Red meat is a very good source of protein and other nutrients, but can eating too much of it be harmful to one's health?
Although those who follow strict vegetarian and/or vegan diets might plainly and simply tell you not to consume any, political and ethical stances aside, the reality is that we each have our own way of sustaining our bodies through the foods we decide to eat.
In the fitness world in particular, the belief that the highest protein content is found in poultry, meat and fish is wide spread. As a result, many resort to eating a rotation of the same foods that involve large amounts of meat. But, is there such a thing as eating too much of it?
The pros and cons of eating red meat
According to science, there is. Despite red meats' benefits of containing high amounts of iron (essential in helping prevent anemia), protein, and other important nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12 and omega 3-fats, it does come with its downfalls. And unfortunately for meat lovers: there are many and they are quite alarming as well.
It has long been known that red meat can be the cause for many life-threatening diseases. Studies have shown a direct correlation with bowel cancer with one research in particular reporting that one in six new cases is linked with eating a surplus of red or processed meats (think bacon, ham, salami, sausages, etc).
A couples of years back, the World Health Organization deemed processed meats as a Class 1 carcinogen advising that it should be heavily minimized from people's diets or removed all together.
Another problem that can arise from consuming too much red meat is the concern for heightened levels of cholesterol due to high saturated fat content considerably increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
How much red meat is too much red meat?
So, as evidence shows, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives. However, that doesn't mean you necessarily have to cut out red meat completely from your diet. Instead, the key word to keep in mind is moderation.
Dietary guidelines recommend no more than 455g of cooked lean red meat every week in order to meet iron and zinc recommendations. This would average out to about one small portion (more or less 65g) everyday per week. In other words, you can continue eating red meat frequently so long as your quantity is controlled. Anything beyond that would be considered dangerous territory.
If you're hitting the gym and looking to build muscle, try incorporating lean chicken, eggs, fish, beans, lentils and dairy-based products to reach your protein intake goals.