There are so many conflicting reports about if meat is good or bad for you. Some say it can be part of a healthy diet. Others declare it is the root cause of disease – including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. I have friends who completely avoid it and other friends who embrace meat as an everyday staple.
Whether meat is good or bad depends on with whom you are talking. Paleo enthusiasts say meat is essential to longevity. Vegans will tell you to avoid it at all costs. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated processed meat and bacon are carcinogenic and red meat is most likely, as well.
There are very real concerns involving meat, including the ethical treatment of animals and their impact on the environment, as well as medical and health issues. For some, there are very real ethical concerns about eating meat. For example, if you are a Buddhist and believe that any creature could be your mother from your past life or in your next life, then we can fully support being a vegetarian.
It’s not hard to see why the average person, or even doctor or nutritionist is confused. However, at the end of the day, the whole carnivore-vegan debate misses the real point – the root of chronic disease and obesity is actually sugar and refined carbs.
Studies that take a pro- or anti-meat stance often miss the bigger picture. They overlook the fact that most meat eaters who participate in the studies that show harm from eating meat are also eating a lot of sugar and refined carbs alongside a highly processed, inflammatory diet. They certainly aren’t eating small to moderate amounts of grass-fed or organic meat along with a pile of colourful fruits and veggies.
Admittedly, it would be almost impossible to perform an accurate study about meat. You would have to randomize people into a whole foods, low-glycemic, plant-rich diet with grass-fed or organic animal protein and compare them to those on a high-quality vegan diet. That study has never been done.
Many of the studies demonizing meat use subjects who are smokers, drink too much, eat way too much sugar and processed foods, eat very little fruits and veggies, and do not exercise. It’s no wonder that these meat eaters with bad habits and horrible diets are sicker and fatter…
Some groups rally against the saturated fat and cholesterol found in meat, or say that meat is inflammatory, or that it contributes to cancer or type 2 diabetes.
The story is not as simple as meat is bad, veggies are good, however. The real question to ask is: do grass-fed meat eaters, who also eat lots of healthy food, don’t smoke, exercise, and take vitamins have heart disease?
Thankfully, some researchers have asked this question. In one cohort study, scientists studied 11,000 people, 57% of whom were omnivores (meat eaters) and the other 43% were vegetarians. Both groups were health conscious.
Interestingly enough, researchers found the overall death rates were cut in half for both health-conscious meat eaters and for vegetarians, as compared to the average person eating a western-style, processed food diet. The study concluded that for the vegetarians, there was no benefit found; and for the meat eaters, there was no increased risk for heart disease, cancer or death.
Another problem with most meat eater vs. non meat eater studies is that the type of meat consumed is industrially raised, factory farmed meat. This industrial grain-fed meat is often full of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, with more inflammatory omega–6 fats from corn and fewer anti-inflammatory omega–3 fats. These population studies don’t include people who eat only grass-fed meat without hormones, pesticides or antibiotics.
Another concern that is raised is that saturated fat in meat causes heart disease. Yet interestingly, the types of saturated fats that cause heart disease – stearic and palmitic acid – don’t come from meat. Your liver produces these two fatty acids when you eat sugar and carbs. In other words, your liver produces saturated fat from sugar and carbs and that causes heart disease.
In one interventional trial, researchers showed even on a low-carb diet that is higher in saturated fats, blood levels of saturated fats remained lower because of the carb effect.
Simply put: In the absence of sugar and refined carbs and adequate amounts of omega–3 fats in your diet, saturated fat is really not a problem. Again, quality matters: The saturated fat in a fast food cheeseburger is completely different than what you get in coconut butter or a grass-fed steak.
These same limitations apply for studies that show meat causes diabetes and cancer: Most focused on generally unhealthy people eating a highly processed diet.
I hope you can see how eating meat can become healthy or unhealthy when you consider the many factors. If you opt to eat meat, follow these 5 rules to help you make the best choices.
At the end of the day, the message on meat is pretty simple. About half the studies show it’s a problem; half of them don’t. For those studies that show meat eaters, as a whole, aren’t a healthy bunch, the reason is most likely not the meat, but rather the smoking, sugar-filled, and sedentary lifestyle that creates heart disease and other problems.
A diet filled with lots of high-fiber fruits and veggies that rejects sugar and refined carbs, welcomes grass-fed meat as a health food, lowering inflammation and improving all of the cardiovascular risk factors like cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
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Here’s a really healthy breakfast idea that incorporates healthy ingredients like avocado and onions into something that we all love – pancakes! When you’re avoiding things like sugar and gluten, there are still ways to enjoy your favorite foods. All you need is a little creativity and some quality ingredients.
These pancakes are much, much healthier for you and your family than the regular pancakes that you might be making. With lots of healthy fats, protein and fiber, they will give you a long-lasting, sustained level of energy throughout the morning. A great way to start the day!
Heat a pan over medium heat. Melt enough butter to coat the bottom of pan. For each pancake, spoon about ¼ cup batter into pan and cook until bubbles begin to appear on the top and bottom is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancake and cook until second side is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Continue with remaining batter, adding more butter to skillet as needed.
Now prepare the Lemon Parsley Butter. Melt the butter and stir in lemon juice and parsley. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Serve pancakes with sliced avocado, spring greens, lemon slices and a drizzle of Lemon Parsley Butter. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions and minced parsley.
Let us know how your pancakes turned out. If you’d prefer us to make them for you, along with other deliciously healthy meals tailored to your calorie needs, sign up to Daily Dietitian, or email us on email@example.com
Use the below table to figure out your intake.
In the United States, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Approximately 15-25% of your total calories should be from protein sources. Although it is certainly an essential nutrient, which plays many key roles in the way our bodies function, we do not need huge quantities of it.
Don’t worry we will take care of your dietary needs. Sign up to Daily Dietitian and we will calculate your requirements, create perfectly tailored delicious meals for you and deliver them to your door!
It’s winter, it’s cold and it’s really difficult to get up in the morning. Just a few more minutes, we think to ourselves when the alarm goes off. A few minutes turns into half an hour and before we know it we’re running late. Sound familiar?
How about making these protein packed breakfast bars on the weekend so come Monday you have a stash of ready-to-go food to munch on when you’re running late or just looking for a little extra energy.
Vegan Power Protein Cookie Recipe
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix everything in a bowl with a spoon until a thick paste forms. Divide into eight parts; then shape into bars or cookies. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (use coconut oil to grease) and bake for 10 minutes. Yields approximately 6-8 cookies.
Wrap individually and refrigerate. They will keep for about one week. Keep in mind, these aren’t dessert “cookies” – they will be dense like a protein bar! But they are good for you and delicious. Eat them after a workout, as a snack, or with a green juice for breakfast.