How To Eat Meat Every Day Without Wrecking Your Health
Do your dreams at night include visions of brisket, burgers and bacon? Does the description “medium rare” make your mouth water instantly? If so, you’re probably a carnivore at heart who really loves including meat in your daily diet. But it’s important to know how that consumption affects your health.
Don’t worry — we’re not about to try and “veganize” you, suggesting that all animal products should be left out in the pasture where they belong. Let’s walk through some nutrition basics so you can at least understand how to balance those savory cravings in a healthy way.
Not All Meat Is Created Equal
First things first, in answering the question, “Can I eat meat every day?” you have to immediately recognize that a piece of grilled chicken isn’t the same as half a pound of bacon strips, which isn’t the same thing as a filet of sautéed wild Alaskan salmon. The combination of the meats you choose to eat throughout the week and how you prepare them has a substantial impact on your overall nutrition.
In general, red meat and processed meats (think anything behind the deli counter) have a lot of saturated fat, and overdoing saturated fat on a daily basis puts you at risk of developing cholesterol problems and, therefore, heart issues down the line. High red meat consumption has even been linked to colon cancer. These two kinds of meats should be eaten in clear moderation — no more than three times a week — and daily portions shouldn’t exceed 70 grams (or 2.5 ounces) in weight.
Obviously, that doesn’t work for a juicy burger or a porterhouse cut, so if you indulge in options like that, create even an even bigger time window between that meal and your next red meat extravaganza. You know, for the sake of balance.
Don’t Discount The Good Fats
While some meats way overdo it in the saturated fat category, other options are powerhouses when it comes to the healthy, monounsaturated fats. Take fish, for example. A fatty piece of wild salmon provides your body with a major boost of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep everything from your brain to your skin to your individual cells happy. Yay, fishies!
With that said, portion control is important, and no, you probably shouldn’t eat a piece of salmon every single day. But including three servings of a healthy seafood option in your weekly meal planning is really beneficial to your overall nutritional health.
Protein, Protein, Protein
If you lean into meat options that are high in quality protein and low in fat, you really aren’t running much of a risk at all. Grilled chicken is the go-to example here for good reason. A 4-ounce piece can provide half of your daily protein needs while also keeping the calories down and the fat reasonable. It’s also a super versatile option that can be thrown into countless recipes.
The only catch? We, as a society, tend to eat way more protein than we actually need because we overestimate what those needs are. Definitely add a piece of chicken to your salad at lunch, but know that by doing so, there’s no health-backed reason for you to include another portion of meat when dinnertime rolls around.
Cooking Methods Matter
How you prep your food plays a significant role in how healthy it is. Tossing a piece of fish straight onto the grill is very different than dousing a frying pan with oil and letting it sizzle in there for minutes on end.
Of course, some fat is good — we’re not fat shamers here. You just have to stay mindful of how the fat content of that one meal factors into the rest of what you eat in a given day. It’s incredibly easy to overdo it when you use olive oil like it’s going out of style or add a chunk of butter to everything else that’s sitting on your plate.
Stay On The Safe Side
Still concerned about including too much meat in your diet but don’t want to cut it out, either? Just follow this simple guideline from the American Heart Association: Consume no more than 6 ounces of meat-based protein a day, and vary your sources to reap all the nutritional benefits you can. And the more you lean into fish, shellfish, poultry without the skin and other trimmed low-fat meats, the better off you’ll be.
Now, who’s hungry?