So I am going to start this post with a disclaimer. The topic of eating meat has come to be a controversy in the last few years. Based on health, climate and ethics. All can be strongly debated in a yay or nay way. I wanted to bring attention to a few things that I have personally learned in the last few years based on the nutrition basis of eating meat. My background in holistic nutrition has me constantly educating myself as things change and fast. With extra time on my hands the last few years, I have been reading, listening to podcasts and doing my own research. What got me to this point..Well one word..HORMONES. Is a plant based diet better for hormone balance or meat based. So the question is to meat or not to meat..
Let’s Look at Protein
Protein is made up of molecules called ‘Amino Acids’. There are 22 naturally occurring amino acids of which 8 are essential that we can only obtain through food. The other are non-essential – meaning our bodies can manufacture them as long as we provide the building blocks through food and supplementation. These essential amino acids help to build protein within the body which is used in muscles, hair, antibodies, hormones. If we are deficient in the amino acids, our bodies are unable to make protein efficiently. And this is where animal meat comes into play. Animal meat is the only food which contains all the 8 essential amino acids required.
Humans don’t need protein, we need amino acids and meat is the perfect balance of amino acids plus micronutrient that plants do not have. (source – Sacred Cow – Diana Rodgers RD, Robb Wolf)
So how much protein does one need for a healthy balanced life? The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is .8 grams per 1 kg of your weight as a minimum requirement. So based on a 60 kg person (132 lbs), you would need to eat 48 grams of protein daily. Some other recommendations are between 10-35% of your caloric intake. So for example on an average 2000 daily calorie diet, and using 20% protein requirement, 100 grams of protein is needed. And somewhere in the middle is where most of the population is.
Protein is the macronutrient that satisfies us – it make us feel full and controls our blood sugar levels.
Some signs of low protein:
- Muscle weakness/wasting
- Low immune function
- Hair loss
- Cold hands and feet
- B12 deficiency
Meat Protein vs Plant Protein
Plant proteins lack one or more amino acids and need to be combined with other plant proteins to get the full essential amino acids our bodies need. You would also need to calorically eat A LOT of plant proteins to get to your RDA or more of protein. For example 1 egg is 6 grams of protein and 78 calories, .5 oz almonds (which is approx. 10 almonds) is 164 calories. We would be consuming more calories to get the same protein equivalent. So just to be clear, I am not saying plants are not good as they do have lots of nutritional advantages such as nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Combining plants and meat protein is a great balance of both.
But a strict plant based lifestyle does come with if disadvantages and therefore supplementation is a must.
- B12 deficiency ( also to note, you can obtain B12 from seaweed but this is not aa true form of B12 and can actually increase your need for the true form.)
- Low Iron ( you can only obtain HEME iron from meat products (which is the most absorbable form of iron)
- Low calcium
- Impaired mental function
But What About the Studies?
Yes there are many studies past and present that tell us ‘meat causes cancer’, ‘meat cause heart disease’, ‘meat causes obesity’ and that we will live longer when we eat more plant based. There are a lot of issues when it comes to nutritional research. One being the control group and the study group and really balancing those outside factors such as environment, lifestyle and genetic factors. There have also been many studies that have been linked good health to eating meat protein. So I guess the moral of the story is to take each study with a grain of salt and decide what is the end result of the study, who paid for the study and why is it being done. Nutritional research is never-ending.
Let’s go back to why I decided to write about the topic. Hormones. I am all about the natural balance. What I have researched makes sense to me. There is so much benefit to adding meat to your daily food needs. And meat protein is the best way of providing my body with the essential amino acids it needs to help build and balance the systems in my body, and that include hormones. I choose to source the best sustainable farmed with no antibiotic use and no synthetic hormones used in the meat. Choosing local farmers also helps with the sustainability and environmental concerns that I may have. I also incorporate many fruits and vegetables to my diet as well. I like the term – NUTRIVORE.
Now what is best for me might not be best for you. And if plant based is your jam, no judgement here. We all need to do what is best for each of us.
In case you wanted to read or listen and learn more. My sources include:
Also some great meat recipes from previous posts:
To Better Health,