I recently read an article from the New York Times titled “The Myth of High Protein Diets.” The article went on to say that eating meat is bad and that everyone should switch over to a plant based diet. Most of what this article says I can agree with, up to a certain point. Eating more plants, less sugar, refined and processed foods and drinking more water will move any unhealthy person in the right direction; that is pretty simple. But is meat really all bad? What if we chose from better sources, paired it with the right foods and just listened to how it affects our bodies? I think that meat has an important place in our diets.
Eating more vegetables is the basis for nearly every diet out there. Vegetables have the most nutrients of any other type of food and will forever be at the top of every nutritionists list. But, this doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t eat anything else!
I would like to preface this by saying; every person on this planet requires a highly individualized diet. One person’s food is another person’s poison, thus it’s important to first and foremost, listen to what your body tells you. With that being said, and if your body can tolerate it, protein can be incredibly nourishing when it comes from the right source. A cow that has grazed outdoors all of its life, has received proper sunlight, nourishment and love will be incredibly fulfilling and healing for most people. It’s important, when/if you decide to eat meat, to really know where it comes from and how it has been handled. A lot of the meat that’s out there is total crap, and will not nourish your body, thus, the bad reputation meat has gotten. But, if you take the time to do some research and eat meat that has been raised and cared for properly, your body will thank you. More specifically, grass fed beef contains heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids along with antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol. When a cow is eating pure grass from the earth, those nutrients are in the meat that we then ingest. Protein is also essential for building lean muscle and improving your immune system. It can also help diminish cravings. Many people suffering from foggy brain, headaches, sugar cravings and fatigue are simply not getting enough protein. Just make sure it’s high quality protein!
Once you know where your meat comes from, it’s of the utmost importance to not go overboard. Bacon for breakfast, a lettuce wrap burger for lunch and a ribeye for dinner is usually not a healthy option. I saw a meme the other day that was a picture of a bowl of bacon that read “low carb, gluten free salad.” I laughed, but then I realized that some people out there actually think this is healthy because it falls under paleo and low carb guidelines. Again, this is where meat gets a bad reputation.
The meat myth continues with studies conducted by scientists where processed, hormone injected meat is at the center of the study. When this type of meat is the focus of every single meal, it becomes unhealthy. Not only are you not getting the fiber, minerals and other vital nutrients that you need from plants and fruits but you’re putting these hormones and chemicals directly in to your body. This type of high protein diet can also lead to extreme inflammation, hormone imbalances and many other issues.
Even if your protein is high quality, it’s still important to be conscious of how much you are eating. For the last four years, I’ve eaten a pretty strict paleo diet. As the years have progressed, I slowly began eating more and more meat without really realizing it. Soon, I began to feel lethargic, gained some weight, had increased anxiety and wasn’t performing as well in my workouts. I was perplexed by this because I felt like I was eating SUCH a healthy diet! Lo and behold, when I took a deep dive in to what I was really putting in to my body every day, vegetables had been thrown to the side. I wasn’t getting nearly enough of the vitamins and minerals my body needed to function properly. Over the last month or so, I have restructured my diet to center around veggies with what I like to call “sprinklings” of high quality meat and fish, and the results have been astounding!
With any kind of diet; low carb, low fat, vegan, south beach, vegetarian, etc., it’s important to always remember that one size does not fit all. For example, my husband is 6’2 and 215 so he needs more animal protein and healthy fats fuel him and help his performance. Meat still does not dominate his plate at every meal, but he eats a considerable amount more than I do. There are also other athletes out there that swear by being vegetarians or vegans and are still incredibly talented and energetic. This works for them!
I’d like to finish this by saying, it’s important to remember bio-indiviudality when you are talking about diet and nutrtion, especially when it comes to the big meat debate. High quality protein in small amounts, paired with lots of veggies, works great for me and I’ve seen fantastic results with friends and family. So, today I’m going to be on “team meat,” not only because I love a good ribeye, but because higher quality meats have great health benefits that I just really don’t want to miss out on….don’t forget the side of kale!