Will eating meat clog your arteries, cause cancer and type 2 diabetes, and make you gain weight?
Or, will it help you prevent disease, improve your strength and ability to build muscle and keep you lean and fit for a life-time?
We get it. Nutrition can be terribly confusing and leave you feeling lost and conflicted!
Is animal protein really bad for us, or really good for us? If we want to live long, healthy lives, should we eat a lot of it, a little, or none at all? While yes, anti-meat advocates and scientists have tried to scare us by linking meat to everything from cancer to heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity, research actually shows meat is a nutrient-dense food that can help prevent disease and nutritional deficiencies.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a dark side (pun intended) to eating meat, as it is important to make sure you are eating the right portion and choosing high-quality, organic, grass-fed, sustainably raised meat as part of an overall healthy diet.
Here are the facts we want you to know about meat:
- Meat is the single best source of protein. Sorry, vegans and vegetarians: You may have heard that legumes have a lot of protein, and they do—for plants. But they lack a number of critical amino acids. Fulfilling your protein requirements with non-meat foods requires enormous planning and effort, more than most people can manage (or want to manage). Remember, the best plan for your nutrition is one that is easy to follow, sustainable and one you will enjoy! For example, you have to eat three cups of beans (at 100 grams of carbs) to equal 6 ounces of animal protein. Moreover, plant proteins contain very little leucine, needed to build muscle. Animal protein is the best source and is especially important as we get older, when muscle loss is the single biggest cause of rapid aging and disease.
- Meat was (and still is) unfairly demonized for many years. The discovery a half a century ago that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels led to the widespread demonization of meat. We cut back on meat, we chose “lean” meat and we trimmed and skimmed all the fat off our meat (hence the popularity of boneless, skinless chicken breasts). In reality, heart disease is a complex condition that involves not only blood levels of the bad types of cholesterol, but inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides, and a host of other factors. The impact of saturated fat on cholesterol is not so simple either. In fact, the main source of saturated fat in meat, stearic acid, has no impact on blood cholesterol. Even more surprising is that eating saturated fat doesn’t raise blood levels of the saturated fats that cause heart disease. It’s processed carbs, refined starch, and sugar that actually raise your blood levels of bad cholesterol and the bad saturated fats.
- Meat is a nutritional powerhouse. Animal protein is our only source of vitamin B12, which is essential for life itself. Meat also provides valuable minerals and other vitamins. It contains enzymes that we need to access nutrients, essential amino acids, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like vitamin A, which cannot be obtained directly from vegetables. Vegans can often become deficient in B12, iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D.
An important note: You still should include lots of plants in your diet!!! At least three-quarters of your plate should be vegetables and the rest protein. While veggies are super important to your health and well-being they provide such a great compliment to your steak:)