Can anyone explain this to me (from Dr. Ken Berry) - The Proper Human Diet Spectrum

(Bob M) #1


What’s “ketovore”? Isn’t dairy part of the “carnivore” diet? If so, can’t you get carbs from there? What’s the “lion diet” and how is it different from carnivore?

Thanks for any help.


I disagree with this diagram. The standard ketogenic diet has always been <50 g total carbs, not 20. It has always been <50g Total and <20g net.

But I saw how many carnivore communities were changing it to <20 total for ketogenic for whatever their own personal philosophical reasons. It actually bothered me because it hurts those who would benefit from a standard Keto diet but find it next to impossible to stay under 20g total carbs.

And Ketovore imho is really carnivore because it’s quite easy on carnivore to get trace carbs in animal products and as long as you stay under 10 g total you’re good. However - the first time I ever heard of Ketovore it was more aptly described as being less than 20g total carbs because it includes some vegetables and combined with the carbs from carnivore sources the 20g window was more representative of what would actually accumulate. So then it was “stay below 20g total, 10g net”. That’s actually the proper representation of Ketovore in practice. This diagram screws it all up.

I don’t like the delineations this diagram makes because it’s misleading.

PS Ken Berry has even stated on several occasions that so long as you stay below 50g total carbs most people will be able to achieve ketosis. He’s not the only one to state this, as many a Keto doctor says the same thing. There’s a reason 50g total was the cutoff.

This is what states about its difference:

The carnivore diet has different versions but it generally includes any food that comes from an animal. Meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs. There are also people who include coffee, tea, and spices. The Lion Diet is an elimination diet that includes ONLY ruminant meat (such as beef and lamb), salt, and water.


I never figured it out what ketovore is but the diagram is wrong. Carnivore doesn’t mean 0 carbs, I personally eat 2-40g carbs on my true carnivore days (usually below 20g though).

I guess ketovore is a heavily meat-based keto but I don’t know more. Probably when I eat only carnivore and high-sugar items, that is not ketovore…? But it’s between carnivore and keto somewhere just like ketovore.

Dairy is totally carnivore, that is the biggest carb source on my carnivore and even carnivore-ish (where I only add a tiny amount of non-animal matter, the carb content is really low). I do get a significant amount of carbs from organ meat and eggs but dairy brings me way over 20g carbs sometimes.
Different people consider slightly different things carnivore (or not slightly, so many people on this forum consider dairy not carnivore! it totally is if you ask me). I am a simple one. Animal stuff is carnivore to me and I understand tiny plant matter in spices and coffee or tea is accepted for many.


It was 20g, 30g and 50g too, it depends on the country and other things. I saw them all somewhere.
To me, keto diet is where you go into ketosis and stays there. That is supposed to be the point, after all!!! Some people must eat <10g carbs on keto. Others may handle 100g (rare but happens, allegedly).
50g in general is wrong as most of us can’t stay in ketosis with that much as far as I know.
20g kinda works as almost everyone has a higher personal ketosis carb limit. But it’s individual. Ketosis is the key.

More like statistical/physical (surely there is a better word…). 20g works for the vast majority of people so if one uses that, it’s nearly guaranteed it will be keto. Otherwise it may or may not be.
20g was out of question for me so I tried 40g and it worked. But if one wants ketosis for sure, 20g is a safer bet.

No, ketovore involves deliberately eating non-animal items. Like a small salad or IDK. I really don’t know what ketovore is but I know it involves carbs beyond coffee and what comes with carni food as spice and condiment (and some condiments are hardly okay on carnivore to begin with). One deliberately eats plants or fungi and not in a minuscule amount. It’s not just a tiny rub or whatever.

Trace carbs are totally carnivore if they come from animals or a very tiny non-animal matter that is very much attached to the carnivore food. If I go and eat a sorrel leaf, that’s not carnivore. If I use a little spice on my chicken, that can be, it is to me but I like to be safe and call my way carnivore-ish anyway :upside_down_face:

But when it comes to what diet one benefits from? One shouldn’t even care about definitions and borders. Just do whatever works for you.

I don’t like this. If it’s 50g net, I won’t. If it’s <40g net, I will even if I eat 120g total… (As far as I can tell.) I couldn’t possibly care less about total carbs as they don’t do anything to me. This is individual too. Only net carbs matter to me AND the type of carbs. Animal carbs are fine, plant ones aren’t in bigger amounts. Starches are better than simple sugars. One should figure out what matters to them individually. Doing something that unnecessary restrict them (like 50g total carbs? it was impossible for me while keto wasn’t even too hard for a while) just because statistically there is a big chance it will work…? I like to do what surely works for me while keeping my much needed freedom.


I agree it’s individual. But every doctor that teaches what the standard Keto diet is, not a modified one, states that most people can achieve ketosis if they keep their total carbs below 50. Not net. Yes of course some people need to be lower to achieve ketosis, but they found with their patients that on average staying below 50g worked. Exceptions yes, of course. But for defining what Keto is, it is less than 50g total carbs and keeping net carbs below 20g.

For me I got into ketosis easily and stayed with 50-60g total carbs in my first two months. However, it changed to 30-40g in my second year of the diet. That’s why we tailor it to our particular body’s reactions and needs. But there’s always a starting point for people new to the diet. Make it lower than is necessary or too high and you set many up for failure right out of the gate. Even Ken Berry says 50g or lower is the standard Keto diet, so that’s why the diagram above confuses me.

(Bob M) #6

I thought the original Atkins book used 20g?

I did a test where I ate 100g of rice noodles two days in a row. On one day, I did a body weight workout and ate the noodles (with my normal meat) for my first meal. On the second day, I did not exercise and ate meat/noodles at the same time, for my first meal. I did not get 0 on my Keto Mojo meter for ketones after day 2.

Depending on what you’re doing, you can get some ketones with even relatively high carbs. I think <50g isn’t a bad tool, especially if you’re just starting out.

Now, it might not be the 0.5 mmol/l BHB they want to see, but I don’t get that anyway.

But what is “ketovore”? I’ve always called myself “carnivore adjacent”. I still eat some plants, just not many. Am I ketovore? Or does ketovore include dairy?


Yes and no. Yes Ketovore is not the same thing because it allows non-animal products. But according to this diagram carnivore is “0 carbs”. From that perspective, that’s why I see Ketovore practically the same thing because I know in true carnivore they get 0-10g of carbs in many animal products. So there’s no difference in “carb allotment” but there is a difference in “from what kinds of food”

I knew a group that said Ketovore just “uses vegetables as a condiment.” Not sure if that’s a proper representation of all Ketovore or if that was just what that particular group wanted it to be. I felt it was the latter. Regardless, if you’re including dairy, cheeses, and lots of eggs, you’re going to go over 10g total carbs with those veggie “condiments” added as well. Lol. I find it ridiculous to create such incredibly narrow paths/definitions like this. There needs to be a healthier division between these modified Keto diets with a realistic enough range to each of them to not stress people the heck out.


I’d say you are Ketovore. I love your “carnivore adjacent”. :joy: That’s basically Ketovore! If you are strictly only animal products, which does include dairy, you’re carnivore. But if you include any plants or fruits or veggies at all, then you are not. That’s where Ketovore became a thing, for those who included a few things but in small amounts and usually higher fibrous kinds of carbs. Meaning they were predominately carnivore, like say 95% of their food, but had 5% veggies/plants. (Percentages are just me giving an example and not representative of any medical definition)

But standard Keto allows for a variety of veggies and berries so long as you stay below 50g.

Atkins used 20g in the first two weeks only. Then it increased them slowly to add in a bit more back in, but never returning to traditional carb levels of over 100g.

(Bob M) #9

Oh, I forgot that Atkins had that time when you increased carbs to a point where you stopped losing or gained weight. I never did that part of Atkins.

Today, I had sausage and then some green salsa and capers. I also drank raw milk with some collagen peptides. Dinner will be a burger with cheese from 5 Guys, wrapped in lettuce, with onions, mustard, pickles, and jalapeno peppers.

But I typically eat lower amounts of veggies, but do like some chocolate sometimes. I go through phases, shifting from slightly higher plants to no plants.

(KM) #10

The thing is, a lot of these terms don’t have actual dictionary definitions. So these are Ken Berry’s definitions, which we can all disagree with if we want to.

Lion: beef/ruminant flesh (muscles, bones, organs, anything you can chomp out of a body), salt and water. Basically a diet of what a lion would eat, plus a little extra salt.

Carnivore, as he defines it: from the latin “flesh eating”. Only animals and eggs and maybe butter/ghee because that’s zero carb animal, and within KB’s definition, essentially no carbs at all (ergo no dairy beyond ghee/butter). No seasonings, no greens, no nothing if it came from a plant. Technically coffee and tea don’t qualify as pure carnivore either. I know we make up our own rules and that’s fine, but it’s not technically what carnivore means.

Ketovore: highly carb restrictive ketogenic diet. I would say focused much more on animal foods than any plants, but the only real stipulation is the 5 carb limit. I suppose if you can supplement your way to health and eat a diet that’s basically leaves, you’re still ketovore.

Ketogenic: containing the amount of any sort of carb an individual can eat and still be in ketosis. It can’t be precisely defined except to say that, because individuals will differ in how much they can eat. We have varying guidelines for how much that generally is, but they’re just guidelines to get to the defined objective: ketosis.

Low carb: The Mayo clinic says the average “normal” diet contains 900-1300 grams of carb a day, so I suppose even 600 grams of total carbs would qualify as “low”, although at that point I’d say you’re basically just avoiding a lot of concentrate sugar or purely starchy foods. KB has chosen to define it as less than 100 total, but again, that seems pretty arbitrary.

(Bob M) #11

That looks like a great set of definitions. I know there have been fights over whether someone who drank coffee/tea but ate nothing but meat was a “carnivore”. I never really paid much attention, because I thought it was splitting hairs.

(KM) #12

I agree, it is splitting hairs and most likely it doesn’t matter, but etymologically there’s a difference between zero carb, which could be anything from eating sawdust to enjoying a carb-free plant derived beverage to a lion diet, and technical carnivore. Carnivore sounds cooler, so what the heck, why not just use it to mean zero carb. No - purely animal - skin off my nose! :sunglasses:

ETA: I do think we’re really dealing with two separate questions even though no one’s addressing it, and there should probably be another level between carnivore and ketovore for those of us who shun basically all carbs but still eat some plant matter. Maybe that’s what he meant by ketovore. 1. how many carbs, and 2. what dietary content. Makes me think of those socio-political, or urgency/importance quadrant charts. x axis ranges from pure carni to vegan, y axis ranges from zero carb to about 200, all are considered low carb, your dot may vary. And of course, the “pure v. processed” adds a third dimension to this, and there goes my lovely quadrant chart … sigh.

(Bob M) #13

I do think there are different levels of carbs. There’s sweets like pop tarts or ice cream (the latter being one of my downfalls); fried foods like potato chips/tortilla chips; “whole” foods like yams or sweet potatoes; vegetables; fruits; etc.

One of the reasons I stay at/near ketovore is because a lot of the “whole” foods don’t quite agree with me. I was doing a TKD (targeted keto diet, where you eat carbs around workouts) for a while, and sweet potatoes/Japanese sweet potatoes caused me issues. Even spaghetti squash (which is a lot of fiber and not too many carbs) caused issues. Oddly, what did not was rice noodles made from white rice. So, I ended up using those because they didn’t cause my any troubles. Highly processed but they were digestible. (Just rice as an ingredient, too.)

I couldn’t find much benefit to TKD at 50 grams of carbs after my workout. It did seem to give me “puffier” muscles, but I couldn’t see any strength gains. So, I went back to just keto.

(KM) #14

Oh but if you eat Japanese purple sweet potatoes you’ll live to be at least 100! :roll_eyes:

I get it. I like my shiritaki noodles because they’re like spaghetti to me with absolutely zero effect - on my ketosis or my digestion or apparently my weight gain - but in no universe could I call them “unprocessed”.

I think no matter how regimented we’d like to be about our diet rules, in the end we have to consider our very personal positions. Where are we willing to make exceptions because they work for us more so than being Principled. Maybe that’s what it means to be a grown up???


Exactly the points I was making in my replies but I couldn’t remember this figure of speech earlier. :rofl: So I went with the more wordy “…ridiculousness to creating such incredibly narrow paths/definitions like this.” Lolol

I was also referring to all the definitions of what standard Keto is in every book I read when I was teaching myself Keto, each written by one of the Keto doctors we all follow. In those books there is a definition and they fit what I call a general starting point and from there you fine tune for what works for you specifically.

(KM) #16

Exactly. I think what most people who’ve been here a while start fighting against is the … Diet mentality. This is what you Have to eat, this magic food in this quantity, at this time, and then you will be thinner and you can go back to what you were doing before. A pill, just … in the form of a menu. Might be nice … but once you take the red pill, you can’t go back. Lol.

(Megan) #17

Calling anything The Proper Human Diet is a mistake in itself. I don’t think there is any such thing.

Yes, The Lion Diet is ruminant meat, salt and water and is usually eaten as an elimination diet, and for some people as a permanent health-essential diet.

I see the carnivore diet as food from animals only, with the exception of tea, coffee and a small amount of spices if you’re going to eat relaxed carnivore. So, it’s zero-carbs-from-plant-sources. Calling it zero carb, period, is misleading imo.

Unsweetened, unflavoured diary is carnivore imo but it’s individual as to whether people eat it or not, for a variety of reasons. And most people eating carnivore would choose the very low carb (lactose) versions. E.g. the cheese I eat has less than 1 gram of carbs per 100 grams. The greek yoghurt I eat has 1.5 grams of carb per 100 grams. And I drink cream in my coffee, not milk.

I don’t think it’s necessary to have a category called ketovore. Ketovore is just keto, with very few carbs, which is what some people doing keto quite naturally eat some days. And yes, I always thought keto was recommended as was 20grams net/50 total initially, with people being able to experiment with slowly adding carbs once any insulin resistance and mitochondria repair was done.

The are a few reasons labels can be important, but my bottom line is I eat what best serves my body’s needs right now. That just happens to be relaxed carnivore - meat, cheese and cream in my coffee every day, some unflavoured unsweetened greek yoghurt 3-4 times a week, and occasionally bacon and eggs.

(Brian) #18

I sometimes doubt the “zero carb” claims for people who eat eggs. From what I can gather, if I eat 7 eggs, not particularly unusual for me, not every day, but some days I do, those eggs have 4.2 grams of CARBS. I am absolutely not worried about that in any form or fashion but I do not claim to be “zero carb”, either.

I definitely understand wanting to have the carbs low, even have an ideal of zero if that’s your thing, but I wonder how many people who “think” they’re zero carb really are?

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #19

Carnivore/lion diet: You get a small amount of carbs in the form of glycogen in the muscles of your prey, but you don’t worry about that, because (a) the amount is minimal, and (b) you’re not eating plants, so you are avoiding the main sources of carbohydrate in everyone else’s diet. The lion diet excludes dairy, but “carnivore” as understood by the carnivore community does not by definition exclude dairy. However you shouldn’t make dairy part of your carnivore diet if you can’t tolerate dairy for whatever reason.

Ketovore: Carnivore, but with a small amount of plant matter.

Ketogenic: A slightly less small amount of plant matter.

Low-carb: someone’s fantasy that they are eating keto.

Standard Western diet: Eating all the sugar, grains, and starches.

Note that any diet low enough in carbohydrate/glucose to allow insulin to drop sufficiently is a ketogenic diet. Note also that what nutrition researchers call a “low-carbohydrate” diet is usually nothing like what we understand a low-carbohydrate diet to be.

Hence, although this is a neat Venn diagram, with the lion diet as a subset of carnivore, which is a subset of ketovore, which is a subset of ketogenic, which is a subset of what everybody eats, the definitions are actually somewhat blurry in absolute terms, since one person might be able to eat 100 g/day of carbohydrate and be in ketosis, while another person might have to be under 30 g/day, and a third person might have to get carbs/glucose below 5 g/day in order to be able to get into ketosis. That depends on each person’s degree of insulin-resistance when starting the new way of eating.

As for dairy, it fits into carnivore and its supersets, if you can tolerate dairy. Nuts fit into ketovore and its supersets, if you can tolerate nuts. And so forth. Shellfish fit into any diet, so long as you don’t go into anaphylactic shock from eating shellfish.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #20

Not so. Eric Westman has always defined a ketogenic diet as less than 20 g/day of total carbohydrate. Phinney and Volek generally say the same in their research; however, as medical director of Virta Health, Phinney instructed patients to eat under 50 g total, in hopes, as he has stated publicly, that their net intake would be under 20 g/day.

In reality, what makes a diet ketogenic is eating a sufficiently small amount of carbohydrate/glucose in a day to allow serum insulin to drop below 25 μU/mL. For an insulin-sensitive person, that may mean keeping carbohydrate intake under 100 (one hundred) g/day. For a really insulin-resistant person, the limit may have to be 5 (five) g/day. It all depends.

These forums recommend a carb limit of 20 g/day, following Phinney and Westman, but we allow people to choose whether to count total carbs/glucose or net. The story circulating at the time I joined was that Richard wanted to say 0 g/day, but was afraid of frightening people away from the diet. So he compromised on 20 g/day, which works for almost everyone, except people who are really insulin-resistant, and who might therefore need an even lower limit.