I was seven years old when the infamous episode of Doug was released where he faced the daunting task of eating liver and onions. I vividly remember the cartoon squiggly lines imitating from the mushy looking dish looking so repulsive it made my stomach turn. From that point forward, I’ve had a major aversion to eating organ meats. So, you can imagine my disdain when I repeatedly read that eating organ meats from animals can be beneficial for health and vitality.
Though nose-to-tail is commonly referred to in the Carnivore Diet as a way to get essential vitamins and nutrients, the philosophy can also be applied to a ketogenic lifestyle that incorporates meat as a staple in the diet.
What is nose-to-tail eating
Most of us are familiar with the run-of-the-mill cuts of meat that are, like what is listed in the image above. For those who eat meat, who doesn’t love a properly cooked bone-in ribeye? Even the less desirable cuts of meat are blended together to make one of the most iconic culinary concoctions in America today – the hamburger.
But, what many of us are leaving off of our plates are some of the most nutrient-dense parts of the animal. Nose-to-tail eating still includes the standard fare but also includes some things from animals you may not have been interested in trying.
Foods included in nose-to-tail eating include:
- Bone and Bone Marrow
- Organs (Liver, Heart, Brain, Pancreas, Tongue, Trachea, etc.)
For those of you who didn’t bounce from the article after that shortlist, you might be thinking that you haven’t exactly seen your local grocer’s meat department brimming with trachea. Fortunately, if you are compelled to try incorporating some of these foods into your diet after reading this article, there are a few places you can go to get started.
Where to get organ meat for nose-to-tail eating
Local butcher – Local butcher shops often carry more exotic cuts and are a good place to start.
Health food markets – Health-conscious grocery stores, like Whole Foods, typically have a meat counter that is stocked with high-quality, grass-fed meats and organs. In the past, I sourced all of my free-range chicken and grass-fed beef bones from this store for making a high-quality bone broth. If you don’t see something sitting at the counter, ask the butcher.
US Wellness Meats – My personal favorite strategy for securing organ meats is through a high-quality provider like US Wellness Meats. Their business has a strong reputation for top-notch meat, their selection is unparalleled, and the process for ordering couldn’t be easier.
Buy an animal – You read that right. I grew up in a rural farm town in Iowa. We raised cows and sold. But, we also occasionally had an animal fully processed and returned to us in all of the popular cuts, including the organ meats. You can work with a local farm or butcher to do the same thing – and you’ll save a lot of money in the process. But, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate freezer space.
What are the health benefits
If you’re not salivating at the thought of eating chicken hearts of bison livers, you might be asking the question, “why would I want to eat that?” The answer is pretty simple. The health benefits are profound. If you want to read an in-depth breakdown of the mechanisms of how each food can improve your health and vitality, I recommended reading Chris Kresser’s article Nose-to-Tail Eating: Everything You Need to Know.
The main idea with nose-to-tail eating is that muscle meat alone doesn’t have the full nutrient composition that the often discarded portions of the animal have.
The bones alone contain many powerful compounds that have been a staple of my health any healing journey. According to MedicalNewsToday, bone broth is packed with an array of important nutrients, like iron, vitamins A & K, fatty acids, selenium, and zinc, to name a few. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and heal the gut, protect joints, and aid in sleep and weight loss.
Though I used to make all of my bone broth at home, I got tired of the smell and the fear my crockpot was going to burn the house down. Now, I prefer to buy it pre-packed from Kettle & Fire. Their broths are made from high-quality bones and they have a variety of flavors that I actually enjoy using.
As for organ meats, they are also loaded with vitamins and minerals. While the nutrient composition of them varies, organ meats are typically high in vitamin B12, A, D, E, and K. They also contain crucial minerals like iron, selenium, zinc, and importantly for the keto lifestyle, magnesium.
While you can get many of the benefits of organ meat through supplementation, most experts agree that getting the nutrients from a food source is preferable.
I recommend getting started with something simple, like bone broth, and working your way into some of the others. Bone broth tastes so delicious that my incredibly picky eater daughter will actually drink it straight from the bowl. Once you try bone broth and feel the noticeable benefits to your health, you’ll probably want to start trying the others.
You can get nose-to-tail benefits without munching organ meat
I’m going to level with you – I’m not looking forward to my next plate of beef prostate. Despite hearing that it will improve my prostate health, improve fertility, give me the type of urine stream I had when I was 16, and give me boosted “male vitality,” I don’t think I can do it.
Fortunately, I don’t have to. I believe strongly in the power of nose-to-tail to heal the body and provide an abundance of nutrition. But, I also don’t think that every meal should be a hormetic experience.
You can get high-quality, grass-fed desiccated beef organs in supplement form. This allows you to ingest concentrated, freeze-dried animal organs with similar potency to the food in a capsule form.
High-quality, grass-fed desiccated beef organs can be a little pricey, so I typically only purchase organs in supplement form that I don’t think I could get down if it were in food form. This allows me to still get nutrients my body wants from animal gallbladder, without actually needing to ingest it as a food.
My preferred brand of choice for desiccated beef organs is Ancestral Nutrients. They provide high-quality, grass-fed organs for virtually anything you might be looking for in nose-to-tail. I make this an essential part of my supplementation stack each month and generally rotate them monthly. This allows me to still stay on a supplement budget while getting the essential nutrients from organ meat that I need.
Nose-to-tail is a more complete part of any keto diet that incorporates meat. It allows you to get more than the standard muscle meat you find in stores.
My recommendation is to get parts of the animal as part of your diet first, like bone broth, chicken skin, and other simple and tasty options. If you enjoy the taste of other organ meats, mix those in as well. For anything you can’t or don’t want to include in your diet, use a high-quality supplement if it can fit into your diet. If the supplement isn’t freeze-dried and grass-fed, save your money.