Can You Eat Only Ground Beef On the Carnivore Diet? | All Things Carnivore (2023)

The humble ground beef has been one way to beat rapid inflation and the soaring cost of living for many people.

But can you really live on just ground beef alone on the carnivore diet?

Will you suffer from nutrient deficiencies if you only eat ground beef all year round?

The answer may surprise you.

You certainly can eat ground beef every day because it can give your body all nutrients that your body needs. Ground beef may be even more nutritious than primal beef cuts because it may include organ meat such as esophagus, diaphragm, cheek, heart and tongue.

What meat goes into ground beef?

Ground beef (or beef mince) is beef that has been finely chopped with a meat grinder or a mincing machine.

Ground beef is generally made from trimmings that can’t be sold separately on their own.

Around 15 to 20% of the beef carcass is trimmings and ground beef is one way to use those trimmings to meet market demand. [1]

In addition to meat and fat trimmings, in the US, other components such as esophagus, diaphragm, and cheek, as well as heart and tongue are also permitted in ground beef. [2]

Some ground beef like “ground chuck”, “ground sirloin”, or “ground round” are not made from beef trimmings and other odd bits but from grinding up those primal cuts only. [3]

In both ground beef and hamburger, a maximum of 30% of fat is allowed. While only fat from meat trimmings is permitted in ground beef, additional fat may be added for hamburgers to reach the desired fat level. [4]

You can get budget ground beef with 70% lean meat and 30% fat all the way to extra lean with 95% lean meat and 5% fat.

Ground beef is generally 100% beef and no added water, phosphates, extenders, or binders are allowed but sometimes you will find that natural flavor is also added. [5, 6]

Nutritional profiles of ground beef vs steak

Let’s have a look at the difference in nutritional profiles of various ground beef and meat cuts.

Different testing samples are likely to yield different testing results, however, those shown in the table below will give you a good idea of the differences, if any, between ground beef and various steak cuts.

Table 1 – Nutritional profiles of ground beef and steak
Can You Eat Only Ground Beef On the Carnivore Diet? | All Things Carnivore (1)

No significant differences in nutritional content

As you can see in this table, there are some differences in nutrient contents due to the differences in lean meat to fat ratio (lean meat is generally more nutrient dense than pure fat).

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However, there isn’t anything that really stands out to say that expensive cuts like ribeye are much more nutritious than ground beef.

As detailed above, there isn’t that much difference between ground beef and primal cuts.

Ground beef is just made up of skeletal muscles that can’t be packaged and sold separately otherwise though it may include a bit of organ meat too which is actually a good thing.

Higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are not a concern

One notable difference that stands out is the higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios of ground beef compared to other steak cuts.

If you look at the above table, ground beef’s omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are in the range of 7 to 9 whereas steak cuts’ ratios are between 2 and 4.

I’m of the view that this is not much of a concern because the level of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in beef products is generally very low. This is because, being ruminants with multiple stomach compartments, cows have the ability to convert PUFAs into saturated fats while pigs and chickens can’t.

For example, in the above table, PUFAs in beef fat account for only 2% to 6% of total fats whereas, in pork and poultry fats, it is normally about 20%.

If you look at beef, lamb, pork, and chicken fat alone, in samples tested by the USDA (see table below), the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of beef fat is only 1.4 (very close to the ratio our ancestors consumed) compared to 21.8 and 19.5 for pork and chicken fat respectively. [7]

Table 2 – Fatty acid profiles of beef, lamb, pork and chicken fats
Can You Eat Only Ground Beef On the Carnivore Diet? | All Things Carnivore (2)

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that the higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios in ground beef are likely due to sample variations rather than any innate difference.

Can you eat just ground beef on the carnivore diet?

You certainly can eat just ground beef on the carnivore diet because ground beef can provide you with all nutrients that your body needs.

Furthermore, ground beef may be even more nutritious than muscle meat alone because it may include nutrient-dense organs like esophagus, diaphragm, and cheek, as well as heart and tongue.

Ground beef has every nutrient that your body needs

If you look at Table 1 above, you will see that ground beef has all the essential nutrients that your body needs, from good quality proteins and good fats to all essential vitamins and minerals.

Note that some nutrients have zero values but that just means they have small amounts that are rounded down to zero or have just trace amounts.

Vitamin C also has a zero value but that is because the USDA assumes it to be zero without actually estimating it. Beef does contain enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy. [8]

While many nutrients in ground beef may not meet the recommended daily allowances (RDAs), this is not a concern.

The RDAs are set by the Institute of Medicine for the general population who are also recommended to get a whopping45%-65%of total calories fromcarbohydrates.[9, 10]

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They are, therefore, not really relevant to the carnivore community who are on a very different kind of diet.

If you eliminate plant food and only eat meat, which has a negligible amount of carbohydrates, your requirements for some nutrients will be a lot lower, for example:

  • Your need for vitamin C will be a lot lower because vitamin C and glucose are known to compete for absorption. If you don’t eat sugar, you don’t need a lot of vitamin C because whatever you consume will be much better absorbed
  • Your need for omega 3 will be a lot lower because omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) and omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) also compete for the same desaturase enzymes. If you eat beef which is very low in PUFAs and omega-6, you don’t need as much omega 3
  • Your need for other nutrients will also be lower in the absence of anti-nutrients from plant-based foods like oxalates, phytic acids, tannins, lectins, gluten, and trypsin inhibitors that interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients.

Despite the fact that some nutrients in meat don’t meet RDAs, nutrition deficiencies are generally unheard of amongst the carnivore diet community or minority groups that live on a meat-centered diet. [11,12, 13]

In addition, ground beef is also an abundant source of many beneficial bioactive compounds such as taurine, carnitine, conjugated linoleic acid, endogenous antioxidants (CoQ10, glutathione, lipoic acid, spermine, carnosine, and anserine), and creatine. [14]

Ground beef may be even more nutritious than muscle meat

As mentioned above, ground beef is made from fat and meat trimmings as well as other odd bits like esophagus, diaphragm, cheek, heart and tongue and that makes ground beef potentially more nutritious than muscle meat alone.

For example, beef heart is the best source of CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant present in all human cells. There are 10.9 mg of CoQ10 in 100 grams of beef heart compared to only 3.3 mg and 2.3 mg in 100 grams of beef liver and beef muscle respectively. [15]

Beef heart is also rich in vitamin B12 and a good source of iron, zinc and many other nutrients. [16, 17]

If you don’t like to eat organ meat, perhaps you should include the humble ground beef in your diet every now and then. You won’t get the “superhero” liver but at least you may get a bit of other organ meat that you usually never eat.

Eating ground beef is also very convenient on the carnivore diet.

If you get cheap fatty ground beef with 75-80% lean meat and 20 -25% fat, it will give you a very good fat-to-protein ratio of about 70-80% calories from fat and 20-30% from protein.

This is a perfect fat-to-protein ratio for many people and they can simply eat ground beef every day and don’t need to add additional fat to their diet or tinker with it in any way.

Who may be okay to eat just ground beef every day

If you are generally healthy with no underlying chronic health problems, it’s fine to eat just ground beef every day. It does have everything that your body needs.

A few carnivore doctors (e.g. Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Anthony Chaffee and Dr. Kevin Stock) are even of the view that eating just muscle meat is fine and you don’t need to eat organ meat to be healthy.

Who should supplement ground beef with organ meat

If you have chronic health problems (e.g. autoimmune and leaky gut) or urgent health problems (e.g. cancer), it is a good idea to include some organ meat in your diet, according to the ICMNI a Hungary-based center which has been using a high-fat animal-based diet to treat many health conditions since 2012.

At the ICMNI, if they have a patient with metastatic cancer, a patient who underwent several cycles of chemotherapy, or a patient with an autoimmune condition, these patients will immediately be put on a full animal-based high-fat diet with just meat, fat, and organ meat.

In people with urgent health problems, there is no time to lose and incorporating the most nutrient-dense food like organ meat in their diet will give their bodies a better fighting chance, in my opinion.

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Many ways to eat ground beef on the carnivore diet

There are many ways that you can enjoy ground beef on the carnivore diet.

Perhaps, the most common way is to make burger patties with just a bit of salt. You can add a bit of minced organ meat to the ground beef to make the patties more nutritious.

But you can also saute it or turn it into meatballs and meatloaf.

If you don’t have any issues with eggs, you can saute it with a few eggs which are another nutrient-dense food.

You can also make carnivore muffins with ground beef, eggs, and cheese which can be a convenient snack or a complete meal by themselves.

If you eat ground beef regularly, ask your local butchers to see if they can make it with a very small amount of organ meat like liver, heart, tongue, kidney, tripe, and tendons.

You don’t need a lot of organ meat to turn your ground beef into a next-level superfood. Proportionally, organ meat accounts for a very small percentage of the weight of the whole beef carcass. Also, a very small amount of organ meat won’t affect the taste and you won’t even notice that it’s there.

I don’t think that would increase the cost of ground beef in any significant way (especially if you bulk order) because, from my conversations with some local butchers, they would turn organ meat that they can’t sell into pet mince.

If you buy ground beef from supermarkets or grocery stores, please do read the label and choose those that are 100% beef with no artificial or natural flavors.

Conclusion

You certainly can eat ground beef every day because it can give your body all nutrients that your body needs.

Ground beef may be even more nutritious than primal beef cuts because it may include organ meat such as esophagus, diaphragm, cheek, heart, and tongue.

Other posts you might be interested in:

What Do Hardcore Carnivores Eat in a Day?

11 Common Carnivore Diet Mistakes

Is Carnivore the Best Anti-Aging Diet Around?

What Are the Best Ways to Cook Meat on the Carnivore Diet?

How to Lose the Last Few Pounds on the Carnivore Diet?

(Video) What to Eat on the Carnivore Diet 2021

Do You Have to Eat Organ Meat on the Carnivore Diet?

Disclaimer:The information in this post is for reference purposes only and is not intended to constitute or replace professional medical advice. Please consult a qualified medical professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle. Please check out our disclaimer for more detail.

Photo credit:Angele J on Pexels

Sophia Le, PhD

I'm Sophia Le. A few years ago, I came across the carnivore diet by accident. I was intrigued and tried to find out as much as I can about this way of eating. On this site, I write about what I know so people who are interested can learn about it and make decisions that are best for their health.

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