A lot of these canners use soybean oil or other soy ingredients, and if you're sensitive to soy you will wind up with not all your symptoms going away and thinking the diet's failing you as a result. I've seen tuna canned in olive oil or just packed in salt. It'll cost more but it's not prohibitive.

      It's a good idea to stick with about three meals a day to give your body time to recover from processing the food. If you eat a large enough meal every time, you shouldn't feel snacky in between.

  6. Thank you, Gordon.

    That we called eggs optional rather than central, is more a matter of anecdote. Several have said they feel better without, though others do fine. Others have said eggs are good, but they don't feel really satiated without also eating meat. YMMV.

    Egg yolks are high in nutrients, including choline. You can get a lot of nutrients from eggs you would otherwise have to eat organs to get. Also they are very inexpensive.

    I use lard or bacon drippings for cooking. You could also use butter, ghee, or coconut oil. I like to fry, because you don't lose the drippings, which is a drawback to grilling (but grilling is just so delicious!). The crockpot is great for bone broths or porkchops or roasts, for example. You can leave something cooking safely all day when you are out. You might want to crisp up chops or a roast under the broiler after, though.

    I think eating when hungry is best, but we do tend to eat on schedule for various reasons, and I think that's okay, too. Once keto-adapted, many people say they prefer to eat fewer meals.

    I hope some people will chime in with their favourite cooking methods.

  7. I recently learned that if you pop a roast into a crockpot *and don't add water* that it will crisp up after enough hours. It came out perfectly. I think it was a beef roast or a pork roast.

  8. Love this idea and am definitely starting 2014 this way. Just shared on FB and unfortunately the thumbnail that came with it is the ketostix one and not the delicious steak one. Is this fixable?

    1. Hi, Alan. Thanks for sharing it! I don't know if you can change your FB link once it's posted, but if you re-post, there should be a button that says "thumbnails" and it will give you the steak as an option.

  9. greetings..I have been following the New Atkins for you induction and have lost 30 pounds and feel great.I have adapt my cleaner foods to theirs i.e.; organic and grassed products(readily available here in the PNW).I am embarking on an 8 week Keto Adaptation class thru my Naturepath and their process is a bit different.They have us using Keto blood readings. I have thought that I have been in Keto but my readings are low, so I guess I am still burning glucose for fuel. My main complaint has been a bit of constipation,so suing psyllium every morning. I drink tons of water,make my own bone broth etc.I have been at this since sept.1 2013 with the goal to lose 40 pounds, eliminate inflammation in my knees and avoid partial knee replacement. I have lost 30 pounds, the inflammation has lessened and my pain is minimal.I have tons of energy and I am sleeping well.Anyway, I am intrigued by this 30 day ) carb challenge (meat only).Thanks for the blog..will check it real questions..just,if I am getting great results simply staying at 25 grams of Carbs(veggies),should I still experiment? I am not eating sugar of any kind,starchy vegetables,or grains in any form.Seeing lots of results.This diet feels sustainable.

    1. Hi Canyon, congratulations on your success so far.

      If what you are doing is working for you, I see no reason to change it, unless you are curious to see what would happen, or if progress stalls short of what you are aiming for. For example, if your weight goal is reached, but you still have a small amount of pain, trying meat only for a month may improve it further. It might not, of course, but if it did then you would be able to make trade-offs with more information.

      Regarding the ketosis measurements, blood strips are more accurate and more relevant. They are also more expensive, but if you need to fine-tune, they are worth it, in my opinion. It's not uncommon for urine readings to correspond poorly to blood levels, because of hydration, and because of the changes that happen in adaptation.

      Many people can benefit from lowering carbs even without being in ketosis, so again, if your results are progressing, you may not want to bother, unless you want to know if your experience would be even better in deeper ketosis.

      Best of luck!

  10. Amber, are you concerned with iron overload? Do you donate blood regularly or check your ferritin levels?


    1. I've heard that can be an issue post-menopause, but I'm not there yet. My ferritin was normal last time I checked a couple of years ago.

  11. I love the simplicity of this concept but I recently read that your body will convert excess protein into carbs. Does eating protein high in fat stop this from happening? Also, is it necessary to take supplements/vitamins during this diet? If so, what is recommended?
    Live on!

    1. Hi, Mike 42.

      Please see this post about protein for links to more than you ever wanted to know about what happens to excess: How much protein is enough?.

      In my experience, most people don't have to consciously cut back on protein to get in ketosis, but it can be an issue for some.

      As to supplements during the 30 day trial, please see Keto-adaptation.

      Thanks, and happy experimenting!

  12. About the salt vs. blood pressure thing: it's an illusion. A person who has hyperinsulinism has chronically elevated insulin levels, and insulin triggers the kidneys to retain sodium. Naturally, eating more sodium while in a state of elevated insulin will make it look like the salt's raising your blood pressure. It's not really. The insulin is; it's not supposed to be constantly elevated in the first place.

    This holds true as well for African-Americans. I was reading a while back about how they are more likely to be hyperinsulinemic than white people are. That explains their greater rate of hypertension. Their cure is the same as that for white people with metabolic syndrome: dump the carbs. Presto. Normal blood pressure.

    There may be the rare exception to that rule but if I were a doctor, knowing what I do now--and I'm not--I would tell any patient to go low-carb FIRST, and if that doesn't work very quickly to normalize BP, first let's make sure they're doing the diet right, and then we'll look at other things.

    It's a heck of a lot cheaper, and a heck of a lot easier on the body, to address BP that way.

    1. Yes. Reducing salt intake can "significantly" reduce blood pressure, where "significantly" is a scientific term meaning the effect is almost certainly not a coincidence. That effect is not "significant" however, for someone with a blood pressure problem. It's just a couple of points, if I recall correctly.

  13. Have you heard of Jack Kruse? He's a neurosurgeon who blogs about this kind of diet. I asked him about the difference between all meat/ fish diets and regular keto diets he said the all meat is designed to kill cravings and regular keto is for curing disease. I'm glad I know the distinction now and I'm ready to start. I have a freezer full of meat and fish and lots of coconut oil, butter, and bacon grease. By the way, it was my own doc that told me to go on this diet to cure my heart disease. I have had 7 stents put in within the last year, 6 of them in one artery. Weight loss is one goal. Surviving is primary!

    1. I agree that all-meat will help kill cravings faster than a keto diet that includes small amounts of sweet things. There is no reason I know of to believe that all-meat is less therapeutic than including plants, though. If anything, I would suspect the opposite.

      That's fantastic that your doctor is so knowledgeable!

  14. I want to start the ketogenic diet very soon. I've done low carb in the past but have recently gone through some life changes that have thrown me off completely. I welcome the idea of higher fat. I've done some reading and have a question. If I only eat meat for 30 days, how do I get the fat percentages high enough? It seems like protein percentages would be high but not necessarily fat percentages? Thank you for all the excellent information you provide.

    1. How high fat do you want? I think 70-75% is fairly easy with just meat. Make sure you reserve the fat when cooking. Carnivorous ways to add fat include eating those drippings (I still can't keep up with our bacon yield), and making broths from fatty soup bones. Then there is butter. Coconut oil is plant derived, but probably not bad for you. You could try other plant oils, too.

    2. Thanks! I didn't know if broths and coconut oil would be "allowed" in the all meat 30 day period.

    3. Well, coconut oil is not strictly carnivorous, but since it is itself ketogenic and has favourable fats in it, it is one of the less likely plant products to derail you. Note that some people do have sensitivity to it, though.

      Broth is meat!

  15. So your saying eat until full? Cus I've been on Keto for 2 weeks now but I see to always be hungry. And can consume probably 4000 to 5000 calories per day. I however work out 5 days a week and do one hour of low intensity cardio those 5 days and lift heavy for 2.5 hrs per day for 5 days.

  16. Also can you gain weight on Keto?

    1. sol lee, I apologise for the delay in answering. I wasn't sure how to answer.

      I have the strong intuition that being more than mildly hungry more than occasionally is unhealthy. So I would encourage you to listen to your hunger and eat when you need to. Calorie requirements differ immensely among people, I've found, and while 4-5000 is more than I've heard previously, it's not out of all possibility, especially if you are very active. I think it would be a good idea to measure your blood ketones and see where you are with that.

      I don't know to what extent people can gain fat while measureably ketogenic. Many anecdotes suggest that it is hard to do, especially if you are avoiding common problem foods like dairy and nuts. There have been times I have failed to lose weight for long periods, but I've never actually gained while eating this way.

    2. My husband has trouble eating enough to keep his weight while being in ketosis. While in deep ketosis, his hunger is so much suppressed, but when he eats some carbs on the side (and I don't mean the bad processed ones, just some greens or cheese or nuts) he has more appetite for the meat and fat that fuels us! Doing this 30 days experiment he really has to be thoughtful to eat enough and do his work-outs to not loose (too much) weight! Gaining fat is impossible for him on LowCarb or in Ketosis, so if he gains it must be muscle, so he must actively work on that. Gaining weight is often even harder than losing it!

  17. Love your site, good information, correct and concise. But having a typo right up front [in the disclaimer] might put some people off, or possibly tarnish your web cred:

    "You are the only person responsible for any effects on your health that might results from taking actions like those described here."

    1. Wow. Thanks! It can be hard to see such things after the nth reading.

  18. We are sold! My wife and I want to give it a try, but are vary curious about what one might actually eat might look like over a typical couple of days. Could you do a post that outlines what you actually eat over a couple of days? I know it might seem very mundane to some but would be very instructive to us.

    Thanks so much for your blog!

    1. Ok. I will put something together. Thank you for the encouragement!

    2. Good news!

      I just re-read my post and I make it sound like English is a second language for me! Yikes!

      Even if all you did was take a picture of whatever you ate would be helpful. I understand the amount would be very individual but what was eaten would be very interesting. Do it for a couple of days so we get a "flavor" of what it looks like.

    3. Not at all! In case I don't get to for a few days, I have briefly answered a similar question here

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I agree with this, it would be really helpful with a list of what you eat!

    2. wellnesswish, I'm sorry you removed your comment. I did see it, and I thank you. It meant a lot to me.

  20. A few questions. Is this safe while pregnant or nursing? I have been doing low carb for about two years and am currently 6 months pregnant. I am having a hard time with cravings for junk food and it's driving me crazy. Would love to get it back under control. Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean it's a license to go nuts with food. I know people say check with your doctor, but in my experience most don't know very much about nutrition.

    1. Many people have successfully stayed in ketosis during pregnancy. It's not unsafe. I have an old forum post about it, from before I started blogging. It's a bit out of date, in that back then, people didn't really talk about it, but now many people do, so there is a lot more information to be found. I think there is even a FaceBook group for low carb pregnancy. It's on my list to update that post and port it to

      Personally, I was not low carb for the whole time during my last pregnancy mainly due to overwhelming cravings and battling inherited severe nausea. (I hadn't done the research to know it was safe for the previous two, so I didn't try.) I was mostly low carb while nursing all three, and I ate carnivorously as described above for the whole nursing period of my last child, which was a year and a half, and it was fine. Better than fine.

      Pregnancy is a hormonal roller coaster. Eat as well as you can, and forgive yourself if you give in to the cravings sometimes. I wish you an easy time with it!

  21. My main goal is to lose weight. This will help me, right? Im 5'10" and 230. My husband and I began a high fat no carb diet and he lost 15 pounds in less than three weeks. I gained 4. I have been trying different things and nothing seems to get the weight off. I have been going to crossfit 5 days a week since august and im still the same weight. Havent lost many inches as im still in the same clothing and the fit. I am hoping through eating strictly mean I can see some results? I try so very hard. Have you every heard of anyone with similar struggles?

    1. Hi, Caitlin. That sounds very frustrating! It's hard to troubleshoot without more details. here are the questions that occur to me off the top of my head:

      When you say you did a high fat no carb diet, can you be more specific? What was a typical day's food? Are you eating enough?

      Crossfit is very intense! It sounds like you could be overtraining.

      I think trying an all meat diet is worth a shot. I know many (myself included) who were stalled while eating a strict low carb diet, but who lost quickly on all meat.

  22. Im writing from my phone and it is difficult to text. Please excuse the errors!

  23. Hi, great blog! I'm doing keto for almost 3 months now my blood ketones stay pretty low and so does my energy level. I think about trying the thirty days meat thing. The problem is I am constantly hungry, so I would have to eat a lot of meat. Wouldn't all this protein throw me out of ketosis again as soon as I am in? Most people on this diet keep protein extremely low.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, 1981Mogli.

      I take a hard line on hunger. I think it is almost always a signal that you are not getting enough nutrition. An energy level problem would be consistent with this. On the other hand, certain foods seem to increase hunger regardless of other input. In any case, I suspect that staying hungry chronically will lead to loss of lean mass, and other Bad Things, like reduced production of good hormones.

      It sounds like you may not be keto-adapting. If you are not keto-adapting, you will not get enough energy. You need to be producing enough ketones to meet your energy needs. If you are keto-adapted, then you shouldn't be feeling hungry or lethargic.

      So, I think your two best options are:

      1. Try to figure out why you aren't getting into deep ketosis and fix that. For example, do you eat nuts or dairy? Are you overlooking a source of carbs? If you don't already, try logging your food for a few days or a week and see if you can learn something.

      2. Do an experiment eating all meat whether it puts you out of ketosis or not. Some people seem to get benefit from this independently of ketosis. Regardless of the results, you can go back to trying deep ketosis armed with what you learn.

      Let me know what you do and what you discover!

    2. Thanks for the reply! Your´re right, I eat nuts and cheese. Sounds like eating nothing but meat could be a real help here. I´ll go for it. Thanks a bunch :)

  24. I’m reading your website with great gusto.

    I’ve had overwhelming chronic exhaustion these last 12 years plus a host of other issues. Before this began at age 42 I was running ultra marathons and working 80 hr weeks. And I was a high carb junkie just like all the running books instructed. I’ve been completely sidelined, can’t recover from exercise, uncomfortable and exhausted all the time, life draining exhaustion.

    I’m new to the low carb eating strategy, been in ketosis 4 weeks now, feeling the odd glimpse of a change and lost 10 lbs. I’m keen to understand if all this time, I was in fact in a state of metabolic syndrome, pre diabetes, insulin resistance, etc. Or even just borderline given my own personal unique physiology.

    A review of lab results these last 10 years; (I annoy my Drs by requesting copies of my results, and self experiment, a lot)
    These are not chronological.
    Triglycerides; 1.8, 1.6, 1.1 but also several in the .6-1.0 mmol/L range
    HDL; 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, also several in the 1.4-1.6 range
    Fasting Glucose; 6.6, 6, 5, 5.5, 5.3, 5.1, 4.9, 4.5, 4.2
    A1C; 5.7, 5.7 in last 2 years, 10 years ago one test 5.5
    BP; consistently 150-160/100-110, I was 140/90 my whole adult life including ultra running days, but also high carb.
    Weight; shot up 50 lbs when this all began 12 yrs ago, waist went from 34 to 42, I’m 6 ft tall.

    I seem to be over, under, boarderline but don’t know what that really means. I intend keeping on the low carb keto plan, early results FEEL good. But I’m afraid to go back to the same Drs who allowed this situation to continue as they all point back to the SAD strategy, what’s the point. None of 25 Drs ever suggested anything to do with diabetes or insulin intolerance, etc, although they obviously tested. So it would be nice to confirm with some degree accuracy, if I have in fact finally nailed down the root cause. Of course considering nothing is precisely 100%.

    Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.


    1. Hi, Greg.

      The weight / waist gain, and high blood pressure does sound like metabolic syndrome developing. It looks like you are well on your way to improvement, though. I don't think that you can really get a retrospective diagnosis of met s., but if all of those things improve, and you feel better, then I guess you don't need a doctor's opinion. It would be interesting to get new bloodwork after a few more weeks and compare. Compare trigs/HDL, which is particularly indicative of insulin resistance.

  25. Hi Amber,

    Can any distilled spirits (e.g., vodka) be drunk during the 30 days, or would that wreck everything.

    Thanks very much for that write up and for everything here and on your other site. It's very interesting and exciting.


    1. Sorry, meant to end the first sentence with a question mark. Didn't mean to sound non-human!

    2. Hi, Dave. I'd skip the alcohol, just to be sure. Nothing non-human about typos. :-)

  26. Hi Amber, many thanks for making this content public, keep up the good work. I'm a Pro mountain biker and I'm looking to the ketogenic diet for athletic performance. I've been working on improving my ability to use fat as fuel for over a year and seven weeks ago I finally cut the carb back loading and went full keto. My performance on the bike is good, and I'm enjoying all of the benefits you describe here but my blood ketones remain stubbornly below the 1mmol/L mark. A typical day for me is 80% fat, 15% protein (around 100g) and 5% carbs. I already know that if I eat more protein than this I see a delayed elevation in my blood glucose from the mid-eighties to around one hundred. Could too much protein be holding me back? Any advice?

    1. I should add that I weigh 62kg and am 175cm tall. I've lost 4kg in two months since going keto.

    2. Hi, Christopher.

      I am sorry to be so late responding.

      That really does not seem to be too much protein, so I'm surprised at your results. Are you still doing this? Did the ketones ever get higher?

  27. Hi Amber. Thank you for this great resource you have made available for us! I have a couple questions for you - 1. What do you think about taking powdered whey protein as part of the 30 day Keto challenge? 2. What do you think about taking supplements like a multivitamin, calcium pyruvate, fiber and potassium on the 30 day Keto challenge?

    1. Hello, 5oriole5,

      You can certainly do a ketogenic diet with whey, and those supplements shouldn't be a problem. It wouldn't be the same as *this* experiment, but that's ok. Did you try it?

  28. Hi Amber and everyone, I'm so thankful for this 30 Day All Meat challenge you propose here! I'm struggling with weight gain on a (V)LCHF diet for so long now! I've even tried Nutritional Ketosis like Phinney and Volek, and of course Jimmy Moore, are advertising, but even that didn't work out. Last january I read Dr. Eades his post 'Tips and trics on (re)starting a Low Carb diet', followed all the links, read through most of the comments and then I stumbled upon this blog and! And when I read it I realised that Dr. Eades casually mentioned your approach now and then in the comments too! That's not just coincidence, that's worth a serious try! So now I thought I'd thank you for advising this so explicitly, or else it wouldn't stick with me long enough to give it a try! And I'd want to give an update on how this is working out for me so far.

    So, taking into mind what you said about occasions always popping up, I just waited for my own birthday to be over and started the next day. I'm now 18 days into my first 30 days of the Meat Only challenge! And it has been great! It has worked the wonders that Low Carb did for me in the very beginning, but that Nutritional Ketosis like Jimmy does didn't! I have this breath ketone meter (, which is a one-time expense and therefor a lot cheaper than the blood ketone testing strips I used before, but way more accurate than the urine strips. So, I know it took me 5 to 6 days to achieve deep ketosis. Meanwhile my ever rising fasting blood glucose values were getting lower and lower! And the best news: I have so far lost 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs)! And I expect to be losing more, because my appetite is getting less. I'm eating so little food now, compared to before I started, I just don't feel like it. It's for the first time since a long time, I guess since the beginning when I started LowCarb 4 years ago, that I feel my appetite is correctly regulated! Also, I feel great again! Energized, clarity of thought, sleeping like a baby, efficient and fit. I feel like moving around a lot. And I feel happy.
    (part 1 of 2)

  29. So, what do I eat on this diet? First I have to tell you, I'm only 5.4 ft tall (164 cm) and as of now I weigh 159 lbs (72.3 kg) so I really don't need that much food, small person here :) Out of curiosity I entered my food in Cron-o-Meter for a few days, turns out I get like 1700 - 1800 kcal which is 75-80% fat and the rest protein, maybe 2-3 grams hidden carbs somewhere. Cron-o-Meter tells me I get like 75-90 grams of protein per day and most of my nutriënts also. It's not hard to get all your nutriënts when you eat high-quality meat! It also helps that I love liver and make my own bone broth.

    I eat a breakfast of 2 eggs and 3 big slices of bacon, and a cup of coffee with butter and coconut oil (resp 25 gr and 7 gr). Then I planned to eat fish or sliced meat for lunch every day, but it turns out that I'm not hungry until dinnertime. But if I am I take a few slices of salami, bacon, salmon, a bit of mackerel and every other day I drink a cup of homemade bone broth, usually with half an egg whisked in it. I drink another coffee with butter and coconut oil in the afternoon. At dinner I just eat some meat with drippings. First I ate like 200 gram and greens and added butter, now I feel usually stuffed before I even ate 150 grams! After diner it's just one last coffee with butter and coconut oil and that's all. I'm not keeping my intake down on purpose, really, I strongly believe that one should eat when hungry and not when not hungry. It's just really that I don't feel hungry anymore, and it's great!

    I just wanted to share how well this is working for me and wonder about other succes stories, but also unsuccessful ones! I don't see this diet as a new way of life for me though, but as a really powerful tool to keep my weight and health in check! I miss certain things, especially certain dishes we used to make, mostly with cheese, cream and yogurt in it. I don't miss the veggies at all! But I really enjoyed that one piece of very dark chocolate I ate every day, and a glass of whisky in the weekends. Also some seasonal fruits (freshly picked from the garden) are most certainly going to make a comeback in my diet. But now I know how they can make me stall and now I know how to get onto track again, so now I'll be more careful to take all those foods in moderation, maybe meat-only on weekdays and special dishes in the weekends? However, thank you again for so plainly advising to go meat-only! It's the best thing I've done since going LowCarb!
    (part 2 of 2)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing those details!

  30. i have horrible acid reflux and depression, could this thirty day exp really work for me?

    1. It certainly could. Those symptoms have commonly been eliminated in others. No guarantees, of course.

  31. I'm working on getting ready to start this for 30 days. Just one question: is the zero carbs a true zero carbs or a net zero carbs? For instance, I have a vitamin that is 5 carbs but has 5 fiber for a net carb of zero. Is that alright or is this a full elimination of carbs of any kind of 30 days? Thanks in advance for the answer.

    1. Hi, Bishop,

      If the vitamin is something you know is important for you, then I would keep it in. If it is just something you were doing because it sounded like a good idea, you might as well try without for the 30 days. Your call.

  32. Update: please see this note about urine keto sticks on our science blog:

  33. What is your view if vitamin supplements? I take a multi, D, C, mag, calc, potassium and have for years based in various recommendations, but wondering if I need to eating mostly meat.

    1. Just saw the referral to Keto-Adaptation, so no extra vitamins needed. Glad to stop the extras.

  34. You have probably seen this, but if not, more on the study about protein viz longevity:

  35. i will try this challenge for sure) already bought some ribeye steak nom nom)

  36. Hello,
    Great information. I have tried a low carb diet and entered ketosis very quickly. My breath and the body odour was awful. I presume there is no avoiding this? I had to stop because the smell was so bad. Does the smell go away?

    1. u should drink much more water and smell will go away.

  37. I have been reading through your blogs, and I find them interesting. I am considering doing the 30 day challenge. Then I found this webpage:
    A lot of this information seems to contradict your research. Have you seen this before? What are your thoughts on some of this?

  38. Just found your blog via Dr. Ede's Diagnosis Dier (esp the post on vegetables). I suspect I'm very sensitive to certain food groups that may trigger certain issues. I'll be going all meat (avoiding fruit/veg) for awhile and see what happens.

    Sometime ago I avoided most known problem foods, i.e. wheat/gluten/dairy/sugar/processed foods, etc, and I felt stable and, well, myself again!

    Will be following your latest exploits!


  39. Excellent blog , can you give us a day in the life of what you eat with pictures . Would help to give people like myself some context on protien to fat ratio.

    1. Hi, Pratt. I keep saying I'm going to do this, but I find it challenging. Maybe I can outsource it to some carnivorous friends... :-)

    2. When I have measured, it usually comes out to about 30%–70% protein–fat for me.

  40. Also can a all meat diet cause hypothyroidism ?

    1. I highly doubt it. Lowering carbs (or calories) reduces T3, but in a benign way. I've written a post about that, but it needs editing, because it's a bit too dense. The post is here. I have posed the question, and then answered in detail below the question.

    2. Anecdotally, I had (barely) low thyroid before I started eating this way, and now it is normal.

  41. Great blog :)
    It says in the comment section that we can make broth to up the fat intake. Please tell me how to make broth.
    Thanks Kate

    1. Hi, Kate. I throw bones in a crockpot, fill it with water, and simmer it for a day or two.

  42. Hi Amber, thank you for this information. I'm want to trytrythec30 days challenge as motivated to try anything diet that might help increase my chances of having a baby. Do I need to use organic meats?

    1. Hello. If you are having infertility as a result of PCOS, this could be of help. The meat does not have to be organic. Good luck to you!

  43. Great post! I can't help but agree with you on anything you wrote. However, I've been surprised by this statement: « The only exercise regimens we know of which may not be sustainable on a ketogenic diet are those that involve high intensity interval training on a daily basis. » Could you please give some reference or examples for this? Thanks!

  44. Hi, Michella. We're talking about a situation in which you severely deplete glycogen without much time for recovery, such as is seen in some crossfit groups. We're not saying it definitely isn't sustainable, just that the jury isn't out yet, and there is controversy about it.