How to Add More Fat to Your Low Carb Diet for Nutritional Ketosis

high fat avocado

Lately, the interwebs have been buzzing with Jimmy Moore’s summer 2012 weight loss success after tweaking his macronutrient ratios. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to see how he did it. He is basing his new refined low carb diet on the advice from the great book The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance by Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek.

Just like Jimmy, many long time low carbers and nutrition enthusiasts have tried various methods – thyroid/adrenal protocols, parasite cleanses, homeopathy, HCG diets, colonics/enema’s, Leptin resets, green juices, bone broth diets, probiotics, meditation, EFT, positive thinking, HITT training, Slow Burn, Crossfit – you name it. We can all relate to his struggle of “doing everything right” but not losing weight. Maybe Jimmy Moore, Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek have found the missing link to the low carb weight loss puzzle: restricting protein? Jimmy’s success in losing weight has given us all hope that if he can do it, maybe we can also bust through our own personal plateaus.

Is monitoring protein and increasing fat the answer to low carb weight loss stalls? It is worth a shot and it can’t hurt to try, as long we make sure to eat the highest quality fats. Read my article about which fats are healthy to eat here: Which Fats Are Healthy at Please make sure and eat the right fats or you will not succeed long term on a low carb diet.

Protein free for all:

I came into low carb and paleo in the summer of 2010, and have always eaten plenty of protein and fat without worrying about percentages. This lifestyle has kept my weight stable, tamed my autoimmune condition and helped me regulate my blood sugar but I would love to lose a few extra pounds (who wouldn’t?). I have seen Paleo and low carb work wonders in my clients as well, but some people need extra help to fine-tune their low carb results.


In their book, Phinney and Volek instruct readers to restrict protein and carbs to lose weight and become keto-adapted. Keto adaptation is where the body burns fat instead of relying on glucose (carbs) for fuel. The authors think that if we eat too much protein it will also turn to sugar, preventing the body from becoming keto-adapted and burning its own fat as fuel.

What should my protein intake be?

What does limiting protein mean in practical terms and how much do we actually need daily to get into nutritional ketosis? This chart should from A New Atkins for a New You, should help:

Recommended Daily Protein Intake For Nutritional Ketosi


(In shoes, 1-inch heels)

Recommended Protein Range in Grams

(Grams per day)

Typical Protein Food Intake in Ounces

(Ounces per day)

Recommended Protein Range in Grams

(Grams per day)

Typical Protein Intake in Ounces

(Ounces per day)



4’ 10’’ 63-125 13
4’ 11’’ 64-130 14
5’ 0” 65-135 14
5’ 1’’ 66-138 14
5’ 2’’ 68-142 15 74-154 16
5’ 3’’ 70-145 15 75-157 17
5’ 4’’ 71-149 16 76-159 17
5’ 5’’ 73-152 16 78-162 17
5’ 6’’ 75-156 16 79-165 17
5’ 7’’ 76-159 17 81-168 18
5’ 8’’ 78-162 17 82-171 18
5’ 9’’ 80-166 18 84-175 18
5’ 10’’ 81-169 18 86-178 19
5’ 11’’ 83-173 18 87-182 19
6’ 0’’ 85-176 19 89-186 20
6’ 1’’ 91-190 20
6’ 2’’ 93-194 21
6’ 3’’ 95-199 21
6’ 4’’ 98-204 22
*Chart from A New Atkins for a New You by Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Stephen Phinney Formatted by Caitlin Weeks, NC at


Don’t forget to keep counting those carbs:

Another tip Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney give readers in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance is to keep carbs very low — 50 grams or less.

Getting into the optimal Ketone Zone:

It is my understanding that optimal levels for nutritional ketosis and fat burning are (1.5 – 3 mmol/L) mode. This can be measured with a blood ketone meter. It can take a week or so to get into this zone, so keep checking and don’t give up.

Now what?

Now that you know how much protein you need we can help you fill in the gaps. Are you wondering how to get enough food while limiting protein and carbs? It will be smooth sailing into ketosis if you incorporate a few simple changes.

How to increase your fat:

If someone is limiting protein and carbs, they need to increase fat to be full after meals. Fat is very satiating. But who wants to eat plain butter? I wanted to give you some interesting ways to lower protein intake but still feel fulfilled without resorting to drinking olive oil.

Filling protein reduction solutions:

Fatten up your meats:

Unfortunately lean meats have 7 grams of protein per ounce, which can add up fast. Look for cuts of meat with more fat and use smaller portions to stay in the weight loss zone.

Examples of Higher Fat Proteins

Protein Type

Grams of Protein



16 g

4 oz

Cooked Bacon

8 g

6 slices/1 oz

70/30 Beef

18 g

4 oz

85/15 Beef

20 g

4 oz

Smoked Salmon

20 g

4 oz

Beef Short Ribs

24 g

4 oz

Ground Lamb

19 g

4 oz

BBQ pork

16 g

4 oz

Liver Pate

12 g

4 oz

Sardines in Olive Oil

25 g

4 oz can


7 g

1 egg

Egg Yolk

3 g

1 yolk

Hard Cheese (Cheddar)

7 g

1 oz

Soft Cheese (Brie)

6 g

1 oz

Sour Cream (full fat)

1.5 g

¼ cup

*100% grass fed beef, pastured pork/poultry and wild fish will increase resultsand satiety.

Bring on the broth

Bring on the broth

Making broth is a great way to get more filling fats and veggies without adding to protein counts. Many times chronic dieters need major gut healing. The minerals and amino acids in broth that are helpful in renewing intestinal integrity. It is important to heal gut inflammation; doing so helps lower cortisol and improves weight loss efforts. Try my healing broth recipe and my creamy cauliflower soup topped with grass-fed butter or ghee.

Gelatin for your skeleton:

Gelatin has similar healing properties of broth and can helps prevent wrinkles, reduce cellulite, build muscle and improve metabolism. One tablespoon of gelatin only has 6 grams of protein. Add flavorless gelatin to high fat smoothies, soups, natural gelatin snacks, or even add gelatin to coffee with lots of cream.

Marrow for a better tomorrow:

Eat bone marrow, an extremely healing and nutrient-dense food. A 1-ounce serving of bone marrow has no protein and 28 grams of fat. Bake the bones, then spread the marrow on crudités, or just suck it down.

Offally important: organ meats

Organ meats can be great fat vehicles and they are packed with nutrients. Many people on low-carb diets are nutrient-depleted; their bodies are crying out for these nourishing traditional foods. My pate recipe turns liver tasty with tons of added butter; 1/4 cup of pate only has 7 grams of protein. Liverwurst is another high-fat option that will keep you humming in the ketone zone. Tongue, which is not really an organ but has that ick factor, is very high in fat and tasty like barbeque. See my easy crockpot tongue taco recipe.

Low-Carb Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Frittata Recipe - 8 Eggs

Enjoy eggs:

Eggs have 7 grams of protein but the yolks only have 3 grams of protein so it’s better to leave the whites (that is fun to say). Pastured eggs have vitamin A and D that help improve the immune system and thyroid health. Read about how to find quality eggs here:

Avocados on your healthy low carb diet

Hass to have avocados:

Eat plenty of avocados, they have 5 grams of net carbs and no protein. Avocados are rich in antioxidants and are great for liver detox, which aids weight loss.

Tap the tapenade:

Olive tapenade is rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, for healthy young skin. Olives and high-quality olive oil are low-carb, high-fat ways to fill up without protein.

Punch it up with Pesto:

Fresh Pesto can add a ton of flavor to boring meat meals. See my simple pesto recipe that will liven up any chicken dish.

Chimichurri flurry:

Chimichurri is a popular South American sauce made from cilantro, which can help lower our heavy metal burden. Try this good recipe.

Cheese please:

Add a variety of cheese if tolerated, but try to get organic and/or raw milk cheese whenever possible. Hormones and antibiotics that are given to animals are concentrated in milk products. Use caution on serving sizes; in his New Diet Revolution, Dr. Atkins advised a limit of 4 oz of cheese per day. If your weight loss stalls, removing dairy may help speed up results. It is a common food sensitivity, causing intestinal stress.

Heavy Cream

Cream of the crop:

Add cream if tolerated; again go for grass-fed and organic dairy to lower the chemical burden on the liver; this will improve fat burning. Also check for the thickener carrageenan, a carcinogen and gut irritant.

Omghee: butter makes it better:

Add butter to each bite of meat. Dr. Volek and Phinney advise using Irish grass-fed butter because it is more nutritious. I like to add a big bite of grass-fed butter to each bite of meat to speed satiation. Don’t forget about ghee which is just butter with the casein removed. Ghee is extra delicious on top of steaks and soups. Some people who can’t tolerate butter can tolerate ghee.

French flair:

Sauces like béarnaise or hollandaise add depth to dishes.

Strip Steak with Bearnaise Sauce

Mauna Loa Macadamias, Dry Roasted with Sea Salt

Nosh on nuts:

Eat fatty nuts like macadamias – they have just 2.2 grams of protein and 4 carbs in a 1 oz. serving. Some other nuts are higher in carbs so be sure to read the labels. Watch for sugar and rancid vegetable oil coating.

CarbSmart Coconut Shell and Meat

Coo-coo for Coconut

Add coconut milk, cream concentrate, or shreds to anything and everything. Coconut has no protein and is very low carb. It is a very satisfying food that will make any dish divine. Feel like a Thai chef after making my easy crock-pot curry.

Veggies as Fat Vehicles:

Use low-carb veggies like kale chips, spinach, celery, endive, romaine, etc, as a fat vehicles. See my last article on about adding crunch to your low carb diet.

Mucho (homemade) Mayo:

Try this easy recipe for macadamia nut oil mayo, it will add life to chicken or ham. Beware low-quality fats like soybean and canola; Volek and Phinney find they can make low carbers feel unwell.

Ensalada Por Favor:

Make your own salad dressings; bottled dressings are made with rancid oxidized vegetable oils. See my article on which fats are healthy.

Chocoholic Approved:

Chocolate can be low in carbs if it is really dark, and it is naturally low in protein. Good quality organic chocolate has lots of magnesium and antioxidants. Try this low carb, low protein fudge recipe.

Still Hungry?

Be mindful and chew slowly during meals. If you are still hungry after your low protein meals add a tablespoon of coconut oil and/or some coconut milk to a cup of tea or decaffeinated coffee to hit the spot! (Link to coconut oil/ milk)


Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution



Coconut and Almond Milk in Cartons Not a Healthy Buy

Atkins Diet Food Lists for the Induction Phase by Laura Dolson

Nutritional Data: Salami, cooked, beef

New Atkins for a New You, by Dr. Eric C. Westman, Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, Dr. Jeff S. Volek

The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance by Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek

More articles by Caitlin Weeks.

Check Also

Low Carb / Paleo Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Low Carb / Paleo Chicken Pot Pie Recipe – Comfort Food Without All the Carbs

I recently visited my dad and he asked me to make a low carb/ Paleo chicken pot pie. This pie was a big hit with my family and it is perfect for fall. It is a great substitute for the high carb version most people grew up with and it won’t break your carb budget. This recipe is adapted from my Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: Over 150 Fresh Coastal Recipes for a Relaxed, Gluten-Free Lifestyle that I wrote with my husband who is a professional chef.


  1. I started eating Paleo in January. While people tell me I look great and my clothes fit better, I have only lost under 10 lbs. I am 5’3″ 150 lbs. I don’t look overweight but like most women struggle to understand after cutting out all the processed foods and HCF, adding grassfed meat/organic veggies/healthy fats etc, basically a 360 from the way I used to eat, why I haven’t lost more weight. I am going to try this approach and see what happens. Regarding the table you give for Recommended DAily Protein Intake for Natural Ketosis. Please clarify recommended protein range in grams vs typical protein food intake in ounces. At 5’4″ am I to be striving for 16 oz of protein per day?

  2. Caitlin,

    Loved the article! I have been doing low carb (sometimes only half-heartedly) to control diabetes for about 15 years. The more I read, the more I realize that the quality of the foods as well as the fat content are very important. Since I have been eating grass-fed meats and free range eggs, I find that they taste so much better, too. I’m going to try some of these tips and see if it helps me resist those ever-present carbs.

    Thank you,

    Vicki Cash

  3. Im trying to understand this way of eating. Im 5’4 170 lbs i need to loose about 25 lbs. Could you please explain if i ate say 1400 or 1500 calories a day how many should be protein how many should be fats and how many of these calories should come from good carbs. I really could use some help with this.

    thank you

    • I’m not Jimmy, but I can tell you that the college-level nutrition text on my bookshelf says that you should get a gram of protein for each kilo of body weight. For American purposes, divide your weight in pounds in half, and figure that’s your protein requirement for the day. Rough rule of thumb is 7 grams of protein per ounce of meat, 6-7 grams per egg.

      Your carb tolerance is individual — I, personally, need to stay below about 20 grams of non-fiber carbohydrate per day, but I’ve known people who did great at 50 or 60. Only way to find out is to experiment. That’s why Dr. Atkins told people to start at 20 grams per day, then slowly creep carb intake up to find your own personal tolerance.

      • Dana

        Thank you for the quick response. Im still curious then after protein should the rest be in fats with just a little carb to be in nutritional ketosis?

  4. Enjoyed the article. But what is you are trying to put on muscle? Seems to me that lowering protein intake would not help you put on muscle weight. I may be wrong, but some clairification would be a big help. Thanks

  5. @Sarah this article is about losing weight but many times when you go on a lower carb/ healthy high fat diet the hormones can balance which will help build muscle. A high carb diet is very stressful on the adrenals and thyroid which will inhibit muscle building. These ranges for protein are pretty standard for women and will help you be able to build muscle at these levels.

    @ Dawn I would not get so spun out about calories if you are just starting out. Just focus on counting your carbs and eating whole quality foods. A good range is 20-to 100 to lose weight depending on your activity level. The only way to know is to experiment with yourself like Dana said. I would eat about 3-6 oz of meat/fish or eggs per meal to satiety and fill in the rest with fats and smaller amounts of carbs like green veggies, low GI fruits and maybe a little sweet potatoes, pumpkin or butternut squash. Don’t forget the healthy fats like grass fed butter and coconut oil!

    • Thank you Caitlin im not new to lowcarbing im just stalling alot even when i limit my carbs so i was thinking maybe going with 85 to 90 percent healthy fat with a little protein and very little carbs usually just some green veggies. this nutritional ketosis is very interesting to me. Im also a little loss to think of what i would eat that would be about 85 percent fat. any suggestions would be great.


  6. You seem like a smart person, so maybe you can help me with my dilemma. I am a very hardcore advocate of low carb, but after pregnancy, anytime I go remotely low carb I get severe anxiety. Heart palps, angry at the world, can’t breath ANXIETY. It is horrible, but as soon as I eat some rice or potatoes, I’m fine. I don’t know what to do. I’ve gained 10lbs where I had lost almost all my baby weight before. I seriously am at an impass. Will more fat solve my problem? Is it a matter of not enough calories you think? I’d appreciate any help.

  7. Hi Caitlin,
    Loving all your blogs and recipes, thank you. Getting into ketosis is a challenge! We work in metric measurements in South Africa, and I do struggle at time to work out the quantities when denoted in ounces, so just a request (if possible) to put quantities in both for all types of measures? We dont have access to many of your products so cooking is even more of a challenge!

    Kepp up the great work, you are an inspiration!

  8. re: drinking EVO or eating a stick of butter…i eat tbspnfuls of coconut oil. its rly actually good and the satiation i know i ll get takes care of any ickys i mite have anyway. mcts are the way to go for ketosis. they allow higher veg intake than other fats while still remaining keto-adapted.
    forget fat bombs or coconut fudge. i just go straight coconut oil lol …at least while it stays hard, which here is 10 mos of the yr!
    (& my 7yo eats plain butter as a treat & would eat more if i would give it to her, and shes not keto adapted lol)

    • You can work that coconut oil into a yummy fat bomb with Swerve, butter and/or cream cheese, some maple extract and some chopped walnuts. Makes a nice change from greasy coffee…

  9. I’d like to know how many grams of healthy fats a day do you recommend to lose weight on LCHF?

  10. Hi, I was in ketosis for about 7 months, then took a weekend off and went carb-insane, , and now after eating correctly for a week (daily net carbs under 25 gr.,80 gr protein, at least 80 oz water, ) , am still only at 0.3 blood ketone level. Am exercising on an empty stomach, still not switching over….what can I do differently? Or should I just assume it’s taking me a long time to get back into Ketosis and continue this way?

  11. Keto has too many benefits. Nothing specific to vegetarian. I have reversed my diabetes, which means lots of future complications are eliminated. Yes, it will benefit to balance hormones.

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