As far as foods go, you'll be hard-pressed to find a category for more controversial than red meat. Some enthusiastic carnivores swear by eating steak on the regular, while others insist that it's downright terrible for you. There's no denying that red meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein, and it's chock full of essential vitamins and nutrients. But what if you're eating red meat every single day? What effects does it have on your body? Is there such a thing as too much?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American eats about 4 1/2 servings of red meat a week—and some 10% of the population eats at least two servings a day. Needless to say, Americans love their red meat.
However, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting red meat intake to approximately one serving per week. For years, public health officials for years have urged people to minimize their consumption of red meat and processed meats due to concerns about their links to certain diseases and other health issues. But in 2019, a team of researchers concluded a series of reviews and found "low" evidence that consuming less red meat will reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease.
"Even the evidence that has found health risks in those who eat a lot of red meat could potentially be explained away by other lifestyle factors such as not eating enough vegetables, consuming large amounts of processed meat (in addition to fresh red meat) and/or saturated fats and refined sugar, and not getting enough exercise on a consistent basis," says Sean Allt, nutrition coach with Innovative Fitness.
Whether you frequently chow down on burgers, filets, or beef tacos (or enjoy all three), it's important to understand the implications that your red meat consumption has on your health. Below, experts dish on how eating red meat every day can impact your body—both in the short-term and the long-term. And for more healthy tips, check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Your cholesterol may go up.
According to Allt, certain cuts of red meat have a high saturated fat content—which has been shown to raise cholesterol. Specifically, eating foods with saturated causes your body to produce more LDL, the "bad" cholesterol that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. That's why Allt says that ideally, just about ⅓ of your total fat intake should be coming from the saturated fat found in meat—the other ⅔ should be coming equally from monounsaturated fat (found in nuts and seeds) and polyunsaturated fat (found in certain fish).
"Cholesterol is a substance in your blood vessels that can build up over time and cause inadequate blood flow through the blood vessels (or worse, a total blockage)," says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, a member of the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living. "In general, those who eat more unhealthy fats will have more of a problem with blood cholesterol."
If you're concerned about your cholesterol levels, registered dietician Shena Jaramillorecommends seeking out leaner cuts of red meat, which have less saturated fat (less than 2 grams per serving). For example, eye round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak, and top sirloin steak are the leanest cuts. You may want to opt for cuts that are graded "Choice" or "Select" rather than "Prime," and always choose cuts with the least amount of visible fat (marbling). Additionally, according to Allt, a grass-fed version of the same cut of meat will typically have lower saturated fat content than a grain-fed version.
Instead, here are 17 Foods That Lower Cholesterol.
You'll build up your iron stores—and get a steady supply of energy.
There's a reason why many athletes and body-builders love red meat.
"In the most basic sense, eating red meat will give you energy in the form of calories," says Miller. "Red meat may have a high-fat content, which offers long-term energy and will keep hunger at bay for several hours. Red meat also has protein to keep you full and can be used for muscle building and repair."
In addition to being packed with protein, red meat is also a phenomenal source of iron. In fact, Dr. Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist and founder of Ancient Nutritionand DrAxe.com, reveals that one lean grass-fed strip steak contains 22% of your daily value for iron.
"Iron is important for oxygen transport and storage within our bodies, forming red blood cells and blood vessels, producing energy for short-duration high-intensity activities, metabolizing drugs, and making proteins," says Allt.
Allt adds that heme iron—the type of iron found in red meat—is absorbed far more easily by the human body than the non-heme iron found in plant-based foods like beans and leafy greens.
"Getting enough iron is important for our energy levels, transporting and storing oxygen, and playing a role in immunities," says Jaramillo.
According to Miller, an iron deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, and chronic coldness in the extremities, among other concerning effects—all of which consuming red meat and other iron-rich foods can help you to avoid.
"Anyone who struggles with getting enough iron or has a health condition like anemia should be consuming healthy heme iron foods," says Dr. Axe.
While red meat is definitely high in iron, Allt notes that other foods like oysters and mussels actually have a higher iron content than an equivalent serving size of beef. Here areThe Best Iron-Rich Foods—And Why You Need Them in Your Life.
You may experience an increase in inflammation.
There are certain foods that are notorious for triggering inflammation—and according to Jaramillo, red meat is one of them. That's worth taking into consideration, given that chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer's.
It's a good idea for everyone to keep inflammation in check, but Jaramillo says it's especially important to avoid inflammatory foods—like red meat—if you have certain conditions, including osteoporosis, arthritis, lupus, Crohn's disease, or Ulcerative Colitis, Type II Diabetes, and hypertension.
To fight inflammation, here are the 26 Best Omega-3 Foods to Fight Inflammation and Support Heart Health.
You'll probably meet your body's needs for choline.
If you've never heard of choline, it's time to familiarize yourself with this multi-tasking nutrient. Not only does choline help to support brain functions (like memory and thinking), but it also plays a role in metabolizing fats. Unfortunately, research suggests that people don't get enough choline in their daily diets.
The recommendation for daily choline intake is 550 milligrams per day for males over the age of 14, 400 milligrams per day for women between the ages of 14 and 18, and 425 milligrams per day for women 19 and older (with additional increases during pregnancy and lactation.)
A choline deficiency has been linked to such conditions as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
According to Miller, beef is a stellar source of choline. In fact, just one 2.4-ounce slice of beef liver contains 290 mg of this essential nutrient.
You'll increase levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your body.
Believe the hype around omega-3s—these fatty acids not only provide calories to give your body energy, but they also have a variety of functions in your heart, lungs, immune system, blood vessels, and endocrine system.
The three main types of omega-3s are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Since your body can't make ALA on its own, it's important to choose foods that are rich in this essential nutrient. According to Carrie Lupoli, certified health and nutrition coach, grass-fed beef specifically provides plenty of omega-3 fats, which she notes can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
While the amount of omega-3s in meat depends on the breed of animal and its diet, a 3.5-ounce serving of grass-fed beef averages about 80 milligrams of omega-3s—which is twice how much regular beef has. Keep in mind that although grass-fed beef has more of these heart-healthy fats than conventional beef, it still can't compete with salmon and certain other fatty fish, or these25 Best Sources of Omega-3s.
You'll get a hefty hit of numerous minerals and vitamins.
In addition to iron, choline, and omega-3 fatty acids, experts say red meat offers a powerhouse of other vitamins and minerals that can help your body to function properly. Those include:
- Selenium: an antioxidant
- Zinc: a mineral involved in immune function, growth and development, reproductive function, cell structure and health, and nerve impulse transmission.
- Vitamin B12—which forming and maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, energy production, mood management
"Vitamins like these help the body process our nutrients from food, form red blood cells, promote calcium absorption and more—and minerals such as these support your immune system, controls blood pressure, and supports muscle function," says Lupoli. "While it's true that these minerals are in plant-based foods, we have to consume much more of them and our bodies have to work harder to convert them to a form we can use. Red meat allows them to be more quickly absorbed and used efficiently. Lastly, red meat contains cancer-fighting antioxidants."
Here's how much red meat to have.
Research has posed conflicting guidance on how much red meat is healthy to consume without risks, but for those who are concerned about managing risk to the best of their ability, Allt recommends adhering to the World Cancer Research Fund's guidelines of limiting red meat intake to 12 to 18 ounces per week.
In order to enjoy red meat without compromising your health, Allt advises choosing organic meat (which won't contain added growth hormones and antibiotics) and opting for wild-caught game meats like elk or moose whenever you can. As a general rule, think quality over quantity: Although grass-fed beef is usually more expensive than grain-fed varieties, experts agree it can be worth the higher price tag for health reasons.
"Compared to conventional beef, grass-fed beef tends to have less unhealthy saturated fat and more healthy unsaturated fat, as well as more omega-3 fatty acids—which can inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory mechanisms that the body produces," explains Miller.
You'll also want to keep an eye on portion size—according to Lupoli, a serving the size of your palm (4 to 6 ounces) will give you an appropriate amount of protein and fat.
"Always pair your protein and fat with a healthy carb such as vegetables (sweet potato or brown rice, for example)," says Lupoli. "The combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates stabilizes your blood sugar allowing you to absorb nutrients, boost metabolism, increase energy, and reduce long-term health issues.
So there you have it. While eating red meat may pose risks for people who already have high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, or who struggle with chronic inflammation, the jury's still out on whether eating it every day is OK for the average healthy person. But as it turns out, it is possible to have your beef and eat it, too—as long as you're mindful of portion sizes, and opt for leaner cuts that are grass-fed whenever possible. Get started today with these 18 Easy Ways to Control Your Portion Sizes.
What Eating Red Meat Every Day Does to Your Body? ›
Hu says that an accumulated body of evidence shows a clear link between high intake of red and processed meats and a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature death. "The evidence is consistent across different studies," he says.What happens if I eat red meat everyday? ›
Eating too much red meat could be bad for your health
Sizzling steaks and juicy burgers are staples in many people's diets. But research has shown that regularly eating red meat and processed meat can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer.
Considerable evidence from long-term prospective cohort studies has demonstrated that diets high in red and processed meats are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer (particularly colorectal cancer), and all-cause mortality (4–6).Are you supposed to eat red meat everyday? ›
How often should you eat red meat? Try to limit your red meat consumption to 1 to 2 serving per week, which is 6 ounces or less per week. If you have heart disease or high cholesterol, the recommendation is to limit red meat to less than or equal to 3 ounces per week.What are the side effects of eating beef meat? ›
Individuals who consume meat frequently are more prone to cancer and heart disease. cholesterol issues and blood pressure fluctuation are other well-known adverse effects of meat. Regular consumption of red meat possess difficulty in maintaining a healthy body.Does red meat stay in your system for 7 years? ›
There are so many myths about meat, including whether it sits in your gut for ages after you eat it. Nothing 'sits' in your gut. Your digestive system is not a recycling centre that carefully separates your food into meat, vegetables, grains and so on and then processes them separately.What is the healthiest meat to eat? ›
- Sirloin Steak. Sirloin steak is both lean and flavorful – just 3 ounces packs about 25 grams of filling protein! ...
- Rotisserie Chicken & Turkey. The rotisserie cooking method helps maximize flavor without relying on unhealthy additives. ...
- Chicken Thigh. ...
- Pork Chop. ...
- Canned Fish.
Red meat is associated with an increased risk of colon and rectum cancer, and evidence also suggests it is associated with some other cancers, such as prostate and pancreatic cancer.What are the benefits of quitting red meat? ›
And people who don't eat meat, called vegetarians, generally eat fewer calories and less fat. They also tend to weigh less. And they have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do. Research shows that people who eat red meat are at a higher risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes.How often is it OK to eat red meat? ›
If you eat red meat, limit consumption to no more than about three portions per week. Three portions is equivalent to about 350–500g (about 12–18oz) cooked weight.
Why is red meat inflammatory? ›
Oxidative stress triggers inflammation, and a study on the consumption of red meat concluded that red meat could give rise to changes in oxidative stress and further induce inflammation and related diseases (12, 13).Why do I feel better after eating steak? ›
It Stops Fatigue
Eating rare steak is like giving your body a direct jolt of iron and phosphorus. Both of these nutrients are helpful for preventing fatigue. If you eat a rare steak in moderation, the iron in the meat increases the oxygen in your blood, and the phosphorus provides strength to your bones.
One of the most common disadvantages of not eating enough meat, especially for women of child-bearing age, is the development of iron-deficiency anemia. This condition causes fatigue, dizziness, headaches, pale skin and concentration problems that can greatly affect your overall quality of life.Is chicken or beef better for you? ›
Beef has a few nutritious advantages over chicken, as it contains more iron and zinc. These substances are essential for our immune systems and brain development. However, chicken is much better for your cardiovascular health, because it has less cholesterol and saturated fat than beef.What happens if I eat too much protein? ›
Extra protein intake also can lead to elevated blood lipids and heart disease because many high-protein foods you eat are high in total and saturated fat. Extra protein intake, which can tax the kidneys, poses an additional risk to people predisposed to kidney disease.Why do I feel tired after eating red meat? ›
Red meat is another food stuff that requires a great deal of energy to digest and so makes you feel tired. While it does provide iron, an energy booster, red meat is also high in fat which is more difficult for the body to break down. Eating a large amount of red meat will definitely leave you tired after a meal.What happens to your stomach when you stop eating red meat? ›
While you may experience some indigestion right after you cut out red meat, it's mainly the result of eating more healthy, fiber-rich foods. In the long-term, you'll add healthy bacteria in your gut, which could lower body-wide inflammation and make you feel less bloated to boot.Does red meat age your skin? ›
Think: Deli meat, sausage, and bacon. "Many of these meats have sulfites and other preservatives, which can trigger inflammation in the skin, and accelerate the appearance of aging," said Dr. Ostad. They also tend to be high in salt, which can make you look puffy.At what age should you stop eating red meat? ›
Even though it is a source of quality proteins and vitamins, red meat can be a health hazard, especially if you're over 40. If you value your health, you should try other low-fat protein options and leave the beef grill for special occasions. These are some health problems eating red meat regularly can cause.What is the unhealthiest meat to eat? ›
Finally, health experts say to stay away from processed meats, which are generally considered to be unhealthy. These include any meat that has been smoked, salted, cured, dried, or canned. Compared to fresh meat, processed meats are high in sodium and can have double the amount of nitrates.
What is the unhealthiest cut of meat? ›
Worst cuts: Ribs, shoulder and mince. A perennial Australian favourite, lamb “tends to be fattier in general than other meats,” says Fox, though because lamb has less marbling than beef, it's easier to trim away excess fat and make cuts healthier before cooking.What meat is OK to eat everyday? ›
A healthy balanced diet can include protein from meat, as well as from fish and eggs or non-animal sources such as beans and pulses. Meats such as chicken, pork, lamb and beef are all rich in protein. Red meat provides us with iron, zinc and B vitamins. Meat is one of the main sources of vitamin B12 in the diet.Is red meat hard on your gut? ›
Meat products are one of the most difficult foods for the human body to digest because the protein contained in meat (especially red meat) is harder for us to break down, and this can cause bloating. Large amounts of fatty foods like meat make your stomach empty slower, which also causes bloating or discomfort.What does red meat do to your colon? ›
But eating a lot of red and processed meat increases your risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer. That's why it's recommended that people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day cut down to 70g or less. This could help reduce your risk of bowel cancer.Is red meat inflammatory or not? ›
The five types of foods that cause inflammation include: Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats. Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.What can I eat instead of red meat? ›
- chicken and turkey.
- low-fat dairy products.
- whole grains.
Cutting out red meat and swapping it for leaner sources of protein can result in weight loss, Richards notes. “This is not only due to the loss of saturated fat and calories found in red meat but also because it is quite common to eat more than the recommended 3-ounce serving of red meat,” she says.What happens when you stop eating meat for a month? ›
If you avoid eating meat for a month, you should notice a decrease in your overall inflammatory markers. This happens due to the anti-inflammatory properties of plant-based foods that you consume instead of meat (5). They are rich in fiber and antioxidants and low in toxins and saturated fats.Which is healthier pork or beef? ›
When looking at the base nutrients such as protein and fats they are nearly identical. If we compare fatty cuts of pork and fatty cuts of beef, the pork has larger amounts of healthy fats.Is bacon considered a red meat? ›
Pork is also classed as a red meat. Processed meat is meat that's been cured, salted, smoked, or otherwise preserved in some way (such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, ham, salami, and pepperoni).
Can I eat chicken everyday? ›
While chicken can be a versatile and convenient protein to cook, if your diet doesn't have a diverse protein profile, you lose out on some key nutrients—including essential fats, such as omega-3s. "Eating chicken every day as your sole protein source could result in some nutrient gaps," says Burgess.What are the 10 worst foods for inflammation? ›
- Sugars. ...
- Common Cooking Oils. ...
- Trans Fats. ...
- Dairy Products. ...
- Feedlot-Raised Meat. ...
- Red Meat & Processed Meat. ...
- Alcohol. ...
- Refined Grains.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements. These supplements may help fight several types of inflammation, including vascular inflammation.Does red meat cause arthritis? ›
Some research links red and processed meat to inflammation, which may increase arthritis symptoms. For example, diets heavy in processed and red meats demonstrate high levels of inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and homocysteine ( 5 , 6 ).Why do I feel better eating meat? ›
Meats contain compounds that increase production of dopamine, a so-called “happy hormone” that elevates mood.What should I drink after eating beef? ›
There are non alcoholic drinks that work well with any steak dinner. Pomegranate or cranberry juices are two of the the best beverages that can clean your palate and cut through the heaviness of a steak. If you do not like the tart flavor of these juices, you can dilute them a bit with water.Does eating meat reduce anxiety? ›
The authors found a “significant association between meat consumption/abstention and depression and anxiety” People who ate meat had lower average depression and anxiety levels than meat abstainers.Is Salmon considered a red meat? ›
IS SALMON RED MEAT? Salmon may be red or pink in color, but it is not technically "red meat". The reason salmon are red or pink in color is due to the oils found in their food, such as shrimp and small crustaceans.What are humans supposed to eat naturally? ›
Fruits, green leafy parts of plants, shoots, seeds, nuts, roots and tubers are the fundamental components of the primate eating pattern – and common sense tells us that these foods should be the foods that humans eat, too.Why do bodybuilders eat chicken instead of beef? ›
One of the main reasons bodybuilders eat rice and chicken is because it's cheap, clean, and incredibly good for building muscle. This is because it gives a good mix of carbs to replenish the muscles right after a workout, with a ton of protein to start the muscle-building process as well.
Is fish better than red meat? ›
The nutritional profile and potential health benefits of fish are quite different from those of other types of meat. For example, red meat is high in saturated fat, vitamin B12, iron, niacin, and zinc ( 5 , 6 ). Meanwhile, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, thiamine, selenium, and iodine ( 7 ).Are shrimp good for you? ›
Is Shrimp Good for You? The short answer to this question is yes! Shrimp is good for you. Shrimp is full of nutrients and supports brain health and thyroid function while also serving as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.Do 2 eggs give enough protein? ›
Yes, two eggs can provide enough protein. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, containing around 6–7 grams of the nutrient in each egg. This means that two eggs can provide 12–14 grams of protein. For comparison, an average adult needs 46–56 grams of protein per day, depending on their weight and activity level.What happens if you eat a lot of protein but don t work out? ›
Eating too much protein can be bad for your health.
"It's OK to eat a little extra protein, as long as you keep your calories in check," Metos said. "Protein has calories, so if you eat a little too much, and don't exercise, it can get stored as fat."
Importantly, researchers observed no association between high protein intake and decline in kidney function in women with normal functioning kidneys. And protein intake levels up to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day in men who were weight training was shown to not negatively impact kidney functioning.What are the symptoms of eating too much red meat? ›
- Bloating. Shutterstock. ...
- Nausea. Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock. ...
- Excessive Portions. ...
- Poor Chewing. ...
- Occurrence Of Foodborne Illnesses. ...
- High Blood Pressure. ...
- Constipation. ...
- Dark Circles Under The Eye.
Processed meats like bacon, sausages, and salami that are preserved with sodium nitrates can introduce excess salt, trans fats, and inflammatory red meats that could be contributing to your brain fog when eaten too often.How much red meat a day is safe? ›
Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals in your diet. However, if you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red or processed meat a day, the Department of Health and Social Care advises that you cut down to 70g.Do bodybuilders eat red meat everyday? ›
As a consequence, most competitive bodybuilders consume meat on a regular basis because it's a tasty and complete protein source.Is it healthy to stop eating red meat? ›
The guidelines say individuals do not need to eat less red and processed meat to stay healthy, despite prior studies that have linked these foods to conditions such as heart disease and cancer, and years of scientific support for a largely plant-based diet.
What is the healthiest red meat to eat? ›
Stick with round, sirloin, or loin.
The National Cattleman's Beef Association top five lean cuts are: Eye of round – 1.4 g saturated fat, 4 g total fat. Sirloin tip side steak – 1.6 g saturated fat, 4.1 g total fat. Top round roast and Steak – 1.6 g saturated fat, 4.6 g total fat.
Lean beef (defined by government guidelines as having less than 10 grams total fat, 4.5 grams or less saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounces) can be healthier than chicken, fish - or tofu (bean curd) for that matter - depending on how much is eaten and how it's prepared.Why do men need red meat? ›
A serving of red meat is also a good source of zinc, which can help the body produce testosterone, and selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Plus, red meat is rich in iron. However, Dr. Hu says that you don't need to eat red meat to get these essential nutrients.Why does red meat make you stronger? ›
The essential nutrients found in beef, like protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, provide our bodies and minds with the fuel we need at all stages of life to be the strongest version of ourselves.Does red meat repair muscle? ›
“Most Americans get plenty of protein in their diet if they do eat meat, but red meat is a surefire way to meet your protein needs in a day.” Protein helps with muscle recovery after exercise, which can contribute to strengthening performance.What age should you stop eating red meat? ›
Even though it is a source of quality proteins and vitamins, red meat can be a health hazard, especially if you're over 40. If you value your health, you should try other low-fat protein options and leave the beef grill for special occasions. These are some health problems eating red meat regularly can cause.