Paleo 101: Meat :)

I love meat. I’m so very glad I gave up the Raw Food Diet to get strong and found the diet that is the love-of-my-life. Instead of chasing false hope and thriving off masochistic detox, I enjoy energy, glowing skin and obsession-free eating!

Among other things, meat provides vitamins, protein important for muscle maintenance and growth, and L-carnitine, an enzyme necessary for burning fat.

The quantity of meat is not as important as the quality.

Feedlot vs. Grass-fed

Lots of debate swarms in the Paleo world about whether we should eat lean or fatty meat. Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet, claims that wild animals are naturally more lean than their domesticated counterparts. Therefore, we should eat lean meat and cut away all visible fat. On the other hand, Kurt Harris debunks Cordain by providing evidence that grass-finished bison and other meats are still quite fatty. I understand where both are coming from and I’ll attempt to shed some light on your decision-making process.

Grain-finished meat from feedlots is of inferior quality to grass-finished meat. In fact, feedlot produced meat is the very source of the highly toxic E. Coli that kills people every year. This is because the acidic corn causes an over-production of E. Coli in the intestines, which then shed in the feces. Since the cow is in a feed lot, a closed pen, it stands knee-deep in its own (toxic) feces for the last month or two of life. The cows are then butchered with thousands of other cows in a huge slaughterhouse. Contaminated meat is not a rarity. Every year thousands of tons of meat are recalled as a result.

Grain-finished meat also require lots of antibiotics to even make it to the slaughterhouse. These antibiotics have long-reaching effects, namely changing the gut flora of humans when we eat it continuously and potentially causing antibiotic resistance in humans. Whether this is severely dangerous or not has yet to be determined, but as antibiotic resistance grows in both animals and humans, more fingers point at wide-antibiotic use among our domestic food producers. Check out this paper for more info.

Feedlot meat is also known to contain detectable levels of hormones, like estrogen, because they are known fattening agents. In other words, “farmers” can fatten a cow to slaughter weight in much less time with the same amount of feed when they insert these ‘growth implants’ in their ears.

“Growth implants [hormones] are one of the most effective tools for achieving increased production (up to 13% more gains for the same feed cost),” the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Department states.

The problem is that these hormones stay in the fat after slaughter AND get incorporated into our physiology (i.e., our bodies absorb them). Not exactly desirable, healthy, or cost-effective for us in the long run. This would be a reason to purchase leaner cuts of conventional meat and add your own high quality fat back in.

 

On the other hand, grass-fed and grass-finished meat has more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamin E and carotenoids than their feedlot counterparts.

Learn the lingo:

[Grass-fed]  now means that a farmer can raise a cow on its mother’s milk and grass for most of its life, then ‘finish’ with grains to fatten them up for the last 30-90 days before slaughter.

[Grass-finished] means the animal only eats grass and mother’s milk from start to finish.

Grass-finished/Pastured is best. If in doubt, ask! Plus, it always helps to get to know your farmers! 🙂

CLAs are pretty much superheros. Their benefits range from reducing tumor size in several cancers to mimicking diabetes drugs. CLAs are also beneficial to people experiencing heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, food-induced allergic reactions, and weight issues. Learn more about them here.

In my opinion, Dr. Cordain recommends cutting away all visible fat from meat in an attempt to reach the low fat crowd and prevent as many toxins (stored in fat) from entering the body. Too extreme, perhaps, but still effective. I do, however, lean more with Kurt Harris’s thoughts.

This topic of grain-finished vs. grassfed has been a topic of hot debate lately. Perhaps you have seen the Fox News report? Here is a great rebuttal by Robb Wolf. In this information age when you have millions of answers literally at your fingertips, don’t forget to question everything you see on TV. There is usually an agenda to push and you’ve always got to look at the funding source. Just a tip!

The issue of quality holds true for other meats like pork, lamb, turkey, eggs, and chicken as well. Just like we are what we eat, so are animals. We cannot feed animals foods they are not naturally supposed to eat like corn, soy and chopped up dead animals and expect nothing deleterious to happen.

Chicken… Learn the lingo:

[Cage-free]  simply means a chicken isn’t boxed inside a small cage its entire life. It can still be crammed inside a large building without access to sunlight.

[Free-range]  Again, not guaranteed quality. This means chickens are allowed access to outside (even if it’s a concrete slab) for at least 10 minutes a day.

[Organic] This means the chicken was fed organic feed without antibiotics, but again doesn’t mean a chicken was raised as it was intended – with bugs, grass, space, and sunshine.

Buy eggs & chicken straight from the farmer as often as possible. Unpasteurized, real, whole food. 

Convenience is not an excuse.

For an overview of Paleo, click here. If you’d like a Food List of “eat this, not that” foods, click here.

The Bottom Line

Humans thrive off meat, especially meat that is raised humanely and as nature intended. We get lots of nutrients from meat that we cannot get otherwise OR have a very difficult time obtaining (like vitamin B12). There’s no ideal recommendation of how much meat to eat, but some loose guidelines depending on your goals. The bottom line is to not be scared to eat too much meat. Eat until you are full. Supplement with lots of veggies and a little fruit. Enjoy your life! 🙂

 

 

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