This question is perhaps more common than any other question I receive. My smart-aleck answer often is, “Enough.” Although that might sound flippant, it’s truly a very honest and simple answer. But how do you know what is enough?
I’m going to throw out some general numbers; don’t take these as gospel. I’m merely giving you some ballpark starting figures; they aren’t concrete:
- Males: Around 2 pounds of meat per day
- Females: Around 1.5 pounds of meat per day
When you first start, aim for the suggested amount and then adjust as needed. For instance, many small females can put away 4 to 5 pounds of meat in a day without a problem. I don’t think you should shy away from that quantity if your appetite directs you there for a while. More often than not, females have a long history with diet and caloric or nutrient restriction, and they have some catching up to do to replenish their bodies with nutrients.
Remember, protein is used to build our bones, internal organs, muscles, and skin. If those tissues are depleted, plenty of food is necessary to bring them back to normal function. Also, remember that weight loss is not the short-term goal of the carnivore diet; instead, get healthy and stop with the constant anxiety created by day-to-day fluctuations in weight. Just relax and enjoy the freedom of eating.
If you eat and find that you’re still hungry, eat more. If you find your energy or performance is lagging, then eat more. If you find your mood is low, then eat more. The typical gnawing in the stomach and the “I’ve gotta eat something in the next five seconds or someone is going to get hurt” sensation of hunger will go away. Hunger often becomes a subtle signal that maybe you should eat something soon rather than it being a sign of cellular crisis of impending glucose depletion.
How Often Should I Eat?
In the beginning, your meal frequency should be whatever it needs to be to keep you satisfied. Do you feel peckish an hour after throwing down a 24-ounce porterhouse steak? Fire up another steak or line up a pound of bacon. Do what it takes to quench your appetite. Beat back the craving demons and learn to fill up on nutrition, not entertainment. Over time, you’ll find that your cravings will diminish; eventually, they’ll likely disappear.
At that point, you’ll see the emergence of a regular, well-regulated appetite that meets your nutritional needs. I know I keep saying this over and over again, but the carnivore diet isn’t a quick-weight-loss scheme. Trying to fix a malnutrition problem by starving yourself is a recipe for disaster. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, and instead you gain 5, but you now enjoy life, don’t have back pain, and are no longer a slave to processed food, you’re far better off with the 5 extra pounds for now.
Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
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