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Steak and Eggs Diet: Benefits, Risks, and How to
The steak and eggs diet is a variation of the carnivore diet. It calls for eating only two foods, you guessed it, steak and eggs, and reserving every sixth day as a “cheat day” for re-feeding on high-carb foods.
Though the carnivore diet has been gaining popularity, the steak and eggs diet was originally popularized back in the 1950s by legendary bodybuilder Vince Gironda.
In this article, we’ll explore the basics and benefits of the steak and eggs diet so you can decide if it sounds like a low-carb dietary approach that fits your lifestyle and health goals.
Table of Contents
How to Do the Steak and Eggs Diet
The beauty of the steak and eggs diet is its simplicity.
To follow the steak and eggs diet, eat only two meals a day. They will be so nutrient-loaded and satiating that you won’t be tempted to snack.
Each meal consists of
- ¾-1.5 lbs of fatty steak
- 4-6 eggs (pasture raised if possible)
- Beverages allowed are mineral water and black coffee
- Every 5th or 6th day, consume low toxin high carbs root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, plain white rice, and fruits
Why fatty steaks?
If you’re eating only steak and eggs, you’re eating a zero-carb diet. And a zero-carb diet is, by default, a ketogenic diet.
This is because our bodies are restricted to getting a maximum of around 35% of our calories from protein. If you rely on more protein than this, you will eventually get protein poisoning.
Without carbs, you need to get the remaining 65% of your calories from fat. That’s where fatty steaks come in.
The following list details the fat-to-protein ratio for the best fatty cuts of steak:
|Beef Cut||Calories||Fat||Protein||Carbs||% Calories from fat||% Calories from protein|
|Boneless short ribs||471||42||21.6||0||80||20|
|Ground Beef (70/30)||332||30||14.3||0||82||18|
|Ground Beef (75/25)||293||25||15.8||0||77||23|
|New York Strip||281||22.2||19||0||71||29|
|Ground Beef (80/20)||254||20||17.2||0||71||29|
Why Allow A High Carb “Cheat Day?”
Carb-refeeding days are aimed at replenishing the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles.
Maintaining glycogen stores amidst a generally consistent ketogenic diet may improve thyroid function.
And it can reduce the risk of a state called physiological insulin resistance that can affect some people on prolonged keto.
Source: NSP Nutrition
Though Vince Gironda’s reasoning for including a carb re-feeding day was based on building the most shredding physique.
“To begin with, all carbohydrates must be removed from a maximum definition diet. This means – all fruit, all vegetables, all salad greens, and all milk products. The only milk products that can be used are butter and cream. Any kind of meat, fish, or fowl and eggs are the only foods permissible. You must, however, eat some carbohydrates every four or five days because you will find that you will smooth out and veins and cuts will disappear. You will find also that you are not getting the pump you should and your strength will decrease. This is because a zero carbohydrate diet drains all the stored glycogen from the liver, and only carbohydrates will replenish it. But don’t try to eat a small amount of carbohydrates each day. You will only find that you are smoothing out.”
When to Eat Your Meals
The original Vince Gironda approach to the meat and eggs diet didn’t specify when you consume your two meals.
But modern research on time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting strongly supports consuming both of your meals during daylight hours.
This practice, called circadian rhythm fasting, takes advantage of the way your body’s digestion is optimized by internal metabolic rhythms that synchronize with natural light and dark cycles. 
Taking your intermittent fasting period overnight will also ensure that you activate the process of cellular repair and renewal called autophagy.
Steak and Eggs Diet vs. Carnivore Diet
As you can see from Vince Gironda’s original formulation of the steak and eggs diet that it’s identical to a modern carnivore diet, but with a built-in cheat day. It originally included all other animal products except milk.
But the modern meat and eggs diet excludes all other foods.
Steak and Eggs Diet Nutrition
|NUTRIENT||1lb Ribeye||6 Eggs|
|B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||60%||35%|
Note that the above nutritional stats are for only 1lb of ribeye and 6 eggs. Most people will increase their steak intake by at least .5 lbs and increase their eggs to 8 or 10 per day.
Steak and Eggs Meal Plan
This part is simple.
- Breakfast: Eggs and meat without limit
- Lunch: Meat and Eggs Without Limit
Carb refeeding days
- Steak, eggs,
- High-carb whole foods: sweet potatoes, tallow friend french fries, white rice, full-fat ice cream, greens, and fruits.
But Aren’t Steak and Eggs Bad for the Heart?
Steak and eggs are among the most unfairly villainized foods on earth.
After decades of anti-fat and anti-meat propaganda, the science is setting the record straight on the health benefits of these nutrient-dense superfoods.
In fact, our entire understanding of heart disease is being rewritten.
For example, the authors of the 2017 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine call for an “urgent paradigm shift,” and state that the idea that saturated fat clogs your arteries is “just plain wrong.”
Rather, an overabundance of refined carbs, fructose, and inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
The research shows that shifting away from focusing on measuring cholesterol and reducing saturated fat, and instead walking 22 minutes a day and eating “real food” dramatically reduced the risk of heart disease.
Should You Worry About Cholesterol in Eggs?
For most people, dietary cholesterol has no or significant effect on blood cholesterol levels.
This is because the body produces most of the cholesterol it needs on its own and tightly regulates this production. When you eat more cholesterol, the body adapts by creating less.
And for the minority of people considered “hyper responders” to dietary cholesterol, consuming high cholesterol foods only modestly increases (bad) LDL and without increasing the risk of heart disease.
Studies on the role of eggs in cholesterol show that eggs increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
While 70% of people who consume eggs experience no increase in total or LDL cholesterol, some people see a slight increase in a benign subtype of LDL that does not affect cardiovascular function.   
Should You Worry About Saturated Fat in Steak?
Here’s another area where modern science is finally undoing decades of nutritional misinformation.
Numerous high quality studies show that saturated animal fat is not causally linked, nor is it significantly associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, death from heart attacks, and cancer.
Many more studies confirm that saturated fat is healthy when you consume it in the form of fresh meat. Fresh meat provides numerous highly bioavailable nutrients, is highly satiating, and is associated with numerous markers of health, fertility, and longevity
Fresh meat is considered a robust source of numerous highly bioavailable nutrients and is associated with various markers of health, fertility, and longevity.
Despite what you hear from the “forks over knives” anti-meat propagandists, studies show that total meat consumption is associated with greater life expectancy.
And this meat-fueled longevity has been found to be unaffected by variables including total caloric intake, economic status, the advantages of living in an urban area, and obesity.
Steak and Eggs Diet Health Benefits
So now that we know that steak and eggs aren’t bad for you, let’s take a look at the possible and widely reported health benefits.
Weight Loss and Body Composition
A review of numerous randomized control trials comparing very low-carb ketogenic diets with low-fat, calorie-restricting diets found that keto produced dramatically better health outcomes regarding weight loss and cardiovascular health. 
One study of 79 obese adults revealed that reducing carbs to less than 30 grams per day resulted in an average loss of 8.8 pounds more than participants who restricted fat to less than 30% of daily calories over six months. 
This is another example of how fat doesn’t make you fat; carbs make you fat–something that Vince Gironda knew from a deeply experiential way as a competitive bodybuilder. 
Numerous studies show that high-carb diets promote inflammation while low-carb diets decrease inflammation. 2 1 6 9 10 11
It’s clear that our bodies are designed to recover from inflammation when nourished with whole, nutrient-dense animal products–just like our paleolithic ancestors.
Nowadays, our genes operate in a metabolic and social environment that is entirely different from the one they are adapted for. We’re stressed and anxious, we don’t move our bodies enough, and we get most of our calories from inflammatory grains and toxic vegetable oils. If you’re serious about reducing inflammation, then cutt carbs, eat whole animal foods, and move your body!
Increased Testosterone and Libido
Studies show that saturated fat boosts sex hormones which increase libido for both men and women.   
Conversely, a systematic review of numerous studies found that low-fat diets are associated with lower levels of testosterone when compared to higher-fat diets.  
A 2020 study on the ketogenic diet combined with resistance training found that after only 11 weeks, testosterone shot up to (+118 ng·dl). A second control group consuming a standard high carb Wester Diet experienced significant testosterone decline (-36 ng·dl). 6
A 2018 study on obese women found that consuming a low-carb, high-fat diet for four months resulted in all participants reporting improved sexual function and increased libido. 
Better Mood and Mental Health
High-fat, low-carb diets were revived nearly 100 years ago in order to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children, so we know they have powerful effects on the brain.
These effects extend to mood and mental health.
Studies show that meat eaters are less likely to be depressed and anxious, and that veganism and vegetarianism are linked to a greater prevalence of psychiatric disorders and depression.
Restore Gut Health
The steak and eggs diet eliminates fermentable fibers and carbohydrates. Both of these fuel harmful bacteria growth in the gut, damaging the gut lining and promoting chronic inflammation.   
The steak and eggs diet promotes a healthy gut by allowing the gut lining to heal and by restoring a healthy microbiome.   
The steak and eggs diet activates ketosis–where your body turns fat into powerful energy molecules called ketones.
Ketones nourish stem cells that regenerate the intestinal lining, helping to heal intestinal permeability.  4
Increased Nutrient Density
Though the steak and eggs diet eliminates most foods, it actually dramatically increases your nutrient intake.
That’s because steak and eggs are among the most nutrient-dense foods on earth.
The essential nutrients found in steak and eggs are vital for bodily functions, including
- healthy immune response
- cognitive ability
- emotional regulation
- tissue growth.
Steak and eggs dramatically increase your intake of the following vitamins.
- K2 (mk-4)
- B12 and other B vitamins
- Vitamin A (Retinol)
- Heme iron
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
The steak and eggs diet is remarkably easy to practice. Your shopping list gets really short. Your hunger between meals disappears. Your satiety after each meal skyrockets.
Taken together, this means you spend less time worrying about what you’re going to eat, and you have more energy and mental space to focus on other important aspects of life, like your romantic relationship, friendships, hobbies, and career goals.
Steak and Eggs Diet Side Effects
The steak and eggs diet is essentially a cyclical ketogenic diet.
The cyclical ketogenic diet was developed to mitigate the possible side effects of long-term keto.
So in this regard, there aren’t any pronounced downsides.
However, some hard-training bodybuilders need more carbs to bulk muscle. In this case, you can experiment by adding in more cheat days–try every 72 hours instead of every five or 6 days.
As we’ve explored above, modern science tells us that eggs and fresh red meat do not cause cancer and heart disease, so the old fears of meat and eggs can be left at the door.
The main side effects are temporary and may arise as you transition from the standard high-carb diet to a ketogenic steak and eggs diet.
Temporary symptoms of adapting to a low-carb high-fat diet, include
- Mood swings
- Bad breath
- Low energy
All of these side effects can be reduced and eliminated by
- Eating more fat–add tallow and butter to your meals
- Adding more salt (since your body will dump electrolytes)
- Supplementing with magnesium and other electrolytes
- Supplementing with ox bile as your body upregulates bile production needed for breaking down your increased fat intake
- Transitioning more slowly
- Increasing physical movement–will help stimulate the transition to breaking down fat into ketones
Evolutionary Precedents for the Steak and Eggs Diet
The steak and eggs diet is not a newfangled approach to getting ripped. Rather, it’s one of the many approaches to reviving ancestral eating practices in modern life.
Vince Gironda himself was influenced by the nutritional research of Vilhjalmur Stefanson, an arctic explorer who observed how the Inuits thrived on an essentially carnivorous, high-fat diet. Stefanson would return to the states and practice the carnivore diet under the astonished observation of doctors at New York’s Bellvue hospital.
Modern research is beginning to link our ability to thrive on high-fat low-carb, high-meat diets with our dietary evolution.
A major 2021 study makes a strong argument that our caveman ancestors ate a diet of mostly meat for 2 million years .
The legacy of our ancestral carnivory is evident in how the modern human body is proficient at using dietary fat for fuel, storing fat on the body for later use, and breaking down body this fat into powerful energy molecules.
The steak and eggs diet nourishes our bodies with the fats, proteins, and micronutrients that our physiology is optimized to thrive on.
The Steak and Eggs Diet: The Bottom Line
The steak and eggs diet is associated with legendary bodybuilder Vince Gironda from the 1950s.
The modern revival of this diet is closely linked to the keto carnivore and ancestral diet movements.
The difference between Vince Gironda’s steak and eggs diet and a contemporary carnivore diet is that it explicitly calls for high-carb whole foods every 5 or six days. The intention here is to replenish your body’s glycogen stores–an important factor for muscle building.
However, the steak and eggs diet is good for much more than bodybuilding.
Reducing carbs and boosting nutrient-dense animal products can help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, heal the gut, and improve mood and mental clarity.