A diet is said to be healthy when it includes more proteins, vitamins and minerals and less amounts of carbohydrates and fats.
Animal based diets consist of portions of animal flesh which can be cooked in various ways. Some of the most commonly animals whose meat is consumed are –
- Poultry including chicken, duck, turkey and pigeon
- Goats and sheep
- Lobsters, Shrimps and Prawns
Despite being rich in protein and some vitamins, we cannot say that a diet entirely composed of meat provides us with all the basic important nutrients.
Pork, or meat from pig, contains the highest amount of fat among all types of meats. While raising the cattle for beef production, the animals are fed grains instead of their natural diet, which is grass.
The body of grain fed cattle is rich in fats such as saturated fats, which can cause some serious damage to our health.
Meat contains a high amount of fatty acids. According to studies, it is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids cause an increasing risk for weight gain and obesity. This further leads to other health related problems.
Very low amounts of unsaturated fats, which are the healthy fats, are present in all meats, except the red meat. Generally saturated fats and trans fats are the main component of meat.
Why is meat considered bad for health?
Meat which is sold in the markets is processed before reaching the consumers. Meat processing is a process which involves treating the meat with various methods to prepare it for consumption.
Manufacturers modify the original meat in order to make it tastier and better looking. For this, they add different types of fats. When people eat this meat, they are exposed to a number of health risks which include coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and in some cases, even stroke.
Even when weight loss measures such as increased physical activity were observed, it was found that consuming meat did not affect the body weight in a positive manner. It causes a greater risk of diabetes than in people who do not eat meat.
The body of animals which are being used as meat may contain several toxins and harmful substances. When people unknowingly eat this meat, these toxins get transferred to their body.
Minerals such as cadmium, lead, zinc and copper may be present in dangerously high quantities in meat from some parts of the world. This can adversely affect the health.
Another factor which negatively affects the weight is the high level of cholesterol in the meat coming from all animals. Cholesterol is a lipid or fat molecule which can cause health problems if present in high quantities in the blood.
It is recommended that the diet should not contain cholesterol in order to prevent diseases.
To add to all these harmful effects of meat consumption, a number of studies reported that it can also increase the risk of cancer of various types including colon, esophagus, pancreas, liver, lung, rectum etc.
However, eating meat is not completely harmful to health. It can be considered healthy as long as it contains a low fat content and it eaten in moderation. Since meat contains a high amount of protein, cuts of meat which are low in fat are beneficial for health.
What does science say about role of meat consumption in weight loss?
Protein is an important part of the body, mainly because of its role in the formation of basic body structure including the tissues.
A diet rich in proteins is associated with weight loss. The scientific explanation behind this is that protein regulates the hormones responsible for satiety. Due to this, people tend to eat less and lose weight.
Protein also helps in burning the calories faster as it boosts the metabolism.
A rich source of protein is meat. People believe that consuming meat makes them gain weight.
But studies have found that meat, whether it is chicken or beef, reduces the amount of fat present in the blood by a significant amount along with reduction in the body weight. This has to be combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Research shows that the type of meat being consumed does not matter. When it comes to having a diet containing high levels of protein, all meats including chicken, pork and beef comprise of the same amount of it. Hence, they all are equally effective in weight loss.
The body consists of fat mass and fat free mass. The fat mass is made up the stored fat in the body while the fat free mass includes all other components of the body except fat. This means that the tissues, bones, blood and all other organs are a part of fat free mass.
Consumption of chicken enriched with Selenium, a mineral essential for a good health, may also lead to weight loss. It has been reported that this chicken reduces the fat mass, and does not affect the fat free mass.
However a few studies show that meat consumption can have adverse effects of body weight.
Meat has been found to contain high calorie content. This is because it is very dense in calories as it contains a large amount of fat.
A study reported that consumption of meat significantly increases the Body Mass Index or the BMI among people. BMI is the measure of fat in the body. This leads to the development of obesity because the fat gained from meat is stored inside the body.
The long term effects of consumption of meat on body weight is not favorable. It causes weight gain rather than reducing it. A study suggests that decreasing the intake of meat on a regular basis in the diet can help in weight loss.
However if a few precautions are followed then you can actually utilize meat to lose weight.
How to consume meat such that it helps in weight loss?
Some of the precautions one needs to take before consumption of meat are –
White meat should be preferred over red meat
White meat has numerous health benefits. Apart from decreasing the risk of cancer, diabetes and obesity, it contains several vitamins and minerals. Replacing red meat, processed or not, with white meat helps in weight loss.
Toxins may be present in animal feed
The food fed to animals may contain various types of chemicals harmful for our health. The food has been found to contain pesticides and drugs. When the meat of these animals is consumed by humans, these toxins enter the body and deteriorate health.
Consumption of meat may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
Meat, specially processed red meat, is related to cardiovascular disease. Even if the content of fat in some meats may be low, it cannot be said that it does not affect the fat and cholesterol levels at all. An increase in the amount of cholesterol present in the blood leads to various heart diseases.
Some other nutrients such as zinc and iron are present in a high quantity in meat. Too much of these in the body can also play a role in causing cardiovascular disease.
Fat and lean cuts of meat may also affect the body
People consume various body parts of the animals. These can be considered either as lean cuts or fat cuts. As suggested by its name, the fat cut mainly comprises of fat.
Meat consumption can help in weight loss if you make good choices and eat the right kind of meat. Balancing meat as a protein source with other macronutrients is the key to healthy diet.
Meat is a great source of protein and helps burn fat and build muscle. For more details please read Meat For Weight Loss