This may be controversial…
But I have to say it…
I am proudly a carnivore!
Plant protein is simply not as good as animal protein.
Some may say, “Shawn, I’ve seen the studies. Meat causes heart disease and many other problems so how can it be healthier than plants? Shouldn’t we try to get our protein from plants if meat is so problematic?”
My question back to them is, “Does meat really do that? What foods were those studies really looking at?”
It’s a bit hard to believe that our ancestors and other animals who are carnivores were, and are, fine eating meat but it’s suddenly a problem for us. Makes me scratch my head a bit.
If you look at studies that make the claims that meat is the cause of heart disease, they used processed foods in their studies.(1) All of these were clearly unhealthy meat options.
The quality makes quite the difference.
So, when getting back to whether we should be eating meat or avoiding it, I 100% believe we need more of it. Meat provides many nutrients that we just can’t get naturally or enough of in other diet options. We are talking science here. This belief that it is the same in plants is primarily due to a lack of awareness, as the science is crystal clear.
But there are more benefits other than just the nutrients we can get. So what are they?
It’s going to be hard to include all the benefits of eating meat in this article so here are some of my favorites.
As mentioned above, meat is naturally high in nutrients that are just not found, or found in high enough quantities, elsewhere.
Taurine, carnosine, anserine, and creatine are all abundant in meat but are missing in plants. Hydroxyproline can be found in plants but it’s simply not enough.
Here’s why these nutrients are so important:
Eating foods high in quality protein can help keep your appetite in check. This keeps you from mindlessly snacking or getting hungry shortly after you’ve eaten. It helps keep you at a healthy weight which helps other processes in your body run better as well as keeping your energy up.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and you need it on a daily basis in order for your body to get all 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential, that the body cannot produce. All of these you can get from plants but the quality of protein is less.
Animal protein is complete with EAA’s and BCAA’s which again, are essential and also anti-catabolic.
Additionally, plant protein contains phytates, oxalates, and lectins. These are all nutrient-sapping phytochemicals that drastically reduce the absorption of minerals.
So to make up for those minerals, and to ingest enough protein, your caloric load would have to increase more than if your protein source was meat. Not really the goal we’re going for here.
This makes sense doesn’t it? Higher protein intake is linked to increased muscle mass. If you look at anyone who has a healthy amount of muscle on their body, it is guaranteed that they will have a high level of quality protein in their diet. And the keyword here is quality protein.
For example, to optimize muscle protein synthesis you would need 2x plant protein than animal (one study compared 50g of plant protein to 25g of Whey) to get the same level of leucine (anabolic) or you would need to supplement additional leucine to the plant protein. Also, whey has immunoglobulins and growth factors to stimulate the immune system and recovery. Along with the essential fatty acids that are also ideal for recovery.
Above are just some of my favorite things about eating meat, aside from it tasting great of course. But there are things that you do need to keep in mind to make sure you are maximizing the benefits and of course not doing anything that increases your risk of becoming one of the statistics mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
1. Choose unprocessed meats.
This goes back to how I always recommend you focus on whole food. When you veer into the processed food categories, you are opening yourself up to other chemicals and problems down the road. Plus, you are not receiving the nutrients your body needs.
2. Experiment with organ meats.
Organ meats are a great complement to your diet because they have a very high nutrient content. If you’ve never tried any, I highly recommend them.
3. Minimize high-heat cooking.
Cooking meat at too high temperatures may change the nutritional composition of the meat. (2)
4. Choose organic meat from small, local farms. This is a more environmentally-friendly option and better aligned with many people’s ethical perspectives. (3)
In conclusion, meat has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. It’s a rich source of protein, which provides health benefits for the body that really can’t be matched by any other source.