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The “Meat Fast” Diet Explained

By Liam McAuliffe Updated on

The “meat fast” or “meatox” diet has gained popularity ever since it was popularized by carnivore diet enthusiasts like psychologist Jordan Peterson, podcaster Joe Rogan, Dr. Ken Berry, and Dr. Shawn Baker.  

Though true fasting calls for periods of abstaining from food, a “meat fast” calls for eating lots of meat and abstaining from all other foods. Though it may sound extreme, the meat fast is a practice used by tens of thousands of people to reclaim their metabolic health, heal digestive issues, reduce inflammation, lose weight, stabilize energy and mood, and to support recovery from various health issues. 

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the meat fast, including how to do it, what to eat, and its potential health benefits. 

Table of Contents

What is A Meat Fast? 

A meat fast is a period of time, usually at least 30 days, in which you eat only meat and eliminate all other types of food. In essence, the meat fast is a carnivore elimination diet. 

Elimination diets are structured to identify food sensitivities or intolerances by removing specific foods or food groups. Eliminating all foods other than meat is aimed at pinpointing foods responsible for various symptoms such as bloating, digestive discomfort, skin issues, headaches, or fatigue.

Meat is the perfect elimination diet food because it is free from harmful plant toxins and antinutrients, carbohydrates, seed oils, sugars, grains, and artificial chemicals and additives. 

Various studies have shown that elimination diets are effective approaches to treating inflammatory bowel diseases, IBS, and numerous allergies. [1] [2] [3]  Many other studies have found that diet is a key factor in numerous conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic skin ailments, and depression. [4] [5] 6 7 

Though traditional elimination diets systematically reintroduce the eliminated foods as the dieter observes for adverse reactions, most people who practice meat fasts stick with some version of animal-based or all-meat eating, and usually continue to restrict all processed foods, grains, added sugars, and seed oils. 

Dr. Paul Saladino, formerly known as the Carnivore MD, who many point to as the originator of the term “meat fast” has now reintroduced fruit and honey to an otherwise all-meat diet. Other meat fasters like Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson have experimented with adding in some cooked leafy greens. 

In Jordan Peterson’s case, he’s continued a diet consisting of little more than fatty cuts of steak for five years and his health has never been better. 

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How to Do a Meat Fast

There is no single way to do a meat fast, however, there are more or less standard approaches. 

The most popular meat fast method involves simply consuming fatty steak, salt, and water for at least 30 days. This way of eating is also called the “Lion Diet.” 

Other popular approaches to meat fasts include the beef and butter fast and the steak and eggs diet. 

There are some tried and true strategies that can help you initiate and thrive on your meat fast. Here’s a rundown; 

  • Commit to a timeframe: A meat fast entails a major habitual and metabolic change. It will take time for you body and mind to transition, adapt, and experience the full benefits. 30 days is the minimum. While 90 days is optimum for most people.
  • Remove temptations by cleaning out your fridge and pantry: Standard Western diet foods are designed to be addictive. As with overcoming any drug, you need to rely more on strategy than willpower.
  • Join a carnivore community: Meat based communities are powerful resources to learn from and stay motivated with.  
  • Get the highest quality, fattiest cuts of steak available to you: Grass-fed and pasture-raised meats will have the best fatty acid profile, but conventional meats are also a great option on a budget. In either case, choose the fattiest cuts available. Ribeye and NY strip are meat fast centerpieces.
  • Eat way more fat than you’re used to: When you cut carbs your body needs to get most of its calories from fat, not protein. A meat fast is a high-fat, moderate protein way of eating. Aim for at least a 1:1 gram of fat to protein ratio. Fat has nearly twice as many calories per gram as protein. When in doubt, add tallow to your steak. 
  • Salt your meat liberally: When you cut carbs your body flushes electrolytes. Maintain your electrolyte needs by consuming 12 grams (2 tsp) of salt for the first few days. Once adapted, continue to consume a minimum of 5 grams (about 1 tsp) of salt daily. [9]
  • Drink plenty of water: Replace the liquid your body flushes with mineral water. 

Physiological Changes During A Meat Fast

Consuming only meat requires your body to undergo significant physiological changes, including:

  • Increased stomach acidity from pH 3-5 (sufficient for metabolizing starches), to pH 1.3-2.0 needed to metabolize exclusively fat and protein. 
  • Bile upregulates in your gallbladder. Bile is essential for digesting all that extra fat. Additionally, the smooth muscle of your gallbladder gets stronger in order to process more fat. 
  • The liver increases the bile stored in its ducts to help digest more fat. 

During a transitional period that can last from 1-3 weeks, many people on a meat fast report temporary side effects like diarrhea and nausea.

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Benefits of A Meat Fast

Though the meat fast hasn’t been studied in a clinical setting, thousands of carnivore dieters attest to a range of powerful benefits, including:

In 2021, the benefits of an all-meat diet took a major step toward institutional validation thanks to research out of Harvard University conducted by Dr. Belinda Lennerz and Dr. David Ludwig. 

The study surveyed the effects of consuming only meat on 2,029 people over 6 months. [5]

Though the six-month period is longer than many meat fasts, the results speak to the bevy of powerful benefits available to a meat-only approach to metabolic health. 

This is summed up in the researcher’s conclusion that, “Contrary to common expectations, adults consuming a carnivore diet experienced few adverse effects and instead reported health benefits and high satisfaction.”

Some of the highlight benefits include:

  • 93% improved or resolved obesity and excess weight
  • 93% improved hypertension
  • 98% improved conditions related to diabetes
  • 97% improved gastrointestinal symptoms
  • 96% improved psychiatric symptoms

The benefits of the meat fast diet are linked to both what you remove and what you add into your diet. 

  • Eliminates irritating and inflammatory plant foods.
  • Eliminates toxic processed foods.
  • Resets gut microbiome by removing fermentable fibers that feed harmful bacteria
  • Nourishes your body with healthy fats, complete proteins, and vital micronutrients only found in meat.

What to Eat on a Meat Fast

The meat fast generally entails consuming only fatty red ruminant meat

Steak is most common, but lamb, bison, and game meats like elk and deer are also good options. Indeed, many meat fasters are also hunters who remark on the special feeling of exclusively consuming wild game meat. 

Though long-term carnivore dieters often include some fish, pork, chicken, and rich cheeses. meat fasting is most often restricted to red meat. 

More adventurous meat fasters supplement their muscle meat intake with nutrient-dense organ meats such as liver, pancreas, marrow, heart, and brain. 

For the majority of us who don’t have access to hunted meat and aren’t ready to take the plunge into nose-to-tail cuisine, here’s a chart of the fattiest cuts of steak. 

Beef Cut

Per 100


CaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from fat% Calories from protein
Boneless short ribs440411608415
Tri-tip roast340291807721
Beef Back Ribs310261907525
Top Sirloin240162206037
80/20 Ground Beef30719.630.505941
Skirt Steak26516.52705842
Flank Steak20083203664

What to Drink on a Meat Fast

The standard for a meat fast is to consume only water, preferably mineral water. 

However, some meat fasters allow for black coffee or unsweetened tea. 

If you choose to consume caffeinated beverages, leave out the milk and sugar. If you know your body tolerates dairy well, you can add in heavy cream, ghee, and/or butter. 

The Meat Fast Diet: The Bottom Line

The meat fast is a carnivorous elimination diet. It calls for consuming only meat–exclusively or mostly–from ruminant animals.

To call it a “fast” is a bit of a misnomer since there is no set time in which eating is restricted. Rather, on the meat fast, you are restricting all foods other than meat. 

People practice the meat fast as a way to improve numerous health issues, including food allergies, autoimmune conditions, digestive issues, skin problems, and mental health challenges. 

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