I often get asked, “What are some ways I can add animal fat to my diet?” I’m fortunate, in that, I’m a pretty simple guy and I mostly stick to the same eating routine. I realize many are looking for quick solutions when they’re out and traveling; Others aren’t sure where to look or what questions to ask their butcher. Because of this, I’ve decided to put together a quick “How To” guide.
KetoAF is a term coined by Amber O’Hearn. This blog’s priority is focused on achieving an especially high animal fat, carnivorous diet. The goal should be focusing on eating fat to satiety and then eating the lean, with an optional goal of achieving a 2:1 ratio of fat to protein by gram (1:3 pure raw fat tissue to raw lean tissue, by rough visual assessment of volume – we’ll discuss what this looks like soon). There are no restrictions with regard to meat, dairy, eggs, or requirements for organs. If you’re struggling with health or weight, consider eliminating known issues such as: dairy, eggs and focusing on more reliably fed sources of meat like beef, lamb or pastured pork.
I won’t be covering a list of dairy items. This is probably the easiest and most-well-known way to add fat to your diet. It can certainly be problematic for some and you may want to investigate for yourself, through elimination, if dairy is causing a weight stall or other health issues. What I have found to work best is to stick to whole sources of animal fats. Personally, this digests better and leads to better satiety for me. There are some digestion caveats with rendered fats that I will cover below. If you’re looking for cooking methods, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I tend to keep to a quick pan sear. However, if you’re looking for some tasty carnivore cooking ideas and recipes, you should check out The Carnivore Cookbook
Disclaimer: None of the links in this post are sponsored. I have no monetary incentive for their promotion and am doing so purely on merit.
So, if not dairy then where do we begin? Here’s a quick list:
- Animal Fat Trimmings
- Pure fat cut off of lean muscle
- Kidney Fat
- Suet (beef)
- Leaf Lard (pork)
- Animal Skin
- Rendered Animal Fats
- Duck Fat
- Naturally Fatty Cuts of Meat
- Brisket (beef)
- Ribeye (beef)
- Chuck (beef )
- Short Ribs (beef)
- Lamb Breast
- Duck Breast
- Pork Belly (or Bacon)
- Pork Shoulder
Animal fat trimmings and kidney fat are typically pure (or close to it) sources of fat. This means it’s weight is it’s fat value in grams. Most commercial supermarkets will not sell this to the public. The best suggestion here is to (in the words of Ash Simmonds) “become best friends with your local butcher”. There is lots of fat on larger animals, like cows and pigs. There’s often so much it gets discarded, because everything cannot be used for mince or rendered down for sale. Very often these will be heavily discounted or even given away for free if you simply ask. If you’re adventurous, making homemade (fatty) steak tar tar can be a great use for animal fat. Skin is another option to consider. I generally don’t eat fish or chicken as they tend to run lean. But, for those looking for variety this may be an easy way to mitigate some of the leanness of smaller animals.
Rendered animal fats are probably the best known sources of fat outside of dairy. People often use these to cook with or to season their cookware. I don’t advise eating (drinking) this in isolation. Liquid fat has a tendency to be extremely motile by itself. What this means is that most of it will not be absorbed and will quickly pass down the GI giving you nausea and discomfort. Some ways around this are to chill the fat so that it’s solid. Or bind it to protein. One way to do this is to make pemmican (Check out The Carnivore Bar for portable and delicious pemmican). Another is to add it to eggs! I love eggs, but currently they are not something I can have regularly. Scrambled eggs are delicious and many people know they taste best with heavy cream or butter; But, did you ever consider that you could simply add tallow or lard (even bacon grease) to them? To get a 2:1 ratio you would add about 1/7th the weight of the egg as fat. So a 50g egg gets ~7g of fat.
Naturally fatty cuts of meat is easily my favorite way to eat KetoAF. It requires the least amount of thought. I can visually approximate what my meal should look like and solely rely on my satiety signals to tell me when my meal is over. This takes ALL the guesswork out of eating. Life doesn’t have to be hard and KetoAF does not have to be complicated. You can also look for 73/27 ground beef this roughly comes out to a 2:1 ratio on it’s own; but, you will lose some fat upon cooking – I do not suggest drinking the liquid fat. Either chill it with the cooked mince or save it for later. Most people would be surprised to see how much fat is actually trimmed off of meat before it makes it to the supermarket shelf. When looking for some of these cuts you’ll be looking for labels with or asking for untrimmed (usually whole cuts). To help you with that, I’ll briefly go over some visualizations. Typically to hit a 2:1 fat:protein ratio you’re looking for your meat to be about 25% pure fat. To clarify, this means you have 25% pure white to 75% pure red. Well marbled cuts would need a bit less, but that’s harder to approximate.
It’s easy to see why I love brisket and choose this as my staple. It’s cheap, it’s well marbled and it carries a tremendous amount of fat when it’s untrimmed. But brisket, isn’t always fatty throughout. Different parts of the muscle can get a fair bit leaner. This brings a nice balance to the overall fatty cut and ensures I also have enough lean. Once it is trimmed this is usually what you’ll usually see at your supermarket:
However, if you’re finding that you have an overabundance of fat, another frugalvore go to is the poor man’s ribeye: chuck. Chuck is cut from the shoulder of the cow and it can actually be quite fatty or very lean throughout the muscle. However, it won’t hold up to the fat consistency of a ribeye or brisket; Overall it tends to run around a 1:1 ratio. But, the closer the cut is to the rib and the further it is from the neck, the more you’ll end up with beautiful pieces like this:
You may already know that ribeye is considered the king of cuts when it comes to fat. But, often times ribeye that has made it to market has had the gorgeous fat trimmed off! Your best bet is to buy this cut whole and untrimmed if you want adequate fat. Looking for choice grading may also help if not sourcing grass-finished.
If you’re traveling, fatty cured meats like bacon may be your best go to. If you can tolerate eggs then combining these with solid pre-rendered fats like tallow (which are usually easy to find) may work. Chicharonnes (pork rinds) can be adequately fatty but are likely not ideal as the base of a meal. If you have time to plan ahead, I think pemmican is the most reliable. If you are dining out, look for ribeye, lamb, or brisket (however most have rubs/spices/sauces)
What Do My Meals Look Like?
Like I stated earlier, I keep it really simple. I buy whole cuts of chuck and brisket. I cut them into steaks and freeze for later. I defrost them a day or two in advance. When it’s time to eat I just grab a fatty steak and make sure there’s adequate fat and lean to sate both my energy and nutrient hunger. I will trim off excess fat and save it to add to leaner cuts of brisket and chuck. Occasionally, I may splurge on ribeye, use suet, eat ground beef, dairy, liver or eggs – but these are generally deviations from the norm.
Hopefully this gives you some idea of what a KetoAF ratio typically looks like. The most important thing is that you figure out what works best for you. The goal here is satiety and listening to body cues, not hitting some arbitrary ratio. I want results via health – the rest is a byproduct of that. You may find your body needs to eat leaner or fattier than me. Don’t try to force the issue.
If you have any questions drop it in the comment box. If I missed any traveling ideas let me know and I’ll add it to the post. If you’re looking for a KetoAF community be sure to check out the subreddit