The Best Keto Meats: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Organs, and Poultry

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Published on

Most diet trends swap fat for lean protein, but a ketogenic diet calls for just the opposite. As a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein way of eating, keto meats are the fattiest cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and fish. This keto-friendly meats list will help you boost your culinary variety while keeping your fat-to-protein intake in the ideal ratio. 

Let’s explore this extensive list of the best keto meats from each animal source. 

Table of Contents

Why Meat on Keto

Meat plays a starring role in most versions of the keto diet, and for good reason. Keto activates a metabolic state that humans first evolved on a diet of mostly meat for nearly 2 million years

Our bodies are primed to thrive on meat. For hunter gatherers of millennia past, wasting energy on low-calorie plant foods was simply not worth the effort. 

Keto friendly meats are loaded with nourishing saturated fats and monounsaturated fats. And choosing the fattiest cuts of meat will provide your body with the near-perfect ratio for the ketogenic diet. 

A good rule of thumb is to look for keto meat that fits within these basic keto macronutrient ranges: 

  • 70-80% of calories from fat
  • 15-30% calories from protein
  • 0-10% calories from carbohydrate

Top 5 Keto Meats

keto meats pork belly

These top five keto meats represent a combination robust fat and accessibility. We selected one option from the five main keto meat categories: Beef, pork, lamb, organ meats, and poultry. This chart shows some of the fattiest cuts of meat: 

Nutrition Based on 4 oz (112g) serving

RankingKeto MeatCalories FatProteinCarbs%Calories from fat% Calories from protein
#1Pork Belly5886010.4092%7%
#2Boneless short ribs4404116084%15%
#3Rack of lamb3302230063%37%
#4Sweetbreads35633.614.6082%18%
#5Chicken Wings3202230.4062%38%

Keto Beef

Beef is a nutrient powerhouse provding copious amounts of essential B vitamins, along with red meat specific compounds like carnatine, taurine, and carnosine that provide anti-aging, anti-cancer, and vitality boosting benefits. 

Top 7 Fattiest Cuts of Beef

When selecting your keto beef, look for pasture-raised, grass-fed, and regenerative farmed meat when available. Grass-fed beef offers a better fatty-acid composition with less inflammatory PUFAs. 

Nutrition Info per 4 oz. 

Keto Beef CutCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from fat% Calories from protein
#1Boneless short ribs440411608415
#2Tri-tip roast340291807721
#3Beef Back Ribs310261907525
#4Ribeye310252007326
#5Porterhouse280222107030
#6Top Sirloin240162206037
#780/20 Ground Beef30719.630.505941

Let’s take a look at the nutrient profile of one of the tastiest cuts of beef: rib eye

NUTRIENT226G RIB EYERECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE (RDV)% RDV
CALORIES655 cal250018.6%
PROTEIN54g60g (Standard Diet, not Keto)90%
FAT50g30g (Standard Diet, not Keto)166%
SATURATED FAT23g20g (Standard Diet, not Keto)115%
MONOUNSATURATED FAT25g
CARBOHYDRATES0g1200g (Standard Diet, not Keto)0%
NIACIN (B-3)13.5mg16mg30%
B-61.4mg2mg70%
SELENIUM56.25 mcg67mcg84%
IRON3.24mg20mg16%
MAGNESIUM144mg420mg34%
ZINC9.45mg11mg86%
POTASSIUM666mg4000mg17%
PHOSPHORUS400mg700mg57%

In addition to their robust offering of fat and proteins, keto beef provides numerous compounds that have powerful health benefits. These include: 

  • Vitamin B12: Exclusive to animal foods. B12 deficiency can lead to dementia and Alzheimers disease. [21] Has been shown to significantly reduce depressive symptoms. [14]
  • Carnitine: Supports mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity for people with type 2 diabetes. [8] Significantly enhances markers of male fertility. [6] Has been shown to protect against heart disease. [9]
  • Carnosine: Protects against heart disease [2][3]. Prevents glycation. [4] Slows aging by reducing damage and shortening of telomeres.  [5]
  • Creatine: Improves cognitive function. [10] Enhances athletic performance. [11]  [12] improves cardiovascular performance and glycemic control. [13]
  • Taurine: This powerful antioxidant has anti-depressive effects likely as a result of reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 
  • Zinc: The zinc provided by beef is 400% more bioavailable than the kind you find in breakfast cereals. [15] Zinc is cardioprotective, and essential to our immune system. In men,  zinc deficiency is associated with lower sperm count and erectile dysfunction. [14] 
  • Heme Iron: Far more bioavailable than iron in plant foods. Heme iron is only found in beef and other red meats. A key factor in immune function, cognition, and energy metabolism. [15] Lack of iron leads to anemia. 

Pork on Keto

On the ketogenic diet bacon gets all the glory, but there are actually fattier options for pork on keto like pork belly and ribs. 

Keto pork is loaded with healthy fats and proteins. And though it’s less nutrient-dense than beef, pork still offers robust amounts of energizing B vitamins, along with rare micronutrients like choline and selenium. 

One thing to keep in mind when choosing your keto pork is that unlike ruminant animals (beef, bison, lamb), pigs can’t transform the inflammatory omega-6 fats in their feed into anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. 

Top 7 Fattiest Cuts of Pork

Though fat is king on keto, there is more to macros when it comes to getting the most nutritious keto pork: Look for pasture-raised pork from animals that have soaked up the sunshine. This keto meat provides an excellent source of vitamin D. For instance studies reveal that pastured lard can provide nearly as much D as that dietary stalwart cod liver oil. 

Nutritional information per 4 oz. 

Pork CutCaloriesFat Protein% Calories Fat% Calories Protein
#1Pork Belly5886010.4927
#2Baby back ribs31527187723
#3Pork Hocks28524177624
#4Shoulder28523197327
#5Bacon60047.241.97128
#6Butt24018196832
#7Leg Ham3052030.45940

Pork Belly Highlight

Consider swapping cured bacon for this fresh cut of keto pork. 

Nutrients per 224GAMOUNT% on Standard Keto Diet
FAT89gN/A
SATURATED FAT32gN/A
MONOUNSATURATED FAT42gN/A
POLYUNSATURATED FAT9gN/A
OMEGA 3 ALA900mg100%
Protein20g
MICRONUTRIENTS
CHOLINE113mg21%
VITAMIN B121.8mcg75%
PANTOTHENIC ACID (B5)2.5mg50%
NIACIN (B3)9mg56%
RIBOFLAVIN (B2).4mg32%
THIAMIN (B1.7mg56%
COPPER.2mg22%
PHOSPHOROUS300mg24%
SELENIUM23mcg42%
ZINC1.7mg16%
VITAMIN D1.8mcg9%
IRON.9mg5%

Choline in Pork

Choline might not be on your micronutrient radar, but it should be. It plays an important role in balancing your nervous system, regulating mood, boosting memory, and is key to the formation of cell membranes. 5   This under-the-radar nutrient provides more powerful antioxidant effects than Vitamin E! 6

Lamb on Keto

 

Lamb on keto is delicious and succulent. Though leaner than the fattiest cuts of beef and pork, lamb will more than meet your keto nutrient goals with the help of a little added keto fats like ghee, butter, or tallow

Top 5 Fattiest Cuts of Lamb

Nutrition information per 4 oz. 

Lamb CutCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from Fat% Calories from protein 
#1Chop/Rack330223006337
#2Loin Chop330223006337
#3Leg29218.729.305941
#4Shank27614.73205248
#5Shoulder148622.803763

Lamb Chops Highlight

Lamb Chops/Rack
Nutrients per 4 ozAmount% on Standard Keto Diet
Fat22gN/A on keto diet
Saturated Fat11gN/A on keto diet
Trans Fat (CLA)1.5gN/A on keto diet
Cholesterol92mg
Protein30g
Micronutrients%RDA
B121.7µg72%
B38.9mg56%
B6.6mg46%
B2 (RIboflavin).4mg28%
B5.7mg13%
B1.2mg13%
Selenium 15.2µg28%
Zinc3.3mg23%
Phosphorus216 mg22%
Copper.1mg15%
Iron2.4mg13%

Lamb offers red meat specific nutrients like like taurine and creatine, and a bevy of other  beneficial compounds including:

  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Lamb provides higher levels of CLA than any other meat. Don’t confuse this healthy trans fat with those found in industrial foods like margarine. Studies show CLA boosts immune function, strengthens bones, and supports a healthy heart, while improving fat loss. 5
  • Glutathione: This antioxidant can reduce insulin resistance, reduce the risk of autoimmune disease, reduce symptoms of parkinsons disease, and protect against oxidative damage in children with autism.

Keto Organ Meats

Organ meats are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet making them true superfoods. And with the rise of nose-to-tail eating, they’re getting easier to source. 

Each organ meat is loaded with a specific profile of vitamins, minerals, and rare amino acids (peptides) that offer numerous health benefits. Some are even high in vitamin C, which can hard to get on a keto and carnivore diet

One fascinating property of organ meats is that each organ you consume provides specific nutrients to the corresponding organs in your body! For instance, beef brain offers amino acids and peptides that benefit your own brain!

These effects are not trivial, as doctor Dr. Ron Schmid points out, “Radioisotope labeling studies in animals have shown conclusively that, when eaten, organs and glands selectively travel to the corresponding organs and glands in high concentrations. This research, done at the University of Scotland in Edinburgh, lends credence to the ancient practice of eating animal organs to help ensure health in one’s corresponding organs…” 

NutrientsLiverHeartKidneySweet-

breads

BrainSpleenTripeRDA
Calories13511299143140100371
Fat3.63.9g3.1g10.3103g26g
Protein20.417.717.410.91118g32g
Net Carbs3.4.1g.3g1.1g1g0g0g
Vitamins
Vitamin A4968μg0419μg7μg900mcg
Riboflavin (B2)2.8mg.92.8mg.3mg.2mg.4mg.359mg1.3mg
B61mg.3mg.7mg.4mg.2mg.1mg.162mg1.3-1.7mg
Folate (B9)290μg3μg98μg6μg3μg11mcg400mcg
B1259.3μg8.6μg27.5μg15.2μg9.5μg5.7μg4.19mcg2.4mcg
Vitamin C1.3mg2mg9.4mg3.3mg10.7mg45.5mg1.3mg60mg
Vitamin D1.2μg1.1μg.4mcg100mg (4000 IU)
Vitamin E0.4mg.2mg.2mg1mg.39mg1000 mg

(1500IU)

Vitamin K3.1μg1.2mcg120mcg
Minerals
Calcium 5mg7mg13mg9mg43mg9mg77mg1300mg
Iron4.9mg4.3mg4.6mg2.2mg2.6mg44.6mg3.21mg18mg
Magnesium18mg21mg17mg15mg13mg22mg29mg420mg
Phosphorus387mg212mg257mg386mg362mg296.0211mg1250mg
Zinc 4mg1.7mg1.9mg1.4mg1mg2.1mg253mg11mg
Copper9.8.4mg.4mg.2mg.3mg.2mg.22mg.9mg
Manganese.3mg.1mg.1mg2.3mg
Retinol419μg
Selenium39.7mg21.8μg141μg26μg21.3μg62μg26.1mcg55mcg
Lycopene20μg
Thiamine.2.2mg.4mg.1mg.1mg.9-1.2mg
Choline333.3mg550mg

Beef Liver on Keto

Foods like kale and blueberries get a lot of attention as superfoods. But when you stack them up against beef liver, it makes you wonder why liver doesn’t get more love.

In fact, liver is so high in specific vitamins that it’s better to approach it as a supplement than as an everyday staple. [29]

Both beef liver and chicken liver also provide substantial amounts of CoQ10 -Coenzyme Q

A powerful antioxidant and energy generator with links to the prevention of cancer. [30]

Liver Supplements on Keto

Though liver’s benefits are undeniable, it’s taste isn’t for everyone. If that sounds like you, beef liver supplements, and a multi-organ supplement can be a powerful diet hack. 

Here’s a head-to-head nutrient comparison of liver with other so-called superfoods: 

Daily Recommended IntakeBeef Liver (100g)Kale (100g)Spinach (100g)Blueberries (100g)
Vitamin AMen: 3,000 IU

Women: 2,300 IU

Pregnant Women: 2,566 IU

16,899 IU15,376 IU9,376 IU54.0 IU
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)Men: 1.3 mg

Women: 1.1 mg

2.8 mg0.1 mg0.2 mg0.0 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3)Men: 16 mg

Women: 14 mg

13.2 mg1 mg0.7 mg0.4 mg
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)Adults: 5 mg7.2 mg0.1 mg0.1 mg0.1 mg
Vitamin B6Adults: 1.3 mg1.1 mg0.3 mg0.2 mg0.1 mg
Folate (Vitamin B9)Adults: 400 mcg

Pregnant Women: 600 mcg

290 mcg29 mcg194 mcg6 mcg
Vitamin B12Adults: 2.4 mcg

Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg

59.3 mcg0.0 mcg0.0 mcg0.0 mcg
CalciumAdults: 1,000 mg5 mg135 mg99 mg6 mg
CopperAdults: 0.9 mg9.8 mg0.3 mg0.1 mg0.1 mg
Vitamin CMen: 90 mg

Women: 75 mg

1.3 mg120 mg0.0 mg9.7 mg
Vitamin DAdults: 600 IU16 IU
Vitamin EAdults: 15 mg0.4 mg2 mg0.6 g
IronMen: 8 mg

Women: 18 mg

Pregnant women: 27 mg

4.9 mg1.7 mg2.7 mg0.3 mg
MagnesiumMen: 400 mg

Women: 310 mg

18 mg34 mg174 mg6 mg
PhosphorousAdults: 700 mg387 mg56 mg49 mg12 mg
PotassiumMen: 3,400 mg

Women: 2,600 mg

313 mg447 mg558 mg77 mg
SeleniumAdults: 55 mcg39.7 mcg0.9 mcg1 mcg0.1 mcg
ZincMen: 11 mg

Women: 8 mg

Pregnant women: 11 mg

4 mg0.4 mg2.8 mg0.2 mg

Poultry on Keto

When compared to ruminant meats and pork, poultry is pretty lean and will need to be fattened up with butter, ghee, lard, and tallow. 

A helpful tip for choosing the most nourishing poultry on keto is to select cuts with the skin on. There’s also one variety of poultry that is always encouraged: chicken liver

Below is a list of the fattiest poultry varieties: 

PoultryCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Fat% Carbs
#1Goose34024.928.506634
#2Game Hen220161906535
#3Chicken Wings3202230.406238
#4Chicken thigh (skin on)27517.628.305841
#5Duck22813.926.305546
#6Chicken Leg (skin on)27515.229.405446

Chicken Wings Highlights

Here the robust nutrient profile of one of the most nutrient-dense and accessible varieties of poultry: 

Chicken Wings
Nutrients per 4 ozAmount% RDA
Fat22gN/A on carnivore diet
Saturated Fat7gN/A on carnivore diet
Cholesterol111mg
Protein30.4g
Vitamin B6 0.5m41%
Vitamin B35.7mg36%
Choline82 mg15%
Vitamin B12%0.3µg10%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.1mg8%
Selenium%17.6µg32%
Phosphorus123.0mg12%
Zinc1.2mg9%

How to Make your Meat More Keto Friendly? 

As you can see from the keto meats list above, many keto-friendly meats still need a little help when it comes to achieving your macronutrient goals. All you need is a couple of tablespoons of any of these excellent animal fats to put you into the black when it comes to fat intake. 

TYPESFA%PUFA %CARBSTOTAL FAT NOTES
BEEF TALLOW49.83.10g12.8Mild beef flavor

Can be heated

LARD41120g13gMild flavor

Can be heated

BUTTER503.40g12gMildly Sweet

Lower Heat

GHEE4850g9gMild nutty flavor

Can be heated

DUCK FAT25130g13gRich Duck flavor

Can be heated

HEAVY CREAM624.5g5.4Sweet and rich

Keto Meats: The Takeaway

Our human ancestors evolved the ability to go into ketosis thanks to the abundance of meat in their diets. So it makes sense that modern keto dieters feed their bodies the fuel its evolved to thrive on. 

Fatty cuts of meat from ruminant animals like beef and lamb, along with pork, chicken, and organ meats can provide your body with all the essential nutrients it needs. 

The fattier the cut of meat, the more keto-friendly it is. But you can still enjoy meats that have less than ideal fat conent by adding in healthy animal fats like ghee, butter, tallow, and lard. 

Enjoy nourishing your body with nature’s most high-octane fuel.

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED