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How Much Meat Should You Eat?

January 9, 2021

I love reading and I recently treated myself to the book, "Sacred Cow," by Diana Rodgers, registered dietician, and Robb Wolf, former research bio-chemist and Paleo diet expert. The book is much more detailed than the movie, it's well written and well researched. I highly recommend it. I'm sharing with you a little bit today - just a little food for thought as we start the new year. 

One of the subjects covered in Sacred Cow is human protein requirements and how much proteins humans really need for optimal growth, development and health. I know, I'm a bit of a nerd, but I find it fascinating - especially with my background as a vegetarian for 20 years.

According to Rob and Diana, protein required by men and women is much greater than the recommended daily allowance (RDA). According to Robb and Diana, people should be eating 4-6 oz of meat three times a day. That's 16 - 24 oz of meat daily. And if I understand correctly they are referring to cooked meat weight, and not the raw weight. That's a lot of meat! I know I'm not eating enough. The FDA recommends a minimum of only 46 g per day for women and 56 g per day for men.

According to Diana and Robb, 100 grams of protein a day on a 2,000 calorie diet is a good place to start to get enough protein, but both report great success in weight loss and general health improvement when people increase protein consumption to 30% of total daily calories. The FDA recommends on 50 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.

Dangers of eating too little protein include: 

 - the body will start stealing protein from muscles and other tissues when it’s not receiving enough.

 - protein is required for antibodies, and too little protein can result in reduced immune function

 - brittle nails

 - cold hands and feet

 - hair loss

 - weight gain

 - B12 deficiency (can cause neurological disorders in infants of vegan mothers) 

As a vegetarian, I experienced everything on this list but hair loss! But I have a lot of hair, so maybe I just didn't notice... I finally started eating meat again when chronic bruising made me look like a victim of domestic violence. It was so bad that I refused to wear shorts.

One of the reasons that some of the more restrictive diets that are heavy on meat such as Paleo and Keto work is because people begin to feel full after eating meat and actually eat fewer calories once they achieve this quantity of animal protein daily. The protein leverage hypothesis says this is because people continue to eat until they have met their body's protein requirements. Increasing protein consumption is so effective for weight loss because the body finds protein to be very satiating, so increased protein consumption results in reduced calorie intake. In fact, diets with protein intake of 15-20 percent, which is still higher than the RDA, result in weight loss, improved HbA1C levels, and improved blood pressure in patients with type two diabetes.

A high protein diet also helps us to burn more fat because of the the “thermic effect of food," that is how much energy it takes to digest the food you ate. Protein has a high thermic effect on food because it takes more energy to break it down. If one eats more protein and keeps calories the same while also working out, it's likely that you’ll lose weight.

Additionally, Sacred Cow noted that increased meat consumption in populations suffering from food insecurity results in an increase of growth in children, improved behavioral outcomes and improved cognitive performance.  In fact, the movie version of Sacred Cow reported that children who were served meat for breakfast performed significantly better at school! I hoped you enjoyed learning a bit about consuming protein from animal sources. I intend to follow up soon with information on why animal base proteins are superior to plant based proteins.

Amie Herrera

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